The last week or so has been... strange.
It started with a friend of mine linking me to a Reddit-post claiming The Chronicles of Spellborn to be up and running again. A claim that was mildly disturbing to say the least.
Spellborn has been in a special kind of limbo for a good decade now. It's development was halted by Dutch investors, but the corpse of the game itself kept being thrown around by various publishers to chase the then lucrative and relatively new money shop revenues for premium items. Something Spellborn was the least suitable candidate for (which we knew as its developers).
The game started primarily as a role-playing oriented MMO. Turning it into a 'premium item-heavy grind-fest' was never compatible with its core principles. Yet, a lot of people have tried to turn it into just that following the success of both World of Warcraft and Lineage. Sadly, because Spellborn was neither – yet pushed towards those templates – it squandered its fan-base, while failing to attract a new one.
If you want to know more about that, the following video from Nerd Slayer should explain a few more things. It gets a lot right, but well... not everything. 😉 It did however end up in the clutches of Disney, which is still the most left field result for this project, ever.
For some reason, there's an old quote from yours truly in there as well, which was originally published through Massively, I think.1
Taking all that into account, a revived Spellborn sounded really out there. But it is true. Over at spellborn.org they did somehow manage to get the old dame up and running again in all its heavily mutated UE2.5 glory.
It's been surreal to be travelling through Hawksmouth again. Also, kind of painful from a content perspective. So many typos, so many things I still wanted to change. So many decisions that in hindsight were completely wrong (and even some that were right).
I'm also surprised by how well the combat holds up. It's still a rather unique mix between PC and console RPG conventions, and it feels fluid to be fighting. Especially when you can get a combo going to punch a hole in your opponent's defences.
That this all has been a surreal experience so far might be an understatement. It feels like falling into a time-warp and every step I take in the game seems to evoke old memories, storylines, and concepts.
If you wish, you can try it out for yourself at spellborn.org, as this is now being run as a free game.
Storms know how long this'll stay up for a variety of reasons.2 So if you ever wanted to experience the Shards, but never had the opportunity to, now is definitely the time.
1 FYI English pronunciation and meaning of my name is best captured by reading 'Leeuw' as 'Leo'. 😅
2 Through companies being sold along associated rights, I think the US rights ultimately ended up at... Disney. Yeah... I know.