Greetings Fellow Avatars!
Here’s what we have for you in this week’s edition of Update of the Avatar:
- Moondial Effects First Look Video
- The Making of Sequanna Colossus (Unclone)
- Blood Bay Puzzles & Treasure
- Article: A Community Like No Other
- Free Trial Test 3 Continues!
- Summer Telethon is Nearly Here!
- Localization Progress Update
- Weapons, Shields, & Helmets Weekend Flash Sale
- Upcoming Events Calendar
- Trophy Room Contest Nearly Over!
- Community Event: Prism Presents a Grandmaster Tutoring Event
- Community Resources – Players Helping Players
- Recommended Project to Back – Crowfall
Moondial Effects First Look Video
As a recap, we recently did some re-ordering of the celestial bodies in the heavens. There are now more game systems directly tied to the positions of these celestial bodies. 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.
Here is a video of the Ornate version of the Moondial that we talked about in last week’s update. This moondial version will go in the Add On Store and will come in a variety of sizes ranging from tabletop to a giant version that you can walk under! These versions are due to make an appearance in Release 42:
With the completion of the last details of the models, the textures, and the core functionality, it was finally the time to take the Ornate Moondials to the next level! Utilizing the skills of Justin to allow us to include new additions to our particle shader, as well as the talents of Damon to bring numerous VFX online, we’ve given these assets a final makeover and last-minute polish pass that really creates a stunning impression. Once you have a chance to approach one of these works of art, you’ll be able to witness first-hand the way these new VFX work together!
Having worked up the code that allows the constellations in our night sky to shimmer and seemingly animate, Justin added this same code to our existing particle effect shader to open up new doors for us when creating the kinds of ambient energies that might surround or emanate from objects in our game using “aetheric energy”. In addition to the standard additive glow of particles, Justin’s additions allow us to set up two different “layers” of animating “noise” that can be used to make large and randomly changing patches of “glow” that allow for the slow shimmer you’ll see when you look at the constellations and similar elements on that texture used to surround the Ornate Moondial, as well as smaller noise patterns that randomly mix and blend in various directions to create a sort of “scintillating” effect that touches all elements at a much smaller, granular level… The overall blend of these two parameters is subtle-yet-rich!
As for the added particle systems themselves, Damon took his cues from the earlier works on the generators, but utilized actual animating textures to create some very beautiful arcing bolts of aetheric plasma which emanate from the Ornate Moondial’s interior capacitors as they pulse outward and upward toward the metal support structures, and toward the world-sphere itself at the center of the construct. Additionally, he added twinkling star effects to the celestial sphere, not only filling it with smaller stars that wink in and out, but actually matching the location and color of the larger constellation stars which will also flash into visibility from time to time. Now consider that all of these effects had to be specifically scaled to work with each of the four different sizes of the Moondial, and you get an idea of how impressive of a feat this was to achieve!
All in all, I’m overjoyed by the effort and outcome of the Ornate Moondials. They’ll certainly leave an impression, whether they end up as a small work of functional art displayed on a decorative den table, or whether they tower over you as you visit someone’s majestic keep!
Learn more about my Moondial work here.
Scott “Scottie” Jones
Senior Environment Artist
The Making of Sequanna Colossus (Unclone)
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. We have begun work on the Sequanna Colossus scene that the Oracle sends you to at a point along the quest line. This scene was built as a placeholder and is now being polished into a final state.
I have a few screenshots to share today of my progress on the uncloning of Sequanna Colossus. The map features a few scattered ruins, a village oasis (part of which has sunken into a sinkhole), a bandit camp (whether or not they are actually bandits is tbd) and a nomads camp. Some of the inspiration for this map comes from the Rub’ al Khali in Saudi Arabia, and Goblin Valley Utah.
This map is still a work in progress, and still needs to undergo a visual effects pass. We hope to have it in the game sometime soon after Release 42 (which will have the uncloned Oracle Colossus scene). As always, feel free to leave feedback on what you see!
Blood Bay Puzzles & Treasure
Explorer extraordinaire, Earl Greyhot reporting from the field once again. My latest trek brought me to the fabled Blood Bay, where I heard tale that a once famous pirate captain had left a trail of clues leading to his forgotten treasure.
I could not puzzle out the function of these ruins found along the northern beachhead. HAH, did you catch my jest?
I nearly broke my leg ascending this odd ruined structure.
I thought I had found the treasure in an old pirate hideout, but alas, found only more clues.
I decided to seek out the Pirate King’s vessel for any useful information. The HMS Peaches was in a good state despite its abandonment.
What is booty compared to the unforgettable adventure that brought me to it? I think these pirate relics will find a home in the University’s museum.
Article: A Community Like No Other
When I came on board to Portalarium early last year, I was already a dedicated Shroud of the Avatar (SotA) player and guild member, eagerly checking out the content in-game as it was added each release. The community’s excitement up to that point had seeped deep into my veins, compelling me to see how I could join the team to help the community move to new heights.
From the very first day at the office, I quickly realized there was so much more to discover with the community than I originally thought. I saw huge potential as I learned more about how each of you contributes content and feedback. From player-created resources on various community-led websites to a ton of in-game activities and real life meetups, I also quickly realized I was going to need the community’s help to succeed at this role!
In my years working with communities, I have seen few as passionate and determined as what we have for Shroud of the Avatar. A sense of belonging and camaraderie is imbued in all corners of the community. Many of the players come from as far back as the Ultima days (circa 1981-1999 including Ultima Online to the present day). Everyone should be proud of what has been built up to this point!
Little did we all know how exciting and wild of a ride it was indeed going to be in just this past year, eh? Let’s take a look back and see what’s changed!
Free Trial Test 3 Continues!
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 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!
Summer Telethon 2017 Part 1
Avatars, get ready to soak up the summer sun with us! The upcoming Summer Telethon is nearly here. Telethons are livestreamed on Twitch and include a complete schedule of developer Deep Dives, answers to your gameplay questions, community activities, prize giveaways, sales on items, and more! See what’s all included below…
Summer “Hot Air” Expirations Sale Begins!
In honor of the waves of hot air that will be blowing over us this summer we are expiring all of our hot air Aeronaut items. At Midnight CST, May 31, 2017 (5:00 UTC, June 1, 2017), we are expiring the following content from the Add On Store (and the in-game Crown Merchants). This means that these items will no longer be available at all after this date.
Before the following items expire for good, we have put them on sale at approx. 20% off. Check out what’s now on sale:
- Ornate Black Leather Aeronaut Helmet Pattern Pack (digital)
- Black & Chrome Ornate Aeronaut Outfit Pattern Pack (digital)
- Black & Chrome Ornate Aeronaut Outfit (digital)
- Ornate Black Leather Aeronaut Helmet (digital)
- Aeronaut Wearable Pack (digital)
- Aeronaut Hot Air Balloon Pack (digital)
- Hot Air Balloon (digital)
- Airship City Home (digital)
- Star Citizen Aeronaut Helmet Starter Bundle (digital)
- Star Citizen Airship City Home (digital)
Help us to achieve the following goals during this next event!
As a special bonus, we are offering Telethon Funding Stretch Goal Rewards to any backer that pledges a minimum of $5 from the start of the telethon, until Midnight (Spending Store Credit to make $5 minimum purchase does not apply). The Summer Telethon 2017 Part 1 Funding Stretch Goal Rewards are:
- $10,000: /smokevirtue: blow the virtue symbol in smoke from a pipe
- $25,000: Balloons: a small cluster of balloons held in your hand. These particular balloons are black with a silver virtue symbol.
- $35,000: Miner’s Helmet with flame on top (generates light)
- $50,000: Flame Pattern Stained Glass Oil Table Lamp (3 Pack)
- $65,000: Fire Elemental Statue with flame effects
- $80,000: Flame Shaped Shield and Scimitar
- and more to be revealed if we hit these goals…
Did you see what was unlocked in the last telethon? This one might be even bigger!
Cheer on the Devs!
For every $2,500 donated, all developers on camera have to either dance, sing, or drink a shot of alcohol.
Additionally, we will be spinning the Wheel of Fortune! The wheel will have 14 items at any given time, but dozens of sales will happen! Each time an item comes up it will go on sale for approx. 20% off for 1 hour.
As the wheel is spun, what is selected will be replaced by something else. Items already selected will be removed for a time (some may not come back onto the wheel for the rest of the telethon). Keep in mind that some of these may never come up, so cross your fingers for your preferred item!
Wheel of Fortune Flash Sales:
- Pattern Packs
- Make A Difference incl Blood Reliquaries
- Kobold Bundles
- Viking Bundles
- Shogun Bundles
- Elven Bundles
- Obsidian Bundles
- All Lot Deeds
- Water Homes & Decorations
- Pattern Packs
- Greenhouses (incl Ornate Glass Roof Rowhouse)
- Fireplaces and Lamps
- Pavers, Fences, and Walls
- Trees & Statues
- Row Homes
- Village Homes
- Town Homes
- City Homes
- Clothing and Wings
- Pipes, Fans, Umbrella & Cane
- Hats & Masks
- Games & Gustball Court
- 12:00 PM: Welcome to the Summer Telethon!
- 12:30 PM: R42 Postmortem (Chris, Richard, Starr)
- 2:00 PM: Player Housing & Player Owned Towns Deep Dive (Starr, Hutch, Bob Cooksey)
- 3:00 PM: World Building Tours (Esteben, C-Wolf, Keith, Dan)
- 4:30 PM: Story Deep Dive (Lum, Richard)
- 5:30 PM: ONBE Awards & Community Hour
- 7:00 PM: Crafting & Economy Deep Dive (Chris, Starr, Richard, Brandon)
- 8:00 PM: Boss Fight! (Chris, Richard, Starr)
- 8:30 PM: Combat & PVP Deep Dive (Chris, Starr, B, Richard)
- 10:00 PM: Artifice Tour and Lore discussion (Scottie, Lum, Richard)
- 11:00 PM: Q&A / Wrap-up (Chris, Starr, Richard)
* Schedule subject to change. Check back here before the telethon to for final schedule.
Win These Great Prizes!
- Seasonal Rare: 2017 Lepus Mask (last day to get!)
- Ornate Chainsword
- Wood Duck pet
- Wings and other wearables
- Several wearables pattern packs
- Large and Tabletop Statues
- Trees and Tree Packs
- Ancient Wall Sculptures
- Baby Clockwork Dragons
- Water Decorations
- Lord British vs Darkstarr Battle Banner
- Bank Upgrades
- Remote Bank Access Device
- COTOs and Store Credit
- Several items that are expiring tonight
- Plus more prizes from the Add On Store
- And several items courtesy of RelicsbyRild.com
We will be giving prizes away on an hourly basis with many being given away multiple times. If you wish to win prizes during the Telethon event, be in Discord chat! We will be active on Twitch and YouTube chats as well, but they will not be our portal for prize giveaways.
Watch The Telethon on Twitch and the final recording will be archived on YouTube! after the event as well. Please be aware that if we have any connection problems, YouTube will be the first service to be dropped from the stream.
Submit your questions! We will be answering questions throughout the telethon so submit them in the comments section of the original post (see here) or through Discord during the Telethon. Please keep in mind that questions and feedback related to each segment 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. When you submit your questions in the Comments section of the original post (see here), please keep it to 3 total questions max!
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.
Weapons, Shields, & Helmets Weekend Flash Sale
To celebrate the upcoming Release 42 next week, we are putting several weapons, shields, and helmets on sale this weekend for 20% off! Gather your gear, Avatar, and adventure forth into New Britannia this weekend!
Here is a list of the items on sale:
- Ardoris Guard Armor (digital)
- Ardoris Priestess Outfit (digital)
- Ardoris Shogun Armor (digital)
- Black Clockwork Armor (digital)
- Brown Bowler Hat (digital)
- Brown Bycocket Hat (digital)
- Brown Highwayman Hat (digital)
- Brown Plague Doctor Hat (digital)
- Brown Steampunk Goggles (digital)
- Brown Top Hat (digital)
- Brown Tricorn Hat (digital)
- Darkstarr Shield (digital)
- Elaborate Tiara (digital)
- Elven Elder Fighter Armor (digital)
- Flechier Tapestry Formal Suit (digital)
- Lord British Shield (digital)
- Ornate Basket Hilt Sword (digital)
- Ornate Chainsword (digital)
- Ornate Circlet (digital)
- Ornate Dagger (digital)
- Ornate Elven Mage Staff (digital)
- Ornate Marching Band Shirt & Hat (digital)
- Ornate Vile Halberd (digital)
- Ornate Wealthy Merchant Outfit (digital)
- Silver Clockwork Armor (digital)
- Steel Clockwork Armor (digital)
- Viking Wearable Bundle (digital)
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 Nearly Over!
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.
Community Project of the Week – Prism Presents a Grandmaster Tutoring Event
From Lace: We invite all Grandmaster Crafters to come and share their knowledge to new and would be Grandmasters! We can confirm at least one Grandmaster in the following:
Psych! I am not going to list them all out this time. The only GM I cannot confirm is:
No Gm Tailoring Repair
No GM Tailoring Salvage
For all the rest there will be at least 1 GM there training usually we have a lot more volunteer their time to catch overlaps and help us organize groups. If more grandmasters donate their time then even more can be mentored.
To become a famous GM, visit the announcement for this event in the forums!
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 Projects to Back – Crowfall
In this Throne War Simulator, characters are persistent but the campaign worlds are not, thanks to voxel technology which enables fully-destructible settings. A seamless blend of an MMO with a large-scale strategy game, players are immortal champions, traveling between realms to fight in an eternal War of the Gods.
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 email@example.com is unblocked from your e-mail account!