Greetings Fellow Avatars!
Here’s what we have for you in this week’s edition of Update of the Avatar:
- Estgard Polish
- Lord British and Darkstarr Attending SotA Con
- Shroud in the News
- R33 Postmortem Recap
- Shroud at the Austin Games Conference
- Halloween Content
- Upcoming Events
- Community Resources – Players Helping Players
- Job Openings (3)
- Recommended Projects to Back
Estgard is on the island of Norgard and is part of the Path of Courage. It is a cloned scene using one of our PRT / POT templates based off of the Forest 01 base template (aka PaxLair). In Release 33, we did an initial rebuild (aka “un-cloning”) of that scene where we added a plot specific perimeter wall and a handful of other visual changes to have it more closely match the Viking like style of the island of Norgard. In Release 34, we are polishing that rebuild to bring it up to our visual standards. When we start focusing on the Courage Path in a future release, it will also get an NPC polish pass. In Update 192, SorcerousSteve gave you a preview of these changes and this week he is giving you another update on the upcoming improvements. WARNING: Plot spoilers below.
Note that when we un-clone these scenes we do NOT change lot placements. We only make cosmetic changes of building styles, terrain, and foliage.
Hey guys, SorcerousSteve here to give you an update on Estgard! A few weeks ago we got to see a preview on the upcoming Estgard, we’ll continue that this week with a look inside the city walls. Estgard is a densely overgrown town located in Southeast Norgard along the Naryad Channel, it is a densely overgrown area constantly ravished by Kobold attacks.
Be sure to check out Estgard this R34, until next time!
Lord British and Darkstarr Attending SotaCon
Portalarium is excited to participate in the first ever community organized convention for Shroud of the Avatar – SotA Con East 2016! SotA developers and players alike will be gathering together for a casual for a casual weekend filled with exciting activities, engaging panel discussions, and of course plenty of gameplay sessions.
SotA Con East runs from November 4-6, 2016 in Baltimore Inner Harbor, Maryland. Registration is still open!
Senior Community Manager
About SotA Con
There are panel discussions, lots of Q&A, and plenty of hanging out with players and the devs. SotA Con is entirely planned and funded by the players, for the players and developers. This once again shows how our passionate and dedicated players are creating exciting opportunities for the rest of the community, and succeeding magnificently.
The event’s planning team had the following to say:
“SotA Con creates a casual Shroud of the Avatar themed gathering so players and developers can come together, grow together, and share ideas. This is essentially a huge player gathering with the developers and lots of things to do, even for the whole family!
We have a hotel conference room for the discussions, a board-game room, and a large hospitality suite open each evening. We are also planning a group King’s Tournament Dinner at Medieval Times: Baltimore Castle on Saturday night (Nov. 5th) — Lord British will be with us! Baltimore Inner Harbor is a great place with many museums, restaurants, attractions, sports and more, so bring your family too for a wonderful vacation. Take a look here about the Inner Harbor.
You are encouraged to dress in medieval garb to add to the fun, though it is not required. Just dress casually to enjoy the weekend. Bring your Sword of Midras book and other collectables for Lord British and Darkstarr to sign! You can also bring a board game to hang out in the game room, or a laptop to play Shroud of the Avatar with others. How you want to have fun during the event is up to you!
See you there Avatars!
Shroud in the News
In between his busy schedule of panels, weddings, AMAs, and community events, Richard had time to give a few interviews at Dragon Con:
Massively Over Powered: Dragon Con 2016: Richard Garriott On Why Shroud of the Avatar Will Steal Your Life: Massively OP’s MJ Guthrie is a huge fan of Sandbox games and waxes poetic about her enthusiasm for all the sandbox features to be found (and that will be found) in Shroud.
“Do you know that feeling when you come across a game that has most, if not all, of your dream features — even the farfetched ones that you’d abandoned hope of ever actually being in a game? Probably not. But after talking with Richard Garriott at DragonCon 2016 about Shroud of the Avatar, I think I am experiencing an inkling of that very feeling! Granted, the game is not complete yet (although there are no more wipes), but each time I have sat down to speak with Garriott, not only does he highlight more features that make my mouth water, but the game has actively implemented previously revealed features. I can’t help but hope this sandbox will be The One for me.What are these features that have me excited? And when can we expect the game’s “real” release? Between the various panels and our interview, I came away with a plenty of information on SOTA.
So why is it that I am gaining in giddiness for this game? It has to do with the non-combat sandbox features that Garriott talked about; it’s about having the tools to make adventures, stories, and life in a virtual world. SOTA is based on all of that. “We’re trying to turn over as much of the creativity and the reason for success back to the community,” Garriott told me. “I sincerely believe that we are going to deliver you a [story] plot that we are working on that will be great. I believe it deeply.” However, that doesn’t diminish the need to focus on tools for player creativity. As he put it, “We very quickly realized that our mission as a team is to give you all the tools you need to tell these stories in more and more powerful ways.” And the team is delivering.”
GameZone: An interview with Richard Garriott: How Shroud of the Avatar is looking to change RPGs: Tom Caswell at GameZone sat down with Richard Garriott and did a great delving into both Richard’s earliest work while at the same time discussing the current work on Shroud of the Avatar.
Tom: Your father was an astronaut. You’ve been to space yourself, but your most notable series is Ultima; you’re working on Shroud of the Avatar, both of which are fantasy games. What about fantasy attracted you when creating games, when obviously science and sci-fi has played such a deep role in your life?
Richard: You know, if you go back to the earliest Ultima [games], so the late 70’s and early 80’s, they were really hodgepodges of everything I saw around me in life that was inspiring. And so Ultima 1 and 2 both include a medieval fantasy portion of the game, but also sci-fi including space travel. Ultima 2 included time travel, even: you can go back to the time of the dinosaurs or go off into the future and explore the other planets. And so I would say I’m both equally interested in medieval fantasy and sci-fi. If you take great pieces of sci-fi and fantasy, let’s say Star Wars and Lord of the Rings: you could tell either one of those stories in the opposite setting, and it would still be a great story. So I actually think the reason my games have ended up in medieval is frankly a practical, technical reason associated with my journey through development. I started developing on the Apple II computer, which is a pretty primitive computer, and I figured out something which is now called tile graphics. If you remember the maps on early Ultima [games], they were 14 pixels wide by 16 pixels tall images for grass and water, etc. So I sort of invented this top down, scrolling map presentation that worked very well, when that same Apple II didn’t do 3D Star Wars looking stuff very well at all. I just started trending toward the one that I could execute in the most interesting way. But I’m equally interested in both!
GameRoom Junkies Podcast: Shroud of the Avatar with Richard Garriott at Dragon Con Patrick of GameRoom Junkies fame (the “biggest
dorks in the world”) recorded this interview with Richard at Dragon Con and asked him “how he became interested in gaming, his favorite classic games, the origins of Ultima, and of course his latest adventure game creation – Shroud of the Avatar.”
Massively Overpowered: The Stream Team: New Kid In Town In Shroud of the Avatar MJ Guthrie continues her adventures through Novia with another stream.
MassivelyOP’s MJ is an Avatar now, wandering New Britannia. There are many adventures to be had, many books to read, many NPCs to talk to, and many houses to decorate in Shroud of the Avatar. Did we mention many books to read? And now that she’s in a new little town, she’s got to get in good with the locals to find out all their secrets (like where they hide all their books!). Join us live at 6:00 p.m. as she continues to question everyone in town and try to help out where she can — and maybe read a book or two.
Many people look at a game for its combat, however, there are many who also want a game with a variety of non-combat features. When it comes to a sandbox, non-combat features actually can — and should — be in the majority. And Shroud of the Avatar is definitely implementing a variety of features that may correlate and work with combat but are not directly related to it. While speaking with Richard Garriott at DragonCon 2016 about the game, I learned a more about these other aspects. Specifically, we delved into farming, cooking, and even dancing!
We already know that when it comes to loot, SOTA will be depending on player-crafted items. But that’s not the only thing; food stuffs and buff items will also come from the players. And in order to cook many things, players will first need to grow it. Hence, farming. Garriott told me that he wasn’t interested in making just a Farmville 2.0, but the skill will still be valuable and necessary. In order for cooks to make items, they need raw materials. For that, players will need land to crow crops and raise animals. Considering all the land rushes of other games, will it be possible for players to obtain parcels? Garriott said that while plots in the NPC cities are sure to fill up, there are significantly more options available in player-run cities. Additionally, you don’t have to purchase large backer packages just to get your own abode; the devs have held and will continue to hold lotteries giving away land plots.
Massively Overpowered: Dragon Con 2016: Garriott and Hickman Explain the Void’s Live VR: MJ Guthrie is on fire with the Shroud and coverage! Yet another article by her over at MassivelyOP. This one is about Tracy Hickman’s Live VR project the Void and how it ties back to our very own Richard Garriott:
Have you ever wanted to play literally in your favorite game? Ever since my first tabletop pen and paper campaigns, I have wanted to be in the action, flinging the fireball when I see the monster coming instead of just describing it as I rolled my dice. When I found MMOs, I felt one step closer to that ultimate dream. Now, after listening to Richard Garriott and Tracy Hickman talk about THE VOID at DragonCon 2016, I feel yet another step closer to that reality.
What is THE VOID? VOID stands for The Vision of Infinite Dimensions. It’s a project that Hickman is working on with his son, Curtis, that involves creating large physical spaces where people can play games in Virtual Reality. They are literally virtual worlds built over physical environments, with tactile additions (steam, strings for webs, lanterns to carry) to add to the realism and immersion. Although this project isn’t new, if you haven’t seen the first look at the VOID, you really need to.
Where did this idea spring from? That’s actually the tie to Garriott. Garriot and Hickman met at the very first DragonCon and had been looking for a way to collaborate together since then. There have been a couple, most recently on Garriott’s MMORPG Shroud of the Avatar. At one point, Hickman took his son to Garriott’s personal haunted house, and the experience stuck with him — the entertainment of a visceral, physical experience and interactive storytelling. As Hickman put it, “My son was so impressed with the haunted house, so blown away by the haunted house, that when we went back to the hotel that evening, we spent hours writing down the sequence of events in the haunt so we’d remember.” From then on, Curtis was fascinated with destination entertainment, and that inspired him to do THE VOID.
Release 33 Postmortem Recap
Our Release 33 Postmortem got off to a bit of a rocky start and we were only able to stream to Twitch (instead of Twitch and YouTube) — but once we got going, we answered a ton of questions and gave out lots of prizes.
We talked about Economic analysis we have been doing and Upcoming Economic Balance Changes we plan on making (as detailed in last week’s Update). While we did not have time to answer all the questions, Starr Long and Chris Spears got on the forums afterwards and answered all the questions that were missed (and will try to do that going forward after every Post Mortem).
Here’s the video for those who missed it:
Starr Long, Fletcher Kinnear, and Finn Staber will all be working at the Austin Games Conference next week September 21 – 22 at the Austin Convention Center. Registration is open until 11:59 PM tonight (Friday September 16).
STARR LONG, ROOM 14
More and more game developers are pushing community engagement earlier and earlier in the process of game development. Traditional game development consists of the developer working behind closed doors on their vision. Periodically, and in very controlled circumstances, the customers can see the work in progress but that is mostly elaborate trailers, often not even showing actual game play. Most importantly the customers cannot give feedback while the game is still being developed. Now earlier engagement is also extending more and more beyond the virtual (forums, gameplay, irc) and into the real with cosplay, conventions, meetups, physical rewards, and other tangibles that make the community connections even stronger. This is going beyond just letting customers see the game at all stages and begin playing it as soon as it is possible to provide feedback. This is moving more and more towards blurring the line between the developers and the players into one community. Starr Long, a twenty-five year veteran of the game industry, provides deep insight along with examples, from Ultima Online up to his current project, Shroud of the Avatar.
FINN STABER (ON A PANEL WITH OTHERS), BALLROOM G
SEPTEMBER 21, 2016, 4:45 PM-5:45 PM
Advancements in technology now allow for a new level of immersive interactive experiences. The term “mixed-reality” is used in many ways for both AR and VR to describe the convincing presence that can be created. This panel of expert developers discusses techniques for creating immersive user experiences, and some of the important lessons learned over the past few years as “early adopters” of the latest AR/VR technology
FLETCHER KINNEAR, EXPO HALL
SEPTEMBER 21, 2016, 1:30 PM-5:00 PM
Wacom staff and guest artists will be on hand to demonstrate the latest in Wacom tablets and techniques on how to use them. Shroud’s very own Fletcher Kinnear will be manning the booth Wednesday afternoon sharing his tips and tricks.
Halloween is one of our favorite holidays and we are incredibly excited about what we are going to add in Release 34 to make things even more spooky.
As a reminder, last year we introduced lots of spooky items that are still in the game including several items that can be crafted (3 Tombstones, a Skull Candle, and a Jack O Lantern) and a few items still in the add on store: Zombie Masks and Lots of Spooky Decorations (Spiders, Spider Webs, Skeletons, Stone Crypt and an Ornate Skull Candle).
The Return of the Day of the Dead: A lot of items from last year were only made available for a limited time and some, like the Grim Reaper Mask, were only available in 2015. However, some are seasonal and will return each year like The Day of the Dead masks that are returning today (and each year thereafter).
Halloween 2016: Even Spookier!
There are also a ton of new 2016 Halloween items that will go live in Release 34, including:
- Spider Legs: These fit on your back like a cloak (or wings) and the colored highlights at the joints are dyeable!
- Ghost Dog
- Ghost Cat
- Ghost Raven
- Burned Down Wood & Plaster 2 Story Home
- Dungeon Iron Cages
- Dead Tree Pack
- Dead Tree Pack with Spider Webs
- Ice Nightmare Mask
Some are available now in the Add-On Store!
2016.09.21 – Austin Games Conference
2016.09.29 – Release 34
2016.10.27 – Release 35
2016.11.04 – SotA Con (Fan convention w/devs)
2016.11.17 – Release 36
2016.12.15 – Release 37
2017.01.27 – Release 38
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 – Prism and Diamond Fields Presents the Price is Right (9-17-2016 1pm NBT)
Think you know how many pieces of wood it takes to make this dining room set? Think you know how many pieces of wax it takes to make a suit of armor in leather? Have no clue whatsoever?… Then this is the event for you.
Diamond Fields and Prism present The Price is Right. We will show an item/set and add a bit of a math puzzle to it and the one that comes closest to the quantity we are looking for without going over will move on to the next stage. We will repeat this process till we come to the showcase showdown where the winner will take home the prizes in that showcase.
You can teleport to Lace Delamorte in Diamond Fields, or take the first boat on your left off the docks in Port Phoenix. We will be in the Kobold house on the far north shore from the docks.
Community Resources – Players Helping Players
- 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.
Visit the official Community Resources page for a complete listing of all things community.
Job Openings (3)
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
- 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 email@example.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
Indi Martin of Tortoise & Hare Creations who illustrated our Shroud of the Avatar comic book is running her Kickstarter right now. It is already successfully funded and hit the first stretch goal after a few days but we want more! Kickstarter Staff seem to love Indi’s work as much as we do since they picked her out as one of their “Projects We Love”!
From Indi’s Kickstarter Page:
“Beautiful, dangerous women and much more – scratch that coloring itch with all-new lineart in this anticipated adult coloring book! One of my most requested items is clean lineart for coloring pages, and I thought it was high-time I delivered a detailed and beautiful coloring book. Thus, after several test pages, this Kickstarter was born! Initially, the plan is for an 8×10, 24-piece coloring book with a badass color cover, but as you’ll see in the stretch goals further down the page, that art count may well increase to 30, 36, 48 (or even higher?!) at no extra cost – you can be one of the people to make that happen by pledging now and sharing the project! Or after you’ve read the campaign page, which is fine too. No pressure. The book will be printed on crisp white matte paper, with one-sided pieces of art (to avoid bleedthrough during your wild coloring sessions). That means the starting 24-pieces will actually be a 48+ page book! And if we hit all of the currently shown stretch goals, you’ll get 48 pieces of art in a 96+ page book! Insanity!”
Backer Shipping Addresses
In 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 firstname.lastname@example.org is unblocked from your e-mail account!