Release 59 of Shroud of the Avatar goes live this Thursday, October 25, at 10:30 AM US Central Daylight Time (15:30 UTC).
Release 59 is the first release in which we focused on the current iteration of our Top 10 Priorities (from Q4 2018 post). We made fantastic progress on every single one of these priorities including various quality of life fixes (decay removed, universal chat, etc.), systems polish, tons of bug fixes, performance improvements, user interface polish (deck selector), seasonal content (Pumpkin Head!), a revamped New User Experience, Fishing Phase 2 (water types, more fish, more skills, etc.), more content & features for Player-Made Dungeons (more rooms as loot, more entrance patterns, etc.), and boxes are now available through our website and Amazon!
Going forward we are going to slightly modify how we do our release notes. In the past we have transcribed a lot of the details from our internal tracking tool, JIRA, into this post to make these 10–20 page informational dispersal about what was done for the release. Instead of doing that, we are now going to make this post a “highlights” post with a link to a google spreadsheet that lists all the tasks and bugs that were completed for the release. This will both save time in production that we can devote to other tasks and it will also allow you the players to connect issues you reported to the actual JIRA numbers we posted in response in the forums! We hope you enjoy this new format.
New User Experience Revamp: For Release 59, we have revamped and improved the New User Experience by separating the tutorials from the story spaces in the three starting areas (Battle of Solace Bridge, Battle of Highvale, and Blood River Massacre). We have also built a new focused tutorial space in the Isle of Storms that walks you through the game basics in a gated fashion (i.e. you cannot advance to the next room until you prove you can swing a sword). Another change is that choosing your story path is now independent of your starting decks!
Fishing Phase 2: Fishing Phase 2 launches with Release 59 and includes 3 different water types, over 25 new fish, trophy data on fish, different baits and group fishing XP bonus!
Quality of Life Improvements: We made several key improvements to the quality of life to increase connectivity between players in Release 59 including the addition of a Universal (game-wide) chat channel and the automatic selection of Open Multiplayer instances when entering towns, overworld, and Outskirts maps. We also created a new Rewards interface that lets you claim rewards anywhere. Additionally we have removed the previous gameplay restrictions of story, trade and lot ownership from our free players. Finally we have removed decay of experience upon death!
Bug Fixing: We dedicated a significant portion of the release to working solely on fixing bugs and reducing our overall bug count. We addressed over 100 issues with over 60 of them highlighted in the google spreadsheet, including fixes to various scenes (typos, stuck spots, etc.), crafting fixes, combat fixes, and various user interface fixes. NOTE: We have purposely not shown issues related to exploits, security, and customer service issues.
Performance: Yet again huge improvements were made to performance, especially in scenes with large numbers of players.
Pumpkin Head and “Nearby Power”: The latest addition to our menagerie of seasonal creatures is Pumpkin Head who uses the newest boss behavior: “Nearby Power”. This behavior allows bosses to draw power from nearby objects and/or other creatures. Pumpkin Head draws his power from the pumpkins in his pumpkin patch.
I want to express a huge amount of gratitude to the players who tested the items listed below on our QA server. They found many bugs and also provided editorial feedback on this post so that it is easy to read and actually matches what is in the game.
Before offering feedback and/or reporting a bug, we kindly ask that you read this whole message and the linked Player Guide and Known Issues to get up to date on the current game state. To keep up to date, please check out the Patch Notes.
By taking a few moments to read through this information, a great deal of our time and effort can be focused on new “unanswered” questions and addressing critical issues that impact each release. We greatly appreciate you taking the time to review this post and for all the truly valuable feedback you continue to provide.
Also, remember that while we are providing new content with each release, our community is also working overtime to make new events for you to enjoy. Be sure to check the schedule for player-run events (via the player-run websites: NBNN Community Calendar & Avatars Circle). You can also get the latest official events on the Main Website.
Without further ado, here is a list of what you can expect to see in Release 59.
- Plain Text: The original plan for the Release deliverables from the Q3 2018 Schedule Update. We intentionally preserve the original text so that our backers can compare plan versus actuals.
- Italics: Detailed notes of what was actually delivered.
- Strikethrough: These are items that did not make the release (but are still planned).
RELEASE 59, October 25, 2018
- Story: Each harvest season, Novians warn their children to not go into the fields at night because of Pumpkin Head! The starting areas will be improved with the addition of a new tutorial focused area on the Isle of Storms.
- New User Experience Revamp: For Release 59 we have revamped and improved the New User Experience by separating the tutorials from the story spaces in the three starting areas (Battle of Solace Bridge, Battle of Highvale, and Blood River Massacre). We have also built a new focused tutorial space in the Isle of Storms that walks you through the game basics in a gated fashion (i.e. you cannot advance to the next room until you prove you can swing a sword). Another change is that choosing your story path is now independent of your starting decks—and you start with three decks: Blades, Ranged, and Magic! Once you complete all the tutorials you will then journey through the lunar rift to one of the three starting areas. Those areas are now polished to be more focused and tighter in their direction. We have also removed the tutorial elements from those starting scenes and they are now entirely focused on story. In the case of Battle of Solace Bridge, this means it was completely rebuilt for Release 59.
- (SPOILERS) Owl’s Head Sewers Tier 10+ Upgrade: This dungeon is now a Tier 10+ area including a new Lich boss who uses the new “Nearby Power” behavior. It is also the source of a new dungeon room blueprint/recipe.
- (SPOILERS) Pumpkin Head and his Minions: Each harvest season, Novians warn their children to not go into the fields at night because of Pumpkin Head! Kinga or Ronin in Castle Brittany will send you on a quest to slay Pumpkin Head who is rumored to dwell in a pumpkin patch in East Vauban Foothills. Be prepared for a different fight than previous fights you have had in Novia however, as he draws power from the nearby rotting pumpkins! Slay Pumpkin Head and you might gain a powerful Skull Staff artifact.
- (SPOILERS) Aether Creatures Hibernation: We do not yet know if the two-tailed comet that has blessed our skies these past few months is a short- or long-period comet. Only future observations when/if it returns will tell us. We can observe, however, that the Aether creatures that were mutated by the nearness of the comet seem to have gone into hibernation and no longer appear in our midst.
- (SPOILERS) Luminous Atavist in Hiding: The Atavists of Purity have put their leader, the Luminous Atavist, into hiding after repeated successful assassinations by Outlanders.
- Performance: Performance work will mainly focus on improving frame rate and reducing hitching during gameplay. Work will also continue to be done on load time reduction on the few outstanding scenes that are not meeting our 15-second load time target.
- Terrain Shaders: The 20 lowest performing scenes in the game have all had their terrains optimized, in many cases reducing the overall frame time by 25%.
- SpeedTree Update: We rebuilt the majority of the trees and shrubs in the game to take advantage of recent optimization options added to the engine. Rebuilding these allows us to draw multiple trees or shrubs with a single graphics draw call.
- Deco Instancing Support: Player placed content was not properly instancing on the GPU which was burning extra CPU cycles, extra GPU cycles and extra draw calls. Most player placed decorations will now properly instance.
- Movement Logic Updates: More work has been done to both improve the visuals and the performance of the movement of other players. While not a huge improvement in most situations, this makes a big difference in high player count scenes like the dance parties and tournaments.
- Map Content Optimization: The 10 lowest performance scenes all received some performance polish work.
- Code Optimization: Roughly a dozen smaller code optimizations were made based on data gathered from dance parties and events to improve large player count situations.
- Bug Fixing: Time will be allocated to a general sweep through all systems, features, and content to reduce overall bug counts.
- Bug Fixes: Lots of bug fixes were made in combat, user interface, music, scenes, quests, conversations, decorations, equipment, and more. View the complete list here.
- Crafting & Economy: The fishing system is expanding to include different water types (fresh, salt, and fetid), more fish types, more loot, and other improvements. Additionally there will be systemic and game-wide upgrades to the quality and quantity of loot.
- Fishing Phase 2: Fishing Phase 2 launches with Release 59 and includes 3 different water types, over 25 new fish, trophy data on fish, different baits and group fishing XP bonus!
- Freshwater, Saltwater, & Fetid Water: We now have three of the four water types stocked with fish and fishable in R59.
- New Fish: We have added over 25 new fish to the game and stratified them into 3 categories of common, uncommon, and rare.
- Common Fish: Bass, Salmon, Trout, Catfish, Cod, Sunfish, Carp, Tilapia, Mackerel.
- Uncommon Fish: Black Trout, Brook Trout, Oscar Sunfish, Peacock Bass, Spotted Bass, Sharptooth Catfish, Mahi-Mahi Tuna, Amberjack Mackerel, Bluefin Tuna.
- Rare Fish: King Salmon, Goliath Catfish, Pike, Gar, Sturgeon, Tarpon, Marlin, Sailfish, Swordfish, Tiger Shark.
- Baits: We have expanded the baits beyond the simple worm to 10 different types of bait. Each has a different effect on your chances of catching different fish in different water types. Baits now include: Red Worm, Earthworm, Minnow, Hopper, Herring, Sardine, Drudge Leech, Pale Leech, Blood Leech, Tiny Squid.
- Trophy Data: Most of the time when fishing you will catch a common fish. These can be made into food or decorations much as before. Sometimes you will catch an uncommon or rare fish. These fish will have trophy data associated with them that includes where the fish was caught, when it was caught, and who caught it. Trophy fish decorations have a gold plaque on them to help indicate that they carry this extra information.
- Fish Length: Along with the trophy data of who/when/where mentioned above Uncommon and Rare trophy fish will dynamically scale in length. This means that sometimes you will catch a larger or smaller version of these fish. This length difference will propagate to the decoration you make with them so it will also appear bigger or smaller.
- Group Fishing Bonus: Fishing while in a group now offers a bonus to experience gained. It uses the same “system” as adventuring bonus. So in order to get the fishing bonus you must be grouped AND in range of your group mates to qualify for the bonus. More people = more XP just like adventuring in a party.
- Fish Recipes Intelligence Buff: Existing fish recipes (ex. Baked Salmon) have been modified to add an Intelligence bonus. In future releases we will be adding more recipes for the new fish.
- New Recipes, Blueprints & Patterns: We added several new recipes, blueprints, and patterns in R59.
- Hilt Dungeon Rooms: Recipes/blueprints for the Hilt rooms should now correctly drop in the non-quest version of Hilt.
- New Dungeon Rooms: At least a half dozen new dungeon blueprints/recipes will drop from scenes including Owl’s Head Sewers and The Fall though some of these may not show up until one of the patches.
- Spooky Dungeon Entrance Eternal Patterns: We have added three new eternal patterns for dungeon entrances to the Add On Store. These are seasonal recurring items.
- Fish Decoration Recipes (Tanning): These are now tanning recipes and can be found on Decoration shopkeeper in Etceter and POT Taming shopkeeper. NOTE: The old bass, salmon, and trout recipes will need to be relearned.
- Fish Recipes Intelligence Buff: Existing fish recipes (ex. Plank Salmon) have been modified to add an Intelligence bonus. In future releases we will be adding more recipes for the new fish.
- Fishing Phase 2: Fishing Phase 2 launches with Release 59 and includes 3 different water types, over 25 new fish, trophy data on fish, different baits and group fishing XP bonus!
- Player-Made Dungeons: We will continue to expand and iterate on the system that allows players to place and customize dungeons on their properties. Blueprints and recipes for these dungeons can be found in loot, purchased from in-game merchants, or purchased from the store and then used to craft the various dungeon pieces needed to assemble these dungeons.
- Decoration Placement: You can now place decorations in rooms in your dungeon. Most dungeon spaces should now support floor decorations and wall decoration will be enabled at a later time. A handful of pieces already allow for wall decorations.
- Crowns for Copies: You can now spend crowns when crafting dungeon pieces to get an extra copies of those pieces.
- More Dungeon Rooms: We have added several new dungeon room recipes/blueprints to the game including the Lich room in the Owl’s Head Sewers.
- Player Towns & Player Housing: Updates to Dynamic Player-Owned Towns (POTs) that have locked submission forms will appear in the game.
- NPC Limits in Basements Doubled: We have doubled the number of NPCs you can have in your basements. Row Lots can now have 2 while Castle Lots can have up to 12. We will evaluate performance with this change and if possible increase the numbers again.
- POT Keep & POT Castle Lot Deeds: These never before available Lot Deeds are now available on Crown Merchants!
- Kobold Distillation Device: This mysterious Kobold device is rumored to be used by Kobolds to make chemicals, bombs, potions, and liquors. Outlanders have yet to decipher its use but are using it for decorating their homes. You can purchase this device from the Add On Store.
- R59 Lot Deed Raffle Winners: Tickets for the R59 Raffle were sold during R58. Deeds will be delivered to the winners after R59 goes live.
- Place Anywhere Deeds (15):
- Village: 8
- Town: 5
- City: 2
- Player-Owned Town Deeds (30):
- Village: 15
- Town: 10
- City: 5
- Place Anywhere Deeds (15):
- Lot Deed Raffle Suspended: We are suspending the Lot Deed Raffle for the foreseeable future due to multiple other methods of obtaining lot deeds in-game. A Row Lot Deed can be gained from Story completion, Lot Deeds are available on Crown Vendors (Crowns can be exchanged for gold between players), and Lot Deeds are available on Player / Public vendors for gold.
- New and Updated Dynamic POTs:
- “Nearby Power” Boss Behavior (SPOILERS): We have created a new boss behavior where they can draw “power” (buffs, stats, abilities, etc.) from nearby NPCs and/or objects! This allows us to create all sorts of interesting mechanics. In the case of Pumpkin Head, he gains power from the nearby rotting pumpkins. In the case of the Lich Boss in Owl’s Head Sewers, he gains power from nearby undead.
- Quality of Life Improvements & User Interface Polish:
- Universal Chat: Players now have access to a game-wide chat channel for all players, regardless of location! All players can view this chat channel, and anyone who possesses a Universe Broadcast Orb may post to the channel. Players who have previously purchased the game will receive a complimentary Universe Broadcast Orb. Free players can purchase this item from the Add-On Store for $2.
- Open Multiplayer in Towns & Outskirts: To better increase the connectedness of the world we have made it so that players now automatically join an Open Multiplayer instance when entering towns, overworld, and the Outskirts maps (Solace Bridge Outskirts, Highvale Outskirts, and Blood River Outskirts). This change will give players more opportunities to see and connect with each other and help with the many in-game events the community runs. NOTE: Your selected mode will automatically re-enable when you return to other scenes.
- Decay Removed: We have removed the decay of experience upon death. We are considering other systems to replace it but no exact replacement is planned for at this time so currently item durability is the only death penalty.
- Free Play: We have removed the previous gameplay restrictions of story, trade and lot ownership from our free players. Now free players can trade with other players, own land, and play through the entire story! We have also lowered the price for posting in the forums from $5 to only $1 (the cost of the Universal Chat Orb when on sale). This means that you no longer need to make a purchase to have the real Shroud of the Avatar experience!
- Rewards Interface: We have created a new interface that lets you claim rewards directly from that interface (in any location) without having to go to a bank.
- New Deck Selection: We have updated the deck selection user interface to improve usability, decrease its size, and to better match the new UI art style.
- Bundles on Crown Merchants: We have begun adding the contents of each bundle to the Crown Merchants so that they can be obtained as a single large purchase for the same equivalent cost as the website purchase (versus more expensive ala carte purchases). Note that we may not get all of them in for R59 but we have prioritized the Viking and Kobold bundles which are expiring first. Please also note as we have mentioned previously there is no upgrade functionality for these purchases.
- Bundle Upgrades with Crowns: For a limited time we are accepting support requests to upgrade bundles with crowns. Please see the original post about this for details and email email@example.com to fulfill.
- Physical Goods: The Retail version of the box is now available on Amazon and a limited number of signed versions are available from our website. Additionally we have fixed the address verification issues for Phase 2 of shipping and are on track to commencing those shipments after the address verification deadline on November 2.
- Wyvern Mask: The latest addition to our mask lineup is a Wyvern Mask! Available in the Add On Store.
- Aether Dragon Statue (Final Release 56 Livestream Item): The Release 56 Livestream items were all Aether themed to link to the comet and its aether causing effects on the creatures of Novia. In Release 59, we have added the final item which is the Aether Dragon Statue (village size)!
- Release 57 Livestream Items: The Release 57 Livestream items were all Dungeon themed in honor of the launch of the Player-Made Dungeon system. In Release 59 we have added the first of these stretch goal items.
- Flame Trap Decoration (non-harmful)
- Recurring Spooky Items: In Release 59 we are adding more recurring Spooky items that will only be available until November 30, 2018 (and will then recur next spooky holiday season).
Thank you so much for reading all the way here to the end!
There is even more to come! The rest of Q4 is going to be full of all kinds of exciting improvements and additions including more Fishing Phase 2 (lava fishing, more fishing skills, POT fishing bonuses), continued expansions to the Player-Made Dungeons system, more Quality of Life improvements (more bind points!), Back slot item enchanting, and more!
Q4 is just a warmup for 2019 which will be an amazing year for Shroud of the Avatar players! Crafting specializations (choose your effects!), Grandmaster Craftsman only effects, more loot improvements, more expansions to the fishing system, better boss fights and more! 2019 will of course culminate with Episode 2 which will have a new story, new lands, a revamp of the Quest and Journal system, a Theater System, Treasure Hunting with treasure maps that show up as loot, Item Affinity, Taming system expansions, Customizable NPCs, and expanded permissions for containers and doors!
As a reminder here are links to Player Instructions and Known Issues. Thank you again for your continued support. This is truly the most amazing community we have ever worked with, and we are proud to be on this journey with you.