Today we mourn Shadow Realms

shadowToday I am deeply bummed out by the news that Shadow Realms is being abandoned — and deeply upset with BioWare for giving up on the project.

Man, this game sounded cool.  I’ve been championing the concept of allowing players to take the role of a DM in online games for a while now, and Shadow Realms came out of nowhere to do just that.  Allowing players to handle both the protagonist and antagonist roles could’ve led to infinite replayability — and the modern TSW bent of the characters and locales didn’t hurt, either.

I’m just mad that BioWare decided that it should play it safe with more sequels instead of going ahead with its first original IP in more than six years.  If you’re not too careful, BioWare, you’re just going to become another Nintendo that can’t imagine a world that isn’t Zelda and Mario.

My only hope is that a braver studio will pick up this concept and run with it in the future.  Extra points if it’s an MMO.

11 thoughts on “Today we mourn Shadow Realms

  1. Stormwaltz February 10, 2015 / 12:26 pm

    This feels like an “EA” decision rather than a “BioWare” one.

  2. Sylow February 10, 2015 / 12:34 pm

    Aye. Such moves are very traditional for EA, after all.

  3. The Guilty Party February 10, 2015 / 12:42 pm

    There are literally dozens and dozens of projects every year that get started, sound totally cool, and get cancelled because they just aren’t working out, from giant publishers to lone developers in their apartment. We never know about them so we don’t care. Getting all bent out of shape about a pre-alpha being cancelled is a strong lesson to publishers: don’t tell anyone anything.

  4. David Bass (@doctordake) February 10, 2015 / 1:26 pm

    What if…and stay with me here… what if they folded this tech into SWTOR? Empire players getting to lead a dungeon against the Republic? That’d be pretty awesome. I can’t imagine they’d let the tech/platform they built go completely to waste.

  5. Wilhelm Arcturus February 10, 2015 / 1:51 pm

    I cannot get really worked up about a game that never saw the light of day getting the axe. As The Guilty Party noted, projects get dropped all the time, especially in larger companies where they can afford to not ships things. And we do not know the reason why it got cut. It might have been shaping up to be complete derivative crap. Or it might not have really ended up “feeling” like a BioWare game. They have their “thing,” and ongoing success means they are unlikely to step very far away from it.

    I am not saying this isn’t a “bummer, that sounded neat” moment, but with nothing invested “mourn” seems an over-the-top sentiment. I’ll save that for when games I know well reach end of life.

    (Also, on the Nintendo front, you forgot Pokemon.)

  6. ironweakness February 10, 2015 / 3:04 pm

    Their initial marketing was great too, unfortunately it was wasted on something that will never launch. I kept getting these intriguing emails that lead to the final reveal. It caught my interest before I even knew what it was. I’d like to see more player created content options as well, I don’t think publishers have explored that avenue nearly enough. Especially the kind where the creator is actively engaged with the player, like an old school GM.

    And I’m surprised that this goes ignored so much by so many MMOs, subscription games in particular. I think it would help with retention during content lulls. The success of housing in a few games this past year has illustrated how much players want to have the ability to impact the spaces they inhabit, and to interact with the spaces others have created.

  7. Tyler F.M. Edwards February 10, 2015 / 3:24 pm

    It was an interesting concept, but I don’t think Bioware was the right company for it. It seemed like a mainly gameplay focused multiplayer experience, and really the only thing Bioware is any good at is story-driven single-player experiences. Their ability to make compelling gameplay has always been questionable at best — they’re really more of a choose your own adventure novel company than a game developer.

    So while I was a bit curious about this game, I’m not too sad to see it cancelled.

  8. Shintar February 10, 2015 / 5:01 pm

    Sorry, but as a SWTOR player I’m happy to see them put the focus back on a game that is actually live and which I enjoy. I got a couple of e-mails about Shadow Realms and the setting looked completely unappealing to me personally.

  9. C. T. Murphy February 10, 2015 / 5:46 pm

    I keep hoping for some smaller “passion” projects from Bioware. All these massive, mega games are getting a bit tiring.

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