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Hyping Legends of Aria

One of our readers and long-time community members (Pseudos on Discord) pointed me towards this up and coming game called Legends of Aria. I thought I hadn't heard anything about it, but turns out I had heard of its former name, 'Shards'.

Doing some minor research into the title, it looks like they're trying to make a UO game -- even a UO clone in many aspects. As far as I'm concerned, any MMO trying to emulate one of the greatest -- and truest -- MMORPGs has my interest and if legitimate, my support.

The official website provides some insight into conceptual systems, but little in the way of day-to-day gameplay explanation. 

There's a teaser video from PAX east. If you get past half the video being horses running through scenery, there's a little bit of tease toward what could be UO-ish.

The best resource I've found thus far is a Reddit post where an alpha player has provided bullet point information on mechanics. Well worth the read, and I want to comment on a few of the points.

Skill Systems that Make Sense

Skills are point based (use to gain) just like UO. Can lock skills to a certain level e.g. I only want to learn 30 animal taming so I can set the skill to 30 using a slider and it will not gain above that amount. [...] Right now there is an official server which is basically a UO clone. 700 skill point cap, same skills, etc.

I love this point system. It forces people to make decisions on the type of character they want to make.

That Beloved Virtual World Feel

Hunger plays a role with player effectiveness e.g. accuracy and stat regen. Not sure if it does/will effect stat/skill gains or anything else. Meat can be harvested from dead animals and cooked, foraged from plants or bought from vendors. Hunger also effects tamed animal companions.

I love how much this type of mechanic influences the immersion. Other points on the reddit post talk about crafting and repairing/enhancing weapons. Lots of emphasis on the player and their role in the world over the actual items.

Custom player housing with lock downs, storage, and vendor placement. Houses can be placed facing any of 4 directions. Can add fences and decorations and stuff to outside on the property, within the house lot. decorating tool is really nice. you select and object and have full control over it with an interface that allows you to nudge it east, west, north south, or rotate it 360 degrees, and move it up or down in elevation.

I really, really like player housing. I like creating communities of players and having a corner of the world where I can call my own. This added so much value to my experience playing UO. Finding that spot of my own, even if it was a terrible location, felt good.

Fully Modded and Player Run Worlds

Custom player run clusters which can have custom rules, items, npcs, events, monster spawns, and world themes. There will completely custom maps and custom assets in the future. There can be an unlimited amount of shards per cluster, which can be different worlds/maps but must follow the same ruleset/mod of the cluster​

Here's where things get questionable for me. There's a decent explanation on the official site about this idea of player-run servers and clusters

​Essentially, there are official 'clusters' which the devs create that have specific rulesets. You can spawn a "world" off this cluster which is like a zone. Your "zone" is under your control if you choose to play it as the owner, but you're bound by the rules of the cluster.

Players can also have their own clusters and custom rules. The whole thing becomes confusing to me when I try to think about how this is all connected. I'm not a big fan of major modding or god players.

I'll stick to official rules, and to the one closest to UO. I might start my own world if it means I can have lots of fun events.

There has to be stability in a world for an economy and permanence to take root. I'm curious how it will all pan out.

Business Model

There won't be any F2P crap. It's a one-time buy deal. There's a $40 package available to pre-purchase. You'll get access to the alpha. It'll wipe sometime this year and then those who pre-purchased get a 1 week each start on Steam.​

I haven't bought in yet because I'm burned my the idea of early access and pre-ordering for access, but the game is now high on my radar.

Cautiously Optimistic

Any try it out yet? Can you provide further insight/​clarification on the clusters/worlds? To what degree will the player modding or being a shard god devolve everything into a cluster-eff?

  • I tried it long ago, when it was Shards. Probably was alpha or an early beta – can’t remember, it was years ago. I found it confusing and not fun at the time, which is why I stopped paying much attention to it. I knew about the name change but whether the gameplay is any different I have no idea.

    • I had no idea the game had been out that long. I thought it was still in the earliest stages of Alpha with barely any playable game right now.

  • I have been playing around with Shards/Aria for a few months now and really like what they are doing. As an older gamer, 41 years old now, I definitely have a soft spot for more slow paced games and this really fits well with that. Most modern day MMOs I feel like I am in a mad rush to get quests and run to the next zone but with Aria I have enjoyed taking my time doing mindless crap like cutting down trees. I am very curious to get back into the game when they open it back up to us on the 12th. This will be the first time we get to see the newest build which I think is the much larger world they have been talking about. That was my biggest issue with the previous build, it felt super small. Now they claim the new build will be massive in size and help thin out some of the overcrowding issues we saw with player housing. Remember how in SWG there were hundreds of empty abandoned homes all over?? This was already on the way to that but I think they have talked about some sort of mechanic that involves maintenance or the property collapses and vanishes. Could be mistaken but thought I read that before.

    The whole cluster technology is definitely confusing. It goes even further though than rule sets in that they are allowing admins access to the core game mechanics to build their own lore and worlds. We might eventually see very different worlds on the server lists we can explore. I believe before they took down the alpha servers for this switch to Aria there was already one such server that had its on mythology that was different from the Shards mythology and some different skills and rules. It is an interesting idea.

    Basically the way I explain the game when I talk to another player is it is a combination of Ultima Online and Neverwinter Nights. NWN had a similar way of offering a core game and mechanics but allowing players to host their own servers and modding the hell out of the content. It made for lots of great times on the pc as it offered an almost endless amount of content.

    • I’m baffled by how the whole thing won’t feel like a jarbled mess of servers. It would be like playing on one NWN server and having an awesome character because the server admins sent uber dragons at you constantly to be farmed, then traveling to a server like I would run (with strict classic UO type rules) and have it be ruined by people who came from a sucky server.

      • The original concept was that all game worlds using the same rule set would be ‘clustered’ together and linked. I believe in those clusters characters can travel via ‘portals’ to other worlds and back… but not to player worlds that have been modded to run with different rule sets. Again, not really positive about all that. They talk about two types of modding, one that is just rule sets and a second that goes as far as asset modding so an admin could create a steampunk world. It really comes across like they are not just designing a game but a set of utilities and tools to build game worlds. I dunno… it is interesting but definitely confusing since they are not giving absolute answers yet. Perhaps it will be like terminator and you can travel thru portals but you show up naked without gear 🙂

        What really struck me is how so much of it felt like UO. The point allocation, the combat.. just a lot of nostalgia but with a nice modern graphics update.

        I will definitely pop back in this weekend and update you on the new big build.

      • Awesome, please keep me in the loop. I’m not in the mood to buy into an alpha right now, but I’m looking with an eye toward the future. A virtual world — one where I can have a K&G realm — is enticing.