starr long

Shroud of the Avatar Q&A homes in on crafting and economy

Portalarium’s Starr Long has hopped on Shroud of the Avatar’s official forums for an extra round of player-submitted questions. Of note, Long says to expect more craftable clothing, more crafted book covers, more polish for the UI, and more multiplayer friendliness, but don’t expect Ultima-like musical abilities in episode one. Resizing decor is not happening at all, but treasure maps are, and more on the brewing and agriculture systems will be shared later in the year.

As to the economy, daily gold earnings will remain capped, active crafting activities are off the table, and the team is keeping an eye on hyperinflation. “We do not plan on [removing random rolls from crafting and enchanting skills],” he writes. “It would be destructive to the economy if everyone could create exactly the same item at will and destroy all rarity in the system. It would also eliminate an important sink in the economy.” Likewise, he argue that reducing resource requirements would “lead to a huge glut of items and prices would crash making crafting a completely unprofitable profession” – which is not something Portalarium means to do.


DragonCon 2016: Richard Garriott on why Shroud of the Avatar will steal your life

Do you know that feeling when you come across a game that has most, if not all, of your dream features — even the farfetched ones that you’d abandoned hope of ever actually being in a game? Probably not. But after talking with Richard Garriott at DragonCon 2016 about Shroud of the Avatar, I think I am experiencing an inkling of that very feeling! Granted, the game is not complete yet (although there are no more wipes), but each time I have sat down to speak with Garriott, not only does he highlight more features that make my mouth water, but the game has actively implemented previously revealed features. I can’t help but hope this sandbox will be The One for me.

What are these features that have me excited? And when can we expect the game’s “real” release? Between the various panels and our interview, I came away with a plenty of information on SOTA.

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Shroud of the Avatar to issue bans for RMT outside of approved forum

Did you know that Shroud of the Avatar allows players to trade and sell virtual goods like pledges and store items – and now gold? It does indeed, strictly in a subforum for that purpose. Portalarium’s Starr Long explains that such trading goes on “no matter what [the studio’s] position on it is,” so it may as well be in a safe and open space. This week, the studio has clarified its rules on the topic, forbidding trade, or even discussion of trades, outside of that forum. Players caught trading outside the official game forum will be warned and potentially permanently banned.

“We understand that the inclusion of gold as one of the virtual goods that can be bought and sold will cause some of you concern but we believe that in the end it is just another virtual good like the others,” Long elaborates on the addition of gold to the list of salable items. “As you have seen we have been monitoring VERY carefully the influx of gold into the economy and we do not believe the sales of gold will increase the likelihood of inflation anymore than any other factors.” He also points out that gold farmers have little impact on play as they will “likely be in single player online mode.”


Richard Garriott and Starr Long are literally selling their blood for Shroud of the Avatar

Remember last year back when Richard Garriott raffled off his rat tail to raise money for Shroud of the Avatar? Yeah, good times. Now the Portalarium boss is selling something even wackier: his own blood.

The studio announced the fundraiser during its livestream yesterday, where Garriott and longtime collaborator Starr Long joke about the call where they first discussed selling their blood. “You know, that’s what I like about working with you, Richard,” Long is said to have told Garriott. “I really never know exactly what to expect, but I always know that it’s gonna be crossing at least a few lines of good civil society.”

You can cross that line yourself to pick up one of the new bundles — including a “Lord British Blood Reliquary” or “Darkstarr Blood Reliquary” art piece by Steve Brudniak — on Ebay to the cool tune of somewhere north of $5000, thanks to a built-in reserve price. There’s a ton of digital items and a studio visit included as well.

Sorry, space fans; it’s unlikely any of the blood you’re buying has actually been to space, as the average lifespan of a red blood cell is only a couple of months.

It gets more awesome/weird: They actually do the blood drawing during the stream, around 19 minutes in.

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Shroud of the Avatar makes big changes in Release 29

Shroud of the Avatar is only a few months away from its all-but-in-name summer launch, and as such each patch from here on out carries with it a heavier weight of responsibility to get the game ready for prime time. Today the team pushed out Release 29, which contains significant adjustments for the future of the game.

“We are also critically appraising our feature set and making sure each and every feature is as it should be for those critical events of Release 32,” Starr Long wrote. “With those thoughts in mind, we looked at a few key aspects of the game related to housing, crafting, and targeting and made some important changes in Release 29. These changes were not easy, nor were they without controversy, but we believe they are changes that need to be made for the long term health of the project.”

The biggest changes include using a targeting reticle to make interaction modal, the sale of lot deeds within player-owned-towns, and the integration of the recipe book to the station interface. Release 29 also includes 40 more scenes, which should make up for the full wipe that the patch requires.

Source: Release notes. Thanks, Daras!


29 sassy insults for the e-thugs who are DDOSing Shroud of the Avatar

Sadly, this one isn’t an April Fools’ Day joke, or if it’s a prank on the part of the perpetrators, it’s not a funny one.

Shroud of the Avatar’s Starr Long told players earlier today that the game has been struggling with a DDOS attack since early this morning.

“Unfortunately we are under a Denial of Service attack from at least one source (perhaps multiple) that started at 3:00 AM CDT. We are blocking them as quickly as we can. If you are getting ALTAIR9000 disconnect messages that is the cause. We apologize for the inconvenience and we are working hard to solve this issue as quickly as we can.”

This isn’t the first time the game’s been DDOSed on the eve of a major launch; almost a year ago, e-thugs decided to screw with the Release 17 launch. Release 28 began rolling out yesterday.

Source: Official forums. With thanks to Daras!


Outlaw country musician to debut album in Shroud of the Avatar

You’re going to have to follow us on a strange journey with this story. So there’s this “outlaw country” musician, Shooter Jennings, who is getting ready to release his seventh album, Countach. According to the description (and bizarrely awesome cover), the album is “a sound-collage-style journey through ’80s and ’90s culture, innovative songwriting, genre-bending fiddle-meets-synthesizer soundscapes and a shrine to pioneers of books, bytes, and beats.”

What’s really interesting here is that Jennings will be unveiling Countach in Shroud of the Avatar at a premiere party in the game. Why Shroud? Well, it could be because Richard Garriott makes a guest appearance on the album, not to mention that Jennings is a huge fan of the Ultima series and a backer of the MMO.

The in-game premiere party will take place starting 8:00 p.m. EST on February 22nd and is being fully organized by the Shroud of the Avatar community. Attendees will need to be backers and are encouraged to get together at Bear Tavern for the event.

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Shroud of the Avatar debates whether offline mode should include exclusive items

If you’ve paid for unique items and extra content for an upcoming game, would you want all of that available in the game’s offline mode as well as its online version? And if so, how accessible should that content be in both?

This is the question that’s being put to the Shroud of the Avatar community. The big issue is whether or not the game’s offline mode should allow universal access to add-on store and pledge items.

“We thought a powerful gesture would be to make ALL content available in offline mode including ALL add on store items and pledge rewards,” Portalarium’s Starr Long posted. “Players would still have to earn enough gold to purchase them or gather enough resources to make them in game unless they purchased them which in that case they would start the game with them just like they do now. Our only concern is that backers who did pay for the content might feel upset that content they believed exclusive was available to any player (even if only in offline mode).”

If you’re a backer and have an opinion on this, head on over to the official forums and cast your vote, and then maybe take a look at our Choose My Adventure column this month, where MOP’s own Matt Daniel is chronicling his time in this very game.


Shroud of the Avatar beefs up story while adding agriculture and guild warfare

Shroud of the Avatar’s Release 25 hit the digital streets today, taking the fantasy title one step closer to a launch (and no, we still don’t know when that will be). The final update for the year brings with it a huge assortment of improvements and new systems, as well as another grand tour quest with a funny hat as a reward.

“The story continues to march across the map with multiple new scenes every release,” Starr Long reported in the patch notes. “Agriculture completes the final major missing component for crafting. Customizability increases with multiple dye options, and PVP expands to include guild warfare. We are also making steady progress with localization thanks to our player translators.”

Release 26 is scheduled for January 28th, 2016, and Release 27 will follow that on February 25th.


Massively OP’s holiday gift guide for the MMO hipster

I say this with nothing but love in my heart: Some of you guys are serious MMO hipsters. Heck, some of you guys were MMOs hipsters before the word hipster was popular again. World of Warcraft was the first MMO? Pff! You were there for the worst MMO launch of all time. You once camped jboots for 30 hours straight. You played Ultima Online on dial-up, for god’s sake. And now, you back only true indies on Kickstarter.

Oh no wait, that was me.

In celebration of MMO hipsters old and new, today I present you Massively OP’s holiday gift guide for that most discerning of indie hipster snob in your life – because you can’t just plop down a WoW gametime card on some people and expect gratitude!
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Shroud of the Avatar’s Release 24 is here and it’s added a lot of stuff

Crowdfunded fantasy sandbox Shroud of the Avatar has made its latest patch available to backers as of this morning. Originally, Release 24 was supposed to be fairly light in terms of content and focused instead on bug-fixing, polishing, and performance optimization. As producer Starr Long explains in his Release 24 instruction post, that’s not exactly what happened.

It’s a lengthy read, and it has to be to cover additions as diverse as new weather types, combat balance adjustments and new skills, new creatures and musical instruments, NPC renaming, and more.


Shroud of the Avatar talks release 23 postmortem and more

Portalarium published Update of the Avatar #151 this morning. It dives deep into Shroud of the Avatar, and it offers readers a look at everything from the making of the North Naryad Pinelands zone to the new flute musical instrument to clockwork pets and a hot air balloon.

There’s also a video postmortem of Release 23 featuring Richard Garriott, Starr Long, Scott Jennings, and other members of the fantasy sandbox’s dev team. You can view that after the cut.

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The Game Archaeologist: The assassination of Lord British

At the end of August 2015, the fledgling Shroud of the Avatar community gathered together for a massive PvP fight. This wasn’t to be a normal battle, however, as Lord British (Richard Garriott’s in-game avatar) waded into the fray and was the focus of a fierce fight to see who could kill him. Down he went in the end, prompting cheers from the participants — not because they hated him but because it was a reprise of one of the most famous moments of MMO history.

A little over 18 years before that Shroud of the Avatar gathering, a similar group of beta players had congregated in the Ultima Online beta for a stress test. In the crowd lurked a would-be assassin who had a dastardly plan: to attack and kill the most revered figure in the Ultima franchise in front of a live audience.

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