Avatar’s Update #257: The Making of East Longfall Wetland

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

Game Development

News Announcements

Community Updates


The Making of East Longfall Wetland

We have been focusing many of our scene rebuilds (aka “un-clones”) on the lower tier scenes near the cities along the paths of Truth and Courage. These are all Tier 1 – 3 scenes that players encounter near the beginnings of their play experience. In addition to being rebuilt, we are also adding side quests to them.

In Release 49 one of these scenes is East Longfall Wetland (the companion scene to South Longfall Wetland). It is a swampy Tier 1 area directly east of Aerie in the Longfall region.

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

A few more scenes in East Longfall Wetland: 


The Making of Elysium Mines (cont.)

While digging some of the deeper tunnels for the Elysium Mines the Satyr miners discovered an elaborate labyrinth with two giant statues looming over the entire complex. Legend has it that the statues are of two brothers and one of the brothers killed the other and that deadly feud is the source of the undead haunting the maze.

[A Dev+ Forum Post by Chris “Sea Wolf” Wolf]

Hey folks, here are some updated screenshots.

CavernsSatyr CampLower Tunnels


Soltown Inn Remodel

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

Hello Avatars!

Many of you frequent the Inn in Soltown, whether to have a drink, access the bank, follow a quest, or relax and enjoy music from some of Novia’s finest bards. There were some small issues with the lanterns used inside the last version of the inn (they were ‘outside lanterns’ and therefore spawned moths, and the NPC guards kept trying to turn them on and off). While we were adjusting them, we thought it’d be nice to just do a remodel of the ground floor entirely!

I hope everyone enjoys the improvements! It should feel a lot cozier and more pleasant to spend time in. I look forward to seeing everyone in the newly remodeled Soltown Inn!

The banker automaton had his little station updated to indicate more of a ‘banky’ feel

Always a popular spot, the space around the piano is now much cozier for listeners and accompanying musicians. 

Drink sales have been good enough that Richard could afford a full redo of the bar area!

The common room now has more space for dancing and congregating.

Thanks for following our progress!


Make a Difference: 2017 Charitable Giving Report

In accordance with Portalarium’s founding purpose to promote goodwill and make a positive difference in the world, we established our Make a Difference store back in May 2015 to coincide with Rize Up Gaming’s Water.org charity drive. Through that store we donate anywhere between 10-50% of the net proceeds from purchases of items made by our community.

Since that time we have added multiple charities including Autism Awareness, Breast Cancer, Blood Charities, Movember, and more. We have also participated in multiple charitable efforts with our amazing community like the Aerie Fund. This October we added hospital themed items to support Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals and Doctors Without Borders as well as expanded the Make a Difference concept outside the confines of the Make a Difference Store to over 90 items in the Add-On Store.

Through purchases of Make a Difference items by our community we have raised over $40,000 for charity since starting the Make a Difference Store in 2015! Our grand total as of December 7, 2017 is:

** $44,111.79 **

Thank you, Avatars, for being so virtuous!

NOTE: Items go on and off sale during telethons, weekend flash sales, etc. so prices visible on the store are not necessarily the price the item sold for when calculating sales totals.


Water.org $16,761.60  

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To date, we have raised $16,761.60 for Water.org, from contributions by our generous backers through purchases of items such as the Ornate Outhouse, Wishing Well, Water Cloak, and /rain emote. Water.org is a nonprofit organization that has transformed hundreds of communities in Africa, South Asia, and Central America by providing access to safe water and sanitation. You can learn more about the projects your donation helps support here.


Breast Cancer Research Foundation: $8,200.44

bcrf_logo

Starting with an amazingly generous donation by Shooter Jennings of his album, Countach (and related items), we have managed to raise an incredible $8,200.44 for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF) through community purchases of items such as the Countach Wax Cylinders, Countach Pink Dye, Countach Album Cover, Countach Phonograph, and the Juggle Pink Lights emote. BCRF is an organization that works to achieve prevention, and a cure for breast cancer in our lifetime, by providing critical funding for innovative clinical and translational research at leading medical centers worldwide, and increasing public awareness about good breast health.


Autism Awareness: $6,886.26 
NationalAutismAssociation_logo

Our generous community has raised $6,886.26 through purchases of items such as the Puzzle Pattern Cloak, Puzzle Tree Cloak, and Puzzle Tree. We split these donations equally between the following two organizations:

The National Autism Associationheadquartered in Portsmouth, RI, whose mission statement is “…to respond to the nas-logomost urgent needs of the autism community, providing real help and hope so that all affected can reach their full potential.” The National Autism Association is a parent-run 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. Founded in 2003, NAA is a parent-run advocacy organization and the leading voice on urgent issues related to severe autism, regressive autism, autism safety, autism abuse, and crisis prevention.

The National Autistic Society is the leading UK charity for people on the autism spectrum (including Asperger syndrome) and their families. They provide information, support and pioneering services, and campaign for a better world for people with autism.


Blood Charities: $7,117.20

Through the sales of the Lord British and Darkstarr Blood Reliquary Bundles we have raised $7,117.20
for a host of blood related charities, including:

 


Movember: $2,950.02 (+ $3,357 of direct fundraising) 

Back in 2013 we created a Portalarium Movember team called Moustache of the Avatar and raised $1,680 for charity. Last year we reformed the team as Moustache of the Avatar. This year we came close to matching our original record and raised $1,367 bring our total direct fundraising up to $3,357. Outside of that direct fundraising we created a Movember store and stocked it with several Moustache themed items including very rare follicular reliquaries of hair from Darkstarr and Lord British! Through sales of those Movember items we have raised an amazing $2,950.02 so far.

The Movember Foundation’s mission: “The state of men’s health is in crisis. Men experience worse longer-term health than women and die on average six years earlier. Prostate cancer rates will double in the next 15 years. Testicular cancer rates have already doubled in the last 50. Three quarters of suicides are men. Poor mental health leads to half a million men taking their own life every year. That’s one every minute. Our fathers, partners, brothers and friends are facing this health crisis and it’s not being talked about. We can’t afford to stay silent.”


Leonardo’s Discovery Warehouse: $1,545.75 

Purchases of Helen Garriott’s artwork, Exodus, has raised an incredible $1,545.75 for Leonardo’s Discovery Warehouse. Helen (Richard Garriott’s mother) was one of the original investors in Origin. Using funds acquired from that investment, she envisioned and created Leonardo’s Discovery Warehouse in the community of Enid Oklahoma, where she grew up. She believed that inspiring children in art and science was supremely important. Leonardo’s stands as a monument to her vision and the way she lived her life, and is accepting donations in Helen’s memory.

“…I share the hope that through the vehicle of an arts and sciences center (Leonardo’s Discovery Warehouse) we can excite both the excellent student and the struggling or unmotivated student in the adventure of discovery, raise self esteem and turn them on to the fun of a productive life.” – Helen Garriott



Hospitals: $2,196.27

Our most recent expansion of the Make a Difference store was to support two Hospital based charities: Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals and Doctors Without Borders. To date we have raised $2,196.27 from sales of hospital themed items including a Doctor’s outfit, Nurse’s outfit, Wheelchair, and Hospital Sign. We even came up with our own unique version of the caduceus based on Lord British’s silver serpent. These funds will be split evenly between the two charities:

Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals: Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals® raises funds and awareness for 170 member hospitals that provide 32 million treatments each year to kids across the U.S. and Canada. Since 1983, Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals has helped fill medical funding gaps by raising more than $5 billion, most of it $1 at a time through Miracle Balloon icon campaigns.

Doctors Without Borders: Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) provides assistance to populations in distress, to victims of natural or man-made disasters, and to victims of armed conflict. They do so irrespective of race, religion, creed, or political convictions.


To participate in any of these charities with us, all you have to do is purchase one of the items in our Make a Difference store or purchase an item in the Add On Store that has the virtue symbol on it. We thank you, Avatar, for being virtuous!


Free Trial (aka Visitor System) Updates

With Release 49 we are making a few updates to our Free Trial. We are moving Free Trial users to the Path of Courage because using melee weapons is an easier introduction to the combat system. We are also going to limit interaction with the story to only the Path of Courage. Visitors will no longer be able to start the other story paths. Also, we are now going to limit how far Visitors can advance their skills to only level 50.

Making these changes will allow us to leave the free trial up almost continually therefore maximizing the ability for players to try the game before they buy (previously the free trial was available 3 weeks out of the month). We feel firmly that giving players this no obligation opportunity is great for the health of the game and a fair business practice that we wish to pursue.

Here is the updated list of Visitor limits:

  • The term (Visitor) is appended to their character name
  • Can only advance skills up to Level 50 (previously there was no skill cap)
  • Can only play on the Path of Courage (previously there was no limit to story)
  • Cannot start the Paths of Love nor Truth
  • 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 create ransom items when you kill or are killed in PVP (in Open PVP zones)
  • Cannot play in Offline Mode
  • Free Trial Access may be restricted during certain times of the year

We have seen some reactions to this information along the lines of “doesn’t this make Shroud free to play?” Well yes you could use some definitions of “freemium” to conclude that our limited free trial being available at almost all times makes us a type of freemium game. For us to truly be considered free to play though, all the above limits would need to be accessible after some amount of playtime but unlocked “quickly” through purchase.

It is worth noting that we modeled our free trial limits after World of Warcraft Starter Edition and we are not sure anyone refers to them as free to play nor even freemium.

In the end we do not consider these labels important. What we consider important is a player’s ability to try before they buy while preserving the game economy from potential abuse (hence the restrictions on trade and ownership).


R49 on QA Server

An early version of Release 49 went live on the QA server on Monday and players started testing almost immediately. They also started reviewing and offering feedback on an early version of the R49 post.

Despite being another short release R49 is full of new content most of which is now on the QA server for early testing.

  • Framerate improvements
  • New Scenes: East Longfall Wetland, Elysium Mines, Desert Encounter
  • More Ore in all Tier 1 & 2 scenes
  • Ore on NPCs in the new Tier 2 mines
  • Quests that reward Virtue Gloves
  • New Recipes: Winter items (incl.Gingerbread house!), Make a Difference items, and more!
  • UI Polish
  • Norgard Barbarians
  • NPC Behavior Polish: Dragons, Casting Interrupts, Indoor Lights, Mage NPC Heal Rates, etc.

Reminder that testing on QA makes you eligible for Testing Incentive Rewards including gold crowns, the Ant Farm, Antennae, Bug Cloak, and Bug Paintings!


BrightLocker’s Crowd Equity Campaign Shroud of the Avatar Perks

We are providing BrightLocker’s crowd equity campaign on StartEngine with some special in-game Shroud of the Avatar items! Support BrightLocker and you can receive the following bundle, along with many of their other offered Perks:

  • Shroud of the Avatar Game Access
  • Golden Viking 1-Story Village Home
  • Tax Free Player Owned Town Village Lot Deed

Golden Viking 1-Story Village Home (this is NOT the same as the one for SeedInvest)

Tax Free Player Owned Town Village Lot Deed

BrightLocker is a revolutionary platform that enables gamers to connect with their favorite developers and gain exclusive access and interaction as they make upcoming games.

At present, BrightLocker has over a dozen games hosted on the platform. Gamers receive exclusive content, such as unique in-game items, physical rewards and more whilst also enjoying revolutionary and unique studio interaction. This interaction comes in all varieties, from forum chats with developers to livestreams of games while they’re being made.

Visit the official BrightLocker campaign page to learn more on how their unique platform works.


Community Wellness with the Meretz Fitness App


Get the Meretz App

We strongly believe in promoting well-being in each and every member of the community, and their extended network of family, friends, and associates. We are partnering with Meretz, a free and unique way to transform your physical activity into virtual fitness currency. They are hooking in Shroud of the Avatar to their app so we can get you in-game rewards for using it!

To help promote awareness and recognition of wellness behavior and events, we came up with the Wellness Cloak, similar in concept to the Clasped Gauntlets Cloak for community events. For joining the effort, users of the Meretz app will get this Wellness Cloak that you can wear in-game as a symbol of your wellness goals.


You can redeem Meretz Points for in-game Obsidian Potions. There are currently 7 potion options:

  • Potion of Capacity: Increases carrying capacity
  • Potion of Conservation: Reduces reagent use chance
  • Potion of Expedience: Swift gathering on all gathering skills
  • Potion of Precision: Increases Meticulous Collection to all gathering skills
  • Potion of Preservation: Reduces armor and weapon damage
  • Potion of Reclamation: Increases Salvage and Repair to all production skills
  • Potion of Stamina: Decreases focus use from sprinting

How it works:

  • Download the Meretz app
  • Connect to Apple Health, Google Fit, or Fitbit
  • Earn Meretz Points for being active
  • Connect Meretz to Shroud – get the free exclusive Meretz Cloak!
  • Use your points to buy Shroud potions and other game items

Other Meretz related in-game wellness items are being considered, so stay tuned for future updates!


Weekend Flash Sale:  Cozy Up by the Fire

In honor of this wintry season kicking into full gear, we are putting fireplaces, homes with fireplaces, cloaks, and other warmth related items on sale this weekend! Get a look at the lineup below. Additional related items can also be found in the Add-On Store:

*Some items may be rounded to 20% sale price by a few fractions of a percent.


Upcoming Events Calendar

Dec 14, 2017 – Release 49
Dec 20, 2017 – Free Trial
Jan 8, 2018 – 
R49 Postmortem Telethon
Jan 12, 2018 – Portalarium Grand Holiday Party
Mar 9 – 18, 2018 – SXSW
Mar 21 – 23, 2018 – GDC

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.


R49 Dance Party: Special Guest DJ Darkstarr

Our very own Starr “Darkstarr” Long will be doing his first ever full length DJ set at the Release 49 Dance Party next Friday December 15 at 2 PM CST in Lux Sanctuary!

It all started when Starr went to visit Amber Raine in Abbotsford. Over dinner they discussed how much Starr loved music and Amber asked if he had ever considered DJ’ing. Starr has a theatre degree and had always wondered what it would be like to do radio so he agreed!

This week Starr did his first test set. After figuring out how to actually NOT get disconnected (and to be heard once the mic was really on) things went great! So tune into Avatar’s Radio at 2 PM CST on December 15 to hear the DJ Darkstarr set! Starr promises that “you will laugh, you will cry, it will be better than Cats! You might even shake your bootie.”

“I am a D.J., I am what I play
I got believers
Believing me, oh”
– David Bowie


Spotlight: Whyte Roc – Player Owned Town

Located in the region of Quel, near the Etceter Crag Mines, Whyte Roc was founded in the year 493PC as a small crossroads village. Since it’s founding, the town has since grown into a metropolis that overlooks the mighty glistening Bay of Storms.

The town has some neighboring allies, which it relies on for commerce. Many of White Roc’s inhabitants spend their days working the mines, located just a short trip along the Crag Foothills. The warriors, on the other hand, spend their time warring against the undead and elves that infest the region.

As told by town Govenor, Cypher Black

It is a dangerous place to be traveling in the undead and elven regions, so when visiting White Roc, be sure to avoid those areas on your way to our magnificent town!

[Read More…]


AERIE Fund Dev Crafting Competition & Charity Auction

The charity auction kicked off last week with the addition of items from Lord British! This first annual Master of the Forge competition showcases the devs’ creativity and skill at the crafting tables. Click the link below to see the available items, and how you can participate in other community led crafting competitions!

If you wish to bid on items, please visit The AERIE Fund Shoppe! The auction ends on Dec. 16.

Details of the auction at: [A Forum Post by Thexedor Markhamm]


Contest: The Avatar’s Guide to Knowledge and Virtue

Do you have in-depth knowledge on a feature in the game that new players should know more about? Would you call yourself an expert in a particular field of gameplay? This is your chance to create a valuable how-to video that can be shown to the entire community (and help grow your channel as well!)

The ‘Avatar’s Guide to Knowledge and Virtue’ video contest kicks off today. You have from Nov. 17, 2017 to Jan. 15, 2018 to design a walkthrough video for all New Britannians to use as a resource for making their way successfully in the game.

When you have a video to submit, please post it in this thread. You are allowed to edit your posts up until the submission deadline on Jan. 15, 2018 at 11:59 PM CT (Jan. 16 at 5:59 AM UTC). We will be posting all final videos on Portalarium’s YouTube channel in a Playlist after the contest ends.

Below are the details of the contest, including what you can win!

[Read More…]


Party: Portalarium Studio Grand Holiday Party – Jan. 12

Let it be known far and wide that a Grand Holiday Party will be held at the Portalarium Studios and in Shroud of the Avatar on Friday, January 12, 2018 at 5:00 PM to 10:00 PM Central Standard Time (US)(2300 UTC to 0400 UTC).

We are going to have a lot of fun and activities for people attending in Austin AND also all those online from around the world:

  • Meet the Developers
  • Plenty of Drinks and Food
  • White elephant gift exchange
  • Games, Storytelling and Jokes
  • Live in-game party in Shroud of the Avatar
  • Video live stream
  • Live music
  • Twitch streaming
  • Audio streaming
  • Discord chat

Visit the discussion forums for details on this community hosted party!


Resources – Players Helping Players

SotA_NewPlayerWelcome_Forum

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 Support – The Saga of Lucimia MMORPG

It has been centuries since the Adepts and Elders roamed the land, wielding magic to protect humanity from what lies beyond. Mortals have learned how to get by with the strength of their own two hands. Have learned how to survive. How to adapt. But they cannot face the rising threat from across the seas alone. Only magic can defeat magic. And so their quest begins: a journey to rediscover the source of all magic, and harness it for the salvation of humanity.

The Saga of Lucimia is a group-based MMORPG developed by Stormhaven Studios, LLC. Originally designed as a homegrown tabletop campaign in the 90s, our focus is primarily on enhancing the tabletop experience and providing an old-school experience for MMORPG gamers who thrive on community-based adventures that span the course of weeks, months, and years alongside their fellow adventurers. Epic storylines, 8-person groups, multi-group raids, ability-based character progression, crafting that is equally important to adventuring, no mini maps, no experience points, zero quest hub grinding, no flashing icons over NPC heads telling you who to talk to, and an endless world to explore.

Robert “Undone” Thompson here from Portalarium! Saga of Lucimia is a hobby project of mine that also played a big role in my hiring. I have been the lead developer on it for the past few years and am very excited to share it with you. I hope you enjoy what you see from this passion project!


Backer Shipping Addresses

SotA_ShippingAddressIn preparation for shipping backers’ physical pledge rewards around the game’s launch period, on your Account Page, please 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!



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