Greetings Fellow Avatars!
Here’s what we have for you in this week’s edition of Update of the Avatar:
- Raise the Underworld
- Play Release 14 Now and Get Your Grand Tour Hennin Hat
- $10 for $10 Bonus Promotion
- Standing Stones
- Novia Overworld Work-In-Progress
- In-game Books
- Elven Tents
- Support Denis Loubet on Patreon
- New Britannia Theater Troupe: Live Double Feature Videos
- Pledge Rewards, Add-Ons, and Banks in Release 14
- Changes to Store Credit Conversions
- In-game Community Weekend Events
- Last Chance Exclusives
- Steam Access Keys Available for All Backers
- How to Cancel Monthly Payment Plans
- This Week In The News
- Upcoming Events
Raise the Underworld
It has been more than a decade long wait, but the stars have aligned and Paul has long last freed the rights to move forward with the franchise, sans only the “Ultima” brand itself. He is joined by some of his Looking Glass colleagues who worked on the original franchise, as well as on System Shock and Thief, in the newly formed company, OtherSide Entertainment. The team has vowed to stay true to the spirit of the original Underworld, while at the same time innovating in all new ways. And they want you to be a part of it.
We’re especially excited to reveal that, just as the original Ultima and Underworld shared a connection on backstory and fictional elements, so too will Shroud of the Avatar and Underworld Ascendant. There is a portal between the two worlds, which over the ages travelers have crossed, some bringing with them artifacts and arcane lore.
Our partnership, forged in the bonds of creativity, inspires us to continue the legacy. As backers of Shroud of the Avatar, you know how pivotal you are in the development of the game. No longer is there a wall between the fans and the developers. Through the magic of crowdfunding, we can develop the game and check in with fans along the way. We can get a reality check at each step so we’re truly making the game you, the player want. Not only are we sharing storyline elements with Underworld Ascendant, but we share this philosophy of collaborative development. It is a powerful time in game design, where game creators can connect directly to you, the community.
So as you have shown your allegiance to Shroud of the Avatar, bring forth that same spirit and make your pledge to raise the Underworld on February 4th.
Richard Garriott (Ultima, Shroud of the Avatar) – “For those of us lifelong gamers that go back to the early days of the Underworld franchise, created by Paul Neurath, it represented a watershed event on what an immersive 3D true role-playing game could be. Personally I am as excited about Underworld returning as any game I can imagine.”
Chris Roberts (Star Citizen, Wing Commander) – “Underworld was the first truly 3D textured first-person game… it influenced pretty much all first person 3D games that came afterwards.”
“Most modern gamers probably don’t realize how much their favorite games owe to classic first-person RPG Ultima Underworld: The Stygian Abyss, which laid the foundations back in 1992 for games as diverse as Deus Ex, Bioshock and the Elder Scrolls series.” – GameWatcher, January 2015
“But to cast the game as a distant godfather of modern gaming is to misunderstand it: Underworld isn’t done. Looking Glass’ first series was ended prematurely – and Paul Neurath intends to finish it.” – PCGamesN, January 2015
“After 20 years of trying –– and finally succeeding –– to acquire the franchise rights from Electronic Arts, Neurath said the decision to fund the project through Kickstarter has a number of appealing possibilities for the team –– artistic independence, creative leeway and transparency for backers”. – IGN, January 2015
Play Release 14 Now and Get Your Grand Tour Hennin Hat
Release 14 successfully launched yesterday, January 29, with thousands of backers downloading, patching, logging in, and checking out the new changes! Lots of new content to explore, including:
- Backers will will receive their pledge rewards and Add-On items in-game
- 10 new skills and 5 updated skills, 11 of the 18 schools are now complete
- New alchemy crafting recipes, and the ability to put magical enchantments on gear
- New creatures, including Water Elementals and man-eating Flesh Flayers.
- New scenes, including Grunvald Shardfall, Brightbone Pass, and Wyrmsands
- Banks to store your stuff, and where your pledge rewards are initially deposited
- Encumbrance is enabled where the weight of items will determine what you can carry
- …and more!
Check out the Release 14 Instructions update for detailed information about all the new R14 content.
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. You will be able to get the Hennin Hat by completing the Release 14 Grand Tour Quest. This reward can only be unlocked during Release 14 (did someone say rares?), so be sure to log in soon 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 14!
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. The basic Adventurer level pledge is also available on Steam Early Access.
If you are new to Shroud of the Avatar we highly recommend taking a few minutes to watch the excellent New Player’s Video Guide from community member The Mad Hermit:
R14 Patch Notes
Thanks to all our community members that jumped right into Release 14 and started reporting bugs. We’ve already fixed quite a few of them and pushed out several patches. Click here for the most up-to-date Patch Notes.
Please note that there has been a character and property wipe for this release.
January 30, 2015
Build Number 209 (Linux, Mac, PC) 7:00 PM CST
- Fixed issue where players were sometimes appearing with no head and/or incorrect gender (this time we actually think we fixed it, no kidding around, really)
- Added recipe for 1 Handed Spear
- Fixed sulfurous ash node in South Valeway that could not be harvested
- Fixed collision on railings of crafting pavilion
- Fixed exit boundary around desert scenes so it will now correctly trigger camera iris effect
- Fixed stuck spot in Grunvald Shardfall
- Recipe book should no longer skip pages
- Removed red visual effects on Air and Water Elementals that were making them look pinkish and purplish
- Many pledge, add on, and stretch goal items have not yet been built and/or do not yet have tech support. These will not be complete until later this year
- Pledge tiers from First Responder to Developer are fully stocked with real or placeholder items – pledge tiers from Citizen on up are stocked with real items but no placeholders. No add-ons or stretch goals have placeholders, but all Player Owned Towns have placeholders
- Many chests in the game no longer work (side effect of us removing all pledge and add on items)
- Merchant inventories will sometimes appear empty
- “Iron Rectangle Shield”, “Iron Round Shield”, and “Iron Triangle Shield” that players have in their inventory or have equipped prior to this patch will appear as buckets in their inventory due to the renaming mentioned above
$10 for $10 Bonus Promotion
If you make any single purchase of $10 or more on the SotA website between 7pm CST January 30
12 am CST January 31 and 10 am CST February 9 we will make a one-time deposit of an extra $10 into your Store Credit! [UPDATE: Due to some confusion over the starting time of the promotion, we moved the starting time 5 hours earlier. Anyone who made a qualifying purchase between 7 pm and midnight on January 30 will see the $10 bonus has now been added to their Store Credit]
[NOTE: The $10 for $10 offer can be exercised only once during the promotion period.
$10 Store Credit should show up in your account within 24 hours of a qualifying purchase]
Standing stones, remnants of ancient civilizations, have been found throughout Novia. Many speculate these are a vestige of magic akin to the Lunar Rifts. Many frequent them regularly in hopes of finding passage to somewhere else! Look for these stones in an upcoming Release.
Andy Cortez modeled the in-game stones from the original concept art created by Stephen Daniele during one of his Pen of the Avatar episodes:
Novia Overworld Work-In-Progress
Last week we showed you a first glimpse of Abe Robertson’s work on the Novia Overworld. Abe’s been busy over the past week and has some updated images of his Novia Overworld work-in-progress (which we hope to include in Release 15):
We have begun to replace blank, pre-placed books in Owl’s Head and Kingsport with books that have stories in them. Please note that currently, you must have a book in your inventory to read it.
Bob Cooksey finished up this set of Elven tents that will be used by the world builders for the Elven encampments in an upcoming release:
Support Denis Loubet on Patreon
Denis Loubet has been doing art and Graphics for Richard Garriott’s games for just about as long as Richard’s been doing games. Denis did the cover art for almost every Ultima game, as well as most of Origin’s other games. Most recently, Denis did all the chapter illustrations for the Blade of the Avatar novel, such as this one:
Denis launched a Patreon campaign a few months ago to help fund his artwork:
“If you remember the Ultima series of computer games, I’m the guy that did most of the covers and the manual illustrations, as well as a lot of the in-game art and animation. I’ve been doing game art since the 80s for companies such as Steve Jackson Games, Hero Games, Origin Systems Inc, Kingsisle, Disney, and many more.
But you know what? I’m tired of doing art for companies that I have no stake in. Instead, I want to try doing art directly for my fans, with no middleman. That’s the reason for this Patreon project.”
If you’re not familiar with Patreon, it was created to enable fans to support and engage with the artists and creators they love. Empowering a new generation of creators, Patreon is bringing patronage back to the 21st century. Pretty darn cool, eh!
Denis recently shared some of his Patreon efforts on the SotA forums. Here’s a piece of Ultima related art that he did for a patron that asked for the Avatar at a Shrine as the theme:
If you love Denis’ artwork, now’s your chance to help him create even more! For as little as $1 per artwork you can get a digital copy of the final art a day ahead of its public release. For more information, check out his Patreon project and all the cool rewards he offers his patrons.
New Britannia Theater Troupe: Live Double Feature Videos
Last Week the New Britannia Theater Troupe presented a live double feature, opening with the stage production of “The Helpful Mage” and followed by the main production “Of Shadows and Light.” If you weren’t able to attend the live in-game productions, then be sure and check out these videos provided by community member The Mad Hermit:
+ Written by Womby of The Round Table
+ Produced and Directed by Asclepius
+ Music by Smartsound
+ Filmed and Edited by The Mad Hermit
Cast of Characters:
+ Lady Adnor as Lady Pansicle
+ Lord Baldrith as Mage Wisdon
+ Womby as Lord Pansicle
+ Directed and Produced by Asclepius
+ Writer and Music Supervisor: Gabriel Nightshadow
+ Director of Public Relations and Associate Casting Director: Amber Raine
+ Assistant Director of Public Relations and Associate Casting Director: Nystal TimeLord
+ Stage Manager and Technical Consultant: Sir Stile Teckel
+ Filmed and Edited by The Mad Hermit
+ Asclepius as Gabriel Nightshadow
+ Amber Raine as Shannon Donohue and Annese Vantrel
+ StaticGrazer as Nestor, The Wolf, and The Vendor
+ Lady Adnor as Jessica and Shivara
+ Jynx as The Oracle
+ Womby as The Narrator
+ Lord Baldrith as Thomas Strongbeard and Nystal TimeLord
+ Count Aberon, the Tall Albino Man, voiced by Bubonic, and played by Sir Stile Teckel
Pledge Rewards, Add-Ons, and Banks in Release 14
As mentioned in previous updates, backers will start receiving their pledge rewards and Add-On items in-game when they log into Release 14, which launched yesterday, January 28. For all the previous Releases we would freely populate these reward items throughout the game for anyone to find. But those reward items will no longer be freely available. Instead, you will be able to find your Add-On items and the rewards included in your pledge tier at banks. In R14, there will be a banker NPC in every map where there is player housing because when you switch houses or unclaim a lot, all the decorations will go to your bank. In most locations the Town Crier is now also a banker.
Banks are local only. You can see your items in other bank locations (they appear in location tabs), but you can only access the items in the bank you are currently at. Pledge rewards are an exception to this and can be accessed from any location.
(NOTE: there are some Add-On and Pledge reward items that have not been built yet so you may notice some of your items not showing up in your bank. If you delete your character, all equipped and inventory items, including pledge reward items, will be deleted and cannot be recovered until the next wipe).
Changes to Store Credit Conversions
If you wish to convert any of your purchased Add-On items to Store Credit, you will need to do so before logging into Release 14.
The instant you log into R14 all of your available Pledge reward items and available Add-On items will be flagged as “claimed” and deposited in your in-game bank. Once the Add-On items are “claimed” they cannot be converted to Store Credit until the next wipe (which is currently unpredictable). After you’ve logged into R14, the “Convert to Credits” button on your account page will be deactivated for all those items available in the game, so if you had any plans to sell back some of your Add-On items, make sure you do it before you log into R14!
We intend to change the claiming process in an upcoming Release so that items are not automatically claimed when logging in, but will require you to actively claim them in your bank before they can be used.
If you purchase any new Add-On items, or upgrade your Pledge tier, those new items and upgraded rewards will automatically appear in your in-game bank the next time you log into the game (providing those items are available in the game).
In-game Weekend Community Events
Our amazing community has another great lineup of in-game events planned for this weekend. 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/):
Saturday, January 31
9:00am CST – PaxLair Working Hours – Host Winfield (Valemark)
10:00am CST – Welcome to New Britannia! Ask Questions, Get Answers (Braemar)
11:00am CST – Church of the Dark Star – Saturday Service – Topic: Love (PaxLair, Valemark)
12:00pm CST – Welcome Quest in R14 (“/zone Dara Brae”, details)
4:00pm CST – All Player Towns Gathering (“/zone Winfield”, details)
6:00pm CST – Welcome to New Britannia! Ask Questions, Get Answers (Braemar)
7:00pm CST – Jenny Phoenxfyre’s Birthday (Port Phoenix/Kingsport, “/zone Jenny Phoenixfyre”)
Sunday, February 1
5:30am CST – Explore Novia with royalsexy (Owl’s Head entrance)
10:00am CST – Welcome to New Britannia! Ask Questions, Get Answers (Braemar)
6:00pm CST – Welcome to New Britannia! Ask Questions, Get Answers (Braemar)
7:00pm CST – PaxLair Meeting (Valemark)
8:00pm CST – New Britannia Press Meeting (Avatars Circle Teamspeak & PaxLair/Valemark)
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 months we’ve phased out over 25 items, including such items as the Scissors of Prosperity, Blade of the Avatar Cloak, and Shingle-Roof Village Homes. This week, the following items are available for an additional 20% off, and then will no longer be available in the Add-On Store.
This unique, indestructible fishing pole increases your chance to catch fish, the quality of the fish caught and the speed they are caught. While fishing poles with similar effects can be crafted and purchased in the game, this particular fishing pole never needs repair.
Although the influence of the Oracle has waxed and waned over the many years of her existence, you can show your devotion by proudly wearing this Oracle Cloak. There is a secret in-game effect that wearing the Oracle Cloak will invoke.
Steam Access Keys Available for All SotA Backers
SotA successfully launched on Steam Early Access on November 24, and we’ve made Steam Access Keys 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 game client (or both).
If you play SotA on Steam you can collect the SotA Trading Cards! Collect a full set of SotA trading cards to earn SotA badges, profile backgrounds, and emoticons that help you customize your profile and show off your Shroud of the Avatar gameplay. Check out Steam’s trading card FAQ for more information.
How to Cancel Monthly Payment Plans
Remember that Pledge 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).
This Week In the News
January 23 – MMORPG.COM – Release 14: Strong Start to a New Year
January 23 – VentureBeat: Shroud of the Avatar evolves with 13 updates driven by fans
January 24 – Massively: PAX South 2015: Garriott and Long talk Shroud of the Avatar
January 28 – MMORPG: Shroud of the Avatar Videos: Early Alpha Playthrough #1
January 30 – Gamers Nexus: Shroud of the Avatar’s Economy Evilly Sells Player-Made Gear to Mobs
January 30 – SXSW Interactive Session Spotlight: Crowd Sharing
We at Portalarium were saddened to learn of the upcoming demise of Massively (and their parent Joystiq). As someone who has been in the MMO business about as long as that business has existed I find myself particularly affected by this news. Massively has been one of the very few dedicated news sites for our genre and I have always been impressed and pleased with their coverage. I want to thank them for their many years of journalistic service and I want to wish everyone there the best of luck in their future endeavors. As a tribute to their fine work we are adding a tombstone in the game with Massively inscribed in runic.
2015.02.26 – Starr Long delivers Keynote at ICPHSO’s 2015 Annual Meeting and Training Symposium
2015.02.26 – Release 15
2015.03.06 – SotA at PAX East
2015.03.10 – IGDA Austin Meetup at Tech Ranch
2015.03.13 – SotA at SXSW Interactive
2015.03.26 – Release 16
2015.04.03 – Duke & LotM VIP Design Roundtable w/Lord British and Portalarium Studio Tour (it was such a big hit last year that we are again inviting our guests to attend Portalarium’s Family Easter Celebration in Castleton (Richard’s lakefront property on beautiful Lake Austin)