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Wednesday, September 18th 2002 1:08 PM EDT
Vosx speaks at The Syndicate World Conference
Posted by Dragons

Sept 13/14/15 marked The Syndicate's 2002 World Conference in Washington, D.C. As one might expect from a guild of 550+ members, whose average age is 28+ years, turnout was huge with close to 100 people attending.

On Saturday we held a large guild meeting. Invited to that meeting was our special guest speaker: Chris "Vosx" Mancil. To us, his pledge of attendance at the meeting spoke volumes for Ubi Soft's commitment to Shadowbane and their recognition of groups that have existed for years and have had a large affect on the gaming world. One question im sure all well organized guilds are asking is: How much commitment is there from Ubi Soft and will we have too many broken promises when the game goes live? The fact that they do show up for major events such as these, showed they do have a firm commitment.

As the meeting got under way, Vosx wasn't there yet. The guildmaster, Dragons, concluded his talk to the assembled group plus another 50 or so people on a conference call listening in. Still no Vosx. Migrations Coordinator and guild Advisor Faust was introduced and he discussed various major games in development, our relationship with those companies and our thoughts on those games. Still no Vosx. Just as Faust was about to conclude and we'd begin "winging it" with a talk on Shadowbane, Vosx strode through the door. His grand entrance was perfectly timed and soon the podium was his.

He began by explaining his reason for being late. The latest build is nearly ready and he had lots to do in preparation for that. Then he went on to explain his career in gaming. Perhaps the most entertaining part was when he explained his first major game (besides MUDs) was Ultima Online. He made a character and headed outside Minoc to see what the world was like. He was stopped by a pk who demanded all his money or he would be killed. Vosx laughed so hard he forgot to reply to the pk and was attacked. He took off running and got away safely after which he dubbed the "early" incarnation of Vosx as "Vosx the Coward". Any who know him in the Shadowbane world know that clearly isn't the case anymore, but it is entertaining to think of his running through the woods of UO with a pk on his heels dodging arrows.

Moving on, Vosx explained how Shadowbane works, the lore behind it and how the world came to be what it is (i.e. the lore surrounding why no one can permanently die, what the sword of Shadowbane is etc..). It was clear he is a charismatic speaker and understand Shadowbane inside and out. He tried to touch on the topics from the premeeting questions we submitted to him and then opened the floor to more questions. Many of the things asked and answered were things most followers of SB or those in the beta already knew. Several things he said are less commonly known or perhaps new information. Those topics included:

Items: Its been no secret that SB is designed such that items dont matter a huge amount. He went on to point out that nearly every item will be craftable by NPCs so players can buy replacement gear if they lose anything. He did mention there will be some epic fights with nice items but none that should offset the balance of the game such that an item makes all the difference.

Levels: Vosx made it clear that there is little different between a lvl 50 and a lvl 98 (highest level yet achieved in the beta) [J.'s note: Only done once, through exploits, over three months ago,] other than a few HP and some mana. No new skill or stat points are earned after 50 and levels 51+ are mostly for show. He also made it clear that 2 lvl 30s can "easily" beat a level 50 to give you some idea of the way levels play into pvp.

PvM/PvE: Vosx stressed that while Shadowbane is a pvp game there is a strong environment for PvM/PvE and it plays a big role. The only way to get new gold into the game is PvM/PvE. Things cost alot. There are maintenance and upgrade costs. Gold is important so players who specialize in that aspect of the game definitely have a home in Shadowbane. He also mentioned there will be a merchant level role for players interested in that. When pressed on that issue he explained how NPCs do all the crafting but then he paused and mentioned there are 2 hidden disciplines that are crafting related but he said no more than that.

Sieges: The key point made here was that sieges will be at least 24hours long since it will take that long for a Bane Circle to stop the ToL's healing capability. Balancing is all that needs to take place to ensure that you cant show up with an army of Trebs and knock down the city without a bane circle. Wolfpacks philosophy has always been the burden is on the attacker and that sieges are expensive both in cost (for trebs and tents and circles) and time. So the attacker will need to defend the bane circle and wartents for 24hrs and invest alot of gold to attack. Therefore you wont likely be seiging towns repeatedly day in and day out since you will have to earn back substantial gold to go again. The defender can chose when and where to counter attack to crush the circle giving them the advantage.

NPCs: Vosx also mentioned that at your inn NPCs will show up to be hired as craftsman, which we all knew. He also mentioned that from time to time "special" NPCs will show up. Its feasible you could hire the only dwarven weaponsmith who can make uber mithril weapons on the entire server if you catch him at the right time. That gives you and your city and advantage but also makes you a target for everyone else who wants that resource.

Potions: The word was mentioned as items you can get/use but no details were given. There were so many questions that the issue wasnt pressed but it was used outside of the context of a post by testers asking for them which is possibly significant. Players have been asking for consumable items like that and it was used in the context of items players can get/use in the final but no details given.

Dungeons: The question was asked to describe the new dynamic dungeons but no details were given since they wish to wait until they are released. It was said that 40-50 dungeons could be expected per worldn which is a substantial amount for players to hunt in.

Release Date: Of course we all know the date was moved to February 2003. Vosx reiterated the position that this was done to ensure the game was fully ready and that Ubi Soft is commited to as smooth a game release as possible. He mentioned that he feels, at the rate things are going, the game will likely be "done" or nearly done by December. All that is left, in their mind, is balancing which will likely going on for years to come as new features are added, exploits found, etc.

Bugs: Their policy is to find and fix them as fast as possible once the game goes live. Not all gaming companies have as aggressive of a stance on them as Ubi Soft and Wolfpack due but they recognize alot is at stake should a bug allow someone to kill towns in a short amount of time or allow massive duping of gold, for example.

Open Beta: Vosx mentioned they anticipate starting the open beta in late October. If not then, then definitely by early November. So for all you wanting to get into the beta, be watching closely about that time.

Those are some of the more exotic things mentioned during his Q&A at the meeting. Vosx talked for close to two hours. When he was through there we ajourned the meeting and moved things over to the suites where several dozen people gathered around Vosx on the back porch to ask many more questions.

Vosx is a very animated speaker and very passionate about Shadowbane. He made believers out of several nonbelievers and cemented the lust for Shadowbane in many more. While he was speaking outside, there were machines set up in several suites to allow conference attendees to play the beta. Several high-level chars were used to give people a sense of what you an achieve in the game. Of course appearing at a ruins, getting pkilled and watching the person go "haha joo suxor" wasnt really the best way to start them off but the experience of getting to feel and touch it was one many Syndicate members were pleased to have.

We'd like to extend our thanks to Vosx and Ubi Soft for attending the conference. It was clear from listening to Vosx talk about their relationship with Wolfpack, why the release date was moved and their plans for the future (they already are talking about the first expansion pack) that there is a high level of commitment to Shadowbane.

We did film the Q&A session and when that video is digitized into the PC and the Q&A part extracted, it will be made publically available so you can hear his exact words. This will either be done through Ubi Soft's site or The Syndicate's site. Stay tuned to Warcry for where to find that video when its available (hopefully later this week).

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