Update of the Avatar #122 – 2015.04.24: PaxLair, New Beginnings Comic, Phoenix, R17 Dev+ QA is Live, Fences Galore, Red Fez, and More!

Greetings Fellow Avatars!

Here’s what we have for you in this week’s edition of Update of the Avatar:

  • PaxLair: SotA’s First Player Owned Town
  • Shroud of the Avatar: New Beginnings Comic
  • Summon Phoenix Skill
  • Abe’s Solace Bridge Upgrades
  • Release 17 Dev+ QA Server is Live
  • More Fences Galore
  • In-game Community Weekend Events
  • AmbushedGamer Live twitch Interview with Lord British
  • Community In-Game Images and Videos
  • Get Your Red Fez Hat!
  • Send Gift Function Added to Account Page
  • 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
  • Upcoming Events


SotA_PaxLair_DevMap_1

PaxLair: SotA’s First Player Owned Town

I found myself having an emotional moment last night when I logged into the R17 Dev+ QA servers to get some screenshots of PaxLair for this update. I found 20 or so other backers when I arrived, some of them long-time citizens of PaxLair from Ultima Online days, and others just visiting. PaxLair is the first Player Owned Town (PoT) in SotA, and we’re using it to help us work out the construction process for all PoTs.

The concept of PoTs in SotA goes all the way back to our Kickstarter campaign, when some of us on the team discussed the notion of “Guild Towns”, places that guilds could call their own. These discussions were mostly internal to the team, as it wasn’t something we felt we could include in the design of SotA for budgetary reasons.

But over the course of the first year of our development, Richard and Winfield, the Governor of PaxLair, discussed how PaxLair could find a home in SotA. PaxLair has been operating in Ultima Online since 1998, and is considered the oldest, continuously operating Player Town in UO. PaxLair was established in SotA during Pre-Alpha Release 5 in April 2014 with the first PaxLair Town Hall. Lord British visited their first SotA “homestead” and declared it to be SotA’s first Player Town.

Starting with Pre-Alpha Release 6 in May 2014, PaxLair established itself in the the SotA town of Valemark, meticulously rebuilding their town between every data wipe (which was happening every month until just recently). PaxLair wasn’t alone in these endeavors. There were several other “homestead” towns that re-built themselves every release, including Dara Brae – The Celtic Holdfast (established in Northshire), Vengeance (established in The Brave Coast), Beran’s Reach (established in The Brave Coast), and Port Phoenix (established in Holtrot, then Kingsport).

Discussions between Richard and Winfield about player towns continued, and due to the success of our ongoing crowdfunding, it was decided in June 2014 to make Player Owned Towns an official feature of Episode 1. Player Owned Towns were added to our website store, and PaxLair was the very first to purchase our largest PoT, deemed a “Player Owned City“.

We were not prepared for how popular PoTs were going to be. Backers were purchasing more towns than we anticipated. In fact, many backers wanted even larger towns, so we made a “Metropolis” available, which PaxLair (among others) immediately upgraded to. PoTs weren’t scheduled for development until Q1-2015, so PoT owners have been excitedly waiting until we could deliver their towns to them. Last month we were finally able to start that process.

As described in our PoT Store, all PoTs will be based on a collection of pre-designed templates that can be varied by lot placements, NPC home placement, and type of biome. We are just beginning the process of designing those templates. Because of PaxLair’s unique and long-running history in the worlds of Britannia (and New Britannia), our ongoing discussions with them over the past two years, and the fact they were the first to purchase our largest PoT (a City which became a Metropolis), we chose them to be the “guinea pig” for our first test template.

Like most PoT owners, they had a very specific vision for their PoT. However, they had to greatly revise their vision to accommodate the constraints of our world building technology and the further constraints of operating as a template. Our goal has been to have this first template we use for PaxLair be one of the several templates all PoT owners will be able to select from. Under those conditions, the design of PaxLair needed to conform to the many template-based constraints our development process imposed.

SotA_PaxLair_DevMap_2

It has been almost a year since the first PoTs were purchased, and now, with Release 17, all backers will be able to experience SotA’s first player owned town, PaxLair. It is still a work-in-progress, while we collaborate with the owners of PaxLair to sort through the issues of template-based town development. But even given all these constraints, once we were able to walk through this first iteration of a player owned town, it was a moving experience.

I started this article by saying I found myself having an emotional moment last night when I logged into the R17 Dev+ QA servers to get some screenshots of PaxLair for this update. I specifically wanted a screenshot of Wody’s Tavern, the location for the FireLotus Release 17 Party scheduled for next Friday, May 1, at 2:00 pm CST. I initially zoned to Amber Raine for directions, but she was AFK. Sean Silverfoot was nearby and he graciously volunteered to escort me to Wody’s Tavern, and stood by while I grabbed some screenshots. Sean suggested I also check out the Stage that Themo Lock has been building, as it more decorated out than Wody’s Tavern was at the moment.

I chatted with Sean, and several of the PaxLair citizens, and I was moved by their excitement and passion for finally being able to settle into their own town. It caused me to reflect upon how momentous an event these Player Owned Towns represent in the realm of RPG virtual worlds, and the impact they are going to have on all of us. This fact was driven home for me when Sean expressed his deep gratitude to all of us on the SotA dev team for helping them live an experience that many of them have been waiting 17 years for (yeah, I got a little misty-eyed when he said that).

We, the development team, cannot take credit for what PaxLair, and all other PoTs, are to become. We have simply provided the canvas upon which the communities of these towns will paint their masterpieces. The wealth of community-generated content, community-run events, and community-driven social connectivity, are the well-spring of the deep and lasting sense of belongingness they will bring to each of our lives.

dallas


 

PaxLair’s town marker on the in-game Overworld map of Novia:

SotA_PaxLair_Overworld_1

 

Umm, are these yellow flowers supposed to be PaxLair? (okay, okay, we’ll get some buildings there soon):

SotA_PaxLair_Overworld_3

 

Wody’s Tavern (the location of the FireLotus Release 17 Party next Friday at 2:00 pm CST) is housed in the Greenhouse building located in the town square near the base of the tall Moon Tower:

 

Themo Lock is busily decorating the theatrical stage area in preparation for The New Britannia Theater Troupe presentation of Aurum Berries at 9:00 am CST, Sunday, May 3:

SotA_PaxLair_StageArea_WIP_1

 

PaxLair is organizing several community events for their inaugural weekend May 1 thru May 3. Those events will be reflected in the community calendars here and here as they are scheduled. Stay tuned to next week’s update for more information on those events.


Shroud of the Avatar: New Beginnings Comic

SotA_NewBeginningsComic_1

We are excited to announce the availability of the first officially licensed SotA comic from Tortoise & Hare Creations, Shroud of the Avatar: New Beginnings!

Created by W.O. Billman II (plot, script, and editing) and Indi Martin (pencils, inks, colors, and lettering), New Beginnings tells the story of a corrupt land, where a young farmer and his wife find themselves embroiled in a lethal powerplay with local constables, and seek a fabled escape to a legendary world.

New Beginnings is available now in both print and digital copies, including signed print copies:

Unsigned Print on Demand & Digital Copies: http://www.indyplanet.com/?product=122157

Signed Print Copies: https://www.etsy.com/shop/TortoiseHareCreate

Here are a few sample panels from New Beginnings to whet your appetite:

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Become a Tortoise & Hare Creations Patron

If you enjoy Indi and William’s work then check out their Patreon page and if you like what you see become a Tortoise & Hare Creations Patron!


Summon Phoenix Skill

The Summon Phoenix skill has been added to the Sun skill group for Release 17, and Wow, it looks pretty awesome! Check out these images that Finn Staber captured:

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Here are a few images of the Phoenix inside the new Soltown Sewers, also coming in Release 17 next week:

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SotA_Phoenix3


Abe’s Solace Bridge Upgrades

Abe Robertson recently turned his attention to the combat-ravaged version of Solace Bridge used in the starting area. Here are a few samples of his work that you’ll find in Release 17:

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SotA_SolaceBridge2

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Release 17 Dev+ QA Server is Live

For Release 17 and all future releases, we’re going to make an effort to get the QA server up sooner and patch it more often during the release cycle. Starting with R18 we plan on publishing at least once a week so we can get earlier feedback on the new features and have more time to balance changes before launching a release to all backers.

The Release 17 QA version was launched yesterday to all backers at the Developer pledge tier and above. Here is the Dev+ Forum post from BurningToad with instructions for accessing the R17 QA version:

We will be starting Dev+ testing early this release! The QA version of SotA has been updated to version 202, which is available through the Launcher or through Steam (follow instructions below.)

Dev+ Access is now enabled. I don’t yet know if it will be up continuously until R17 or if we will take it up and down.

The test set up is like the R16 Dev+ test, with the test happening on a separate server, known as the “QA Server.” You will be able to play through Steam or through a new SotA Launcher install.

If you want to play through Steam:

WARNING: Participating in this could use up to 2 GB+ of data download via steam each time you move back and forth between versions.

To participate follow these instructions:

  1. Right click on the game in your game library
  2. Go to Properties
  3. Click on the tab at the top that says BETAS
  4. Enter the beta access code “DevPlusOnly1” and hit Check Code.
  5. Select “devplustest” from the dropdown menu
  6. Steam will switch the install to the new branch

To return to playing in normal follow these instructions:

  • Go back to the properties beta tab and select “none – opt out of all beta programs” and it will switch you back to the normal install.

If you want to play through the Launcher:

WARNING: If you have not downloaded a QA installer before, you will have to download another copy of the game, which is currently about 3.3GB of data. However, you won’t have to do this each time you switch back and forth.

You have to download a separate copy of the game. For Windows users, you can download and install this new installer, which will install the QA version of the game. It exists independently from the regular live version of the game and installs to a separate folder.

Windows: https://d2sx9mrt4zumaq.cloudfront.net/Installers/SotAInstaller(QA).exe

Linux: https://d2sx9mrt4zumaq.cloudfront.net/Installers/shroud-of-the-avatar-launcher-qa_1.0.0_amd64.deb

Mac: https://d2sx9mrt4zumaq.cloudfront.net/Installers/Shroud of the Avatar – Installer(QA).pkg


More Fences Galore

We’re adding sixteen new fence styles to Release 17 which launches on April 30. Some of the fences will be available in-game and some in the Add-On Store, and some will even be added to basic pledge rewards (stay tuned for that info in an upcoming Update). Last week we showcased seven of the new fences, and here are the remaining nine that’ll be available in R17:

Hedge Fence (add-on)

 

Floral Hedge Fence (add-on)

 

Rough Wooden Fence (in-game)

 

Tall Hedge Fence (add-on)

 

Tall Floral Hedge Fence (add-on)

 

Tall Ivy Covered Stone Fence (add-on)

 

Ornate Wooden Fence (add-on)

 

Ornate Stone Fence (add-on)

 

Tall Rough Stone Fence (in-game)

SotA_Fence_Tall_Rough_Stone


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, April 25
9:00am CST – PaxLair Working Hours (PoT Test Ideas) – Host Winfield (Valemark; “/zone Winfield”; details)
11:00am CST – Church of the Dark Star – Saturday Service (PaxLair, Valemark; details)
12:00pm CST – Doctor Shroud Introduces Avatar Studio (Port Mirren, Druid House, “/zone Doctor Shroud”; details)
2:00pm CST – Gust Fest R16 Grand Finale (Tower of the Shuttered Eye, “/zone Bambino LudoVate”; details)

Sunday, April 26
6:30am CST – Explore Novia with royalsexy (Owl’s Head entrance)
8:00am CST – Easter Maze 2.0 (Owl’s Wash, end of main street; details)
12:00pm CST – Avatars Radio and 4Bear Present – The End of the World as We know it party! (Basement of Athanil’s House; details)
3:00pm CST – Phoenix Republic Town Hall (Republic Town Hall, “/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 – 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.


MoonGate Travelers Present: Scavenger Hunt!

From a Release 16 Event Forum Post by DavenRock [MGT]:

The Moongate Travelers presents a Scavenger Hunt for all the Avatars of Novia to participate in!…All entries must be proven by screenshot, everyone who submits a completed list will be entered into a random drawing for a Hot Tub from the Add-on store, courtesy of Dinsoo! Contest ends Opening day of Release 17, Random Drawing will be R17 Weekend….The best ways to present your found items is to use a chest/container, or go into a trade with a player, move all the items into the trade window and then take a screenshot. You could use Postimage.org (image hosting) to be able to post the screenshots in the forum here.

[Click here for additional information]


AmbushedGamer Live twitch Interview with Richard “Lord British” Garriott

The Ambushed Gaming Network is already hard at work streaming SotA live at all hours with audiences both large and small. Join Kevin “Beetlebear” during the live broadcast of his interview with Richard Garriott at 2:00pm CST on April 28th at http://www.twitch.tv/ambushedgamer.

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Community In-Game Images and Videos

Our community has posted some amazing screenshots and videos in the Release 16 Screenshot Gallery and Steam Community Screenshots. Here are some recently posted images:

From Bambino:

SotA_R17_CommunityPic1

 

From Womby:

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Get Your Red Fez Hat!

This Red Fez Hat is now available in the Add-On Store (and will be available in-game with Release 17 starting April 30).

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Send Gift Function Added to Account Page

The ability to send un-claimed Add-On items as gifts has been added to your SotA Account Page. This makes it easy to send Add-On items you’ve already purchased as a gift. Just go to your Account page and you’ll see the new “Send as Gift” button along side the “Convert to Credits” button for any of your un-claimed Add-On items.

SotA_GiftingAddOns


Player Owned Town Price ChangesSotA_Metropolis

In a previous Update 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

SotA_Bank_Interior2Go 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.

SotA_ConvertStoreCredit

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_logo

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).SotA_SteamTradingCards2_small

Click here for instructions to redeem your Steam access key and installing the Steam SotA client…

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.


Word-of-Mouth Marketing

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:

If You Like SotA then Like Us On Facebook

Current Facebook Likes: 5,842 (+27 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: 344 (+4 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).


Upcoming Events

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



8 Comments



  1. Baron Drocis FondorlatosBaron Drocis Fondorlatos

    I too visited Pax Lair last night and it was a beautiful beginning to what I assume will be a very long journey. I’m excited about the future.



  2. Duke Blood0menDuke Blood0men

    Another great update, Just wondering if the new Red Fez hat doesn’t kinda look like the one’s the Shriners Hospital wear; whom do great work btw.

    Also the Map of Novia is looking better and better each update.

    Any word on the next Dev jam session??
    Would like to hear on what great new things that we will be expecting in the upcoming patch’s (Music, Avatar Radio (Broadcasting an such)


  3. WinfieldWinfield

    We of PaxLair are honored and blessed to become a town in Novia. PaxLair is the result of great cooperation, enthusiasm and patience by many people far and wide. Many backers, players, guilds, player towns, and developers collaborated on ideas and methods to create the first Player Owned Town.

    PaxLair has always been a melting pot of people and ideas, dating back to 1998. I am so pleased it continues to be just that and will soon open its doors in New Britannia.

    I am really excited to see the creation of many Player Owned Towns in the future. There will be hours and hours of exploration, events, and player-made content in all those towns … For starters, it takes 20 minutes to walk all the way around and through PaxLair before you see everything. Imagine that with all the new PoTs coming too … endless and priceless.

    Sincerely,
    Winfield, Governor of PaxLair


  4. Duke MonkDuke Monk

    Congrats to Pax Lair, being the first PoT in SoTA! Definitely a much deserving accomplishment!

    However, with the upper most respects to Pax Lair, The claim below is incorrect… ;)

    “PaxLair has been operating in Ultima Online since 1998, and is considered the oldest, continuously operating Player Town in UO.”


  5. Sara DreygonSara Dreygon

    Thanks Dallas!

    Great idea using the greenhouse for the bar, Wody! I’m assuming there will be outstanding outdoor seating – I prefer to dine outside :-)?

    Congrats Winfield and PaxLair! I look forward to being the top merchant in your glorious POT ;-)


  6. HazardHazard

    Yes, congrats to Pax Lair. This is a pretty impressive achievement and well deserved. The claim mentioned above is pretty open-ended as some entities formed as purely guild “towns” earlier in the history of UO, while some were more inclusive and had several non-affiliated parties coming together with variations of locked/unlocked buildings. Either way, towns like Oasis and Pax Lair found themselves at the top of the player-run town grapevine, and those I often found my way to in ’98 (moreso the former due to the famous Fight Nights). Anyway enough on that. Everyone has their own version of it. Bring on the shubberies!

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