shadowbane

Official Site: Shadowbane (Wikipedia)
Studio: Wolfpack Studios/Ubisoft
Launch Date: March 25, 2003
Sunset Date: July 1, 2009
Genre: Isometric Dark Fantasy PvP Sandbox
Business Model: F2P (Cash Shop)
Platform: PC

Crowfall on the big world, factions, and safeguarding player cities

In Crowfall's November Q&A "is all about Big World," Design Lead Thomas Blair declares, kicking off the episode alongside Creative Director J. Todd Coleman. The pair discuss ore deposit drops, factional assignments, Ranger skills, and multiple character creation, but one that leaped out at me was the question about regulating strongholds -- that is, how you keep people out of your territory.

It turns out that it depends entirely on the worlds we're talking about -- and it's inspired by city systems in Shadowbane. Players in the eternal kingdoms and open worlds will be able to make use of kill-on-sight lists to block individuals and guilds from entering cities. Faction-based worlds will automatically block the opposing faction from access. In fact, in the eternal kingdoms, players will even be able to flag areas safe, though that's not something most of the game will inherit.

There's also a long section on the big world as promised; ArtCraft has reiterated that this chunk of testing is a foundational test rather than a playest, and while it's the closest thing to the game's vision to date, the right mentality for a "rough experience" while testing is a requirement. Invites are in the thousands now, so maybe check your inbox, and then skim the whole update below.

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Crowfall on its player-driven economy as inspired by classic MMORPGs

If you've been keeping an eye on Crowfall's recent crafting updates and are wondering how exactly everything fits together in the PvP-centric MMORPG, then this week's updated crafting and economy FAQ is going to be a big help for both a big picture view and the wee details.

"Our vision is a player-driven economy where the best items in the game are created by other players -- not from farming monsters," says ArtCraft. "Crafting is a central part of the player-driven economy in Crowfall. Open-ended economic systems are tough to design. The closest model to ours is probably EVE Online, though you can see our design is built on ideas that originally surfaced in early MMOs like Ultima Online, Star Wars Galaxies and Shadowbane."

Check out the whole FAQ for a clearer picture on how materials, harvesting, quarries, factories, transportation, supply-and-demand, recipes, sub-components, interdependence, salvaging, mass-production, and player-run shops all work together to make the crafting ecosystem go 'round. And in case you're tempted to reject Crowfall's claim to a crafting crown, recall that the game does indeed include item decay.

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Perfect Ten: Comparing Druids across MMORPGs

If I asked you what a Mage is in an MMORPG, what would you say? Some cloth-wearing gal who lugs around a long staff and flings fireballs (or other elemental chunks) at bad guys. What about Rogues? Stealthy sneaks with twin daggers and lightning-fast attacks. Warriors? Big lugs with shields and swords larger than most compact cars. Fantasy class tropes are so ingrained that even developers seem powerless to go against them.

But there always seems to be this weird exception when it comes to Druids. A Druid in one MMO isn't quite the same as one in a different game. Sure, there are usually some common threads -- most notably an attunement to and use of nature -- but each team has more freedom to interpret and design the Druid concept how it likes.

I thought it would be fun today to riffle through some of the current and past MMOs that have boasted a Druidic class (if not always in name) and see where the similarities and end and the wild notions begin.

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Crowfall's seventh class is the mighty minotaur

One of the neat aspects of Crowfall's archetypes is how the team is scouting a wider range of fantasy races for its inspiration. Move over, centaurs; this week, the spotlight is all on the minotaur Myrmidon. This newest archetype will soon join the game's pre-alpha roster, bringing the class total to seven.

Of course, it shouldn't be a huge surprise that the devs decided to bring Shadowbane's minotaur into their newest project. On WorthplayingJ. Todd Coleman said that Crowfall represents the ultimate do-over for him: "Shadowbane was one of the earliest attempts to create a dynamic world, a simulation of reality where the players drive the history and create the stories. It didn’t work as well as we would have liked, for a handful of design and technical reasons, but I never lost that dream. Crowfall offers me another chance to build it."

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Getting perspective on Chronicles of Elyria's planned PvP and PvE featureset

Anyone on the MassivelyOP team will probably tell you that I won't shut up about Chronicles of Elyria. There's so much to like about the game Soulbound Studios wants to build! Like many of you, I backed the game, and I've been literally battling to keep myself from donating $500 max to the Kickstarter; so far, I've backed at only the $40 tier, and I've never gone over $35 for any Kickstarter in the past. I don't easily part with my money, especially for a game in development. While Elyria has a lot going for it, I've noticed recently that the developers and some fans might have gotten a little over excited since hitting their funding goal, and I've seen people comment about pulling out their funds because of this. The team recently released some answers to some good questions on Reddit, but some answers still feel a bit too optimistic. Maybe it's time we bring things back down to Earth.

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Perfect Ten: MMORPGs with huge class rosters

After talking with Mark Jacobs the other week about the difficulty of balancing Camelot Unchained's 30 classes, it got my mind thinking of MMOs that don't merely stop with a half-dozen or so classes in their roster. It seems like having a wide array of class choices used to be in vogue early on in the industry but has since been abandoned for a smaller field of archetypes that are easier to manage.

Me? I love choices, particularly with classes. My interest in a game gets a shot in the arm if I have a lot of prospects for alts -- the more, the better. So I started drawing up a list of MMOs with large class rosters and decided to make it into a full-blown column.

For the purpose of today's list, I'm not counting skill-based MMOs (which could be considered as hosting infinite classes). Also, for games that allow a measure of mix-and-matching between classes, I'm counting only the actual classes or powersets available, not the total number of permutations that could be created by their merging. So which MMO has enough classes to satisfy your appetite?

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The Daily Grind: Where are all the MMORPG themeparks?

A reader named Rogbarz emailed us toward the end of last year, lamenting the fact that we have a lot of upcoming indie games seemingly aping one facet of early Ultima Online or Shadowbane, but not a lot of games on the way emulating the genre's themeparks. "Write about the need for a new MMO that brings back classic raiding, dungeons, the way older MMOs like World of Warcraft, Lord of the Rings Online, and Final Fantasy used to and still do," he commanded. "I think people do want a new MMO like this, but nothing is coming out."

I suspect that the modern distinterest in new themeparks specifically has a lot to do with how much time and money they require to produce (and maintain), which isn't something that's happening in this current economic climate, but it's probably a very good thing for the existing themeparks. What say you? Where are all the MMO themeparks? Which upcoming one (or older one) have you got your eye on?

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The Game Archaeologist: Shadowbane

Way back when I used to haunt the corridors of Gamestop and had yet to shun the place due to its stinky evil, I remember being enticed with these fancy-pantsy "MMORPG" boxes when I'd see them on the shelf. I must have picked up Shadowbane a dozen or so times to check out the blurbs on the back, mentally weighing whether or not this would be the one to introduce me to online gaming, but ultimately it was not to be.

It's probably for the best, considering that Shadowbane was primarily PvP and I'm a PvE guy at heart. Plus, the title never really took off the way that publisher Ubisoft had hoped, spending most of its six years of operation lurking in the background of the MMO industry instead of sharing the spotlight.

But still, six years! That's not the worst run we've ever seen from an MMO. Considering that its creator has gone on to make Crowfall with some of the same ideas, it's as timely as ever to take a look back at Shadowbane and what it brought to the table.

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Battle Bards podcast listens to MMO character creation music

Battle Bards, the world’s first and only MMO music podcast, returns to listen to the oft-neglected character creation themes. What music do composers create for us to listen while we craft our MMO avatars? It turns out that there's quite a wide range of tunes!

Battle Bards is a bi-weekly podcast that alternates between examining a single MMO’s soundtrack and exploring music tracks revolving around a theme. MOP’s Justin Olivetti co-hosts with bloggers Steff and Syl. The cast is available on iTunes, Stitcher, and Player.FM.

We've got Episode 62: Character Creation Music for you after the break!
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'No more grind': PvP sandbox Das Tal launches its Kickstarter

As promised, buy-to-play indie PvP sandbox Das Tal has begun a Kickstarter campaign today to coincide with the launch of the German wing of the Kickstarter platform. Das Tal isn't a new game for many of you as we've been covering it on Massively OP and Massively-that-was, but the pitch puts the game's development goals in focus:

Das Tal is the world's first Open World Battle Arena. It is the love-child of a Sandbox MMORPG and a fast-paced PvP Arena. Our goal is to make MMOs fun again for PvP fans. No more grind. No more pay-to-win. No more tab-targeting. We are creating a game designed to be compatible with the busy life of an adult gamer.

Das Tal's devs have already been working on the game for several years and have plenty of game footage to show for it. The title is due to launch next year; the alpha is expected in the next few months. The Kickstarter, they say, is specifically intended to pay artists to flesh out the world.

I spoke with Fairytale Distillery Managing Director Alexander Zacherl last week to pick his brain on the PvP MMO market, the B2P model, graphics snobbery, and the apparent contradiction in the game's hardcore-but-not-entirely design. We've got a fresh Kickstarter video as well. Read on for all of it!

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Crowfall unveils the badass lady Champion

Crowfall unveiled the concept art for the female Champion today, and... well, it's pretty great. She's huge, she's visibly powerful, and she's intended to be threatening. You should really look at the full thing even if you're not usually all that concerned with Crowfall. Honestly.

There's also a new video available in which artist Joe Mad and his brother wax poetic about their mutual love of Shadowbane and their excitement for Crowfall, which is much more specific to those of you who are concerned with Crowfall. Seriously, though, that lady Champion concept. That's some good stuff.

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Crowfall: The ultimate union of MMOs and strategy

What do you get when you take a few of the most experienced developers in the MMO industry and give them the freedom to buck the safe trend of copycatting World of Warcraft? And what would you get if you further challenged them to combine the progression from MMOs with the always-fresh strategy genre? You might just end up with something like Crowfall.

As you read this, Crowfall has launched its Kickstarter funding campaign after weeks of speculation, reveals, and an always-ticking countdown timer. ArtCraft has done all it can to prime the pump for community investment, and now we'll have to see whether it will pay off spectacularly... or be deemed too niche for primetime.

Last week, I chatted with ArtCraft's J. Todd Coleman and Gordon Walton for a no-holds-barred discussion about Crowfall. Enough with the teases and partial revelation; I wanted the full picture. What is Crowfall, really? And how will it set itself apart from the MMO pack?

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The Daily Grind: Which MMO boasts the best bard?

A player on Reddit recently asked one of the most pressing questions in the MMO genre today: "Where can I find a fun Bard-like class?" Though often posts on the MMORPG Reddit aren't heavily populated, this one elicited dozens of responses and ideas. I'm telling you: Bards are awesome, and everyone knows it.

Naturally, the thread quickly devolved into bragging about just who could twist the most songs as a Bard in classic EverQuest.

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