1. NOTICE: The game is still in Early Access, which does not constitute a Launch! Please keep feedback and concerns tempered during this still-in-development period. We are working hard to make the game ready for Launch, based on your feedback.
    Dismiss Notice

Q2 2017 Schedule Update

Discussion in 'Announcements' started by DarkStarr, Mar 30, 2017.

  1. DarkStarr

    DarkStarr Executive Producer SOTA Developer

    Messages:
    5,622
    Likes Received:
    35,189
    Trophy Points:
    202
    Gender:
    Male
    [​IMG]

    Greetings Avatars,

    As we have stated previously, we intend to publish quarterly schedule updates for our monthly releases. Even though the goals outlined in these schedules are likely to change somewhat as we react to feedback, we feel it is important to periodically provide you with an updated roadmap.

    Our priority continues to be to deliver new content to our backers each and every month so that you can give us feedback that will help us iteratively improve Shroud of the Avatar. This collaborative process continues to benefit the game, and often results in sweeping changes such as the upcoming addition of the Outskirts scenes. As you have seen in previous releases, the flexibility inherent to this process means that we sometimes push things out, but we also often pull new things in.

    New User Experience (NUE): A large priority for the second quarter is going to be improving the new user experience. For several years now, our backers have been providing us feedback that the first few hours of our game have several major issues. Those issues include too many loading screens, scenes that are too small, overloading the user with too many options, and starting towns that include player housing/vendors. As we shift our focus to improving the New User Experience, and as we are able to measure new player progress during events such as our recent free trial, we realize that we must address these issues sooner rather than later.

    As we announced during the Spring Telethon, one of our solutions to these issues is to add three new maps to the game that we are calling "Outskirts." These scenes will be very close to the three starting scenes, and players will go directly there after finishing those starting scenes. Outskirts will be very large scenes, similar in scope to some of the recently added big scenes like Blood Bay. Each Outskirt scene will have a small outpost that will include some shopkeepers, trainers, crafting stations, and a few quest givers (and no player housing!). The scenes will also include plenty of adventuring areas (forests, ruins, bandit camps, etc.). The large scale of the Outskirts, as well as the variety of experiences and services that they provide, will allow new players to base themselves in a single scene for adventuring and resupply for their first couple of hours of gameplay without needing to go through multiple loading screens or needing to use the Overworld.

    In addition to Outskirts, we plan to improve the new user experience by delaying more advanced features until later in the game (which we began doing in Release 40). We also plan to implement Contextual Help, Improved Tutorial Systems, and a Polished Skill Training Interface.

    [​IMG]

    Polish: In addition to the focus on the first few hours of gameplay, Q2 will include a lot of work on polishing the overall experience of playing Shroud of the Avatar. A large focus of this work will be on performance and stability, which is why you may see fewer new features than in previous quarters as you scan the list below. However, we will be adding some new features that are aimed at polishing the game. These include Mail, Looking for Group, and a Raid System. Additionally, continual passes will be made each release to address overall balance issues, especially in the first few hours of game play.

    Story Complete: Our goal is to complete the story by Release 44 (July), so story efforts in Q2 will be focused on bringing the Paths of Truth and Courage to a playable and polished state. We also plan to unveil the game’s Finale. Since the story will be complete in R44, we plan to allow all players to make a one-time-only reset of the story status for their character (so they can start fresh with their current character) in Release 44 (July).

    To repeat what I said in the Q1 post:

    “We believe that we have reached the final 20% of development before Commercial Release, at which point we will transition out of Early Access. The next two quarters will be the most exciting and challenging times for the project so far. This will be when we get the final features and content in the game and make the last important balance changes. The changes will be fast and furious, and they may occasionally be hard to understand when you become accustomed to the way things were before. Please trust that we firmly believe that every change we make is best for the long term health of the project.”

    As always, all dates, durations, and deliverables are subject to change as we adjust our designs based on direct feedback from you, our backers.

    RELEASE 41, April 27, 2017
    • Story: We will begin polishing the Path of Truth with the Dungeon of Artifice coming online for the first time. We will also polish visuals of the final sequence with the Titan Grannus in the Path of Courage. The incidental NPCs and side quests along the Path of Courage will also be worked on in locations like Estgard and Harvest. Verdantis Mines and the Kas Ruins scenes will both be uncloned. The Fall, a new PvP dungeon underneath Blood Bay, will appear in the game. Solace Bridge Outskirts, a new scene that players start in after the Battle of Solace Bridge will come online for the first time.
    • [​IMG]
    • Performance: Significant focus will be made on performance this release with emphasis on stability, framerate, memory, and load times.
    • Player Towns & Player Housing: Updates to Dynamic Player-Owned Towns that have locked submission forms will appear in the game. Additionally Shields, Tools, and Helmets will become place-able as decorations.
    • Combat: We will continue our polish pass on all the visual effects related to combat as well as make major improvements to the new user experience with combat.
    • Character: The Titan Grannus will get his own unique art for the first time. Wounded variations of our guards and soldiers will appear in game. We will also be polishing the medieval peasants.
    • Contextual Help: A contextual help system will come online that allows players to hover over content (interface elements, items, etc.) in the game and get information about it.
    • Game Balance: Major efforts will be devoted towards game balance.
    • Crafting: More recipes and more patterns in gear that is dropped from enemies.

    RELEASE 42, May 25, 2017

    • Story: We will do final polish on the Path of Truth including incidental NPCs and side quests in areas like Xenos and Etceter. We will polish visuals of the final sequence with Titan Boreas in the Path of Truth. Highvale Outskirts, a new scene that players start in after the Battle of Highvale Village, will come online for the first time.
    • [​IMG]
    • Player Housing: Updates to Dynamic Player-Owned Towns that have locked submission forms will appear in the game.
    • Combat: We will continue our polish pass on all the visual effects related to combat.
    • Character: The Titans Sequanna and Boreas, as well as Arabella, will get their own unique visuals. We will also do some polish work on Player Customization.
    • Crafting: More recipes and more patterns in gear that is dropped from enemies.
    • Raid System: Tools will come online for large groups, and groups of groups, to go on adventures together.
    • Looking For Group: A tool to help players find a group to adventure with will appear in the game.

    RELEASE 43, June 29, 2017

    • Story: Polish will begin on the Finale of the plot including work on the Destiny Pool and the Oracle Chamber. Blood River Outskirts, a new scene that players start in after Blood River Massacre, will come online for the first time.
    • [​IMG]
    • Character: The Oracle herself will appear for the first time in the game as will the Shroud of the Avatar. We will be doing polish work on various creatures in the game, such as the Troll. We will also begin creating Viking-inspired clothing for the NPCs in the Norgard and Verdantis areas of Novia to better define that region, including outfits for Royalty, Guards, Citizens, and Merchants.
    • Performance: Significant focus will be made on performance this release with emphasis on stability, framerate and load times.
    • Bug Fixes and Game Balance: Much of this release will be spent on fixing bugs and balancing game systems.
    • Mail: Players will be able to send mail to each other through an in-game interface.
    • Offline Combat and Economy Balance: A pass will be made through the game to adjust combat balance for play in offline mode with companions. Additionally, the economy in offline mode will be tuned to be better balanced for single-player. For instance, NPC merchants will buy player-crafted items at a profit to the player. Also, pledge and Add-On Store items will be available from NPC merchants for purchase with in-game gold.
    • Player Housing: Updates to Dynamic Player-Owned Towns that have locked submission forms will appear in the game. Additionally the ability to rent rooms in a player home will start to become available to homeowners.

    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!

    Before I go, I wanted to include an excerpt from my original post about our Early Release Schedule that is important to set the framework for our ongoing 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. After each release we will review the results and reevaluate the plan including the duration of availability of each release.

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

    Sincerely,
    Starr Long
    Executive Producer
    Shroud of the Avatar
     
    Alexander, Time Lord, Ancev and 21 others like this.
  2. Brass Knuckles

    Brass Knuckles Avatar

    Messages:
    2,327
    Likes Received:
    4,362
    Trophy Points:
    153
    Bloodbay housing / fishing pass postponed till q3?
     
  3. Roycestein Kaelstrom

    Roycestein Kaelstrom Avatar

    Messages:
    4,336
    Likes Received:
    9,649
    Trophy Points:
    153
    @DarkStarr
    No brewery for Q2?

    Would the mail system allow sending gold and items (if valid) as well?
     
  4. yobtar

    yobtar Avatar

    Messages:
    88
    Likes Received:
    153
    Trophy Points:
    8
    Location:
    Findupre
    I thought we were going to get a pole arm push did that not happen? :(
     
  5. Leinad Laurelwreath

    Leinad Laurelwreath Avatar

    Messages:
    228
    Likes Received:
    487
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Jaaanaford
    Looks good but i wonder where is the quest phasing system or adding more verbs as @Lum the Mad talked about. Aren't these systems a need to complete the story??
     
    smack, craftymethod and Sir Cabirus like this.
  6. Paladin Michael

    Paladin Michael Avatar

    Messages:
    452
    Likes Received:
    807
    Trophy Points:
    43
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Germany
    Thanx for QUEST polishing next releases :)
    The Outskirts are a really good idea to improve new players so they can better follow the quests :)
     
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2017
    Tanglewood likes this.
  7. Lord Andernut

    Lord Andernut Bug Brigade - Bug Hunter

    Messages:
    3,059
    Likes Received:
    10,187
    Trophy Points:
    165
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    New Britannian Market
    Not as meaty on feature details as I'd hoped but a nice look forward - but on the upside it will leave room for pleasant surprises!

    I like seeing the group tools and mail systems as they allow more interaction between players - and we'll benefit from the focus on Performance, Combat and NUE as a community :)




    Always hard to see things we want personally for us in the OUE pushed but ultimately pretty difficult to argue against a focus on the NUE - coupled with smoother/intuitive combat and performance gains!
     
  8. Nexus-6

    Nexus-6 Avatar

    Messages:
    91
    Likes Received:
    244
    Trophy Points:
    8
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Wild East
    I don't understand this logic...
    New users (nubs) fast as possible runaway to middle and high content... Why spend limited developers resources for content, that will be used once in the beginning and forgotten right there?
     
    Chatele, Tetsu Nevara and Jocularis like this.
  9. mercster

    mercster Avatar

    Messages:
    1,081
    Likes Received:
    1,576
    Trophy Points:
    125
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Knoxville, TN
    Fishing... :(
     
    Rubus Bramble, Chatele, smack and 5 others like this.
  10. Verit

    Verit Avatar

    Messages:
    205
    Likes Received:
    609
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Gender:
    Male
    First impressions are lasting impressions.

    One of the biggest complaints and barriers to keeping new players is that many complain that there is not enough direction given at the start of the game.
    Despite the best efforts of the devs to foster an environment of exploration and self-discovery, a lot of people want their hands held. Which is fine , but I do prefer to earn my own "eureka!" moments.
     
  11. Lum the Mad

    Lum the Mad Keeper of NPCs SOTA Developer

    Messages:
    2,411
    Likes Received:
    12,355
    Trophy Points:
    190
    That's not the sort of thing we put in patch notes much less quarterly updates.
     
  12. Nexus-6

    Nexus-6 Avatar

    Messages:
    91
    Likes Received:
    244
    Trophy Points:
    8
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Wild East
    I remember Age of Conan and it's AWESOME BRILLIANT FANTASTIC Tortage... Where AoC for now?
     
  13. Leinad Laurelwreath

    Leinad Laurelwreath Avatar

    Messages:
    228
    Likes Received:
    487
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Jaaanaford
    Thanks for the answer! But ...may i know why? It seems to me like a feature that requires quite a lot of work/testing/iteration/bugfixing and imho it shouldn't be hidden just as part of 'polishing quests'... also a game-changer for many of us
    Anyway, should i take that as a yes to my original question "Aren't these systems a need to complete the story" or rephrased "will more complex quests be part of the story work for Q2?"
    (don't hate me too much)
     
    Chatele and Sir Cabirus like this.
  14. Verit

    Verit Avatar

    Messages:
    205
    Likes Received:
    609
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Gender:
    Male
    Good point.
    At least people made it through the entrance in aoc, some people here aren't even getting that far.
     
  15. Lord_Darkmoon

    Lord_Darkmoon Avatar

    Messages:
    4,138
    Likes Received:
    13,821
    Trophy Points:
    153
    How about substituting the planned phasing system with the option to enter scenes and cities in story or social mode. Story mode is meant for single players or parties and are without player housing but with story quests and side quests with visible consequences. Social mode is without story quests but with player housing and available in OPO mode.

    As much as I appreciate the outskirts scenes I fear that they will bring a new problem into the game. This new, obviously dense experience full of adventure and quests, visible consequences etc, may make the players expect this kind of gameplay for the whole of SotA. It might be a big disappointment when the game suddenly doesn't play like this anymore after the outskirts...
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2017
    mike11, Ice Queen, Chatele and 4 others like this.
  16. craftymethod

    craftymethod Avatar

    Messages:
    195
    Likes Received:
    426
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Would be good to see Warcraft level atmospheric music in this game. I fear gritty atmospherics that make you feel like your in the game sound wise gets little love!
     
  17. Arcanoxer

    Arcanoxer Avatar

    Messages:
    186
    Likes Received:
    367
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Resolute
    I think it is time for a exclusive Update, only for the Strikethrough features from the previous releases!
    Not a big fan of the "early" NUE changes, before the Game is Beta. There is so much content missing.
     
    Ice Queen, Chatele and Jocularis like this.
  18. Brass Knuckles

    Brass Knuckles Avatar

    Messages:
    2,327
    Likes Received:
    4,362
    Trophy Points:
    153

    Point..

    But the NUE is pretty bad atm and your missing the other option instead of pushing to middle ground there is also quitting..

    Ive lost many friends to the later option.
     
  19. Lum the Mad

    Lum the Mad Keeper of NPCs SOTA Developer

    Messages:
    2,411
    Likes Received:
    12,355
    Trophy Points:
    190
    You could say the same of every game system - combat, crafting, etc... lots of moving parts overall.

    For Q2 the vast majority (if not entirely) of the work quest-wise outside of the Outskirts areas will be solo-instanced areas for the main story (Artifice and the Path of the Oracle). After Q2 we plan to swing back around to not only polish but filling in side-quest content and that is where you'd see more impact on the world/persistence.
     
  20. Lord Andernut

    Lord Andernut Bug Brigade - Bug Hunter

    Messages:
    3,059
    Likes Received:
    10,187
    Trophy Points:
    165
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    New Britannian Market
    The new user experience is not strictly about early content, but is about introducing players to the world, combat, social systems etc. in a less "Here's the game - good luck!" kind of way. So more of an expanded tutorial system taking place in these larger opening zones.

    The original zone we are placed in is fairly limited in scope and content. You get a weapon and a direction and a shove. These outskirts will allow more direction and greater flexibility in how they introduce new players. This will also help when people review the game.
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2017