One claim that has always struck me as misguided is that Shadowlands is “Fantasy”, in contrast to the rest of AO’s “Science Fiction”. Then this put as a bad thing about SL.
To me, this shows that the SL stories embedded in the quests (in particular from Scheol onward) haven’t actually been read by those making the claims. If you read them, the world has a fully worked out backstory relying on “science”. It is of the rise of a civilisation to the point where they discover and abuse an energy source (“The Source”) to the extent it shatters and blows the remnants of their world into something like a pocket universe. The landscape is littered with crashed spaceships of the Xan, echoing Rubi-Ka. “The Source” appears closely related to RK’s “nanobots”. The apparent “gods” are just beings who have held onto something more than most of the earlier technology. Hecklers are indeed animated rocks, as they are indeed eating up the rocks of Shadowlands. Ghosts are echoes empowered buy the Source. Ergo is a giant computer network, and so on. Weapons are a mix of melee and guns as with RK, Garden Statues echo Whompas, boss patterns echo insurance terminals. The end boss of SL is “just” a “computer terminal” gone wrong, etc. Practically everything comes with a story. Echoes of the Shadowlands are scattered across RK.
What’s particularly interesting to me is how SL ties into the story of the Alien Invasion - the fall of the Beast is the cause of the Invasion.
One or two places the focus drifts a little too much to the fantasy, perhaps (e.g the Anansi storyline)
There are other possible criticisms of SL (too much running, too long a quests with unbalanced stages, etc.)
But, to me, Shadowlands is no more a fantasy setting than Rubi Ka.
Good argument well made, but I think it’s the general aesthetic, rather than the catagory, that has caused the criticism. I.e. rock monsters and birds Vs robots and mercs.
there are no cyborgs or mutants in shadowlands
it goes from steampunk scifi, with mutants, an evil corporation, and cyborgs, rk aesthetic) to fantasy scifi (fragmented terrain, redeemed/unredeemed, thematic stages ie Inferno, shadowlands aesthetic)
the garden statues do not “echo” whompahs. they have the same function and that is it, but visually, they are totally different. One implies the use of magic and the other implies the use of technology.
not to mention, the keeper and shade professions are paladin and rogue.
another reason people don’t like SL is for the perk system. Many professions became forced to use a specific weapon type or else have no perk support.
It’s perhaps as if Shadowrun / Mutant Chronicles characters discover an hidden world equal to Stargate, with full on Clarketech (super powered technology distinguishable from magic). I like both flavours, Sci-Fi and Fantasy, so if I don’t “buy” the scifi in SL, It don’t trouble me!
Prophet without Honour, the background setting for the game itself, clearly show some sort of ‘theme’ where the current Shadowlands fits as a sort of conclusion.
Its clear the current Shadowlands isn’t what was originally the plan, but it is a conclusion to the obviously Transhuman themes. Going trans sophont ala Raymond Kurzweil’s Singularity is the only otherwise possibility I see, so imho, the theme of SL fits.
So has a fantasy look but kept it somewhat sci fi, it was planned that way to grab fantasy lovers and also new players that were used to the quest progression from other MMOs.
Thank you to the responders. Some responses from me in turn (all pretty trivial):
- Perhaps a key issue with the dislike of SL by some is the style (or aesthetic), and that’s fine. “I just don’t like it” is hard to argue with - but labelling the style “fantasy” is what I was arguing against.
- Having themed zones is surely not unique to fantasy, neither is the theme of one zone setting the stage for the next zone - just good storytelling.
- Early SL does like to appear to be magical (well, apart from the Jobe scientists doing science on anything they can), and only later do you realise it’s all technology using natural extensions of what we already have in RK, though visually different: I’d call that storytelling as well - stories must develop, not repeat.
- SL does have robots (look in the catacombs), and RK lethal birds (the assorted Anun species). The Xan were well beyond crude random mutation and cyborgs - flesh-shaping and species creation are more their speed.
- I’ve always thought Fixers are closer to D&D Rogues than Shades
- Perks are of course nothing to do with fantasy or otherwise - and again a matter of taste.
- Been too long since I read Prophet without Honour!
Sorry, I didn’t make it clear in my original post, I’m in agreement with you. Original AO wasn’t really that Cyberpunk as some like to claim, it was closer to Dune, which verges on Sci-Fantasy anyway. Mostly just playing devils advocate.
Rod Serling “Science fiction makes the implausible possible, while science fantasy makes the impossible plausible.”
Conceptual fiction best describes the AO science fantasy mashup.
Memory. Do Shadowlands characters remember who they once were… all those aeons ago?
German Expressionism. Metropolis. Dark City. Dune. Spice. City of Lost Children. Nanomages and a nano program. Note the syringe? Look familiar?:
And the Mission Agency music?
Have loved Dark City for a long time, people really don’t realise the influence it had on later films (Matrix for example)
And if those are the best moments of City of the Lost Children, then I’m probably not going to watch it…
Youtube pulled most of the City of Lost Children clips so I simply linked to whatever popped up. It’s a really fun film.Watch the undubbed version. RK missions with the science research themed modules have the city of lost children brain-in-a-tank model in them.