Update of the Avatar #227 – 2017.05.12: New Free Trial Begins, Black Sun Game Publishing Partnership, Oracle Update, R41 Postmortem Recap, Localization Update, Flash Sales, Community Events, and More!

Greetings Fellow Avatars!

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

The Making of Oracle Colossus

SPOILERS: Now that all three paths (Truth, Love, and Courage) are playable we have begun work on the Finale part of the plot, aka The Path of the Oracle. One of the crucial scenes of that path is the Oracle Colossus. This is of course the famous depiction of the Oracle from the concept painting by Stephen Daniele inspired by passages from The Sword of Midras prequel novel by Tracy Hickman. This scene was built as a placeholder and is now being polished into a final state.

We hope to have the Oracle Colossus ready for Release 42 or 43.

[A Dev+ Forum Post by Travis “Vas Corp Por” Koleski]

Here are some early shots of progress on the Oracle Colossus area.

I, explorer Earl Greyhot, arrive at the site of the Oracle Colossus, where a previous expedition from the University of Britannia dissapeared under dubious circumstances.

I’ve discovered a mysterious magical dais, perhaps related to the magic elements.

The ruins have proven most inhospitable, but I have prevailed over the traps and puzzles so far.

..And there she is..

Thanks for following our progress!

Moondial Madness (updates)

Recently we did some re-ordering of the celestial bodies in the heavens. Additionally there are now more game systems directly tied to the positions of these celestial bodies. For instance Town Sieges are directly tied to these. Due to these changes Richard “Lord British” Garriott has decreed that we update our orreries to not only accurately reflect these new sequences but also add the constellations in an outer ring. The first pass is to update the Darkstarr Moondial that players already own. We also created a new Silver Darkstarr Moondial that will only be available through our Referral program when that comes back online. Other variants that look very different from the Darkstarr versions will then be created including a craftable version (more mechanical in nature) and an Ornate version for the Add On Store that will come in a variety of sizes ranging from table top to a giant version that you can walk under!

The updated Darkstarr Moondial is live in Release 41. Stay tuned for updates on when the other versions will become available.

[A Dev+ Forum Post by Scott “Scottie” Jones]

OK!!! After having the chance to consider and discuss the feedback, I was able to talk with Starr and Richard, and the decision was made to scale the constellation placards down by 15% further! After testing this by going into the game, hitting “V” a few times to go into first-person mode, and trying to read the runes at the new scale, it seems it’s still possible to make out the words, which is really all we were trying to maintain… This is the “normal” way they’ll be seen with the character near them for size comparison…

…And here are two images of them up close and in first person… Thanks so much for the input, everyone… You should see those changes in the next build Monday morning! I think that the shrinking of the constellation size has helped make these symbols less “overbearing” than they were before…. More of a delicate statement, if you will… ^_^

Craftable Moondial:

Ornate Moondial:

As I move forward with the new Moondial versions, allow me to show you the current state of the Craftable version (top) and the Ornate version (bottom)… The Craftable version is essentially complete, as far as the model goes, but I’m in the middle of changing out all of its materials so that it will eventually look like it’s made of all sorts of variants, instead of just gold and silver… For instance, the constellation placards will look like they’re wooden cutouts covered in copper trim to strengthen the edge and provide more punch to the inner symbol visual…(as compared to the darker wood “background”)… But now you can finally see the beginning of my ideas for the visual style of the Ornate Moondial, with its magical aetheric projections, and its glowing mechanical bits forming a new base…

I’m hoping to get Justin to help me apply the cool shimmery effect he was ably to create for the constellation overlay in the sky-dome itself (when you use either the astrolabe or any moondial), since that will help create an understanding that it’s the same magic/aetheric tech that’s allowing you to see it… It is this Ornate Moondial design that will be used for the various sizes I discussed earlier, from the small table-top version to place on a desk in your player-house, to the gigantic ones that fill a Village Lot or Keep Lot size, which will look something like this (though perhaps with a few more “glowy-bits” as part of the rest of the materials too… I kind of like the idea of some dimly-illuminant designs on the upper and under-sides of the solar ring, and possibly on some of moons themselves)!

As I mentioned earlier, I haven’t had the chance to scale them perfectly yet, but this gives you a good idea of how impressive they might feel when placed on your property or in the village square of a player-owned town! As opposed to the chaotic look of the Darkstarr Moondial, the orderly and upright graceful arcs that pass through the center of each moon help one’s eye determine their alignment between the glowing sector borders. It will be possible to walk beneath them to view the coolness from inside the aetheric, projected constellation image, and see up-close the location of the moons as they follow their glowing orbital paths through the sectors of the sky, clearly delineated by the longitudinal lines of the heavenly sphere…

I took a stroll up onto the balcony ledge of a nearby building to take a gander at what it might look like from a small distance, resting at some town center… I really think this will make for an impressive sight when viewed by those living within viewing distance, seen from some high castle balcony, or glanced at when visiting adjacent, multi-story pubs and shops…especially at night when the glowing projections will shine the brightest!

As these get closer to being done,…I’ll share some final images a bit later on!

Hopefully you’re enjoying the progress!

Scottie ^_^

[A Dev+ Forum Post by Scott “Scottie” Jones]

So here we are again, with me having finished everything on my side for all four differently-sized versions of the Ornate Moondial. Beyond this point I hand them all off to both a Programmer as well as a VFX Artist who will be bringing these beauties to completion in the next steps! We’ll see these eventually be able to not only track the proper locations for all the celestial bodies, but additionally be place-able as decorations on tables, inside large chambers, on home lots, and in various locations around player-owned towns! On top of that, we’ll get to see the addition of particle effects such as various aetheric energy static expulsions (such as those on the power generators seen elsewhere in the game), starry sparkles here and there, and a wavering effect for the constellations themselves! In the image below you can see them laid out on my underground test map I’ve created, and displayed in little vignettes from smallest to largest, left to right!

I needed to work on a number of details to finish these up, only a few of which are evident in these images (since most of my changes and fixes are “under the hood” for the sake of poly-count, efficiency, functionality, prefab and materials set-up, and resource juggling in Unity). The things you might be able to notice that I touched by looking at these images are the quality level of the base device itself (which received added polys to make sure the “energy bands” are nice and crisp looking), the addition of glowing engravings on the upper and under-side of the wider “sun ring”, and the placement of a red light-source that animates with the Sundered Moon to artfully represent the molten core within its shattered surface as it orbits our world.

Moving on to my outdoor test map, I’ve placed both a Village Lot (to the right) and a Keep Lot (to the left) to give you an idea of how massive the two largest of the Ornate Moondials actually are! The enormous dragon statue can be seen for size comparison, and far down below on the lower right you can just barely glimpse both the “room-sized” version, as well as the wee-little “tabletop-sized” version. ^_^ Each of these four versions increases dramatically in size from the smallest to the largest, as you can easily see here!

Switching now to a night sky, you can get an even greater sense of their grand effect when seen from a first-person, ground-level perspective. Imagine these nestled in between fortress walls and player houses, or even being the center-piece of an exciting celebration in a town square, or a night market hosted within someone’s walled keep!

And, of course, getting up close and personal with the base of the mechanism itself, you can see the impressive scale of the largest version, and just how easily a celestial-themed dinner party could be held within the embrace of the constellational sphere itself! I just love how all of these different sizes look in comparison to one another, and hopefully you can imagine the effect even the smallest ones will have when seen displayed in some cozy den or study surrounded by other hand-picked furnishings and decorative curiosities… I, myself, have never found the time to lay claim to a house somewhere for the sake of “nesting”, but seeing these finally get finished is making me want to start experimenting with interior décor on my own!

Hopefully you’ve enjoyed my part of this process. At some future point, once the rest of the effects and functionality have fallen into place, Berek and I will capture a bit of video showing the final results in action! As always, thanks so much for your generous support and kind encouragement!

Scottie ^_^

R41 Postmortem Recap

Our R41 Postmortem was this past Monday. We answered a ton of questions and gave away lots of in-game prizes, including Wood Duck pets, Gold Crowns, and even a signed copy of Richard’s book Explore/Create!

While we did not have time to answer all the questions, Starr “Darkstarr” Long got on the forums afterward and answered the remaining questions here.

The livestream recording for those who missed the postmortem:

Free Trial Test 3 Live Now! 

The third test of our Free Trial system is live now and runs through May 31. This will be the longest test so far of the system so that we can gather even more data about uptake, drop-off, conversions, etc. If you know anyone who would like to try the game for free, then send them to the download page. These tests are invaluable for us in order to improve the New User Experience and the Free Trial System itself.

Free Trial access allows you to play the entire game in any of the Online modes with a few key differences in game play.

  • Free Trial Current Time Period: May 10 – May 31, 2017
  • The term (Visitor) is appended to their character name
  • Cannot give items to other players via Trade
  • Cannot purchase nor sell items via Player Vendors nor Public Vendors
  • No ownership of property nor use of lot signs
  • Cannot interact with public chests
  • Cannot move/interact with items on a plot even if they are given permissions
  • Cannot flag as Open PVP
  • Cannot gain nor do they create any ransom items when they kill or are killed in PVP (in Open PVP zones)
  • Character data may be deleted after Free Trial period is over if character is not upgraded to a paid account
  • Items purchased in the Add On Store cannot be accessed after the Free Trial Period is over unless you purchase Game Access
  • Cannot play in Offline Mode
  • Can only start on the Path of Love

You can still explore hundreds of scenes, talk with thousands of players, adventure through the opening quests, and gain experience and skills as you get used to the world of New Britannia! If you wish to continue playing after the free trial concludes, you can obtain an Early Access account here.

For those in the Free Trial, we would love your feedback! We have opened up of our Release 41 Feedback Forums. If you have a constructive comment about this release that will help the game to improve, please post it there. You can also say hello in the New Player Forum!

Have fun, and thanks for trying out Shroud of the Avatar in Early Access!

Partnership with Black Sun Game Publishing

Portalarium is partnering with Black Sun Game Publishing to bring Shroud of the Avatar to Russia, the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and the Baltic States!

“We are extremely pleased to announce this deal with Black Sun Game Publishing,” said Portalarium CEO Richard Garriott. “We have a large and growing fan base in Russia and the surrounding countries. The Black Sun team is experienced and enthusiastic. They know their regional gaming community well and are ideally suited to bring Shroud of the Avatar to a very eager fan base.”

“It is a great honor for us to work with Richard Garriott, a legend of the games industry, and his team,” exclaimed Black Sun CEO Alex Yarovit. “There are many fans of his games, especially the Ultima series in Russia, the CIS, and the Baltic States. Shroud of the Avatar takes a lot of Richard’s hallmark RPG design principals and brings them up to date in a modern MMO and single player experience. We are looking forward to working further with Lord British and providing his newest creation to all Russian-speaking players. New Britannia beckons!”

Read the complete press release announcement here.

Localization Progress Update

With Release 41 we restarted Localization of Shroud of the Avatar using the Zanata platform. Our amazing team of community volunteers are steadily translating the game into Spanish, French, Italian, German, and Portuguese and we are now almost 34% translated. German is currently in the lead at over 43% with French right behind them at over 37%.

If you are interested in assisting with the translation efforts (and earning rewards) please review this forum post by Attenwod.

Public Stats API

[A Forum Post by Robert “Undone” Thompson]

As many of you know, we log a great deal of data for internal analysis. For a few releases now we’ve been promising to make some of that data available to the public. But before we could make that happen a pipeline had to be developed to automatically sanitize the data of any sensitive information. All of the infrastructure is finally in place and we’re ready to open it up to the public.

HOWEVER, you should first understand what this API is, and what it is not. @Chris summed it up nicely in a recent post on his work blog:

Chris said:

This is not intended for the average user to use. Instead, this is a big data box for fan or guild oriented websites to pull from to expose various data. …but again, this is not for casual users but rather experiences web and/or coding guy

This API is an elasticsearch endpoint that currently contains location-based events from the past 30 days (less than that at the time of writing as we only started recording public data about a week ago). There are many ways one can pull data from elasticsearch and all of them will require some scripting knowledge. You cannot simply go to a webpage and pull down an excel spreadsheet worth of data (we leave that up to the community).

Now you may be asking yourself how does my Avatar show up in these events? If you remember back a few releases (R40?) I added a mysterious option under your nameplate’s context menu that reads “Show name in public stats”:

The purpose of this toggle is to allow your Avatar’s name to be shown in the log entries accessible from this API. By default everyone is marked as anonymous; if you want to opt-in and have your name shown you must actively select this option in game. This toggle is not retroactive – meaning that for any past events where you were marked anonymous you will remain anonymous. The bottom line is: your Avatar’s name is only anonymized at the time of the event.

For those of you still around and interested in exploring the available data the API endpoint can be found at the following address: http://www.shroudoftheavatar.com:9200

I’ve also put together a small repository of example scripts to help you get started which can be found here.

DISCLAIMER: This is an experiment in sharing. We reserve the right to change our data retention time or disable the public endpoint completely.

Furniture, Statues, & Pets Weekend Flash Sale

In Release 40 we added a new pet: the wonderfully cute Wood Duck. In Release 41 we added the Fine Red and Fine White & Gold Upholstered Furniture Sets and we also added a lot of statues including Topiary statues, Titan statues, Lich statues and tabletop versions of Greco-Roman statues. To celebrate we are putting all pets, seating furniture, and statues on sale this weekend for 20% off. This represents one of our biggest weekend flash sales yet! Keep the pets off the furniture!

Here is a list of the pets, seating furniture, and statues that you will find on sale this weekend:

Upcoming Events Calendar

May 10 – 31, 2017 – Free Trial 3
May 25, 2017 – Release 42
May 31, 2017 – Summer Telethon Part 1
June 29, 2017 – Release 43
July 27, 2017 – Release 44
Aug 10 – 14, 2017 – Syndcon (Austin)
Aug 31, 2017 – Release 45
Sept 1 – 4, 2017 – Dragon Con
Sept 22 – 23, 2017 – Ultima Online 20th Anniversary Party
Sept 28, 2017 – Release 46
Oct 13 – 15, 2017 – SotA Con 2017 (Austin)
Oct 26, 2017 –
Release 47
Nov 9-12, 2017 – HoBLoTH IV

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.

Trophy Room Contest

Get your houses ready for the most intense contest yet this year! Over the next several weeks, you will have the fun opportunity to show off your hunting heroism, crafting coordination, and trophy triumphs in this new three part contest kicking off today.

PART 1: Hunt down a creature, kill another player (to get their skull), or catch a fish!

PART 2: Craft the trophy from that creature (human skulls come as-is, no preparation needed…)

PART 3: Display your trophy triumphs in a single room of a house you have access too!

As we receive contest submissions, they will be announced in the forums and on social with eventually a gallery of all submissions put together.

[Read More…]

Community Project of the Week – AERIE Fund is Ready to Serve


Aerie Fund helps gamers overcome catastrophic hardships. ​Here is how they do this, and how you can help:

  • We provide funds and facilitate fundraising efforts for vetted gamers who need help during a catastrophic hardship (financial, medical, and natural disaster).
  • We promote awareness and raise funds for other 501c3 organizations centered around issues gamers care about (i.e., cyber-bullying).
  • We work with developers and gaming communities to build fun, inclusive, and cause-centered gaming experienced.
  • We promote social interaction and apolitical activism to bring awareness to compelling (and important) causes that directly impact gamer lives.

“We hope that AERIE Fund will serve all of the Avatars in New Britannia for many years to come. Please visit our site, stay in the loop (follow us), give feedback, and support our efforts when you can. Let’s set the gold standard for gaming communities out there, and show the world how SoTA rolls.” – Thexedor Marhamm

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.

Recommended Project to Back – Star Citizen (Offer Bundles)

We’ve got two cross-promotion bundles on sales through now until the end of the Summer Telethon on May 31st! These bundles have items from the game, Star Citizen, developed by Cloud Imperium Games.

Star Citizen Aeronaut Helmet Starter Bundle

You get in Shroud of the Avatar a Star Citizen Aeronaut Helmet! The Cloud Imperium Sky Navy equips its daring Aeronauts with these helmets that include the latest in Kobold Aether Vibration technology, allowing the user to tune into radio stations.

You get in Star Citizen a Mustang Alpha! Inspired by Consolidated Outland CEO Silas Koerner’s cutting edge vision, the Mustang Alpha is a sleek, stylish spacecraft that uses ultralight alloys to push power ratios to the limits, albeit sometimes unsafely. And now, with the optional Cargo Carrier, you can have the Alpha’s advantages without sacrificing carrying capacity.

Star Citizen Airship City Home Bundle

You get in Shroud of the Avatar a Star Citizen Airship City Home! The Cloud Imperium Sky Navy has recently decommissioned 150 of their armor clad airships and lucky Outlanders can purchase them to use as homes on their City Lots. These float above a city lot, providing ample living area while preserving almost 100% of yard space!

You get in Star Citizen a Cutlass Black Starship! Drake Interplanetary claims that the Cutlass Black is a low-cost, easy-to-maintain solution for local in-system militia units. The larger-than-average cargo hold, RIO seat and dedicated tractor mount are, the company literature insists, for facilitating search and rescue operations.

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!