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PlaneShift

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PlaneShift is a free to play cross-platform 3D Online Multiplayer Role Playing Game in a fantasy setting. The framework is open source with the server and client released under the GNU General Public License, and the artistic content is covered under a proprietary license. The game requires client software to be installed on the player's computer. The project is no-budget and produced by a group of developers guided by the Atomic Blue organization.The development team comprises developers from all around the world, located in the United States, Europe, Canada and Australia

PlaneShift takes place inside a colossal stalactite named Yliakum, divided into eight levels. Players begin in the main city, Hydlaa, where they will start their journey. PlaneShift has 12 playable races that all have their own homelands and characteristics.

Gameplay

Like many MMORPGs, PlaneShift has no single objective for the players to complete, but provides many options based on the playing style.

One aim of the game is to explore all the available areas and to acquire knowledge about the world by speaking with the NPCs who provide hints on how to proceed and unlock areas, items and powers. The NPC dialog system is a mixed system, made of predefined answers the player can pick from a list and freeform text entry. Another goal is to increase the character skills and knowledge by completing quests and tasks in the game. One of the main goals of the PlaneShift staff is to inspire roleplay between the players. This is accomplished by attention to detail, background stories, books, and quests.

Character creation

The PlaneShift character creation tool features two options. The first option is to choose to make a "quick" character, in which a player chooses a "path" and a character is randomly generated for them. A path reflects the career of the avatar in his youth, and has associated events which will drive the final skills and stats. The available paths are "Street Warrior", "Enchanter", "Fighting Monk", "Warlock", "Knight", "Rogue". The second option is to make a character with the "custom" method. This method allows to choose many additional aspects of your character like the birth event, the parents jobs, the house and siblings, and the life events happened up to his adulthood. What makes this unusual among other character creation tools is that the character's stats and skills will be revealed only at the end of the process.

Combat

Planeshift features both player versus environment and player versus player combat. The latter is implemented as the ability to engage in duels on a voluntary basis, which requires both parties to agree to the conditions of the duel. If two players' guilds are at war with each other, they do not need to agree to a duel in order to initiate combat with each other. Characters attain progression points (PP) when they successfully engage in combat and use certain abilities, which are used for training skills. PlaneShift uses a skill based progression system, which allows the player to develop this character in any skills without the mandatory choice of a profession. When a character dies they are transported into the Death Realm, a large network that the player must navigate.

Development

The game is currently in the alpha stage of development at version 0.5, codenamed "Arcane Chrysalis". The server side engine code and the client code is written from scratch by the PlaneShift team, while the 3D rendering features are based on the Crystal Space 3D engine. The first major version (0.1) released on May 2, 2002 was codenamed "Atomic Blue". The Molecular Blue server was shut down on December 16, 2004 and replaced on December 24, 2004 with version 0.3, Crystal Blue.This was subsequently replaced by the version codenamed, "Steel Blue" on March 2, 2008. The current version "Arcane Chrysalis" was released to the public on December 10, 2009. The game engine is released under the GNU General Public License, while the content is released under a proprietary license. The artwork, ruleset, dialog, etc. of PlaneShift are proprietary and licensed under a custom license: the PlaneShift Content License (PCL). The PCL prevents modifications, redistributions, and assigns the copyright of accepted contributions to Atomic Blue under work for hire clauses. This license also forbids using the content for profit or for unofficial hosting. PlaneShift has been used in multiple studies as a base to develop video games and other free applications. The PlaneShift development team organization resembles one of a software company, with departments and leaders, and has been studied as a collaborative software engineering organizational model.

Setting

PlaneShift is set inside a colossal stalactite named Yliakum, divided into eight levels, of which the lower two are flooded. Players will find themselves into the main city, called Hydlaa, where they will start their journey. Life is possible because a huge crystal, named The Azure Sun, draws light from the surface of the planet. PlaneShift currently has 12 playable races that all have their own homelands and characteristics. Outside of Yliakum are the Stone Labyrinths and through these the player can access even more areas.

In the game the main currency is the Tria, triangle-shaped coins made of sturdy alloys, metals, or crystals. There are other units of currency, including Hexas, Octas and Circles.

Reception

PlaneShift was elected in 2003, the "Most Promising Linux Game" of the year, and later considered by CSC to be one of the most sophisticated open source multiplayer games. In 2008 PlaneShift was invited as an emerging technology, to speak at GoogleTalk events in Google headquarters. It was also noted that PlaneShift's licenses facilitate creativity among the development community, while preserving as unique the creativity of artists and designers who contribute.

Planeshift has been criticized as being generic but good with its visuals, and for borrowing from the ideas of other MMORPGs. While bandwidth for the servers is donated by sponsors, latency times have been known to cause a disruption in playing the game partly due to lack of paid hosting services.


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