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 R45 launches Thursday, Oktoberfest-themed fundraiser begins next week

Shroud of the Avatar is gearing up for one of its like-clockwork monthly releases: 45 on Thursday. In preparation, this week’s newsletter features a dev spotlight on Crooked Shank, one of release 46’s retooled regions. It’s worth taking a peek at some of the included interior shots in particular, since usually we get exteriors from the game! There’s even a look at some Viking-inspired armored clothing for northwestern Novia.

The studio’s also reminded everyone that the current free trial ends on Wednesday, that QA server is now open to everyone as previously announced, that luminaries from the team will be attending the Ultima Online 20th anniversary event next month, and that Portalarium will be running an Oktoberfest-themed postmortem and fundraiser for R45 on September 6th. Winners in the game’s trailer contest have also been announced; we’ve included the top trailer below.

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Choose My Adventure: Finding the fun in Shroud of the Avatar

One of the things that I believe is utterly vital to writing about games in general and MMOs in particular is finding the fun. It’s sometimes difficult, but I think finding the fun is the difference between saying that a game is hot garbage (which it may be) and saying that it’s not to your tastes. That’s not to say the fun is even always there to be found, but if you can understand why someone might enjoy the game, you can at least work from common grounding.

It was something I hadn’t managed the last time I played through Shroud of the Avatar. I wanted to find that this week, and I’m happy to say that I did… sort of. My suspicion is that I didn’t so much find the fun as I found some fun, but considering where I was starting from when going into this week, I’m more than willing to take that as an upward move.

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Shroud of the Avatar works on replacing placeholder scenes

With the broad outline of the game now completed, Shroud of the Avatar’s team is turning to placeholder locations and revising them with hand-crafted content. This includes the new mountainous region of Crooked Shank, the hilly lands of Middle Downs, and more Viking-inspired clothing for northern NPCs.

“We are focusing the next few releases on building the lower tier scenes near the cities along the paths of Truth and Courage,” Portalarium said. “Most of these scenes have been clones of other scenes and will now be replaced with completely original scenes.”

The team is going to be quite busy this month, not just with August’s Release 45 but also by making appearances at Gamescom, PAX West, and Dragon*Con. The studio is also hiring a web developer to be a part of the team.

Get a look at the making of Middle Downs after the break!

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Choose My Adventure: Finding my way in Shroud of the Avatar

Heading into Shroud of the Avatar for the first time was a bit of a strange experience for me, right from the start. Usually, when I start playing a new game, I start forming impressions and then spend the next few weeks refining those impressions in either direction. This time, I am utterly unsure of how I feel about the game, and I suspect that the next few weeks are going to make that more complex, not less.

And part of me can’t help but wonder if some of that is just a matter of missing vital reference points.

I don’t mean that in the sense of the game being actually impenetrable; it’s just that I find myself constantly asking if something that bugs me is, in fact, exactly the way it’s supposed to be for fans of the genre and Garriott’s prior work. Which is a trip, let me tell you that. I’m staggering through dark woods, getting my throat chewed on by a wolf, and I’m seized with the urge to ask the wolf if this is, in fact, an intended portion of design. You know, between bites of my trachea.

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Perfect Ten: MMOs obsessed with the floating islands trope

One of the fun things about this hobby is that certain tropes repeat themselves constantly. And they’re usually weirdly specific tropes, too. Poop quests, for example. So many MMOs have one quest or another that make you dealing with poop. Someone has a fixation that is probably not entirely healthy, and that someone keeps getting hired to design quests.

But sometimes you try to come up with a trope that’s so specific that it has to be unique. Or at least rare. “MMOs that feature a zone full of floating islands requiring flight to travel around.” At least one zone, and it is traveled around via flight. That cannot be common, that has to be…

Wait. How did I not only get a full list but actually have to decline some entries? How the heck did this happen? There are this many MMOs using this astonishingly specific trope? How did this happen and why?

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Shroud of the Avatar is playable for free right now

If you haven’t been aware of it, Shroud of the Avatar is currently running yet another extended trial for the remainder of the month. That means that even if you haven’t purchased the game, you can still jump in and try it out between now and August 30th.

Of course, it is to be expected that a trial will come with limitations, and Shroud of the Avatar’s program is no different. There’s a long list of restrictions that freebies will have to accept, such as being denied trade privileges, property ownership, and open PvP flagging. Trial users also cannot play in the game’s offline mode and are limited to the Path of Love for the game’s story.

It should also be noted that if you get attached to your trial character, you’re going to want to pony up some money to keep it: “Character data may be deleted after free trial test is over if not upgraded to a paid account.”

MOP’s Eliot is exploring Shroud of the Avatar in this month’s Choose My Adventure series.

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Make My MMO: Star Citizen scrubs release windows from 3.0 schedule, Fig investors turn a profit (August 12, 2017)

This week in MMO crowdfunding, Star Citizen surprised backers by removing all “aim dates” from its weekly production schedule, which is intended to provide a roadmap toward the (very delayed) 3.0 alpha release. CIG instead provided two graphs it says will give a “more accurate look at where [it is] trending” – check those out down below. (Cheers, Cotic!)

In more meta news, Fig announced that a game promoted through its equity crowdfunding platform actually generated profit for investors, a first for the company. That game would be Kingdoms and Castles, which according to Polygon netted $1M in sales and consequently provided a 100% return to investors through Fig (double their money). It’s not an MMO, of course, but several MMORPGs have turned to this type of equity crowdfunding since it became legal last autumn, including Crowfall and Shroud of the Avatar.

Meanwhile, Albion Online continued suffering from extortionists’ DDOS attacks, we kicked off a month-long deep-dive into Shroud of the AvatarDual Universe scored a huge chunk o’ change in its run up to alpha, Pantheon published its monthly newsletter, and we got the details on the superhero MMO panel at PAX, which we’ll be attending in person (thanks, cyanpill!).

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.

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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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Shroud of the Avatar raised almost $700K from investors, $67.5K from donors last night

Shroud of the Avatar’s equity crowdfunding campaign on SeedInvest has come to a close, with 518 investors having raised just shy of $700,000 in the round. It was over $700,000 at one point last night but dropped back down as someone apparently backed out.

Perhaps that person put money into the game’s latest telethon instead. As promised, Portalarium has switched over from quarterly to monthly fundraising telethons; last night’s even raised $67,500 and granted “oracle eye” themed stretch goals to players, including home decor, sparklers, and wings.

The telethon stream does feature a Q&A with the dev team on the past release in addition to a “world building tour”; we’ve included it below.

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Shroud of the Avatar profiles new zones, hits $600K in SeedInvest round

Shroud of the Avatar’s latest newsletter has plenty of business business business, but the highlights are always the developers’ diaries on various locations and scenes being worked on in the game. Case in point: Today’s newsletter features a wagonload of screenshots of Etceter and South Paladis.

Etceter is referenced in the Tracy Hickman novel attached to the game; it needed more Greco-Roman ruin influences, the roads and walls mentioned in the book, natural paths and hidey-holes, and the general feeling of hard times and post-invasion “developed decay.” South Paladis, on the other hand, is getting two new original scenes in release 45 later this month: Middle Downs, with its burial mounds and abandoned villages, and South Broken Road, with its crumbly, rocky river and creepy quest. We’ve collected all the images down below.

There’s just one more day left to invest in Portalarium’s SeedInvest campaign; the fund broke the $600,000 mark not long after hitting $500,000 earlier this week.

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Make My MMO: Star Citizen 3.0 progress report, Albion Online DDOSed after RMT crackdown (August 5, 2017)

This week in MMO crowdfunding, Star Citizen posted its monthly studio report along with its updated 3.0 production report as it works on the “User Experience Polish Pass.” Players tracked only two delays in this report: the UI and the mission system AI. Cross your fingers that the Evocati test access begins next week as planned (it’s actually looking pretty good).

Elsewhere, Albion Online was slammed with a DDOS attack yesterday, which the devs say was “most likely in response to [SI’s] recent actions against gold sellers to coerce [SI] to not interfere with their illegal business.”

Meanwhile, Camelot Unchained teased testing for beta 1 backers, Path of Exile launched its latest expansion, Crowfall profiled a dev, Dogma Eternal Night tinkered with its mission system, Descent Underground released a demo on BrightLocker, City of Titans returned to Twitch, and Global Adventures successfully funded on Kickstarter.

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.

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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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