Greetings Fellow Avatars!
Here’s what we have for you in this week’s edition of Update of the Avatar:
- Necropolis: The Halls of the Dead
- Underworld Ascendant: The Dark Elven “Kinsman” Buckler
- Verdantis Shardfall
- Novia Overworld Work-In-Progress
- Help Us With Your Positive Recommendation on Steam
- Hangout of the Avatar ~ Release 14 Postmortem
- SotA Reaches 50,000 Backers!
- Massively Kickstarter Success
- In-game Community Weekend Events
- Last Chance Exclusives
- Receiving Pledge Rewards and Add-On Items in Release 14
- Changes to Store Credit Conversions
- Steam Access Keys Available for All Backers
- How to Cancel Monthly Payment Plans
- This Week In The News
- Upcoming Events
Scene from the Necropolis Dungeon
Necropolis: The Halls of the Dead
Scott “Scottie” Jones has taken off his environmental artist hat and put on his world building hat for Release 15. In just a few short weeks you’ll be able to explore his new dungeon: Necropolis!
Long spoken of in whispers by the living, Necropolis is the final refuge of the souls of the restless dead. It is there that the Lords of the Undead have long made their home, and there must travel those brave Avatars who seek to unravel the mystery of why the dead make war on the living after many centuries of peaceful coexistence. Those who wish to traverse their dark halls must learn the secret language of the dead. Rumors abound of an underground river, a passage to some far away lands. Enter, Avatar, and have your character measured and learn from those who haunt its halls… but know that the Undead have no need of material wealth, and what they may ask in exchange for answers could be a dear price indeed.
As we described last week, our long-time friend and former Origin protégé, Paul Neurath, is rebooting the legendary Ultima Underworld games. It has been more than a decade long wait, but the stars have aligned and Paul has at long last freed the rights to move forward with the franchise. We’re especially excited 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.
Last week we announced that we’re teaming up with Underworld Ascendant so that backers of both games will get a special in-game item. This week, we’re excited to announce the special item is a magical Dark Elven “Kinsman” Buckler!
This buckler, inscribed with the Dark Elven symbol, has a moonstone gem inset. If a player owns the buckler in both Shroud of the Avatar and Underworld Ascendant, then the moonstone will glow with the warmth of kinship. This signifies that the Dark Elven clans, though sundered between distant worlds, still are one. The Dark Elven Buckler is currently available in the SotA Add-On Store, and will soon be available as an Add-On on the Underworld Ascendant Kickstarter page.
Otherside Entertainment is already at 70% of their funding goal for their Underworld Ascendant Kickstarter campaign, but needs your help to reach their goal and start working toward their stretch goals! Be sure and check out the Underworld Kickstarter site, and if you are as excited about it as we are, then show your support and make a pledge to Raise the Underworld!
Scottie’s not the only one wearing a new hat for Release 15, Andy Cortez is also taking a break from creating environmental art assets and has been crafting a new map, the Verdantis Shardfall. This map is located on a marshy island off the west coast of the Verdantis region of Novia.
Novia Overworld Work-In-Progress
For the last few weeks we’ve been showing you glimpses of Abe Robertson’s work on the Novia Overworld. Abe shifted over to working in Unity 5 this week, so here are some updated images of his Unity 5 Novia Overworld work-in-progress (which we hope to include in Release 15):
Earlier this week we slipped slightly in Steam user reviews from “Very Positive” to “Mostly Positive”. This happened when the percentage of positive user reviews to negative user reviews slipped below 80%. Starr “Darkstarr” Long reached out to our forum community for help:
“The good news is we continue to gain new customers from Steam. The not so good news is that some of them are giving us bad reviews. Just recently we dropped from Very Positive to Mostly Positive. Long term this will decrease the number of people who purchase our product on Steam and therefore will mean we will have less money to build this world we all want.
While many of those negative reviews are fair I feel like the ratio of positive to negative does not accurately reflect the overall sentiment from you, our loyal backers, especially when we take into consideration our current pre-alpha state. If you have not yet done so I would ask you to consider taking a few minutes and post a positive review over on Steam.”
Some of the posters in that thread said they still had concerns about SotA and didn’t want to sugarcoat their opinions. Starr’s response was:
“… it’s ok to express concerns you may have even in a positive review… or just not review us [yet].”
Later in that thread, community member Lord Andernut posted:
“When the devs ask us to share our positive experiences they are asking us to help ourselves…Bigger community, more players, more events, more funding, more content, more features, a positive review on Steam is a no-brainer for me”
Couldn’t have said it any better than that. Our goal is to make the best game we can for you, our backers, and the best way we can do that is by growing our community of backers through the power of word-of-mouth marketing. So if you feel positive about SotA, or feel positive about what SotA may become, even if you have concerns and issues, then please jump over to our Steam Store Page and give us a positive review (and feel free to include your concerns and issues in that review as well)!
Hangout of the Avatar ~ Release 14 Postmortem (and Free Prize Giveaways!)
Yes, we know that Release 14 is still alive and kicking, but it’s become a tradition for our team to review each release and celebrate it’s successes, while reflecting on what still needs to be improved! If you missed our Hangout of the Avatar on Wednesday, then be sure and check out the video. Richard, Starr, and Chris chatted about Release 14, recounting their favorite moments while also looking ahead to Release 15. And as usual, Gina “FireLotus” Dionne was taking questions and feedback live in the chat-room and also in advance in the OP comments section.
This Hangout (and all future Hangouts) was expanded from sixty minutes to ninety minutes because there never seemed to be enough time to discuss everything in the hour-long Hangouts. Additionally, we started giving away free prizes during this Hangout, and will do so for all future hangouts. Every 10 minutes we drew a random name from the community members attending the Hangout via live chat! Here are the winners:
- Dominus won a Razer Chroma Mouse
- Krullen won a Razer Chroma Keyboard
- Pyro and Amber Raine each won a Plantronics RIG Flex Gaming Headset
- The following community members won a $10 SotA Store Credit:
- Sean Silverfoot
- Eternal Knight
- Fox Cunning
Be sure and attend our next monthly Hangout and you’ll be eligible to for our free prize giveaways!
SotA Reaches 50,000 Backers!
In celebration of reaching the 50,000 Backer Milestone, I recently posted these updated backer stats on our Dev+ forum:
The last pledge data published was in May 2014 and some of you have been asking for an update. We plan on releasing this new pledge data publicly in this week’s Update of the Avatar on Friday, but thought we’d give our Dev+ backers a sneak peek.
This first chart shows the change in pledge counts from May 2014 to Feb 2015. The data does not include Steam Early Access, Guilt Pledges, or unassigned pledges. Big jump in the number of Adventurer pledges and Founder pledges. And since we made it more affordable to own property by adding the new Row House property deeds to the Ancestor tier, it has almost tripled in the number of backers. We were also surprised to see the number of Dukes almost doubled (from 43 to 84) and Lord of the Manors increased by almost 50% (24 to 34)!
This chart shows the change in pledge revenue per tier from May 2014 to February 2015:
This final chart shows the current pledge data with the pledge counts as vertical bars and the dollar value of each pledge tier as a gold line. The Knight tier continues to lead in terms of pledge revenue, especially if you combine it with the relatively new Knight Marshal tier. Knights also led in our May 2014 data.
Pledges with property (Ancestor+) represent 9% of all backers and 61% of all pledge revenue. Pledges without property represent 91% of all backers and 39% of pledge revenue.
Massively Kickstarter Success!
We were excited to see that the Massively Kickstarter campaign reached their $50k goal in under 48 hours! Yay! Massively already has their new website up and running, with lots of great articles in the Massively tradition, so check it out if you haven’t seen it yet!
They’re now working toward their $75k Stretch Goal, which includes Convention Coverage. So, head on over to the Massively Overpowered Kickstarter site and if you like what you see then pledge your support!
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, February 14
9:00am CST – PaxLair Working Hours – Host Winfield (Valemark)
9:300am CST – All Player Towns Gathering – templates (PaxLair, Valmark; “/zone Winfield”; details)
11:00am CST – Church of the Dark Star – Saturday Service – Topic: Power of Friendship (PaxLair, Valemark)
12:00pm CST – Welcome Quest R14.5 (NorthShire, or “/zone Dara Brae”)
6:00pm CST – Lovers’ Maze for Valentines Day (NorthShire, or “/zone Lollie”)
Sunday, February 15
5:30am CST – Explore Novia with royalsexy (Owl’s Head entrance)
2:00pm CST – Britannian Mining Company (BMC) Crafting Fair (Owl’s Head; details)
2:00pm CST – 4B PvP Melee Tournament (“/zone Net”)
7:00pm CST – PaxLair Meeting (Valemark, or “/zone Winfield”)
8:00pm CST – New Britannia Press Meeting (PaxLair, Avatar’s Circle Teamspeak)
The Britannian Mining Company (BMC) provides a public crafting area in Owl’s Head.
They’re hosting a Crafting Fair this Sunday, February 15, from 2pm to 5pm CST.
Come participate in crafting discussions and get free samples of their metallurgical arts.
Time is Running Out to Get Your R14 Grand Tour Quest Reward
Better hurry if you want to add the Hennin Hat to your collection because the R14 Grand Tour Quest ends on February 26 when we launch Release 15. If you need help getting your R14 Hennin Hat reward, then check out The Mad Hermit’s video guide to completing the R14 Grand Tour Quest:
Special Edition Jester Carnival Mask
In celebration of Carnival season, this Special Edition Jester Carnival Mask is available in the Add-On Store until March 31st! Get yours while they’re available!
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 35 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.
In our line of Wood & Plaster homes is this 2-story, 3-room village home, where the second story room is a Great Hall (also used as the basis for in-game banks).
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.
Receiving Pledge Rewards and Add-On Items 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 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 are 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 the new 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).
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.
Monthly Payment Plans: How to Cancel and What In-Game Rewards to Expect
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).
If you are on a monthly payment plan, the rewards you receive in-game may not reflect the final pledge tier you are making payments toward, but will reflect the rewards for the current pledge tier that your cumulative monthly payments have reached (your current pledge tier is shown on your Account page on the SotA website).
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
2015.04.23 – Release 17
2015.05.21 – Release 18