MMO Shards Online Brings New Ideas to the Genre

Shards Online [official site] isn’t quite an MMORPG, and I think that’s great. While it’ll still have that familiar structure, Shards focuses on letting players build their own, smaller worlds to exist in instead of giving them one giant one. A new trailer to announce Shards Online’s Steam Greenlight campaign shows there’s still the basics like combat and questing, but things quickly get much more interesting when custom servers and the modding tools used to shape them are demonstrated. There’s even a system to play as monsters much like a dungeon master would in a Dungeons and Dragons campaign. Nifty!

Developed by some of the people from Ultima Online, Shards Online’s big focus in on giving players the tools to create their own adventures by building “shards” or custom servers that link together to form a comprehensive world. While there will be some official servers offering a few variety of flavors like a permadeath PVP shard, custom servers will let you tweak every little detail of your shard by using custom scripts and built-in modding tools. Right now servers are limited to only 64 players, cue my hesitation at calling it an MMO, but Shards Online also has so many other similarities, like questing and character progression, that I’m not sure it’ll make that much of a difference.

Shards Online was first Kickstarted back in November of 2014, and has since gone on to raise over $200,000 in funding. That’s not a lot for an online role-playing game, but Shards seems to be trucking along just fine. It’s currently in pre-alpha, which you can buy into for $20/€17,99. Though you also might just want to wait until the beta appears in spring of 2017.

I’m pretty excited to see if Shards Online can actually introduce something different to the genre. Stepping away from gear grinding and leveling up sounds awesome, and I’d love to play something that rekindles the sense of community that older MMOs like Ultima Online had in spades. If this sounds cool to you, why not go vote for it on Greenlight?


  1. Ross Turner says:

    Hey Steven – missing a : in the link to the greenlight page. Unusual for me to click on one now I think about it!

  2. Premium User Badge

    Iamblichos says:

    This is the graphical version of the MUDs I used to play in the late 1980s, like 3 Kingdoms. This sounds awesome :)

    • angrym0b says:

      MUDs were awesome! I wish the one I played as a teenager still existed, but alas it has vanished into the ether!

  3. Kollega says:

    Dang… I saw the “build your own fantasy RPG adventures” bit in this announcement, and all I can think of is how much I want a computer version of Paranoia where the GM can construct a fiendish adventure from pre-made modules like corridors and traps and NPCs (surely everything being pre-made and standartized makes perfect sense in the technological dystopia of Alpha Complex!) and let a team of Troubleshooters (hastily recruited from available friends) loose in it. That would be so boss.

  4. Nymera says:

    Is this like Neverwinter Nights, where you can run a private server independent of the official network, with your own mods?

  5. milligna says:

    Almost 20 years ago now I imagined so many incredible games following behind Ultima Online and picking up the ball Koster put in play.

    Dang. Really didn’t expect it to take so long.

  6. SpitefulHammer says:

    Finally, a spiritual successor to NWN?

  7. racccoon says:

    Shame they went “mod it, build it, play it” as its kind of ruined the dream of a new UO type game.
    So I’m out of this one as I do not like “u build it” type games, as this loses the life of what the devs wanted the game to be, instead it becomes a feast of random shite, unless of course its like gta modding..but, even then it always gets over done, and over exaggerated by the modder, which tends to ruin what the developers created or what the new game player perceived it to be. So it becomes a bit like a over the top “saints row” mayem, and a “just cause” redunkulas type game in overkill.

    • racccoon says:

      These added addition included into games..of a “Mod it, build it, play it”. Just shows that the devs have no real confidence or actual faith in their game development & actual game.
      To me anyway.

      • Someoldguy says:

        If they were going to build it all themselves the Kickstarter would have needed to ask for and get a lot more than $200k.