Shards Online: Ambivalent but Hopeful

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Shards Online is an interesting beast. I’ve spent a little time, creating characters over and over again. Partially because I’d forget what server I was on, input the same name I was using, and my character would be gone. I think that was less “player-wipes” and more “I keep logging into different damn shards and not realizing it”. The idea behind it is that you make your own fun, make your own exploration. It’s very player-driven, very skill-based progression system.  With Shards, you can craft your own MMOs with your own rules, creating the world you want to play in, and play with others in. When I looked at it though, I felt like I had been taken back in time. Back to the era of Fallout 2, Ultima: The Black Gate/False Prophet and other 256 VGA graphics PC games. I don’t hate how it looks though, don’t get me wrong. But I do feel visually speaking the graphics are a little out of date. Though once I thought about this a bit more, I realized that it would allow for many users to utilize the game engine without requiring a powerful PC. So, kudos Citadel. One of my big fears is replayability though. How much creative power and how deep you can make your stories really will be a factor there. Not to mention we have to ask “just how much work is going into it” and “How long will the stories be?”  Is there going to be an overarching story on all of the Shards? I kind of wish I had access to the creation suite so that I had these answers. But I’m sure time will tell.

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But I still sort of find myself ambivalent. I love the concept of players having their own shards and creating their own worlds but I have to wonder, will there be a limit? Say a million people are playing and they all have their own shard. . . is there a limit? Can each player have one? Will there be an additional cost in addition to the purchase of the game? Will players have to host it themselves? I have a lot of questions in that regard. I also wonder just how big a shard is going to be, in acreage. Will I be able to invite my friends to mine or are they going to have an IP address to connect to? Each time I played they were pretty quiet so I didn’t really get a good feel of the community, but from reading across reddit/other forums, it’s been a good experience. But what I do like is the ability to create the world you want. To make the skills and experience that you want other players to be absorbed in. In most of the shards I traveled, the characters were very bland and uncreative. Like “John the Miner” or “Smith the Guard”. Again, not a criticism, definitely something I noticed though. And I imagine the owner of a shard can God-Mode and just be infinitely powerful. Sure, that would turn off the average user, but all you have to do is not go back!  While I personally was not emotionally invested in the game, I had no story to grasp to. I’m looking forward to seeing what people do with it though. You can create fantastic tabletop experiences for online communities that you’d normally see in D&D/etc. So while I’m emotionally and intellectually ambivalent, the notion that so much creative control is given to the players is fantastic. I don’t have the patience to do that level of world building but I cannot wait to what is developed in its suite.

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