Developer Video Blog: Selective-Multi-Player Means Multiple Ways to Play!

Shroud of the Avatar has an innovative Selective-Multi-player system, which allows players to select the play experience they want; from a completely offline solo player mode, through a solo player online mode where you can view and contribute to the persistent world, multi-player online modes where you can select whom you explore the game with. We think this lets people play the game in a way that can feel very much like a traditional MMO, or solo player as they desire.

Here are the ways we anticipate the game can be played:

Single player offline:
This is the DRM free, completely off-line version of the game.  Your character is stored on your computer and can not be used in any of the online modes.

Single Player Online (SPO)
In the SPO mode you connect to the server, receive content updates, and can see the long term changes others are having on the world.  However, you are not visible on anyone else’s screen, nor for grouping, and you don’t see anyone else in the world.  You can switch from SPO to FPO or OPO modes whenever you like while in a city or overland map.  Some parts of the main storyline quests may temporarily force the player into SPO mode for some parts of the quest.

Friends Play Online (FPO)
In friends play online, you only see people you have flagged as friends in the game and only they can see you.  Like single player, this is just a server side filter.  For those who prefer the quieter game with friends or maybe for those who prefer a more focused role playing experience, this lets you enjoy a more limited online experience. You can switch to SPO or OPO modes whenever you like while in a city or in the overland map.

Open Play Online (OPO)
In OPO players will see everyone that the server thinks they should see.  This will not necessarily be all people in the area but should be people you care the most about based on what we believe is their relevance to you.

For the most part, OPO will feel like an MMO.  Lots of social interaction options with friends and other players.  We are trying to distinguish ourselves from traditional MMOs only in that, unlike a normal MMO players are frequently connected directly to each other instead of all data flowing through our servers. We believe this will provide numerous advantages to both players and our service, but does differ from a traditional MMO in that the upper limit of players simultaneously on one map may be restricted.


  1. VaclavVaclav

    concerned that OPO will be too limiting… the majority of the MMO players, play because its mmo… if you limit the ability to interact with others too much you will restrict the players interested in your game… look at it as limiting our choices, and that is a bad idea we want choices and we do not want to be policed… the individual player needs to be able to choose who he/she interacts with yes, but we need to be able to see/interact with everyone, for us to be able to choose from the existing player pool, we need to see who is available to choose from… look at it for a psychology real life point of view people are different you cannot expect to choose the right person for every other person to interact with you need to let the individual decide for themselves… everyone I spoke 2 that still plays UO says this is a major turn off about your game, only second to your game not being an open world which is the largest turn off… please reconsider this OPO thing… sounds like what you did and are doing is taking a single player game you already made and adding multi-player features to it and trying to sell it as a new type of mmo… yes rhetoric can be misleading.. So, if I am mistaken forgive and please clarify… I have played MMO’s for as long as they have existed and PNP before that… all the games that have succeeded for years have open worlds to quest in, instance dungeons for required grouping,, but LARGE open worlds where you can see everyone on your server, no limitations, and the games that do not have open worlds fall very short from lasting for years and lack tremendously in a developed community, so I am confused as to why would you choose a proven failing model for your model…

    1. VaclavVaclav

      So I am in my home crafting an item… someone walks by my house, but because you think we are not relevant to each other, we do not see each other, I lose a sale and the other player looses a life saving valuable item, how is that better? Or, I am fighting in the wilds (are there going to be wilds, seems you imply only closed in instanced questing) I am about to die, another player is travelling through, but we do not see each other cause you do not think we are relevant to each other, I die he keeps on going, we lose a friendship that could have lasted a life time…. how is that better? If this thinking is wrong please correct me and be specific… my pledge to you depends on your timely response…

    2. jacobm

      This, and hearing “flagged for pvp”, are two of my major concerns. I’ve been dreaming about playing a UO-like game again. IMO, the main thing that UO had going for it, but others didn’t, was open world pvp.

  2. HightowerHightower

    @Zoradane, there is no monthly subscription. You just buy the game. If you become a Kickstarter backer, lowest opt in now is $33, you get the Digital download of the released game for free. Plus you will be able to get into the Alpha and Beta testing phases.

  3. FireLotusFireLotus Post author

    Lord British himself wanted to clarify on your questions, so he asked me to post this for him.

    All vendors are seen by ALL people. So even the rare unseen stranger will be buying from your busy shop! Also, in Open Mutiplayer, we favor the friends you know, but expand to include strangers once your friends are accounted for. Only when a map is overloaded, will it prioritize based on those you know well over strangers that you will see.

    Fear not, it will feel like an MMO, if you play “Open”!

    Richard “Lord British” Garriott

  4. RegiRegi

    SPO, FPO? This is called instances. And they are bad. At least for pvp oriented players.

    Main reason why I didn’t stay more than a week in GW2 was the fact that this game wasn’t an MMO in my understanding. From my point of view, this is plain offline RPG with coop capability and arena/battleground fastened with duct tape to main game.

    Seems like the same thing is going to happen with your game, SotA.

  5. Alfredino

    Dear Chris,

    this comment box may not be the right place, but I am totally excited and can help myself: I have to write to you guys. The reason I am excited is that none of the multiplayer RPGs that I’ve tried have allowed me to really scratch my hardcore role-playing itch. Of course, the only thing that came close were Ultima Online clones.

    Will Shroud of the Avatar accomodate the playstyle I long for?

    The thing is this: the character I play is a poet. I write real poems and sell them to other players. No fighting, no crafting, no leveling up. Just in-game money from other players for something that is even more intangible than a virtual sword: a few words that rhyme. I walk up to random players, hope that they are capabable of coherent speech and ask if they would like to comission a poem. Here a sample of my craft and an example of player reactions. Of course, my character will never get rich that way, but there are a lot of players who enjoy the interaction and the poem, and who give me their hard-earned gold coins.

    Will Shroud of the Avatar accomodate player poets?

    (In a natural way, I don’t want any special game mechanics to make this possible, except maybe for in-game books that can be written to.)

    From my experience, the main factor for supporting such a playstyle is the community. Every online game soon develops a community that fixes the favorite style of play. This is very much informed by the game mechanics. A PvP server tends to attract people interested in competitive killing, a poet will have a hard time there. A close-knit community server tends to attract really nice and helpful people, but the player base tends to be anemic and lacks the important “walk up to a [i]random[/i] player” part of being a freelancing poet.

    It seems that your new system in Shroud of the Avatar tries to accomodate multiple communities in one game, separate circles which interact at the edges. I think that’s a great idea, and I think the most important aspect of the experience. Will you be able to make it pan out?

    Oh, and there’s another thing I should mention. The poet is just a feeble shadow of what I originally had in mind. What I really wish to do is to create interactive stories/quests/theatre plays for other players, that use the whole game as the stage. (Most importantly, I want to do this as a player, not as a game master).

    Will Shroud of the Avatar accomodate the playstyle I long for?

    (Sorry for the long post, but I had to get this off my chest. :))

  6. Grignard

    I’m looking forward to seeing how this take on MMO interaction plays out. The idea of towns not being crowded with players simply “hanging out” sounds great to me. Given this is RG’s ‘Ultimate RPG’ I am expecting a player experience heavily story driven, not driven by leveling. And since the great majority of players I run into in an MMO have little too nothing to do with whatever my current activity in the game is, it would enhance my experience a bit if they simply weren’t there, just those that are engaging in the same behaviour I am at the moment. Whether thats questing, shopping, or hanging with friends.

  7. lanicalanica

    Excellent. This is very much a vision I’ve had for quite some time (single mode and online mode). Though, it would be nice if single player offline could switch to the online modes. However, that does require a lot of security to prevent cheating. I also like the other posts/ideas of removing the things we hate about MMOs and making it something much much different (better!) Breaking away from the normal corporate structure that simply sees MMOs as a cash cow is an excellent idea. It would be awesome if this were open source, as I’d love to contribute where I can. I’ve already given money, so I might as well give some time ;) Great to see that worlds will once again be created, rather than mass produced.

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