Shadowbane now free... and noooobody cares

In the tradition of Anarchy Online, Shadowbane is now free to download and free to play. Yay?

Shadowbane's still up and running?


Yeah I saw the news, and got the same "meh" reaction.

Then I read that the publisher is Ubisoft, then my reaction turned sour.

Weren't they the "We don't play games to bake bread" folks? I remember Shadowbane as drawing all of the anti-social outcasts from the other games with promises of no safe zones/all-time PvP (*cough*griefing*cough*). No surprise that they've reached AO-status.

Any GWJers actually give this one a shot (back when it was released)?

I thought about it, but if you think endgame in other MMOGs is time-consuming, can you imagine having to constantly defend your guild's holdings and try to take more?

duckilama wrote:

I thought about it, but if you think endgame in other MMOGs is time-consuming, can you imagine having to constantly defend your guild's holdings and try to take more?

I played a game like that, with an Asian mythology theme. You could raid another "clan's" (not like a guild clan, a faction clan) base at any time and try to steal their artifacts. Keeping an artifact in one of your bases gives all people in that faction some bonuses to stuff.

One of the few MMOs I never played.

From what i understand it is in the vein of L2 (crazy grinding and PvP) except more 24-7 pvp flags.

Chum wrote:

Weren't they the "We don't play games to bake bread" folks? I remember Shadowbane as drawing all of the anti-social outcasts from the other games with promises of no safe zones/all-time PvP (*cough*griefing*cough*). No surprise that they've reached AO-status.

Any GWJers actually give this one a shot (back when it was released)?

Although I didn't play Shadowbane, I too remember the rabid pre-release hype by the social outcasts, claiming that SB would rule all other mmorpgs. The "hard core" crowd managed to drive away many well intentioned players, leaving only small core.

Its not fair to equate Shadowbane's situation with Anarchy Online though. After its rocky start AO became a truly innovative game (remember Shadowlands?) with appeal for many types of gamers. Too bad AO's early problems have always haunted the later success.

karmajay wrote:

From what i understand it is in the vein of L2 (crazy grinding and PvP) except more 24-7 pvp flags.

Now I realize why I never played it...

Actually, the funniest thing happened upon Shadowbane's release.

It was supposedto be the ultimate guild war massive pvp grief fest and the only people griefed were the griefers.

A huge population of the servers banded together to outlaw pvp. Back then a single large guild could and did control whole servers. They turned them into carebear servers. Sure you could still be randomly ganked. However, complain to the main uber guild and they would send enforcers to watch a players behavior and if he was a griefer, he was repeatedly ganked to the stone age. (you left everything on your corpse when you died ala UO) I believe they also attempted to reimburse the griefed player with a portion of the procedes.

Its too bad that the designers ruined some decent ideas for an MMO with free for all ganking and griefing.

I played the beta for the game slightly before release and it was a laggy ugly pos back then. The gameplay itself wasn't so bad and the open pvp was kind of refreshing at the time but overall the game just wasn't well implemented.

Fang... what happened to the massive guild control? Is it still there? Spill some details, please.

Stories of massive, server wide in-game events always intrigue me. They're one of the few reasons I sometimes wish I played MMOs.

They nerfed it of course. Though I will admit this is secondhand information. They made the upkeep insane so the power stranglehold was removed. i think they enjoyed a few months rennaisance and then everyone got bored and tired of seeing the fruits of their labor demolished. So they left.

Shadowbane was the game where some players managed to find hidden admin commands in the client (??) and do this:

"..teleporting people all over the world, teleporting hostile guards into the safe-holds, bringing in hordes of special event monsters, and teleporting everyone to a city at the bottom of the sea."
fangblackbone wrote:

They nerfed it of course. Though I will admit this is secondhand information. They made the upkeep insane so the power stranglehold was removed. i think they enjoyed a few months rennaisance and then everyone got bored and tired of seeing the fruits of their labor demolished. So they left.

That strikes me as a poor decision. They created an environment much like an actual society - huge penalty for death, with no or little limits on a person's ability to kill - and surprise, surprise, people banded together for their own good. Why fight that?

Why fight that?

Griefers made a loud stink under the guise of "its boring"

@shihonage I do seem to recall something to that effect happening

I actually played this game.

It had some good things but it had some problems too. The game had a huge amount of PvE grind in order to help fund your city and level up.

It was not as bad as Fang said but what happened was a big game of politics. Big guilds, which I was a member of one, made huge kingdoms of cities and tried to force their will on the other guilds. Large alliance where formed and some battles where fought that where decent. There was even a bunch of back stabbing and it was great as in the end they brought our guild to its knees.

The problems with the game where not that it could be turned into a "carebear" land it was something very different.

First the game was a bit laggy and had some standard issues like that.
Second the way PvP worked it was easy for people to attack your city at night when nobody or few people were arround to defend. Some of the city was protected in a way that it can only be attacked by a real seige but that was a small amount of the city and it was easy to destroy a lot of money and work of other players with little risk.
Third when people did have seiges for the most part they again happened at obscure hours. Who the heck with a life can be on line at 4am to do battle?
Fourth the PvE grind was huge. Cities took large amount of gold to upkeep and guild members where constantly farming gold to pay for the city. In addition it took a lot of gold to buy items and it was easy to loose stuff. So between a few of these issues what you had was just a ton of time PvE with small amounts of PvP. Problem was PvE was subpar. THere where no dungeons no nothing just clumps of stuff here and there.

Any way that was my experience. They has some neat ideas and I sort of liked the guild politics that the game fostered but in the end there was just too many flaws and not enough of the promised PvP action.

Future MMO designers can learn alot from the city building aspects of the game.

Hmm... time to ressurect my castle building MMO idea.

Well, now that we've read one part of the story, I guess it's time for me to shed some positive light on this obviously misunderstood game Please be aware that all of which will follow are words of a Shadowbane-fanboy.

I'll start by pointing out some general misconceptions.

1. Shadowbane has an enormous xp grind.
This is very untrue. Shadowbane has no quests, so the only way to gather xp is by killing other players or by grinding mobs. Sounds bad? Not really. First of all, the developers chose not to implement quests because it draws attention away from the core of the game; PvP. Whenever people are questing they're obviously not PvPing. Quests become repetitive and sooner or later they too will become boring (just have a look at WoW) whereas PvP can be a very thrilling experience and is far more rewarding than most quests can ever be.
Furthermore, they made it so, that players suffered no xp loss whatsoever by grouping up or by getting killed. If you get 5xp for killing a certain mob solo, you will still get 5 xp for killing that same mob in group. Another thing you should know is how easily mobs can be killed. Certain characters (Druids, Warlocks, ...) have powerfull Area Of Effect spells, which allow them to kill as many mobs found within the spell's range, whether it be 1, 5, 10 or 999. When built properly, a druid for instance (I have one) can easily take up to 10+ mobs and not even get close to being killed.
Needless to say that this amounts to vast numbers of xp gathered in a few hours. You should know that the level cap is 75 (once used to be 60), so what if I told you it is possible to reach level 50-60 in as little as one or two days, depending on how much time you're willing to invest?

If that still sounds bad, which I doubt, there's is also another way to gather xp. It is however not one I recommend, as it was my main reason to cancel my accounts; macros. Warlocks (I have one of those too) can be built in such manner that they can fly indefinately while killing mobs which are unable to reach him. Set up a macro to repeat the casting process time and again and you're set for 24/7 xping without the risk of being killed. Invite some friends, give them group leadership and feel free to go afk for the rest of the day (o 'till daily maintnance comes up). As long as you're killing everyone in group gets xp. Just make sure your group leader doesn't go afk or log out without transferring leadership. Please, refrain from this way of xp/gold grinding for it is a game-stopper to many. If you get caught doing it (by being reported by other players etc.) or get caught grouping up with someone doing it, it might result in a temporary and perhaps even permanent ban.

2. You need vast amounts of gold to keep your city up and running.
Again, untrue. A well-designed city can be self-sufficient. Set up some good vendors, have them craft all the time. Whenever something worthwhile pops up, you sell it. This way you can create many decent items in one day, allowing you to earn the weekly maintnance cost in as little as one day.
Doesn't this mean you need loads of gold to buy premium stuff? Yes. Luckily, gold is very easy to get. You should realize that by killing other players, you get acces to their entire inventory, allowing you to loot whatever it is they gathered. I do say inventory, equipped items are unaffected. So, if you get lucky, you may very well end up killing someone responsible for city maintnance, someone who's been grinding a couple of hours or if you get very lucky, you might end up killing a group of macroing afkers. Again, notice how the stress is on the PvP aspect. If you choose to grind then do so at your own risk.
Money was never an issue and the game is designed in such way it will never become one. Also, items don't make or break a character. Everyone will allways want the best, but rarely ever needs it. 10 extra Strength won't make that much of a difference compared to 8 Strength.

3. Griefing is no fun!
And right you are. But there is a big difference between griefing and PvPing. If you think a fair battle is griefing, than perhaps this is not your kind of game.
People always liked PvP. Have a look at WoW. PvP servers fill up in just a couple of days, whereas PvE or RP servers are still underpopulated weeks or months after they went live. People however can't handle PvP. What people usually want is to be able to kill other people whenever they feel like it without the risk of being killed. Unfortunately it doesn't work that way.
Griefing to me means killing a player who is preoccupied with something else. It is killing people who stand no chance, or so you hope, of defending themselves. It's killing people who have mobs on them, killing people by outleveling them (the bigger the lvl difference the better) or killing them by vastly outnumbering them. I'm sorry, but this is not PvP.
Luckily, this is not something you'll often see in Shadowbane, for various reasons;

a. there's no such thing as a resistance table in WoW. There's no such thing as spell ranks. A lightning bolt cast by a lvl 30 player can hit just as hard as one cast by a lvl 75. Spell dmg is not affected by ranks, it is affected by your stats (in a caster's case, Spirit and Intelligence). This way you actually stand a chance of defending yourself at all times against everything and everyone.

b. there is no real gear dependancy. In WOW you need lvl 60 to be able to use the really worthwhile equipment. In Shadowbane there's no such thing. A robe is a robe. Whether you are lvl 1 or you are lvl 75, you will be able to wear it. Furthermore, your damage output is hardly affected by gear. Like I said, spell damage is affected by main stats, same thing for melee damage. Higher Intelligence allows for harder hits, high strength or dexterity allows for heavy damage with weapons.

c. people will allways prefer to group up. You'll rarely see someone solo, unless he's out hunting for "runes", an important way of gathering wealth. If you see someone within tracking range -certain classes have acces to the tracking ability which enables them to see which persons are in the vicinity- you can be sure there's at least a couple of his friends in the area.

d. politics. This game is 100% PvP. Guilds are able to build cities and command areas of the map. You can't just go around killing everything and everyone you meet. If you end up killing someone of a rival guild, you should be aware that they might in turn kill not only you, but also your friends. They might even decide to join an alliance against you and your guild, depending on how much of an a** you've been.
Accountability is a sweet thing sometimes and Shadowbane relies on it in ways you can't even imagine. So, before you decide to kill that guy on your tracking list, make sure his guild isn't neutral or friendly towards you. You might end up creating a conflict so huge it ultimately divides the entire server in 2 camps.

4. midnight raids can destroy months of hard work.
A lie that just doesn't seem to fade, no matter how hard I try. First of all, each city has a Tree Of Life, which allows the city owners to place certain buildings under the tree's protection, protecting them from any harm. However, the Tree of Life (ToL) can only protect a limited amount of buildings and only those buildings constructed within the city grid, the area surrounding the ToL. City owners should choose wisely which buildings to protect as well as which and how many buildings to place.
The only way to "lift" the protection is by officially declaring war to the city and it's owners. Declaring war is done by placing what is called "a bane" or "a banestone". This means that cities can only be destroyed if you follow standard procedure. First, the aggressor places the banestone. After the banestone has been placed, the defenders can decide when the banestone is activated. Ofcourse, the defenders must set it within a certain timeframe, alas I can't remember which timeframe it was. As far as I can remember, banes usually went live a couple of days after being placed, which allows both sides to gather as many troops as they possibly can.
When the banestone goes live there's two possible outcomes of the battle. The aggressor wins by destroyting the city's ToL, making all buildings vulnerable to damage, or the defenders win by destroying the banestone. This is a very intriguing game mechanic which actually leads to epic battles. Troops are going back and forth all the time. You have a main group waiting for the command to "unleash Hell". Supporting them is a group of healers. Far away from the city, but close enough to the banestone, there's some sort of 911 group, constantly summoning in reinforcements as well as fallen friends so they can once again attend the battle. Meanwhile defenders have scouts and rangers outside tracking 911 groups. Within the city walls Centaurs are waiting for the scouts to report the location of the enemy groups, so they can strike swiftly. Thieves, Assassins and other sneaky bastards are lining up, waiting for the main force of the aggressor to finally attack, so they can wreck havoc among the healers. Meanwhile, Wizards, Warlocks, and other brilliant folk hurl balls of lightning from the city walls at the aggressors' heads. Yes friends, it's a strategic and truely epic thing to tear down or defend a city. I've attended many banes but I can't remember one of them being dull and boring. I once had to fight 'till 5am to finally vanquish our evil foe, the Lords of Death. It took us 12 or more hours, I can't remember, to finally push them back far enough to commence the destruction of their Tree of Life.

Hmmm, I'v typed so much already and wanted to type even more, but I've had enough for now But please, ladies and gentlemen, give this game a try if you are truely into PvP and are up for a challenge. Ingenious character development system allows for a huge amount of viable builds. Skill determines the outcome of a battle, not gear etc. Grouping is a necessity which will create friendships hardly seen in other games (Sinister, Nurfed, LoD,... and many more top-WoW guilds have their roots in Shadowbane).

If you have any questions, if you have any doubts or concerns, please, do post them. It is really a good game, don't let some general misconceptions get between you and what might just be your best mmorpg experience ever.

It might sound ironic, a fanboy who started playing Shadowbane in early beta had his accounts cancelled more than a year ago, but make no mistake. I did not cancel due to bad design etc. The reason I cancelled was because people always prefer to cheat. I cancelled because there were ways for people to duplicate items and gold (which are fixezd now, or so they claim), unbalancing the entire server economy. I cancelled because of the afk-macro process, which might not be so bad after all since it allows people to be fully ready for PvP in just a couple of days.

fangblackbone wrote:

Hmm... time to ressurect my castle building MMO idea.

Rampart was always a favorite game of mine Do something like that!

Rumil wrote:

bunch of stuff about how even in this day and age developers still do the same stupid things...

Wow.. thanks for that.. now I'll never want to play Shadowbane after reading that.

Thanks for the post Rumil. Shadowbane probably isn't (never was) the game for me, but it was interesting to read what you enjoyed about it.

I liked Rumil's post, it's always good to get other perspectives.

I played Shadowbane when it opened, and I found it to be somewhat boring. I remember the starter area vaguely as a sort of forest with clearings where you might find spawns. After a few hours, I got bored and ran off to kill things in the forest. I figured, you know, a big forest, I could find some bears or something and solo them.

I ran for a while, then ran some more. I ran for about 30 minutes, if I remember correctly, and never saw a creature. Just trees. Then, I came to a river, with some kind of grassland on the other side. So I decided to cross the river. As I did so, the server crashed. When it came back up, there was a warning not to try crossing from one area to another except via the approved methods of travel.

Not long after that, I ditched my account. It was a weird and somewhat depressing game for me.

Its a very informative post but it tends to contradict itself.

You say that there is no xp grind yet your explanation of this is the fact that Shadowbane has no quests. Most people when they talk about xp grind arent talking about quest grinding. Quest grinding is considered to be far superior to mob camp grinding. However, I will confirm that leveling even for a newb like me was very fast. Levels 1-10 were as fast as WoW yet Shadowbane remain at that pace and WoW tapers the leveling much more slowly after that. edit: I also really like the fact that xp is not split in groups. If a monster gives 1k xp per kill solo, then everyone in the group will get 1k xp for it if grouped. Sounds to me like a good way to encourage grouping without artificial constraints, no?

You say that you dont need massive amounts of gold for upkeep and yet two of the ways you mention gold is farmed is the warlock macro and getting lucky killing (griefing?) a person in charge of castle upkeep or who has been out adventuring for a few hours.

You say that griefing is no fun and that you have to be careful who you kill. Why? because you can get yourself killed in response and you can also get your friends killed. Isnt killing a group of people solely for their involvement, no matter how deep, with a certain person griefing?

You say that midnight raids cant destroy months of hard work. However, while you explanation holds some comfort, it also states that you had a fight till 5am and a fight that lasted 12 hours. That seems to me to be evidence that while your castle wont be destroyed overnight, you will have to devote enormous amounts of time to defend it at all hours of the night.

BTW your facts about the PVP servers in WoW filling up are factually incorrect. There have been several times where Blizzard has added equal amounts of pve and pvp servers to have the pvp servers remain low population more hours of the day for weeks. It also fails to mention the serious problems WoW has on pvp servers with large discrepancies of horde and alliance populations. If pvp were so popular, people would jump ship to even out the sides. This is largely not the case.

I'll try to clear up some of my contradictions

XP grinding is the easiest as well as fastest way to gather experience, unfortunaely it is still a grind. However, the grind is very limited when compared to other mmorpgs. There are no quests, which means you won't be losing lots of time travelling from one spot to another. Mobs also happen to be very dumb, AI almost non-existant. They don't flee from combat, they hardly ever use special attacks to interrupt spellcasting etc. Add to that the fact that the xp gain per mob is unaffected by the amount of people in your group (maximum group size is 10 I beleive) and you are in for some very fast lvling, very easy killing and a lot less grinding.
I should also note that players can gain xp by killing other players through PvP. This has been implemented only a couple of months ago, so unfortunately I can't comment on it.

I wasn't lying (lieing? lying?) when I said gold is not much of an issue. The problem however is that people always want more than what's good for them.
A decent city can sustain itself without any hassle. You just make sure the Inner Council members (officers with acces to the buildings and mercenaries) are constantly "rolling" new items (rolling items is done by ordering vendors to create them, after which they can be completed so tehy can be sold in shops), which then get sold to guild members or the highest bidder, whether he be friend or foe.
A guild counting a few 100 members will never ever have any issues with upkeep costs. Unfortunately, many guilds are too small to sustain a decent city. The problem is that everyone as well as everyone's mother wants to own a city. So you get these small non-factor guilds counting 10 or 20 members grinding 24/7 to build up a city causing them to lose interest since they slowly begin to realize that all they ever do in Shadowbane is play Simcity combined with loads of grinding.
Obviously, this ain't right. A guild counting 20 members has no need for a major city. Small guilds are better of joining the ranks of a bigger guild. Shadowbane allows guilds to "sub" under other guilds. Subbing your guild means that your guild becomes part of a larger organization, a larger guild. Your guild becomes a subguild, the guild you joined, becomes a nation. This holds advantages for both sides. Your guild does no longer have to bother with the upkeep of a city, the other guild has it's numbers increased, allowing for better defence against potential aggressors.
I guess Mettalica said it best; "carefull what you wish for, cause you just might get it" You want a city? Fine, you can have it, just realize that the amount of cities which can be built is limited, meaning your city might just be a thorn into someones eye. And beleive me when I say that any reason is good enough for wanting a non-allied city to be removed from the map. So unless you are up to the challenge, don't bother building one, cause it comes with a lot of trouble and even more responsabilities.

Another reason why money is hardly an issue is because the difference between premium and not-so-premium gear is minimal. Furthermore, Shadowbane is not gear-dependant, or at least far less gear-dependant compared to any otehr mmorpg I've ever played.

I didn't say grieifng is no fun, some people enjoy it very much. I don't, but some do I prefer to make the difference between PvP and griefing. PvP is something I consider to be a challenge, griefing offers no challenge whatsoever. In the end they both involve killing another player, the difference lies in how you choose to achieve it. Shadowbane does not cater towards griefers whereas other games, WoW for instance, do. Like I said, no resistance table based solely on the level difference exists.

The example of the 5am fight was given only to show how much effort it can take to destroy a city. Building a city takes lots of effort, destroying one should be just as hard. Also realize that both sides involved were the best of the best, both of them were hardcore and both of them had a few hundred men willing to spend the entire night to fight for a cause. Neither one of them was outclassed by the other, every inch you won took lots of effort.

Pardon my statement on the WoW PvP/PvE servers, but I play WoW EU, and over here PvP servers do fill up fast whereas PvE servers are still "recommended" weeks or months after they first went up. Perhaps WoW US is different

@ Robear: I liked reading your post. However, I wish to point out that the developers have always placed PvP as the core of the game. Every action they take, every choice they make, is done in such way that it encourages PvP. Even the XP grinding. Mobs in Shadowbane are not scattered around the world, but they're confined to "minizones". Every minizone is represented by an icon on the world map. If you want a place to xp, to grind gold or to pick a fight, then these minizones are the only way to go. You won't find mobs anywhere else but here.
Some might think that this caters to griefers, but not even that is true. Every healer class as well as some other classes (Vampire scouts etc) have the ability to summon in friends. If you find yourself grinding xp as a lvl 30 and all of a sudden a lvl 75 assassin turns up on your tracking list, then you can eitehr request an "EVAC" (meaning someone summons you to a safe place) or you could summon in a lvl 75 friend.

Obviously, the game has it's flaws as well as it's euh... opposite of flaws (pardon my English, I'm Belgian ;)). It is a very complicated game and might be experienced as being too complicated for someone new to it. However, those who choose to work past these obstacles will soon find out that the game really does have the best character development system to date as well as a strategic/political backbone allowing for an intriguing gameplay.
It has a horrible gfx interface though. After having played WoW I find it hard to return to Shadowbane, despite the memories I have

I really must try to shorten my replies If I were you guys I'd just skip whatever it is I typed...

@Rumil, on the contrary. this is very informative, and gives me some incentive to check out the game. Now, the only problem that remains is Free Time

Heres the irony.. other than the news that Shadowbanes dev's have been shut down. On one of the devs blogs where the info is confirmed observe his Xfire sig..

44 Hours Shadowbane this week
336 Hours World of Warcraft all time

I wonder what will become of Shadowbane then. Sig doesn't show much btw. 44 hours Shadowbane in one week equals 6-7hours of Shadowbane each day, whereas 336 hours over a span of what? A year? I doubt he'll have picked up WoW 2 only months ago.

Either way, Shadowbane had lots of pros as well as cons. Despite the cons I have played Shadowbane since early US beta 'till the day WoW was released in Europe (I had a friend in the US supplying his personal information for me so I could apply, since European people weren't allowed in US Beta). If it were half as crappy as some ill-informed people claim, I wouldn't have played it half as much. It had the best possible character development system as well as near to perfection balance. In WoW and any other mmorpg I've played PvP is rock-scissors-paper, whereas in Shadowbane no outcome could be determined based on class or lvl difference. Lower-lvl players standing a chance vs. high-lvl players, healers standing a chance vs. mages, warriors or rogues, I'm sorry, but to me that sounds just perfect. If you know of any other game where skill is such a big factor, please let me know. And don't say World of Warcraft now ye hear, or I'll just have to slap you silly!

I wonder what will become of Shadowbane then. Sig doesn't show much btw. 44 hours Shadowbane in one week equals 6-7hours of Shadowbane each day, whereas 336 hours over a span of what? A year? I doubt he'll have picked up WoW 2 only months ago.

That makes no sense.. its still all time.. that means he's logged more hours in WoW than Shadowbane. Thats the only point I was making. Week, Month whatever.. in the end it all adds up.

Make sense? over a year say he logged 250 hours of Shadowbane vs 336 hours of WoW

which one did he play more?

And don't say World of Warcraft now ye hear, or I'll just have to slap you silly!

Um, in PvP in WoW it does take a lot of skill and coordination whether you admit it or not. A case in point is the hunter class. Once that tank gets inside the minimum range of your bow you have to calculate your moves very delicately.

Planetside was also skill based. It was much more skilled based than Shadowbane. It was just as balanced and more fun.

Character development system in Shadowbane was hit or miss. A lot of characters sounded a lot better on paper than they were in game. A lot of development concepts were better on paper too.