Greetings Fellow Avatars!
Here’s what we have for you in this week’s edition of Update of the Avatar:
- Play Release 16 Now!
- Traditional FireLotus Release (16) Party!
- Q2 2015 Schedule Update
- Novian Academy of Arts and Sciences
- In-game Community Weekend Events
- Kickstarter Shout-Outs
- Receiving Pledge Rewards and Add-On Items
- Changes to Store Credit Conversions
- Steam Access Keys Available for All Backers
- How to Cancel Monthly Layaway Payment Plans
- This Week In The News
- Upcoming Events
Play Release 16 Now!
Release 16 successfully launched yesterday, March 26, with thousands of backers downloading, patching, logging in, and checking out the new changes! Lots of new content to explore, including:
- 7 new Adventure Scenes
- Necropolis Dungeon: our very first map that is completely focused on the narrative and is a single player instance
- Novia Overworld expanded
- New creatures, including crocodiles, Obsidian Golem, Sand Elemental, and pet rabbits
- New NPC skills, damage types, and resistances
- Discovery Navigation System
- Performance improvements
- …and more!
Check out the Release 16 Instructions update for detailed information about all the new R16 content.
The Grand Tour Quest
Just as in our last several releases, we’ve included a Grand Tour Quest designed to guide you through all the new content. You will be able to get the Black Lepus Mask by completing the Release 16 Grand Tour Quest. This reward can only be unlocked during Release 16 (did someone say rares?), so be sure to log in soon and talk to all the Tour Guides!
If you need help completing the R16 Grand Tour Quest, then check this video walk-thru provided by The Mad Hermit:
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 16!
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.
R16 Patch Notes
Thanks to all our community members that jumped right into Release 16 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.
March 27, 2015
Build Number 248
- Fix for attack speed buff to correct the bad math that was allowing 1 attack per frame!
- Fix for sparkly desert bushes
- Minor fixes to dialog in Soltown and Necropolis (from forums)
- Duke Founder Keep stairs should be easier to climb
- Lessened overdone bloom effect in sunlit rooms in Necropolis
- Fixed “merchant skirt” asset typo
- Lord British birthday cake no longer is as bright as a super nova
- Fixed chain mail gear sparkles and color adjustment
- Fixed not being able to use chat/hotkeys/zoom while sitting or doing other interactives
- Top of village arena ladder no longer makes player off-kilter
- Added Sooty Bark to the Maple Wood Loot Bundle
- Removing a spammy message that is not needed for adding Focus
- Changed Arrow Crafting recipe to result in 100 arrows instead of 10-quick fix that helps the monteary cost of arrows
- Added camera shake back to earthquake
- Don’t automatically open the chat window for system messages in some cases (ex. harvesting)
- Fixed hotbar lockout when interacting with multiple resource nodes.
- Fixed brightness/glowing on male mohawk and dreadlocks.
- Fixed sparkling epic cloth leggings.
- Doubled the length of healing rain from 10 to 20 seconds.
- Attempted fix for being stuck in combat
- Some scenes are too dark at night (ex. Obsidian Keep)
- Overly bloomed visuals in places (ex. Necropolis)
- Some assets create flash bulb like sparks on screen
- The screen may go dark unexpectedly in some cases. If this occurs, you can open the video options and turn off Tone Mapping as a temporary fix.
- 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
- The update to Unity 5 caused a host of general texture and lighting related issues, and not all of these have been resolved.
- Distant tree billboards may have a white outline that is especially noticeable at night, and some trees may shimmer with white at night.
- Some scenes in the new Novia overworld are missing visible name scrolls, though they can still be entered and explored.
- Hair is not responding to light correctly
- Skin tone will sometimes not match properly on different parts of the body
- Interior Player House culling system also culls objects on balconies, porches, roof, etc.
- Unity 5 engine bug: Terrain is not accepting shadow casting lights and terrain lighting shows up on grid vs. radius
- Can’t use skills after being interrupted when harvesting
- Repairing Weapons While Equipped Makes them Disappear
- ALT key can no longer be bound. This was necessary to re-enable quick self cast with ALT
- Unity 5 Engine Bug: Objects in the foreground sort incorrectly against objects in the distance like trees and the horizon
- Spectral Mines and Graf Gem Mines do not have metal ore nodes (will be fixed in R17)
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:
Traditional FireLotus Release (16) Party!
Every Release, our Community Manager, Gina “FireLotus” Dionne, hosts a Release Party during the afternoon of the first Friday of the Release. Today’s Release 16 Dance Party was held in a City Arena Basement at the World’s End Club in Port Mirren (a small island accessible via a ferry from the Kingsport docks).
Special thanks to Soleidad and Athanil for offering such a cool place to party and the tremendous work they put into the amazing decor! The Lepus Mask (both black and white) was quite popular at the event, as were the new bunny pets (warily keeping an eye on the dog pets also in attendance). And the Zombie dance moves appeared to be quite the fav! Lord British himself showed up for a little boogie-down action:
Q2 2015 Schedule Update
As we stated in previous posts, our goal is to once-per-quarter post an updated schedule for our monthly releases. Even though these goals will likely change somewhat as we react to feedback, we feel it is important to provide you an updated roadmap periodically.
Our goal continues to be to deliver our backers content each and every month so that we can get feedback, and use it to iterate improvements. This has already paid off, with additional game features like jumping and swimming, as well as improvements to systems like crafting, conversations, and combat. Meeting that monthly goal is our highest priority, but we require flexibility in our deliverables to meet that goal. As you have seen in previous releases, sometimes we push things out, but we also often pull new things in.
It is worth noting that we develop in an iterative fashion. This means we will often get systems and content in the game as soon as we can, even if they are only partially functional. In general until you see me say something is “final” you can safely assume we will continue to improve on that feature. An example is our Pets which are in very early development and do not include a lot of their functionality like being able to hang out in your house.
As always, all dates, durations, and deliverables are subject to change as we adjust our designs based on direct feedback from you, our backers.
As you might notice many of the deliverables from Q1 are now in Q2. This is due to many factors including the Unity 5 conversion, conventions (we had not planned to attend GDC), bug fixes, and other completely normal game development challenges. This now obviously puts our launch by end of 2015 at risk. We are currently working on various strategies to keep launch within 2015 but as always our goal is to ship the product when it is ready, not before. We will do everything in our power however to complete Episode 1 in as timely a manner as possible without sacrificing scope or quality. It is worth noting that based on our current funding and fundraising data trends that we we will still be able to complete the game without any financial issues, even with slips like this. NOTE: With this schedule change we will be extending payment plans to November.
RELEASE 17, April 30, 2015:
- Polish & Performance: We will continue the work we started with Release 16 to improve overall polish and performance in the game. We will focus not only on improving frame rate but also lowering load times. We may also spend some time on usability issues.
- Maps: Perennial Coast and Grunvald will continue to be expanded.
- Steam Achievements: Players will now be able to earn Steam Achievements.
- Player Owned Town Test: We hope to have our first example of a Player Owned Town in the game with the PaxLair Metropolis.
- Crafting: Crafting will now have events that occur during the crafting process that the player can interact with to influence the results.
- Creatures: Our bestiary will expand to include various Human Enemies (mages, archers, etc.), the Phoenix, and Zombies!
- Player Titles: Players will now be able to display their title in the game.
- Street Signs: We will begin placing street signs in major towns.
- Player Wipe: We will be wiping all game, property, and player data for this release because of some fundamental changes to item architecture.
RELEASE 18, May 28, 2015:
- Maps: Our goal is to get the Grunvald Region near completion and begin work on the Quel Region which includes scenes like the Etceter Mines.
- Spells & Skills: The combat schools of Shields and Light Armor will expand, and more combos will be added to the game.
- Housing: Fences and Walls will come online as new customization options for player property.
- Player Owned Towns: We plan to start the official submission process and begin implementing more towns.
- Crafting: Crafting skills will start to come online, and be used during crafting to modify results.
- Creatures: Our creature list will continue to expand with Chaos Demons and Wisps.
- Combat: The cover system will be introduced that modifies attack and defense values when you (or your target) are behind cover.
- Overworld: Roving encounters (patrolling creatures) will now appear on the overworld map and can be engaged (pulling you into a scene) or avoided if you wish to sneak past.
- Emote “Teaching”: Emotes will now be teachable to other players. Some emotes (like the ones tied to pledges) will only be teachable by the original owner. Teaching will be done via secure trading a consumable item that adds the emote when used.
- Localization: We will begin crowdsourcing the translation of the game into various languages.
- Player Made Books: Players will be able to write in blank books in the game, and share them with other players.
- Customization: Clothing and Armor will now be dyeable.
RELEASE 19, June 25, 2015:
- Maps: We hope to get the Quel Region near final and start on the Midmaer Region.
- Spells & Skills: Chaos Magic and Ranged Combat will expand to include more spells, and more combos will come online.
- Housing: Property ownership will now incur regular fees (unless you are using a tax free deed from a pledge). If the fees are not paid, the player will lose their claim, and their possessions (including the house and decorations) will be moved to their bank. Note: We will provide more details about timing, payments, etc. near the end of R18.
- Crafting: Tailors and Alchemists will be able to begin crafting Taming Collars. We will also be adding more Cooking and Alchemy recipes.
- Pets & Taming: We will expand pet functionality to include the ability to tame creatures.
- Creatures: Dragons will begin appearing in Novia! Burninating will begin. All hail Trogdor, the Burninator!
- Combat: Guilds will now be able to declare war on each other.
- Customization: New armor and clothing items will appear in the game.
- Musical Instruments: Players can play music in the game with a variety of instruments.
- Player Owned Vendors: Players will now be able to place a Vendor on their property to sell goods.
We continue to be incredibly thankful for the support we receive from this amazing community. While the funding you provide makes all of this possible, it pales in comparison with the faith you have in us, the feedback you provide us, and the content you are making for everyone to enjoy. We are humbly grateful, and we cannot wait to see you again in New Britannia!
Before I go, I wanted to include an excerpt from my original post about our Early Release Schedule that is important to set the framework for our ongoing schedule:
As a crowd funded and crowd sourced project, we feel it is incredibly important that we provide our backers with information and access well before game studios would normally do so in a traditional development model. Traditionally, the players are given information and access only after the development team has already decided exactly how things will be done, and at times, even after it has already been implemented. By the time the public normally has access to the product, there is usually no time to meaningfully react to the public feedback.
Shroud of the Avatar is different than the traditional model, as we intend to offer our backers extremely early access to information and even the game itself. With that said, we also want to be very careful that we only provide access to portions of the game when they are ready for a wider range of feedback. If we can play it internally and we know it is not ready, then there is nothing to be gained by having a wider audience come to the same conclusion. In fact, it could be quite damaging to do so.
Our strategy over the next few months is to provide you with focused and iterative releases of content. Your feedback during these releases will be critical to making the final product the best it can be, and we appreciate that you are all so willing to devote your time to helping us. With each release, we will have specific tests we will ask you all to make. As we get closer, we will send instructions on how to download, install, report bugs, etc. After each release we will review the results and reevaluate the plan including the duration of availability of each release. Please note that game data will be wiped periodically during early access.
It is important to note that all dates, durations, and deliverables are subject to change.
Shroud of the Avatar
The Novian Academy of Arts and Sciences
We were pretty excited to learn of the founding of the Novian Academy of Arts and Sciences by community member Kazyn Phoenixfyre! As described on the Academy’s website:
We at the Novian Academy exist as a society of scholars, instructors and masters of our trade in order to bring our knowledge to the masses with an ever expanding collection of structured classes that Avatars of all levels of experience can learn from.
The first semester of the Novian Academy shall kick off this release, Release 16, and will continue on until release 17. From here, we hope to pick up more interested instructors and start new classes each release. If you or anyone you know is interested in becoming part of our society of teachers and scholars then by all means, contact us here in the forums!
The Novian Academy hosts a wide variety of courses which allow avatars both young and old to experience and learn more about the world of New Britannia. Each course is divided into multiple lessons, and avatars completing each phase are eligible to recieve customized degrees demonstrating their completion of the course.
Their initial course catalog includes:
CZN100 – Citizenship: Getting Started in New Britannia – Instructor: Kazyn Phoenixfyre
In this entry level course to citizenship, avatars learn the ropes of SotA and what to do starting out within the game. This course covers the basics of getting started with your character building, Weapon and armor choices, basic travel points and community sites and groups to know.
CZN101 – Citizenship: Making Your Mark – Instructor: Kazyn Phoenixfyre
In this advanced citizenship class we go beyond the bare basics of introducing avatars to new systems and instead learn about how to build your path to earning a permanent place in SotA. This course covers crafting and weapon specializations, housing, guilds, Player owned towns and Player Run towns.
CBT100 – Combat Theory and Introduction – Instructor: Net, Assistant: Gaelis Trajan
This course covers the the 10 commandments of SotA combat, and all of the key points to remember to be effective in combat. Students taking this course will understand the working theory of the combat arts utilized by some of SotA’s most prolific champion warriors and mages!
CBT101 – Deck Building and Combos – Instructor: Net, Assistant: Gaelis Trajan
This advanced course handles deck building basics. Here, Avatars will learn the important skills to learn in order to be effective in combat, the various skill lines to keep in mind and pointers for how to build an effective deck for combat.
CBT102 – PVE Combat – Instructor: Net, Assistant: Gaelis Trajan
In this course our instructors cover the practice and application of the combat theory and deck building lessons into PvE combat. Here, avatars will learn how to effectively fight monsters.
CBT103 – PVP Combat – Instructor: Net, Assistant: Gaelis Trajan
In this final advanced course our instructors cover the practice and application of the combat theory and deck building lessons into combat between avatars. Avatars will learn how to be effective in fights against the most cunning enemy – other avatars.
Last week, Community member Net provided an introductory class to his 3-part Combat Basics course. During the very first lesson on the floor of the newly founded Novian Academy, Avatars had a chance to learn the basics of combat. Net taught avatars his secrets for success in combat, Gaelis Trajan helped with the practical demonstration of the ten basic principles (and surprisingly managed to kill Net) while Arianna recorded the lesson. Amber Raine (Avatars Radio) provided a commentary over the aether. Fortunately for everyone that missed the class, they created a YouTube video:
Earlier today, Net taught his CBT100 – Combat Theory and Introduction class for the first time, covering the 10 commandments of SotA combat. Thankfully, they captured a video of the class:
Net has a thread on his combat lessons in the Release 16 Events forum detailing the schedule for his upcoming classes. If you’re interested in learning the subleties of SotA combat from one of the game’s Master Warriors, then check out the thread and mark the class dates in your calendar!
In-game Weekend Community Events
Our amazing community has another great lineup of in-game events planned for this weekend. Here is the latest schedule of player events from the Avatar’s Circle Community Events calendar and the Events of the Avatars community calendar:
Saturday, March 28
9:00am CST – PaxLair Working Hours – Host Winfield (Valemark)
11:00am CST – Church of the Dark Star – Saturday Service (PaxLair, Valemark; details)
11:30am CST – Wedding of Mr. James Murphy and Mrs. River Beauchamp w/special guest Lord British giving away the bride (Solania, Perrenial Coast, Novia; or “/zone Onyx”)
12:00pm CST – Welcome Quest R16 (Northshire, Hidden Vale or “/zone Dara Brae”; details)
2:00pm CST – Vengeance 1v1 PvP – BARE KNUCKLE BRAWL! (“/zone Sciamano Malus” or “/zone Duke Violation”; details)
3:00pm CST – Novian Academy – Citizenship 100 Course – Covers the basics of character building, Weapon/armor choices, travel points/community sites/groups to know (“/zone Kazyn Phoenixfyre”; details)
4:00pm CST – All Player Towns Gathering (PaxLair, Valemark or “/zone Stryker Sparhawk”; details)
Sunday, March 29
6:30am CST – Explore Novia with royalsexy (Owl’s Head entrance)
3:00pm CST – Phoenix Republic Town Hall (Port Phoenix, KingsPort, “/zone Kazyn Phoenixfyre” or “/zone Jack Knyfe”)
5:00pm CST – BMC Grid Iron Feast and Registration (details)
6:00pm CST – BMC First Blood at Grid-Iron (details)
7:00pm CST – PaxLair Meeting (Valemark, or “/zone Winfield”)
8:00pm CST – Fishing with Winfield (some lake or pond, “/zone Winfield”)
9:00pm CST – New Britannia Press Meeting (PaxLair, Valemark or “/zone royalsexy”)
9:00pm CST – Beach Party by BMC (details TBD)
Be sure and check out the Release 16 Events thread in the SotA forums for additional events that may not be included here.
The Jumping Course – Spoon’s Silly Spectacles
Earlier today, community member Spoon sponsored a jumping contest on his specially designed course in the town of Orden (two towns west of Ardoris). The goal was to climb up onto the cabinets, jump one circuit around the house, and enter the house through the 4th floor balcony. Looks like fun!
Easter Bunny Pet
Easter is almost upon us and what would an Easter be without your very own Easter Bunny Pet. This spotted rabbit is available in the Add-On Store until May 31 and will never be available again. The spotted rabbit is a non-combat pet that can follow you wherever you go.
Special Edition White Lepus Mask
Just in time for your Easter celebrations, this Special Edition White Lepus Mask is available in the Add-On Store until April 30st! Get yours while they’re available!
Only 4 Days Left to Get Your 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!
Crowfall Kickstarter Campaign More Than Doubles Their Funding Goal!
Congratulations to Gordon, Todd, and all our Crowfall friends for their amazingly succesful Kickstarter campaign! At $1.78M they hit 220% of their funding goal! In their last 24 hours they blew past 5 of their Stretch Goals, including their Tournament System and Combat Pets! Way to go guys!
If you missed their Kickstarter campaign they are still accepting pledges on their website at www.Crowfall.com.
TSI Postpones Seven Dragon Saga Kickstarter
Earlier this week, TSI decided to postpone their Kickstarter campaign for reasons outlined by company president, David Klein in their latest update:
We’re postponing our Kickstarter campaign. No, TSI is NOT giving up on Seven Dragon Saga! Quite the contrary…we underestimated how much new content we’d need to show in the middle of the campaign to engage people that were less familiar with the older games…We need to show off more than we had ready right now…We’ve had incredibly positive results from this Kickstarter. The press awareness, fan response, and community feedback has been tremendous. We’re taking that feedback and what we’ve learned to refine our work further. We’ll be coming back as soon as humanly possible, with a better, more refined Kickstarter, and some code you’ll actually be able to play, along with killer videos and artwork.
Once again, we are extremely grateful for all of your encouragement and support…[you can] follow our progress by signing up for our newsletter on our website: http://www.tsi-games.com/…This way, you can hear about our Kickstarter re-launch when it happens. And it WILL happen!
As described on their Kickstarter site, Eric “Wingman” Peterson and team are bringing back six-degrees-of-freedom combat by blasting 90’s action game favorite, Descent, into the 21st Century with current-generation gaming technology. Descent: Underground is more than a graphics upgrade. Get ready for multiple types of customizable ships! Prepare for upgradable weapons and sensors with richly-detailed tech trees. Brace yourself for destructible voxel maps with new power-ups and mod tools to make your own maps and more!
Checkout their Kickstarter site and if you like what you see then pledge your support!
Player Owned Town Price Changes
Last week we shared Starr Long’s forum post that discussed the scope and design for Player Owned Towns. If you’ve been thinking about getting your own Player Owned Town, then you might want to take advantage of the current price, because the price for all Player Owned Towns will be increasing approximately 20% starting May 1, 2015.
Receiving Pledge Rewards and Add-On Items
Go to any bank to claim your Add-On items and Pledge rewards. There is 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]
Player Bank Upgrades
Your bank inventory size can easily be upgraded with in-game gold, with the price in gold increasing the larger your bank gets. For those that need/want really big banks faster, we’ve added a Bank Upgrade to the Add-On Store. Currently, each Bank Upgrade adds 10 more slots to your bank inventory, but that number is subject to change based on game balancing needs.
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 Shroud of the Avatar.
The instant you log into the game 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 SotA, 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 the game!
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.
Our goal is to make Shroud of the Avatar 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. That’s where we could use your help! With essentially no marketing budget, we rely on things like press coverage and friend-to-friend networking on platforms such as Facebook and Steam. Here’s how you can help us with your word-of-mouth efforts:
Current Facebook Likes: 5,693 (+40 from last week)
Facebook can be a powerful word-of-mouth marketing tool at very little cost, but only if we can reach a large enough network of Facebook users. You can help us to reach a larger Facebook audience simply by going to the Shroud of the Avatar Facebook page and clicking on the “Like” button. If every one of our 50k backers gave us a “Like” the marketing reach of our Facebook posts would be incredible!
If You Like SotA then Write Us a Positive Steam Review
Current Positive Steam Reviews: 326 (+7 from last report)
One of the most important word-of-mouth tools on the massive Steam platform is their user reviews. Many Steam users rely on a game’s Steam reviews to help them decide if they want to play a game or not. 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)!
How to Cancel Monthly Layaway Payment Plans 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).
This Week In the News
2015.04.03 – Duke & LotM VIP Design Roundtable w/Lord British and Portalarium Studio Tour
2015.04.30 – Release 17
2015.05.28 – Release 18
2015.06.16 – SotA at E3
2015.06.25 – Release 19
2015.07.25 – SotA at Classic Game Fest 2015