Thursday, July 3, 2014

Shards Online: The MMORPG That Will Encourage User Created Mods

Upcoming MMORPG Shards Online seeks to “give power to the players”.

Shards Online, currently being developed at Citadel Studios, wants to let players have more control over their MMORPG experience. Instead of being forced to play the game the way the developers want it to be played, players will be able to both mod Shards Online and run their own servers. Wanting to know more about how this and the rest of the game would work, I recently talked to Derek Brinkmann, the creator of the game.

“There are two ways to create games,” he said on the game-making experience. “One is you have a very specific idea of how players are going to play the game and you basically build the world around that vision.”

“With us… it’s create a world and make a lot of dynamic interactions between the stuff in the world and just drop the player in and see what happens.It’s a little bit of a departure of the fundamental game design that takes place.”

Those short lines sum up how Shards Online plays. The world is a contained environment, with the player being an outsider. Not to say that you, the player, won’t fit in, but you aren’t needed for the world to function. By making the game work like that, it enables players to both feel like they are in a realistic world and be able to create mods for it.

The “game is very heavily mod-based,” said Brinkmann. “Once you let players run their own servers, modding is the next logical step.”

He showed me one of the mods that Citadel Studios created in order to show off Shards Online’s modding capabilities. Called the “Madness Mod,” it pretty much just makes the game hilarious. There are fire-breathing bears, a giant reindeer named Rudolph, a super-rapid fire mode for spells, and other fun changes. Players will be able to create all that and more with their own mods, Brinkmann explained.

While the mods can be silly, the normal game is actually a little more serious. The overarching story to Shards Online involves different powerful gods that are all vying for control over land. As a player, you must pick a god that best represents your morals.

“A lot of these different gods have their own agendas…. you align yourself with one of the gods in the game and kind of push his agenda,” Brinkmann said.

Players will be able to create characters in a way similar to Skyrim. Characters will not have a class, but instead will improve their skills based on what a player wants to improve. There will be a whole slew of skills, from sword fighting to spell casting to mining and crafting. However, not all of these skills will need to be leveled up, as players can hire NPCs to do a lot of their dirty work.

For example; instead of having to level up their mining skill to mine different ores better, a player can simply hire an NPC to mine. The NPC will have to be paid, of course, but he or she will be able to level up his or her skills and get ore for the player while the player can do more interesting things, like slaughter hordes of monsters. NPCs can also do work around a player’s house, once she or he has enough money to purchase one. The other cool thing about NPCs is that they have lives of their own, also similar to Skyrim. They move around, go to sleep, and do chores all on their own, just like living people.

onsters and animals also will move around like living creatures in Shards Online. Bears like to eat rabbits and deer, and will chase after them when they are in sight. Deer will run away when they sense a player’s character, as they are skittish. Meanwhile, a bear might attack a player’s character, due to their more aggressive nature.

Quests will also reflect that. NPCs will sometimes have jobs that need to get done, and sometimes they might not. If they do, a player can do the job and get paid. However, these jobs will be more interesting and more realistic than simple hunt and gather quests. While Brinkmann didn’t give many details about what they might be, he did said that players are thankfully “not going to see a lot of go get five bat wings.”

Although Shards Online did not receive the required funding it was seeking on Kickstarter, Brinkmann assured me that the team would find other ways to get money to produce the game.

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