richard garriott

Richard “Lord British” Garriott on Wikipedia

The Daily Grind: How much realism is too much in an MMORPG?

In yesterday’s comments on the Shroud of the Avatar AMA article, MOP reader squidgod2000 drew everyone’s attention to an overlooked bit in the Q&A that discusses nutrition in the game. I knew that food was intended to be a big deal in SOTA, but I had no concept of how far the game might eventually go — apparently a complicated system of calories, fat, and salt that affects a player’s stats. Richard Garriott says it’s all still a work in progress and only slowly being addressed (that goes for barfing up your food if you eat too much too!).

I love playing cooks in MMORPGs — let’s be honest, games are the only place I’ll ever be a great chef — so I most definitely want to see game mechanics in my sandboxes that make such consumables matter. I didn’t mind the various versions of “stomach capacity” Star Wars Galaxies implemented, for example. But I’m going to have to draw my personal line at counting calories in a freakin’ video game. Sorry, SOTA, but most of us have to do that and worry about our health or our relatives’ health in the real world.

And that leads me to today’s Daily Grind. How much realism is too much in an MMORPG?

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Shroud of the Avatar adds East Asian-themed town, kicks off Q&A

Fancy a bit of the Far East in your MMORPGs? Shroud of the Avatar is making that wish come true with its unclone of the town of Celestis, as explained in Portalarium’s latest newsletter.

“The terrain is heavily influenced by Zhangjiajie National Forest Park in China, while the cultural decor is influenced by feudal Japan,” writes Level Designer Chris “Seawolf” Wolf. “It will feature a new town center and harbor, several gardens including a rock garden, several koi fish ponds, and a Noh/Kabuki stage which can also double as a dance floor. There are also a few Easter-eggs throughout the scene which pay tribute to some of my favorite chambara (classic samurai films).”

Richard Garriott and crew are running an Ask Me Anything on the /r/SotA_Official subreddit beginning at 11 a.m. EDT today (just as this post goes live). The discussion is intended to focus on the SeedInvest equity crowdfunding campaign currently live for the company.

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Shroud of the Avatar plans a pair of investor Q&A sessions, the first taking place tonight

One of the frustrating bits about the MMORPG studios that are turning to newly legal online equity crowdfunding platforms is that the very SEC rules meant to protect us also hinder us when it comes to digging up information and reporting on the proceedings. That is, gaming studios and other companies are forbidden from disclosing specific things (chiefly, deal terms) about their campaigns to the media while those campaigns are ongoing. You might notice studios won’t answer most emailed or forum questions either. The idea is that a campaign’s premise would be scattered for different audiences, which could open the game up to legal challenges later.

All of this is preamble to explaining why you might want to tune in to the Q&A sessions Portalarium will be holding with investors and potential investors into its newly announced Shroud of the Avatar SeedInvest campaign. The first is tonight at 5 p.m. EDT and takes the form of a public streamed webinar; the second is a public Reddit AMA next week on June 20th. Presumably, investors will be able to ask more direct questions about the studio’s finances during those established public fora.

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Make My MMO: Broke Protocol launches early access after failed Kickstarter (June 10, 2017)

This week in MMO crowdfunding, Minecraft-meets-GTAO MMO Broke Protocol’s Kickstarter ended unsuccessfully on Thursday, but the good news is that the game launched its early access program anyway. The better news is that early access is free. “The last few updates have seen the focus shift to enable more roleplaying opportunities,” writes the team. “Cylinder Studios has now pushed updates to Police, Paramedics, and in this latest update: Firefighters. Demolished vehicles now leave a burning inferno that has to be taken care of by the city’s loyal Fire Department.” Good times.

Meanwhile, Gloria Victis previewed its map expansion, Project Gorgon delayed part of the Serbule revamp, Albion Online launched its Hector update, ROKH rolled out a new build with salvaging and chat, and Elite Dangerous opened the 2.3.10 beta and prepped players for the PS4 debut later this month.

Finally, we spoke to Shroud of the Avatar’s Richard Garriott about his studio’s equity crowdfunding announcement.

Read on for more on what’s up with MMO crowdfunding over the last week and the regular roundup of all the crowdfunded MMOs we’ve got our eye on.

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Perfect Ten: MMORPGs that died too soon

Your favorite game is going to die. I wrote about that. Some games are never even going to get to launching in the first place, unfortunately. But then there are these titles: games that went the distance when it came to development, marketing, promotion, testing… but somehow didn’t quite manage to stick the landing past that. These are the games that, in Transformers terms, are the hi-then-die cast of the MMO space.

That doesn’t always mean the games are bad, mind you. Some of these games were great fun. But through a combination of business model issues, publisher issues, player population, and just general weirdness, these titles couldn’t make it to a year and a half in the wild. Heck, some of them couldn’t even make it to a year and a quarter. And if you want to peruse this list and wonder why all of these titles are gone but Alganon is somehow still operating… well, we’re just as confused as you are.

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Shroud of the Avatar’s Richard Garriott on launch and philosophy following equity crowdfunding announcement

Last week during its seasonal telethon, Shroud of the Avatar’s lead developers surprised watchers by announcing an equity crowdfunding campaign that allows players and other parties to invest directly in the game.

To try to glean more information about the state of the company and the decision to launch this year, we fired off an interview to Portalarium’s Richard Garriott. But one extremely tricky (and frustrating for everyone) issue that crops up with these equity crowdfunding interviews is that the SEC has implemented strict rules for what studios can talk about, meaning they are not legally allowed to discuss deal terms with the press. In fact, if we mention specific deal terms of their campaign in this interview, we can get them in trouble, which is obviously not our goal here. For example, we asked additional questions about the company’s financial position, who has invested in it, what happens to Portalarium if the investor round fails to meet its minimum, whether the game’s income is currently covering its costs, and how the game’s valuation was determined, but Garriott couldn’t answer in fear of running afoul of SEC regulations.

So we’ve proceeded with what we can discuss, and investors can ask questions in public on SeedInvest where everything is posted in accordance with the law.

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Shroud of the Avatar secures Russian publishing

Shroud of the Avatar is coming to Russia, Portalarium announced today. The studio’s inked a deal with Moscow’s Black Sun Game Publishing “to publish and operate Shroud of the Avatar: Forsaken Virtues in Russia, the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and the Baltic States.”

Portalarium CEO Richard Garriott is quoted in the press release as saying that SOTA has a “large and growing fan base in Russia and the surrounding countries.” Black Sun’s website lists only SOTA under its umbrella and says it is “interested in buying the rights to publishing in Russia and CIS countries, massively multiplayer online games,” particularly near-finished projects.

SOTA stopped wiping its early access servers last summer but has not technically launched as a completed project. Its most recent monthly release landed at the tail end of April, introducing or overhauling multiple maps and revamping combat lines. Beginning today, the game is available in a free-to-play trial mode until the end of May.

Source: Press release

 

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How Shroud of the Avatar’s night sky impacts gameplay

Other than for providing an atmospheric backdrop to night questing, starry skyboxes in MMOs don’t really mean or do much. This is not the case for Shroud of the Avatar, however, as astrology apparently does impact the game’s systems in some way.

In this past weekend’s newsletter, the team talks about how it’s updating the night sky and the devices used to observe it in-game: “When changes were made to the original moondial to account for us getting much closer to our actual in-game sky and all its celestial bodies…this time, with our system incorporating not only the correct moon order, but also the ideology and actual timing of the attacks of the Cabalists and their unholy minions, the moondials themselves (which Richard [Garriott] always wanted to be functionally-accurate tools of celestial observation) needed to change once again to reflect our most recent updates.”

The newsletter recapped the many changes that went into last week’s Update 41, showed a new and improved store interface, and shared more progress on the Oracle and beginning Outskirts zones.

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Shroud of the Avatar previews clockwork critters and virtue shrine system

Hope you like clockwork critters because Shroud of the Avatar is about to get a slew of them. The game’s latest newsletter shows off such beasties as the clockwork attack cat, clockwork attack raven, and the assassin automaton, all part of the clockwork menagerie that’ll be inflicted on players in K’rul thanks to those craft kobolds.

Of note to fans of Old Britannia and the original Ultima games is the upcoming town blessing system, which is basically a clone of Richard Garriott’s classic virtue shrine system. Each shrine — I mean, devotional — is based on one of the core virtues and principles and grants a buff accordingly. For example, the Justice devotional reduces your fizzle chance and buffs your cooking skill. Good food is justice.

There’s much more to the newsletter, including another look at the gloriously crumbly and moss-drenched Rhun ruins and some gorgeous screenshots, which we’ve tucked below.

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Make My MMO: Mekria, Caribbean Conquest, and RUiN hit Kickstarter (February 4, 2017)

It was a busy week for new MMO Kickstarters!

  • Mekria Online joins the Make My MMO watch list; it’s a PvP-heavy MMO seeking $110,000.
  • RUiN joins up too, though as a PvP arena brawler, it’s a bit on our fringes. It’s already at half its goal with a month left to go. (Thanks, Zanetski!)
  • and Age of Sail MMO Caribbean Conquest is back online with its second Kickstarter (the first was canceled last year).

Read on for more on what’s up with MMO crowdfunding over the last few weeks and the regular roundup of all the crowdfunded MMOs we’ve got our eye on!

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Richard Garriott explains why Steam has been unkind to Shroud of the Avatar

Have you had a chance to pick up and read Richard Garriott’s memoirs yet? Whether or not you have, you might want to check out this interview that the Shroud of the Avatar creator did on his life adventures to date.

Speaking of the in-development MMO, the interviewer pointed out some of the bad reviews that Shroud of the Avatar has garnered so far and asked if the project might not be going as hoped. Garriott replied by saying, “I don’t think so at all. We’ve had naysayers since the beginning. But I think what you’re seeing is a side effect from open development from day one […] Everything was pretty hunky dory until we went up on Steam. Then we found a different type of customer who hadn’t been with us from the beginning. They see that the game looks unfinished, unpolished, with only a few weapons and an obtuse UI and we get a backlash.”

Garriott said that Shroud of the Avatar should officially launch by the middle of 2017.

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Make My MMO: The Repopulation’s new owner, Shards Online’s alpha (January 14, 2017)

This week in MMO crowdfunding news, Above & Beyond announced that Hero Engine company Idea Fabrik has acquired all rights to its indie sci-fi sandbox MMORPG The Repopulation and will be relaunching the game — in the Hero Engine — with a new content patch sometime in Q1 2017. The game had originally raised $230,000 in Kickstarter funds in 2012 and 2014 and made it to early access in 2014, only to become entangled in a financial drama with Idea Fabrik over a year ago, which kept the game offline for a year while A&B built Fragmented with the goal of porting Repop to Unreal. The port will no longer be happening, but A&B is still working on Fragmented’s console version. Definitely check out our whole article on what’s up — we’ve got an exclusive interview with A&B there as well.

Meanwhile,

Read on for more on what’s up with MMO crowdfunding over the last few weeks and the regular roundup of all the crowdfunded MMOs we’ve got our eye on!

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Richard Garriott publishes his memoirs

When you’ve lived a life as wacky and full as Ultima creator Richard Garriott, it only stands to reason that you’d probably want to share your stories and lessons with those who aren’t multi-millionaire game designers.

Garriott’s new memoir, Explore/Create, hit the bookshelves this week. The book is co-written by David Fisher and talks about Garriott’s many real-world adventures and his experiences in the games industry. In the book he also talks about how he connected his various interests to game creation, such as his fascination with languages that fed into Tabula Rasa.

In an interview, the Shroud of the Avatar creator said that he and other ex-Origin employees such as Chris Roberts and Warren Spector, still stay in touch and have shared elements between their projects to connect their game worlds. “We all support each other and love each other. Maybe us old Originites might find a way to get back together,” he said.

Source: Amazon, 512

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