Greetings Fellow Avatars!
Here’s what we have for you in this week’s edition of Update of the Avatar:
- Isle of Storms Before & After Polish
- Crypt of the Avatar Polish
- Graff Gem Mines New Cavern Area
- The Making of Celestis (update)
- Lord British’s Birthday Bash Telethon – July 6th
- New Free Trial Coming Up! July 3-26
- Reddit AMA Q&A with Richard Garriott and the Team
- Richard Garriott at Barcelona Gamelab
- Comic-Con Panels with Richard Garriott and Starr Long
- Community Contest: Rock Me Avatarus! – Party Showcase Contest
- Community Livestream: A New Look to Celestis
- Tech Talk Tuesday: Tech Talk Tuesday #8: Continuation of the AMA
- Weekend Flash Sales: The Lord British Collection
- Make Your SeedInvest Reservation Official!
- Upcoming Events Calendar
- Community Event: Ordinis Mortis Shopping Extravaganza and After Party!
- Community Event: Just 1 Life – 48 Hour Streamathon
- Community Resources: Players Helping Players
- Recommended Project to Back: Crowfall
Isle of Storms Polish
Since this is the very first scene players encounter we felt that it could use some additional visual polish so we spent time this release making various improvements to lighting, terrain, visual effects, and flora.
We’ve been busy with lots of improvements and updates this release. We keep improving visual tools and assets to build scenes with, and so it’s fun to re-visit some of the older existing maps and touch them up with our new toys.
Hutch, Damon, and I have been touching up Isle of Storms recently (as well as an update to Arabella from the character team!). Here’s some of our progress:
After! (The Mirror Area will get some additional love beyond this)
More changes are coming about to the Lunar Rift area, the Oracle Confirmatory and more! Thanks for following our progress!
Travis “Vas Corp Por” Koleski
Crypt of the Avatar Before & After Polish
The Crypt of the Avatar went live originally in Release 29 but the focal point of this scene, the actual Crypt and Sarcophagus of the Avatar, have been placeholders until now. In Release 43 we created the actual Sarcophagus as described in The Sword of Midras and redecorated the interior of the Crypt to also match.
I had a bit of fun recently designing the very-specifically-described sarcophagus-like tomb near the entrance to the Crypt of the Avatar scene… From the dashing, bearded, single-braided figure in ornamental armor carved on the lid, to the ancient engraved symbol of the Principles, to the bed of flowers carved in dark granite and inlaid with gold, jewels, and jade,…this fancy tomb definitely had to be a step up from the original generic tomb design I created so, so long ago… I wonder who that mysterious figure is supposed to resemble? ^_^
I actually started with the old tomb model I made, got rid of the kinda clunky geometry of the effigy in that earlier design (based on an actual Irish tomb of the Medieval period), and then worked on creating the best image I could to represent the description in “The Sword of Midras”. After applying the new texture map to the essentially flat lid, I then carefully cut out and sculpted the topology to help make it into a believable bas-relief so it could be achieved in as few polygons as possible….
As you can see, what mostly makes it look fairly good is the painted texture itself, as opposed to the polys. This helped reduce the overhead compared to what would have happened had I used an existing character mesh and tried to alter the series of textures used to make them look accurate… Using the base texture you see below I was able to use existing materials, create only one new material, and get away with a really low poly-count for everything!
You can see this chamber from above-ground while exploring one of the temple-like structures in the Midras Ruins (created by our own SorcerousSteve) found just beyond an enormous old tree as described in the book! Through a debris-clogged hole from which feeble light shines down, a lone sarcophagus can be glimpsed. A hatch nearby leads down into those same depths, and after a short walk through ruined halls whose ancient splendor surely inspired later Obsidian architects, the Crypt chamber can be seen from the room’s upper gallery, though the surrounding edifice itself lay in terrible ruin…
This chamber and adjoining dungeon were put together by Richard Matey who worked with us awhile back, and of course since our goal is to re-purpose as many of our specially-made resources as we can, the Crypt chamber itself was assembled using bits and pieces of architecture I made for both Hilt as well as Desolis. As a world-builder with limited access to actually changing the geometry of these pieces, he did his best to mask off specific Obsidian symbology, alter the materials here and there, and add a variety of details that help differentiate it from those other locations, and to bring it closer to the general description of this as seen in the book. His addition of the wonderfully-lit hole broken in the ceiling really sells the idea of it, in my opinion, and of course the passage leading off from this early chamber reveals completely different layouts of rooms, halls, and adventure spaces (one can assume that the other two exits described in the book have been sealed off by the fallen rubble)…
Having made the new sarcophagus, I was able to create appliques of that same symbol, an ancient Midras representation of the Principals and associated Virtues, to be used throughout this primary chamber to further capture the spirit of the room described in the “Sword of Midras”. These symbols can first be seen adorning the entry hall leading to the upper balcony of the Crypt, as well as the gallery beyond.
Making one’s way down to approach the tomb itself, my hope is that it will now evoke more closely the feeling you may have had when this same area was revealed to our protagonists in the novel. I truly tried to replicate its descriptions of the tomb and its lid bearing the effigy as closely as I could (even down to the little rat-tail braid of hair draped over the shoulder above the symbol on the chest… ^_^). Of course, in the novel the tomb was empty, and the incredible sword was actually to be found held in the hands of the tomb-lid effigy. The legendary sword has long since been taken hundreds of years ago, and the primary difference you may notice is that the tomb is no longer empty. In the intervening centuries, someone has taken it upon themselves to lay some other forgotten soul to rest there, and left an offering of a flower and a book describing the Principles themselves.
And here’s that Principles symbol again! Since the book describes it appearing again and again all over the walls of the chamber, I figured that decorating freely with it was a reasonable way to tip my hat to the theme. I even placed it on the armored chest of the huge stone sentinel standing guard nearby! ^_^
Hopefully you enjoyed this little diversion. At some point we might do a polish pass on the rest of this dungeon, but for now, at least this chamber matches the source inspiration to a better extent… My next task is to make a loving pass on the town of Etceter to see what I can do about adding more details and points of interest to help link it to the “Sword of Midras” as well!
Wish me luck!
Graff Gem Mines New Cavern Area
We have expanded the mines by adding a large cavern area that is infested with Kobolds and Water Elementals, and also encrusted with tons of crystal nodes. The rest of the mines remain identical except where we have opened up connection to the large cavern.
Hey Folks, today I have a few screenshots of some updates I made for the Graff Gem Mines. Rather than edit the existing dungeon, I’ve added a new section to the mines for players to explore. The new area is a flooded cavern, which is occupied by a handful of Kobolds and Water Elementals who are defending a large deposit of crystals. The rest of a mines remain untouched, so players should still be familiar with them.
The Flooded Cavern
One of the entrances to The Flooded Cavern
The Making of Celestis (update)
This wealthy city in the Perennial Coast region was completely rebuilt in Release 43 to give it a unique appearance and at the same time make it match the Asian-inspired architectural, costume, and flora themes of the region. As with all unclones all locations of player housing, scene exits, major services, and NPC shops remain identical after the change..
Here are a few updated screenshots of my progress on Celestis!
Kabuki Stage at Night
Pagoda and Mountains
Lord British’s Birthday Bash Telethon – July 6th
Avatars, get ready for a birthday bash like no other! We will be having a special mini-telethon around Lord British’s birthday! Event begins on July 6th and runs from 3-9pm CT. Lord British’s birthday is on July 4th, a couple of days before the telethon.
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!
Celebrate with the community as the telethon approaches in one of the many soon-to-be-announced party contest celebrations!
In honor of Lord British’s birthday, at 9pm CT, July 6, 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 in our store after this date.
Before the following items expire for good, we have put them on sale at approx. 20% off!
New Free Trial Coming Up! July 3-26
The fourth test of our Free Trial system is coming up on July 3 and runs through July 26. 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. 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. You will be able to 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!
Reddit AMA Q&A with Richard Garriott and the Team
We had a great Reddit AMA this week with Richard “Lord British” Garriott, Starr “Darkstarr9000” Long, Scott “Lumthemad” Jennings, and Chris “Atosdev” Spears! We received tons of great questions and answered all of them in the three hours.
Visit /r/sota_official for the complete discussion!
Richard Garriott at Barcelona Gamelab
Meet Richard “Lord British” Garriott at the Gamelab Barcelona conference this coming June 28-30th in Barcelona, Spain! Richard is not only set to speak at the conference, but also will be receiving the Spanish Academy of Ineractive Arts and Sciences prestigious Honory Award!
The Spanish Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences, a cultural institution devoted to the improvement of a growing creative sector of over 400 companies and 4.000 professionals, announced today that the legendary designer, entrepreneur and adventurer Richard Garriott will receive its top recognition, the Honorary Award, during its annual convention in Barcelona.
Ivan Fernandez-Lobo, founder and chairman of Gamelab Barcelona and former president of the Spanish Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences, commented on the Academy’s decision to nominate Garriott for the Award that “the British-American designer and entrepreneur is a truly game-changer for the medium and a source of inspiration for anyone with a creative soul, even beyond the Industry limits”. Fernandez-Lobo also highlighted “the influence of Garriott’s adventurer spirit in the games he designed and the companies he founded”.
Comic-Con Panels with Richard Garriott and Starr Long
Attending Comic-Con this coming July 20-23? Richard Garriott and Starr Long will be there to meet you! Richard has two panels with one talking about his adventures in space. The other panel is with Starr Long about Shroud of the Avatar!
Explore/Create: Richard Garriott’s Adventures from Gaming Pioneer to Space Adventurer – Richard “Lord British” Garriott authored the famed “Ultima” series and coined the term “avatar”. In 2008, he became the first American second-generation astronaut when he flew to the ISS. Learn more from his new memoir “Explore/Create”.
Shroud of the Avatar – Richard “Lord British” Garriott (creative director) and Starr Long (exec. producer) will discuss their latest venture, Shroud of the Avatar, currently the second highest crowdfunded video game of all time. Learn how they have developed the game while honing cutting-edge crowdfunding techniques.
Panel times and location have not yet been announced. Keep watch for updates on the official Comic-Con website.
Community Contest: Rock Me Avatarus! – Party Showcase Contest
Get your party spot ready for a contest that’s sure to wow all the guests! Over the next two weeks, you will have the opportunity to show off your party hosting skills in today’s contest – Rock Me Avatarus – Party Showcase Contest. Contest begins now and runs until 12pm (Noon) CT on July 5th, a day after Lord British’s birthday on the 4th!
Community Livestream: A New Look to Celestis
We kicked off last week’s Community Livestream by giving players a first look at changes to the uncloned update of Celestis! Chris “Seawolf” Wolf drove the master build machine as we got a look around the scene and its surprises.
Celestis is an NPC town currently in the game, but is being uncloned for Release 43. Changes are being made to make the scene takes on the theme of other nearby Perennial Coast scenes. In Celestis you will find an outdoor theatre, beautiful rock garden, and several unmentioned ‘easter eggs’!
For more livestreams, be sure to subscribe to www.youtube.com/portalarium!
Tech Talk Tuesday #8: Continuation of the AMA
Chris ‘Atos’ Spears talks tech with community member Violation Clauth as they continue conversation after the Reddit AMA this past Tuesday! Watch the recording on Twitch here:
For more livestreams, be sure to subscribe to www.youtube.com/portalarium!
Weekend Flash Sales: The Lord British Collection
With Lord British’s upcoming birthday on July 4th, and the subsequent mini-telethon event on July 6th, we are celebrating by putting on sale a selection of Lord British store rares at 20%* off now and through the telethon day! Below is a list of the items on sale.
*Depending upon the week’s complete list of items on sale, some items may be rounded to 20% by a few fractions of a percent.
- Teletype: Plays D&D 1, Lord British’s first game!
- Telescope: Lord British loves astronomy
- Kobold Radiant Energy Coil
- Kobold Radiant Energy Capacitor
- Fireworks 45-Piece Assortment – Set 1
- Fireworks 45-Piece Assortment – Set 3
Click here to find these items and more in the store!
Make Your SeedInvest Reservation Official!
A couple of weeks ago we launched the SeedInvest campaign and started taking reservations. Many of you immediately made a reservation (thank you!), but some of you have yet to be converted to campaign investments.
Those of you who’ve made a reservation, please convert it to an investment!
To convert, head to the official SeedInvest website, log in to your account, and from there you will be able to complete your investment. You can also go to the mentioned linked to become an investor!
Thank you Avatars!
Lord British and the Portalarium Team
*Disclaimer: Portalarium is offering securities under Regulation CF and Rule 506(c) of Regulation D through SI Securities, LLC (“SI Securities”). The Company has filed a Form C with the Securities and Exchange Commission in connection with its offering, a copy of which may be obtained here: https://www.seedinvest.com/portalarium/series.b
Upcoming Events Calendar
June 29, 2017 – Release 43
July 3-26, 2017 – Free Trial Test #4
July 20-23, 2017 – Comic-Con Panels with Richard Garriott and Starr Long
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 – Austin 2017
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.
Community Event: Ordinis Mortis Shopping Extravaganza and After Party!
Join us for music and entertainment this coming Sunday at 1pm CT! In addition to the many town vendors we will have live people to barter and sell. We will also have GM crafters available to make items for you by order or to answer questions, plus there is always that GM buff perk. You can enjoy Fireworks and time with the community.
This will be followed (as usual) with an After Party in Ordinis Mortis! 3 pm central. This may end up in Adultima, but that is still a mystery… join us!
Community Event: Just 1 Life – 48 Hour Streamathon
The AERIE Fund and numerous other community groups are getting together to support the Trevor Project in a 48 hour SotA themed Streamathon. The Trevor Project is a non-profit organization focused on suicide prevention efforts among lesbian, gay, transgender, and other minorities.
To see who’s streaming over the 48 hour event, including major players like Markee Dragon, Kigu Starfish, Elaina Strongbow, and several others, see the announcement in the forums. We hope you will support this great community initiative!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org is unblocked from your e-mail account!