Early Public Access Schedule: Release 7 and Q3 Update

Discussion in 'Community Announcement Archive' started by DarkStarr, May 29, 2014.

  1. DarkStarr

    DarkStarr Executive Producer

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    Hello Everyone,

    Once per quarter we want to release an updated schedule for our monthly releases. Even though these goals will likely change somewhat as we react to feedback, we feel it is important to provide you an updated roadmap periodically. As you can see, this is quite different from our last version of these releases. We are spreading the deliverables out a bit more so that we have more time to focus on them versus spread ourselves too thin while trying to accomplish more things.

    Our goal continues to be to deliver our backers content each and every month so that we can get feedback and react to it. This has already paid off, with additional game features like jumping and swimming, as well as improvements to systems like crafting and conversations. Meeting that monthly goal is our highest priority but we require flexibility in our deliverables to meet that goal. As you have seen in previous releases, sometimes we push things out but we also often pull new things in.

    At this point many of you might be saying “Several systems have been pushed for more than one release now. How are all these changes affecting the stated goal of an October release?” Well thank you for the tough question. I have a mantra about ship dates: “No one remembers when you shipped but they always remember how you shipped.” With that in mind you should rest assured that we will launch when you tell us the product is ready. That might mean October is not feasible, but let’s focus on making the right product, not the when product.

    Here is an excerpt from my original post about our Early Release Schedule that is important to set the framework for our continued schedule:

    As a crowd funded and crowd sourced project, we feel it is incredibly important that we provide our backers with information and access well before game studios would normally do so in a traditional development model. Traditionally, the players are given information and access only after the development team has already decided exactly how things will be done, and at times, even after it has already been implemented. By the time the public normally has access to the product, there is usually no time to meaningfully react to the public feedback.

    Shroud of the Avatar is different than the traditional model, as we intend to offer our backers extremely early access to information and even the game itself. With that said, we also want to be very careful that we only provide access to portions of the game when they are ready for a wider range of feedback. If we can play it internally and we know it is not ready, then there is nothing to be gained by having a wider audience come to the same conclusion. In fact, it could be quite damaging to do so.

    Our strategy over the next few months is to provide you with focused and iterative releases of content. Your feedback during these releases will be critical to making the final product the best it can be, and we appreciate that you are all so willing to devote your time to helping us. With each release, we will have specific tests we will ask you all to make. As we get closer, we will send instructions on how to download, install, report bugs, etc. After each release we will review the results and reevaluate the plan including the duration of availability of each release. Please note that game data will be wiped periodically during early access.

    It is important to note that all dates, durations, and deliverables are subject to change.

    We are incredibly excited to continue sharing our iterative monthly releases with you. Below are updates to Release 7 and details about the following three releases for the third quarter of 2014 (July - September). In addition to these official releases, we will also do fairly frequent incremental tests with our Developer and above backers. As always, all dates, durations, and deliverables are subject to change as we adjust our designs based on direct feedback from you, our backers.

    UPDATE: We revised R8 / R9 so we could put more focus on combat and pull in PVP. R10 will remain a polish release.

    RELEASE 7: June 26 - 29, 2014
    • 3D Overworld Map System: We are switching our dual scale navigation system from the 2D version you have seen so far to a 3D version more like what we showed during Kickstarter. This initial release will mainly be about the visuals so players will still be represented as markers and there will be no random encounters (see below for which releases these features will come online).
    • Player to Player secure trade: Did you discover something cool you wish to give your friend? Need to share some potions with a party member? Did you craft something amazing you want to sell? Secure trade is the answer and will allow you to make exchanges of goods between you and other players.
    • Water Lots: We will be adding water lot functionality to the game.
    • NPC Collision / Responsiveness: We will be spending time on polishing NPC collision and general movement responsiveness to combat things like NPC standing inside you, spreading out when attacking, avoiding players while moving, etc.
    • Animals: Currently all our animals (bears, wolves, etc.) are purchased assets and the skinning, rigging, and animations for them is not meeting our quality standards, so we are going to reskin and rig them so that we can redo their animations.
    • Player Housing Built-in Lighting: We have gotten consistent feedback that it is too hard to get player placed lights in the right configuration to really light the player houses. So starting with R7 we will begin placing built in lights (chandeliers, sconces, etc.) to provide a base lighting level for all the player houses. These lights will turn on and off just like regular lights and can be augmented with player placed lights as well.
    • Scenes: A few new scenes will come online including Player Towns on Islands (to feature water lots) and perhaps the first scene on the mainland (The Graf Gem Mines).
    • Crafting: We will be adding more ingredients (spider silk, gems, precious metals, etc.) as well as instructions on how to do crafting in the recipe book itself. New recipes will also come online
    • Lighting Fine-Tuning: We still have some work to do in order to get the balance right between bright day and dark night.
    • Character Faces and Skins: We want to update at least one of the player faces and also do more polish work on the skin.
    • 64 Bit Build: For those of you running 64 bit OS on your system we will now release 64 bit builds (in addition to the 32 Bit Builds) so you can address more system memory
    • Promotional Trailer: We are excited to be a featured game at the Plantronics booth at E3. In support of that and our continued fundraising we are working on an updated trailer (our last one was at the 6 month mark) that will show off gameplay and provide a few sneak peeks of the intro cinematic. As mentioned in update 73, Bill Johnson, aka The Guardian, will be doing the voiceover.
    • New Pledge Rewards, New Pledge Tiers: On Friday June 6th we will be announcing some new pledge rewards, some new pledge tiers and a new type of store (this post will be updated at that time).
    Q3 RELEASES:

    RELEASE 8 (revised), July 24 - 27, 2014:
    • Open PVP Areas: Certain parts of the map will now allow open PVP. Currently we have been testing this functionality in the Castle Basement Arena. For now there will be very little structure to this; it will basically be just deathmatch.
    • Combat Systems: We will be iterating and adding to the fundamental systems that support combat, including more secondary effects like bludgeons damaging gear and heavy armor lowering your pool of focus. We are also going to introduce and experiment with interrupts, combat facing, and more sophisticated line of sight checks.
    • Damage Types & Resistances: Damage types and resistances (fire, ice, physical, etc.) will begin to affect combat.
    • Combat Skills: We are moving to a new strategy of going deeper vs. broader in skill creation. For Release 8 our goal is to flesh out more of the schools of Fire, Blades, and Heavy Armor.
    • Status Indicators: We are adding status indicators for things like low ammo, damaged/broken gear, buffs, debuffs, etc.
    • Scenes: Ardoris, the waterfront city on the main continent filled with canals and framed by two opposing castles, will now be available to players. Ardoris will also be the first map with Row Houses. Other adventuring scenes on the main continent will also appear. These new scenes on the mainland will be accessed via the Lunar Rifts which will now change destinations based on time of day.
    • New Creatures: Several new creatures will come online including a new mimic and a Fire Elemental, as well as variations on existing creatures (liches, kobolds, etc.).
    • Crafting: Durability and Repair will come online.
    • Overworld Animating Avatars: Players will now see their avatars (along with their party members) animating on the overworld map.
    • Intro Cinematic: We are making an animatic version of the intro with narration by our very own Bill Johnson (aka The Guardian).
    RELEASE 9, August 21 - 24, 2014:
    • PVP: We will introduce some simple PVP rules / mechanics including scoring and the concept of teams.
    • Combat Systems: We will be iterating and adding to the fundamental systems that support combat, including more secondary effects like bludgeons damaging gear. Magic will now require reagents to cast spells at full strength (current thinking is you can still cast without reagents but the effectiveness of the spell is reduced for each missing reagent). We will also be adding the ability to execute combos and we will add functionality to positioning and cover.
    • Combat Skills: For Release 9, our goal is to flesh out more of the schools of Water, Bludgeons, and Light Armor. We will also make a pass at adding innate skills to all schools.
    • Scenes: Ardoris, the waterfront city on the main continent filled with canals and framed by two opposing castles, will now be available to players. Other adventuring scenes on the main continent will also appear. These new scenes on the mainland will be accessed via the Lunar Rifts which will now change destinations based on time of day. The player town island will now come in two additional density levels that increase the number of lots on those islands.
    • New Creatures: Several new creatures will come online including a new mimic and an Ice Elemental, as well as variations on existing creatures (liches, kobolds, etc.).
    • Crafting: Durability and Repair will come online. Attacking will have a chance to decrease durability on weapons and damage received will have a chance to decrease armor durability. Durability decreases will NOT decrease the effectiveness of items.
    • Overworld Animating Avatars: Players will now see their avatars (along with their party members) animating on the overworld map.
    • Intro Cinematic: We are making an animatic version of the intro with narration by our very own Bill Johnson (aka The Guardian).
    • Character Customization: At least one new facial feature will come online. Additionally an update to how we handle hair and facial hair will add layers, transparency, and animations.
    • Minimap System: Tired of getting lost in Owlshead? Well you can now rejoice, for in R9 you will now have maps (as inventory objects) that when used will bring up the map of the scene you are in and mark your location on it. This will be the first iteration of the minimap system, so only a few maps will be available.
    RELEASE 10, September 25 - 28:
    • Polish: Once per quarter we will focus a release on polish including game balancing, visual improvements, process improvements, etc.
    We continue to be incredibly thankful for the support we receive from this amazing community. While the funding you provide makes all of this possible it pales in comparison with the faith you have in us, the feedback you provide us, and the content you are making for everyone to enjoy. We are humbly grateful and we cannot wait to see you again in New Britannia!

    Sincerely,
    Starr Long
    Executive Producer
    Shroud of the Avatar

    Here are the original R8/R9 Goals for reference:


    RELEASE 8 (original), July 24 - 27, 2014:
    • Death System: OooOoooOOOOooo! Death will now turn you into a ghost.
    • Advancement: Adventuring and Crafting will now earn you experience points that will level you up and earn skill points.
    • Scenes: Ardoris, the waterfront city on the main continent filled with canals and framed by two opposing castles, will now be available to players. Other adventuring scenes on the main continent will also appear.
    • NPC Schedules and Behaviors: NPCs will now start to have schedules and change behavior according to the time. This will include things like going around turning on the lights around town as the sun goes down. NPCs will also now react to players taking and breaking stuff so watch out when you try to steal that loaf of bread!
    • Books: Books will no longer just be decorative objects! Read lovely poems and stories written by our very own community in the game. Try to collect them all!
    • New Creatures: Several new creatures will come online including a new mimic as well as variations on existing creatures (liches, kobolds, etc.).
    • Crafting: Durability and Repair will come online as well as a first pass on Fishing! New recipes will also come online
    • Character Hair and Facial Hair: A major update to how we handle hair and facial hair will add layers, transparency, and animations.
    • Overworld Animating Avatars & Random Encounters: Players will now see their avatars (along with their party members) animating on the overworld map. Additionally random encounters will now pull players into scenes while traversing the map.
    • Scene Randomization: Scenes will now be able to start from a set of templates versus just one singular state. These templates will randomize resources, creatures, entrance locations, game state, etc.
    • Combat Skills: More combat skills will come online
    • Interactive Areas: Don’t you wish you could move that chair in the tavern to have a better view of the front door? Public areas like taverns will now be flagged as interactive areas. This will allow more freedom in those spaces by allowing the moving but not taking of items. This will also up numerous other possibilities like interactive chess boards.
    RELEASE 9 (original), August 21 - 24, 2014:
    • Card Combat & Decks: You will now be able to do combat with our card system as well as build and equip multiple decks to try out different strategies and play styles. To support this flexibility more skills and more AI combat behaviors will come online
    • Damage Types & Resistances: Damage types and resistances (fire, ice, physical, etc.) will begin to affect combat
    • Player Housing: Exterior Decorations and Permissions: Do you desire even more from housing? Your greatest desires will be answered with advanced features that greatly expand the player housing system including exterior decorations, house purchase in game, and player lot access permissions so you can control who can visit your space (everyone, friends, or kindred)
    • Crafting Expansions: Crafting will expand to include enhancements and events during crafting. New recipes will also come online
    • Player Made Books: For those aspiring writers you can now write books in the game. These original manuscripts will be one of a kind items that can be traded or sold or submitted for publishing for a small fee. Published books will get copied and placed throughout the world.
    • Character Creation Improvements: Do you wish you could style yourself even more? Well wish no longer, as we add more options to modify, more content to select, and improvements to the interface.
    • New Creatures: Several new creatures will come online including clockwork creatures, gremlins and female elves.
    • Encumbrance: Weight limits and values will come into play
    • Overworld Roving Encounters: Encounters will now move around the overworld including monsters, NPCs, gypsy wagons, etc.
    • Combat Skills: More combat skills will come online
    • Party Loot Rules: Set how loot will be divided amongst party members. Leave the party leader in charge or random distribution? You decide.
    • Scenes: More adventuring scenes, player towns, and plot areas on the main continent will also appear.
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  2. Lao Yang

    Lao Yang Avatar

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    Thank you for the update my liege!
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  3. Bohica

    Bohica Avatar

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    New Pledge Rewards, New Pledge Tiers: On Friday June 6th we will be announcing some new pledge rewards, some new pledge tiers and a new type of store (this post will be updated at that time).

    New pledge tiers? Really interesting.
  4. docdoom77

    docdoom77 Avatar

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    Fantastic! Looking forward to R7 and our first view of the new map! Even more excited about R8 and the animated map avatar. Boo-ya!
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  5. Cabrens

    Cabrens Avatar

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    What will be interesting are the reactions of former pledgers who consider a pledge as an investment...Avoiding frustrations won t be easy! G'luck!
  6. Noctiflora

    Noctiflora Avatar

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    Here I am!! *waves*
    Yay! This all looks fantastic. My personal favorites for R7 are:

    Player Housing Built-in Lighting
    Scenes.........perhaps the first scene on the mainland (The Graf Gem Mines).
    Crafting........ (spider silk, gems, precious metals, etc.)
    Character Faces and Skins
    64 Bit Build

    Thanks to you and the team for all your hard work creating this world for us. :)
  7. Gabriel Nightshadow

    Gabriel Nightshadow Avatar

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    I can't wait to find out what pledge rewards they will be offering in the new pledge tiers :D Time to upgrade...

    Glad to hear they will be fine-tuning the lighting, as well as providing some built-in lighting for homes in R7 :)

    At last, some new scenes! (Still no Ardoris yet, though :()

    EDIT: Thanks for pointing that out for R8, Aartemis! I only read about R7 ;)
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  8. Aartemis

    Aartemis Avatar

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    Looking forward to the new content! Keep up the great work!
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  9. Aartemis

    Aartemis Avatar

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    Release 8
    • Scenes: Ardoris, the waterfront city on the main continent filled with canals and framed by two opposing castles, will now be available to players. Other adventuring scenes on the main continent will also appear.
  10. Duke Raas

    Duke Raas Avatar

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    Interesting. Nothing regarding the combat system in R7 ? I was hoping to see further advancement regarding the card system.
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  11. Lord_Darkmoon

    Lord_Darkmoon Avatar

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    Looking forward to the 3D overland map. Maybe we could get a bit more info on that? How will movement be handled? Similar to how we move on the cloth map or more freely like in the RTX demo? What about a day/night cycle and weather?
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  12. Dorham Isycle

    Dorham Isycle Avatar

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    @Darkstarr I don't see the radar map in the releases, is that planned for one of these releases?
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  13. majoria70

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    Thanks Darkstarr, it all sounds wonderful. BTW though new character face did not appear in R7 per oneandonly, so I can't wait to see that. ***majoria starts pacing the floor***;)
  14. jiirc

    jiirc Avatar

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    Its good to have an updated roadmap, I see a lot of interesting milestones. But I didn't see an advancement on two fronts that move combat and crafting past the current proof of concept stages. I didn't see the addition of more crafting recipes, unless that isn't planned until nearer release, and I didn't see when decks would be playable, unless that is implied in the multiple decks action.
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  15. DarkStarr

    DarkStarr Executive Producer

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    Minimaps are not currently in Q3 but we will try to pull them in if we can
  16. DarkStarr

    DarkStarr Executive Producer

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    All of those were implied but I added specific verbiage to make it clearer. Thanks for catching that.
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  17. jiirc

    jiirc Avatar

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    Datkstarr, thanks for the clarification. I can see that things are rounding intomshape nicely. Can't wait, well I can nut wouldn't it be fun to have a time machine that would propel you toward the relaxes dates. :)
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  18. Browncoat Jayson

    Browncoat Jayson Legend of the Hearth

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    Chris mentioned on Facebook that the minimap was coming, possibly as early as R7. It might have just missed Darkstarr's list.
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  19. Duke Raas

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    Darkstarr actually commented a couple of posts above yours on the same thing.

    Sounds like a "left hand/right hand" sort of thing going on here. ;)
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  20. Browncoat Jayson

    Browncoat Jayson Legend of the Hearth

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    It could also be that he was answering about the 3d map, instead of the minimap. There is no confusion like Internet confusion.
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