If you’re a Shroud of the Avatar player, you’ve just gotten the last major update of the year. Release 49 rolled out ahead of the holidays last week as planned, but that’s far from the biggest news that came over the weekend. Indeed, Portalarium announced the game’s launch date: March 27th, 2018. That coincides with R52, for those of you keeping score at home.
“So what does that mean exactly for a game that has been both persistent for over a year and been doing monthly releases for over 4 years? Well, for us it means that we are delivering the list of features, including physical goods, promised during the Kickstarter albeit with a few exceptions and/or replacements (see below). It also means that we are going to grow our community through marketing campaigns. As we have stated previously, we intend to publish quarterly schedule updates detailing our monthly releases and those monthly releases will continue.”
This week in MMO crowdfunding, eyebrows across the ‘verse rose as Crytek filed a lawsuit alleging that the studios behind Star Citizen and Squadron 42 were in violation of Crytek’s copyrights in regard to CryEngine. In a statement to Massively OP, however, CIG denied that it was still using CryEngine and said it planned to fight back. “This is a meritless lawsuit that we will defend vigorously against, including recovering from Crytek any costs incurred in this matter.”
Over on the Camelot Unchained blog, CSE is busy working on plot and item permissions tech, scenarios, combat, skill buttons (no word on that I-win button, sorry), NPC AI, large group UI, deflect animations, the place of power, armor, and weeds. No, actual weeds. And dead trees. What did you think I meant?
Meanwhile, OrbusVR hit early access, Albion Online tweaked Kay and updated its rewards, Elite’s Thargoids finally started fighting back, and Crowfall raised a bunch of new money from investors. And the much-anticipated Ashes of Creation and Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen launched their respective pre-alphas for elite and specially selected early backers.
December is a time for sitting with friends and family, toasting to the new year, and most importantly, not doing any actual work. Thus, the developers behind Shroud of the Avatar are heading home early this month, and that means you get the next major patch of the game earlier than usual. But it’s still an update filled with polish, as it’s focused on exactly that in anticipation for launch. Higher frame rates, better optimization, and UI improvements for everyone!
The update also includes polish to the game’s main storyline and improvements to the game’s NPC behaviors, so enemies and helpful NPCs alike should behave more intelligently in this patch. Check out the full patch notes to see everything that’s changing in the latest release, and enjoy a more polished version of the game as you play over the holidays. (If you weren’t planning on playing over the holidays… well, you can still enjoy it, in theory.)
When travelers wander in to Shroud of the Avatar’s Release 49 later this week, they’ll find that one watering hole looks much improved than before. The team has been busy remodeling the Soltown inn to make it “cozier and more pleasant” for visitors.
Release 49 has a lot more than just a better-looking rumpus room; players will experience improved framerate, revamped wetlands, the new Elysium Mines, more ore nodes, UI polish, and winter recipes.
The team also notes that it is improving and experimenting with the free trial system (the next of which starts on December 20th). Free players will be marked as visitors, be moved over to the Path of Courage, have a level 50 skill cap, and restrict trade with others.
“Making these changes will allow us to leave the free trial up almost continually therefore maximizing the ability for players to try the game before they buy,” Portalarium said. “We feel firmly that giving players this no obligation opportunity is great for the health of the game and a fair business practice that we wish to pursue.”
It has become a long-standing tradition as Massively OP and our former site that we like to end the year by creating a list of titles that we anticipate for the coming one. It has always been a devilish list to create, full of loose dates and fast guesswork about which titles will and won’t be releasing during a 12-month window (just read last year’s list to see how spot-on I was).
This year we’re changing things up a bit by tossing out the qualifying factor of “will see a hard launch in 2018.” Instead, I drafted up a list of 20 MMOs that have the potential to do or be really interesting next year, whether that be a launch, a long-anticipated beta test, or some other significant development. Plus, hey, you get 20 for the price of 10, so no complaining now!
As an aside, this list isn’t going to cover some other exciting-looking multiplayer games that are arriving in 2018, like Anthem, Sea of Thieves, The Crew 2, Monster Hunter World, DayZ, Red Dead Redemption 2, Stardew Valley, Conan Exiles, and State of Decay 2. And you old school fans won’t want to forget that Ultima Online has a new free-to-play option coming this spring.
If you fall into the trap of thinking of every fantasy mine as a dark cavern full of Temple of Doom-style trolley tracks, then Shroud of the Avatar would like to disabuse you of this assumption. The devs are hand-crafting the game’s Elysium mines, which is about as far from tropeville as you can get.
“The visual inspiration for this mine comes from the Minoan City of Knossos in Crete,” the devs wrote, “where the original Labyrinth from Greek mythology was said to have been. The glowing river is partially inspired by the river Styx, and is closely associated with the spirits wandering the labyrinth.”
The team is getting ready to head out for the holidays, but before that happens, there is one last release (on December 14th). Portalarium raised $75,000 for the game through a December 1st telethon and got $2,889 to donate for last month’s Movember.
Checking out Shroud of the Avatar during one of its free trial periods this month? The studio is pointing newbies to the New Player Welcome and Player Created Resources forums to get them off to a good start.
This week in MMO crowdfunding, Camelot Unchained’s weekly progress report is on the shorter side (for CSE) given that the game’s monthly newsletter just went out, but there are some interesting tidbits within, including the fact that the studio is considering uprooting the game’s hosting services and migrating elsewhere. The team’s also been working on battlegrounds and warbands, status effects, animations, female clothing, tech stuff, and boats.
In great news for anybody still lamenting World of Darkness, victory seems assured for vampire MMORPG Shadow’s Kiss, whose Kickstarter should conclude on Tuesday with more than double its ask.
Meanwhile, Elite Dangerous patched its patch, Shroud of the Avatar is hosting a Movember team, Valiance Online teased female toons, Project Gorgon is planning its next update early tomorrow morning, we spoke to Mark Jacobs about developer wages, Ship of Heroes prepped its combat alpha, and Star Citizen drove eyebrows to the sky by announcing the pre-sale of land claims in space.
Read on for more on what’s up with MMO crowdfunding over the last couple of weeks and the regular roundup of all the crowdfunded MMOs we’re following.
The Battle Bards are quite familiar with the power of the strummed guitar and lute, knowing that such simple instruments can bring down walls, devastate armies, and dethrone monarchs. But on their off days, acoustic guitars are simply pleasurable to hear and are sprinkled throughout many a-MMO’s soundtrack. It’s six-stringed serenity in the 110th episode of this podcast!
Battle Bards is a bi-weekly podcast that alternates between examining a single MMO’s soundtrack and exploring music tracks revolving around a theme. MOP’s Justin co-hosts with bloggers Steff and Syl. The cast is available on iTunes, Google Play, TuneIn, Pocket Casts, Stitcher, and Player.FM.
Listen to Episode 110: Acoustic Guitar (or download it) now:
Wetlands are an important part of the ecosystem, and not just because they are chock-full of stinging insects, biting snakes, and muddy bogs. They also are important quest locations in MMOs, which is why it’s so important to preserve them as nature intended.
Thankfully, organizations like SOTA (Swamps of the Alliance) exist to save the unique qualities of the wetlands from becoming generic, cloned entities. The digital eco warriors are rebuilding the East Longfall Wetlands for (catch and) Release 49 as part of the Paths of Truth and Courage. We assume that those are national forestry trails.
The SOTA team has also been busy this month creating “hordes of barbarians and cannibals,” although we cannot for the life of us understand why they would do this. Perhaps a dare.
If you missed it, Shroud of the Avatar pushed out its November update pretty early this month due to the Thanksgiving holiday (an action that the team will repeat next month as well).
Before the team takes a break to feast on the carcass of an oversized bird, it wanted to go into greater depth on some of the big changes with Release 48. Some of the updates this time around included improvements to artifacts, virtue gear, and enchantments.
“Release 48 is chock full of stuff,” said Starr Long. “We got more work reducing the load times, we got a new lighting model in there, more side quests, more story polish, more unique components, audio polish, video effects polish, UI polish, holiday items, and the long-awaited tree and grass mover.”
There’s an hour of dev chat waiting for you after the jump, so get started already!
This week in MMO crowdfunding, Camelot Unchained continued its ramp up to Saturday Night Sieges. “It’s been all hands on deck as we prepare our siege deathmatch scenarios for IT testing,” City State says, noting the team has been working on spawn points, scenario rulesets, gear loadouts, animations, the UI, healer NPCs, battlegroups, boats, female clothing, and emotes. I am all about those boots and dresses!
The Shadow’s Kiss Kickstarter has also now doubled its funding goal, unlocking game narration and music. Just over two weeks remain to back it; a demolitions stretch goal looms at $60,000.
Meanwhile, Crowfall delayed its soft launch again, Shroud of the Avatar launched R48, Albion Online began a new season of referral rewards, Valiance Online updated to the latest version of Unity, Ashes of Creation talked politics, and Path of Exile announced its latest expansion. 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’re following.
Shroud of the Avatar has rolled out Release 48 as of early this afternoon, which may just upset your internal clock a bit, since usually they happen at the end of the month! Holidays are pushing the schedule up, however, which is good news for anyone who wanted to actually play through Thanksgiving week.
R48 reflects Portalarium’s focus on its launch priorities checklist. “We continued to make strong progress on load time reductions, story polish, and creation of new scenes,” the studio’s Starr Long says. Expect updates to the in-game map, UI, holiday items, item decay on death, load times, lighting, all four story paths, artifacts, loot, and worldbuilding passes, including new mines and scenes, although not the rebuilt Novia additions, which have been postponed. Check out the screens below for a tease!
Portalarium and Travian Games are looking for useful feedback for Shroud of the Avatar — and they are not shy in their approach to getting it. The studios is bribing players to take a 10-minute survey about the fantasy MMO in the hopes of understanding “gameplay experiences and expectations.”
The survey in question covers a wide range of topics, such as what makes the game fun, what players have spent money on already, the choice of game modes, quests, combat, dialogue, visuals, and sound. There’s nothing here that suggests any major change to the game or its business model, but it might be helpful for players who want to share specific feedback with the studio.
All survey takers will receive one Gold Crown of the Obsidian (a unit of premium currency) and be entered into a drawing for several other in-game goodies such as a house. To get your reward, you’ll want to take this survey by November 21st.