Legends of Aria: Final Alpha Recap

The final alpha test for Legends of Aria (formerly Shards Online) concluded a while ago, and Citadel Studios have shared with us their thoughts on how everything went therewith:

…Over 2500 players logged in during the 2 ½ week period and played for a total of 33,000+ hours! We have spent the last few days collecting all the feedback and reading through every single bug report.

Of course, we will continue to iterate on all the core parts of the game like character progression, combat, and crafting. Your feedback in these areas is extremely valuable to us – as we begin to finalize implementations we will be making them available on our NDA protected experimental server for testing and balance. We will also be inviting users to take part in PvP focus tests to ensure that we reach the right balance for launch.

The team is excited to begin the shift towards bugs, polish and balance as we approach Beta. Almost every system in the game is going to get a polish pass between now and Beta. As many of you who have been following us know, we are not going to release Beta until we are where we want to be. Stay tuned for a more specific announcement about the release date.

If any of you reading this were able to take part in the alpha test, please do share with us your thoughts! It would be good to hear what your impressions of Legends of Aria were.

1 Response

  1. dukftuf says:

    I’m a long time UO veteran and also have worked many years in the industry as a conceptual artist for various games. I’m an original backed at knight level for Shroud of the Avatar, and also backed and played SHARDS aka Legends of Aria. I’d be please to leave my thoughts comparing the two games efforts to recapture the RPG magic that was UO.

    While SOTA is obviously a more “expensive” game and possesses more advanced graphics than LOA, as well as RG’s participation, I personally find Legends of Aria a much more successful roleplaying vehicle. It captures the essential elements of Ultima Online in ways that Shroud of the Avatar ultimately completely drops the ball.

    The lesson that anyone who played the original UO should come away with is that a great online roleplaying game works the best when the mechanics- the UI in particular- is as invisible and unobtrusive as possible. This is the “secret” of a great game- being SIMPLE while at the same time offering a REALISTIC acting world to explore.

    The farther a game gets from this basic formula, the more likely it will hurt the roleplaying elements. LOA does not try to cleverly reinvent the wheel. The designers understand that the wheel works best when it’s round- that the best gamedesign when it comes to a roleplaying experience is to offer the players a world that is accessible without clunky, poorly designed brick a brac which gets in the way of play. Things like instancing crushes realism and creative play. Being simple is hard. Legends of Aria, while quite basic in it’s look, has great access for the RP minded person to “do what they want” without interference from creaky, badly designed mechanics and poorly thought out UI.

    Shroud of the Avatar’s design team has thrown tons of effort into fancy armors, clothes and colorful towns and locations. Unfortunately their basic foundation elements- notably the basic combat system the game uses- fits terribly into a roleplaying atmosphere. I actually find it unplayable. Everything about the system is counter-roleplay friendly, It pulls the player away from the monsters and the hero the player should be believing in. The initial concept for the entire system is dreadful, and no amount of fiddling with it after the initial decision of using this tablet style- abstraction of combat will ever fix the fatal flaw. No manner of fancy sword, cleverly named spell, or tweedly magic shield can improve what is at it’s core a flawed idea for the basic structure of the game.

    Of the two games, Legends of Aria is the superior design. For any returning Britannian, this is the game that follows in the footsteps of what was a beautiful classic of simple, interactive, uncluttered worlds.

    For younger gamers, it will take some getting used to. It’s depth is not readily apparent. It’s beauty isn’t on it’s cover, but in the way that skills can be worked up however you like in the process of getting your character where you want him or her. It’s a mistake to approach the game with a hard written plan, the first time you play. You will want to see what you need to be, to get to where you eventually want. An archer may first need to be a woodcutter and carpenter to make his arrows and bows- you might not know this until you need arrows. The player needs to bend to what needs to be acquired. You might have to be a fisherman or an animal tamer to become whatever it is you want to eventually be. This ability to “drift” in occupations and grow into your eventual state of being is what makes this game so nice. There is no specific place you have to be or go to. The paths to follow are not set in stone. It’s up to you to wander, where you will.

    I like the directions Shards/ Legends of Aria have taken. A lot.

    I applaud the most “original” of it’s ideas- combining UO’s open, loose, invisible UI nature with the Gamemastering ideas found in UO’s one RP equal, Neverwinter Nights. These are my two favorite online RP game systems of all time.

    It’s high time someone had the genius to dare to combine the best of these two classic games into a single entity.