Greetings Fellow Avatars!
Here’s what we have for you in this week’s edition of Update of the Avatar:
- Alienware Sponsors $20 Pledge Upgrade
- Early Access Schedule Update: Releases 4 – 7
- Release 3 Perspectives
- PvP Current Thinking
- Combat-Ready Elves!
- Blade of the Avatar Novel: Chapter 11
- Founder Baron Waterfront Frigate
- Benefactor Edelmann Automaton
- Benefactor Edelmann Great Dane Pet
- Founder Citizen Owl Pet
- Cleaver of Prosperity
- Dev+ Party on the Baron’s Frigate: Post R3 Performance Test
- Upcoming Events
- Only 38 Days Remain to Purchase/Upgrade/Gift Founder Pledges
Alienware Sponsors $20 Pledge Upgrade Coupon
Alienware’s powerful gaming rigs are a perfect match for Shroud of the Avatar! To show their support, Alienware is sponsoring $20 SotA Pledge Upgrade Coupons to members of their Alienware Arena community!
These coupons can be used to start a SotA pledge account (for new backers), or to add $20 to an existing pledge account. If, for example, you have a $90 Royal Artisan Pledge, you can use the Alienware coupon to bump you up to a $110 Virtual Collector Pledge.
Pretty sweet deal, right? So, hurry over to the Alienware Arena website and get your $20 Pledge Upgrade Coupon now!
[NOTE: Only one Alienware Pledge Upgrade Coupon can be used per account. Coupon does not apply to Add-On Store items]
Early Access Schedule Update: Releases 4 – 7
It has been an incredible journey so far has it not? When we first proposed this monthly release schedule back in November of last year we were hoping for the best, but expecting the worst. As Chris Spears, our Tech Director, likes to say we were “doing it wrong but in the best way.” Not only were we giving access to players earlier than most any game but we were also committing to definite dates of releases every month with detailed lists of deliverables! Were we crazy? I am pleased to say that our faith in this community was rewarded and you completely understood what we were doing and were able to give constructive and valuable feedback.
Our goal continues to be to deliver our backers content each and every month so that we can get feedback and react to it. This has already paid off with additional game features like jumping and swimming as well as improvements to systems like crafting and conversations. Meeting that monthly goal is our highest priority but we require flexibility in our deliverables to meet that goal. As you have seen in previous releases sometimes we push things out but we also often pull new things in.
- Release 4: March 27 – 30, 2014
- Release 5, April 24 – 27, 2014
- Release 6, May 22 – 25, 2014
- Release 7, June 26 – 29, 2014
Release 3 Perspectives
From Lord British:
R3 was a resounding success, again mostly thanks to YOU! While we did uncover a number of good issues to wrestle with, overall, I could not have been more pleased. Having our Dev+ players test the release early helped a lot this time, as we found a critical flaw in our player to map fill process, and got it fixed before the main release. I really loved hanging out in the pubs of Owlshead and Braemar with all of you! But my favorite happening, happened without me. I loved the search for the Wisps in the forest graveyard of Braemar, and the freshly composed music for it presented by Holt and Ember!
From Starr Long:
It is hard to describe the feeling of joy and pride we felt when we first logged into Release 3 and we could finally see all of you in the game. It was like watching your child walk for the first time. Even though we are still very early and there are only a handful of things to do, I felt like I was really stepping back into Britannia; a living, breathing world. Having impromptu chats and celebrations with all of you was a real treasure. My favorite moment was debating Chaos vs. Virtue with Lord British himself on the stairs inside the Braemar Inn while all of you jeered, cheered, jumped, clapped, bowed, and generally made a ruckus.
Now watching your child walk for the first time includes a few stumbles and skinned knees. For us, those related to some very serious performance issues we encountered. We are making solving these issues our top priority because we want to live by the mantra “Stable, Fast, Fun. In that order.” If we cannot provide you a stable and well performing platform then, you will not be able to accurately give us feedback on that ephemeral fun factor and at the end of the day that is the goal; to find the fun.
Thank you again for being such an amazing community and supporting us on this journey to make the best crowd funded and crowd sourced RPG ever!
Release 3 is dead! Long live Release 4!
From Chris Spears:
Public Forum Post
First, I think it was surprising how much work we still had to do to get multiplayer working _well_ despite having had it mostly working for months. I think it was surprising how quickly we were able to improve our bandwidth usage which we managed to reduce by about a factor of 20 in a matter of less than a week. I think it was surprising that the release wasn’t buggier since we were essentially coding directly on the live branch until the very moment we let people in on Thursday and many last minute fixes went live with little or no testing.
Once we let people in, I think it was surprising to see how many issues came up that we had never seen before internally. Lastly, it was surprising how quickly we managed to fix some very major issues.
While release 3 had some major glitches, overall we think it went pretty well. This release had more people than release 2 but a few hundred less than release 1. The biggest difference though was that the play time per unique person was through the roof for this release. Of the 7500+ people who played, more than 3600 of them had at least one session of an hour or more even though we actually removed houses and some other content. With the exception of a few hours during the nights, there were at least 100 players online throughout the official 72 hour test window.
Dev+ Forum Post
So release 3 was exciting, scary, and exhausting! There were tons of issues but overall I think we surprised ourselves again with the end result.
First of all I’ll go into what ended up being the cause of some of the client performance problems and then I’ll explain what really ends up being the drain on MMO servers. It totally isn’t what you think…
PvP Current Thinking
Starr Long (Executive Producer) started a PvP conversation regarding our current PvP design thoughts in the Dev+ forums (available to backers at the Developer Pledge level, or above):
Out of all the features we are planning for, PVP seems to bring with it some very passionate interest and emotion. We feel that same level of emotion, and we are as excited as you are to have fun and meaningful PVP in Shroud of the Avatar. Our goal with PVP is to balance the thrill of unpredictable encounters with the desire by a large segment of the community to feel “safe” at all times. Rest assured that no matter what we do, players who wish to avoid PVP will never be forced to participate in PVP nor will there ever be non-consensual PVP.
Some games have segregated PVP from PVE worlds (Such as UO’s Trammel and Felucca). But we feel this complete segregation makes both sides less interesting. Yet, an open “free for all” which only serves one half is exactly what the other half fears. We feel we can successfully blend these two extremes into a world where PVE players can experience the FULL game (other than the PVP they are trying to avoid), while PVP players can shift the dynamics of the game environment thus; encouraging others to contest them in PVP.
Most importantly, the proposals below are just that; proposals. They have neither been coded nor tested by you, our players. Trust that we will find a way to successfully blend these play styles. We just feel the blended answer provides a unified world with the most safety and excitement combined, and is thus worthy in our minds of exploration. The solution for this goal will involve compromise on both sides, but we are confident those compromises will be worth it. We ARE going to find a solution, and we are going to do it together…
The character art team has added elves to the growing list of monsters to fight in the upcoming combat releases. Shown in the above image are Mages, Fighters, and Archers. Each type will utilize a different AI attack behavior including: ranged fighting, melee fighting, offensive magic, support/defensive magic, summoning, etc.
Blade of the Avatar Novel: Chapter 11
The latest installment of the serialized SotA novel, Blade of the Avatar (BotA), written by Tracy Hickman & Richard Garriott, is now available for download! If you are a Founder, or you purchased BotA in the Add-On Store, then you will find a download link for the current installment of the novel on your personal SotA account page (log into SotA website and click on “Account” in the top-right corner). If you are a Kickstarter backer you’ll need to have your Kickstarter account linked to the SotA website (click here for instructions to link your Kickstarter account).
Here is a brief excerpt of the latest installment (illustration by Denis Loubet):
Chapter 11: The Bearer
“You cannot possibly be serious,” Syenna said shaking her hand in disapproval.
“What, this old thing?” Aren stood in the center of his stockade cell, pivoting once completely around in front of her. Although a number of blade strikes still marred the finish and a number of pieces were bent out of shape or missing entirely, there was no mistaking its infamous form. The captain stood before her clad completely in his Obsidian armor. “It was just something I had lying around.”
“Take that off at once,” Syenna fumed. “You cannot appear at court in that abomination.”
“Quite the contrary. It is precisely because I am appearing at court that I must wear my uniform, or at least something that passes for one.” Aren flashed a bright smile of mock tolerance. “You would not want me to misrepresent myself. After all, I suspect that I am the first representative of the Obsidians to ever grace this court.”
“You are the first that we haven’t killed before getting this close to court,” Syenna snapped. “And if you wear that, you may be the first to be killed at court.”
Download your copy of the latest installment of BotA to read the rest of this exciting chapter!
For your map puzzle collection:
Founder Baron Waterfront Frigate
This week’s Parade of Homes features the Founder Baron Waterfront Frigate, available as an Early Founder reward in the Baron level pledge. This spectacular ship, designed by Bob Cooksey and Michael Hutchison, features three rooms below deck, a spacious Captain’s Quarters above deck, and two accessible crow’s nests.
Benefactor Edelmann Automaton
Benefactor Edelmann Great Dane Pet
Included in the basic rewards of the Edelmann pledge tier is this unique, in-game, Deutsche Dogge (Great Dane) house pet:
Founder Citizen Owl Pet
Cleaver of Prosperity
This unique, indestructible cleaver increases the quality and quantity of butchery items produced. While cleavers with similar effects can be crafted and purchased in the game this cleaver never needs repair.
For a limited time we’re offering 33% off! Reserve yours now (or send as a gift) at the Add-On Store!
Dev+ Party on the Baron’s Frigate: Post R3 Performance Test
We’ve been busy working to improve the performance issues that were experienced by some players during the Release 3 weekend, and now we’re ready to test those changes. We need to get as many of our Dev+ members as we can to patch up and log in to the live client from 2:00 pm CST to 3:00 pm CST, Tuesday, March 4th. Let’s all party on the new Baron’s Frigate in Kingsport (use the rowboat at the end of the Lord’s Houseboat dock to get to the Frigate).
2014.03.04 – Dev+ Members: Post R3 Performance Test, from 2 pm CST to 3 pm CST
2014.03.07 – Duke & Lord of the Manor VIP Design Roundtable with Lord British and Portalarium Tour
2014.03.07 – Portalarium at SXSW
2014.03.22 – Lord of the Manor Dinner and Tour of Britannia Manor
2014.03.27 – Release 4 Access
2014.04.07 – End of One Year Founder Pledge Promotion
2014.04.18 – Duke & Lord of the Manor VIP Design Roundtable with Lord British and Portalarium Tour
Only 38 Days Remain to Purchase/Upgrade/Gift Founder Pledges
Until the promotion ends on April 7th, 2014, Founder backers will be able to purchase and/or gift additional Founder pledges containing all the original Founder rewards, as well as upgrade any of their pledges at original Kickstarter prices. After April 7th, prices for upgrades, gifts, and purchases will increase to Benefactor prices and no new Founder pledges can be created. Don’t miss out!
Referral Bonus for Gifted Pledges!
Early Founders who wish to act as patrons to their family, friends, guildmates, or members of the SotA community, will also continue to receive the $25 Referral Bonus for every additional pledge they purchase as a gift for others. Not only are you helping out others to become Founders, but you are also growing your own pledge account by $25 every time you do! Win-win for everyone!
We’ve created the Player Marketplace area in the forums to help facilitate these transactions between our community members and we ask that you keep these transactions in that section.
Hurry and take advantage of this tremendous offer as there are only 38 days remaining until the Early Founder Pledge Promotion ends on April 7, 2014.
[NOTE: Any pledge payment plans started prior to April 8, 2014 will remain in effect at the original Early Founder price until that plan is completed or cancelled. Until we automate the process, you can send a request to firstname.lastname@example.org to have your pledges merged.]