Release 51 Instructions

[From a forum post by Starr “Darkstarr” Long]


Please read this entire message, as well as the linked instructions and known issues.

Thank you for being a loyal backer and follower of Shroud of the Avatar. Release 51 access for all Early Access backers begins this Thursday, February 22, at 10:30 AM US Central Standard Time (15:30 UTC).

Release 51 is the second release in which we focused on the current iteration of our Top 10 Priorities for Launch (from Q1 2018 post). Once again we were able to address almost every single item on that list in some fashion. We made incredibly strong progress on performance, clarity of direction, new user experience polish, story polish, and UI polish. We also finished more physical goods, including the D&D notes. Meanwhile, we continued to make steady background progress on launch readiness (example: EU data compliance & server monitoring upgrades) and localization. We did all of this while also planning our launch activities around SXSW.

All of this was accomplished despite February being a shorter month and therefore Release 51 being a shorter release cycle with one less week of development!

Performance: Changes to code and assets continued our steady forward progress on performance improvements. The biggest change of course was upgrading to the latest version of Unity: 2017.3. These changes should show an increase of at least several frames per second in every scene. We also specifically focused on the Brittany scenes to get them behaving better.

New Scenes: We continue to make steady progress on rebuilding scenes previously cloned from other scenes. In Release 51, we uncloned two more adventure scenes: South Midmaer Way and South Fetid Swamp. We also are introducing Lost Vale, a completely new scene that is only available during certain celestial alignments.

Story Polish and Side Quests: We continue to polish the story with additional side quests, balance, conversation additions, and unique NPC art. One of the bigger changes in Release 51 is the addition of a single player version of Hilt, which allows players to access the Obsidian Forge more easily. We also added several new side quests, including quests for the final pieces of virtue armor.

Player Vendor Polish: In Release 51, vendor owners can now customize the visual appearance of their vendors with the pattern system. Patterns for vendors include variations of the existing outfit, a cash register, and a new shopkeeper outfit. Player vendors also now animate, even while the owner is not present. Finally, the vendor interface now has a date column so that you can easily find newly stocked items.

Skill Specialization: Players can now specialize in a couple of schools of combat and/or magic to gain extra bonuses such as extra glyphs. This was a massive overhaul that gives over 125 new updates to spells and skills in the game to players who choose to specialize rather than generalize.

Combat Polish and Balance: In addition to the massive addition of Skill Specialization, we also spent a huge amount of time on combat balance and polish with over 25 individual changes and additions in Release 51 alone. Updates included making Wild Boars tameable, rage effects for boss level creatures, the Obsidian Potion of Guidance, Armor Set Bonus refactor, and lots of bug fixes.

Character Polish: The character team continues to polish the visuals of the characters of Novia. In Release 51 they completely replaced all of our previously purchased bears with new custom-built bears. They also created custom faces for the NPCs Demig and Athard in Demig’s Battle Camp along the Path of Courage.

I want to express a huge amount of gratitude to the backers who tested the below listed items on the QA server. They found many bugs and also provided editorial feedback on this post so that it is easy to read and actually matches what is in the game.

Before offering feedback and/or reporting a bug we kindly ask that you read this this message, and the linked instructions and known issues to convey the current game state. We regularly have to answer questions or filter bug reports because some players elect not to read this valuable information.

By taking a few moments to read through this information, a great deal of our time and efforts can be redirected to focus on new “unanswered” questions and addressing critical issues impacting each release. We greatly appreciate you taking the time to review this post and for all the truly valuable feedback you continue to provide.

Also, remember that while we are providing new content with each release, our community is also working overtime to make new events for you to enjoy. Be sure to check the schedule for player-run events (via in-game book or the player-run website: Avatars Circle). You can also get the latest official events on the Main Website.

Without further ado, here is a list of what you can expect to see in Release 51.


  • Plain Text: The original plan for the Release deliverables from the Quarterly update. We intentionally preserve the original text so that our backers can compare plan versus actuals.
  • Italics: Detailed notes of what was actually delivered.
  • Strikethrough: These are items that did not make the release (but are still planned).

RELEASE 51, February 22, 2018

    • Story: We will continue to work on adding side quests and polish to the Paths of Truth, Love, and Courage. Also, we will continue to add and update maps for the in-game map system. Additionally, we will continue doing polish work focused specifically on the starting scenes. Finally, work will be done on “The Lost Vale,” a new mini-adventure centered around a lost valley previously hidden to players, now visible only during special astronomical alignments.
      • Hilt Single Player Version: [SPOILERS] Players who are on the Path of the Oracle and need to access the Obsidian Forge in Hilt may now enter a special solo-player variant of Hilt Fortress. Due to heavy use, the Obsidian Forge is overloaded and has been damaged! While the Obsidians attempt to bring it back to full capacity, it may be possible to more easily accomplish a certain task… The solo-player variant of Hilt can ONLY be accessed by players who are not in a group and on the correct stage of the Path of the Oracle. In this version, the Obsidian Forge will have a very small subset of its normal functionality. Players who desire more of a challenge may still use the original version; to access it while on the Path of the Oracle quest stage, they will need to be in a party.
        • Lost Vale: “The Lost Vale” is a new adventure area (originally promised during the Kickstarter campaign) that is accessible only during special astronomical alignments. It is hard to believe some of the whispered ramblings of those who have returned from this place. They prattle on about memories of the past come to life and waves of enemies that won’t stop. NOTE: This scene is not to be confused with the Hidden Vale which is an entire island of both adventuring areas and towns that is accessible at all times.
        • Item Highlights Main Storyline: All quest items in the main storyline should now highlight properly and so therefore should be much easier to locate. As a reminder you can disable this feature in options if you wish to challenge yourself. You can also adjust the brightness of this highlighting in options.

      • Scene Rebuilds: The following scenes were previously clones of other adventure scenes but were completely rebuilt for this release.
        • South Midmaer Way: South Midmaer Way is a Tier 2 scene located in the very center of the Midmaer region. It used to be the location of a thriving city with lovely canals on the shore of a large lake in an otherwise arid region. The city grew rich on trade through the area as it sat astride the main road that connected Brittany to Etceter. The rulers of the city built tombs to themselves amongst the cliffs and hid their treasures in them, defended by traps of course! However, the lake dried up and the town was abandoned. Now, opportunistic Satyrs have set up a bazaar in the ruins and Plunderers raid the tombs.
        • South Fetid Swamp: The South Fetid Swamp is a Tier 3 scene located on the western end of the Verdantis region. It is the site of an ancient siege and is now littered with the skeletons of soldiers, battered siege machines, and moss covered encampments. Rumors abound of treasures still hidden in the ruined keep, but the local swamp dwellers scoff at such silliness and laugh at the Outlanders who die trying to find it. Methane is known to rise from the bog on occasion, producing small fires on the surface of the water.
      • Side Quests: (SPOILERS) We added or updated several side quests.
        • Crafting Quests: Edwin in Soltown, Gilda Metcalfe in Aerie, and Bledig deCani in Resolute now offer updated starting crafting quests to teach the players how to use the basics of the crafting system.
        • Witch of the Wetlands: In the Hollow Log Home in the South Longfall Wetland lives the Witch of the Wetlands. Rumors tell that she alone knows the secret to crafting such a log home, and keeps the recipe hidden somewhere within.
        • Keep Your Pants On: Training the guard of Harvest is something Knight-Commander Torben takes very seriously. Help him hunt down an inspirational book written by a long-dead general and you might also find Plate Leggings of Courage in a place you never knew existed.
        • One Leg at a Time: Simone in Ardoris recently lost her daughter, a victim of a black arrow shot by a murderer. In her grief, she misplaced her late daughter’s favorite book. It’s up to you to recover that book (and gain Leather Leggings of Love along the way!).
        • Pants on Fire: Thibadeaux in Jaanaford is looking to build up her Reliquarium, and a pre-cataclysm relic is just the thing to do it. Journey across Novia to find the perfect item for her to display and you just might earn you own reward—namely, Cloth Leggings of Truth!
        • The Lord Must Fall: The Drumplemouths are at it again, this time in Aerie. Natasha and Marlin, two residents in Aerie, are distraught that they lost their livelihoods and a large amount of their financial assets at the hands of Lord Harcourt Drumplemouth, the wealthy uncle of Phineas Drumplemouth. They claim the only way to get their assets back is to assassinate Lord Harcourt Drumplemouth, and retrieve his vault key. But is it really as simple as that, or is there more to this story? It’s up to you to find the truth… or kill!
      • Scene Polish:
        • Blood Bay: We changed the encounter at the lava skull to be a Battle Royale that summons the Clockwork Dragon.
        • Serpent’s Spine Mines: We moved many of the ore nodes in the upper area of the mines into clusters (much like Elysium Mines).
        • Xenos & Yew NPCs: Unique NPCs based on player submissions (as part of backer rewards) have been added to Yew and Xenos.
        • Highvale Outskirts: Added a quest to guide new players towards obtaining upgrades to their starter gear.
        • Solace Bridge Outskirts: Added the final quest line to support the Mistress Valdis sub plot including adding a new creature: the Blood Minion.
        • Brittany Castle: Shhh! Something secret is hidden here.
        • Jaanaford: All NPCs in Jaanaford now have schedules, behaviors, and emotes.
        • Solania Catacombs: The center of this underground area has been recreated. Where there was only one large central “sewers” room, now there are several mid-sized catacombs rooms with several tunnels interconnecting them, as well as a special room far from the entrance behind a door that can only be unlocked by those on a special side quest. The elves that ransack these catacombs are spread between these new rooms.
        • Resolute Sewers: A new section beyond a breakable cave wall has been added to accommodate a side quest, but most of this area is accessible to players who haven’t yet begun that quest.
        • Bunker T: Below Aerie, and behind a mysterious “combination door,” lies a mysterious underground shelter that rumors say may have existed before the Cataclysm. Many areas are accessible to all explorers, but a certain locked door far from the entrance may only be unlocked by those who have begun a specific side quest.
        • Scenes Bordering the Rift Volcano: We have added clouds and lightning over the volcano that is at the top of the Rift and is visible in the distance in various scenes. We also added this effect in the Overworld.
          • Blackblade Pass North Entrance
          • Nightshade Pass
          • Overworld Map
        • Construction Signs Removed: We have removed the “Under Construction” signs from all scenes in the game. Note that some scenes that are still clones or have NPCs that still need polish still have “under construction” text that will appear briefly on screen.
        • Brookside: We replaced the cobbled together placeholder Headless Horseman statue with a much more finished and polished piece.
        • Malice Barrier Puzzles: We fixed a longstanding issue with Malice’s barrier puzzles that could have blocked completion of the Path of Love. The second barrier should now be present by default and correctly removed when speaking to Samael in front of it.
      • Scene Fixes: We went through many scenes in the game fixing major and minor bugs including conversations, stuck spots, floating assets, missing assets, bad NPC patrols, inaccessible ore nodes, missing collision, audio issues, falling through the world, tree issues, etc. The list includes:
        • Aerie
        • Battle of Highvale
        • Brittany Estates
        • Crooked Shank
        • Demig’s Battle Camp
        • Desolis
        • Grannus Colossus
        • Hidden Vale Overworld
        • Highvale
        • Highvale Outskirts
        • Kas Ruins
        • Middle Downs
        • North Valeway
        • Novia Overworld
        • Plains Encounter
        • Resolute
        • Sequanna Colossus: We fixed an issue where the Tears of Sorrow reagent for the Dread Artifact was not being granted.
        • Skydome: fixed issue with Vanity getting occluded based on camera angle
        • Solania
        • Solania Catacombs
        • South Drachvald Spur
        • Sunless Barrens
        • Tower of the Shuttered Eye
        • Yew
      • Map Fixes: Several maps had errors including incorrect arrow rotation.
        • Forest Siege
        • Hill Siege
        • Hilt Fortress
        • K’Rawl
    • Performance: Performance work will mainly focus on improving frame rate and reducing hitching during gameplay. Work will also continue to be done on load time reduction on the few outstanding scenes that are not meeting our 15 second load time target.
      • Unity 2017.3: After careful testing we have moved the project over to the latest version of Unity. This version offers not only improved performance but also provides better profiling tools for us to review the game and identify bottlenecks that can be solved.
      • Terrain Performance: More work was done to improve terrain performance in scenes that were having performance issues due to graphics.
      • Build Time Asset Caching: Previously a number of object types were doing a significant amount of work at load time. This work was moved to be a build time process. This will be most obvious in how fast buildings stream in after a city load.
      • Brittany and Surrounding Areas: Central Brittany and several of the surrounding Brittany neighborhoods received a significant amount of focused performance work and cleanup.
      • Asset Optimization: Several assets in the game were either too high polygon count, too large of a texture, made of too many individual objects, too many particles, etc. We have begun making passes through those objects and fixing those issues.
        • Ivy Archways
        • Dungeon Building Kit (what our worldbuilders use to make dungeons)
        • Basements built using Dungeon Kit
        • Yew Housing Platforms

    • Combat: More balance passes will be made through combat. Additionally, Cabalists will get some behavior improvements so that fights with them will be more interesting. Also, Chaos Magic will finally get more spells! Finally, we will be making a Obsidian Training Accelerator Potion that temporarily increases how fast your skills use experience out of your pool to advance (note that a replenishing box of these potions will be a replacement for the 2 Week Skill Head Start reward).
      • Skill Specialization: The long awaited Skill Specialization system is finally going live! (NOTE: We called this various other titles in the past including “Mastery” and “Proficiency.”) Each adventurer skill tree has one (or more) Specialization skills. They are located near the bottom of the passives in the skill tree. All Specialization Skills require the player to be very accomplished (skill level 80) in the parent skill(s) to learn the Specialization. While players can learn all Specialization skills, at any given time they can only have a maximum of one set to “Training” and a second Specialization set to “Maintain.” All other Specializations will be set to “Unlearn” automatically and slowly decrease. Also, Specializations will only grant bonuses if they are set to train or maintain. These skills are immensely expensive to learn and should not be taken lightly as they are intended for accomplished players as a way to help concentrate on a couple of skill trees. The benefits of raising Specializations in skill trees are:
        • Extra Glyphs: Upon reaching 80 Specialization in a skill tree, players will receive one extra glyph for every skill in the tree. This will bring skilled players to 6 glyphs to expand deck building options as well as increase how much a skill can be charged.
        • Attunement: For magic trees, every 10 levels will give +2 attunement to that magic tree and -2 attunement to the opposing magic tree. Chaos magic gains chaos attunement but loses 1 point of magic resistance in all other schools per 50 points.
        • Taming: For the Taming tree, this will dramatically increase the power of your pet. The amount of benefit will vary but many pet owners could see their pet double in health and damage output.
      • Skill Specialization Benefits: Additionally, the majority of all skills and spells gain some extra benefits or boosts in potency. These are too numerous to list here but here are a few examples:
        • Air’s Embrace: Gains a small melee/ranged critical hit bonus.
        • Berserk: Increases duration and decreases the Damage Avoidance penalty. Damage Avoidance penalty reduced by 50% at Specialization 80.
        • Healing Blast: Casting time reduced. At 80 Specialization casting and charging time are reduced by half.
        • Fireflies: Gains an extra dex debuff. At 80 Specialization debuff target’s dex by 10 point.
        • Offhand Attack: Adds a 10 second parry bonus. At 80 Specialization this is +10 parry chance.
        • …125 additional bonus effects
      • Wild Boars Tameable: Wild Boars (added in Release 50) can now be tamed!
      • Rage Effects: A number of “Rage” effects have been added for boss types, including the Obsidian Cabalists. These are effects that will usually trigger at around half, to a quarter, health. Larger bosses can trigger two or more effects at different health levels so stay on your toes when fighting big opponents in R51!
      • Obsidian Potion of Guidance: This new potion, which can be found on Obsidian Crown Merchants, temporarily increases how fast your skills (crafting and adventuring) use experience out of your pool to advance. Backers who originally were scheduled to receive the “2 Week Skill Head Start” reward will now receive a replenishing box of these potions instead. NOTE: This was originally named “Obsidian Training Accelerator Potion” but we did not feel that name had an immersive enough quality.
      • Armor Set Bonus: Previously, wearing a full suit of the same type of armor would give a 10% Damage Resistance bonus. For Release 51 this has been removed and instead players will gain a small (2.5%) bonus per piece of armor they wear in either the light category or heavy category. So for instance, a player who is wearing a leather torso, and cloth on all other parts would still get the bonus of roughly 12.5%. This bonus applies to the effectiveness of many of the skills in each tree.
      • Mechanical Creatures: All creatures of mechanical nature have had their fire resistance and death magic resistance increased and their air resistance decreased slightly. This is to better reflect their mechanical nature as well as to help with some balance issues.
      • Pugilism: Range has increased to match that of a small weapon.
      • Spinning Attack: This skill can no longer be blocked with a shield.
      • Chaotic Feedback: The minimum damage this spell can cause on skill use is now 5 points.
      • All Bludgeon Weapons: The base damage on all bludgeon weapons has been increased slightly BUT also now have a -25% poison effectiveness penalty.
      • Bec de Faucon and Eagle Eye: These two skills had dramatically different benefits despite costing the same and being at the same tier. These have now been normalized to both have the same bonus.
      • Lich Ring: Players wearing the popular Lich Ring will now be affected by the Banish Undead spell.
      • Enlightenment, Strength of Earth, and Air’s Embrace: Going forward, only one of these three skills will be usable at once. Additionally, the negative side effect of each one has been removed.
      • Push and Pull: Have been changed to start applying their effect immediately instead of after a significant delay. This was causing exploits with Blink in PvP and a number of other issues.
      • Ice Field: The radius has now been set to 7.5M. This also will now do a small amount of damage.
      • Spell Damage Normalization: All spell damage has been normalized to reduce the randomness significantly. The average damage will stay the same for most spells but the minimum damage has gone up and maximum damage down to reduce the range.
      • Distract Skill: All starting paths will now begin with Subterfuge’s Distract skill learned and leveled to 20. This decision was made so that Distract would no longer act as an obstacle to level the attribute skill Train Dexterity. Pre-existing characters will also see Distract raised to 20 if it was not already.
      • Critical Hit Color on Self: We have changed the color of critical hits on your avatar from dark red-orange to light yellow-orange to make it more easily recognizable as a critical hit (critical hits on others are still yellow).
      • VFX Additions and Polish: Once again, we spent time polishing the visual effects for various magic spells and adding effects where they were missing including the following:
        • Combat Blood Splurts
        • Eating Food
        • Banish Undead
        • Ice Field
      • Wisps and Fauns Debuffs Fix: We fixed a longstanding issue where Wisps and Fauns were not successfully casting their debuffs on players. This will make encounters with Satyrs much more challenging and Wisps something not to casually trifle with.
      • Stealth Fix: We fixed several bugs that caused VFX for several skills (Death Shield, Healing Grace, Air’s Embrace, and Celestial Blessing) to draw on the character when stealthed.
      • Knockback & Knockdown Fix: We fixed several issues that were preventing these effects from working correctly. This made them completely broken for skills like Earthquake and Leg Sweep for example.
      • Health Bug Fix: We reproduced and fixed an issue that caused players to get into a state where their health would not update properly if they had changed scenes while dead. While in this state, their health may not have been able to regenerate to max and could have resulted in unexpected death
      • Summoned Pets Reagents Fix: Fixed a bug where reagents use would remain at 100% rate no matter what your Summons level was at.
      • Offhand Attack Animations: We fixed a bug that caused Offhand Attack animations for the weapon type held in the main hand. The swing animations should now appear correct for the weapon type of the offhand weapon being swung. Additionally, the “splash” hit VFX now has correct timing and placement.
      • New Chaos Spells Delayed: We decided to focus on adding the Skill Specialization which added improvements to all spells and skills versus just focusing on Chaos magic this release.
    • Crafting & Economy: We will continue adding more loot to the game, including unique components for crafting and more Virtue Gear. Also, we’ll continue adding refining skills that increase the overall output of the refining step of crafting by increasing speed, batch size, and raw good to component ratios.
        • New Harvestable Trees: We have replaced the placeholder harvestable trees that have been in the game since the very first prototypes with new trees that actually look like the two tree types: Pine and Maple. These trees have died or become diseased so are ideal for clearing. They can be identified by their slightly different coloration from the surrounding trees. We also updated the tree chopping animation to better align with the trees.
        • Critical Successes during Batching: You can now get critical successes when performing any batch crafting operations. This will result in exceptional (higher durability) weapons and armor when crafting gear for example.

      • Player Vendor Polish: Prior to Release 51, all Player Vendors were identical looking and stood perfectly still so they looked like cloned statues. Additionally, sorting to find items inside a vendor stocked with a large number of items was challenging. In Release 51 we have implemented a variety of changes to improve both visual variety and usability of the interface.  
        • “Date Added” Column: We have added a new “Date” column to the player vendor interface. This allows you to sort items by when they were added so you can use this to see the newest items added to a player vendor.
        • Vendor Animations & Behaviors: Player vendors will now animate and gesture, even if the owner is not present. These gestures include head tracking towards potential customers, idles, and fidgets.
        • Customization via Patterns: Long term, we plan to support customization of vendors via equipment choice but for now we are focusing on providing that visual variation through our pattern system. These patterns will include a female version of the current vendor, a set of completely new outfits based on Victorian shopkeeper uniforms (with gender and skin tone variations), patterns that can be salvaged from the servants (Knight, Lord, Lord Marshal, Baron), and cash registers that will act as fully functioning player vendors (even though it does not appear as an NPC). These patterns can be applied at the Alchemy table and can be found in a variety of places including in-game Merchants and the Add-On Store. NOTE: Picking up your vendor and applying the pattern at the Alchemy table will empty the vendor!
      • Crown Merchant Additions: We have finished adding the rest of the Add-On Store inventory to the in-game Crown Merchants. This should be especially exciting for those who have been wanting the option to purchase individual items out of packs like signs, walls, fences, etc.
      • New Recipes & Patterns:
        • Dragon Head Trophies (Color Variants)
        • Watering Can (Decoration Merchant in Harvest)
        • Hollow Log House (quest reward, see Side Quests above)
        • Cash Register Pattern (Deed Merchants in-game)
        • Ornate Brass Cash Register Pattern (Add On Store)
        • Ornate Steel Cash Register Eternal Pattern (Bundle & Pledge Reward)
        • Male Player Vendor Patterns (3) (Deed Merchants in-game)
        • Female Player Vendor Patterns (3) (Deed Merchants in-game)
        • Male Shopkeeper Patterns (4) (Add On Store)
        • Knight Servant Eternal Pattern (Pledge Reward)
        • Lord Servant Eternal Pattern (Pledge Reward)
        • Lord Marshal Automaton Eternal Pattern (Pledge Reward)
        • Baron Servant Eternal Pattern (Pledge Reward)
        • Kitchen Knives and Cleaver (4 kitchen knives, 1 cleaver) (Decoration Merchant in Aerie)
        • Kitchen Pots, Pans and Kettle (2 pots, 2 pans, 1 kettle, 1 soup ladle, 1 spatula) (Decoration Merchant in Aerie)
        • Pewter Place Setting (bowl, cup, plate, spoon, knife, fork) (Decoration Merchant in Aerie)
        • Wooden Kitchen Utensils (cutting board, rolling pin, wooden spoon) (Decoration Merchant in Aerie)
        • Coconut Bra: Note this is not a new recipe but it was unavailable for a while unintentionally. (Tailoring Merchants)
      • Greater Resistance Potions Removed: New recipes for “Potion of Resistance, Elemental” and “Potion of Resistance, Greater” were added in Release 50 but they were still being mistakenly dropped in Supply Bundles. This has been fixed.
      • Learning Recipes Messaging Fix: We fixed an issue where messaging for the required level necessary to learn a recipe would incorrectly list the player’s current level instead.
      • Jewelry Damage Icon Fix: Rings and Necklaces now properly trigger the “Damaged Armor” icon when their durability is reduced.
      • Refining Skill Additions On Hold: We are going to analyze the economic impact of the refining skills we added in Release 50 before adding any more skills. The next set of skills would expand to include the next tier of components, some of which are not even created on the refining tables.
      • New Unique Components Delayed: Work on Vendor Customization, Heraldry and Combat forced us to delay work on adding more unique components to loot.
    • User Interface Polish: We will make various improvements to the in-game map system including support for Offline Mode and Linux. We’ll continue adding options to disable assistive features like compass notations.
      • Quests and Stacked Items: NPCs will now take as many items as they need out of a stack of items, or even out of multiple stacks, so that you don’t have to give them the exact quantity.
      • Book First Time Help: We added help messages to the book interface that tell you how to turn pages and use the bookmark to get to the table of contents.  These messages are shown the first time that you use a book.
      • Refining Skill Icons: We created custom icons for the Refining Skills that were added in Release 50.
      • Resolution in Borderless Window Mode Fix: Fixed a bug where windows machines were overriding the window resolution when borderless window mode was enabled.
      • Gold Collected Solo Fix: Added chat logging for picking up gold outside of a party.
      • Bag Mode Removed: When we began this project four years ago, we originally intended to support the nostalgic, old-school, free-form inventory that we affectionately termed “bag mode.” This interface dates all the way back to the original Ultimas and gets its name from your backpack and associated bags that you store all your items in that is represented visually on screen as a literal bag. Continuing the metaphor, all of the items inside are represented as individual objects that can be arranged in any order and layered on top of each other. No fancy grids, lists, filters, or other modern conveniences that clutter the pure chaos of this original interface. We also wanted to support the modern revelation of “list mode” which abstracts your inventory into a list that can be filtered and ordered. This mode is much more friendly and easier to use, especially when you begin to have large numbers of items in your inventory, bank, home containers, etc. For a very long time now, we have valiantly tried to keep both modes operational. However, this has several times caused us to do at least twice as much work for additional features we add to the interface. Additionally, we have a backlog of bugs in our database that only exist in bag mode, or bugs that manifest themselves differently in the two modes. So we did some data mining and discovered that less than 3% of our users actually use bag mode. With that data in hand, coupled with the workload associated with continuing to maintain two opposing interfaces, we have made the decision to remove bag mode starting with Release 51. We understand that some of you have a strong affinity for this mode. We also understand some of you have fond memories of it from its glory days in Ultima Online (bag art, using it to hide items from pickpockets, etc.). However, we believe that maintaining it is not a responsible use of our backer’s funds, and that removing it is the right thing to do. As always, thank you for your support and your understanding. Rest in peace bag mode.
      • Disable Assistive Features: This was actually added in Release 50.
      • Map Work Delayed: Work on mailing address verification for physical goods on the website, custom name rewards, and Heraldry work delayed all map work.
    • Physical Goods: Production of the physical goods including the cloth map, box, trinket, and manual will continue.
      • Cloth Map: We made a few minor tweaks to the cloth map and it is now kicking off the initial production phase.
      • Box: In Release 50, we created the cover and template of the box. In Release 51, we focused on finishing the back of the box including screenshots and game feature bullet points.
      • Physical Manual: We have finalized the text of the physical manual and we are now in the layout phase. We have also started production of the sketches by Denis Loubet that will be included.
      • Collected Notes of Akalabeth and the Story of Mondain: Richard’s original notes from his Dungeons and Dragons campaign have been scanned and put into a collectable format for printing (and for a digital copy) and they look amazing! Scottie made them look like they were on a kitchen table complete with dice and everything!
    • Loot Rules: Parties will now be able to choose from a set of rules on how loot is allocated between party members.
      • Loot Rules: The party leader can now choose from several options on how loot is divided between party members. Under the Party tab of the social window you will find text indicating one of the three loot modes: Free For All, Roll, and Master Looter. To change loot modes the party leader can click the loot mode text to bring up a context menu. To the right of the current loot mode will be additional options for that particular mode: Roll has a value threshold and Master looter has the name of the current authorized looter. The value threshold dictates which items will be put up for rolling; any item worth less than the specified amount will be lootable as normal while anything equal to or above this value will be rolled on by all party members in the same instance. If all members pass on an item it will be destroyed. If you leave the scene in the middle of a pending roll you will automatically pass on the item. The winner will automatically have the item placed in their main inventory when all rolls are received and the roll results will be delivered to your chat window. In Master Looter mode, the party leader specifies one person within the party who will have permission to loot regardless of which instance/scene they are in.
    • Heraldry: Players will be able to create heraldry through a blazon system that can be displayed on shields, tabard chest pieces, and banners in game.
      • Heraldry Delayed: Due to work on the mailing address verification and contract negotiations with the College of Arms we had to delay the start of work on the website forms for Heraldry. The website will include the ability to link your account, verify eligibility for the reward, and of course most importantly the generation of blazon devices (and/or uploading of devices from other sources). NOTE: We actually got all of the Founder Gear (four armor types + shield) created and we got the in-game heraldry pattern system working, however without the data being fed in from the website the patterns and items are not useable so we are holding them until Release 52.

  • Character: Polish passes will continue to be made on various creatures and non-player characters including the bandits and various woodland creatures like the bear.
    • New Bears: We originally purchased our bears from the Unity Asset store to save time and money, but they were not visually competitive. To address this shortcoming Kevin “UglyFist” Wells completely rebuilt the bears for Release 51 including all the variations, the bear headdresses, bear mask, and the bear clan barbarians.
      • Brown Bear
      • Grizzly Bear
      • Polar Bear
      • Patriarch Bear
      • Obsidian Bear
      • Bear Headdress
      • Primal Bear Headdress
      • Bear Mask
      • Bear Clan Barbarians
      • Bear Head Trophies
    • Demig and Athard, Custom NPCs: These two characters play important roles in the Path of Courage in the scene Demig’s Battle Camp. Therefore we felt they should be represented by more unique faces that we created for Release 51.
    • Ghosts: All ghost characters have had a visual polish pass on the materials and the VFX, making them easier and more pleasing to see. This includes the ghost creatures you fight, ghost NPCs you can talk to, the ghostly spirit you become when you die, and ghost pets.
    • Tamed Pet Emotes: In Release 45, we added the ability for you to command your pets to emote including sitting and dancing. At that time we only had these animations for non-combat pets. For Release 51, we have created sitting and dances for all the tamed combat pets including bears, corpions, spiders, wild boars, and more!
    • Ducks Tameable: We added wild Mallard Ducks in Release 41 and now they can finally be tamed!
    • Player Vendor Variations: We created several new visual variations for Player Vendors. Players can either purchase these as fully functional vendors or use the pattern system to modify the visuals of existing vendors. In addition, vendor animations and behaviors were updated as noted in the Crafting and Economy section.
      • Male Player Vendors: These are male versions (including different faces and outfit color variations) of the original player vendor outfit with the fur collar. These variations can be found on in-game Deed Merchants.
      • Female Player Vendors: These are female versions (including different faces and outfit color variations) of the original player vendor outfit with the fur collar. These variations can be found on in-game Deed Merchants.
      • Male Shopkeepers: These player vendor outfits are based on Victorian shopkeeper wear and early concept sketches Denis Loubet made. They come in several outfit colors and face options. These can be purchased in the Add-On Store. In Release 52, we will get female shopkeepers as well based on similar concepts.
    • Virtue Armor Leggings: The final pieces of the three virtue armors, the leggings, are now available in game as quest rewards (see Side Quests section above).
      • Truth Cloth Leggings
      • Courage Plate Leggings
      • Love Leather Leggings
    • Rusty Weapons: These “common” weapons that drop as loot now have supporting visuals that make them look suitably rusty and worn. Before they were sharing visuals with other weapons, including craftable weapons.
    • Clasped Gauntlet Community Cloaks: We created two cloaks to support community events this release:
      • Supanova Australia 2018
      • PaxLair 20th Anniversary Community Cloak
    • Emotes:
      • /djlisten: This is a looping emote where you hold your hand to your head with one hand on a table. This emote is teachable to other Avatars and is bundled with the Ornate Dual Wax Cylinder Phonograph.
      • /djtable: This is a looping emote where you have both hands moving on a table. This emote is teachable to other Avatars and is bundled with the Ornate Dual Wax Cylinder Phonograph.
      • /djcheer: This is a looping emote where you have one hand up egging on the crowd with one hand on a table. This emote is teachable to other Avatars and is bundled with the Ornate Dual Wax Cylinder Phonograph.
      • /overheadclap: This is a looping emote where you clap your hands over your head as if to the music. This emote is teachable to other Avatars and is bundled with the Ornate Dual Wax Cylinder Phonograph.
      • /flirt: We added a twinkle effect to the eye for this emote.
      • /knight: We fixed issue where the sword was not displaying properly.
      • /tiphat: Fixed an issue where players who had completed Path of Love were not receiving this emote.
    • Falling Bards Fix: Falling should now result in a consistent gravitational acceleration regardless of whether you are playing an instrument or not.
    • Wisps: Wisps now have correct death visuals for looting
    • Bandit Polish Delayed: We chose to focus our efforts on the Vendor customization options instead for working on polishing the Bandit visuals.
  • Pledge Rewards:
    • Character Name Change Request Vouchers (2) & Ornate Runic Letter Set: These rewards replace the “Pick Name Early” reward for Founder Immortal Adventurers.
    • Fyndoro’s Tablet of Finding: This pledge reward item can now be used once a day to find the in-game location of a single player by typing in their name, just like in the book (and upcoming film) Ready Player One.
    • Replenishing Box of Obsidian Potions of Guidance: This box of potions replenishes 12 Obsidian Potions of Guidance once per year. This reward replaces the “2 Week Skill Head Start” reward for Benefactor Immortal Adventurers.
    • Names on Brittany Graveyard Tombstones/Domesday Book/Credits Page: Players can now select what name they wish to display in these locations via a name entry function on their account page.
      • Names on Brittany Graveyard Tombstones In-Game: When each player selects the name that they wish to display, that name will appear on a tombstone in the Brittany Graveyard. Note that this tombstone name will display only after a patch that follows the player submitting that name, so many users might not see their names until Release 52.
      • Domesday Book and Credits Page Name Selection: The Domesday Book and Credits Page are scheduled to be implemented in Release 52 but you can select the name you wish to display now.
  • Player Towns & Player Housing:
    • Ornate Dual Wax Cylinder Phonograph: The newest phonograph in our line of wax cylinder players is the perfect gift for that DJ in your life! It even comes bundled with four DJ emotes (/djlisten, /djcheer, /djtable, /overheadclap)! This version is available in the Add-On Store.
    • Cash Registers: These are available as fully functional player vendors and/or patterns. Instead of sitting down when empty they instead light up when full and go dark when empty. Patterns for these cash registers can be used on any player vendors.
      • Cash Register & Pattern: This is a simple in-game commission charging version and will be 
      • available for purchase from in-game Deed Merchants. You can also purchase the pattern to apply to any existing vendor (commision or commission free).
      • Ornate Brass Cash Register & Pattern: This is an ornate commission charging version and will be available for purchase in the Add-On Store. You can also purchase the pattern to apply to any existing vendor (commision or commission free).
      • Ornate Steel Cash Register Eternal Pattern: This is an eternal pattern that comes with bundles. Note that pledges that came with vendors will also receive one of these patterns.
    • Bear Head Trophies: These have been updated with the new bear art.
    • Dragon Head Trophies: In Release 44, we created several new color variations of our dragons but we never created unique heads to make trophies of them. In Release 51, you can now start collecting unique heads from all of the different color dragons and making unique trophies out of them.
    • “Places to Live” Book: We know that home ownership requires a large commitment of either real dollars or in-game gold. This can be quite daunting to new players. However, our game offers other options that many players may not even be aware of, including renting from other players or even free housing offered by generous owners. We want players to be aware of all the alternative housing options besides ownership. We have already added a link to the “Rental Services & Free Places to Live” subforum to all housing and property deed items in the store. Starting with Release 51, all players will start with a “Places to Live” book in their backpacks that also links to this subforum. In Release 52, we will also add Bulletin Boards with links to this subforum in all the starting cities. Please be sure to list your rental availability and free places in that subforum so players can easily find them. We have noticed a good number of the free locations are not listed in the Rental Services subforum and are instead listed in “New Player Welcome” and therefore will not be discovered via this new method.
    • Elven Guard Tower: This player home decoration was originally created as a worldbuilding item for the city of Yew when it was rebuilt in Release 50. Several players commented how it would make a lovely addition to their elven themed homes and towns so we turned it into a decoration useable on player lots and in Player Owned Towns. You can find this in the Add-On Store and eventually on Crown Merchants.
    • Serving and Kitchen Items: We created over twenty kitchen and serving items that can be crafted in-game. These recipes can be found on Decoration Merchants in Aerie.
      • Kitchen Knives and Cleaver (4 kitchen knives, 1 cleaver)
      • Kitchen Pots, Pans and Kettle (2 pots, 2 pans, 1 kettle, 1 soup ladle, 1 spatula)
      • Pewter Place Setting (bowl, cup, plate, spoon, knife, fork)
      • Wooden Kitchen Utensils (cutting board, rolling pin, wooden spoon)
    • Hot Tub VFX: All hot tub decorations now have steam and bubble visual effects.
    • No Player-Owned Towns in Offline: Player Owned Towns are an amazing feature of our game that facilitates online community. They bring players together in an infinite array of interactions including commerce, combat, and of course dance! It was always the intent that POTs would be multiplayer spaces. With that said, we always looked for ways that there might exist to make them work in Offline Mode that would not consume too much time nor resources. However after careful investigation we have determined that the level of effort required to make POTs work in Offline Mode for the owner (while at the same time not showing other POTs) is not a responsible use of our backers’ funds. Therefore we will not be supporting POTs in Offline Mode, they will be an Online Mode only feature. This also means POTs will no longer be visible in Offline Mode. We apologize for any of you who were hoping to take advantage of them in Offline Mode.
    • House and Furniture Fixes: Fixed various issues with homes and furniture including places where decorations could not be placed, where stairs could not be climbed without jumping, where furniture could not be used, etc. The list includes:
      • Bear and Wolf Trophy Icons
      • Carved Oak Sidetable (icon)
      • Crafting Pavilion
      • Hollow Log 2-Story Village Home
      • Obsidian Inn
      • Obsidian Tower Village
      • Ornate Tavern Counter
      • Town Arena Basement
      • Village 5-Story Stone Basement
      • Wooden Hot Tub
    • New and Updated Dynamic POTs:
      • Caelestis Canton: Ownership changed. Removed interconnections (with Dragons Watch, Islands of Wonders, Knowhere, Lockbrier, and Serenity Isle).
      • Hero Market: Renamed (formerly Findupre). Converted to Forest 01c. Ownership changed. Changed location.
      • Light City: Upgraded to Town.
      • New Heaven: Upgraded to Hamlet. Interconnections (with Brittany Alleys and Verat Chaos).
      • Novia Market: Ownership changed.
      • Ordinis Mortis: Upgraded to City.
      • Unterwelt: Upgraded to Crossroads Village.
  • Telethon and Make a Difference Items
    • Release 48 Postmortem Telethon Items: We added icy visual effects to the following R48 Telethon Items:Ice Wand
      • Ice Sword
      • Ice Shield
      • Ice Crown
    • Release 49 Postmortem Telethon Items: We have completed all the stretch goal rewards from the R49 Postmortem telethon that were icy themed. For everyone who is eligible, the following items should appear in your bank for claiming in Release 51. You can see if you are eligible in your Account page on the Special Rewards tab: if so, it says “Release 49 Telethon Rewards.”
      • /jugglesnowballs
      • Snowdragon
      • Frost Pipe
    • Autism Awareness Items: We have created several new items for the annual “Light It Up Blue” event celebrating World Autism Awareness Day on April 2, 2018 and National Autism Awareness Month which is April.
  • New SFX: Note that SFX is an industry acronym for Sound Effects.
    • Lunar Rift Teleport: Unique teleport-in and teleport-out sound effects.
    • Exit/Enter Scene teleport
    • Baby Boar
    • Wild and Tamed Boars
    • Wolf
    • Generic Avatar damaged impact sounds (NOTE: This is still work in progress)
    • Recorded new Male and Female Avatar movement and combat voice over including exertion sounds for:
      • Jump
      • Land
      • Attack: small, regular, heavy (variations)
      • Damage: small, medium, heavy (variations)
      • Light breaths when sprinting or encumbered
      • NOTE 1: Each of these have a varying  play chance percentage (some of these events you won’t hear 100% of the time)
      • NOTE 2: Revised/New Male and Female Avatar emote voice overs will be implemented in the next milestone

So, now that it is clear what you can expect, we should also be as clear about what you should NOT expect:

  • Performance: While our upgrade to Unity 2017.3 has allowed us to make another large stride forward in performance and we are confident that by launch we will be running smoothly and loading quickly, we still have more to do.
  • Visual Quality: With Release 51 we have yet again upgraded some purchased assets to make the game competitive. With that said, efforts to improve visual quality are ongoing. We will continue to iterate on these until we have highly competitive visuals.
  • Pledge Rewards: Pledge Rewards that have been built and have tech to support them are in the game; all other rewards are awaiting either content creation or tech support. You can find an updated list of these items in the known issues.
  • Story Additions: The main storyline is now complete and there are many side quests to complete as well. The only major feature left is Companions and we are working to get the next two in for Release 52.

As Lord British often says: “80% of the quality of a game goes in during the last 20% of the development.” We are in that final 20% right now. Be warned that this is a time of great change, but also a time of great improvement! In addition to completing the last few deliverables, the important work ahead of us is refining and tuning the feel of the game. If you are not yet “feeling it,” don’t be alarmed! It is perfectly normal that during this phase of development we are just now getting to the point that we can start delivering that feeling—so stay tuned!

Here are links to instructions and known issues. Thank you again for your continued support. This is truly the most amazing community we have ever worked with, and we are proud to be on this journey with you.


Starr Long
aka Darkstarr
Executive Producer



  1. !(Blood0men)!!(Blood0men)!

    Looks like another Great update being rolled out, all I gotta say is . . . .

    Keep it up guys, Doing Great. :)

  2. Daigoji GaiDaigoji Gai

    Absolutely amazing release. I mean, past year and a half or so have been back to back release magic.
    I <3 you all! Portalarium FTW!

    Oh, and RIP Bag Mode. I hardly knew ye.

  3. Amber RaineAmber Raine

    ~smiles as she makes her way down the page reading. Comes to the first strike through…. comes to the next bit….. and erupts into throwing all the things in the air and watching them scatter here and there~

    Chaos…… struck through again…. at this rate there will be nothing left to work on when Chaos finally does get looked at and we’re going to have great things happening.. right? right? wait.. nope… “Chaos loses resistances to all schools”… Never mind. We’re screwed.

    Also… I think I might be blind but:
    Names on Brittany Graveyard Tombstones/Domesday Book/Credits Page: Players can now select what name they wish to display in these locations via a name entry function on their account page.

    Where? I can not find.

    Question in regards: Can this be 2 different names? I am not dead… well okay unless you count the death certificate i have with my name on it but that is an earthly problem not to be confused in game so… Can the name on the tombstone be different from the one in the credits/domesday book?
    For Example: Ariel Joy on the tombstone (My ancestor) , Amber Raine everywhere else?

    RIP Bag Mode – You were a great friend… may your memory never fade and your artwork linger in the minds of all those who were making silly funny faces inside you.

    With all that said.. honestly.. great work guys.. I am still very proud to call Shroud home and to be as invested in this world as I have been from Day 1 of Starr joining the team. Thank you for all your hard work every month! You never fail to amaze us! Keep it up!

  4. Belladonna RoseBelladonna Rose

    Aside from a few hiccups I am very pleased with this release. So many good things. Final wrap up of the Virtue Armor…when they get Love fixed. The new trees, the bears…Da Bears. And so many other things. Its great. And the Unity update is good. Load/zone times are much better…not great but better than before. A few quirks not happy with but they are not detrimental to my game play. Can’t wait to see what Launch has for us.

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