Apparently, Shining Lore is going to be a MMORPG with some distinctive features. One of these will be the immersive backstory of the game, centered around the eight heroes of legend. There are three major legends that fill the lives of the people of Ardran; the first is the tale of the Ancient God. Summoned from the moon through the Lunar Gate by the Ocean Kingdom, the God was called to defeat the rival Earth Kingdom once and for all. The Prince of Earth, Kirie, and Asha, priestess of Pandora, strove to stop the Ancient God, sealing off its main energy source (the ocean) in Overgear Aquaerius. This, however, caused the water to disappear, and the Prince and priestess were banished, along with their children.
This backstory is the setting for the Second and Third Legends, which provide the impetus for single and multiplayer modes. The single player mode is based upon the Second Legend, also known as the tale of the Successors. This legend takes place several hundred years following the disappearance of the ocean, in a world slowly turning to desert in the absence of water. Rune, the son of Asha and Kirie, time-travels to the Age of Legend, in order to discover the cause of the ocean's disappearance (the Ancient God Rabirez). Gathering the eight heroes, Rune must embark upon a quest to defeat the Ancient God and resurrect the ocean. The eight heroes have been revealed by Phantagram: included in their number are Bio MacDogal, Eto Sepha, Mene Arcea, Rune Lagna, Sanra Whires, Serin Gride, Siena Ivory, and Win Fordham. Each of these characters has their own distinctive look and weaponry, and pictures can be found here.
As is to be expected, the multiplayer campaign has a slightly more open-ended story. In it, five years have passed since the eight heroes vanquished the ancient God. While this does little to heighten the suspense of the single-player mode, it does set the stage for what follows: mysterious forces of magic and accidents begin striking worldwide. Players, interacting with the eight heroes, will have to get to the bottom of the trouble by discovering the secret of the lost Ardran and Moon civilizations. Only then is it possible to become a hero and write a legend of their own.
Phantagram's main approach to Shining Lore has been to make it markedly more cheerful in appearance than other MMORPGs, and the character art is no exception. Even the monsters or Ardran are decidedly on the cute side; included among their number are a hamster-like creature known as "Spiky", Sniffy, a fuzzy blue bat with a giant nose, Flapper, a cat with huge ears that enable it to fly, and a wide variety of variously armed and armoured panda bears. Monsters are modeled in 3-D, and will be integrated in the form of 3rd person action battles. A wide array of items will be available, including Skill Tools, job-specific weaponry that will become usable after a certain level of experience is gained. Still, Phantagram has emphasized that battle will not be necessary for players to advance in the game; each of the five classes has its own job-related minigames, including card games, treasure hunting, and chess.
Some areas of the game world have been detailed as well. The five continents include Enterole, Derre Metalika, Ark Foresta, Tropika, and Frodia. Gamers will also be able to enter the floating land of Pandora. Each of the regions has its own geography. Enterole is the land of desert and fire; deserts, oases and canyons dot the landscape, and towns have sprung up around the many ruins of an ancient civilization. The most prominent of these sites is the Sand Rogue King's castle, an imposing fortress in the midst of the desert that even the creatures of the desert fear to tread in.
Derre Metalika, on the other hand, is a land of incredibly bad weather. Consisting of a series of islands linked together mechanically to form its own continent, the landmass is raked by constant lightning, and giant metal structures claw at the sky throughout the country. These man-made buildings are virtually the only defining features on the continent, aside from a few artificial parks in the towns. Derre Metalika is otherwise a barren wasteland, devoid of plant life due to the many mechanical structures that dot the landscape. People on this continent rely heavily on Overgears, the mysterious machinery of Ardran.
Ark Foresta, as the name suggests, is a forested land with rolling hills and valleys carpeted in trees. The entire continent, in fact, is covered in forest, and its denizens house themselves in crude buildings of wood and mud. The entire area has a certain calm, quiet mystique, and a number of special buildings can be found built in the very trees themselves.
Tropika, meanwhile, is a watery continent, half-submerged in the Ardran's water. Laced with an intricate system of canals, this continent is home to many fish and other creatures of the sea, and contains many spectacular waterfalls. Humans have built fantastic fountains and watermills, and the entire continent is a spectacle to behold. It is also home to the exotic Cooking Kingdom of Gourmeriana, which borders on the continent of Frodia.
Frodia is the opposite of Tropika, with small hills, vast plains, and sweeping plateaus. Above all, Frodia is a windy place, with violent gales frequently blowing through the expansive grasslands. Many creatures small and large live in these plains, and a number of windmills can be found throughout the land. Most prominent among these buildings is the "Windmill of Time", a mysterious ruin located somewhere amidst the grassy hills. Frodians are no strangers to mechanical devices; the windmills afford them a vast source of power, and engines are not uncommon, which is useful for a nomadic people.
Hovering in the ocean is Pandora, the Floating Island. Home to the International Federal Government which strives for the union of autocratic states and the security of the Ardran people, the island is a giant Overgear machine, amphibious and constantly moving. It once moved over ground but now it sticks to ghosting over the ocean. Overgears are of utmost importance; the entire continent is constructed of them, and all structures in the island, save for the indoor park, are made of these. It is reflective of the ancient Moon civilization and the ancient technology. Currently, Senior Sandra Wires is the grand Governor, although the young prime minister Mash is unsatisfied with the current regime.
Gamers will have their first chance to see Shining Lore later this month, according to Phantagram. That is when the company is slated to begin beta testing, a process currently scheduled to begin July 20. Those interested in applying, as well as those looking for more information on the game, can head over to the game's official site to find more out. Currently, the PC version of Shining Lore is set for release worldwide sometime in 2002.