Greetings Fellow Avatars!
Here’s what we have for you in this week’s edition of Update of the Avatar:
- Hearth of Britannia: Legends of the Hearth II
- Play Release 12 Now and Get Your Pilgrim’s Hat
- Release 12 In-game Community Events
- Easter Egg: Sword of Power!
- Lord British Weighs In on Companions, Solo Play and the Development Process
- Community Spotlight: Scholars of Novia’s First Writing Contest Winners
- R12 Steam Access Keys Available for All Backers
- Get Your 15% Bonus
- Cyber Monday All Day Telethon
- Holiday Specials
- Last Chance Exclusives: Cooking Pot of Prosperity and Magic Sigil Cloak
- Monthly Payment Plan Extended Through June 2015
- Alienware Sponsors $20 Pledge Upgrade Coupon
- This Week In The News
- Upcoming Events
Hearth of Britannia: Legends of the Hearth II
On November 16th and 17th 2013, Rustic Dragon’s Hearth of Britannia opened its Indianapolis, IN doors to thirty Ultima, Shroud of the Avatar, and Lord British fans across the country for the Hearth of Britannia Lords of the Hearth (HoBLotH), a 1:1 recreation of the meal served just a month prior at Britannia Manor IV. There was Britannian food, plenty of libations, celebrity guests, themed activities, and a host of garbed attendees.
Last weekend, November 15th and 16th, almost one year exactly from HoBLotH I, Rustic Dragon once again assembled a semi-exclusive group of fans for HoBLotH II: Legends of the Hearth. Forty-one adventurers from all over the globe and fifteen cast members turned Richard’s lakefront property of Castleton into Cove, the quiet hamlet East of Britain in the original Ultima games.
Saturday morning, questers stepped through the red moongate and entered a living, breathing recreation of Britannia, complete with cloth maps, trinkets, quests, NPCs, combat, and camaraderie. Saturday was jam packed with activities including a may pole dance with the eight colors of Virtue led by SotA artist Scott Jones, tipping Dr. Cat for stories and drinks at his tavern, having their fortunes read by Penumbra, a live concert by Recap (a.k.a. The Space Bards), and so much more.
The main focus of the event was to achieve Avatarhood through mastery of the principles of Truth, Love, and Courage. However, Blackthorn was also present and offered participants the ability to gain Avatarhood through Mandrake’s alternate principles of Wine, Women, and Song.
For many, the crown jewel of the event was Capture the Keg, a 50 minute battle between Lord British and Blackthorn (a.k.a. Darkstarr). Players divided into two teams and played a modified version of Capture the Flag, each side having special advantages granted to them by their leaders. Lord British could resurrect players at-will while Blackthorn could instantly kill players with special throwing weapons that only he could touch. In true Ultima form, dead players had to say the customary “ooooOOoOOoOoooOoooo” as they ran back to their base to resurrect.
Sunday, after waking up the wonderful sounds of Iolo playing his lute and telling stories, players walked up into the hills in search of the ruins of Stonegate where they completed their quests. There, the players rang the Bell of Courage, held aloft the Book of Truth, and lit the Candle of Love to complete their quests. The finale of the event involved the awarding of two Shroud of the Avatar Orders of the New Britannian Empire, one to Joe Garrity, curator of the Origin Museum, and one to Rustic Dragon, proprietor of the Hearth of Britannia and creator of the HoBLotH. Afterwords, all players were knighted by Lord British and received a special ankh, engraved with Lord British’s silver serpent. A fabulous time was had by all and the same question is asked by everyone: “When is the next one?”
“Last weekend was phenomenal. The closest any of us may ever come to experiencing the world of Britannia around us. The sights, the smells, the sounds all contributed to such an immersive experience.” – Gallara Dragon
“There are other games, groups and hobbies. But it is rare to be surrounded with so many people setting ego aside and throwing themselves in so completely into a shared passion together.” – Sir Eric O’Connor
“Now we can tell everyone we played the first new Ultima game in years!” – Goldenflame Dragon
And lastly, prominent SotA member Amber Raine, Avatars Radio founder and High Priestess of Chaos, was unable to attend at the last minute. Unbeknownst to her, this special non-Ultima item was waiting for her at the event. Everyone posed with it as a toast to her missed presence. She’ll be receiving this tapestry in the mail.
Event photos will be posted early next week at www.hearthofbritannia.com.
Photos compliments of Harley Dwortz, Mel Soest, and Tyler Tate. Complete cast list available here
Play Release 12 Now and Get Your Pilgrim’s Hat
Release 12 successfully launched yesterday, November 20, with thousands of backers downloading, patching, logging in, and checking out the new changes! Lots of new content to check out, including:
- An in-game hint system and New User Experience
- More than 15 new skills
- More than 50 new weapon and armor crafting recipes
- 40 new songs (all crowd sourced by players)
- Skill Trainers: when a player levels up they’ll now have to go to trainers to unlock skills
- New Maps: Ravenswood Forest, Tower of the Shuttered Eye
- The Overworld Map now has polished visuals and random encounters
- Open PVP Flags
- The death system now includes being transformed into a ghost when you die
- Alien FX support for Alienware keyboards and cases
- …and more!
The Grand Tour Quest
Just as in our last few releases, we’ve included a Grand Tour Quest designed to guide you through all the new content. And just in time for Thanksgiving, you will be able to get the Pilgrim’s Hat by completing the Release 12 Grand Tour Quest. This reward can only be unlocked during Release 12 (did someone say rares?), so be sure to log in to R12 and talk to all the Tour Guides!
We need all your help with testing the new patches, putting more stress on our multiplayer servers, and testing the new game content, so please join us in playing Release 12!
If you have not backed the game yet, you will need to register and login at www.shroudoftheavatar.com, select the “Pledge or Send Gift!” button in the right side-bar, and purchase a pledge at the $45 Adventurer level or above. And don’t forget, any new purchases made from now through Black Friday Weekend receive an additional 15% Bonus (see details below)!
Release 12 In-game Community Events
Our amazing community has another great lineup of in-game events planned for Release 12. If you missed out on these player events during the previous Releases, we highly recommend you check some of them out this weekend. Here is the latest schedule of player events from the Avatar’s Circle Community Events calendar (http://avatarscircle.com/community-events/):
Friday, November 21
2:00pm CST – DJ FireLotus Release 12 Party, at Fire Lotus Tavern (Owl’s Head)
6:00pm CST – PvP Tournament (at the Brave Coast, Hidden Vale or “/zone Duke Violation”; for more details use the “/sotawiki Vengeance” command in-game)
6:00pm CST – Dungeon Run – Braemar Cemetery
9:00pm CST – PaxLair Gathering -(in the upper meadow of Valemark or /zone Winfield PaxLair)
Saturday, November 22
9:00am CST – PaxLair Working Hours – Host Winfield (in Valemark)
12:00pm CST – Welcome Quest in R12 (starts in Northshire, Hidden Vale or “/zone Celtic”)
2:00 pm CST – Port Phoenix Storytelling Event (center of Kingsport or “/zone Kazyn Phoenixfyre”)
3:00pm CST – Storytelling Event in Port Phoenix (Holtrot)
6:00 pm CST – PvP Tournament (at the Brave Coast or “/zone Duke Violation”; for more details use the “/sotawiki Vengeance” command in-game)
Sunday, November 23
11:30am CST – Live Book Reading – Net’s Contest Winner (PaxLair Theater, Valemark or “/zone Winfield PaxLair”)
1:00pm CST – Church of the Dark Star – Power of Chaos – The Hunger of Coveting (PaxLair, Valemark)
2:00pm CST – Real Human Live Chess Event (meet at Town Crier of PaxLair, Valemark)
3:00pm CST – All Town Gathering (at Kingsport or “/zone Jack Knyfe”)
6:00pm CST – PvP Tournament (at the Brave Coast or “/zone Duke Violation”; for more details use the “/sotawiki Vengeance” command in-game)
7:00pm CST – PaxLair Meeting – (in Valemark or /zone Winfield PaxLair)
You will also find the “Release 12 Events” book in your in-game inventory, providing a list of the community events provided by the Avatar’s Circle Community Events calendar. Here are some sample in-game images from the Events book:
Easter Egg: Sword of Power!
Some of you may have already discovered the Sword in the Stone Easter Egg hidden by designer Finn Staber in Shroud of the Avatar. For those of you that haven’t, check out this video by community member The Mad Hermit guiding you to this elusive sword:
Lord British Weighs In on Companions, Solo Play, and the Development Process
There is a lengthy thread on the forums entitled “Companions” where some have expressed their concerns about how, when, or if companions (among other things) will be implemented in SotA, Episode 1. A recent post in that thread by Richard Garriott helped to answer some of their questions:
Fear not! You are all well aware, that only a year ago, we started letting you all play when we had only a generic avatar standing in a small room, with a chicken. We have come a LONG way since. But there is an order to the development operations that may not be obvious. We add systems and data based on how they interrelate or build on each other. For example, the best way for us to test combat was for we the developers to fight each other, thus you too could fight each other, well before creatures were much fun or balanced, and are only now gaining some real intelligence to fight back. This was not meant to imply more focus on PVP vs PVE, it just helped the development process.
For many months now, we now have had our AI programmer (Erik) dedicated to the framework to making creatures and NPCs much smarter! I got a run down from him on the “Finite State Machine” and “NPC Interest” system. You may have seen the beginnings of this in the NPC lamplighter schedules, though they were a bit off. It looks to be very powerful now, and at a state where we can begin to request the simpler high-level things that will begin to make all of this “NPC life” come to, well, life.
With this tool in hand, we are now finally to the point where NPCs are beginning to get some smarts and we can start placing and tuning NPCs to do a variety of things. You will see more and more things like guards and villagers turning on/off lights and closing doors, and being “aware” and interacting with their environment. Soon you will see scheduled activities like waking in the morning and going to bed at night. NPCs who farm or fish or do other activities to bring the world alive and help support the story which is the core of the solo experience but also available in multiplayer.
“Companions” are the most difficult part. Exactly “how smart” or how “deep” a companion will be for episode 1 remains to be seen. Clearly we will have non-conversational “pet” type companions. We even expect to have household “staff” that may be more conversational, but less like a “travel companion”. How far we get in blending the two, has not even been reviewed in some time, as we have had other bigger fires to address.
I beg for your patience and understanding as we work one issue at a time. I myself started playing in fully solo player mode only a few weeks back. Me and Chris Hirokawa who works in our NYC office, are specifically combing through the main story as it is finally just getting enough “meat” to really test in game. In the next few releases, I think the solo player, virtual world sim folks will see worthy progress. I know many of you are trying NOT to get too exposed to the maps and story of the final game to keep it fresh for release… but I hope some of you join me and Chris on our quest to offer the team important feedback and polish advice as it comes online.
– Lord British
“In a crumbling stone tower, deep in the Shadow Wood, there live two sisters, Vomica and Repugna. Some say they are immortal, having survived from the time before the Cataclysm by the use of an enchanted hair comb. Others say they are simply two old crones who have gone half-mad eating poison mushrooms in the forest…”
This introduction to the Scholars of Novia (SoN) first player-written book contest for Shroud of the Avatar revealed the “Sisters Grim”. The strange “Sisters” received 19 book submissions through the SotA Scholars of Novia Forum, they read and savored every word, and argued for hours about which books were the best. In the end, they decided five books were the winners to be published in Shroud of the Avatar.
Winfield, one of the three Grand Masters of the Scholars said, “We Scholars of Novia are a new player group, formed over the past few months. We envision a New Britannia filled with great player-created literary works to entertain, educate, and inspire people for many, many years. We seek to foster a community which loves to read and write. We are committed to discovering and documenting lore for everyone’s enjoyment. Our contest revealed many great authors and stories worthy of being in New Britannia. The top 5 were selected:”
1. A Tale of Braemar – By royalsexy
2. The Journal of Dereck Warden – translated and with an introduction by “The Bard from Shadow Valley” (by Net)
3. The Smokehouse – Anonymous (by grnarrow)
4. Mirror, Mirror…of the Lost – by Gaelis Trajan, translated by Tolon
5. Moonlit Vigil – a selection from the Tales of Lux, from the Lux Sanctuary Library Collection (by Spoon)
The Scholars also help bring the literary artists and their books to events in New Britannia. In fact, royalsexy read his book live in Release 11 and narrated by Trevor on Avatars Radio. In Release 12, Net plans to read his award winning book as well, also narrated on Avatars Radio. Keep an eye on the Avatars Circle Calendar for all the latest events and times.
“Whiiiiiiizzzzz” is the best word to describe the sound the boy’s sling made as he
spun it over his head. He loosed the stone and startled a lizard basking on the
side of the mountain, part of the range known as the Bone Spires.
“I’m so bored! Nothing ever happens here!” the boy complained to his friend.
You can read all the Contest #1 stories on the Scholars of Novia Forum final books thread. The Scholars are currently extracting loric references from the books to be published as reference material in the SotA Wiki and will have another call for books out soon.
The Scholars of Novia are led by three Grand Masters: Winfield, Amber Raine, and MalchorII. Within their ranks they have several Scribes and Lore Keepers working with authors, Portalarium, and publishing areas such as the SotA Wiki Library. They are the notable and immensely talented Unseen Dragon, Wahooka, Miracle Dragon, Balec Fares de Cani, Bowen Bloodgood, Browncoat Jayson, and Grant MacGregor. For more information, see SoN Wiki Page or reach any of the Scholars on the SotA Forums any time.
Steam Access Keys 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 11 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.
Cyber Monday, $5M & Steam Early Access All Day Telethon
We will be holding an All Day Telethon on Cyber Monday (December 1) counting down the final day of the Black Friday 15% Bonus promotion, and as a celebration of surpassing the $5 million funds raised milestone and launching on Steam Early Access! There will be Google+ Video Hangouts with developers and special community guests, and prizes (for anyone registered on our website) every hour, including: Plantronics Headsets, Add On Store Credit, Release 13 Access, and an Alienware Desktop!
Mark your calendars now so you don’t miss out! Will post links and schedule information in next week’s update.
Yep, it’s that time of the year again. Over the past couple of weeks we’ve brought back all of your holiday favorites. You can get all 7 of the 2014 holiday items at an even greater savings with the 2014 Holiday Bundle! Includes Taming Turkey Call, Taming Reindeer Call, Cornucopia, Yule Tree, Menorah, Replenishing Fireworks Box, and the Replenishing Snowball Box. Available for a limited time in the Add-On Store.
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, Cubit Measure of Prosperity, Cooking Pot of Prosperity, Combat Sigil Cloak, Crafting Sigil Cloak, Magic Sigil Cloak, Shingle-Roof Village Homes, Rustic 2-Story with Balcony Village Home, and the Wood & Plaster 2-Story with Balcony Town Home. This week, the following items are available for an additional 20% off, and then will no longer be available in the Add-On Store.
In our Rustic line of homes is this picturesque, 2-story, 3-room village home (you may have seen this house in Braemar).
If you loved the Blade of the Avatar symbol, then you’re especially going to love it adorning this beautifully crafted cloak!
Monthly Payment Plan Extended Through June 2015
We have received requests from community members to extend the monthly payment plan past February 2015, allowing for smaller, more affordable monthly payments. So to help those of you that need a little more time to meet your pledge upgrade goal, we’ve added 4 more months to the plan, extending it to June 2015.
Remember that payment plans are not canceled automatically after reaching the desired pledge. You must manually cancel your monthly payment plan, which can be done at anytime on your SotA Account page. We apologize for any inconvenience this might cause but it is a result of how recurring billing functions with PayPal, Amazon, and Stripe (our credit card service).
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 20 – MMORPG.com: Release 12: Undiscovered Country
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)
2014.12.01 – Cyber Monday, $5M & Steam Early Access All Day Telethon
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