MMOs dressing us as murderhobos wouldn’t be so bad if we were super stylish murderhobos, right? Shroud of the Avatar plainly agrees, which is why the headline item in its latest newsletter is dye-able peasant gear that actually looks pretty decent. For peasant gear. I spy demure barmaid gowns too! There’s more to the dev update than dresses, of course. Portalarium includes new images from its do-over for Shaminian Hills, new heraldry items that you can stick your own sigil on, and a list of to-dos for NPCs in Central Brittany.
The studio says R54 is currently on the test server undergoing tweaks; it’s still expected to roll out on May 31st, with performance improvements, the rebuilt and polished zones and scenes (including Shaminian Hills), virtue effects for gear, more hints during the newbie tutorial, polish on companions, new side quests, new recipes, new housing and deco, and a polishing patch for the container UI.
A couple of iconic fantasy creatures are heading into a Shroud of the Avatar near you. The dev team announced that it is bringing both skeleton pirates and honest-to-goodness unicorns in the game’s near future.
Ready to go on a unicorn hunt? “Unicorns are very rare and elusive creatures. They will not fight unless provoked but once enraged they are one of the most powerful beings in Novia. It is rumored that items fashioned from unicorn parts are also ridiculously powerful but those same rumors warn of a price to be paid in your virtue should you dare slay one of these noble creatures.”
Massively OP is putting a bounty on the heads of these creatures. Bring us those horns, and we shall make you richer than kings!
The team also wrote about the making of a few new scenes for the game, the crystal-imbued Shaminian Hills, the wetlands of Westend, and the canyons of Upper Tears.
Are you familiar with Geocaching? It’s a popular activity in which players hide and discover treasure caches all over the world (and is a favorite of Shroud of the Avatar’s Richard Garriott, who hid one on the International Space Station).
It turns out that Bungie is a fan of the game as well, as the studio team created its own special geocache hunt for fans to discover. Destiny 2 players discovered clues in the latest patch that eventually led to a secret message. This message contained GPS coordinates to a real-world location, which turned out to be a hidden cache on Sleeping Beauty Mountain in New York state.
The contents? A huge Valkyrie spear modeled after one of Destiny 2’s weapons and a note from the developers encouraging the finder to share his or her discovery with the community at large. The note was from Design Lead Rob Gallerani that thanked the community for its passion and hinted that more geocaches may be coming. Additionally, the team left a second, smaller container with gold coins for future hunters to take if they traveled to these coordinates.
If you’ve found yourself struggling with Shroud of the Avatar’s unique take on online gaming, you are definitely not alone. It’s not the most intuitive title, although fans do insist that once you put in the time to understand, it becomes an engaging experience.
Maybe you need a little boost to help with that? There’s no shame in learning from the experience of others. Shroud of the Avatar player Elaina Strongbow put together an incredible collection of 69 short (two to three minutes apiece) guides to walk you through all of the systems and features of Lord British’s newest title. The topics cover the starter experience, understanding your character, engaging in combat, taking part in the crafting scene, and creating the swankiest of pads.
Maybe it’s time to give SotA another try? Check out these videos and see if they might help the game click for you!
Update 52 is old news – Shroud of the Avatar is already looking ahead to release 53 and beyond. So sayeth the game’s latest newsletter, which offers a peek into the development of the bustling and cozy Viking-themed town of Westend. “Westend is located on the western end of Verdantis in close proximity to the Verdantis Shardfall. Alongside this it is in close proximity to Norgard, so for this particular uncloning we decided to bring in our Viking style architecture and improve the theme of the area as a coastal swamp biome,” Portalarium writes. “The NPC center and cluster of shops in the heart of town have now received a major makeover with multi-level platforms that rise above the swamp alongside the addition of bringing in viking themed architecture, furniture and additional propping.”
The studio is also teasing the addition of brewing and a plan to run a double-experience event thanks to the “incredible” turnout for the stress test last month. In fact, Starr Long says the team had to boost capacity on the QA server for the event: “There were so many people, 330+ at one point in three instances!”
Finally, Portalarium has a business model change on the way thanks to its move out of early access and expansion around the globe (and into new taxation territories): It’s eliminating the store credit system entirely. But don’t worry; you’re not losing anything.
What to make of Shroud of the Avatar? The few MMO bloggers who have looked into this recently released but already long-running title have struggled to get a handle on Lord British’s latest RPG.
The Ancient Gaming Noob calls it “retroist hobbyism” and left him wondering. “What is this game that is by turns awkward, finicky, intricate, deep, slow, and clearly a work in progress?” he asks. “Where does it fit into the gaming world?”
Inventory Full found some merit in it but noted the extreme performance issues and other annoyances: “My willingness to struggle on was further undermined by the D&D style random encounters that dragged me into a private instance every time I tried to travel from one adventure area to another. Not to mention the fact that my weapon was broken and I couldn’t remember how the combat system worked anyway.”
Continue on with us in this edition of Global Chat, as we’ll read essays on altitis, EverQuest, City of Heroes, Elder Scrolls Online, and more!
If you don’t count the day-one patch at launch a month ago, today marks the first major update for Shroud of the Avatar since it fully shed all its beta and early access trappings. Release 53 – yes, they’re still monthly, like clockwork – includes new zone rebuilds, virtue effects, heraldry, plus the loot overhaul.
“We made massive improvements to loot. Player crafted gear sold to merchants will now appear in supply bundles, decorations have been added in multiple places including toadstools on mushroom enemies (how ironic is that?), worn armor can now be found on humanoids, lot deeds and homes now appear in rare supply bundles, and drop rates have been increased for all items in Offline Mode!”
Maybe the most pressing new addition is the looking-for-group code. “A party leader can add their party (aka ‘group’) to a public listing of open groups for others to join,” Portalarium’s patch notes say. “Players who are looking for a group to play with can use this listing to find an open group.”
The dust may be settling after Shroud of the Avatar’s final launch, but that doesn’t mean the game is done. On the contrary, Portalarium clearly means to keep right on its strict monthly update schedule.
As the title’s latest dev update explains, R53 – due out this Thursday – includes the rebuild of multiple scenes and locations (like Tenebris Harbor and Penmawr Island shown in the gallery below), plus the looking-for-group system, better loot, offline drop rate tweaks, additional side quests, heraldry, and new “plunderer NPCs,” plus the promised UI polishing pass.
The planned stress test on the QA server kicks off as this post goes live; as previously noted, a quorum of participants will ensure a double experience event come the launch of the update.
Meanwhile, if you’re into world exploration, swing by the Twitter feed of Portalarium’s Richard Garriott; he’s been chronicling a well-earned trip to the Arctic.
Want some bonus XP in Shroud of the Avatar? You’re going to have to put in some effort to make that happen, kiddo.
Portalarium is planning a performance stress test of the game’s QA server this Monday and wants to load as many players as possible onto it to see if it can handle the load. This will take the form of a party on a boat (seriously) which will also involve summoned bosses and other server-smashing activities.
The studio said that if it can get at least 50 people to stick around for 45 minutes on the boat, it will activate a double XP bonus on the live servers for a week after Release 53 is launched later this month. Other incentives to showing up include random prizes handed out to party goers, such as a scorpion chair.
When Shroud of the Avatar said that it is developing worn and rusty armor and weapons to meet player demand for such things, it may sound, well, downright strange. Yet when you think about it, there is an appeal to wearing and sporting gear that has a “lived in” look instead of immacuately perfect and shiny outfits.
As such, worn, rusted, tattered, and dirty armor will start to be dropped with Shoud of the Avatar’s Release 53. The team said that players can either equip these or salvage them for patterns.
Generating dirty laundry for a future patch isn’t all the team is doing these days. Work progresses on new scenes, including the village of Eastmarch (and surrounding areas), the pirate haven of Penmawr Island, and the besieged town of Tenebris Harbor.
One of the challenges for indie and crowdfunded MMORPGs is surely the nature of their development: plugging along without much fanfare, with players seeing only one part of the equation. Saga of Lucimia has a piece out meant to show what that behind-the-scenes iteration looks like in the construction of an in-game asset as it travels from art concept to 3-D model to textured asset to something that’s added to the world by a different team entirely. But then what might be a mundane art blog takes a sharp turn to talk about other MMORPGs and their communities and expectations.
“There’s a major disconnect with some players when it comes to the misconceptions regarding iterations over the course of the game’s development,” argues Lucimia Creative Director Tim “Renfail” Anderson. “We see a lot of anger around the ‘net in regards to how things change over time with almost every MMORPG’s development, with many claiming the developers lied about how something was going to work, or how something was perceived as being a certain way, and then when it doesn’t work out quite the way players perceived, they claim that the developers deceived them, and that the launched product isn’t anything like what was initially discussed during the development process. The perfect example of this is Star Citizen/Squadron 42.”
With Project Gorgon now out on Steam early access, many first-time visitors to this strange game are feeling out the world and its systems. So what are they discovering?
Tales of the Aggronaut said that he was “hooked” when he put in a good weekend: “Part of the charm of this game is that it plops you into the game with no real warning or advisement about what you should be doing.”
“There’s never any doubting the sheer personality evident in every aspect of the game,” recommended Inventory Full. “The enthusiasm and good nature of the tiny development team sweeps all cynicism away.”
Project Gorgon not your cup of tea? Join us after the break for blog essays on Second Life, RIFT Prime, Shroud of the Avatar, and even Dungeons & Dragons!
Way back when websites were a new and marvelous thing, creators often slapped a yellow “under construction” icon on them to indicate what should have been blindingly obvious — that what you see wasn’t the final, finished result.
Despite launching last month, Shroud of the Avatar remains “under construction,” as are all online games in development. As work continues apace on Release 53 for later this month, the team is crafting several new and improved zones, including the player village of Eastmarch, the pirate-infested Penmawr Island, and the recently plundered Tenebris Harbor.
The team is also throwing a launch screenshot contest “to highlight all the moments of beauty, virtue, danger, and wondrous discoveries that inhabit the land.” Prizes include titles, pets, and in-game currency.