Shadowbane was the great gaming paradox for me.
I saw the Shadowbane farewell post. And I was sad. I didn’t stay long in the game, though I achieved the highest level I ever have in an MMO in it – not that that meant anything in SB, where I once leveled from 40 to 50 in one evening of casual play.
Shadowbane was the first to offer me a character class that I positively fell in love with. It was the first and so far only fantasy MMO to allow players to fully customize their character. Let that sink in for a moment! It is difficult for me to wrap my head around the fact that the only game that allows you to be an axe wielding wizard will no longer exist. And more importantly, that there is no replacement in sight.
But therein lies the paradox of Shadowbane. It offered so much – complete customization, player created cities, lore-based servers and guilds (an RP’ers dream!), and what was effectively a linear advancement system. But none of those amazing things that it offered really made it a home run PvP game. In fact, I would argue that those things instead offered a tantalizing glimpse of what a PvE game should *really* look like!
So these neat things were almost completely lost on the hardcore PvP crowd that Shadowbane targeted for their player base. More than that, the PvP nature of the game almost completely negated all of those unique gem-like qualities that it did possess. Character customization was something I deeply desired as a player, but in practice never got to utilize because only certain builds were approved by your guild, and everything else was labeled “gimp.” I’ll never forget the time I got caught with a wand better than the baseline one, and the ensuing firestorm that resulted from the fact that I had dared to place advancement points into a “worthless” skill that was outside the accepted build.
And what good is a linear progression that negates the endgame emphasis in a game that for PvP purposes requires endgame progression to play effectively!
So in the paradox of Shadowbane, PvP players showed up only to find themselves in a custom kitted PvE world, while PvE players either passed completely on what was advertised as a PvP game, or were completely frustrated in what little time they might have spent there.
Of course, I’m ignoring all the technical difficulties – the continual balancing issues and fixes that created an orobouros of rather large proportions, the immense game world filled with…nothing, the mechanics so skewed to group play that the only way to effectively solo was to dual box.
All that aside, I’m still sad. I hope somebody manages to snag a copy of the code and set up a private server. I wish I had the know how to do just that and turn it PvE. But I don’t, so the best I can do is save a copy of the Morloch wiki and maybe one day find a way to pay respect to the good of the game through a personal project. (Speaking of, is there some way to save a copy of the whole wiki without going page by page? Yes, I know, I’m a packrat…)
As a goodbye tour, I will be logging in to Shadowbane occasionally over the next week until the power down, probably with my wizard Ars Moriendi, roaming around and causing trouble (on the Lore server, where else?). Drop me a line if you want to duel or team up.
Farewell, Children of Aerynth.