shroud of the avatar

Official Site: Shroud of the Avatar
Studio: Portalarium
Launch Date: N/A
Genre: Fantasy Sandbox
Business Model: B2P (Cash Shop)
Platform: PC

Shroud of the Avatar's new 'outskirts' maps should be a big help for newbies

Shroud of the Avatar's latest newsletter -- its 220th for those keeping track at home -- got a fresh coat of paint to celebrate, and as usual, it's stuffed full of screenshots. Some of those pics feature the Verdantis Mines, a gemstone-studded underground area, and the Kas Ruins (Helm's Deep, anyone?), both being built for Release 41 or 42. There's also a spotlight on a player-owned town, Owl Sky City, and a ton of videos on Obsidian Cabalist weapons.

What caught my attention, however, was the Solace Bridge Outskirts section, as its entry marks a bit of a design shift for Portalarium. "For several years now our backers have been providing us feedback that the first few hours of our game have several major issues," explains the studio. "Those issues include too many loading screens, scenes that are too small, and starting towns that include player housing / vendors. As we shift our focus to improving the New User Experience (NUE) and as we are able to measure new player progress through events like our recent free trial we realize that we must address these issues sooner versus later."

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Make My MMO: Star Citizen's subber promo, Planet Nomads' early access, Project Gorgon's bards (March 25, 2017)

This week in MMO crowdfunding, Star Citizen capped off a week of DirectX revelations and mega map explanations with a round of celebrations -- for its fifth year of subscriptions. Folks who join the game's dev subber program pick up a magazine, discounts, and extra test access; sub before April 17th while the promo is live, you get vending machine flair for your hangar. At least you'll have cold beverages while you wait for the game, right? (Thanks, Cotic!)

Elsewhere in space MMOs, congrats are due to Planet Nomads, which was Kickstarted last year and is now plotting an early access launch for April 18th.

And in epic news for fans of the best video game class of all time, Project Gorgon rolled out the bard support skills for testing this week. Don't think you're just going to pick up a lute and start strumming, either: "As you advance in Bard skill, you will also need to improve other skills, including performance, vocabulary, and poetry appreciation." Bring your thesaurus!

Meanwhile, ECO patched in some major upgrades to its economy, Starfighter is nearing half its goal with 20 days remaining (thanks Crow!), Ever, Jane's beta picked up horseback riding features, Camelot Unchained danced with its own bot army, City of Titans previewed its core archetypes, SOTA nabbed a new newsletter layout, and The Exiled's early access began its second season.

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: Kas Ruins, custom NPCs, and marble columns

Shroud of the Avatar's 219th newsletter has arrived! Of note is the segment on the Kas Ruins, whose biome is based on the Rockies and Grand Tetons of the US but could easily be pulled straight from Lord of the Rings.

Portalarium has also requested that backers entitled to submit NPCs for inclusion in the game do so for the village of Harvest, a farming community and waystation in Estgard. I would totally claim that town crier and make him say rude things, but that's why I'm not a game designer.

The devs have also uploaded more info on their charity work, the full telethon, and notes for the offline mode save game format changes.

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Shroud of the Avatar's Starr Long on the pros and cons of early access

Construction continues apace at Shroud of the Avatar, where the team reports that two new areas are being crafted for future releases. There's the Sepent's Spine Mines, a Kobold-infested underground space that will be one of the game's "most vertically oriented mines to date." Then there's The Fall, an open PvP area named after what you'll probably be doing when you are foolish enough to wander around in its dark spaces.

In this past week's newsletter, the team also showed off the technological arsenal of City Kobolds (and players will be able to loot and use some of these weapons!) as well as the wearable outfits of the Obsidian Cabalists.

On Friday, March 17th, SOTA's Starr Long will be talking at SXSW Gaming on the subject of "Is video game early access too early?" According to the description, "This talk weighs the pros and cons of early access using Shroud of the Avatar as a case study." Looking past that, Release 40 for the game is scheduled to arrive on March 30th, followed by Release 41 on April 27th.

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Shroud of the Avatar raised $142,000 in crowdfunds yesterday

If you've been following Shroud of the Avatar a while, you know that Portalarium periodically puts on wild telethons for its Twitch viewers, streaming deep-dives into game content, Q&As, and dev antics while attempting to raise money for development. Yesterday's "Spring Telethon" event raised a cool $142,000 from gamers, unlocking in the process a ton of "stretch goal" style in-game rewards for folks who pledged as little as five bucks, from masks and lanterns to fountains and thorn-themed gear.

Alas, the $150K "Mini-Mushroom Psilocybin Monster Pet," which "sends out cloud of spores that makes avatars drunk," didn't make the cut.

The whole telethon is available for viewing on Twitch and below, but we would be remiss not to include the requisite picture of Starr Long dancing too. If you catch only one part of it, hit the part about an hour in when Richard Garriott is discussing critical feedback -- and how not to give it.

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Make My MMO: Crowfall's crafting, RUiN's Kickstarter, Ashes of Creation's gameplay (March 4, 2017)

This week in MMO crowdfunding, we sent MOP's Matt Daniel into Crowfall, from which he emerged with many opinions on the state of the game's high-profile crafting and gathering systems. Economy folks should give it a read!

There are two MMO-related Kickstarters ending this week you may be interested in. Arena brawler RUiN is about 200 bucks from funding as I type this, so it's going to happen for sure. Caribbean Conquest's second go at Kickstarter, however, is likely to fall short; it's secured only about $2000 in pledges of its $30,000-ish goal with only a few days left.

What else is new? Worlds Adrift got a new website (thanks, Daras!), Project Gorgon rolled out a new patch, Albion Online released videos on its sound and music, Elite Dangerous began testing part of the Commanders patch, Camelot Unchained teased beta 1, and Ashes of Creation demoed its gameplay.

Finally, get thee over to Steam, where a trial of Shroud of the Avatar can currently be had entirely for free.

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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You can try Shroud of the Avatar for free right now

Sing me a song of a free trial, sing me a song today!

Right this very hot moment, Shroud of the Avatar is testing out a free trial to see how its system works. What does this mean for you? If you haven't purchased this early access title, you can jump into it for free right now to give it a whirl.

As you may expect, the trial does have some restrictions and stipulations. Players will be labeled as a visitor and denied the ability to buy, trade, own land, engage in open PvP, and play offline. The free trial period runs through March 9th, at which point any participants will need to purchase the game to retain their character data and progress.

The fact that this trial is a "test" suggests that it will return in the future, perhaps in a more persistent form.

Source: Shroud of the Avatar. Thanks Liandreth and Rick!

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Shroud of the Avatar's R39 adds town shrines, delays room renting

Just ahead of the weekend, Shroud of the Avatar rolled out Release 39, its latest monthly content push, and this one is pretty massive, as the latest newsletter recaps. Players spent the weekend tinkering with new town shrines, crafter patterns, the Path of Courage storyline, combat improvements, journal updates, the ignite weapons polish-up, and additions to Blood River, K'rul, K'rawl, North Drachvald Spur, and Upper Fortus.

What didn't make it in? Player-rented rooms, ammo refactoring, Obsidian Cabalists, the new agriculture UI, and the Rhun Ruins. "In order to get room renting working properly, we had to entirely refactor how we store and save items in player homes," says Portalarium. "This in turn led us to realize that we should work on the ability to save a decorated home (and eventually move it) before we do Room Rentals, so we have chosen to delay Room Renting for now."

The newsletter also includes a look at the Serpent's Spine Mines rebuild (coming R41) and a peek at the Bloody Bay dungeon known as The Fall (R40 or 41). And if your pledge package includes custom-designed NPCs, the team is collecting entries now for the village of Estgard. You always wanted to be a town guard, right?

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Make My MMO: The Exiled arrives to mixed reviews on Steam (February 25, 2017)

This week in MMO crowdfunding, The Exiled was released to the wilds of Steam early access. Formerly called Das Tal, the buy-to-play indie sandbox attempted to raise funds through Kickstarter back in 2015 but pulled in only €33,000 of its €50,000 goal and resorted to website preorders instead, forging ahead to now. Reviews on Steam so far are mixed; once you subtract the confused trial players who seem surprised to see PvP in a PvP sandbox, the main complaints revolve around crafting grind and lag.

Meanwhile, Ship of Heroes teased its Kickstarter, Shroud of the Avatar released R39, Albion Online settled on a July release, Life is Feudal rolled out its second beta, Pantheon brought on more new employees (thanks, Reht!), Dual Universe planned a GDC community meetup, Star Citizen explored the Magnus system and released a new concept ship, HEX got a new publisher, and Elite: Dangerous did science and turned... beige.

Closer to home, games critic and veritable prince of Patreon Jim Sterling scored a victory for games journalism in the courts as a judge dismissed with prejudice a game developer's libel lawsuit against him. (Thanks to everyone who tipped this our way!)

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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Shroud of the Avatar's latest update is off the rails

If you assumed that Shroud of the Avatar's February update was going to be on the small size, thanks to a shorter month, then you're right there with the devs. However they ended up pushing out a rather big patch with Release 39 today that continues to fill out the game as it heads to an official release later this year.

There's no one major headlining feature for Release 39 but instead several middle-of-the-road improvements. The team is progressing in its development of the Path of Courage and added the technologically savvy Kobolds and their counterparts, clockwork attack creatures. The update also contains crafting patterns (think "transmog" for weapons and gear), a pair of new dungeons, savable houses, a better cover system, neighborhood buffs, tweaks to the NPC conversation system, and Asian-themed architecture.

Players will also be able to put down those lutes after a long day of barding: "For our first foray into making handheld player items decorations, we picked handheld musical instruments because they are a nice small subset of items to experiment with as we work our way through the system. This means players can now place lutes, harps, flutes, and tabor drums as floor decorations."

Source: Patch notes

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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: Smed's new studio, Camelot's beta, and Elite's Holo-Me (February 18, 2017)

This week in MMO crowdfunding, we did a retrospective on why crowdfunded MMOARPG Hero's Song failed. It's almost as if Justin knew (cue spooky music) because two days later, Hero's Song's John Smedley and most of the Pixelmage team showed up at Amazon, announcing a new studio and a new game for the shopping giant's games division. In other words, don't expect Smed back on Kickstarter any time soon.

Meanwhile, Star Citizen's alpha 2.6.1 went live, we poked around TUG's status, Elite Dangerous demoed its upcoming "Holo-Me" character creator, The Exiled prepped for next week's launch, Ruin of the Reckless entered its backer test phase, and Camelot Unchained hinted at beta.

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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Massively OP's guide to Valentine's Day around the MMORPG verse

Ready for sappy questlines, particle effects that look like hearts, and lots -- and I do mean lots -- of pink? Valentine's day has arrived in the real world and many of the pretend worlds inside MMORPGs (for some reason). And who are we to fuss when the events are all about candy and cheap romance? Nobody, that's who. Read on for our guide to Valentine's Day around the MMORPG verse!

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