If you have been a regular around the site for the past few months you have probably seen the name Shards Online. Under development by Citadel Studios, Shards is being billed as a new generation in sandbox multiplayer gaming. In fact it made such an impression on the team around here that it was awarded the Best Indie MMO at PAX this year.
Citadel created a KickStarter in an attempt to finance development on Shards but were unable to reach their funding goal. Undaunted by this fact Citadel is still full steam ahead in development. Realizing that their KickStarter pitch may have been lacking Citadel has promised to tighten up their development plan and with that has laid out a roadmap of what the public can expect to see from them over the course of the next 18 months.
Between their KickStarter and Winter 2015 Citadel Studios has established 7 development milestones to reach Beta. The first milestone they have already passed, Pre-Alpha 1: Game Preview. This is the the build you can take a look at in the video below and could anyone could actually play in the final weekend of Citadel’s KickStarter.
Shards’ next phase is due out early this fall and is Pre-Alpha 2: Modding Preview. This release will add servers hosted by Citadel Studios that players will be able to mod. A server admin interface, world object editor, regions and paths editor, and a template and script modding tool will be added. Most of these tools will allow you to create mods without having to write script. Citadel wants community involvement and its members running their own shards as soon as possible. They also want modders actively working right out of the gate and hopefully have user made mods ready in time for Alpha.
The third milestone is Alpha 1: Celador. Due in winter this year Alpha 1 will bump the cap on players per shard from 32 to 64. It will also add in the Celador map, player housing, a dynamic resource system, female playable characters, crafting, and possession God power. Celador is the main PvE map in shards. Housing being added in is also a big deal. Housing in Shards will not be instanced. Everyone will be able to view your house. Citadel also plans to allow players to modify their house in numerous ways, every item that is in the world will be interactable and can be used as a decoration for your home.
Milestone 4 is Alpha 2: Clusters. While stated on their roadmap as Spring 2015, during a recent Q&A Citadel clarified that they want this to be about 3 months after Alpha 1 starts so people can start creating their own clusters. This milestone adds the cluster technology which will allow creators to link up to 5 shards. This will allow a maximum of 320 players across shards. On the non tech side spell and potion crafting will be added as well as player run merchants, face and hair customization, and dyeable equipment.
Due in early summer 2015 is Alpha 3: Tower of Babel. On the tech side this update eliminates the cap on the number of shards per cluster. On the content side this update adds the Tower of Babel map which is a large dungeon planned on being between 5 and 10 levels. Each level will in effect be its own self contained dungeon. New monster types, weapons, and spells will also be added. Citadel also plans to add a Mobile app at this point that allows players to control their hired NPCs in game.
The final alpha milestone due in late summer 2015 is Alpha 4: Colosseum. This update adds in guilds and guild halls, rune scribe and enchanting skills, and updates the mobile app to send event notifications to players. This update also adds in the Colosseum. As the name would suggest the Colosseum is a large arena. PvP will be present as well as a form of PvE where players will have to survive waves of attacking monsters.
The seventh and final milestone is Beta itself. This is currently slated for winter 2015. For beta we will see the release of a new map, Terminus, and some new monsters and weapons. The primary focus of beta, however, will be bug fixes.
Citadel Studios seems to have set for themselves a pretty focused schedule with clear objectives. While they can’t be happy that their original KickStarter was not a success instead of closing up shop they really appear to have gained a second wind. Another thing you’ll notice is that Citadel is not taking any donations on their website. When I asked Derek Brinkmann, CEO Citadel Studios, how they planned on funding continued development he said they, “are strongly considering a second crowdfunding campaign with a smaller goal.” Hopefully we will know more in August. Until that time I’ll be keeping an eye on how development goes.
Robert Lashley / Robert Lashley is a Staff Writer and Online host for MMORPG.com. Rob's bald and when he isn't blinding people from the glare on his head talking in front of a camera you can find him spending his free time checking out the latest games and technology. Feel free to hunt him down on twitter @Grakulen
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