richard garriott

Richard “Lord British” Garriott on Wikipedia

Choose My Adventure: Starting completely fresh in Shroud of the Avatar

I really know pretty much nothing about Ultima.

This is only partly my fault. Way back when the Ultima games were a big deal on PC, I was still decidedly locked to consoles, where the options for getting into the series were rather limited. Aside from that, it was years before I really acquired much of a taste for the Western style of RPGs as opposed to the Japanese style… and considering that the roots of that style are half-buried in Ultima (along with Might & Magic and Wizardry, to be very broad and avoid overburdening this header), you can see why I’d kind of give things a pass.

All of this is pretty relevant when it comes to Shroud of the Avatar because you kind of can’t separate the two. No, Shroud of the Avatar is not an Ultima game, but it’s Richard Garriott building the game and inserting himself into the proceedings. It’d be like George Lucas making a new movie based off of Buck Rogers and Akira Kurosawa’s filmography; it might not bear the title, but you know you’ll wind up with something pretty close to wars what are waged across the stars.

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Choose My Adventure: Get out of here, DC Universe Online

So this is an unusual situation for me: I’ve never actually played a game for Choose My Adventure that I’ve disliked this much.

Those of you who have followed my writing for a while know that I’ve played some games I didn’t much like before, but that’s different. Lord of the Rings Online and Black Desert, for example, are games that were not my cup of tea but still had obvious merits I could praise. I’ve played games that I dislike or ones that deserved more criticism than praise when I played them (Ryzom, TERA, the beta period of The Elder Scrolls Online), but still had positive sides. (And in the last case, ESO turned itself around quite well and earned plenty of kudos from me.) Heck, I played Scarlet Blade with as open a mind as I could possibly have.

But not so DC Universe Online. No, this game deserves a pretty thorough drubbing. I can understand why it has fans, but it’s still just not a good game. I can only hope it’s an outlier rather than the norm on Daybreak’s overall catalog, because… wow. This is not fun.

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Shroud of the Avatar: Equity crowdfunding passes $500K, studio plans monthly telethons

Shroud of the Avatar’s equity crowdfunding venture has gone rather well: Portalarium declared last night that it has “exceeded [its] SeedInvest target and [is] now reaching new heights,” meaning it’s raised $570,913 toward its original $500,000 target minimum ($465,000 from small-scale investors and $105,000 from higher-end accredited investors), with a potential round size of $2M. There are just over three days left for investors of all stripes to jump in. Don’t miss our interviews with Richard Garriott and Starr Long if you’re still on the fence!

Meanwhile, Portalarium has announced that with the release of R44 last week, it plans to “experiment with extended postmortems that are also Mini-Telethons.” If it proves popular, it’d potentially mean a switchover from the exhausting 12- or 24- hour telethon stream the team does quarterly to a monthly 4-hour fundraising session as the team delivers its release recap and Q&A.

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Make My MMO: Valiance Online’s founder alpha has begun (July 29, 2017)

This week in MMO crowdfunding, Valiance Online took everyone by surprise by announcing the launch of its investor alpha on PC for Friday, though it didn’t actually launch until today thanks to some unforeseen tech issues. “If you donated to our old website campaign or Kickstarter, you might not be in Alpha today,” Silverhelm tweeted. “We’ll be working over the weekend to get you in!” Folks who donate right now through the official site should also have immediate access.

Over in the newly launched Albion Online, developers calmly responded to criticism of its large-scale battle system, explaining the upsides and downsides of diminishing returns from zergs. (Thanks, David!)

Meanwhile, Project Gorgon promised tweaks to its Poetry Appreciation skill (<3), Saga of Lucimia demoed its Pyrography skill, OrbusVR welcomed more players to its open alpha, Shroud of the Avatar rolled out R44 and cracked down on insider trading exploits, Chronicles of Elyria posted a whopper of a roadmap, Global Adventures’ Kickstarter ends tomorrow, and Star Citizen clarified (sort of?) the number of planets it will launch with and effectively announced another 3.0 delay.

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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MMO dev and astronaut Richard Garriott hosts a Reddit AMA on /r/space today

Curious about astrophysics? The Massively OP Podcast brought on a special guest for a fun holiday bonus ‘cast back in 2015 to answer a ton of listener questions on the topic!
Don’t call him a space tourist, but if you want to pick his brain, Richard Garriott is all yours for the afternoon.

Lord British himself will sit for a Reddit Ask Me Anything this afternoon on /r/space as space enthusiasts ask him all about his experiences being a private astronaut. The AMA’s being promoted by NBC’s science wing, which last week hosted a long-form piece by Garriott in which he discussed his lifelong space flight dreams and how he finally realized them, though he shut down the “space tourist label” pretty hard.

Garriott is of course best known to MMO players as one of the founding fathers of the genre thanks to Ultima Online; he’s currently leading Shroud of the Avatar at the helm of his company Portalarium. Most recently, he published a memoir and publicly committed SOTA to Neverdie’s peer-to-peer online money trading venture.

The AMA kicks off at 3 p.m. EDT today, just as this post goes live.

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Make My MMO: Albion Online joins the list of launched crowdfunded MMORPGs (July 22, 2017)

This week in MMO crowdfunding, indie sandbox Albion Online — whose 250,000 founders reportedly crowdfunded the game for almost $10,000,000 — formally launched. The buy-to-play isometric game has hardcore old-school flair with a potentially alienating PvP template, but it’s brought plenty of PvE content along for the ride in an attempt to woo a more diverse playerbase.

Meanwhile, Project Gorgon made progress on its 64-bit test build, OrbusVR plans to open its alpha next weekend, City of Titans released a new lore piece, Camelot Unchained showed off more of its UI, Ashes of Creation demoed arenas, Path of Exile picked a date for Fall of Oriath, and Crowfall pushed its very first trial campaigns to testers. Oh yeah, and some Star Citizen drama.

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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Shroud of the Avatar’s Richard Garriott backs Neverdie’s ‘etherium blockchain gaming’ venture

I often joke with our readers that Massively OP is not an MMO uptime monitor, but darn if we don’t feel like a Richard Garriott uptime monitor lately — love him or hate him, the man is on one hell of a PR tour for his book and Portalarium’s crowdfunding. So what’s one of the founding fathers of the MMORPG genre and the current boss at Shroud of the Avatar doing today? Boosting Neverdie Studios.

So let’s back up. Remember back in 2005 when when a Project Entropia player bought an asteroid in the game for $100,000 and then flipped it a few years later for more than six times that, ultimately setting a Guinness record and claiming to be the “first gamer to make a million dollars inside a virtual world”? That player was Jon “Neverdie” Jacobs, and Neverdie Studios is his real-world secure bitcoin-like-trading venture promoting “Etherium Blockchain Gaming,” which amounts to peer-to-peer online money trading and is of particular to interest to online gaming studios. The company has apparently already raised $2 million in a pre-sale and has now launched an “initial coin offering” (ICO) whereby people can invest in the tech.

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MMORPG veteran Richard Garriott decries ‘space tourist’ label

If you haven’t figured it out, Shroud of the Avatar and Ultima Online’s Richard Garriott is on a press tour lately for his new memoir, Explore/Create, in which he talks about his interesting life of video game development, adventuring, and even space travel.

As part of that tour, Garriott penned a piece for NBC news in which he goes more in depth about his stint as an astronaut that was sent up to the International Space Station in 2008. While the game designer paid a large sum of money for the privilege of the space flight, he pushed back hard against any suggestion that he was nothing more than a tourist.

“Please don’t call me a ‘space tourist,'” he wrote. “I was not a tourist. I got the same training NASA (and Russian) astronauts get. In orbit, I worked hard to complete those experiments both to offset the high cost of my flight and, more important, to build the businesses that will take me (and you) back to space and ultimately help humanity escape the cradle of our existence.”

Source: NBC News

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Shroud of the Avatar hopes to up its profile at San Diego Comic-Con this week

Watch out, Comic-Con: Shroud of the Avatar’s masterminds are on their way to rock your geeky world. Richard Garriott and Starr Long will host a panel on the upcoming game this Thursday, followed by a discussion of Garriott’s memoirs this Saturday. All publicity is good publicity, right?

While the big dogs are away, the cats will get back to work polishing up the MMO. The team reports that it’s been hard at work improving the visuals for three key cities that includes the full interior of a castle. Past that, two scenes are in the making, the former battleground of Hallowed Plains and the finale zone of Grannus Colossus.

“This Colossus map is located in northern Novia, and houses the giant Colossus statue of Grannus, titan of courage,” the team explained. “As Boreas was to the path of truth, with solving puzzles and using clues to progress to the colossus, this area is to courage (pitched battle against barbarian cannibal tribes of the north).”

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Shroud of the Avatar’s Portalarium transitions into publishing, may consider partnerships

Barreling toward this month’s Release 44, Shroud of the Avatar is (ahem) fleshing out its Elven population with better models and even female models. Elf-lovers need not soil their breeches in excitement, as these are (for now) solely NPC models and nothing that players can take out on the town for mailbox dancing.

In addition to polishing the Jaanaford scene and reworking the Boreas boss model, the team has activated a nearly month-long trial of the game. That means that now through July 26th, you’ll be able to test-drive Lord British’s newest fantasy realm.

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Shroud of the Avatar kicks off another fundraising stream, this one for Lord British’s birthday

Didn’t Shroud of the Avatar just have a telethon? It did! But this is a special one in honor of Portalarium founder and MMORPG genre stalwart Richard Garriott and his birthday. Technically, we already celebrated his birthday by blowing up some explosives and grilling burgers on July 4th (that was why we did that, right?), but July 6th works just as well for this event.

The fundraiser kicks off today at 4 p.m. EDT as this post is going live (you can watch it down below) and as usual offers special Lord British-themed stretch goals for donors as well as closes down some past rewards. Plus, “For every $2,500 donated, all developers on camera have to either dance, sing, or drink a shot of alcohol.” Devs will also be answering player questions submitted on the official site.

Fundraising efforts on the studio’s SeedInvest portal continue as well; yesterday, Portalarium added several dozen new screenshots and updated its 2016 financial statement (they’re down under “data room”). Of note, Garriott still maintains a 52% controlling interest in the company, which has spent $18M on the game and deferred $11M in revenue.

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MMORPG founding father Richard Bartle establishes new unplayer matrix

Dr Richard Bartle, best known to MMORPG players for establishing the research that ultimately led to the admittedly flawed but widely quoted “Bartle test,” spoke at Gamelab Barcelona 2017 last week with research of continuing interest to gamers: a new model for non-player types, floated by him publicly for the first time.

His original model was “insular,” he argues. “It tells you why people do play, but not why they don’t, which is often more useful.” The new matrix covers what is essentially the developer’s quest for accessibility, the “sweet spot where the game’s depth matches the player’s insight,” on a quadrant of easy vs. hard mapped over shallow vs. deep. Like Bartle, I’m not sure “rock babies and opera zombies” will catch on, but he manages to apply it convincingly to explain who buys what and why in free-to-play MMOs.

The whole slideshow is worth a look (doesn’t load in Chrome, note), though I suggest you choose to read that font ironically! With luck we’ll get a video of the whole talk at some point.

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Ultima Online adjusts animal training, gets ready to test Publish 98

Following Ultima Online’s most recent update, animal training is at the forefront of many adventurer’s minds. The overhaul to the system has received a lot of feedback, some of which the team is taking to use for adjustments. One of the biggest of these is a 50% reduction in damage when a pet attacks a player.

Speaking of updates, Publish 98 is on track to be tested later this month. The team isn’t talking much right now about what that patch will contain, but hey, it’s coming!

Ultima Online’s 20th anniversary party in Virginia this September with Richard Garriott and Starr Long is currently at capacity, so the organizers are asking attendees to inform them ASAP if they are no longer coming so as to free up their spot for others. The team will be raffling off three grandfathered castles to the entire community at that point, attending or not.

Source: Newsletter

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