Greetings Fellow Avatars!
Here’s what we have for you in this week’s edition of Update of the Avatar:
- Tower of the Shuttered Eye!
- SotA Community is Rockin’ It!
- Chris Spears’ Release 11 Impressions
- Lord Marshal Automaton Servant
- R11 Still Open! Get Your Carnival Mask Tricorn Hat!
- Steam Access Keys Now Available for All Backers
- Get Your 15% Bonus
- Holiday Specials
- Last Chance Exclusives: Wood & Plaster 2-Story with Balcony Town Home
- Alienware Sponsors $20 Pledge Upgrade Coupon
- This Week In The News
- Upcoming Events
Tower of the Shuttered Eye
The Tower of the Shuttered Eye appeared in the swamps of southeast Novia not long ago. No one saw it being built, because few ventured into the swamps other than those in search of rare reagents from time to time. As soon as it was known to be there, rumors began to arise about its inhabitants and their activities. Some visitors find the tower empty, filled only with cob webs and rats, yet others, who visit on dark and stormy nights see hooded figures going in and out by torch light, often followed by lightning and thunder emanating from the top of the tower. Today, most avoid these swamps altogether, even those who seek rare reagents usually seek elsewhere!
Look for the Tower of the Shuttered Eye in Release 12, launching November 20th!
Pen of the Avatar: The Tower of the Shuttered Eye!
If you missed the Pen of the Avatar: The Tower of the Shuttered Eye with Stephen Daniele earlier this week, then check it out here:
You can find all of the Pen of the Avatar episodes at: https://www.shroudoftheavatar.com/?cat=9
SotA Community is Rockin’ It!
It is about time, in fact overdue, that we begin to more publicly celebrate the wonderful community of composers whose work is now showing up in Shroud of the Avatar.
For SotA, I have had my heart set on finding music that hearkened back to the golden age of our work on the Ultima series. For me, the music composed by Iolo and Ken Arnold remains the best music of the series. Not that we have not had great composers since… we have. But there was something compelling about the simple memorable melodies, that most modern games lose in their hugely orchestrated scores (very much like movie scores). While I hoped we could have fuller music, I hoped we could reign in the desire to go overly large, and provide players with tracks that not only felt right for the area and happenings within the game, but were also both memorable, yet not annoyingly repetitious. I knew going into it, this would be difficult.
To be honest, when we first faced the problem of musical compositions for SotA, I was lost. We got bids from a number of composition houses, that both far exceeded the budget we had available for this crowd funded game, but also, and perhaps more importantly, their demos were far from the soundscape target I was hoping to achieve in SotA. We were stuck. We tried buying music off websites that had affordable music on them, but even after enormous amounts of searching, I found little that felt right. We started down that path though because of budget reasons, never feeling quite right about it.
Then YOU, our wonderful community, stepped up. People asked why they could not submit music tracks for inclusion. My initial thoughts, and even my first response to proposals, was lukewarm at best. Early offerings from the community were far from the mark I was hoping for. While they were often great pieces of music, they generally were either too modern, too orchestral, to much like a movie score, did not sound period enough, or were well off target for some other reason. I did not believe this was going to work.
Then Holt Ironfell of the Poets Circle contacted me and asked a simple question: “Please tell us, exactly what you ARE looking for.” Only at that moment, did I realize what a disservice I had been doing the community. I quickly made copious notes to clearly articulate what I felt was, and was not, music I would hope to find for SotA. The Poets Circle (and others) then went off, formed their own councils for peer review, and raised money when needed to acquire equipment and software. Then a few short months later, the community started to submit new work.
I was literally moved to tears, to hear what amazing work this community, all of you, have been able to produce. In a few short weeks, we went from ZERO accepted pieces of work, to about 100%! While for some of the MOST complex work involving Virtues and pieces that must play together, we have had vigorous exchange to “get it right”, the VAST majority of work now done by the fine Poets Circle and many other members of the community, deserve GREAT acclaim.
I know others will wish to do as I have, which is build a music list to play throughout my home, of the wonderful inspirational work of our community! I would like to highlight a few now, and more in coming months:
Beautiful Meadow, by Jarrod Kailef: https://soundcloud.com/kailef/kailef-ttf-beautiful_meadow
This is a fine example of the primary goal I set for the musical environment of SotA. To me it has all the qualities I sought: First it matches the scene description very well “Beautiful Meadow”. It is both atmospheric and melodic without annoying repetition. It is not overly orchestrated, and sounds like something of the world. While not purely period instruments, it does not take you out of the period feel. Lovely!
Dark Alien Magical Warping, by Sir Wombat: https://soundcloud.com/sirwombat/dark-alien-magical-warping-1
Tackling the dungeon, and other more unusual environments, was always a weak point back in the Ultima days. Previous works were environmental but rarely melodic. Sir Wombat does a great job with this piece to accomplish the goal of building a more environmental and disquieting piece, without losing the melodic values we seek.
Elven Truth Seekers, by tinottt aka Faustino Sanchez II: https://soundcloud.com/tinottt/elven-truth-seekers-final-mix-1
Those familiar with the SotA backstory represented in Blade of the Avatar, know that the Elves of our world were created by the Obsidian Kabal as powerful combat troops for their attempt to dominate the world. Yet on SotA, you will meet the Vertas Elves, who (like Star Trek Vulcans vs their Romulan ancestors) have given up their warlike past and become peaceful truth seekers. This piece captures that perfectly!
Foundation & Strength, by Richard Daskas: https://soundcloud.com/richarddaskas/foundation-strength-version-2
Richard captured perfectly the confidence of the city builders of New Britannia, coming back from the brink after the fall of the moons and the obsidian cause. The hope, the power and confidence show through in this masterful, properly balanced piece.
Dance of Fauns / The Hidden City, by Grandmaster Bard Holt Ironfell: https://soundcloud.com/poetscircle/dance-of-fawns
From the master bard himself, has come many tunes you will hear going forward. But this early piece remains a favorite. The fauns of New Britannia, live lives of enslavement, yet, when they occasionally are free of the domination of their wretched Satyr masters, they frolic in the meadows and joyfully celebrate the world and possibilities. How they can remain so positive deep in their souls proves the real value of this race.
These are but five of the dozens of wonderful pieces we are proud to have in the game, and will be showcasing in coming weeks to you here with these updates.
By the Virtues!
Chris Spears’ Release 11 Impressions
Wow! Concurrency, first time users, total hours, average hours, and pretty much all the other stats were through the roof for this release. Everyone of these metrics was up at least 50% over release 10, which was up something like 50% from release 9! We spent several days cleaning up exceptions, spammy log messages, and getting down to the bare minimum log messages for this release to make sure we’re only looking at real data. Even after all that, our metrics box recorded 19,937,381 events in the first 24 hours the servers were open! Yowsa!
Before I jump into my usual fun stats and then my stream of babbling, I wanted to throw a few theories out for you guys to discuss as to why numbers were so much higher.
So I think a large number of the 1000+ first time users in this release were an unexpected side effect of getting onto Steam. For whatever reason, many people were just not interested enough to deal with figuring out our downloader, but Steam made it easy enough that they were willing to install and play. Maybe it was people now believing that because we were on Steam we were somehow a more legitimate game? Maybe the Steam “collectors” who just like to collect more and more games and decided to give it a try since they already had it installed?
I believe that it also had to do with progression finally being in the game, if only in a limited way. Many people don’t like playing without feeling like they are accomplishing something so playing a game with no advancement is just not fun. I think word got out pretty quick that we were also leaving the servers up for a few weeks, which also got a few more people interested.
Ok, now for some numbers!
Lord Marshal Automaton Servant
Included in the Lord Marshal pledge rewards is this special automaton servant befitting your regal status:
Release 11 Stays Open! Get Your Carnival Mask Tricorn Hat!
As we have mentioned previously, we intend to maintain continuous up-time (versus 4-day access windows) once Shroud of the Avatar launches on Steam Early Access on November 24th. In preparation for that event we decided to leave Release 11 open to see how the game handles up-time longer than the usual 4 days. So far so good!
The Grand Tour Quest
Just as in our last release, we’ve included a Grand Tour Quest designed to guide you through all the new content. And just in time for Halloween, you will be able to get the Tricorn Hat with Carnival Mask by completing the Release 11 Grand Tour Quest. This reward can only be unlocked until we launch Release 12 (did someone say rares?), so be sure to log in to R11 and talk to all the Tour Guides!
Steam Access Keys Now Available for All SotA Backers
SotA will launch on Steam Early Access on November 24, but we’ve made Steam Access Keys immediately available to all our backers as part of their basic pledge rewards! Once you’ve redeemed your Steam Access Key you’ll have the option of playing SotA either with the Steam client or the regular client (or both).
Only 25 Days left to get your 15% Black Friday Bonus!
If you were thinking of pledging your support to the development of Shroud of the Avatar, upgrading your existing pledge, or purchasing an add-on item, player owned town, or stretch goal item, now’s a great time to do it! From now thru Black Friday Weekend we’ll add an additional 15% bonus to your Store Credit! Here are the details:
For all new purchases (including pledges, pledge upgrades, add-on items, player owned towns, and stretch goal items) between 12:00 am CST October 10, 2014 and 12:00 am CST December 2, 2014, we will add an additional 15% bonus to your Store Credit! You can use your Store Credit toward any additional purchase (including pledges, pledge upgrades, add-on items, and player owned towns).
[NOTE: The 15% bonus is calculated every day at 1:00 pm CST and added to your Store Credit account; Store Credit cannot be applied toward stretch goal items]
For example, if you have the $45 Adventurer pledge and really want to upgrade to the $90 Royal Artisan pledge which includes Episodes 2 and 3 as pledge rewards, you would normally pay the extra $45 for the upgrade. But using the 15% bonus you can immediately save $5. To do so, you would first purchase $40 worth of Store Credit Gift Coupons (via PayPal, Amazon, Bitcoin, or credit card; excluding existing Store Credit) then use the “Convert to Credits” option on your account page to transform the Store Credit Gift Coupons back into Store Credit. Within 24 hours an additional $6 bonus ($40 x 15%) would be applied to your Store Credit account, bringing it up to $46. You would then use $45 of your Store Credit to upgrade to the $90 Royal Artisan pledge.
Just in time for the holiday season, this unique indestructible Taming Reindeer Call can be used to call a Reindeer which is then automatically tamed. While items with similar effects can be crafted and purchased in the game this particular call never needs repair. Get your Taming Reindeer Call for a limited time in the Add-On Store at 33% off!
Last Chance Exclusives
Every week going forward we are removing select items from the Add-On Store, so if you want them you better get them before they are gone! Over the past few weeks we’ve phased out the Scissors of Prosperity, Combat Sigil Cloak, Shingle-Roof Village Homes, Cubit Measure of Prosperity, Crafting Sigil Cloak, and the Rustic 2-Story with Balcony Village Home. This week, the following item is available for an additional 20% off, and then will no longer be available in the Add-On Store.
In our Wood & Plaster line is this 2-story, 4-room town home, with a second-story front-facing deck.
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]
This Week In the News
November 6 – MMO Play: Top Five Ways to Build MMO Hype
2014.11.14 – Duke & Lord of the Manor VIP Design Roundtable with Lord British and Portalarium Studio Tour
2014.11.15 – HoBLotH II: Legends of the Hearth
2014.11.20 – Release 12 Access
2014.11.24 – SotA launches on Steam Early Access
2014.11.26 – Monthly Video Hangout: R12 & R13 Discussion
2014.11.27 – SotA at Dreamhack (Sweden)
2014.12.18 – Release 13 Access
2015.01.22 – Release 14 Access
2015.02.19 – Release 15 Access
2015.03.13 – SotA at SXSW Interactive
2015.03.26 – Release 16 Access