can you believe this PC Games article about Shroud?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Asari, Feb 25, 2019.

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  1. Asari

    Asari Avatar

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    seriously, I have my problems with the game. Mostly that I think there should be way more ingame rewards and way less microtransactions. But the press for this game is often simply below the belt.

    Failed game? excuse me, but I see it going strong and getting better all the time. Why won't they acknowledge that?

    http://www.pcgames.de/Shroud-of-the...l-32908/Specials/lord-british-mmorpg-1276111/

    I copy-paste the googletranslate

    Shroud of the Avatar
    The story of a failed game

    Shroud of the Avatar has undergone a development that would basically provide material for a book or a movie. What happened? What led to the announcement of a highly interesting RPG by Ultima inventor Richard "Lord British" Garriott, creating a community with a seemingly insurmountable gap between them?

    A MMORPG that should not really be one, a split community that has been hailing criticism for years, and reviews that are anything but good - it would be hard to believe that this is the work of one of the most well - known game designers in the world Computer games has shaped as hardly anyone else. Richard Garriott's current game Shroud of the Avatar created a situation unlike any other game.

    The beginning of a legend
    Richard Garriott, also known as "Lord British," developed the Ultima Games series in the 1980s and 1990s. At the time, the titles were among the best RPG representatives and are considered groundbreaking. Day routines for NPCs, a highly interactive world, moral in games ... all this was not known in computer games at the time. Even today, Britannia Ultima 7 is regarded as one of the liveliest and most interactive video games. With Ultima Online Garriott published in 1997 the first online role-playing game that could host more than 10,000 players per server and thus created the term MMORPG.

    After leaving Origin / Electronic Arts, Richard Garriott worked for NC Soft on Lineage and developed the MMORPG Tabula Rasa, which was discontinued just over a year after release. Garriott then withdrew initially from the games industry, but then in 2009 but with his new company Portalarium enter the market of the then booming social games. For this he developed "Ultimate Collector". The game focused on collecting in-game items that could be exhibited in a virtual house to present to other players or to sell the items to friends.

    A business must be saved
    However, the game could not enjoy the success that the developers hoped for. Portalarium was about to be sold in 2013. In a video, Richard Garriott explained that there was only money left to keep the company "alive" for three months. Within 45 days, the concept for a Kickstarter campaign was developed, because at that time a lot of money was taken over the crowdfunding of computer games.

    The concept for Shroud of the Avatar was born. It was supposed to be a role-playing game, which was basically based on the single-player games Ultima 4 to 7, but also offer the option to play online with friends. Garriott explained this concept in several videos. Again and again, the concept was presented as if the singing player part was in focus. Many supporters of the Kickstarter campaign therefore assumed that Shroud of the Avatar would become a kind of single-player RPG, which could also optionally be played together with friends and strangers.

    The exact description, however, was a bit spongy, as it was also mentioned Ultima Online again and again, which brought MMORPG fans to believe that Lord British would develop a kind of Ultima Online 2. The Kickstarter campaign was successfully completed in April 2013 with approximately $ 1.9 million. Episode 1 of SotA should appear at the end of 2014 - but this date was missed by about three and a half years. The development team promised an open development phase. Supporters should always be able to play in new versions and submit feedback. And so it happened.

    Everything came differently
    Based on the Unity engine, the game was created, in which the supporters were allowed to play a new version with new content every month. When Starr Long joined Portalarium in July 2013, something changed. He explained that first the multiplayer framework had to be built, on which then the single-player part would touch down. Already that made many players skeptical. Because it came to the fear that this approach could lead to the single-player part of SotA would suffer under the multiplayer backbone. However, the team assured over and over again to provide a great single player experience. This aspect of the game would be as important to the team as it is to the players.

    Why the community split
    The first big shitstorm took place in the spring of 2014 when the overland map showing travel between cities and adventure zones was shown for the first time in a trial version. During the Kickstarter campaign, the team presented a 3D map of the prototype videos on which the character was walking. Monsters and animals also roamed this map. But what was then introduced into the game had nothing to do with it. It was a sort of stylized fabric card on which the players were pushed around in the shape of a flag. There were no more animals and monsters.

    It was hailing criticism. It was a long discussion until the developers finally buckled and declared they would return to the 3D world map. But the relationship of trust was shattered. Many kickstarter backers felt betrayed. After all, the team had advertised the 3D map and received money as part of the overall project. Without communication, changing this concept was a breach of trust for many. From then on, all new features and all changes and adjustments were viewed especially critically.

    The priorities changed
    Also causing trouble, the team put more and more emphasis on the housing system of the game. Especially players, who participated with a lot of money in the financing of the game, realized the potential to buy land and houses ingame and then sell it later at higher prices. Because cultivable land should be limited in SotA available. Since portalarium's real money trading in virtual items was not banned, many believed they could make a lot of money from the housing market. In addition, there was a general interest, especially from Ultima online fans, to be able to grow houses and entire cities in the game. And so much of the focus shifted to this area. Later, this should lead to trouble, because there are tax issues in general some problems with real money transactions in online games.

    From Selective Multiplayer RPG to MMORPG
    Shroud of the Avatar turned more and more into a sandbox MMORPG. This got the story fans feeling when the first quests and dialogues were available in the game. The quests are very standard and kill x wolves or bring me y from that item. The dialogues expired in the regular chat window. So you chatted with the NPCs by typing sentences. It was far from immersive and far from how to imagine dialogue in a modern role-playing game. Again, there was a lot of trouble. The quests have been revised and the dialogue system optimized.

    And yet it became clear that this would not be a single-player RPG. While the Kickstarter campaign said that players in an interactive world were experiencing adventures with decisions that had their consequences, there was no sign of it. Due to the multiplayer focus, it was no longer possible to show consequences. A rescued child could not be reunited with the mother, the murderer in the city was never caught. Because every player had to be able to complete the quests.

    The situation is tense
    There were also long dialogues without them creating a dense atmosphere. The NPCs remained pale despite immense volumes of text. This angered more and more the original Kickstarter backer, who had imagined something else. It always came back to disputes and fierce criticism. Portalarium went through very hard, closed discussions and closed "troublemakers". These got the feeling that the developers let themselves be influenced by the players who wanted to have an Ultima Online 2 with real money trading and focus on housing and in-game items. Many of the community felt strongly intimidated over time, as the impression emerged that a wrong word could lead to a warning or even lock. And so formed a group of frustrated players who let their displeasure run free on Reddit and Steam and in the comments on the Kickstarter side of SotA.

    Unfinished and heavily criticized
    In the summer of 2016, finally, the soft launch of Shroud of the Avatar. There should be no more wipes, and many began to claim their land. However, the condition of SotA showed that the game was still far from a real release. Massive performance problems and lots of bugs left little fun to play. It also showed that the game put a lot of emphasis on Grinding, even though it was stated during the Kickstarter campaign that the focus should be on players' decisions, exploring the world, not grinding.

    Another change without announcement, which always angered the players. There was general unrest in the community, which continued to rock. The official release of the game took place on March 27, 2018 without much advertising. Still, the game did not give the impression of a finished product. Just the Quest system was still causing trouble and the performance resulted in a very tough gameplay despite the not very polished look. The reviews turned out accordingly. On Steam hailed criticism, the reviews of the press reached on average not even the 60-percent mark.

    The case continues
    The situation did not improve despite monthly updates with bug fixes and new features. According to Steam charts, not even 600 simultaneous players could be measured via Steam. This number continued to fall over the coming months. However, SotA is also playable via its own launcher. The number of Steam players should be about 35 percent of the total population. Shroud of the Avatar was not financially the hoped-for success, which was evident when in the summer of 2018, half of the team had to be dismissed. The revenue of the game comes to this day from the sale of in-game items and monthly fundraisers, the amounts vary widely and probably with often well below $ 100,000 hardly enough for the long-term operation and development of the title should be enough. It is interesting, however, that SotA has a very loyal fan base of willing players willing to pay, who just does not want to accept that the online game is a flop.

    Even as Richard Garriott resigned his post as CEO of the Game Studio in October 2018 and a month later the cooperation between publisher Travian Games and Portalarium was dissolved, these fans continued to be loyal to Shroud of the Avatar. The departure from the originally planned selective multiplayer system, where players should choose between single player, co-op with friends and open play as in a MMORPG, drove another wedge between the fans. In some scenes, such as cities, PvP zones and the upper world, you are now forced to open MMO game. However, many had explicitly supported the Kickstarter campaign because of this selective multiplayer approach. In addition, the game was also changed in October 2018 from Buy2Play to the Free2Play model. However, the players won by that were gone, according to Steam charts a month later.

    The team does not give up
    The small team is working tirelessly on improvements, new features and Episode 2, which will be released by the end of 2019. This episode will finally take care of the unnecessarily complex and still-banished quest system, showing what Shroud of the Avatar still is. Meanwhile, many Kickstarter backers are still waiting to receive their boxed versions. And there is still missing the promised novel to the game, which initially supposedly did not fit into the shipping box, but then was not yet printed. All this gives a very strange impression of play. In addition, there are other locks from players who comment on the forum or who say about Reddit their opinion.

    In particular, SotA's technical director, Chris Spears, is always negative when he offends members of the community as "mentally ill" or websites as "garbage" for not talking positively about the game. The team does not want to give up the project. In addition to Episode 2, a larger advertising campaign is planned to attract new players. In addition, the developers are thinking of switching to the Unreal Engine for Episode 2, but this would require a new Kickstarter campaign with a target of around 6 million dollars.

    An exciting development
    Shroud of the Avatar has a development behind it that is exciting and unusual. From a fast-paced Kickstarter project that was supposed to save the company, to a game that wanted to unite single-player and MMORPG, to a failed launch and a hugely divided community. Yes, computer games - especially online games - may change over time as the game progresses. But it is necessary to point out a clear vision of a project from the beginning and to stick to it as far as possible. Changes should be communicated in a timely manner and an open approach to the community and its criticism is important. If the impression arises that the developers listen to only a part of the players and block critics, then causes the displeasure, which is rooted deeper and deeper.

    This is Shroud of the Avatar
    And how is Shroud of the Avatar now? The Selective Multiplayer game, which is now an MMORPG, targets a niche. It still looks completely unfinished. Still, some quests can not be completed and the user interface alone seems as if the developers had bought a cheap UI for testing purposes in the Unity Asset Store and then forgotten in the game. The extreme grinding, although there should not be any, may be a matter of taste, as well as the combat system, which is based on cards, where you can put together a map deck of skills. Poor performance, long loading times when entering areas (there is no open world), bugs and a tough, uncomfortable control are, however, things that should not have happened even before the release.

    In addition, some features were not delivered at all, such as decisions with consequences and a single-player mode that feels and does not give the impression of an offline MMORPG. Shroud of the Avatar lacks the clear line and lacks the technical framework. There are really no exciting quests and interesting NPCs to remember. SotA gives the impression of a kind of life simulation, in which only the housing with decoration and dance parties are important. These are two of the few things that work well in the game. Also graphically missing a consistent style. Often it can be seen that simply assets from the Unity Store were bought and thrown into the game - including a horse statue for decoration, which is available for free in the Unity Store, but for which players in the in-game shop of SotA have to pay.



    After the rise followed the case
    Shroud of the Avatar is a bit frightened to support more Kickstarter games because of the fear that things could be similar. And the game deters to support the developers even further. Whether the game can even be improved so much that really great fun comes up to play it and many people are excited to come to build a large in-game population, may be doubted. With luck, SotA will remain for the few hardcore fans for a while. But you should not bet on that. But the disappointment of the frustrated customers is too deep and they will not stop making the MMORPG down.

    And the technical aspects and the underlying framework of the game were built on sand. The potential was there. The potential that Lord British regains his former greatness and produces a worthy spiritual successor to Ultima. A game that could have been both a fantastic single-player RPG and a sandbox MMORPG. In the end, however, it has not become either fish or meat, but a game that is defined only by the constant controversy and criticism in the community.
     
  2. Woodchuck

    Woodchuck Avatar

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    There is nothing wrong with Richard Garriot’s game sensibility and vision.

    I think the problem are the people/lackeys around him.

    Google translate resulted in the word "shitstorm"? Cool!!
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2019
  3. Fister Magee

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    It's not wrong.. but it is odd that is barely touches upon the gameplay or skill systems...
     
  4. Jens_T

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    The development described in the article (Andreas Bertis is Lord Darkmoon) matches my perception. Overall I think this is a fair summary of how many early backers / supporters perceive the development.
    If this is a "failed game" is up for discussion - given the initial promises and funding I would agree that it failed at least from a financial point of view. For me it is also a failed game from the point that I was hoping/back a single player story driven RPG with selective MP features. (please no discussions who said what and what was between the lines at the KS campaign).
    Others might disagree and consider this game fun for them.
     
  5. Titania Xylia

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    This brings up a lot of mixed feelings for me. There are some serious sour grapes out there that want to be the executioner and put this game out of its misery for lack of a better phrase.

    There are legitimate gripes. A lot of good players left the game. Plenty of people never played their royal founder, founder and benefactor accounts for whatever reason. My hope and I think the game shows that the moves that are being made will help shed the baggage of these choices and help them grow a user base that's happy with the game as-is, but I doubt it outlives these opinions.
     
    Rinaldi, Xee, Boris Mondragon and 9 others like this.
  6. Paladin Michael

    Paladin Michael Avatar

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    Well,

    there is also truth between the lines ...

    The truth is too:
    whatever people express in their frustration, they want the game to succeed, they long for what they hoped for ...

    However, it's just simple to answer those articles:

    Fix the Quest/Journal System and what is broken
    and prove the opposite with Episode 2 :)

    If this happens someday,
    all Ultima(offline) fans will return enthusiastically ...

    I believe this will happen - give it a try ...
     
  7. Weins201

    Weins201 Avatar

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    seems to be a well thought out and presented assessment of how it is going?

    Sure these forums are the forums of optimism, but almost everywhere else the perception is pessimistic at best.

    Still potential here, some
     
  8. oplek

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    Yes, but when they accused the game of "has not become either fish or meat", that's when the gauntlet was thrown down, surely.

    There's plenty to nitpick here... like $100k/mo is enough to pay 24 people $45k/yr, with $10k/mo for expenses. But they (the article writer) are in the ballpark. I wouldn't say the game is "strong". Surviving, sure. If it turns out to be a game only for a thousand people... then that's what it is.
     
  9. Asari

    Asari Avatar

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    I don't know what people's problems are with the quests. I loooved the quests. They made me laugh, they made me cry, I got a real sense of many of those characters involved. I loved the writing and some of the quest areas were gorgeous.
     
  10. Rufus D`Asperdi

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    The author has an agenda.
     
  11. Sentinel2

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    Just Wow!

    Sour grapes indeed!!!

    No mention of the improvements this past year. No mention of anything positive.

    Reading through the regular releases. There are a TON of changes which have brought people back and have kept many KS backers here. Hell, I remember R1 which was barely playable for me. Compared to R62 which is fairly smooth overall in nearly every scene I've visited. I have a number of favorite scenes I enjoy playing in. Sometimes I break sieges. Go Troll hunting (need more rings!), mining (I'm a gopher!), or hunting liches.

    Sometimes when I want to slow down, I go fishing, Maybe hunting in a lower level area. Nightshade Pass is one of my favorite relaxing scenes. Large pond with wildlife to clear out, trees to harvest. And the occasional poke at the Troll or Fire Elemental.

    I wonder if the author has played at all this past year. Period.

    Whatever.

    I'm still here and there are many others. I don't believe LB or DS are working to fail. I give them crap now and then. However I'm here for the long haul.

    I'm not saying it's all Unicorns and Roses. Issues arise. And have to be prioritized. I've played in other MMO's. Several have started out rather rough. After YEARS of improvements, they finally got it together.

    Sour grapes. I would add them to my cask for Perennial Wine. If only it wouldn't screw up the batch :)
     
  12. Steevodeevo

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    I don't think folks have a problem with the quests themselves, just some of them are/were buggy and a few are hard to complete as hand in's and triggers can be non-intuitive. Mostly I had the same experience as you and thought the quests were often deep, thought provoking, unusual and satisfying.
     
  13. Antrax Artek

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    There is nothing like triumph after being considered defeated.
    I hope the team succeeds in this, I believe it.

    "Square Co. LTD teaches" :)
     
  14. amarious

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    So does the OP. Masked a bit.. But it's there.
     
  15. Jason_M

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    Kinda feels dirty when someone from in here hangs up their dirty laundry out there.

    If you want to enjoy the game, you'd be a lot better off by ignoring the negativity.

    Just play and have fun :)
     
  16. Jens_T

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    Andreas Bertie has been covering SotA in the German game press for a very long time. If I recall right he even disclosed his affiliation to the developers and asked for comments.
    His game review was actually one of the most Positive ones, although it was a mediocre grade.

    His board account was disabled mid last year if I recall right.

    If you check game media, commercial and non-commercial you will find quiet a few critical reviews.
    This article is interesting as it portrays the development of SotA as the second most successful crowdfunding game and one that has many discussions and mixed to negative reviews. In addition it was started by “industry veterans” - both factors make this newsworthy and of public interest.

    Just play and have fun is not really touching in the topic.
     
  17. Jens_T

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    Andreas Bertie has been covering SotA in the German game press for a very long time. If I recall right he even disclosed his affiliation to the developers and asked for comments.
    His game review was actually one of the most Positive ones, although it was a mediocre grade.

    His board account was disabled mid last year if I recall right.

    If you check game media, commercial and non-commercial you will find quiet a few critical reviews.
    This article is interesting as it portrays the development of SotA as the second most successful crowdfunding game and one that has many discussions and mixed to negative reviews. In addition it was started by “industry veterans” - both factors make this newsworthy and of public interest.

    Just play and have fun is not really touching in the topic.
     
  18. Barugon

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    The quest engine itself has some issues and the journal is pretty basic but I thought the main story was pretty good.
     
  19. Jason_M

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    Fair enough about the author. The impression I got was that he is a former player looking for a bigger soap box.

    It's all gloom and doom out there; doomed and failed and miserable and unplayable is what they say (generally speaking) and yet here we are.

    There's no need for the OP to get upset about that article. We should just ignore it and carry on.
     
  20. Jeb Ladedada

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    Most In-Depth Honest Review I've seen to date. Learned more of some of the Shady stuff in the Kickstarter days
     
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