Beginning on Saturday, December 12th, some big, big things will be happening with Shards Online during this weekend’s Pre-Alpha 3 event. All alpha backers from the $40+ tiers are now part of the testing process, but that’s not even the biggest news: The NDA has been lifted temporarily through the weekend so that fans and potential backers can get a first-hand look at the upcoming sandbox title from Citadel Studios.
We had the chance to speak with Derek Brinkmann about the Pre-Alpha 3 Event and what lies beyond, so let’s start with the coming weekend. Beginning at 6:00 pm Pacific (9:00 pm Eastern) on Saturday, November 12th, the Citadel team will be opening the floodgates to Shards Online with trio of really great things happening:
1. The NDA is lifting – anyone with access can stream which means more than the official events will be happening. “We are so excited about the launch that we’ll temporarily lift the NDA and finally lift it permanently when the alpha launches.” Brinkmann said.
2. The launch event itself – Take part in a virtual party at the developer’s office during a special live stream event via the Shards Twitch channel. “We’ll be playing and talking about the game. At least 4 devs will be playing during the stream from 6:00 pm until whenever.” This could be a golden opportunity to get a peek into the future for Shards!
In addition to the official office streaming party, DocGotGame, a popular streamer, will be showing off Shards on Sunday, December 13th beginning at 7:00 am Pacific / 10:00 am Eastern.
3. Earn Loyalty Points for participating – “We have a play tester reward program. There are certain ways to earn loyalty points in pre-alpha that never go away and will translate into a loyalty system. During the event, you get 100 loyalty points just for participating. It’s a way to reward testers. Points can be used on multiple characters. The items aren’t available yet but we have a list of what’s coming.
Best of all, anyone can still jump in to try out Shards during Pre-Alpha 3. The barrier to entry is much lower -- $40 gives immediate access to servers with a small 400Mb download after pledging.
The Road Beyond PA3
Pre-Alpha 3 is the last stage before Alpha testing begins in early 2016. It’s a big turning point and much more is coming to Shards between now and the launch of alpha. Players will want to take a look at the roadmap to Alpha 1 to see what is on the way, but a few things they can expect: delivery of all of the promises made during KickStarter and content including shard administration tools, fishing, crafting, etc.
The most important features that’s first on the slate for the next months is the addition of the cluster – the ability to travel from map to map.
“Celador is a lot of fun and we put all of our initial focus on that map to make it fun. It was important to get our first map solid and fun before adding additional maps. Many games today feature a huge wide open world that forces you run for hours without anything to do. What we are trying to do is to give our players a lot of content from the start that is all right there. Then we’ll move on to another map.” Derek explained. “Now we’ll add more maps. Our world-building efforts are already ahead of the content. We have 3 maps fully built out and ready to go.”
The new maps are:
Two Towers – a PvP only map - a small map made for specific events like Capture the Flag or a MOBA style battle of waves of monsters. This was originally developed very early on and is known to players.
Catacombs – community voted – It is its own shard and is prepped for alpha 1. This map is an undead dungeon with a Shards Online twist. It’s split into two regions – Upper that is inhabited by religious refugees who have been persecuted and brought by gods to the catacombs. They’re stuck on the top level but their food source is below where the undead are. These undead are the members of the army of the God of the Void, one of the elemental gods.
Derek explained, “He uses the lower levels to store his undead army like a barracks. They’re not deployed at the moment. They’re just hanging out. The back and forth there is that the refugees are trying to fight deeper to get their food which is where the player comes in."
The Outlands – it’s always existed – The Outlands is 100% unrestricted PvP / PK with no guards even present. Outlands for alpha gives players a large area where they can control the content for themselves without restriction.
Brinkmann said, "There may be one or two encounters, things you can’t get from the mainland, out there where something will encourage players who may not be comfortable with PvP to go out there. It’s up to the players though. Content doesn’t get much involved out there."
All in all, the upcoming weekend pre-alpha event is going to be a big moment for Citadel Studios when the public gets its first unvarnished look at Shards Online. With all that is planned for the alpha and beyond, it definitely appears that Shards is shaping up to be something special.
Will you be playing or watching Shards Online this weekend? Let us know!