Update of the Avatar #179 – 2016.06.03: R30 Postmortem, Brittany Wharfs, Unity Onsite, Gold Crowns Clarifications, Viking Un-Bundles, and More!

Greetings Fellow Avatars!

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


Hangout of the Avatar ~ Release 30 Postmortem

Our first Postmortem with our new Community Manager, Berek, at the helm went great! Richard, Starr, Chris, Scott, Gina, and Matt chatted about Release 30 and provided a sneak peek at Release 31. A greadt deal of time was spent on the durability changes and the Gold Crowns of the Obsidians, and Berek fielded lots of questions and feedback from the original post and live in the chat-room; including the new Discord chat server! We gave out lots of prizes including store credits, an ISS challenge coin from Richard’s trip to space, 2 Shroud of the Avatar T-shirts, and even some new Viking items! Darkstarr even modeled his garb for the HOBLOTH 3 event going on down the road at Castleton. Chris then followed up with an AMA in Discord, where he answered a ton of questions that were later posted to the forums here.

And a good time with the community and great feedback were not the only things the team took away from the hangout. One of the things this Post Mortem helped us realize was that many of the questions posted were repeated requests for information about when certain features are going to be coming online. We noted that, though many of those questions could be answered by reading the Final Wipe & Lot Selection post, the information was not as easily accessible as it could be. So, we pulled the basic Road Map out of that post, updated it, and made it it’s own post.


Brittany Wharfs

NOTE: Brittany Wharfs is scheduled to go live in Release 31.

[From a Dev+ Forum Post by Esteben “SorcerousSteve” Zaldivar]

Hey Folks, SorcerousSteve here to give you a sneak peek at the upcoming Brittany Wharfs currently in production!

The Brittany Wharfs are located directly north of Brittany. It is an area heavily focused on trade, merchants, and crafting. Below we catch a glimpse of the main harbor and boat traffic at its peak.brittanywharf1

Looking north to the Warehouse District. Rails line the streets to facilitate the transportation of cargo from the warehouses to the harbor.brittanywharf2

For those of you in search of bigger size lots, you may be pleased to know that Brittany Wharfs will have plenty of town sized lots. As a matter of fact the vast majority of lots in this neighborhood of Brittany will be town size. Produce market lies in the foreground.brittanywharf3

A serene street just a few blocks away from the hustle and bustle of the harbor.brittanywharf4

Stay tuned for more screenshots on Brittany Wharfs as it progresses!

Esteben Zaldivar
Level Designer


Brittany Alleys

NOTE: Brittany Alleys is scheduled to go live in Release 31.

[From a Dev+ Forum Post by Richard “RrMatey” Matey]

Here is a quick update on the progress of Brittany Alleys.

New water lots.

brittanyalleys12brittanyalleys13

The factory is on fire.brittanyalleys14


Gold Crowns of the Obsidians ClarificationsSotA_GoldCOTO_thumb

[From a Forum Post by Chris “Atos” Spears]

It is no secret that the Shroud of the Avatar team has chosen a very different path than any other project out there. From day one we wanted to change how games were developed and funded. As we move closer to something that feels like a final product we also need to move closer to something that feels closer to a final business model that is sustainable in the long run. So Friday we introduced the rough plan for the new model. I think we only gave it a paragraph or two and clearly we should have given much more detail.

So our goal all along has been to make a game that has as few pay to win elements as possible. We have always said that Guild Wars 2 was the closest thing to our model but honestly upon closer scrutiny we thought it actually had too much Pay 2 Win for our taste. The amounts they chose were for short period of time and very large. +50% XPs and +50% crafting crit chance. Instead, with our initial offerings, decided to go much longer and lower with our buffs. We felt that was both less P2W and also more friendly than having short buffs where you must constantly spend to refresh them.

So the thinking behind our week long buffs was that if players just wanted one or two buffs at a time, they could probably get those through normal drops. If they wanted 3 or 4 buffs at a time then it would cost about what people would pay for a subscription to an MMO. Even with all 7 buffs on, players don’t have a significant advantage over someone who has none. Once entering into PVP combat, the buffs have zero effect on who will win, NONE. They could make your life very slightly easier outside of combat through fewer repairs and fewer trips back to sell stuff, but in combat, they do not help at all and that has always been the goal.

There are a few people who keep beating the drum on the same handful of topics so I want to talk about those first, then I will dive into the bigger picture of the economy. The following clarifications should make it clear that SotA’s monetization model is not P2W, but is more aimed at those capable, and inclined, to support the game, versus making every player feel like they have to pay to stay competitive.

So first, the experience bonus. I looked at GW2 and other games. GW2 sells a 2 hour 50% XP boost. That felt like way too short and too much to me. We put ours at a week long timer and 10% exp boost. Why did I go with 10%? For those who didn’t know, each level is about 10.5% more XP than the previous level.

So, let’s pretend you use the exp boost potion your entire time while in game while you’re adventuring with your buddy who doesn’t. You guys are always grouped, play the exact same number of hours and split every kill. When your partner dings level 40, you will still be level 40 for a few more kills. When he hits level 80, you will still be level 80 and then ding level 81 soon thereafter. So really what it boils down to is that for roughly a 4 dollars a month subscription (to buy four 1-week exp boost potions), you can get an extra level. Fair enough so far?

Next up, coins for repair. So quick briefer on what this means. To make sure that crafters will have an audience, we have always planned on item durability having a max durability that slowly decreases. Eventually the item will not be worth repairing and you’ll need to buy new stuff from a crafter. We added an alternative, which is using a crown to repair a weapon can increase the max durability again as well to avoid buying new stuff.

This topic was fairly heated before the crowns were introduced. Adventurers want items to last for ever and never wear out. Crafters want them to wear out far faster than they do now so they can have a more vigorous market. Neither side is happy about the crowns because they each want their own version and the crowns was really just the gas on the fire.

So before I dive into the numbers and logic of the current system, let me first address what our crafting system is intended to be. First, it is not World of Warcraft’s crafting system. In world of Warcraft, crafting had almost zero meaning to the economy and in reality was just more of an incredibly long grindy quest with gear reward at the end. The only gear that could be made that was worth wearing was no drop.

That is not now and never will be the intent of our crafting system. Our crafting system is where the best gear comes from, and before we’re done, the system will have enough challenges and complexities to it that the best gear will only come from the most dedicated crafters. Many will do it as their full time occupation. Gear made by crafters is one of the biggest economic drivers in our game.

Part of making sure that the crafters always have an audience is making sure items are removed and need to replaced. The crowns to avoid replacing gear was a compromise to make it so players who wanted to wear really nice gear all the time could avoid having to spend massive amounts of money to replace them. I think our initial stab at this was actually off target. My expectation is we’ll change it so the number of crowns it costs to repair gear scales up over time so eventually players will go back to the crafters.

Ok, so now for the math on damage. I’m introducing a new measurement system for durability called a “Bear hour.” This is the amount of damage done to a player with no durability skills or buffs and no defensive skills, in one hour by a small bear. I know it sounds silly but I need some measurement as to what it actually means because saying 100 durability really has no meaning in explaining how often something will need to be repaired.

So, to drop a piece of armor from 100 current durability to 0 current and 90 max it takes 25 bear hours. The armor can then be repaired up to 90 and last 22.5 bear hours. You use it until it gets down to 20 max durability it will have delivered 135 bear hours before needing to be repaired or replaced.

Now let’s figure out how that feels to a mid-core player. We’ll say the mid-core player spends 20 hours a week in game and 15 of those hours are spent either adventuring or doing PVP. While adventuring they are actively being attacked about 1/3rd or 33% of the time. That works out to around 5 hours of being attacked. That means that a player’s gear will last 135/5 hours or 27 weeks before needing to be coin repaired or replaced. So for an average player, they might only need to do this once every 6+ months! BTW, that same player would almost certainly find more than enough crowns during that time to pay for those repairs.

So based on that, the crafters should be the ones freaking out right now and that might actually need an adjustment back towards faster damage. The reality though is that things that hit harder, break stuff quicker than a bear that hits for 5-8 points. Also, weapons break much quicker than armor. My best guess based on the data I’ve seen so far is that weapons will be adjusted to last a bit longer than what they do currently and armors will be be damaged more quickly before final wipe. My target number that I hope to tune to is an average player will need to replace gear about once every 3 months. For most players it will happen faster than that because they will be outgrowing their current gear and retiring it.

I know this is a hot topic on both sides but we’ll be working to find a balance that feels equally fair (or equally punishing if you’re a pessimist) to both sides. That balancing will almost certainly continue post final wipe.

On to the third, and possibly most contentious element, selling crowns for gold! This element was largely only contentious due to a couple screw ups on our part. The initial price of 2500 gold was thought to be so low that no one in their right minds would sell them to a vendor. That was the case when there were few and they were only dropping in game. When we added them to pledges, suddenly we flooded the market with an item that currently only had 3 purposes. First, it could be used for week long buffs. That will eliminate them all but not for weeks. Second, item repair! Also, it will remove some but not for weeks to months of people abusing their gear. That leaves only the third option for something to do with them in the short term, selling them to the vendor for gold.

So our intent was that they not be used selling to vendors. The reason for this is pretty simple and tied into the economy. Doing so would create a large source of gold inputs to the economy that was not tied to any game system and couldn’t be controlled. The only way this would be feasible would be if we had a system where the value of the crowns varied based on demand. So more people selling crowns to merchants would drive down the cost.

We chose not to go that route and instead make the crowns something that has value in game but little gold value (soon to be no value) in game. This allows the players to set the price BUT effectively they can still use them to buy gold but without negatively impacting the economy. This probably needs more explanation before it will sink in as to what this means.

So player A wants to buy some gold with some real money. He goes and buys some crowns. He puts those crowns on a vendor for what he thinks is a fair price. Player B doesn’t believe in spending real $ and instead plays a lot and accumulates extra gold. He goes to the vendors and buys crowns from player A for in-game gold.

So, why is this awesome for everyone? Player B got exactly what he wanted, effectively trading some of his time for crowns. Player A got exactly what he wanted, in game gold for real $ without having to give $ to someone he doesn’t trust. Here is the most awesome part: It doesn’t change how much gold is in the macro economy and cause inflation because it is really just gold moving from one player to another. (Oh, and the side effect is that it financially supports Portalarium to help us maintain, expand and improve the game!)

Got it? Player A gives us money for coins, Player B gives Player A gold for coins he just bought and everyone wins and the inflation isn’t affected because it is just a voluntary transfer of gold from A’s pocket to B’s pocket. The only challenge for us is in making sure we have enough cool, but not P2W, elements in game to be purchased with crowns!

Thanks for reading and remember, the only constant on the project is change. If something ends up not feeling as good as we planned, we’ll change course as needed.


Revamped Founder Leather Armor, Founder Tunic & Benefactor Tunic

As part of our rework of the Avatars, we are steadily progressing through many of the clothing and armor items to improve their visual quality. We periodically update the progress of this effort.

[From a Dev+ Forum Post by Fletcher “Skullmuncher34” Kinnear]

Hey all! Here’s a preview of some items coming next release! A revamp of the Founder Leather armor, revamp of Founder Tunic, and a revamp of the Benefactor tunic!

Port M Founder Leather by fletcherkinnear on Sketchfab:

FounderLeather

Benefactor Tunic by fletcherkinnear on Sketchfab:

BenefactorTunic

Founder Tunic by fletcherkinnear on Sketchfab:

Untitled-3 copy


Richard Garriott is Certifiable (on Twitter)

On May 24, Richard Garriott learned that he lacked the magical blue check mark on Twitter (aka Verified Accounts) from twitter user and Shroud community member Lord Dreamo. This meant that Lord British did not exist in the Twitter verse!

This would not do! Immediately our community sprang into action with a campaign on twitter to get our sovereign certified. A post on the forums by Sir Frank drove Avatars to twitter and after only a single day Richard Garriott successfully achieved his Blue Check mark on Twitter!

Don’t forget to also follow the game on Twitter @ShroudofAvatar!


Unity Onsiteunityonsite

As many of you are aware, since upgrading to the Unity 5.4x we have been experiencing more than normal stability issues. We have been working with Unity to resolve them as quickly as possible and, after discussions with them, we decided the best course of action was an onsite Project Review with one of their engineers. Normally, the wait time for this service is months, but they were aware of our upcoming Final Wipe and they were able to find us an engineer who was able to come out this week. Andrew Speiring from Unity was here two days this week and was able to start digging into the problems we have been seeing.


Austin Unity Developer Meetup: Worldbuilding with Finn & Estebenaustinunity

Portalarium sponsored the monthly Austin Unity Developer Meetup event on May 31 with a tech workshop focused on Terrain Sculpting + NavMesh + AI Scripting. Esteben “SorcerousSteve” Zaldivar (World Builder) and Finn Staber (Programmer/Designer) gave an in-depth overview of the Unity tools used for level design in Shroud of the Avatar. estebenunitymeetup2 estebenunitymeetup1


Updates to POT Pages

Last update, we noted that we had created a new web page that shows all the current Player Owned Town Templates so that town owners can view all their options. Since that time Hutch, Chaox, and Darkstarr have been working hard to update that page and the POT Submission Form so that it contains overhead images and screenshots for every template. Additionally, as of today the POT Submission Form now includes the Rotated Versions of the templates that we announced for R30 so town owners can now start selecting those for their towns. underground_1_02 tropicalisland_1_right_overlaygrassland_1_left_overlay


Keep Stone Arena Basement 

After a very long campaign from our Dukes, we had Scottie Jones craft a new Stone Arena basement for Keep sized lots, available now in the Add On Store!

Keep Arena Basement Orthagonal View Keep Arena Basement Side View Keep Arena Basement Mood Shot 04 Keep Arena Basement Mood Shot 03 Keep Arena Basement Mood Shot 02 Keep Arena Basement Mood Shot 01


Clarification on New Game Access Bundles

SotA Box ArtWhen we added the new Viking bundles to the Add-On Store last week, they included Game Access. This was in preparation for when Pledges expire and Game Access won’t be available through pledges. After a few puzzled inquiries from our community, we realized that this caused some confusion. Please note that these bundles CAN be purchased and combined with a pledge. The Game Access does not conflict with the Game Access included with your pledge. This Bundle does not count as a second pledge, so it does not follow the same requirement of “Only one pledge per Account”.

We added the following text to the bundles to help clarify:

This bundle is fully functional on any account that may, or may not, already have a pledge with game access. If you already have a pledge with game access, then the next time you log in you will be able to claim all of the items in this bundle. If you don’t have a pledge with game access, then this bundle will grant you game access.


Viking 4-Story Row House & Wearable Bundles

After much demand, we are making the new Viking 4-Story Row House and the new Viking Wearables (Cloak & Helmet) available for purchase in the Add On Store separately from the full Viking Lot & Home Bundles.SotA_Viking_4-Story_Row

SotA_Viking_Helm_Cloak_composite_logo


timeIsRunningOut6

54 Day Countdown to Summer 2016 Expiration Event, Part 1

As we march toward the Final Wipe and Lot Selection milestone, we are having a Summer 2016 Expiration Event split into Two Parts!

Summer 2016 Expiration Event, Part 1

  • At Midnight CDT (5:00 UTC) on July 27, 2016, we are expiring the homes and basements from the Ancestor, Edelmann, Knight Marshal, Lord Marshal, Duke, and Lord of the Manor 2 pledges. We are also expiring new Player Owned Towns (upgrades of existing POTs will continue to be available). All other rewards (including tax free property deeds) that are currently available in the remaining pledges will continue to be available. The final wipe of all game data will also occur at Midnight CDT (5:00 UTC) on July 27th. To commemorate this momentous milestone, we are holding a 12-hour Summer Telethon Part 1, starting at 12:00 pm CDT (17:00 UTC) and running right up to the Final Wipe at Midnight CDT (5:00 UTC).

Summer 2016 Expiration Event, Part 2

  • At Midnight CDT (5:00 UTC) on August 22, 2016, we are expiring ALL remaining pledges, including: Adventurer, Founder, Royal Artisan, Explorer, Ancestor, Edelmann, Knight Marshal, Lord Marshal, Duke, and Lord of the Manor 2. To commemorate the final expiration of all remaining pledges, we are holding a 12-hour Summer Telethon Part 2, starting at 12:00 pm CDT (17:00 UTC) and running right up to the Final Pledge Expirations at Midnight CDT (5:00 UTC).


Upcoming Events

2016.06.30 – Release 31
2016.07.27 – Summer Telethon Part 1 + Pledge Homes / POT Expirations (Final Wipe at Midnight)
2016.07.28 – Release 32: Lot Selections
2016.08.22 – Summer Telethon Part 2 + Final Pledge Expirations Episode 1 (Pledge Expirations at Midnight)
2016.08.25 – Release 33
2016.08.26 – Syndcon 2016
2016.09.02 – DragonCon 2016
2016.09.21 – Austin Games Conference
2016.09.29 – Release 34


Community Activities

Visit the official Community Calendar to see the great lineup of activities our amazing community has planned for this weekend! And be sure to check out the Release 30 Events thread in the SotA forums for additional events.

Event of the Week – RPOTA Monthly $170 Writing Contest

Here ye! Here ye! Biographers, Historians, Diplomats, Journalists, Story Writers, Quest Designers and Videographers! RPOTA is in dire need of your amazing talents! Role-Players of the Avatar is hosting a monthly contest to award those most famous with their quill or camera! (details)

Special thanks to community member SpookyJenny (aka Jenny Phoenixfyre in-game) for compiling player events from the Avatar’s Circle Community Events calendar and the Events of the Avatars community calendar.


Community Resources – Players Helping Players

The official SotA Player Created Resources Forum is the place to find the best player created resources for Shroud of the Avatar, whether it’s a Player Written Guide, a Video Walk-through, or a Wiki-type Website.

Resources of the Week

  • Hospitaller Version 01 Straight ThinnerHospitallers
    • Hospitallers are volunteer players that help new players (or veteran players) that are seeking guidance, or just friendly conversation (in-game or out). While in-game, new (or veteran) players can signal to other players they would like help, or newcomer guidance, by pressing Keypad “-” and setting their title to “Outlander“. Helping players can display their “Hospitaller” title to signal they are available to help other players.
  • 1780850aSotAHelp.org
    • SotAHelp.org is a player support site run by a team of volunteers, or Hospitallers, dedicated to improving the new player experience within Shroud of the Avatar. Can’t find a Hospitaller in-game? Then go to SotaHelp.Org where you can ask questions offline or schedule an in-game meetup. Multiple languages supported. Join us for our weekly in-game meetings (Sundays at 11am CT, TeamSpeak 3 Server: Pax et Veritas, 43.245.163.15:10099, Discord Chat Channel).

Visit the official Community Resources page for a complete listing.


Backer Shipping Addresses

SotA_ShippingAddressIn preparation for shipping backers’ physical pledge rewards later this year, we have added Shipping Address fields to your Account Profile page. To enter your shipping address, log in to the SotA website, select “Account” in top right corner, then select “Edit Profile” located in top left corner, beneath your Avatar image:

For country and regional tax assessment purposes, our tax accountants have requested that we start collecting a buyer’s physical/shipping address for all purchases, whether digital or physical. We’ve tried to streamline that process as much as possible, such that once you’ve entered a physical address we will pre-populate the address fields with your default address.


Recommended Projects to BackTorment_banner

Torment: Tides of Numenera

Torment: Tides of Numenera is a single-player, isometric role-playing game set in the world of Monte Cook’s new tabletop RPG setting, Numenera. Torment is striving to create a rich role-playing experience that explores similar deep, personal themes.



10 Comments







  1. Grave GodsHammerGrave GodsHammer

    I couldn’t be happier with all the progress that has been made and Portalarium really seems to have their finger on the pulse of what the player base wants. Even going as far as anticipating our requests before we make them. Your willingness to adapt to our needs is what Id consider unparalleled in the gaming industry and I’m confident it will pay off in a huge way in regards to revenue and game longevity over the long term. You all rock and we love you!





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