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Adventure & RPG
Release Date

March 25, 2003 | Andy Largent

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As Shadowbane prepares to enter the competitive market of massively multiplayer games, it's good to remember the title has a long and intriguing history -- especially where Mac users are concerned. With a development that spans back into the 1990's, it's an understatement to say there's an above-average level of anticipation for the title. A quick IMG search nets almost 160 news articles about the game, and that's only since our new content system was implemented in mid-2000.

In a time when all other PC MMORPGs passed the Mac platform by, Shadowbane has been held up as a coveted cross-platform solution. As Wolfpack Studios employees tell it, the game originally started as a project by some very pro-Mac developers, even when its base "Arcane" engine was still conceived as a 2D solution. Right up through the game's latest beta, Mac users have been included in the process and promised a simultaneous release.

You may ask what the big fuss is about Shadowbane, especially with so many great role-playing games present on the Mac (or coming soon). First, understand the concept of a persistent online world where players can meet and organize at all hours of the day. Then realize that Wolfpack has, from day one, been trying to distinguish Shadowbane from other MMORPGs by shifting the game's focus away from strictly leveling up your character to a more holistic strategy that encompasses the entire game world.

How do they plan on making this work? And why change an addictive formula which has proven very successful in games like EverQuest? To some extent, Shadowbane looks to take the good points of these other games and layer another level of strategic player interaction on top. Of course, you're still going to have to create a character and level them up. And this will still entail killing monsters for gold and experience. Once past a certain level though, you're ready to venture from newbie-land and into the world of guilds and intrigue which is Shadowbane. But before getting too far into it, let's discuss the basics of getting a character created.

Character Basics
Character creation should be a familiar routine to those role-playing fans out there. You're first presented with a selection of races and the classes available for each. In the start of Shadowbane, you can select from 10 races, including humans and standard fantasy archetypes like elves and dwarves. Some of the more exotic characters include the red-skinned "Devil Men" called Irekei along with Centaurs, Minotaurs, and Shades. You're allowed up to five characters per account, so you don't have to worry about only getting to play as only one type. It should also be noted that three "restricted races" are available initially only to those who pre-ordered the game. The Minotaur, Aracoix, or Centaur will have the races unlocked one per month for the first three months of your subscription.

Your class selection is initially fairly straightforward, and it can be restricted depending on which race you choose. While the humans can choose from a variety of classes, others like Half-Giants are only allowed to be fighters. While this may seem simplistic for a game that purports to have a world full of strategy, there is much more to this system, which we'll get to later.

Once you've got a race and class selected, you're able to put points into different attributes, as well as spend them on runestones, which contain special abilities such as increasing your maximum strength or giving you class-specific powers. You can also find runestones later in the game to modify your character further. You're also given basic visual modifiers for your character, such as hair styles and colors.


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