Thank you for being a loyal backer and follower of Shroud of the Avatar. Release 30 access for all backers at First Responder level and above begins this Thursday, May 26, at 10:30 AM US Central Daylight Time (15:30 UTC).
The pace of change as we approach Final Wipe and Lot Selection continues to accelerate as we make our final few, but quite impactful changes and additions to Shroud of the Avatar. Release 30 is full of these important changes, and includes large additions to the story, reworkings of the crafting system, and refinements of the new targeting mechanics we introduced in R29.
The biggest change of course is the change to maximum durability, which can no longer be repaired at crafting stations unless you use a Crown of the Obsidian (see below for details). I understand that this change to durability so that items eventually break permanently feels challenging to process right now. On top of that, the amount of time to gather materials and the sheer amount of materials it takes to make items seems daunting to say the least. Our goal has always been that it takes specialization and time to become a crafter and the goods you sell should have real value. If we tune gathering to be fast and items to use only a few materials, then everyone could make their own goods and there would be no economy and no demand for crafters. If items continued to be in good repair indefinitely, then crafters would have no demand to fill once players got a favorite set of gear.
We believe that all of these designs are necessary to have a truly player-driven economy where effort is rewarded and the amount of time to make items is relatively commensurate to the time it takes to fight and advance through enemies. With all of that said, the entire experience needs to balance entertainment with effort and we will be carefully tuning the experience over the next few releases (and forever for that matter).
Crafting is finally also expanding with new skills including Masterworks; which allow Smiths, Carpenters, and Tailors to add new abilities to items they create. This works exactly like the Enchanting we introduced for Alchemists in R29, although both of these systems now balance the power of the abilities added with reductions in durability. Our goal for the system is to create interesting choices between power and convenience. We also envision scenarios where Avatars might have specialized sets of powerful gear that they use for boss fights and PVP tournaments versus their everyday adventuring gear.
The Path of Courage:
In Release 29 Avatars were able to follow the Path of Love from beginning to end for the first time. In Release 30 the story again greatly expands with the Path of Courage now being playable. To support that, Valhold can be visited for the first time and various other scenes have been filled out with supporting story including Skrekk, Demig’s Battlecamp, Ferig’s Battlecamp, and Estgard. This makes two of the three Paths of Virtue playable, with only the Path of Truth left to implement in the game (which we will start in Release 31). We also have added the first of our three Companions who will adventure with you in Offline Mode.
Finally we spent time iterating and polishing the new targeting system we introduced in Release 29. Our goal was to provide the same level of functionality we had before we added the new system while still enjoying the advantages of the new system. To that end, we have added back in target selection and target cycling amongst a host of other changes (see below for details).
Yet again, I want to express a huge amount of gratitude to our Dev+ backers who tested all of the items below on the QA server and uncovered lots of bugs. They also provided editorial feedback on this post. So they are a big reason that this post actually matches what is in the game, and that it is easy to read.
While we are getting closer to launch, we are still in a constant state of change, and we do not yet have in-game systems to inform players of these changes, or to share ways to help them to explore new content and systems. This means we rely entirely on this message, and the linked instructions and known issues to convey the current game state. We regularly have to answer questions or filter bug reports because some players elect not to read this valuable information.
By taking a few moments to read through this information, a great deal of our time and efforts can be redirected to focus on new “unanswered” questions, and addressing critical issues impacting each release. We greatly appreciate you taking the time to review this post, and for all the truly valuable feedback you continue to provide.
Also, remember that while we are providing new content with each release, our community is working overtime to make new events for you to enjoy. So, be sure to check out a couple of the Community Events Calendars run by our community members (via in-game book or the player run websites Avatars Circle Community Events and Events of the Avatars calendar).
Without further ado, here is a list of what you can expect to see in Release 30.
- Plain Text: The original plan for the Release deliverables. We intentionally preserve the original text so that our backers can compare plan versus actuals.
- Italics: Extra notes and new deliverables.
- Strikethrough: These are items that did not make the release.
RELEASE 30, May 26, 2016:
- Story: The town of Valhold on the island of Norgard will appear in game and we will begin a final polish on the Novia overworld.
- Novia Overworld Rework: When we first built the overworld map for Novia we strayed a bit too far from the original design as laid out in the cloth map. This resulted in a lot of discrepancies including some major geographical mismatches, rivers that looked like oceans (or which were missing entirely), roadways that were as wide as mountains, misplaced points of interest, and other such oddities. In Release 30, we begin the effort to correct all of these errors and have brought Novia back into alignment with the contours and geographic features of the cloth map. During this process, all coastlines and areas throughout the entire, expansive interior of Novia were honed. Consequently, we were required to temporarily remove a lot of the props and decorations from the scene, but we will be putting those back in steadily over the next two releases. This work also required us to re-position some of the towns and other points of interest. Additional changes include the addition of boat teleporters for every Player-Owned Town island, as the proper method for travel to them. Please note that the locations of a few POTs have changed during this work. If your town location changed during this process and you are unsatisfied with the new location please post as a bug in the bug forums with a requested new location and we will do our very best to accommodate your request at no charge.
- Path of Courage: The Path of Courage is now blocked-in from start to finish for the first time. However, there are many moving parts to the story and some are only in as placeholders, while others are not yet working properly. We will need all of your help playing and testing so we can begin getting it to a more finished state.
- Valhold: The ruined capital of the isle of Norgard was once a place of greatness but banners of yellow hang from crumbling stone pillars. Explore this key area in the Courage storyline and learn more about the war with the Kobolds, the titan Grannus, and the power of yellow. Valhold once stood as a beacon of hope and power, the home of the Knights of Norgard and the protector of those who were under threat. Yet who will protect the protectors when they themselves face their greatest peril? Now stricken with despair, its defenders wounded in both body and spirit, Valhold still stands, stricken, yet shield aloft, waiting for the final blow. Much of the fate of King Grannus and his family is revealed here, and players will find the Path of Courage reach its climax. Note that while the city of Valhold is available in multiplayer, the Throne Room of Grannus is a solo player instance.
- Ferig’s and Demig’s Battlecamps: The wayward sons of Grannus wage an ill-fated war against the Kobolds from their Battlecamps which have been updated with story content for the Path of Courage.
- Estgard: A palisade along with several checkpoints – at one of which you must convince a guard to allow you within the wall – has been added to this town as part of the Path of Courage.
- Skrekk: With the introduction of the story behind the Path of Courage, the reason behind why players must penetrate the depths of the mysterious city of Skrekk becomes clear. Avatars may now try to discover why the Kobolds and the Knights of Norgard are at war, and possibly, if they are true to the virtues, a path forward for both Kobold and human.
- Brittany Fields: This primarily agrarian neighborhood to the southwest of Brittany supplies most of the food to the greater Brittany area. It is also home to a huge population of outlanders—primarily holders of village-sized deeds—but there are a variety of other lot sizes here as well.
- Quel Passage: Quel Passage is part of the continuing expansion of the Underground Network. The Forsaken Hewer lurks within Etceter Crag Mines with the key that allows entry. An exit from Quel Passage to Kiln Cistern is planned but not yet implemented.
- Equitas Passage: Equitas Passage is another addition to the Underground Network. Take the key from the Loathsome Trafficker to gain access from the Serpent’s Spine Mines, or enter from the Hilt Fortress if you have the key from the Deplorable Archmage therein.
- Elad’s Lighthouse: Elad is rumored to have worked for Lord British at one time as his shipwright and lighthouse builder, but has since retired to live a life of semi-seclusion in the lighthouse in Spindrift Bay, which he built himself. His reclusive retirement was short-lived, however because what was once a sleepy little village around the massive lighthouse has since grown into a rather large settlement of Outlanders. This town went live in Release 29, but was just using our standard lighthouse. In Release 30, you will be able to see the amazing custom model Bob Cooksey built and that Keith Quinn placed and propped.
- Crypt of the Avatar: The Crypt went live in Release 29, but we only really utilized the first rooms and The Crypt was devoid of creatures and resources. In Release 30, the entire Crypt is now playable and filled with deadly creatures and valuable resources. Note that this is still a Single-Player Instance.
- Aerie: Crowdsourced NPC conversations and backgrounds have been added for over 90 NPCs. In addition, many shops and locations now have unique place names referred to by those NPCs.
- Etceter Crag Mines: Increased spawn rates of resource nodes greatly.
- Control Point Perks: Control Point perks are various rewards that are earned upon successful defense of the Control Point to more scenes. These are manifested as chests that unlock, doors that unlock to secret areas, etc. In Release 30, we added reward perks to the following three Control Points:
- Vauban Pass
- Brightbone Pass
- Eastreach Gap
- Wild Wisps: Wild versions of the Wisps from the Moon school of Magic can now be found in various areas of Novia, namely the following:
- Nightshade Pass
- Brisach Pine Forest
- South Varisalla Foothills
- Approach to the Shuttered Eye
- Hidden Vale Polish: We have not spent much time over in the Hidden Vale in quite a while, and those scenes have gotten out of date with new features like Dynamic Spawners and Tier Markers. In Release 30, we returned to the Vale and began polishing some scenes there.
- Dynamic Spawners: Owl’s Nest and Moors of Northshore.
- Tier Markers: Moors of Northshore, Ruined Keep, Wynton’s Folly, and Mysterious Swamp.
- Owl’s Nest: Increased spawn rates of resource nodes slightly.
- Multiplayer Economic Balance: A pass will be made through creature loot bundles, merchant pricing, property taxes, public vendor fees, harvesting rates, agriculture growth, crafting recipe ingredient amounts, and other factors to begin establishing an equilibrium for the multiplayer economy
- Multiplayer Economic Balance Delayed: Crafting base viability was not where it needed to be, so we are delaying balancing until we can get Crafting where it needs to be.
- Obsidian Crown Merchants: These Merchants only accept the incredibly rare Crowns of the Obsidians (COTOs). COTOs can be found on just about anything that provides loot (monsters, ore nodes, etc) but appear more frequently the higher the difficulty of the target. For now, Obsidian Crown Merchants only sell the Potions of the Obsidians we introduced in Release 29, but we will be expanding their inventory over time to include various exotic and rare items. These merchants can be found in Ardoris, Brittany, Aerie, and Resolute. Please note that the fictional background for the Crowns (including a line of quests within the Obsidian laboratories of the Epitaph) has not yet been implemented, but we wanted to add a means to exchange these coins as soon as possible.
- Multiplayer Combat Balance: A pass will be made through combat skills, creature stats, player stats, advancement rates, zone difficulties, and other values to establish an equilibrium for multiplayer combat.
- Multiplayer Combat Balance Delayed: Our number one engineering focus for Release 30 and our number one systems design focus was crafting, so unfortunately Combat Balance had to be delayed.
- PVP Flagging: Players who receive a PVP flag from attacking a PVP flagged player are now permanently flagged PVP until they visit the Oracle. This removes the previous behavior that allowed players to temporarily flag PVP and have that flag removed simply by leaving the scene or logging out for a short time. Please note this does not affect PVP flagging related to PVP scenes like Shardfalls and PVP Player Owned Towns.
- Targeting Polish: We made several improvements to targeting to improve the new system and make sure it retained some of the function it had in the earlier system; like having a selected target. Changes include:
- Sticky Targeting: Your reticle will now pop onto a target when you get close and it will stay on it even if your camera is not directly on top of them. You can pull the reticle off either through cycling (see below) or by pulling your camera far enough away from the target.
- Softlock Target Selection: You can also “select” a target by holding shift and clicking on a target.
- Target Cycling: You can now once again cycle through targets by hitting the G key.
- Multi-Target Reticle: When you use a weapon or ability that allows you to hit multiple targets, your reticle now shows up on all possible targets.
- Over the Shoulder View: When you zoom into the avatar, the camera now moves over the shoulder instead of staying directly overhead so that you can better see your targets. As part of this, first person mode is now triggered by the V key.
- Resurrection Ankhs in Basements: All basements now have Resurrection Ankhs in them for those who choose to conduct PVP activities below their homes.
- Ranged Critical Chance: A math error in ranged critical chance was fixed. This was causing archers to critical as much as 80% of the time. This has been corrected and bow damage increased slightly to compensate.
- Single-Player Offline: The first Single-Player Offline specific features will become available to players in the form of Save Games and Companions.
- Companions: Companions are a hallmark of Lord British games and will appear for the first time in Release 30 in Offline Mode. They will travel with the player and assist whenever possible in your adventures. They will also engage in conversations with you about the world you find yourself in. The first companion to appear in the game is Fiona Fitzowen, the travelling bard and companion to the Avatar on their path of Love. Fiona is a bard in every sense of the word – a master of the lute, someone who will usually sing a song when prompted (and often when not) and without fail, will have something to say about the situation she finds herself in (and she seems to find herself in many) which will infuriate some and entertain more. Fiona is not one for fighting, but does keep a small crossbow ready when necessary (or when on the road and hunger beckons). She knows a smattering of magical arts, but like most travelling bards, just enough to be amusing. Many claim to have stolen Fiona’s heart; it is an illusion she is happy to perpetuate. In fact, if you ask who her current love is, she will quickly change the subject. For someone who makes a living at telling stories, that is a tale she is not yet willing to tell. She is drawn to the avatar, but not in the romantic way everyone assumes. But…that is a tale she is better off spinning. Fiona can usually be found in Peladjar’s Tavern in Ardoris, singing for her lodging and her amusement. Please note that Fiona is a work in progress—for R30, she will accompany you on your adventures and speak to you, but her dialogue is by no means complete and for now her comments on your travels are limited to Ardoris.
- Save Games: In Offline Mode, players can now create and load save games. Game files can be transferred between computers as long as each computer is on the same version of SotA. Please note that save game data is currently tied to version, so when we publish new versions, we may overwrite the save game data. This will be solved when we update Offline mode to work properly with patching and deliver offline rewards.
- User Interface Polish: Various aspects of the user interface will be refactored and upgraded for visuals and usability.
- Solid Black Window for Chat: Players now have the option to make the background of the chat window completely opaque for better readability.
- New Color Scheme for Titles/Nameplates: After several weeks working closely with members of the community, we have updated the color scheme for Titles and Nameplates.
- New Handwritten Font: We have updated our Handwritten Font to a newer font that better supports Localized characters.
- Collapsed Tooltips: As we have continued to add more modifiers to crafted items and shown what each component was contributing the tooltips for, items were becoming huge. So, we are now defaulting the tooltips to items to be in a collapsed mode that you can expand by holding down CTRL.
- Player Towns: Player-Owned Towns (POTs) that have locked submission forms will appear in the game, and more Player-Run Town (PRT) scenes with small NPC cores with basic functions (banks, shops, trainers) will appear across Novia. New variations on the town templates may also appear.
- Grassland PRTs: The newest style of PRT is based on the Grasslands PRT template and can be found scattered around Novia. We managed to get one example of this new PRT type into Novia:
- Player Lot Pathfinding: Players and NPCs should now pathfind properly on player lots.
- POT Tropical Island Template 01: This new island template is covered in palm trees and surrounded by sandy beaches. For R30, it is only available as an option in the POT submission form. In R31, this template will begin showing up for those that select it for their Dynamic POT and as one of the example POTs in Hometown.
- Rotated POT Templates: The following POT Templates are now available in 3 rotations: Right 90 degrees, Left 90 degrees, and 180 degrees. In R31, they will begin showing up for those that select them for their Dynamic POTs.
- Forest 02
- Island 01
- Tropical Island 01
- Snowy Mountains 01
- Snowy Mountains 01a
- Mountains 01
- Grassland 01
- POT Updates Without Wipes: We now have the technology to process Template, Owner, and Name changes that previously required a wipe. Please note that Template changes will force all contents of the town into the bank.
- Player Made Books: These can now be placed as POT decorations. Let the questing begin!
- Balloon Teleporters: New balloon teleporters have replaced any wagons on mountain and snowy mountain POTs that send players to islands, and replaced any boats on island POTs that send players to mountains or snowy mountains. (Please note that these balloons are intended to be used when interconnecting an island directly with a landlocked location, and do not replace other wagons or boats.)
- New Dynamic POTs: For POTs that used the new Lock & Submit procedure, we processed all new requests since R29 and any existing requests. Please note that the locations of many POTs have changed during the Novia Overworld rework. If your town location changed during this process and you are unsatisfied with the new location, please post as a bug in the bug forums with a requested new location and we will do our very best to accommodate your request at no charge.
- Allaman: Upgraded to City.
- Arx Draconis Aerie: Upgraded to Village.
- Caladruin: Nested interconnection changed to within Brittany.
- Celestial Gardens: Upgraded to Village. Interconnection (with Brittany).
- Central City: New addition.
- Diamond Fields: Interconnection (with Jade Valley).
- Dragon’s Fall: Upgraded to Metropolis. Interconnections (with Port Graff and Graff Island). Changed location.
- Haunted Keep of Solania: Upgraded to Hamlet.
- Jade Valley: Interconnection (with Diamond Fields).
- Refugees Hideout: Upgraded to Village.
- The Time Tunnel: New addition (nested in Wizards Rest).
- Wizards Rest: Interconnection (with The Time Tunnel).
- Performance: Major efforts will be made to optimize performance. This will include frame rate improvements, load time improvements, and memory footprint improvements. We will also be adding DX11/12 support for Windows and OpenGLCore for Linux and OSX.
- Performance Manager: There is now a Performance Manager in the game that works to maintain a constant framerate by actively turning up and down various features and levels of detail.
- LODs & Collisions:
- Burned Down Tavern
- City Walls
- Crafting Pavilion
- Elven Greenhouse
- Kobold Gazebo
- Skull Dungeon Entrance
- Dungeon Kit
- Medieval Environment pack assets
- Titan Statues
- Upscale Stables
- Elad’s Lighthouse
- Memory Footprint:
- Speedtree texture optimizations to reduce memory footprint.
- Scene optimizations to reduce texture load.
- Prop and texture audit to ensure proper import settings for a wide variety of items.
- New Female Avatar As many of you saw in a recent weekly update and Dev+ forum post, we have done a complete overhaul of the female avatar just like we did for the male avatar. Now that she is complete, we can focus on hair and improving the customizability of the faces of both the male and female avatar. NOTE: Morph targets for the female face have changed. This means that previously created female characters will likely look strange until you make a new character, especially in the chin area. Our apologies for the inconvenience.
- Polished Wearables: We did visual overhauls on the following wearables:
- Chain Helms
- Cloth Helms
- Leather Helms
- Merchant Outfit
- Cloth Doublet
- New Male Ardoris Guard NPCs: We recently purchased a new male guard asset which we used to create a set of unique guards for Ardoris.
- Character Creation Next Button: Some players were not noticing the tabs in character creation that allowed a variety of customization options, so we added back the next button to character creation.
- Spyglass: This Stretch Goal Store item captures light through lenses arrayed in a tube so that when Avatars hold it up to their eyes objects that are far away appear closer!
- Pledge Light Enchanted Items Fix: Light enchanted items (ex. Lord Marshal Helm) now once again increase the ambient light level.
- Exceptional Items: Critical Success during Carpentry, Smithing, and Tailoring will create Exceptional Weapons and Armor that have increased durability (+50). These Exceptional Items are able to absorb more special qualities from Masterworking and Enchanting due to their increased durability (see below).
- Masterworks: Carpenters, Smiths, and Tailors can use a new crafting skill called Masterworks to add modifiers to weapons and armor. Each time a Masterworking is done on an item, a small amount of durability is lost and there is a chance the item will be destroyed. The chance of destruction increases with the number of modifiers on the item, but the Masterwork skill helps to boost success chance. For now, the modifiers are simple stat increases (ex. +5 to Strength), but in Release 31 these will become very specific to each item type (ex. +5 to blade damage). Note that an item must have at least 30 maximum durability in order to be Masterworked or Enchanted.
- Enchanting: Enchanting now also removes durability each time, just like Masterworks. For now, Enchanting is still simple modifiers (ex. +5 to Strength), but in Release 31 Alchemy (including Gem Socketing) will expand to cover a lot more magical properties including elemental damage/resistance and random chances to cast spells on hits.
- Maximum Durability: When you repair items at a Crafting Station, it now only repairs current durability, albeit more efficiently than using a Repair Kit in the field. Maximum Durability is no longer repaired when an item is repaired at a crafting station unless a Crown of the Obsidian is used as an ingredient. As part of this change, we have halved the rate at which maximum durability decreases. This means that items will now eventually break and not be repairable unless you find a rare COTO and are willing to spend it to save the item. This change is to create a real need for crafters to constantly generate weapons and armor for the player driven economy while still providing players opportunities to preserve certain unique items on rare occasions. As part of this change, we have normalized durability for all the items to the following values:
- Hands: 50
- Feet: 50
- Helm: 80
- Legs: 100
- Chest: 100 (partial) or 150 (full)
- Shield: 100
- Weapons: 100
- Ring/Amulet: 50
- Crafting Station Bonuses: Crafting Stations are now properly applying bonuses.
- Crafting Advancement Curves Rebalanced: These have been refactored to give much more rewarding advancements earlier.
- Gathering Time Bonus: There were some errors with gathering time bonuses that, when stacked with things like the Obsidian potions, could get them to zero allowing instant gathers. Gathering time bonus skill was reduced 30% and Pickaxe with True Bronze Engraving gathering time bonus was reduced 20%.
- New Furniture Recipes: We added 8 new furniture recipes based on items we added to the game from Artifice.
- Brown Suede Sofa
- Brown Suede Ottoman
- Brown Suede Wingback Chair
- Brown Suede Armchair
- Fancy Bed
- Fancy Stool
- Dinner Bench
- Dinner Chair
- Scene Chat Channel: We have added a new chat channel to the game that includes all players in the scene you are currently in. Please note that this defaults to off.
- /starrlton: This special emote, as demonstrated by Starr Long during a recent Hangout of the Avatar, can ONLY be learned from Darkstarr himself, or those he has taught it to! Are YOU willing to spread throughout the land the mystical dance of the Starrlton?
- /cower: This emote can be learned by asking fauns in cities about their satyr antagonists.
- /tableflip: This special emote can ONLY be learned from Atos, or those he has taught it to.
- New Defaults: /headbang, /giggle, and /goodbye are now granted to all players
- Bug Fixes:
- Nobles Chat: This chat channel for those with Noble Discourse Orb should be working properly again.
- Guard Emote: This emote now once again correctly uses the weapon you currently have equipped.
- Spring Telethon Rewards: As mentioned in Update #175, our Spring Festival of the Avatar Telethon was a huge success! We achieved all the Stretch Goal Rewards and even had to create new ones! We were so grateful by the incredible outpouring of support from our community that we accelerated development of the rewards and they will be available in Release 30!
- Audio: The biggest change to audio in R30 was the implementation of a Day / Night system where ambient sounds change with Dawn, Dusk, Day, and Night. For now, we have added this to 4 types of scenes (see below) and will steadily propagate this throughout all scenes over the next several releases. Additionally, we continue to add new audio files and polished existing audio assets.
- Day / Night Ambient Sounds:
- New Ambient Assets:
- New Audio Volume Sliders: We added a whole new set of separate sliders to the Audio Tab so you can fine tune your audio volume
- Creature Audio Polish:
- Oracle Flyers
- Oracle Spider
- Avatar Footstep Polish
- Emote sounds volume fixed
- Day / Night Ambient Sounds:
So, now that it is clear what you can expect, we should also be as clear about what you should NOT expect:
- Stability (especially Linux): The latest version of Unity that we updated to for Release 29 introduced quite a higher level of instability and memory leaks than we have ever previously encountered. This is especially bad for the Linux version of the game. We are working directly with Unity engineering to resolve this as quickly as possible.
- Performance: We have begun performance optimizations (LODs) as well as a first round of performance fallback routines via a Performance Manager. However we still have some work to do, particularly for older machines. Additionally, with the latest version of Unity we are using has some serious stability issues and memory leaks that we are working closely with them to resolve. Please be patient with us as we work through these issues. With each release, we will be doing further optimizations and adding more fallbacks to improve performance.
- Game Loop: Release 30 is a further iteration on our game loop, but is still missing some key components. Expect this to expand with each subsequent release, but it won’t be truly complete until we hit final wipe in July.
- Visual Quality: Efforts to improve visual quality are ongoing. We will continue to iterate on these until we have highly competitive visuals.
- Pledge Rewards: Pledge Rewards that have been built and have tech to support them are in the game; all other rewards are awaiting either content creation or tech support. You can find an updated list of these items in known issues.
- Persistence: As part of development, we will need to periodically wipe data including characters, property, etc. There will be only one more wipe in July before everything goes persistent with Release 32. So consider everything gained during early access temporary.
Here are links to instructions and known issues. Thank you again for your continued support. This is truly the most amazing community we have ever worked with, and we are proud to be on this journey with you.