There was a bit of dialogue between Warden of Wolfpack Studios and myself on the Shadowbane Devboard regarding the One, Holy and Apostolic ORPG, and specifically how it would deal with issues such as random grief PKing that have become “issues”, as Calandryll would term them, in other games. (Don’t worry, Cal, I found your theme song.)

..just out of random curiosity, why is your natural assumption that we *haven’t* considered this?

I mean, we went to all the bother of quitting our jobs, raising the money, hiring a staff, starting a company — and yet it never occurred to us, in all of our planning, to make sure that the game system we are designing actually matches our target market?

I think asking what you consider to be your target market is a valid question, and one you didn’t answer.

No one actually asked. I would define out target market as “Those who purchased Diablo and love it.” Simple and straightforward, that’s my kind of marketing.

(Okay, okay, a quick disclaimer. I know this statement won’t stand up under scrunity. Diablo was never created as a massively multiplayer game. Questions like “what about” and all the other multiplayer issues that the Diablo team didn’t address make this point a lot less valid — but if you take it as a goal at a *very* high level, i.e. “I want a massively multiplayer Diablo that *works*, you should get a feeling for what we’re trying to build..)

Shadowbane is going to have an exceptionally deep social system — much moreso than any other game that has been released (or, to our knowledge, conceived of) to date. This system should cater to all types of game players — even those who don’t necessarily want to engage in PvP.

…except merchants? “I don’t play these games to bake bread, I play them to crush.” How will you create a world in depth without an economy? Everquest is a good example of what happens when you just rely on in-game drops to drive item acquisition.

Sure — provided of course that you make the best items in the game clearly better than the next tier, load them in a predictable place and interval, and in very short supply.

Pretty soon everyone has everything and is handing it off to their newbies. UO, for all its faults, at least has merchant classes that work (smiths, alchemists, etc).

You are correct — we do scratch merchants off the list. Shadowbane is a game about warfare and political intrigue, not a bakery or a fishing simulation. Sorry, but we know our limitations — we’ve got one game that we really, really want to build and a limited time to do it. This is one area we felt could be crossed off the list.

To argue your point, by the way (that merchant skills are necessary for a viable economy,) the example that you give, the game with “working” merchants, really only has one or two classes that are (over time) viable professions — blacksmithing and alchemy. Fishing, Baking, Carpentry.. the overall effect these skills have on “the economy” is actually quite negligible. When was the last time a UO player ‘fished’ himself into a Castle? The economy of UO is *actually* fueled by playerkilling, not their craft skills. Player killing (and, until recent changes, player thieving) is the clear and undisputed easiest way to amass wealth in that game.

In Shadowbane, our economy will actually be fueled at two levels — at the micro level, by adventuring (and yes, sometimes by PvP combat, though our item bonding rules should balance that out dramatically) and at the macro level by the Guilds (and sadly, I can’t say much more about that at this point.)

At it’s heart, Shadowbane is a game about interaction, being a part of a group, and dealing with other groups — PvP combat is just one small piece of the equation (and one that can be avoided, if you choose to do so.)

…but one that’s been highlighted, in your publicity and by your fans. What does Shadowbane offer to the PvP-? What protection does Shadowbane offer from random PKing? I’ll assume for purposes of discussion that random PKing is even considered undesirable.

I think (or at least, I hope) we’ve been very clear about the clear difference we see between ‘random playerkilling’ and ‘PvP combat.’ Shadowbane will offer an entire spectrum of great gameplay for those who don’t want to engage in PvP combat — in fact, we’ve designed a whole host of activities beyond the ones you’ve all grown to expect (roleplaying, character development, adventuring in parties) that should round out the game quite nicely — things like our feature character system, our vivid background story, our roleplaying and acting system (we’ve got more socials than any other game to date.)

I think the reason that our PvP system has received so much attention to date is, in large part, due to two factors : first, that we’ve taken a stance against a +pvp flag, opting instead for allowing safety through guild territories and reducing the pain of death; second, that the other games have treated the PvP system as an afterthought, or as a necessary evil of their system.

[Regarding PvP play styles,] I think the key, for us, is to build a game that is well rounded in all areas, and has a system that is flexible enough to handle a large variety of playing styles. I’m not suprised that we’ve received so much attention in this particular area (since the other games have done such a poor job of implementation on this particular point) but I think you’ll find, eventually, that we’re a better game in a LOT of different areas — roleplaying, character advancement, and political intrigue, you name it. Don’t let one little fear dissuade you from what might otherwise be an incredible gaming experience.

I guess my whole point is, “Try it.” Before you condemn any game as being “too dangerous” or “too deadly,” why don’t we see how beta goes? We’ve tried to do a good job of attracting some of the best roleplayers, and most rotten playerkillers, alike. Lets see how the game runs.