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Stray Bullet Games
MMORPG | Genre:Fantasy | Status:Cancelled  (est.rel 03/25/03)  | Pub:UBISoft
PVP:Yes | Distribution:Retail | Retail Price:Free | Pay Type:Free | Monthly Fee:Free
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Shadowbane Progress Reports: Progress Report

By Timothy Till on November 11, 2005

Two and a half years and going

Artilce by Timothy Till

Shadowbane was released in the spring of 2003 amidst a great deal of excitement and anticipation. It promised to be a unique, innovative, and daring take on the MMORPG gaming experience. Open PvP, player built cities, siege combat, a dynamic character advancement process, and an astounding amount of game lore, combined to make Shadowbane one of, if not the, most anticipated MMORPG of all time. Over two years have passed since Shadowbane went gold. How does it measure up to the hype it generated? Play to Crush. That’s the official Shadowbane motto, and by all accounts, whether for the betterment or detriment of the game, that’s what Shadowbane lives by.

Character Creation
Shadowbane has the most unique and engaging character creation and advancement options available in the MMORPG market. Most games you choose a race, a class, and occasionally you can even customize starting attributes for a handful of games, but in this regard, Shadowbane leaves them all in the dust.

Shadowbane touts an impressive twelve player character races. Each of these races is amazingly unique in the abilities they bring to the game both in play-style and PvP, as well as in the lore and story concepts behind each of them. At release they offered you Humans, Aelfborn, Dwarves, Elves, Half-Giants, Shades, and Irekei. Then with extended game time or advanced accounts you could also play Centaurs, Aracoix, or Minotaurs. The Rise of Chaos expansion pack opened up Nephilim, and the Throne of Oblivion expansion pack opened up Vampires.

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At character creation you choose your race and base class: Fighter, Mage, Healer, and Rogue. Once your character hits level ten you’re able to promote to your Profession. Your base class and your race determine what professions are available to you at promotion. There are currently a total of twenty-two professions available. Then upon reaching level twenty you are able to choose Disciplines to further customize your character. A character is available to have up to four disciplines applied. There are a total of forty-six disciplines, and your base class, profession, and race all factor in determining which disciplines you are eligible for.

Apart from the myriad of options available to you, there are still even more ways to customize your character. Most games give you have a linear level of progression, with most of your character’s strengths and weaknesses decided for you. Shadowbane allows you to completely customize what aspects of your base class, profession, and discipline you focus on as you advance. This process ensures a near limitless amount of specialized character builds and templates. Each character can be unique to the point that PvP has the potential to always be fresh and exciting.

Player Versus Player
Play to Crush. This is one area in which Shadowbane has delivered in spades. How many times have you been leveling in a game only to have someone camping the spawn you need, kill stealing from you, talking smack, annoying you, or have you just been bored and wanted to turn an avatar into a digital grease stain but have been hamstrung by zone or server based PvP at best? No such restriction in Shadowbane. People fight over leveling zones, valuable resource mines, cities, territory, unique item drops, rune and enhancement zones, and pride.

Shadowbane really shines in guild versus guild combat. While it’s easy for lone characters to go out and make a dent in large amounts of enemies, it’s the group dynamic of PvP that truly brings home the excitement. With all the character types available many players are able to form specialized groups out for PvP, each group specced with its own strengths and weaknesses and tailored to their play-style.

Graphics and Gameplay
The Shadowbane engine is perhaps the worst of its assets. Blocky avatars, excessive lag in excessively large encounters, a mouse click movement system, and a general non-intuitive interface has been a point of frustration for many people. Bugs are typically resolved with subsequent patches, but it seems after every content or bug fix patch another bug arises. This is common with many games, but in a game where PvP is the focus, fighting enemies who constantly use these bugs to their advantage can be frustrating to the point of cancellation.

City Building
Currently, players can use four different art templates to construct their cities using racial architectures: Human, Irekei, Elf, and Northman architecture are the four sets currently available. While it would be nice if Shadowbane would expand this list to bring better diversity to their city sets, there is an announced plan to at the very least add many city beautification options for cities. Details, however, have yet to be released.

Some players build cities for looks or market purposes, but most guilds are constantly striving to make their cities impregnable fortresses with multiple walls, guards, and siege engines. The customization of cities and the building aspect is something many players enjoy immensely, but some prefer to just tear down other people’s homes.

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