Greetings Avatars, Thank you to our loyal backers of Shroud of the Avatar. Release 7 access for all backers at First Responder level and above begins this Thursday, June 26 at 10:30 AM Central Time. Release 7 access will end on Sunday, June 29 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. What an epic month this has been! We launched new pledge content, new pledge tiers, a stretch goal store, showed at E3 while at the same time we did not slow down one bit on getting this release done. In fact, this release we missed fewer goals and delivered more extra content than any previous release! In contrast, past E3 preparations for previous projects have lasted for months and included throw-away work for marketing purposes. This is a testament to how we are making this game, which, as you have seen from the E3 coverage, is something we feel as strongly about as we do the game itself. Of course a huge part of the “how we are making” is you, our loyal backers. Now the moment you have been waiting for: here are the R7 deliverables, along with some extra notes and new deliverables in italics. 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. Since this is first release with this version of the map it is missing many features including visible roads, hex grid, animating avatars, encounters, etc. (all of which you can expect to see in future releases). Player to Player secure trade: Did you discover something cool you want to give your friend? Need to share some potions with a party member? Did you craft something amazing you want to trade? Secure trade is the answer, and will allow you to make exchanges of goods between you and other players. Note that gold cannot be traded currently but that will come soon. Water Lots: We will be adding water lot functionality to the game. This includes 7 water based buildings including: Citizen Cabana, Edelmann Cabana, Knight’s Lighthouse, Lord’s Houseboat, Duke Island Castle, Baron Galleon, and Baron Frigate. 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. While we did some iterations on this in R7 we still don’t feel this is where it needs to be so we will continue working on this in R8. 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. Stag and Bear are now complete. Canines (wolves and dogs) will start going in Release 8. 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. Long term these lights will be decorative objects that can be removed, moved, etc. but currently they are permanent fixtures. Scenes: A few new scenes will come online, including Player Towns on Islands (to feature water lots) and the first scene on the mainland (The Graff Gem Mines). We also replaced the entrance map to the Ravensmoor dungeon with a new map based on one of Stephen Daniele’s early concept pieces (see below). NOTE: The Lunar Rift in Owl’s Head now takes you to the Graff Gem Mines, NOT Kingsport. Also the Kingsport rift is disabled. 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. We also added images to support the instructions and themed them like medieval wood cuts. 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. While we are doing these upgrades to the faces we are deleting the old faces. For R7 this means you are limited to only one head type per gender. 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. The good news is that we have a working 64 bit build. The bad news is that cloth simulation (cloaks) does not work and sometimes asset loading is slower than the 32 bit build (ironic!). Promotional Trailer: We were excited to be a featured game at the Plantronics booth at E3. In support of that and our continued fundraising, we released an updated trailer (our last one was at the 6 month mark) that shows off gameplay and provides a few sneak peeks of the intro cinematic. As mentioned in update 73, Bill Johnson, aka The Guardian, did the voiceover. New Pledge Rewards, New Pledge Tiers: On Friday June 6th we announced some new pledge rewards, some new pledge tiers and the Stretch Goal Store. Character Customization Blend Shapes: We added a new blend shapes system for customization that will offer an incredibly detailed variety of options for players. Our first example is with the eyes and that alone has 8 different parameters to adjust. We plan to add a new facial feature section every other release. Player Property Permissions: Player can now start setting permissions on their property so that other players can also decorate (among other things). This is the first pass at this feature so expect further refinements in later releases. New Target Highlighting: There were several circumstances where the targeting effect was not visible (NPCs standing behind counters for instance) so we are moving the effect to be a full highlight over the entire target. This is a work in progress so expect further refinements in later releases. NPC Behaviors: We put in the frameworks for two behaviors: schedules and using items. In Owl’s Head you can see both of these in action when night falls and NPCs go around turning lights on (or conversely at dawn when they go around turning lights off). You can also see it in the Clink when one of the guards opens the door for you. Note that these were just initial system work with a couple of examples. Borderless Window Mode: For those of you who like to multi-task you can now run the game in this mode which allows you to either have something else on a second monitor or alt tab between applications without logging out! Note that this option has to be set via the options menu in the launcher (cannot be set using the in game options screen) NPC Names and Chat Tabs: NPCs now spawn a separate chat tab when you talk to them to make it easier to follow their conversation when others are chatting around you. You also now have to learn NPC’s names through conversation versus you magically just knowing all their names without ever meeting them. Scene Names: The name of the scene you are in now appears underneath the compass. Should help in those “what map are you in?” questions we all end up asking each other over and over. Containers on Player Lots: Storage chests now work on player lots so you finally have somewhere to store items that you don’t wish to display. Chests can be placed just like any other decorative object. Linux Stability: We fixed some major stability issues with the Linux build which should make the penguins happy! New Player Houses: We added 19 new player houses this release including the water ones mentioned above plus row houses (two styles), Knight Marshall Keep, Tavern, and the Crafting Pavillion. Summonning Party: /summon <playername> will summon a party member to you. /summonparty will summon the entire party Banking Infrastructure: We implemented the infrastructure to support banking. While we were in there we used it to store items for players when they change the house on their lot or unclaim a lot. /bank will move all those stored items to your inventory. So now that it is clear what you can expect, we should also be as clear about what you should not expect: Combat: Combat does not yet include PVP, random dealing, decks, combos, or advancement. Performance: We have only done rudimentary optimizations and we do not yet have a full suite of performance fallbacks (LODs, etc.). This means the game will be quite slow on older 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. Crafting: The crafting system is in the game as a framework, but is still missing some key components like repair, events, and enhancement. Skill checks are also not in yet, so results are always 100% successful. Long term, the percentage chance to make items will depend on a myriad of variables and can result in a variety of results including: making the item desired, making a simpler version of the item that will need to be enhanced, or making a damaged version of the item that needs repair. Game Loop: Release 7 was a further iteration on our rudimentary game loop, but it is still very bare bones. Expect this to expand with each subsequent release but it won’t be truly complete until we hit Beta later this year 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. Visual Quality: Efforts to improve visual quality are ongoing. We will continue to iterate on these until we have highly competitive visuals. Here are links to 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 aka Darkstarr Executive Producer PS Here is that skull dungeon entrance concept followed by a shot of it actually built in the game: PPS: First round of PVP is coming in R8! More details next week.