That hope is Shards Online.
Shards Online is aimed at both the ex-Neverwinter Nights community, and the ex-UO community, including those that were involved in the huge free-shard development groups based around RunUO and other emulators.
I'm genuinely incredibly excited about this game, even at the current, pre-alpha, limited information stage that we find ourselves in. I'm obviously not alone. The Kickstarter has already successfully funded, within it's first week.
What am I excited about?
Quite simply, Shards offers a community modifiable UO replacement, with infinite possibilities for player-run shards, communities and content. Imagine combining the best of UO free-shards, with the stability and support of the official servers, and mix in a bit of NWN at the same time? That's what Shards offers.
What reminds me of UO?
- Isometric viewpoint - this is probably the main factor in recapturing that UO 'feel' - I've never been unable to understand why more games haven't tried to replicate it. For PvP especially, it just works.
- Player housing - essential. Everything these involved. Building, designing, decorating. A place to gather. A community or guild hub. A battleground. Player and guild housing is probably the main reason UO has maintained such a loyal following for years and years. However much a player's desire to actually 'play' may wane, having their house - sometimes just to log-in and stand around in - kept them engaged.
- Skill based, not level based. Anyone that has played UO will only have good things to say about this method of character progression, as opposed to level based games.
- The intended audience. All play styles are catered for, simply due to the customisable nature of the game. Currently options are PvE games with PvP bolted on as an afterthought (WoW, etc). Or PvP games that exclude almost all other player types(Darkfall, etc). Shards can attract all play styles, all player types, and put them into the same melting pot that Ultima Online did, with such success. For a game to ever emulate UO, it needs Roleplayers, Crafters, Treasure-Hunters, Thieves, PvPers, Fishermen, Animal Tamers, Explorers. Shards is aiming to capture every single one of them.
The devs have already mentioned the existence of things like server-birth rares and IDOCs, they get it!
I've also seen some very promising comments regarding PvP - and these developers have history. The lead designer was involved in establishing a player focus group for PvP improvements that I was involved in. If I remember correctly, he did this in his own time, off the clock - as PvP was never going to get looked at otherwise - we all know where the priorities lay in UO, and it wasn't with us. PvPers; I think this development team actually understands us.
I'll make some effort to post some more updates - what better way to express some of my excitement for shards as we build up for Alpha. On that note, don't miss your chance to get involved in the Kickstarter so you can join us when the fun commences.