Hello Everyone, Thank you for being a loyal backer of Shroud of the Avatar. Early access for all backers at First Responder / Adventurer level and above begins with Release 1 tomorrow, Thursday December 12 at 10:30 AM Central Time. Release 1 access will end on Saturday December 14 at 10:00 PM Central Time. Starting today you can begin installing and patching (see instructions below) but login will not be enabled until Thursday morning. We are happy to say that we are going to deliver just about every single Release 1 item (except for head shapes in character creation). Here are those deliverables again (along with a few extra notes about each): RELEASE 1: December 12 - December 14, 2013 Install / Patching system: Step one for you guys to play the game is for you to download the game and then patch the game. Since this is the first hands on impression of the product, it is critical. Login / Registration: Players should be able to log in using their existing accounts and if they have not yet registered, they should be intuitively led to the steps to register. NOTE: To thoroughly test login we will be kicking everyone off periodically and making them log back in to stress the servers. We will do our best to broadcast in game prior to when we do this. Character Creation: Players should be able to create and customize their character. Creation / Customization options for Release 1 will include: name, gender, head shape, skin tone, hair style, hair color, and eye color. NOTE: Character wipes will happen periodically prior to launch so name choice during these early releases is not final. Single Player Online: All public releases prior to commercial launch will be online only. For Release 1 and 2, it will be constrained to single player online only. First Town: Our first town, Owl’s Head will be open for exploration. This is important for testing purposes so we can better tune our performance metrics on real user machines. For Release 1, exiting the town will just funnel you back into the same town (anyone see Groundhog Day?) Conversation: Important that players converse with the townsfolk so we can start expanding the dialog system. As you talk to NPCs, we will be tracking your conversations and using them to add more content based on your input. Bag Inventory: This is a hot topic in the forums so we want to get it in your hands for feedback on preferences. Immersion vs. ease of use, let the battle begin! Equipment: Players will be provided with several chests full of “ph@t lootz” (armor, clothes, weapons, etc.) for trying on for size. House Claiming: Players will be able to select a house from the entire list of player houses (even Lord of the Manor!) for free so that we can test out the various size houses on the lots and allow players to test drive the various houses so they can have a better idea of which they ultimately want to own. NOTE: Character wipes will happen periodically prior to launch so lot choice during these early releases is not final. House Decorating: Chests full of furniture and decorative items will be provided so you can stress test the decoration system and try out various styles of interiors. Help us figure out all the ways you can break things! (Look forward to screenshot contests on this!) Metrics: All the while you are playing, we will be stress testing our metrics system. This system is critical to maintaining a balanced economy, tracking exploits, and gathering data to improve the experience. So now that it is clear what you can expect we should also be as clear about what you should not expect: Mac & Linux: We are definitely going to support these Operating Systems but we were unable to get them working satisfactorily for Release 1. For Release 1 we will only support Windows. Our goal is to try again for OSX and Linux support for Release 2. Performance: Our goal with Release 1 was to build a machine challenging scene with Owl’s Head. We have only done rudimentary optimizations and we do not yet have a full suite of fallbacks (LODs, etc.). This means for R1 the game will be quite slow on lower end machines and due to memory usage might be unstable in certain conditions (like densely decorated areas). With each release we will be doing further optimizations and adding to our fallbacks to improve performance. Game Loop: Even though we have clearly stated that there will not be a complete game loop (adventure, loot, spend, craft, quest, etc.) until Release 4 there is still some expectation of those activities. For R1 there is just character creation / customization, NPC conversation, and home decoration. Advanced Player Housing: There are some advanced features for player housing including basements, home exterior decorations, and ceiling decorations that are not yet integrated. Expect to see these appear in future releases with the goal that by Release 4 they should all be present. Below my signature you will find 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. Sincerely, Starr Long Executive Producer PS We have included some surprises around Owl’s Head so be sure to explore thoroughly. RELEASE 1 INSTRUCTIONS: Setup: 1. Download and run SotAInstaller.exe here: http://goo.gl/KVYzpF 2. We recommend having at least 4GB of free disk space on the drive you install to, though the game will only download about 650MB of data. 3. Either allow the installer to auto-run on complete, or run either the desktop shortcut named “Shroud of the Avatar” or the “Launcher.exe” located in your installed Portalarium directory. 4. Once the launcher is finished, the game will start. 5. (optional) Leaving the launcher running will help us and others by providing some of your bandwidth to assist others in downloading the client. Login: 1. Enter your www.shroudoftheavatar.com registered login information - If you have not yet linked your kickstarter pledge to your account, you will not be able to gain access. If you purchased your pledge on ShroudoftheAvatar.com, you DO NOT need to link a Kickstarter account. 2. Choose your play mode - Currently, the only valid option is Single Player Online. 3. Click Enter Game to enter Avatar creation, and begin playing. Controls: 'w-a-s-d’ keys control Avatar movement Double tap ‘w’ key to engage in auto-run Mouse movement + holding right click controls the camera view The top right menu contains icons that can be left-clicked to perform the following actions- Crossed swords & shield: Access Avatar character information Bag: Open up inventory Gears: Options menu Question Mark: Bring up help page Sealed Letter: File a bug report Avatar character management- ‘c’ key or left-clicking the crossed swords & shield icon in the top right menu will bring up your Avatar’s character information ‘b’ key or left-clicking the bag icon in the top right menu will toggle open/close your inventory bags ‘escape’ key exits all open interfaces Double-left click objects to interact with them (the cursor will highlight when hovering over valid interaction objects). Some examples of interactions: Doors can be opened through interaction Chests can be opened and looted through interaction Light sources can be toggled on/off through interaction Decorative items and equipment can be moved via holding left click+dragging items to their new desired location and releasing the left mouse button. To wear equipment, open the Avatar information screen (‘c’ key) and drag equipment onto the display avatar or corresponding highlighted equipment slot and release the left mouse button. To decorate, make sure the avatar is within a housing lot (denoted by a runic sign post) then left click+drag objects from the Avatar’s inventory into the world then release the left mouse button when the object is green to place it in the world. A red object will not be placeable. The ‘q’ and ‘e’ keys will rotate the object. To remove decorations, left click+drag an item from within the world back into the Avatar’s inventory. To converse with NPCs, simply stand near the NPC you wish to converse with, and hit the ‘enter’ key to bring up your chat log. Type what you wish to say to the npc within the chat box, and hit ‘enter’ again to converse. The chat log can be scrolled through by left click+dragging the slider on the right side of the chat window To report a bug, either left-click the sealed letter icon in the top-right menu or open up your chat log (‘enter’ key) and type in ‘/bug’ followed by your bug report and the ‘enter’ key. This will copy your bug report and game information to the clipboard and bring up the SotA bug forum where you can paste the clipboard into a post for us to receive. Before posting in the forums please follow these guidelines: http://tinyurl.com/q5r3jnd The ‘f11’ key will take a screenshot of the game and save it to your installed SotA directory To find out the current position of the Avatar in game open up the chat log (‘enter’ key) and type in ‘/loc’ followed by the ‘enter’ key. This also copies out the location to your clipboard so that it can be pasted elsewhere as needed. You can click the green triangular gems in the corner of the chat window and the top right button panel to lock or unlock the auto-hiding of those UI elements. To move or re-size the chat window, left-click + drag the window borders as desired (left border to move the window and right border to resize). The ‘f4’ key or left-clicking the options menu “Quit” tab will exit the game. RELEASE 1 KNOWN ISSUES: Graphical: LODs (level of detail) objects are still being implemented so players may occasionally experience objects visually ‘popping’ out of existence or between visual states Camera will occasionally clip through walls when near them When using a multiple monitor setup there may be issues with the default window placement in windowed mode Quitting the game will remove the player Avatar before fully quitting, this will be fixed in future releases. Logging into the game takes a little while to load in characters and geometry, there will be some visual popping and general framerate issues for a short duration after logging in. Gameplay: Combat is turned off - will be enabled in Release 4 Crafting is turned off - will be enabled in Release 2 Female Avatars can equip cloaks but they have no visuals Changing the house on a lot will clear out and delete currently placed decorations, there is a warning that will ask before clearing. The map will reset upon entering/leaving Owl’s Head (either through quitting or returning to login) Not all items are interactable at this time (most notably the majority of items in NPC housing is currently locked in place) Some doors are only opened by using a switch (sometimes hidden)- currently there isn’t yet a visual accompanying a locked door, but there is a locked door sound that will play when attempting to open Some staircases and ramps will allow the player to walk off the sides, placing the player instantly on the ground If the Avatar is idle for an extended period of time (roughly 30 minutes or so) the game will auto-logout. In the future this may be accompanied by an idle warning msg. Dialogue: Dialogue is still in an early state and conversations are still being fleshed out - responses are still somewhat limited. We are logging player interactions and Release 2 will see considerable improvement. Line of sight for non-player characters is not implemented for Release 1 so you will be occasionally greeted by a character through a wall. User Interface: Bags and inventory are still in development and more options for sorting and visual representations will be added in a later release Changing hairstyle and hair color while creating an Avatar sometimes does nothing to the portrait but ultimately still affects player’s Avatar When playing full screen using multiple monitors, the user can move the mouse cursor outside of the game window- this functionality is only intended to work in windowed mode or borderless windowed mode (which has yet to be implemented). Performance: FPS counter is not always accurate There may be framerate issues and slowdown in game, optimizations are still in progress Patching: If the patcher process is terminated while updating (e.g. computer/patcher crashes) user may need to uninstall and reinstall to finish the patching.