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Shadowbane Out Now on Steam! Yes, You Read That Right!

DocshiftyDocshifty Registered User regular
I know, I was just as surprised as you are. Shadowbane, the notHit MMO from 2003, is back and released on Steam last week.

Hailing from the time when MMO's were the brave new frontier of gaming, Shadowbane brings intriguing mechanics to the genre, like
Character Customization: One of the two unique pillars of Shadowbane, this is the one that gripped me when the game came out. Unlike launch WoW, or SWTOR, or other MMO's, your character was more than your class, your race went far beyond your appearance, and your prestige class meant more than a talent tree. Character building in Shadowbane begins with a simple choice, your race. Beyond choosing your looks though, this determined your starting stats, your stat caps, and your available basic class. Each race also came with certain racial traits, both positive and negative. Each character gets 30 freebie points at creation, to spend on stat increases, or runestones that could give you stat bonuses, or even entire skills you wouldn't have access to, like the ability to dual wield (RIP Rekthar, the dual-wielding axe throwing Half-Giant Barbarian). However, every race cost a number of your freebie points (A Centaur, for example, takes 10 of your 30 points), except for humans, who not only did not cost points but also gave you 1 extra point per level up.


So your race is chosen, which then determines what basic class you can select: Fighter, Healer, Rogue, Mage. Your starting class will determine your beginning skills. These skills range from armor types and weapon types to schools of magic, like Liturgy or Benediction. You even have skills like Dodge, Parry, Bargaining, Running, Athletics, and Toughness. In total, there are 57 Skills in the game. But there's more! At level 10, you then choose your prestige class. This is where your choice of race and base class combine to determine what you can promote to. But guess what? Many classes can be chosen from multiple base classes. You could be a Mage Bard, or a Rogue Bard. You could be a Mage Warlock or a Fighter Warlock (Yeah you heard that, a melee base class with a caster promotion). There are 22 prestige classes.

Beyond that, you have three discipline slots that you can fill as you play the game. What you can equip is determined by your race and class. The disciplines are another layer of specialization (or hybridization, depending on your goals). These are akin to WoW professions or SWTOR crew skills, except they are not crafting skills, but could be more aptly described as mini-classes. Taking the Saboteur disc, for example, gives you abilities like stealth (Which is helpful if you aren't a rogue) and untrackability, a personal teleport, and the ability to shut down siege equipment during a bane. Or, you could take the Wererat disc, which, well, you can guess. These disc can also grant skills you may not be able to access otherwise. There are 48 of these disciplines.

So, you have 12 races, with 22 classes, 55 skills, combining to create your character. As you can see from these numbers alone, this is a staggering amount of choice in how you want to craft your character. Indeed, you can roll two characters, with the same race, base class, prestige class, and disciplines. But if you choose to train different skills on those characters, they can play entirely differently from one another. This was one of the biggest things that drew me to the game back in the day. When it comes to conflict between players, the classes of Shadowbane are definitely built on the idea of rock paper scissors. A Thief can demolish Warriors that depend on their armor alone. Scouts are some of the fastest characters, have the best tracking, can beat out anybody's stealth (Indeed, the only way to get a drop on a good scout is to be a scout yourself). With 22 classes, no matter what someone chooses, there are people they can take on, and others they should avoid.

The other pillar was the focus of the game: PvP. Or more specifically: PvP beyond random free for alls and ganking. Before warzones, Shadowbane said "What if we let players build entire cities for their guilds? And then let them wage war with each other?" Shadowbane was a game of politics, overshadowed only by EVE in scope. Your guild could claim rule over an entire zone, collecting taxes from other cities in the zone, wage wars against bitter rivals, or simply open your gates to everyone and rake in gold as players come and go, buying what they need from your crafters.
The political aspect of Shadowbane is beyond intriguing. Guilds could be attack on sight, simply because one person had killed another during leveling, and the victim held a grudge. Wealer guilds could pay tribute, hoping to convince larger guilds to ignore them and throw a bane on someone else (Banes were Shadowbane's method of setting the terms for large scale conflict. An attacker would put a bane on a defender's city, meaning it could be attacked and destroyed, but the defending city go to choose the time when the bane would be active, ensuring they couldn't be targetted at a time that they were mostly offline).
Shadowbane's main focus, from day one, was player conflict. The game tracks who you kill, who killed you, has a pvp channel that announces deaths as they happen. Hell, there's an entire class whose big hook is stealing from other people's inventories. Your inventory can be looted from your body (Thankfully, you don't need to actually carry anything on you, so it would be anything you have looted, and if you loot something you really want to keep, you can use a recall scroll to immediately get back to town and throw your treasure in your bank).




Now, having heaped praise on the game, Shadowbane has some actual, real issues that are totally justifiable in not bothering with the game, such as

Click to move
Edge-scrolling camera control only, by default (I've rebound this to WASD)
Just, the worst graphics. Seriously, it looked bad on release and it hasn't gotten better
An arcane engine built specifically for this game. It has atrocious draw distance, everything is covered in a fog to cover that, and hills and mountains are sudden 90 degree terrain changes that your character just glides across no problem
Inventory loot on death. Yeah, this goes on the negative too, cause a lot of people just don't like that. Though there's a good chance if looting on death is a dealbreaker for you, most of this game will be
The UI. My god, the UI. It looks bad, the default layout is pants-on-head, and you need to alter it to get the information you actually want on the screen. Worse, it doesn't scale to modern resolutions. So it can be difficult to read your status bar numbers because the text is tiny, thanks to it remaining the same size at 2880X1620 that is was at 800X600
Obfuscation of information. What does STR do? Well, if you check your character sheet in game, you aren't going to be told. Luckily, the stats are basic and easy to figure out (STR, DEX, CON, INT, SPR). The bigger issue with lack of information is that you won't know what race or classes give access to what skills. Luckily, as the game is 20 years old, and has had emulators running for years, there's a wiki for that. A wiki that just so happens to be using the same map and build as the Steam version.


Shadowbane is an almost 20 year old game filled with arcane game design choices, dated graphics and gameplay, and a core of "Make what you will".
For people with old fuzzy fond memories of Shadowbane, it is a nostalgia trip I am still enjoying. For 9 dollars, it honestly is a joyous return to youthful times.

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    BigityBigity Lubbock, TXRegistered User regular
    Man I spent alot of time in this game. First game I really got into PvP (well, you had to).

    Loved the whole assaulting enemy guild towns deal.

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    darkmayodarkmayo Registered User regular
    I did a double take when I saw someone on my steam friends list playing this. Gave this game a few tries over the years (pretty sure I still have the box for it somewhere) I liked the idea but it never ever clicked for me , I think the thing I liked most was the variety in classes and the guild working together to make bases etc. Everything else was garbage. Even if it was something I loved I dont think I would try it again, made that mistake when I fired up DAoC years ago... just clunky and painful to play.

    Switch SW-6182-1526-0041
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    BigityBigity Lubbock, TXRegistered User regular
    Yup, one of those games that was a blast in a group, but pretty awful otherwise.

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    RoeRoe Always to the East Registered User regular
    edited February 2021
    I actually bought SB back when it released. My friends had a blast playing it, but I uninstalled mainly because it lagged on my computer and the combat wasn't my style.

    Glad to see it back. This time I think I'll actually play it.

    Roe on
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    DocshiftyDocshifty Registered User regular
    It feels fun once you grapple with the outdated controls and frankly bad UI.

    I went to log off but had forgotten a recall scroll, and found a +25 INT rune so I didn't wanna risk just logging in the wild (you remain in the world for 1 minute), so I go running back to town.

    Suddenly I see in the combat log someone is casting something. I immediately hit my stealth and wait, hoping it finishes before they try something. It does. That's when they approach and I let out a sigh of relief. Turns out it was a guildie. So I turn to begin the trek back to town.

    When someone else shows up. This person isn't a guildie, and so I follow him as he approaches my guildmate. So I'm watching both of these people, who have no idea I'm there, waiting to see if my guildmate gets jumped, ready to spring out of the shadows to help him. I didn't even know this dude, but the way Shadowbane is constructed, you need the support of your guild to succeed. The quickest way to lose that support is to let one of 'em die when you could help.

    Although, now that I think about it since neither player knew I was there, I could let the rando kill my guildmate, kill the rando, then get both of their inventories. Ahh, Shadowbane.

    Anyways, nothing happened, after about 30 seconds I left, and that is the end of an uneventful, but actually really fun story.

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    Kevin CristKevin Crist I make the devil hit his knees and say the 'our father'Registered User regular
    Ran around a bit as a Human Healer, once I get the lay of the land I might do a melee class.

    Tough As Nails and Touch Of Madness are great traits.

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    Steam: YOU FACE JARAXXUS| Twitch.tv: CainLoveless
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    Kai_SanKai_San Commonly known as Klineshrike! Registered User regular
    As an Asheron's Call player, Shadowbane was always like the child of Darktide.

    I think most of the politics from there transferred over even. It was kind of a natural evolution of UO.

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    CorriganXCorriganX Jacksonville, FLRegistered User regular
    Oh my GOD. Shadowbane is back!? I loved this game so fucking much. Mage assassins were so great.

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    CorriganX on Steam and just about everywhere else.
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    DocshiftyDocshifty Registered User regular
    CorriganX wrote: »
    Oh my GOD. Shadowbane is back!? I loved this game so fucking much. Mage assassins were so great.

    Fucking right! I think I legit froze in utter bewilderment for a second when I saw it on Steam, then recovered and immediately purchased.

    So far concurrent pop according to steam charts seems to hang at around 300 after one week of release. Having a lot of fun. And someone just opened a trainer city to get skills up to and over 100.

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    DocshiftyDocshifty Registered User regular
    Goddamn the altitis in this game is seriously strong. With so many options it is really hard not to immediately go "Oh, what if I make one of these...."

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    CorriganXCorriganX Jacksonville, FLRegistered User regular
    I picked up Shadowbane, and i've been playing it. It hits so many nostalgic hits, but Goddamn is it old as fuck. Its so hard to get back into it, but i'm trying. Its got a lot of getting back into it and keybinding everything. Is there a specific guild anyone else is in?

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    CorriganX on Steam and just about everywhere else.
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    DocshiftyDocshifty Registered User regular
    CorriganX wrote: »
    I picked up Shadowbane, and i've been playing it. It hits so many nostalgic hits, but Goddamn is it old as fuck. Its so hard to get back into it, but i'm trying. Its got a lot of getting back into it and keybinding everything. Is there a specific guild anyone else is in?

    Yeah, adapting back to Shadowbane is definitely hard, but after a few hours I got back into the swing of things. I've got a toon in Thief Kings, an old guild from the emulator that I will probably throw the test of mine in, but I've got no real recommendations one way or the other.

    Also, after you take the time to get your UI acceptable, remember you can load it on different characters. However, you will have to redo any keybind changes.

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    MrVyngaardMrVyngaard Live From New Etoile Straight Outta SosariaRegistered User regular
    Oh wow, I remember this game. It was pretty amazing upon later looking back to some old forums and finding out that the extensive RP playercity I was in was later dramatically betrayed from the inside by some guy I'd met once and thus turned to cinders one weekend.

    "now I've got this mental image of caucuses as cafeteria tables in prison, and new congressmen having to beat someone up on inauguration day." - Raiden333
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    Kevin CristKevin Crist I make the devil hit his knees and say the 'our father'Registered User regular
    God, this game eats time. I thought I'll just grind for a bit, and suddenly I miss a meal.

    I made a mage and got her to 10 and made her a Necro. Funny how the starting mage bolt did about 30dmg max and the necro bolt starts out doing around 70.

    I checked around the Morloch wiki but some of the leveling info is focused on the player run server. What should we be doing once one hits 10? Still stuff to do on the starting area?

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    Steam: YOU FACE JARAXXUS| Twitch.tv: CainLoveless
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    DocshiftyDocshifty Registered User regular
    God, this game eats time. I thought I'll just grind for a bit, and suddenly I miss a meal.

    I made a mage and got her to 10 and made her a Necro. Funny how the starting mage bolt did about 30dmg max and the necro bolt starts out doing around 70.

    I checked around the Morloch wiki but some of the leveling info is focused on the player run server. What should we be doing once one hits 10? Still stuff to do on the starting area?

    It isnt super obvious, but I have a link in the OP to Angelmar's newbie guide. It is geared towards the emu, but they are both on Vorringia so it basically all applies.

    https://morloch.shadowbaneemulator.com/index.php?title=Angelmar's_Comprehensive_Newb_Guide_V2

    As for leveling. You can start with ice spiders and huldas right outside the starter city until around 6 or 7, then head east to the zone. Theres a spot with huldagrrim and some leopards to get you up to around 10. Theres a wulfkin hut below the giant ass valley that can easily get you to 15. Then repledge to All Father's Rest and straight NW is an orc camp that is always a hot spot. You should be able to get a group. If there isnt one, head further NE for a smaller camp to level solo. You will eventually end up back at orcs. They will easily carry you to 22. You can leave it around 23 or 24 because the basic orcs are white at the point. Head like straight north for minotaurs. Depending on how okay you are with xp gain, you can hit 30 on the starter island there.

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    CorriganXCorriganX Jacksonville, FLRegistered User regular
    Thanks for the guide, it really brings back memories looking up some of the camps. Going to be getting back to leveling soon, can't wait.

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    CorriganX on Steam and just about everywhere else.
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    admanbadmanb unionize your workplace Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    Man, I played so much of Shadowbane back in the day. In between a ton of Anarchy Online and WoW's release I think I leveled four characters to cap and geared three of them.

    I already got way into two old PvP MMOs (Warhammer: Age of Reckoning followed by Dark Age of Camelot) so I don't think this will pull me away from WoW, but it's cool that it's out there.

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    DocshiftyDocshifty Registered User regular
    Also, if you are still looking for a guild, Thief Kings are open recruiting. The city is in Uldward right next to Ashfell so you can go right there after the newbie zone and itll take you into the 60s. Better than what I had to do (pledge to Aeldreth and run to Fellgrim)

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    BigityBigity Lubbock, TXRegistered User regular
    admanb wrote: »
    Man, I played so much of Shadowbane back in the day. In between a ton of Anarchy Online and WoW's release I think I leveled four characters to cap and geared three of them.

    I already got way into two old PvP MMOs (Warhammer: Age of Reckoning followed by Dark Age of Camelot) so I don't think this will pull me away from WoW, but it's cool that it's out there.

    AO is still around too, but man that UI. And the really dated MMO systems. Still, that was my first and will always hold a special place. Shadowbane as well, the first one I played serious PvP.

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    admanbadmanb unionize your workplace Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    Yeah. I can understand going back to PvP-based games because they just don’t make those anymore, but I couldn’t imagine playing AO in 2021.

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    DocshiftyDocshifty Registered User regular
    Yeah, like, I've gotten into a few mine defenses and some group fights, and the PVP in this game is still massively fun.

    Anyways, I'm Docshifty on steam if anyone wants someone to level with whenever.

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    GnomeTankGnomeTank What the what? Portland, OregonRegistered User regular
    I have so many memories of fun times in this game. The PvE systems were always too abusable, and the leveling process became getting in a particular group, and standing in particular places to farm NPC's as they popped...but when the PvP worked, and you got good large scale sieges, it was great.

    Sagroth wrote: »
    Oh c'mon FyreWulff, no one's gonna pay to visit Uranus.
    Steam: Brainling, XBL / PSN: GnomeTank, NintendoID: Brainling, FF14: Zillius Rosh SFV: Brainling
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    admanbadmanb unionize your workplace Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    GnomeTank wrote: »
    I have so many memories of fun times in this game. The PvE systems were always too abusable, and the leveling process became getting in a particular group, and standing in particular places to farm NPC's as they popped...but when the PvP worked, and you got good large scale sieges, it was great.

    I definitely did the majority of my leveling with a group that clipped through a wall into terrain and then macro’ed their PBAoEs.

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    DocshiftyDocshifty Registered User regular
    So. Someone posted a screenshot of someone from a guild asking a prospective recruit if they were okay with the n-word. The recruit was like wtf hell no, to which he was told it wasn't the guild for him. So one higher up responded to the post saying
    "Hey, that's just one member, he doesn't represent all of us, and this is slanderous and we will bane you if you don't take it down"

    To which another person responded with the reasonable "If he is so outside of what the guild is about, why not just kick him?"

    Then another guild officer showed up and declared this censorship. This person also said that it was a test, designed to weed out people who couldn't handle a stressful pvp situation (Fucking, lol)

    A day later another thread has shown up. Announcing a bane on the guild defending the open racist. I don't know what is going on because I am not involved in any of the guilds, but I am bemused by the idea of Shadowbane Justice Warriors. Just, burn down all of their racist ass shit, constantly.


    Honestly, I expected most of the audience of a 20 year old pvp game to be, well, unpleasant. But I am happily surprised to see pushback immediately.

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    CorriganXCorriganX Jacksonville, FLRegistered User regular
    Good, fuck that kind of guild. It can be stressful without being racist, bigoted, etc.

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    CorriganX on Steam and just about everywhere else.
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    BigityBigity Lubbock, TXRegistered User regular
    edited February 2021
    CorriganX wrote: »
    Good, fuck that kind of guild. It can be stressful without being racist, bigoted, etc.

    I can't ever picture the kind of baggage people must have to carry that kind of crap into a video game. It must hurt to intentionally be that obtuse/racist/idiot all the time.

    EDIT: I mean it's bad anywhere obviously, but to bring it into a video game is an extra layer of icing on the retard cake.

    Bigity on
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    DocshiftyDocshifty Registered User regular
    Yeah that is an absolute copout of a reason. Like the "it just slipped out/ I wasnt thinking." Racist ass bullshit is such a common part of their vernacular it has become automatic, like using uhm and like as filler in sentence, except it is racism as insults.

    In other news, alliances are starting to form and I've seen a couple banes drop, so the politicking has begun.

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    DocshiftyDocshifty Registered User regular
    A failed mine fight. We ended up fighting two groups at once that didn't turn on each other until we were out of the picture in the closing minutes of the window.

    219DED8AF2346E666959F24A4D87E225DAF0CF95

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    Kai_SanKai_San Commonly known as Klineshrike! Registered User regular
    Docshifty wrote: »
    So. Someone posted a screenshot of someone from a guild asking a prospective recruit if they were okay with the n-word. The recruit was like wtf hell no, to which he was told it wasn't the guild for him. So one higher up responded to the post saying
    "Hey, that's just one member, he doesn't represent all of us, and this is slanderous and we will bane you if you don't take it down"

    To which another person responded with the reasonable "If he is so outside of what the guild is about, why not just kick him?"

    Then another guild officer showed up and declared this censorship. This person also said that it was a test, designed to weed out people who couldn't handle a stressful pvp situation (Fucking, lol)

    A day later another thread has shown up. Announcing a bane on the guild defending the open racist. I don't know what is going on because I am not involved in any of the guilds, but I am bemused by the idea of Shadowbane Justice Warriors. Just, burn down all of their racist ass shit, constantly.


    Honestly, I expected most of the audience of a 20 year old pvp game to be, well, unpleasant. But I am happily surprised to see pushback immediately.

    It is amazing there are people who just acted this way back in the late 90s, that STILL act this way.

    Except I still know someone like that, who used to play with those kinds of people. Don't really talk to them at all anymore because its awkward, but I guess I am also not shocked.

    Just like, not growing as people at all over 20 years though. Yikes.

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    franciscourantfranciscourant Registered User regular
    Even though it's an old game with only few upgrades (at least graphically), it still achieves to get about 600 concurrent players on Steam. Not too bad! I remember playing once for like 15 minutes and quitting after that. Still has a lot of cool features like city building, guilds, character advancement and territory conquest.

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    DocshiftyDocshifty Registered User regular
    Even though it's an old game with only few upgrades (at least graphically), it still achieves to get about 600 concurrent players on Steam. Not too bad! I remember playing once for like 15 minutes and quitting after that. Still has a lot of cool features like city building, guilds, character advancement and territory conquest.

    Yeah, it is dated af, but what it does isnt really something filled by a newer game on the market.

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    franciscourantfranciscourant Registered User regular
    Docshifty wrote: »
    Even though it's an old game with only few upgrades (at least graphically), it still achieves to get about 600 concurrent players on Steam. Not too bad! I remember playing once for like 15 minutes and quitting after that. Still has a lot of cool features like city building, guilds, character advancement and territory conquest.

    Yeah, it is dated af, but what it does isnt really something filled by a newer game on the market.

    It's crazy how old MMORPGs (basically UO, EQ1, SW: Galaxies, SB and DaoC) never were surpassed in terms of gameplay. Sure today the graphics of modern MMORPGs look amazing, the combat improved a ton and there are more systems and features than ever, but we can't get back the vibe of the first MMOs. Maybe it's nostalgia, because it was our very first MMO so what we recall is only the positive things.

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    Kai_SanKai_San Commonly known as Klineshrike! Registered User regular
    Sad Asheron's Call isn't even on your list there :(

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    franciscourantfranciscourant Registered User regular
    Kai_San wrote: »
    Sad Asheron's Call isn't even on your list there :(

    True, I forgot that one (Anarchy Online and RuneScape also didn't make it).

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    BigityBigity Lubbock, TXRegistered User regular
    edited March 2021
    AO was my bae. It was just nice to have a MMO (or any class/level) type game that wasn't another fantasy setting, at the time.

    I still listen to the soundtrack.

    But yea, it still has plenty of warts when you try to go back and play it. Ugh.

    Bigity on
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    FiatilFiatil Registered User regular
    Docshifty wrote: »
    Even though it's an old game with only few upgrades (at least graphically), it still achieves to get about 600 concurrent players on Steam. Not too bad! I remember playing once for like 15 minutes and quitting after that. Still has a lot of cool features like city building, guilds, character advancement and territory conquest.

    Yeah, it is dated af, but what it does isnt really something filled by a newer game on the market.

    It's crazy how old MMORPGs (basically UO, EQ1, SW: Galaxies, SB and DaoC) never were surpassed in terms of gameplay. Sure today the graphics of modern MMORPGs look amazing, the combat improved a ton and there are more systems and features than ever, but we can't get back the vibe of the first MMOs. Maybe it's nostalgia, because it was our very first MMO so what we recall is only the positive things.

    I think nostalgia plays a bit of a factor, but not entirely. WoW was a black hole that consumed 90% of the MMO genre for years after its launch. Before WoW, innovation was the name of the game in MMOs. Do the weirdest most ambitious stuff to attract players. After WoW, the majority of MMO development shifted to trying to be the studio that makes "the WoW killer", largely by cloning its ideas but addressing some specific complaint people had. It turns out WoW was much more capable of cloning WoW and adapting than anyone else was, and we have a graveyard of MMOs to show for that.

    The commercial success of WoW combined with how expensive it is to make an MMO relative to other games just drove every publisher insane. It was all safe bets over and over again. I can't entirely blame the publishers since so many non-WoW MMOs were dying out around that time, but it did make me sad.

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    admanbadmanb unionize your workplace Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    Creative MMO development still exists, it just moved into open world survival games like Ark/Rust/Valheim. They're way easier and cheaper to make than a full MMO and ultimately better reproduce a lot of the goals those weird games were going for.

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    FiatilFiatil Registered User regular
    I agree! I wouldn't call them "MMOs" since they're not massively multiplayer, but yeah that's where the resources went. I was talking about the era after WoW's launch -- almost 10 years now that I think of it. Studios have pretty much given up on cloning/replacing WoW, and are making other, cooler, stuff instead.

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    BahamutZEROBahamutZERO Registered User regular
    it's just as well that focus shifted over to non-MMO survival games, so many smaller studios dashed themselves on the rocks of trying to break into the subscription MMO market for a decade after WoW.

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    nefffffffffffnefffffffffff Registered User regular
    edited October 2021
    This might be a bit of a necro post but is anyone still playing? I just hopped on after a while and am looking for people to play with.

    nefffffffffff on
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