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Ubisoft To Shut Down Shadowbane

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the another-one-bites-the-dust dept.

Role Playing (Games) 74

tyen writes "Ubisoft has announced the shutdown of Shadowbane, the first major, fantasy role-playing MMO with true PVP (full asset destruction possible). The shutdown will take place in about two weeks, at the start of May. No official reason has been given by Ubisoft, but running an MMO for free for the past three years, with no significant improvement in market growth during that period, could play a part in the decision. There's been no response from Ubisoft yet on calls to open source the code. "

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fp (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27626581)

fuck this gayme

Not done yet (1)

Jaysyn (203771) | more than 5 years ago | (#27626621)

You are going to see a *lot* of this in the next 2 years or so.

Re:Not done yet (1)

evilkasper (1292798) | more than 5 years ago | (#27626793)

I completely agree with this, the market is just to flooded. The quality of the games has gone down, and the support for them just isn't there. Look at how Warhammer and Conan have had to cut servers, both had a fairly large launch, but neither held onto the players. So I would expect to see the older generation of MMO's start to phase out, and I wouldn't be surprised if some of the newer games dropped down to a handful of servers.

Re:Not done yet (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27627253)

the market is not flooded. It's dominated by one major force that has huge shares and everybody else is fighting for scraps.

Whether or not WOW is worth the share it has is another question, but it's the number one reason why there's so little room.

Re:Not done yet (2, Insightful)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 5 years ago | (#27627545)

Well, the competition is failing to take away WoW's marketshare. I don't think WoW is so terribly unique that there's no way anybody could ever make a competitor that will beat it but it doesn't look like the competition has any clue how to make one.

Re:Not done yet (1)

boxfetish (903697) | more than 5 years ago | (#27633981)

Maybe if the competition tried to fill a niche that WoW doesn't instead of trying to copy them? There are plenty of niches that WoW doesn't bother to cater to. Full loot, FFA PvP, Sci-Fi, skill based system (like UO or original SWG), a fusion of FPS and RPG or RTS and RPG, etc. Instead of filling these niches and being content with a few hundred thousand subscribers (at least at first), the idiots calling the shots at these other development companies are trying to release games that are basically carbon copies of WoW, thinking that they can out WoW, WoW. Ain't happening.

Re:Not done yet (1)

jbezorg (1263978) | more than 5 years ago | (#27651857)

I wish I could provide the actual article but it deals with Matt Groening's frustrations with "Futurama". In short, the networks were telling him to make another Simpsons and his protest was that they've already got one.

Re:Not done yet (1)

evilkasper (1292798) | more than 5 years ago | (#27628663)

So how many MMO's does it take to consider it a flooded market. The entirety of the MMO community does not revolve around 1 game (WoW) regardless of their share of the player base.(how many people do you know that have more than 1 subscription) Have you seen how many different titles there are? Have you seen how many are in development/beta phases? Yes I assume most of them would love to have the same popularity that WoW has. Which is why you have so many MMOs ...wait for it... flooding the market in hopes of claiming the title "WoW Killer".

Re:Not done yet (4, Insightful)

edremy (36408) | more than 5 years ago | (#27629081)

Fighting for scraps? Not really, when you consider those "scraps" would have been considered major successes in the pre-WoW days- 200k subscribers was thought to be a high end number. There's plenty of room in the MMO market and quite a few thriving MMOs- you just have to find a niche that's not "Generic fantasy PvE MMO" because WoW has that sewed up. Lord of the Rings Online is doing well based on the lore and built in story, WAR and AoC are contracting but there's a market for the PvP oriented games, and EVE is doing well in the "economic simulation for psychopaths" arena

Re:Not done yet (4, Funny)

ThePsion5 (1037256) | more than 5 years ago | (#27630419)

EVE is doing well in the "economic simulation for psychopaths" arena

I object to this ignorant oversimplification of EVE's player demographic. I have absolutely no interest in economic simulations!

Re:Not done yet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27635211)

~At least he got the psychopath part right.~

disclosure I play eve

Re:Not done yet (1)

Jedi Alec (258881) | more than 5 years ago | (#27643107)

Exactly! We're in it for the submarines...I mean spaceships!

(Inside joke, EVE spaceships behave as though they're flying in a fluid)

Re:Not done yet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27636437)

Just to flooded what?

Possible reason? (2, Interesting)

Warlord88 (1065794) | more than 5 years ago | (#27626655)

Could there be any reason aside from lack of revenue generation?

Re:Possible reason? (1)

samriel (1456543) | more than 5 years ago | (#27626697)

Indeed, you're right. It amazes me that other free MMOs (like Runescape, but a) they have "member" subscription and b) their operating costs are a lot lower) and things like YouTube keep open with no visible source of income.

Maybe Ubisoft has another reason altogether. What if they plan to use the servers for another MMO?

Re:Possible reason? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27626741)

They haven't generated revenue for the last 3 years. My guess would be that the only reason they kept running it was because it didn't cost very much and the employees who were attached to it had enough rank in the company for the accountants not to cut it down. There's a point where nostalgia wears off for everyone though..

Re:Possible reason? (4, Interesting)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 5 years ago | (#27626927)

Well then the problem is they don't know HOW to make money on this game. The answer? Micro transactions. Both of my boys are playing "free" MMORPGs and both have been working extra hard around the house so we would put money on a Walmart Visa so they could buy little things in the games, like new characters and armor. With micro transactions I don't have to worry about shelling out cash every month just to keep their characters from being lost and the game companies get cash. Seems like a win/win to me.

I truly believe that with the exception of WoW and maybe a few others that monthly subscriptions will simply die out. In uncertain times like these nobody wants to invest the cash when they don't know what is coming next. With micro transactions if I have a bad month at the shop I don't have to worry about the boys losing their stuff because I'm a little short of cash and it makes it quite easy to get them to do chores because it equals an extra buck or two to buy new gear, so win/win for me. But if they haven't made any cash off of Shadowbane in 3 years then they simply haven't been doing it right. I bet with micro transactions even if Shadowbane isn't that popular it would still have a big enough revenue stream to keep it going and generate a little profit.

With the economy in the dumps you simply have to go with what works and from the looks of its popularity in Asia I'd say that micro transactions are the way to go. Because I truly doubt that the WoW style subscription model is going to work out long term. It is simply too risky. But you could mix micro transactions with say ads for your other products(as well as advertisers) and keep enough of a revenue stream that even a small user base would generate enough cash to make it worth keeping. So while I haven't played Shadowbane it sounds like Ubisoft simply didn't know how to capitalize on what they had. But the only way subscription based makes sense is if you can get and keep a quite large user base and there are simply not enough MMORPG players to go around and too many of those are locked in to WoW.

Re:Possible reason? (3, Interesting)

Solitude (30003) | more than 5 years ago | (#27627697)

I would never, ever play a microtransaction game. I've been playing since my 7x GM tankmage in UO, 50 druid in EQ1, Doctor/Bounty Hunter in SWG (pre NGE), and current 75 mage in WoW. Along the way I've tried EQ2, Asheron's Call, AC2, AO, AoC, Vanguard, and LOTRO. I've never had a character deleted. I've come back 1, 2, 3 years later either paid or during free come back promotions and my characters have always been there.

I would never play a game with ads in it either.

Want your MMORPG to succeed? Fix the bugs. Don't let overpowered classes/specs/builds run rampant for too long (i.e. crossbows, tamers in UO, combat medics in SWG, rogues in WoW). Make new content. Set up a decent grind.

The subscription model is in no danger of dying.

Re:Possible reason? (1)

crossmr (957846) | more than 5 years ago | (#27632583)

I've never had a character deleted.

What's that have to do with microtransactions?

Microtransactions games don't delete characters for inactivity.

Re:Possible reason? (1)

SPY_jmr1 (768281) | more than 5 years ago | (#27634211)

I think the original post was trying to link letting a subscription lapse with having your assets deleted.

This is usually not the case, as the other poster pointed out.

I would think that neither microtransaction or subscription games would delete your characters, honestly. It would depend on the particular terms of the game, I suppose.

Re:Possible reason? (1)

jbezorg (1263978) | more than 5 years ago | (#27652017)

If you've played WoW, then you've played a micro-transaction game with a subscription.

Blizzard does it in to form of the trading card game and codes within the packs that gets you stuff. Naturally, the codes for the really cool stuff are rare making you buy more cards.

Re:Possible reason? (1)

skreeech (221390) | more than 5 years ago | (#27629239)

Microtransactions probably would not fly for a pvp based game like shadowbane. If they give advantages people quit because the game is a piece of shit where you have to buy your status. If they are cosmetic it does not appeal to the playerbase and no one buys them.

It is a good idea for some games but does not work for all of them.

Re:Possible reason? (4, Insightful)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 5 years ago | (#27631361) are making a critical error. You must NEVER underestimate the power of the bling. both of my boys have bought crap for their characters on their games that does NOTHING to their stats or abilities. Why? "Because it makes my character look cooler" according to them. It is NO different that stupid ring tones or leopard skin seat covers. Folks will buy all kinds of crap if they think it looks cool. And by keeping the price on the bling low you make it an impulse buy.

And THAT is why I think micro transactions are the way to go:impulse buys. Folks that would balk at shelling out $20 a month for yet another MMORPG have NO problem shelling out a buck for some out fit that makes their battle mage look sharp. And since you keep the price small folks don't notice over time how those little bling bling impulse buys add up. A buck here or $2.50 there doesn't hurt anyone's wallet while at the same time bring much needed revenue to the company. Besides look at it this way: Ubisoft is closing down Shadowbane for lack of revenue,right? So what would it have hurt to try micro transactions? After all the are just going to let all the work go to waste now anyway, so why not give it a try? Can't be any worse than the total fail the Ubisoft has on their hands now, could it?

Re:Possible reason? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27638889)

God, I played exteel to level 10, had a huge blast playing it, found a few people running in mechs that they bought, it sucked to fight them, but it was possible to work with your team and out play them, but after you hit 10, your in a league where EVERYONE just about has a mech that they coughed up money to get.
I'm not sure if it was the way the fights became no contest, or the arrogance of the people using them. "Well, someone has to pay for you to play the game, why shouldn't I be able to kill you in 1/20th the time it takes for you to kill me? Go home kid."
Sure I could cough up the dough to compete, but I really don't want to join the club

Re:Possible reason? (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 5 years ago | (#27642009)

But what you are describing is the exact OPPOSITE of what I was talking about! If you were to implement they way I described there would be NO Mechs that got boosted by paying. Instead what you would have is...say having a custom logo, allowing you to store and share team colors, etc. And the prices would be cheap, hence impulse buys.

I don't know if it would really work on a Mech game(I haven't played one of those since my clanner days in Mechwarrior. Damn I miss that game!) but on the traditional fantasy RPG like Shadowbane it would be quite easy to implement. Want to have a cool set of robes or a custom staff that has an orb that shows you specialty(fire,earth,water,etc) in the glass orb at the top? That'll be anywhere from $.50 to $2.50 please. Want to design a cool team logo for your party and have it displayed on a banner over your dwellings? That'll be $5.00 please.

See how it works? By doing it this way micro transactions would have ZERO affect on gameplay, it would allow the free players not to have to deal with a "haves VS have nots" situation, and at the same time it would appeal to everyone's desire to look cool and to make things the way that THEY want them to be. And by keeping the price low you reach that critical "impulse buy" that makes retailers so much money. Why do you think there is a ton of under $5 items around the checkout in every store on the planet? Because impulse buys make a LOT of money. And by doing it as I described you could make a LOT of cash without upsetting the gameplay. And if you made the "bling" cool enough and at reasonably cheap prices folks would be even MORE likely to buy, as they see it costs so little to look cool like their friends/teammates.

I truly believe that this would not only work but be an easy way to add income and keep it rolling in an MMORPG. Adding new items would be trivial, since you wouldn't have to worry about how they affect gameplay(because as I said they'd be cosmetic only) and by having a constant stream of new "cool" items and tweaks for your avatars look you would also be keeping the game's looks fresh. It seems to me like micro transaction done right could be a real win/win for everyone.

Re:Possible reason? (1)

skreeech (221390) | more than 5 years ago | (#27656459)

"If they are cosmetic it does not appeal to the playerbase and no one buys them."

I did not play SB(for more than a day) but on ACDT no one even had matching armor. The players on NPK servers would bling out in their matching armor type and matching loot gen colours but it would take relatively small comprimises to do it. Many DT players would not even dye their stuff to match in colour when that was nearly free in ingame currency.

I do not think that players of 6 year old FFA pvp mmos buy bling. It may be the best model in the world when it works but I do not think it would work for this type of game.

Re:Possible reason? (1)

burntsigil (898978) | more than 5 years ago | (#27637391)

Because I truly doubt that the WoW style subscription model is going to work out long term

Considering that subscription-based MMOs have been out for, what? Fifteen years now? (When was UO released?) EverQuest celebrated its ten-year anniversary recently. WoW has been out for almost five years now. I'd say the subscription-based model is already working "long term".

Re:Possible reason? (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 5 years ago | (#27656193)

Thanks for msking my point clearer. you have just illustrated that with MMORPGs you get ONE "king of the hill" while the rest struggle and most flat out die. When I was talking "long term" having one or two giant megacorps own 90%+ of a market isn't what I would call a vibrant ecosystem. Look at the two big names you mentioned. First UO came and hit big, and then it dropped in favor of NWN(or is it the other way around? I can't seem to remember dates well) and now you have WoW.

With the subscription model you are pretty much guaranteeing the will ONLY be one or two "big names" while every one else struggles. Why? Because it is simple, there are only so many hours in the day, and only so many MMORPG players that are willing to invest the time and cash in a game, and most of those will stick with the one or two they like and ignore any newcomers unless their game nukes the fridge(SWG:NGE). With subscriptions you are pretty much limiting yourself to the "hardcore" MMORPG player. You just don't see that many casual WoW players for instance. With micro transactions you can lure in those casual players with the "free" aspect and if you keep the prices low you can score a ton of impulse buys, which frankly is where the money is at. See all the stupid $1 crap selling on the Apple app store, the tons of money going through the Xbox and Wii on cheap games, etc.

Getting folks to consistently cough up $20-30 bucks? Not easy. Not easy at all in this economy. Getting them to cough up a couple of bucks for something that looks cool and they won't feel guilty about since it was only a couple of bucks? Much easier. This would also keep the smaller ones going while showing that you don't need to beat WoW to make a profit. But let us be honest here, the current failure rate on subscription MMORPGs is what, something like 70%? Those kinds of failures simply aren't sustainable and can force a company into bankruptcy quick. Micro transactions would give these MMORPGs much needed capital while they built up a fanbase.

But time will tell. I personally think that just as the FPS game companies are killing themselves with the "my epeen is bigger the YOUR epeen" graphics which specs WAY too many potential customers right out of their market, so will the MMORPG builders keep trying to create a "Warcraft killer" that sinks them so far in debt that they go tits up. But we shall see.

Re:Possible reason? (1)

James Skarzinskas (518966) | more than 5 years ago | (#27630299)


It sucked.

PvP (1)

DeweyQ (1247570) | more than 5 years ago | (#27626683)

I wasn't attracted to Shadowbane because I have found player-vs-player games to be usually ruined by ubergamers. However, team-vs-team is a different thing and in reading the farewell, it looks like guilds were a big part of the game. I probably should have taken a closer look. Oh well... too late now.

Re:PvP (4, Interesting)

SeekerDarksteel (896422) | more than 5 years ago | (#27628767)

Shadowbane's group v group combat was very interesting. Unfortunately it was about the only thing worthwhile about the game. The completely open nature of pvp did make running around solo or in small groups a pain in the ass, and there was massive class disparity. But there was just something about 10 v 10 group combat that no other game has seemed to get the same. One of my fondest memories of the game was when my guild was defending a mine. We had one priest, one bard, and 8 crossbow warriors. One guy would call out a target and all the crossbowmen would skewer the target. We held off three consecutive groups that way.

The only other thing that I liked was the extremely flexible nature of character classes. A single class could have many different viable builds, each one drastically different. The same class could be a super-high defense low damage tank, a high-damage decent defense melee dps, or a decent ranged nuker. Some of the builds were in fact completely unintentional and only came about due to experimentation.

Re:PvP (1)

Knara (9377) | more than 5 years ago | (#27630301)

Sounds somewhat like how DAoC was at its height. I still have fond memories of keep defense in Thid. A relatively small number of people were playing MMOs back in the day, but 24 vs 24 siege battles were great fun. Sadly, Warhammer never recaptured that issue (DAoC had issues with severe grind, though, so it wasn't all good).

First MMO with True PVP? (1)

dr_wheel (671305) | more than 5 years ago | (#27626693)

What the hell does that mean exactly? It was "true" because of world changes? Ultima Online was the first graphical MMO with true PvP, IMO.

Re:First MMO with True PVP? (1)

aliquis (678370) | more than 5 years ago | (#27626755)

I assume it mean what the short description says? That is, player kills player, other players is DEAD, there is no going back, resurrect, .. Get a new char and start over if you fail in combat.

Re:First MMO with True PVP? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27626845)

There isn't perma-death, you still respawn somewhere else. Any items you had with you are lootable though and all areas outside of a few select cities are pvp, no choice about it. I never played Ultima so I don't really know how to compare it to that.

I hafta say though, Shadowbane got A LOT of things right. This game was for people that wanted to do PVP. Ya, you had to kill creatures to level up... but it was fast. If you were decent then getting to the 'endgame' of PvE was easy. The challenge came when you had to battle hordes of Koreans who were trying to plant their cities all over the server :P

Re:First MMO with True PVP? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27627093)

Thats exactly like Ultima Onlines system. Dead, full lootable , damage to non-looted gear ( if any ) and respawn somewhere else.

fskin editors

Re:First MMO with True PVP? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27629419)

What they mean by "true PvP" is that unlike in every other MMO out there, the cities were player-made and player-run. Player-made cities were the only place to get the top-end gear and player-made cities were the only place where you could train your characters to full. And in Shadowbane, you could destroy other people's cities.

That's where the real draw was. In practice you never lost much when your character died, but to lose the city you and your guild built was truly devastating. People fought tooth and nail to protect their cities, and it lead to some truly amazing wars. It's the type of large scale PvP I've yet to see replicated elsewhere.

Re:First MMO with True PVP? (1)

MBraynard (653724) | more than 5 years ago | (#27639467)

Try Eve. It's that ^2.

Re:First MMO with True PVP? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27627165)

Unchecked PvP where you lose your stuff is what destroyed Lineage 2. Shadowbane didn't invent the idea. My guess is that it helped destroy Shadowbane too.

In L2 they started things out with pvpers being on the short end of the stick for almost a year, by flagging them red and letting non-pvpers kill them without turning pvp themselves. It was a really good system and I'd like to see another game use it as well. At some point, they decided to turn this off to allow massacres to take place.

This is the point at which twinking started to have a direct effect on others. When people "twink", e.g. buy virtual currency to make their character godlike, people who are playing honestly can't enjoy it anymore. It didn't really matter a whole lot when pvpers were the target of roving groups of non-pvpers. However, when they turned the system off, now the non-pvpers were hunted.

If I've been working hard for months to get really expensive armor and weapon and someone who twinked comes up and slaughters me and laughs about it, how long do you think I'm going to keep playing? And, how long is that game really viable for?

Re:First MMO with True PVP? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27632847)

I don't think "twink" means what you think it means. And no, I don't mean homosexual, either.

Re:First MMO with True PVP? (1)

tyen (17399) | more than 5 years ago | (#27633129)

There was small-scale asset destruction when your toon died, but newbies quickly learned to leave their gear in town and stop bringing along all their gear when they went out leveling. Nothing new there, several games did that before Shadowbane. What was truly unique was what the Anonymous Coward posted below [] : the PvP scaled to GvG, NvN (nation vs. nation) and up, and the stakes got proportionally higher. Furthermore, beyond the individual-scale PvP, there wasn't a way to protect your assets other than fighting off other groups, and it led to some great fighting. EVE Online does this as well, but the setting is in space. I'm not aware of any other fantasy setting MMO that does this, though.

Shadowbane was amazing (3, Informative)

Segod (463725) | more than 5 years ago | (#27626821)

I played it for about a year and a half when it was new. It had a pretty decent following though nothing anywhere near the level of something like WoW.

It was really fun though especially during a "bane". For those who didn't play, a bane was when you effectively declared war on someone else's city. Once set up, each side was given a set amount of time to prepare (like a day or a week or something, I forget) and then once it went off, all of the town's buildings were vulnerable and if you destroyed their tree of life, their town was taken over by the other team. Shadowbane wasn't about gold, loot or missions though there was plenty of that. It was about full on guild vs guild battles. I've never really found a MMO with quite the same experience. So this is very sad for me even though I have no time to play a game like this anyway.

Ultimately, I think it was killed by griefers, people who didn't like PvP leaving the game and constant crashing that they didn't fully fix until about the time I stopped playing.

Re:Shadowbane was amazing (3, Funny)

SupremoMan (912191) | more than 5 years ago | (#27627319)

I thought the game was an experiment to see how many bugs a person can tolerate.

Re:Shadowbane was amazing (2, Insightful)

kv9 (697238) | more than 5 years ago | (#27627499)

Shadowbane wasn't about gold, loot or missions though there was plenty of that. It was about full on guild vs guild battles. I've never really found a MMO with quite the same experience.

while not on the fantasy side, EVE Online has the most epic-drama-fueled-PVP where conflicts between thousands of players are a regular day to day thing.

Skip EVE (0, Troll)

TheLink (130905) | more than 5 years ago | (#27627763)

EVE Online also has had developers cheating and favouring one party over the rest. Not just once.

I find it silly to play a game like that- like trying to play a game when there's a explicitly biased umpire/referee.

If I wanted corruption on top of conflicts between thousands of people day to day, I already have real life for that.

Re:Skip EVE (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27629453)

Most MMOs are like this. Look at WoW and the caster nerfs last patch, nuking regen and PvP viability. Then read the "blue" posts, and you can tell that the game is about playing a melee class... or getting smacked around by one. Of course, post legit complaints and GC or Kalgon will come and ban you personally.

EQ 1 was like this with some classes always being higher dps than others until they started getting serious competition... then things got fixed.

Re:Skip EVE (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27632447)

We're talking about competitive MMOs, not $15/mo hand-holding exercises like WoW.

Re:Skip EVE (2, Informative)

TheLink (130905) | more than 5 years ago | (#27637465)

Uh, nerfing is different from the developers favouring one guild/team over the rest.

If you don't get it, here's a car analogy from you.

Nerfing is telling the race car teams that from now on they have to use a certain sort of tyres, or reduce downforce.

Sure it might affect some teams more than others, but it applies to all teams.

Corruption and cheating is when you allow one team to get inside info or resources that they are not supposed to have. For example they get a tip off from the race organizers what the other teams plans are for the upcoming race.

Mods can mod me troll all they want, but that sort of thing sure appears to happen in Eve more than the other popular MMOGs. Just google for the various eve scandals.

Re:Shadowbane was amazing (1)

Reapy (688651) | more than 5 years ago | (#27648037)

I found that time period in shadowbane to be a slowing of performance until the inevitable sb.exe error and crash to desktop. That's the only reason I left the game :(

What? (4, Insightful)

Dyinobal (1427207) | more than 5 years ago | (#27627097)

I have never actually heard of this MMO, so I guess perhaps marketing fail on their part.

Re:What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27627335)

Me neither, and looking at the site I think I would have enjoyed playing it. Shame they completely failed to get the word on this...

Re:What? (4, Informative)

Trecares (416205) | more than 5 years ago | (#27627659)

Because it was released 6 years ago. It was a novel game for it's time. A lot of original elements in the game. The mechanics of it were pretty fun. Unfortunately the game had tons of problems, bugs, class balance issues, and severe lag also. Large scale combat would frequently overload the servers and make it impossible to do anything. At most probably only 100 players per side was sort of okay. But at that time, it was fairly common for battles to have upwards of 200-300 people, per side. That was due to the formation of alliances among guilds, and some guilds managing to attain a large membership, over a thousand players. Once people had been driven away by all the bugs, exploits and other issues, the game never recovered. I came back years later and it was pretty much empty. Another victim of an "early" launch. A few more months, and more testing and it could have been much better.


Re:What? (1)

Dyinobal (1427207) | more than 5 years ago | (#27627991)

I was also using the internet six years ago. I don't think it's age was why I hadn't heard of it.

Re:What? (3, Insightful)

securitytech (1267760) | more than 5 years ago | (#27628347)

If you played any mmorpg's at all 6 years ago, it would have been very difficult to not hear about Shadowbane or see one of it's adds.

Besides it being a top 5 game in terms of population, there was little competition then, UO, Everquest, heck SWG wasn't even released 6 years ago. Although I never played it for any length of time, Shadowbane reviews, adds, etc were on every gaming site I frequented...not sure how you could have missed them unless you used AOL or something.

Re:What? (1)

Dyinobal (1427207) | more than 5 years ago | (#27628419)

I was playing Eve six years ago, that's about the most I did as far as the MMO scene. I had a friend who did evercrack though. I guess I just wasn't that connected in terms of MMO gaming.

behind the Shadowbane curtain (4, Interesting)

SethJohnson (112166) | more than 5 years ago | (#27628415)

I once hit up a friend of mine for a job who worked at Shadowbane's developer, Wolfpack Studios [] . I was hoping to work on the back end database. Turned out they didn't have a formal rdbms behind the game. All player data, etc. was stored in flat files. I offered to help migrate them to a more reliable, higher performance database architecture, but they weren't interested. I think the lifecycle of the product had moved beyond architecture development and they only had the budget for ongoing maintenance (circa 2003).


Re:What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27628477)

If I recall right, Shadowbane also was talked about a lot, but was delayed on release. When I was playing Everquest 1, there was some ad meme of people running around zones yelling "Shadowbane roxers" until they got removed from the game by weary GMs.

Re:What? (1)

Jekler (626699) | more than 5 years ago | (#27627829)

I had heard of it, but almost 3-4 years before its release; so long ago I had just bought a Voodoo5 when I first heard about the game. I knew there was no way they could keep the hype at a fevered pitch for so long. They originally had problems nailing down a publisher before finally securing a deal with Ubisoft. I was excited by the concept and they put a lot of work into the mythology of the game, but I was really disappointed by the execution.

The class/race/character design system was needlessly complex because it all broke down to be just as mechanical as any of its rivals (Horizons, Dark Age of Camelot, EQ, etc.) All the effort they put into developing a complete mythology of the world seemed wasted by having such a simplistic game behind it. It's like reading an 800 page novel and finding out it's describing the iterations of a tic-tac-toe game. No matter how exciting the description is, it's not likely to make the game itself any more attractive.

Even after it was offered for free, I played it for perhaps two hours and lost interest completely as I found myself sitting in another wasteland of global messaging, grief players, and grind. For me, a game must be deeper than an IRC room stacked upon a random number generator and an animation demo.

I like what they set out to do and the lesson I hope to take away from this is that content and context are important but meaningless in the face of lack-luster delivery.

It was a great game back in the day! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27627473)

It wasn't always free. Shadowbane has been out for maybe 8-10 years? They only recently switched to the free system when the player base dropped to a few thousand. They didn't have micro-transactions or anything. I think they just wanted to build loyalty for upcoming games. The PvP system they had in place allowed for players to build and destroy other people's cities. Unfortunately this lead to a lot of people quitting after their city was destroyed because of the time it took to build a new one. A lot of these mechanics were tweaked after a few years but it was already too late to reclaim the player base. It was also plagued by a LOT of crashes and bugs at release. It still stands as the most fun game I ever played, but then again I was on the winning side.

guess it's hard to advertise a free game. (2, Interesting)

wubboy (96276) | more than 5 years ago | (#27627491)

Why is it I only find out about these free mmorpg's just as they shut down?


Re:guess it's hard to advertise a free game. (2, Informative)

evilkasper (1292798) | more than 5 years ago | (#27632997) [] Has a bunch of free MMOs. They might have something that interests you.

First major what? (1)

pwolf (1016201) | more than 5 years ago | (#27628129)

"the first major, fantasy role-playing MMO with true PVP (full asset destruction possible)." I'm not sure what "full asset destruction possible" means (I tried reading up on SB's pvp and i could see anything...) but UO was definitely one of the first fantasy MMO's to have true PVP system with lootable corpses and such. But even UO wasn't the first to do this. Legends of Kesmai had a full PVP/looting system in it as well and I'm pretty sure it came out before UO finished it's beta phase.

Re:First major what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27628343)

In SB players could build there own cities complete with NPC vendors, guards, walls and more. Players could also destroy other players cities. Also aside from 3 or 4 "safe hold" cites and a "noob island" you could kill anyone anywhere and loot them. Have a disagreement with you guild mate? Kill him and jack his stuff. Find a group out gold farming? Then there's no where for them to hide.
It was a great concept for an MMORPG that ultimately failed because of an incredible number of bugs at launch that lead to a hand full of uber players duping gold and equipment and becoming unbeatable.

Re:First major what? (1)

Captain Segfault (686912) | more than 5 years ago | (#27629355)

I'm pretty sure it came out before UO finished it's beta phase.

Legends of Kesmai was just Island of Kesmai with a GUI. IoK dates back to 1985.

Re:First major what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27655463)

Shadowbane when it was released brought the persistent world concept to MMO (no instances or loading). In addition, the full asset destruction meant that players themselves could build structures, protected in some cases, and destroyed in others during a bane (declaration of guild vs guild).

The first Bane I attended was massive, approximately 200 vs 300, quite a feat at this time today. It was quite an eye opener.

When released, there were quite a few bugs and with no industry knowledge it took a lot of effort to fix them at first. Over time and when Shadowbane became free most of the bugs were fixed, mostly.

Some other areas of interest with many of them firsts included true guilds, nations, economies, and removing "the grind." The customization of each type of character created many challenges and versions, each character different from the others. Tactics were developed ranging from solo hunting, group hunting, city sieges defending and attacking, and mines.

Shadowbane is one of the best games ever in the rules, content, and style. I always found myself going back to it over and over (even though I never truly left).

The truth of the matter, Shadowbane takes dedication which most casual players cannot afford, does not have PvE quests. It caters to the fearless who are ready to tangle with other players.

It was just another case of releasing too early (1)

Zenin (266666) | more than 5 years ago | (#27628425)

They had a lot of ambitious ideas, but they pushed it out way too early and it showed. It's just another example of bean counters pushing to see a fast ROI and so they pressure the devs into writing too much too fast. That always results in kludgy, fragile code...guaranteed death for an MMORPG. Shadowbane was dead before it left closed beta.

The business plan of MMORPGs is long game; They need a subscriber base that at least remains constant but ideally grows over time. But that requires a critical mass and when a game falls on its face early in its days...players abandon it never to return and it will never reach that critical mass. Players are fickle and combined with the fact that MMORPGs are more about the other players playing then the game itself, losing players means losing game value.

The bean counters however, are only concerned about the short game; What's the revenue this quarter. As a result they care more about the initial on sale then they do about subscribers.

Re:It was just another case of releasing too early (1)

saethone (1032546) | more than 5 years ago | (#27637091)

This is so true, and as a result what could have been a wonderful game died a slow disasterous death. :(

Oh well (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27629179)

Their infrastructure was somewhat expensive. It's hard when you can't scale your hardware or services infrastructure neatly with increased growth or loss of customers.

I interviewed with a position with them a couple of years ago. They were using big Cisco 6000 series switches and Debian Linux for the back-end servers. Their infrastructure seemed to be rather well designed and well maintained. The design of the game itself was not so appealing.

Only MMO I ever enjoyed... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27629405)

Shadowbane is, to this day, the only MMO I ever enjoyed. Without a robust PvP model like Shadowbane had, no other MMO seems worth the hassle (or the $15/month).

Re:Only MMO I ever enjoyed... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27631019)

Darkfall has advertised it should have a very robust PvP model. It seemes to be modeled after pre-Trammel UO, where skills are king and equipment is secondary.

don't believe the hype (1)

evilkasper (1292798) | more than 5 years ago | (#27633005)

.. that sounds similar to what Age of Conan advertised, and we all know how that went.

Re:Only MMO I ever enjoyed... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27741625)

Amen to that. Shadowbane is the best mmo i have ever played, and i have played alot. SWG, WoW, aoc, LOTR, and to many others to name. Shadowbane is still the only to date that have ever came back to after i stopped playing the others. I played Shadowbane since release. Great game, great community, AMAZING PVP. Nothing compares to it. If anyone finds anything that comes close to Shadowbane then it would be a sight to see.

It was too good to be true (1)

JoonasD6 (912298) | more than 5 years ago | (#27633707)

... am I the only one who first read the title as simply "Ubisoft To Shut Down"?

OpenSource (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27676725)

Does this mean as a warlock shade I cease to exist?

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