Update of the Avatar #60 – 02/14/14: Valentine Poetry Contest, Lord Houseboat, BotA, Cabinet of Virtues, Tanning Knife, Pantheon, Events Page, and More!

Happy Valentine’s Day Fellow Avatars!

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

  • Hearts of Britannia Valentine’s Poetry Reading!
  • Extra, Extra Early R3 Test Results
  • Founder Lord Waterfront Houseboat
  • Blade of the Avatar Novel: Chapter 9
  • Hearth of Britannia Cabinet of Virtues
  • Tanning Knife of Prosperity
  • The 6-More Pack of Prosperity
  • Stretch Goals: Lord British vs. Darkstarr
  • Last Week for the Pantheon Kickstarter Special Cross-Game Cloak
  • New Events Page
  • Only 52 Days Remain to Purchase/Upgrade/Gift Founder Pledges


Hearts of Britannia Valentine’s Poetry Reading!

All the poetry submissions are in, and today, Valentine’s Day, the winners are being decided by Dame Lori, Sir Dom, Lord British, Firelotus, Stephen and Starr!

The winners will be announced and poems narrated by Holt on a special Live Hangout on February 15th. A Roast shall take place afterward where entertaining anonymous runner-ups are also narrated. The Hangout/Poetry Reading will begin at 7 pm CST, Saturday, February 15th. The hangout link will be announced 15-30 minutes ahead of time.

All winning entries will be bound into an in-game book which can be found in-game. The top winners of the Lord British and Darkstarr poems will receive the in-game Darkstarr or Lord British cloaks. We will also create a video of Richard, Starr, Gina, and Stephen reading the winning poems that were written to them.

Read more…

Calling All Developer+ Members: Extra, Extra Early R3 Test Friday the 14th!

As many of you already know, Release 3 is scheduled to launch next Thursday, February 20, at 10:30 am. The big new thing with R3 is multiplayer mode, which is a giant leap forward in technological complexity over single-player mode. We need some advance help to test our servers and are asking all our Developer (and above) members to help us out. Here’s the message Chris Spears posted on the Dev+ forum:

Hello Dev Plus people! We’re calling on you for another test before the test session! Actually, we might do two or three of these over the next week so don’t panic if you miss this one. We’ve been testing multiplayer on our internal servers and feel like we have things to a mostly stable state but we’re are a small lot and blind to our own flaws. We’ve tested the servers with 2 dozen people on single maps but we’re trying to sanity test how many people to enable per map for Release 3 next week.

We would like for the Dev Plus guys and gals to patch up and join us for “Lunch with SotA Bunch”. Friday, 2 – 3PM CST, we will open up the Live servers for 1 hour to do a limited load test. For tomorrow’s test we’ll cap the max players per map at 64 to see how well things work. We’ll be watching server load, data rates, and client performance during the test. If things go poorly, we should have data to fix the problem before the next test session. If things go better than expected, we’ll probably Turn the max per map up a bit and try again another day! Keep in mind, this build only has the most minimal of optimizations. Things will only get better and better with each build.

For those who haven’t installed it yet, you can get the client here: http://goo.gl/KVYzpF
And patch up early and often! We’ll probably release the latest patch around 2 hours before the test. We’ll try to get it out earlier but no matter how much planning we do, we always seem to come right down to the wire on releases.

Known issues for this build that we would love repro steps for:

  • Occasionally other players will be invisible to you
  • Sometimes dialogs will lose their borders
  • Sometimes you can get into a “locked” state while chatting where you can’t move

First people to post repro steps for any of those will get a gold star from me personally!

Oh, and since I know some of you will ask, yes, Richard will be in game and NO, you won’t be able to kill him…


Chris “Dippy Dragon” Spears

[Join the conversation over in the forums]

Update of the Avatar #59 – 02/07/14: Star Citizen Artifact, BotA, Royal Founders, Website Upgrades, Pantheon Kickstarter, Tombstone, Tinkerer Certificate, and More!

Greetings Fellow Avatars!

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

  • Blade of the Avatar Novel: Chapter 8
  • Stretch Goals: Lord British vs. Darkstarr
  • Upcoming Duke and LoM Events
  • Star Citizen Vanduul Polearm
  • Royal Founders: Recognizing our Original Backers
  • Ancestor Tombstone
  • Developer Tinkerer Certificate
  • Pets at Founder Tier: Option to get all 3?
  • Knight’s Lighthouse Animation
  • Cubit Measure of Prosperity
  • Website Upgrades: Pledge Page & Campaign Statistics Page
  • Pantheon Kickstarter Special Cross-Game Cloak
  • “Hearts of Britannia” Valentine’s Poetry Competition!
  • Only 59 Days Remain to Purchase/Upgrade/Gift Founder Pledges


Blade of the Avatar Novel: Chapter 8

The latest installment of the serialized SotA novel, Blade of the Avatar (BotA), written by Tracy Hickman & Richard Garriott, is now available for download! If you are an Early Founder, or you purchased BotA in the Add-On Store, then you will find a download link for the current installment of the novel on your personal SotA account page (log into SotA website and click on “Account” in the top-right corner).  If you are a Kickstarter backer you’ll need to have your Kickstarter account linked to the SotA website (click here for instructions to link your Kickstarter account).

Here is a brief excerpt of the latest installment (illustration by Denis Loubet):

Chapter 8: Hilt

Evard Dirae, Craftmaster of the Cabal of Obsidians, rode his horse through the last and grandest of the gates of the fortress at Hilt. The challenge which the guards tried to voice at his approach died on their lips, each falling silent at the passage of a sorcerer.

Evard kept his cold, pale green eyes forward as he passed into the upper courts of Hilt. He did not need to look back down over the multiple concourses that formed the fortress. He had taken them all in with mounting anger as he rode up the various switchbacks, passing through each gate with increasing disdain. Now, as he passed through the final gate, he felt entirely too familiar with the grand structure and, so far as he was concerned, the true reasons for its existence were all too evident.

What had once been a small mountain bowl nestled above a steep, stony canyon, was now an unfortunately crowded construction site. A grand tower keep, far more impressive than practical, was nearly complete toward the front of the bowl just behind the still incomplete defensive curtainwall. The five cascades from the surrounding peaks contributed to the deep glacier lake at the back of the bowl. This, in turn, emptied into the swift moving river that plunged through a gap in the curtainwall and down its restricting channel over the concourses below. In every other otherwise reasonably dry spot, buildings of various size and designs were evident in every conceivable state of incompleteness. Some were cleared ground only, whose foundations had barely been laid out. Others had their walls partially completed with stone pillars standing free, either in their intended place or on their side. A very few others appear to be nearly complete, only lacking in a few finishing details such as a roof or doorway. The shod hooves of Evard’s horse rattled against the newly laid cobblestone paths which wound between the structures.

Such a pointless waste, Evard thought. A monumental conceit that served no real purpose…

Read more…

Update of the Avatar #58 – 01/31/14: Release 2 Perspectives, Pantheon Cloak, Valentine Special, Lighthouse, Pets, Smelting Tongs, Stretch Goals, and Founder Pledge Gifts!

Greetings Fellow Avatars!

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

  • Release 2 Perspectives
  • Pantheon & SotA Co-Backers Receive Special Cross-Game Cloak
  • “Hearts of Britannia” Valentine’s Poetry Competition!
  • Blade of the Avatar Novel: Chapter 7
  • Early Founder Knight Village Waterfront Lighthouse
  • Founder Tier Pets
  • Virtual Collector Iolo Lute
  • Early Founder Royal Artisan Iolo Crossbow
  • Smelting Tongs of Prosperity
  • Stretch Goals: Lord British vs. Darkstarr
  • Purchase, Transfer, or Gifting of Founder Pledges

Release 2 Perspectives


Lord British shared his royal perspective on the Release 2 results in a post on the public forums:

Greetings Citizens,

We continue to be amazed by the outstanding community we have participating in Shroud of the Avatar! Many thousands of you joined us in the Release 2 test phase and the data we got back was invaluable. More importantly, we are learning each cycle how better to provide you the game you want. The boards have been humming with GREAT suggestions as has my twitter feed. Which, if you don’t follow, is simply @RichardGarriott. Please join me there too!

I was particularly fond of people joining my party so that we could group chat which, while a temp hack, foreshadowed what is coming soon in Release 3! While we still have TONS of work to do, I think / hope now that people can easily tell where we are heading and that the clarity should grow with each release. If you are seeing the rich world interaction detail like Ultima VII, the start of a deep virtue based story ala Ultima IV, and the diverse interrelated professions such as combat, crafting, gathering, and player created content, then you see where we are going.

The team in Austin is exceptionally happy that you continue to play and offer feedback of such quality. Every day at the office is a day of joy. We are working hard in your service!

Thank you,
Richard “Lord British” Garriott

Join the conversation with Lord British on the public forums!

Starr Long (Executive Producer) also shared his perspective on the forums:

Greetings Avatars,

Thank you all for helping us test Release 2. We feel even more strongly now that we are on the right path to make a great product with all of you. The tight feedback loop we are establishing is already making things better. With Release 2, we were able to respond to your feedback from Release 1 by adding features like jumping. We took this a step further and during Release 2, we released multiple patches to fix bugs and even add features (e.g. highlighting crafting icons on crafting tables and invert mouse look). This was a great test of the team and our patching abilities but also hopefully an indication of the kind of responsiveness we strive for.

Release 3 will be the first time we enable Open Multiplayer Mode and that will consume all of our resources to make happen. Even the simple act of enabling this requires us to solve a myriad of issues like seeing other players’ equipment/customization/animation, creating rule sets for how interactive items work (so two people can’t sit in the same chair for example), creating rules for spinning up instances when zones get full, propagating changes players make across all those instances (for when housing is re-enabled), etc. Making all those things work is why we won’t be adding new major systems until Release 4. However, as with Release 1, we really want to respond to feedback you are giving us about Release 2. Specifically we are adding these stretch goals to R3…

Read more…

Hangout of the Avatar ~ 1.30.14 ~ SotA Multiplayer

Please join us for our next Dev Hangout on Thursday, January 30th at 3pm CST. We’ll be chatting about the Multiplayer aspects of Shroud of the Avatar, led by Lord British himself. As always, I’ll have the exact link where you can watch 15 minutes prior to broadcast, and we will be featuring questions taken from our Dev+ backers, so if you are a Dev+ member, please head over to the Developer Digest to submit your questions for consideration.

For those of you who prefer written transcripts, Dame Lori has been kind enough to post a recap on the forums.  Enjoy!