Update of the Avatar #183 – 2016.07.01: Play R31 Now!, R31 Postmortem Invite, Q3-2016 Schedule, New Elven Armor, Brittany Estates, and More!

Greetings Fellow Avatars!

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


Play Release 31 Now!

BrittanyWharf6

Release 31 successfully launched yesterday, June 30, with thousands of backers downloading, patching, logging in, and checking out the new changes! There’s lots of new content to explore, including:

  • New scenes including Brittany Alleys and Brittany Wharfs
  • New User Experience Polish including a completely reworked Solace Bridge
  • “New You” in-game Character Customization
  • Gems unlocking specific enchantments on weapons
  • Salvage returning components at high skill levels
  • Revamped Housing Permissions system
  • New Camera Effects including Depth of Field and Sharpness Filter
  • …and much more

Check out the Release 31 Instructions update for detailed information about all the new content.

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 31!

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.

Release 31 Player Instructions

Release 31 Known Issues


Release 31 Postmortem:reliquary2

Join us Thursday, July 7th at 3:00 PM Central (20:00 UTC) for our monthly Hangout of the Avatar! The team will be chatting about Release 31 and looking ahead to Release 32 (important updates coming this week on R32!).

And of note, let it be known that Lord British and Lord Darkstarr will play host to a special reliquary event… and blood will be spilled! Consider the squeamish among you forewarned.

As always, we will be giving out awesome swag, and answering your questions. For a chance to win a prize, join Discord chat during the broadcast. Be sure to stick around throughout the Hangout for multiple chances to win!

Tweet with us @ShroudofAvatar during the Hangout to know when a winner has been announced!

Watch here at 3pm CDT on Thursday, July 7th:

Post your questions in the post here! Only one post submission allowed, and keep questions to 3 or less! This will allow us to get to as many players as possible.

Please keep in mind that questions and feedback related to this release’s specific topics will be given priority and really verbose questions may be skipped, as they can be a challenge to shorten and summarize live on the air. In brief… please keep your questions… brief.

Thank you!


Shroud in the News:

MMORPG.com: Release 31: Nearly Move-in Ready?: Red Thomas wrote another interesting article for MMORPG, this time focusing on how we are getting ready for Final wipe and lot selection. Here’s an excerpt from Red’s article titled: Release 31: Nearly Move-in Ready? mmorpg_logo

Just a month until final wipe. In many ways, the 31st release for Shroud of the Avatar is summed in that simple statement. So many things are right, a few things aren’t quite there yet, there’s a certain anticipation of finally being able to play in a truly persistent game-state, and yet there’s this nagging concern in the back of my mind that the concept might be a little too ambitious.

Of course, it’s too ambitious. No one creative enough to develop video games is going to limit themselves to realistic expectations. Whatever mental switch most people have that warns them of projected danger, it’s non-existent in the minds of entrepreneurs and game developers. It takes experience and great mental discipline to drive entire teams of that sort of people towards some semblance of a marketable product, a process made even harder when it’s done right in front of the player-base and with all the opportunities for comment that entails.

With one month of development left until the final wipe, there are legitimate questions about whether the team can reach the expected state or not. In this month’s article, we’ll take a look at some of the bigger updates in this release, as well as a couple of other major shifts in direction for the team. Unlike the last major trajectory change with the targeting system, I’ll explain why I like these a lot and why some people may not. Lastly, I’ll also be spending a bit of time exploring the current state of the game with how it relates to the final wipe.

Stuff of Newness

The standard pace of new scenes continues unabated as the team rolls out a solid list of both player-owned towns and player-run towns (The latter being developed towns that are not owned by a specific player, but don’t have any particular story element located in them.  Think of them basically as empty developer-placed space to drop a house.).  New story scenes, mostly around Brittany, have been added.  Also, several cloned scenes have been placed in the more remote areas to even out resource gathering and adventuring space. [Read More]

Jearbear’s Top 10 Upcoming MMO’s of 2016-2017! Youtube host and Twitch streamer Jearbear picked Shroud of the Avatar as #6 in his list of Top 10 MMO’s coming out in the next year in a recent video.


Q3 2016 Schedule Update

[From a forum post by Starr “Darkstarr” Long]

Starr_avatarGreetings Avatars,

As we have stated previously, 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 continues to benefit the game, with sweeping changes, like the switch over to use-based advancement. Meeting that monthly goal is our highest priority, but we require flexibility in our deliverables in order to meet that goal. As you have seen in previous releases, sometimes we push things out, but we also often pull new things in.

The third quarter of 2016 starts with the Final Wipe and Lot Selection and then moves on to steadily progressing through the list of features and content promised during our Kickstarter.

As always, all dates, durations, and deliverables are subject to change as we adjust our designs based on direct feedback from you, our backers.

RELEASE 32, July 28, 2016

  • Final Wipe: Please note that if you have been waiting to convert your purchases to store credits, these will be your FINAL three chances to do so as long as you do NOT claim your rewards at the bank. There will be three windows the week of release to convert your purchases to store credit. These windows will be on Monday, Wednesday, and then finally on the day of release, Thursday. This will work exactly as it has in previous releases.
  • Lot Selection: Starting at 11:00 CDT players can begin selecting lots in the game in order of their lot selection group. You can view your lot selection group on your account page.
  • Story: The Love Path will get a major polish pass with a special focus on NPC behaviors in Soltown and Ardoris. Greater Brittany will be finished with the addition of the final neighborhood of Brittany Estates, a plush area composed mostly of City sized lots. Additionally several NPC towns, including Spite, that are currently clones will be replaced with original scenes.
  • New User Experience Polish: Continued polish passes will be done on the Tutorials, hints, and starting scenes with special focus on the Isle of Storms and Bloodriver.
  • Service Hardening: We will continue a series of passes through the client, authentication, and server to harden the service for security and customer service. Special attention will be paid to the Patcher.
  • Player Towns & Player Housing: Player-Owned Towns that have locked submission forms will appear in the game. New variations on the town templates may also appear.
  • Performance: Major efforts will be done to optimize performance.  This will include frame rate improvements, load time improvements, and memory footprint improvements.
  • 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 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.
  • Crafting: More enchantments and more masterwork modifiers will come online. Most decorations will be removed from NPC merchants and moved to recipes for crafters. Additionally several homes will be craftable for the first time.
  • Character: A polish pass will be completed through all the hair styles.

RELEASE 33, August 25, 2016

  • Story: The polish pass through the Love Path of the story will continue with special focus on NPC behaviors in the town of Spite. Brittany NPCs will also get a behavior improvement pass. Additionally several NPC towns that are currently clones will be replaced with original scenes.
  • New User Experience Polish: Continued polish passes will be done on the Tutorials, hints, and starting scenes with special focus on Highvale.
  • Player Towns & Player Housing: Player-Owned Towns that have locked submission forms will appear in the game. New variations on the town templates may also appear. Additionally the Lot Deed Lottery system for in game purchase of Lot Deeds will come online.
  • Offline Mode Combat Balance: A pass will be made through the game to adjust combat balance for play in offline mode with companions.
  • Offline Mode: Patching and Reward delivery for Offline Mode become available to players using this mode to play.
  • Crafting: Cooking and the Food System will expand with more recipes and more functionality including more food buffs.
  • Creatures: We will begin a major polish pass through our creatures.

RELEASE 34, September 29, 2016

  • Story:  A final polish pass will be completed through the Love Path of the story and we will begin a polish pass on the Courage Path. Aerie and Resolute NPCs will also get a behavior improvement pass. Additionally several NPC towns that are currently clones will be replaced with original scenes.
  • Player Towns & Player Housing: Player-Owned Towns that have locked submission forms will appear in the game. New variations on the town templates may also appear.
  • Offline Economy: The economy in offline mode will be tuned to be better balanced for single player. NPC merchants will buy player crafted items at a profit to the player for instance. Additionally pledge and add-on store items will be available from NPC merchants for purchase with in-game gold.
  • Crafting: Recipes will become teachable (much like emotes). Agriculture will get a polish pass and some new content.
  • Creatures: We will continue a major polish pass through our creatures.
  • Roving Encounters: Potential encounters (wandering merchants, monsters, etc.) will appear on the overworld for players to engage (or avoid).

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.

Sincerely,
Starr Long
Executive Producer
Shroud of the Avatar


Elven Armor

Last week we updated you on the polish work that Fletcher “Skullmuncher34” Kinnear was performing on the Elven Armor from the now expired Elven Stretch Goal. We showed you the Elven Mage Robes and Elven Fighter Armor. Below you can see the Elven Archer Armor.

Elven Archer Armor by Shroud of the Avatar

The community reaction to these has been incredibly positive and players requested the ability to purchase them again because they looked so much better than they had originally. However, since we had already expired these items we could not resell them, so we have created visual variants that are now for sale in the Add On Store. These are called Elven Elder Armor and represent base level armor.

Elven Elder Archer Armor by Shroud of the Avatar


The Making of Brittany Estates

NOTE: Brittany Estates is primarily comprised of City sized lots and is scheduled to go live in Release 32.

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

Here is one last post and update on the Brittany Estates before I finish it for next week.

BrittanyEstates5 BrittanyEstates4 BrittanyEstates3 BrittanyEstates2 BrittanyEstates1

(note: above is the new Viking Stronghold that is part of a new Viking bundle that will go live in Release 32)


Add-On Store Goodies!

Lot’s of new items added to the Add-On Store this week, including:


Signs

Players can now place signs on their lots, homes, and player owned towns. These signs have customizable tooltips that players can use to name their shops, homes, guildhalls, taverns, streets, squares, etc. The signs come in 4 Materials (Plain Wooden, Fancy Wooden, Brass, and Silver), 3 Types (Wall, Hanging, and Ground), and over 45 Symbols (including a blank sign). The plain wooden versions are all craftable in game, while the other materials are purchasable in the Add-On Store:

SotA_Signs_9Pack_Blank

SotA_Sign_Guild_small


timeIsRunningOut6

15% Summer Bonus and 26 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).

Get Your 15% Summer Bonus!

If you were thinking of purchasing (or upgrading) a pledge or Player Owned Town before they expire then now’s a great time to do it! For all new purchases (including pledges, pledge upgrades, add-on items, player owned towns, player owned town upgrades, Make a Difference items, and service vouchers) between 12:00 am CDT June 24, 2016 and Midnight CDT (5:00 UTC) August 22, 2016, we’ll add an additional 15% bonus to your Store Credit!

[Read more…]


The Sword of Midras SotA Novel for Hardcover, Kindle, Nook and Audiobook

SwordofMidras_BookCover

The Sword of Midras, by Tracy Hickman and Richard Garriott, is a revised and expanded version of the Blade of the Avatar novel (originally included in pledge rewards through May 31, 2015). The expanded The Sword of Midras includes four additional chapters not seen in the pledge reward version of Blade of the Avatar, extending and elaborating on key elements of the story.

The release date is June 21, 2016 by Tor Books. The Hardcover, Kindle, and Nook, versions by Tor Books are available now at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Release date for the unabridged audiobook version is July 12, 2016 with pre-orders available now at Audible.com. Here is sample of the audiobook on SoundCloud:

[NOTE: The original Blade of the Avatar novel has already been delivered as an electronic PDF to all pledges prior to May 31, 2015 (when it expired). For those who qualify for this reward, you can find the link to the PDF on your SotA website account page Special Rewards tab for download. The physical and signed versions of the novel that are rewards at the Patron and Citizen level up through May 31, 2015 will be a paperback print version of the original Blade of the Avatar novel that has been delivered as an electronic PDF. This physical reward will be delivered to backers at the same time that all physical rewards are delivered, which we currently expect will be toward the end of this year

Some backers have asked if they will receive The Sword of Midras, or the 4 additional chapters that were written for it, as part of their Blade of the Avatar novel pledge reward. Unfortunately, Portalarium is contractually not at liberty to distribute The Sword of Midras, or the additional chapters, in print or electronic form, as part of our original pledge rewards. This was a requirement In order to procure a mass market book publishing agreement with a major book publisher. We felt the mass market distribution of The Sword of Midras was critically important to help increase the worldwide exposure of Shroud of the Avatar. If The Sword of Midras is successful, it will help introduce many readers to our game, and potentially bring them in as new players, which is a long-term benefit for the game and the community.]


Upcoming Events

2016.07.07 – R31 Postmortem Livestream at 3pm CDT (with blood!)
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 – Welcome Quest – An Archaeology Event Mash Up!

The Welcome Quest showcases many of the Player-owned and Player-ran towns in New Britannia. Come for unique events in each town. We rotate towns between each Welcome Quest. Sometimes we quest on the overland map to cover a larger area.

We are visiting the Celtic Holdfast – Dara Brae (see map). A small piece of bone was discovered while creating our Skara Brae replica house. We have dismantled that house and the pavilion and have begun our “dig site”. You are invited to help us finish the dig and discover what is there. This event is part of the “Lord British Birthday weekend” celebration of events this weekend! Come and enjoy some virtual cake! We will spend a few minutes honoring our liege, Lord British, before the dig starts.

You can teleport to Greagoir (who will be available 30 minutes before the event). If adventure is more your style, travel to Elysium island (ferries are available from Quel and Longfall), then in the crescent opening on the south side of the island is Dara Brae. (See original post for additional details)


Community Resources – Players Helping PlayersSotA_NewPlayerWelcome_Forum

The official SotA New Player Welcome Forum and the Player Created Resources Forum have 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.

Resource of the Week

  • 1074747154[1]Role-Players of the Avatar (RPOTA)
    • Role-Players of the Avatar is a social environment where you will find a creative outlet for story writing and adventure creation. We are a community which feeds your desire to be someone else… a crazed barbarian, a cunning scoundrel, maybe a quirky wizard or perhaps a mysterious assassin.

Visit the official Community Resources page for a complete listing.


Status of ONBE Shipments

The Order of the New Britannia Empire (ONBE) awards are now shipping to our amazing community recipients! There are still several recipients that have not updated mailing address information on their accounts. If you are expecting an ONBE, please do this now! We are also sending out e-mails to ensure we have the correct address. Please check that support@portalarium.com is unblocked from your e-mail account to receive these e-mails!

Visit SotA Wiki for a current list of those who have received or are expecting ONBEs.

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.

A reminder to please be sure that support@portalarium.com is unblocked from your e-mail account!


Recommended Projects to Back

LightEaters

LE logo croppedHere’s the latest from BrightLocker, the first crowd publishing platform for games. BrightLocker was launched by fellow ex-Originites Mark Rizzo and Ruben Cortez, members of the original Ultima Online Network Ops team from back in the day.

brightlocker-logo-88x78.1142fec9[1]Their first game, LightEaters, just launched and is now available through the App StoreLightEaters is the first game fully integrated with the BrightLocker platform.  That means when you earn rewards, achievements, and digital currency by playing LightEaters you can spend these on the platform to help select and crowdfund the next game you want to play. Explore the perils and pitfalls of the night with the help of your trusty flashlight in this whimsically spooky platform adventure game. You’ll need wits, speed, and the power of your imagination to navigate through the dark, defeat traps and puzzles, and evade the enemies in your way.

A huge thanks to everyone who participated in the first 5 Semi-Final voting rounds. Round 6 is open, so get those votes in for your favorite video game ideas and submit an idea yourself – it could be chosen to be made into an actual game!  The FINALS begin soon, where the top finalists from each round are pitted against each other.  BrightLocker will choose an idea from the top vote-getters from this round to develop into an actual game.


Xounts Kickstarter: Shroud of the Avatar Special!

We’re excited to announce that Xounts is offering a free Shroud of the Avatar style when you support their unique speaker system Kickstarter campaign.

The ‪Xounts‬ system is fantastic at delivering great sound, looks really cool wherever it’s placed, and supports custom themes… including a really SWEET Shroud of the Avatar theme. We even have a SotA styled Xounts in our office!

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11 Comments



    1. SpoonSpoon

      ???
      You can craft all the signs @Abydos , those in the store is just the fancy texture ones.

      Its both in the R31 release notes as well as in the article above:

      “The plain wooden versions are all craftable in game, while the other materials are purchasable in the Add-On Store”

    2. Amber RaineAmber Raine

      Abydos – It has been a while since i have left a comment for you but…. I am curious.. how a sign… a simple decoration.. is Pay to Win

      Definition of Pay to win – Paying money to give a player a benefit over another player who has not paid the money

      A sign does not give any advantage over another player. It is simply a decoration. A decoration that can be indeed crafted in a more mediocre form. You merely pay for a more finely milled lumber in its design.


  1. SpoonSpoon

    @dallas
    The descriptions for the elven armor in the store doesn’t say if they are LIght or Heavy. Since that makes a big difference skill-wise that is good info to add.


  2. Ghangar61Ghangar61

    Melt Down over Melt Down

    How can you possible expect us to still have everything we want to melt down STILL unclaimed in bank , after months of playing since last melt down/wipe ? please , Please , PLEASE .. find a way for us to melt down anything and everything we have claimed and used already !


  3. Amber RaineAmber Raine

    Can someone please confirm the date for me on the Hang out? Most hang outs are done on a Wednesday. Has the day changed or is the date in the update wrong?

    Thursday July 7th? or Wednesday July 6th?
    If the day has changed on when hang outs happen, any reason for the change?

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