It just hit me today. Shadowbane is gone. For good. I can’t go back and play it again. Ever. At least until the SBEmu project gets done. It feels strange, thinking that tomorrow morning, instead of getting up to pwn in PvP at a siege, I’ll be blasting experiments on Anarchy Online or role-playing on Morrowind (which, IMO, is far superior to Oblivion). Even the website for ShadowBane (chronicle.ubi.com) is gone now. It redirects to the Ubisoft home page.
I’ve also discovered what turned me off to AO in the first place. The combat is slow. Seriously, the only ones who deal any major damage until lvl 100 are the Enforcers. Everyone else is stuff with some pretty crappy dps. At about lvl 100, Agents can one-hit-kill most mobs, but only once every 2.5 minutes. In Shadowbane, combat was fast. And for me, the measuring rod for all MMORPGs is ShadowBane.
Today, in my boredom from AOs slow combat, I finished my Fallout 3 mod, Vault 113 (http://www.fallout3nexus.com/downloads/file.php?id=4569), while waiting on the combat in AO. If the combat is that slow, you have a problem. Even WoWs combat speed in raids is about on par with the standard AO speed. And for those that dont know, raid mobs take between 1 minute and 5 minutes each. Alright, so not that slow, but it feals the same. Not a whole lot is going on to watch during combat. Even though AO is now officially the most tweak-heavy MMORPG still running, without good combat, it’s doomed. It’s on the way there already
Not all is lost though, I still have Morrowind, and I’ve been having waaaaaaaaaaaaay to much fun on it.
Even though I had previously stated that I would be playing ShadowBane until it shuts down on July 1st, I have changed my mind. An MMORPG without the MMO is no fun at all. Especially one like ShadowBane, where the entire end-game revolves around PvP combat. There is almost no one on anymore. I am officially pronouncing ShadowBane dead to me.
The second MMO I played (with the first being that craptastic game Runescape) was Anarchy Online. It was fun, but getting stuck in the Temple of the Three Winds for 3 months unable to level because I kept dying just before I got enough XP is NOT fun. So I stopped playing, found ShadowBane, and never looked back. Until now. I’ve installed AO again, and relearned all my nanos and attacks. In the past couple of days I went from level 50 to level 65. No small feat (IMHO) after my previous inability to level. I also got involved in a bit of intrigue regarding a previously banned player. More on that once I find out whether I can blab about it without guild repercussions if anyone finds out.
Yeah, I know most of the people who read this will be totally uninterested, but maybe someday a gamedev will read it and decide he likes the idea, and create the next shadowbane. Anyway, ShadowBane is a hybrid MMORPG/MMORTS. Guilds can build cities complete with defenses, item shops, spawns, etc. But in order to maintain such expensive structures and allow new expansion (and more cities! My Nation of 5 guilds currently has 3 fully built cities), guilds need to capture mines. Mines produce a stead flow of resources, but cannot have defenses built around them. To make up for this, they can only be attacked during a 1-hour slot each day. Mine fights usually last about 10 minutes, the last 10 minutes of the hour. Why? The defending guild usually has more than one mine, and not enough people to defend all of them. They need time to get there. My guild’s strategy is something like this:
- Gather around mine and keep away other players.
- Wait till 30-40 minutes into the hour, then start ‘bashing’ the mine (you need special tools to attack a mine, usually we have 5 ‘bashers’ and everyone else keeps them and the ‘prospector’ (discussed below) alive)
- Wait for the other guild to show up
- Pwn other guild in PvP
- At the 45 minute mark, one of our two ‘prospectors’ (players who have used one of 4 rune slots to allow them to capture mines), will begin capturing the mine, which takes about 10 minutes. One priest keeps the prospector alive, while the other priests keep the defenders alive.
- The other guild brings in it’s Druids and Furies (who have incredibly powerful Area of Effect spells) and kiters (who drag us into the AoE range) and spam us with 4-5 different AoE spells dealing ~600dmg (for reference, with buffs my Thief has 2658 HP, which is low for a combat player) every 5 seconds (Last night, we had 4 dealing between 400 and 750 damage every 5 seconds. That comes to about 2400 damage every 5 seconds. More than enough to kill me before I had a chance at hitting a caster. These spells have graphics which virtually blind you, making it tough to find the casters in the first place, or even get out of range!). IF the casters are killed the spell stops. The catch is, the casters are at the center of the maelstrom.
- A ninja cap guild tries to steal the mine by coming in at the last minute, killing our priests and prospector, and prospecting the mine.
- The Defending guild attacks the Ninja guild, while we are caught in the middle of the AoE stun/damage range.
- We get prospector #2 on the mine
- Most of us die now. Those who live sit back in Stealth laughing and watching the Ninja fight the Defenders without realizing we switched prospectors on them, and the Defenders fight back, unable to see through the AoE hailstorm that a new prospector is on the mine.
- We capture the mine.
That is the gist of it. It’s incredibly fun. Last night almost 120 people got involved in the massive PvP brawl at the end. I landed 4 kills (1/30th of the number of players) and 12 assists (1/10th of the number of players). Those are unusually high numbers for a thief. Normally I show up, scout, and die. For some reason my Guild Leader decided I had done extraordinarily, so he said I could have a favor of him. I haven’t taken that yet. Eventually I will. When WillixShopper the Aracoix Thief shows up again. Then, I have a score to settle.
If Shadowbane had any time left for history, today would go down in it. The Elite Vorgrim Armor drops from mobs who spawn once every 30 minutes. The armor has a <10% chance of dropping per kill. It cannot be stolen off the mob without killing it. And it is heavily camped. (There are also Vorgrim Daggers, Bows, and Staffs). Today I went from having no vorgrim to having almost a full Thief set. I somehow managed to dodge ALL of the campers, beat the odds, and loot a whopping 2 daggers in a row, the chestpiece, the gloves, and the bow. Along with getting a Dexterity of the Gods rune (Dex +2, Max Dex + 40) rune that let me max out my dex to a higher score than most people can even dream of: 180 without buffs. (262 with my current equipment and buffs). In short, I had a 1 to 1 million chance of getting all of that equipment consecutively (i.e. no dropper came up empty), and I did it. Most people spend weeks camping the Vorgrim armor to get where I got in about 2 hours. Ridiculous, no? Anyway…my toon is also about to hit the level cap on there, so then he will be the Perfect Thief™. If anyone wants to join me during the last days of ShadowBane, go to http://chronicle.ubi.com for more info. I play on the Thurin server and my main character’s name is Aeri Atlanis. You can /who Atlanis to see if I’m using an alt as well. Good night!!
Before I begin you need a little background:
I have played almost every MMORPG in existence. Everquest I & II, Asheron’s Call, WoW, Shadowbane, Anarchy Online, EVE Online, Runescape, etc. The list goes on but I can’t think of any more now. I am by no means a new MMOer. The three games I have spent the most time on are Anarchy Online, WoW, and ShadowBane.
ShadowBane is the greatest MMORPG ever created. Ever. Posting nethack scores doesn’t count. MUDs are good, but the old SB RolePlay servers were at least as good. So, here is what makes ShadowBane the best MMORPG ever, and why it didn’t pwn WoW.
- Deep, deep lore. Lore is everywhere. Almost all the items have lore. The few NPCs that there are have lore. Every freakin’ thing in the game has lore. I have never been so drawn into a computer game (not counting Morrowind).
- Free PvP. After noobland (a small island off the coast of the main continents), there are only 2 no-PvP zones. To some people, this was a turn off. As a PvP lover, this was heaven.
- Thieves could actually steal. Yes, that’s right. If you played a thief, you got the Peek and Pick Pocket powers. So even though thieves routinely get their butts whooped in PvP (until you get dual Vorgrim Daggers), they were still fun to play.
- Sneak turned you invisible. And there was no friggin’ way for other players to see you! None! Zip! Nada! The only Sneak-breaker is an AoE! Scouts, and the Bounty Hunter runes (which I spent 3 weeks camping before finally scoring a ninja loot) let you see them, but until they are HIT they remain invisible to everyone else.
- The classes were well balanced and made sense. Yes, as i mentioned in #4, Scouts can see sneaking people. Priests could raise dead, Necromancers could raise skeletons. Druids had nature magic and were the primary AoEers. Assassins were high-dps. You get the picture.
- The races were exagerated. It cost skill points to play certain races, such as the Vampires and Aracoix. But with good reason. Vampires have no MP, but instead use HP for everything. That sounds bad, but they also get the Vampire’s Kiss ability, which lets them drain HP from pretty much anything. And Aracoix could fly. I’ll give you time to read that a few times. THEY COULD FLY!!!!!!!!!!!! What other MMO lets you do that from the start of the game (FlyFF doesn’t count!).
- The land was big, but not too big. Just big enough that you could run across it (because there was no transport system other than Runemasters, who could insta-port you from city to city), but wouldn’t want to. Flying could take you across oceans and get to places no one else could.
And now why WoW killed it:
- At launch, a couple of crackers teleported the one safehold (aka No-PvP city) into the middle of the ocean. Oh, and the lag was bad.
- The graphics were sub-par and the game is a memory hog.
- Free PvP. That’s not for everyone, but for those who love it, WoW has it too, it just looks prettier there.
- The advertising was targetting at hardcore players, not everday people. The few TV spots made parents want to shield children’s eyes with the beutifully rendered battles and dark magics.
Anyway, I’ll be playing Shadowbane till they shut it down. The rest of you can go back to your WoW (or Runescape) now.