Update of the Avatar #193 – 2016.09.09: Tropical Island POT, Economy Balancing, Testing Incentives Program, Sales Policy Update, and More!

Greetings Fellow Avatars!

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

Tropical Island POT Polish

When we launched the Tropical Island Player Owned Town Template in Release 30 back in May, we were moving quickly to get it launched and in the hands of our POT owners. It was based on the Island 01 template and was a simple swap of tree type mostly without really any other major changes. Owners who chose this template were understandably underwhelmed by this variation so we decided that we needed to take another pass at this Island.

Hutch has been working this Release to improve the island and has made a host of improvements. He started by choosing a few different base terrain textures, ones that lend themselves better to a tropical environment. He then chose some additional terrain grasses and ran a process to apply them to the map in order to cover areas that were bare of grass before. He also added some more tree varieties to the map to improve variety and height differences and spread these more thoroughly throughout the map. The biggest changes, however, are an overall increase in foliage density throughout the island to create a more tropical jungle look and the addition of flat beach areas suitable for house placement.



Upcoming Economic Balance Changes


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

We have been carefully analyzing the distributed wealth of our current player base and we have uncovered some critical issues that need addressing quickly. The biggest issue is that the top 10% of players have 90% of the gold while the bottom 90% are incredibly poor and can barely afford to play. This has manifested itself in various ways, including the following:

  • Exclusive Use of “Reagent Free” Decks: On one hand this shows the flexibility of our deck building and skill system and every player should have a “Reagent Free” deck in their arsenal, but that’s not the only deck they should be able to use!
  • Tons of Inventory on Vendors: Lots and lots of items on vendors and no one buying.

We cannot simply increase the overall influx of resources and gold into the game because that will cause inflation and damage the overall health of the economy. It would also only further increase the disparity between the wealthiest few and the poorest masses.

Instead, we need to come up with ways to add wealth to the more deprived players that cannot then be ground repeatedly to either increase inflation or add even more wealth to the already wealthy. To that end, we are going to start making the following changes. Some of these will Oracle Confirmatorybegin showing up as soon as Release 34, but some may take longer as they are a bit intensive to implement. Please note the values below are all best estimates / starting values.

  • Daily Oracle Confession: Visiting the Oracle on a daily basis and discussing how you are faring on your journey along the Paths of Truth, Love, and Courage will earn you 500 gold per day. You must answer her accurately based on your personal actions.
  • Town Crier Outlander Registration: Novians do not exactly trust Outlanders and want to make sure they know where they are traveling around to. Thus, they started an Outlander Tracking Program. Each time you visit a Town Crier for the first time in any town will earn you 100 gold.
  • Starting Area Resource Yields: We are going to slightly increase the overall resource yields in the scenes around the starting areas.
  • Reagent Spawner Balance: We are reviewing the reagent spawners to make sure they are evenly balanced against the power of the spells they are used with and well dispersed in the scenes so players won’t have to exclusively rely on merchants.
  • Quest Gold Rewards: We are going through all the non-repeatable quests and either adding gold rewards (if not present) or increasing the gold rewards (if gold already present).SotA_Combat_Sigil_Stone-1024x768
  • Skill Quests: Currently only Tier 5 Skills like Summon Elemental have quests from Master Trainers associated with them. We are going to add more quests from trainers for earlier skills like Rend (Blades), Piercing Shot (Ranged), Lightning (Air), etc. These will include gold rewards.

This is just the first of many such adjustments we will make to insure that the economy is properly balanced yet sustainable over the long term. Thank you for your patience as we make these improvements.

Richard Garriott Hi-jinks: AMA! Dragon Con Wedding! Storytelling!

reddit-logoReddit AMA: Richard had one of his busiest schedules at Dragon Con ever this year, with 9 different events to preside over. Despite that, he still found time to do a Reddit AMA Sunday night where he answered questions about everything from how he got the name Lord British through what languages can he speak to how he celebrates Halloween.

Check out the entire AMA on Reddit.reddit

Speck’s Wedding: Not one to stay idle, after the New Britannia Round Table on Saturday, Richard presided at the wedding of a community member, Speck, who was given away by her childhood friend, Shooter Jennings. It was a true Dragon Con wedding with the groom dressed as Deadpool and a Jedi cutting the cake with a lightsaber. MJ Guthrie at MassivelyOP even covered the wedding!dcon wedding4

dcon wedding1dcon wedding3

Storytelling Interview: Richard had just landed in Austin from Dragon Con when he was interviewed by Unseen Dragon about storytelling.

Many from the community also attended Dragon Con to meet with Richard Garriott, Tracy Hickman, and to celebrate their presence in the game with each other. Enter the forums to see more photos of their adventures, and to post your own if you attended Dragon Con as well!

PC Gamer: Meet the Bards of Shroud800px-PC_Gamer_logo.svg

Steven Messner over at PC Gamer wrote a truly beautiful piece about how we crowd-sourced our music for Shroud of the Avatar with our players. Thank you James Stratton-Crawley for being Holt Ironfell the bard. Thank you to all the musicians who have made the world sound better!

Meet The Bards Whose Dedication Moved Lord British To Tears By Steven Messner


How fan musicians became the composers of Garriott’s MMO

In the land of New Britannia there exists a musician of great renown. His name is Holt Ironfell, a grandmaster bard and founder of an alliance of artists with a very special gift. Unlike most bards, whose works are trapped and lost in the memories of those who hear them, the songs written by the Poets’ Circle are woven into the fabric of New Britannia itself—no less tangible than the castles and sprawling meadows that stretch across its countryside. Holt Ironfell is just a fictional character in Richard Garriott’s MMO, Shroud of the Avatar, but his real-life counterpart, James, doesn’t just pretend to be a bard, he is one.

The Poets’ Circle isn’t your average MMO guild, and Ironfell isn’t your average MMO player. Shroud of the Avatar might come from Garriott’s imagination, but the music that helps bring it to life comes from theirs. To date, The Poets’ Circle has been commissioned to compose over 80 songs that now form the official soundtrack for Shroud of the Avatar. They grew from a haphazard assortment of fans into a troupe of musicians who, right alongside Garriott himself, are shaping a new chapter of roleplay surrounding Lord British. As James tells me, it’s a journey that has impacted his life. “Making music for Shroud of the Avatar was the most fun I’ve had gaming,” James says. “It remains a fascinating experience which has brought music full force into my life.”

You can read the rest of the article at PC Gamer.

Testing Incentives Program

Starr_avatar[From a Forum post by Starr “Darkstarr” Long]

Greetings Avatars,

Thank you everyone for the amazing work you all do reporting issues in the game. It is only through your bug reports that we can find and fix issues with the game.

The volume of reported issues from the Live Server has remained steady, but now that we have reached persistence, it is understandably challenging to convince players to divide their time between the “real” world of Novia and the fleeting world of the QA Server. However, we still have a critical need for testing on the QA Server right before a monthly Release goes live.

That is why we are launching the Testing Incentives Program. This program will include exclusives that can only be earned on the QA Server,  but there are lots of awards that can be earned on the live servers as well. Each Release, exceptional contributors selected through quality bug reports, document edits, etc. will be eligible for rewards. The rewards will be given out as individual items, not all at once. Initial rewards will include the following (and may expand over time):

  • Testing Incentive Rewards: These rewards can be earned through playing and reporting on both the Live and QA Servers.
    • Titles: Players will rank up through these after demonstrating a solid record of reproducible bugs with detailed information (ex. coordinates and screenshots)antique_copper_and_brass_bug_sprayer_001_by_poeticthnkr-d56uz82
      • Pest Controller
      • Expert Pest Controller
      • Master Pest Controller
      • Royal Pest Controller
    • Antennae: worn in the head slot
    • Bugs Cloak: features lots of ants
    • Bug Cloak: This cloak features one giant ant.
    • Bug Sprayer: Equippable with /bugspray emote that makes a green cloud
  • QA Server Exclusive Rewards: These rewards can only be earned through play time and bug reporting on the QA Server (but of course they will be delivered to you on the Live Server).scorpion-chair-0
    • COTOs for Time: Players who spend at least 4 hours of play time per Release on the QA Server will receive 5 Gold COTOs. Please note this is active play that we will verify via logging. You cannot simply login and stand still.
    • Ant Farm: Decoration you can place in your house with ants crawling around in it. Don’t break it!
    • Corpion Chair: Don’t fear the cushion of its deadly comfort!
    • Set of Bug Paintings: An assortment of Classical still life paintings featuring insects
    • Insect Leg Table
    • Butterfly Chair

We hope to have the program begin with the QA Server and Live Server tests of Release 34, so stay tuned for an official “go!” announcement.

Thank you everyone for the incredible work so far and we look forward to more of it in the future.

Sales of Virtual Items for Real Currency Policy

Starr_avatar[From a Forum post by Starr “Darkstarr” Long]

Greeting Avatars,

As many of you are aware, for a very long time we have supported the sale of virtual goods like Pledges, Pledge Rewards, Add On Store Items, etc. via our Player Marketplace subforum. Our reasoning is that this activity will occur no matter what our position on it is, so we feel that it is better to have it in a place where we and the community can see it easily.

Even though we support these activities, we understand that they can threaten the suspension of disbelief we all work very hard to maintain around the game world we have built together. To that end, we must insist that, for now, all Real Currency sales happen in the Player Marketplace only and never be mentioned inside the game nor in any other part of the Forums.

The current rules for those transactions are the following:

  • Player Marketplace Only: All sales involving Real Currency (USD, Euros, etc.) can only be discussed, advertised, etc. in the Player Marketplace subforum.
  • Bans for Out of Marketplace Posts: Any mention, post, information, text, advertising, etc. of any kind of a sale that refers to Real Currency in Shroud of the Avatar official locations outside of the Player Marketplace (i.e. the main forums, Shroud Discord chat, Shroud Facebook Page, inside the game) is against the rules. The game is especially off limits for these kinds of messages (except for the final resolution of the sale which has to happen in the game via secure trade and will, of course, necessitate some in game communication). Offenders will receive a warning. Repeated offenses will result in bans, up to and including permanent bans across multiple accounts.
  • All Virtual Items Allowed: Sales for Real Currency can include any virtual goods, including Add On Store items, Pledge Rewards, and virtual currency (gold).
  • Portalarium Not Liable: Portalarium is not liable for any of these transactions. They are solely between the buyer and seller.

We understand that the inclusion of gold as one of the virtual goods that can be bought and sold will cause some of you concern, but we believe that in the end it is just another virtual good like the others. I would like to address the main concerns we have seen.

  • Inflation: As you have seen we have been monitoring VERY carefully the influx of gold into the economy and we do not believe the sales of gold will increase the likelihood of inflation anymore than any other factors.
  • Exploits: All the rules of enforcement related to exploits will of course still apply. As you have seen, we are very aggressive about finding exploits and enforcing punishment of users that abuse them.
  • Competition for Resources: With our multiple modes of play, you are almost guaranteed to never be competing with someone “farming” for gold because they will most likely be in Single Player Online mode.
  • Intrusion: As you can see by the above rules we will aggressively repel any intrusion into the game or into the main forums of real currency transactions. We feel VERY strongly about keeping the sanctity of our world intact.

If you see any activities occurring that go against these rules, please do not mention them (or the persons involved) in public areas. For in-game occurrences, you can report them by right-clicking on the offending player and selecting the “Report Player” or “Report Content” options and choose “Other” from the context menu. Alternatively, you may use the /reportcontent or /reportplayer commands in the chat window. For occurrences outside of the game, you can use the Forum Report option or contact us at support@portalarium.com.

Elven 2-Story Row Tax Free Bundle

We’ve added the first property-based package to the Elven Bundle Store with the Elven 2-Story Row House Tax Free Player Owned Town Lot Bundle. Artist Bob Cooksey has created this unique look for the new Elven row house and Elven Wardrobe cabinet:



Upcoming Events

2016.09.09 – Release 33 Postmortem Livestream (Archive now available on YouTube)
2016.09.21 – Austin Games Conference
2016.09.29 – Release 34
2016.10.27 – Release 35
2016.11.04 – SotA Con
2016.11.17 – Release 36
2016.12.15 – Release 37

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 this month’s Release Events thread in the SotA forums for additional events.

Event of the Week – Grandmaster Tutoring Event for Crafters (9-10-2016 1pm NBT)

We invite all grandmaster Crafters to come and share their knowledge to new and would be grandmasters. We can confirm a grandmaster carpenter, tailor and blacksmith will be attending, and able to mentor a party of up to 7 others. If more grandmasters donate their time then even more can be mentored. Being mentored in a group with a grandmaster grants you the ability to learn faster, a rate of 10% less producer xp required to level.

You must bring your own materials to this event. There are fuel merchants very near by the crafting pavilion in Diamond Fields but prices may increase due to turn out. A banker is also near buy so you can shuttle in your raw materials and squirrel them away ahead of time for the event.

Community Resources – Players Helping Players


Visit the official Community Resources page for a complete listing of all things community.

Job Openings (3)

SotA_WorldBuildingWorld Builder/Level Designers  (2)

We currently have an opening for 2 junior-level to senior-level World Builder/Level Designers with artistic skills for Shroud of the Avatar to build out scenes (these positions are less focused on game play elements). Qualifications for “ideal candidates” are:

  • Minimum 2 years industry experience for junior-level (preferably on a shipped game)
  • Minimum 5 years industry experience for senior-level (minimum of at least 1 shipped game)
  • Unity3D proficiency
  • Scripting ability
  • Experience building, texturing, and decorating natural, terrain based exterior environments
  • An artistic eye for detail, with strong scene compositional skills
  • BONUS: Ability to model and texture in 3D art tools


We currently have an opening for a Programmer for Shroud of the Avatar. Qualifications for the “ideal candidate” are:

  • Minimum 2 years industry experience
  • Strong C#/C++ skills
  • Database development experience
  • Awesome debugging skills
  • Windows programming experience
  • Network programming experience
  • Extensive Multi-threaded programming experience
  • Ability to work in unstructured, non-hierarchical environment
  • Strong software architecture skills
  • BONUS SKILLS (any one or more of these):
    • Minimum 5 years industry experience (minimum of at least 1 shipped game)
    • Unity development experience
    • Mac development
    • Avid game player
    • Web development experience (C#, PHP, ASP.NET, XML/web services, JavaScript)
    • UNIX experience
    • MMO game development experience

If you’d like to join the Portalarium Tribe working on the ground-breaking Shroud of the Avatar, please submit your resume to jobs@portalarium.com. Provide links to your work (if possible), including actual game play, videos footage, and document form (images, maps, and event descriptions).

Recommended Projects to Back

Underworld: Ascendant

Far more than a dungeon crawl, Underworld Ascendant is a next-generation sequel to the legendary fantasy RPG’s Ultima Underworld & Ultima Underworld 2. It not only modernizes the series’ visuals and user interface to take full advantage of the today’s powerful PC’s, it innovates in bold new ways.

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.

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



  1. QuentonQuenton

    Will the gold quest rewards apply retroactively? If I’ve already done the quest, will I find the gold in my bank account?

    1. DarkStarrDarkStarr Post author

      We plan to offer a “Reset my storyline quests” option as we approach Commercial Launch which will allow you to go through all the quests again to get this gold but until then unfortunately not. We will consider a one time gold reward for folks who are in your situation though in the meantime.

  2. DancingShadeDancingShade

    Darkstarr I think you’ve mapped out a great plan to help out the players with less wealth – well done!

    Also those elven row houses are sick. Looking forward to seeing the rest of them!

  3. AlexanderAlexander

    Love the reward incentives for play testing. This will encourage people to test things out and will probably get more people testing on the QA server.
    Also glad to see a move forward towards economic balancing.

  4. Chrismarchant

    Again I went to Amazon looking to buy the Kindle version of the book. Still no kindle version available on the Amazon page. Please either get the Kindle version added to the page, or take Kindle off of your advertising. I’ve bee trying to get the Kindle version now for over a month!!!!

  5. RodriguezRodriguez

    A large gap between the poor and the rich and now government handouts for “confessing” to a big brother like entity?
    Wow, SotA turned pretty dark! :D

  6. ChateleChatele

    Sounds good, maybe now the newbies can afford to pay their HIGH TAXES … :) which still need to be adjusted …. But I like the idea of what you are doing for the less fortunate avatars :) Hoping maybe now my lil abode will fill up with new residents …. (PRT) that is … it’s pretty empty, only a handful of us there … SO there are LOTS of lots to be had ….

  7. Black TortoiseBlack Tortoise

    The tropical island is looking good. Please oh please make Storm’s Reach use that as a template for its future uncloning. TIA ;-).

  8. LordEnglishLordEnglish

    As one of the “permanently poor” avatars, I feel that getting some crafting fuels from monster drops or resource nodes when appropriate would help a lot. So much money gets poured into training my crafting skills. I must have been digging in caves for hours and never found a chunk of coal!

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