Shroud of the Avatar studio Portalarium temporarily closes office in favor of remote studio

But SOTA will continue as planned with episode two in spite of "experiment"

    
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It sounds as if Shroud of the Avatar studio Portalarium has uprooted its home office.

“We are nomadic now,” Portalarium’s Starr Long told players on the game’s livestream this weekend. “As we move into production on episode two, we did a serious inventory on how we are allocating our resources – both time and money – and as some of you might know, Austin is one of the most vibrant tech hubs in the United States, which has impacted smaller studios like us, like Portalarium. And due to the time spent commuting by stuff plus rising expenses related to office spaces, utilities, we’ve decided to do a little bit of an experiment to go office-less for a little bit.”

Long says the “dispersed officing” move will free up revenue spent on office space as well as commute time for actual game development, while Portalarium’s Chris Spears notes that this has been a project in the works for the last month, that Richard Garriott already works on the game remotely, and that the move will allow them to keep employees who already work in more distant locales. Consequently, the devs say that the move is a large part of why more didn’t get done on the game this month. It also sounds as if the company’s assets are in storage should the company find a better office location in the future.

Predictably, the greater Shroud of the Avatar community is completely torn on the move. While some players on the forums fully support a temporary switch to a distributed employment model, the traditionally more gloom-and-doom subreddit prefers to throw shade on the company’s viability.

We reached out to Portalarium this afternoon for further comment and will update if the devs provide an additional statement.

Source: Twitch
Update
Chris Spears has also put out a dev blog on the move this afternoon. He notes that the indie company is now saving “roughly $8-10k a month by not having an office” meaning the studio now has “$8-10k a month more to spend on advertising.” He also explains how the studio came to this conclusion after a previous lease expired, having more than doubled in monthly cost since Portalarium originally chose the space. The subsequent replacement studio turned out to be insufficient because of environmental issues and poor internet (and then that landlord doubled the rent too).

“With that said, I’ve already started talking to a few people about possible office space options. We have a few people who think they will have trouble working from home due to kids, bad internet, or no good work space so I’ll start shopping around for options. We pretty much will have to have an office for some of the new hires we will need to make later this year since there is a lot of training that will be done to onboard new employees. For roughly 2 ½ months, I’ve been spending the vast majority of my time on moving stuff. First, moving our game servers after our previous data center was acquired. Then, moving our office servers and all the stuff in the office! I am excited to get back to more hands on game balance, coding, and design! Look forward to all that stuff I promised you months ago finally showing up in game.”

(Thanks, Panagiotis!)

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xpsync
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xpsync

I’m waiting for the emu.

emu’s only for me from now on, where games are passion driven not profit driven.

/jk lol not really i guess haha

Reality check SotA takes much trashing, however the game and especially the community are pretty good if this is your type of game, it’s an excellent choice actually.

Prob though, when new peeps come to the game it feels too ruled by peeps whom paid huge $, the best thing they could have done was wipe it, but yea i know peeps paid for land ect, but when peeps come to the game and it reeks of people burnt out and moved on, vendors shut down, well it’s hard to go ok i’m going to drop roots here when you feel the game already died. emu would be that fresh start!

bubonichubris
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bubonichubris

It seems that this move makes it even less likely that we will receive the remainder of our Kickstarter physical rewards, unfortunately.

I still have yet to receive my signed physical novel. Backers have been requesting it for a long time now, and there is little to no acknowledgement of this.

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Roger Melly

I think I am at that point with Shroud of the Avatar that I reached with Wildstar ( and recently with Rift ) , I like the game but it seems to be struggling and I don’t want to put time into a game that could be closing sooner rather than later .

Unfortunately when players get into that mindset , it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy .

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PanagiotisLial1

That is exactly the doomsayers who visit every thread on the net to post doom and gloom goal. For what is worth I seen that kind of behavious on many games I played before, but I prefer to play a game and have my own judgement

Raleigh-St-Clair
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Raleigh-St-Clair

“$8-10k a month more to spend on advertising.”

I’ll believe that when I see it. Primarily because there was a SeedInvest that raised over 700k, that was meant to be for advertising, and aside from some Facebook adverts, neither I or anyone I know following the game saw anything approaching 700k worth of adverts. So if they couldn’t do meaningful advertising with that much cash, I doubt they’ll do much with 8-10k. Which also begs the question of where all that money went, if not on advertising. Not that advertising will help anyway. People try the game and seem to run away screaming, as far as I can see. Player retention is basically woeful.

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Songs for Children

The time to advertise was a year ago, before the game had its really really realsies official launch. Even if Tech Lord’s claims about advertising are true (unlikely), it’s going to be of no help to the game.

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Chris Spears

I know that those who want to see the negative in this will but most employees are super excited to not have to deal with Austin traffic on a daily basis. I live within Austin city limits and my personal commute was as much as an hour each way. Saving money was just the icing on the cake for most of us. My blog post has lots of details why and also the tech side of how.

Some stats on working from home pulled from websites:
-86% of employees say they are more productive from home
-50% lower turnover rate for employees who work from home
-82% of employees who work from home reported lower stress (the other 18% must have young kids!)
-$4k average saved by employees who work from home
-7% of employees now have a work from home option, up 40% in the past 5 years.

Again, lots of reasons to work from home BUT probably only temporary as we’ll likely get an office soon to make it easier to hire and train new employees which will be difficult remotely.

For those that actually play the game, reminder that player made dungeon encounters should go live with advancement options in a patch in a few days! Very exciting!

Also, thanks for Bree for reaching out to me on this story. /cheer

See you in game!

packagegrope
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packagegrope

in game he says. lol.

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Bruno Brito

BUT probably

Now this is the line that gets to me, in the ocean of PR you just spilled.

Probably.

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Armsbend

94% of employees say no one knows when they are drunk.

Let us know when Spaceman Robot install a dropcam in your bathroom to check up on things.

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Chris Spears

Thanks for the tip! Installing breathalyzers on their computers now…

I’ll probably start live streaming from home for at least an hour a day starting Wednesday so you’ll know if I’m drunk. :)

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Caleb Cranson

Does that mean you guys are going to start doing shots again for the telethons?! I’d start contributing again if that were the case!

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Caleb Cranson

Chris, as a man of my word, I bought some cotos for you sacking up and doing a shot of scotch during the last telethon. Prolly never gonna use these things but did it out of respect for you manning up.

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Schmidt.Capela

-82% of employees who work from home reported lower stress (the other 18% must have young kids!)

Some people feel better when they have their bosses and fellow employees around to guide and support them, as well as provide limits; for this kind of person the extra freedom from working at home translates into a more strongly felt pressure to provide results coupled with a feeling that they are more or less on their own, leading to higher stress.

Plus, working from home means work and life mix even more, which can be troublesome for people that already have issues separating the rest of their life from their work, such as workaholics. This can also lead to increased stress.

Personally, I’m the kind of person that is more productive and less stressed when working from a traditional office. On the other hand, I never lived anywhere my daily commute time was higher than about 40 minutes on average, and usually had public transportation options to boot meaning I wasn’t driving and could make use of that time.

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Armsbend

I like having a different place for work and home. I feel the separation is necessary. BUT (big but) I live in town – I don’t have much of a commute. I might feel differently if I was stuck in the car for an hour each way. I get it.

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Bruno Brito

I’m stuck in a bus each day, for 1h, under the midday brazil sun, for my illustration classes.

I couldn’t be happier, because you know you love something when it shreds your butthole and you still keep sitting on it.

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Armsbend

Gross metaphor but I get it :)

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Bruno Brito

You wouldn’t like me without the gross methaphors.

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Utakata

If this is the real reason you guys are doing this, as oppose to disguising that your company is going 38 Studios up, then I wish you the best of luck in this. And hope it works out! As well as to prove to the world that a “real job” doesn’t always include a punch clock from 9 to 5. :)

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Armsbend

If you are the first person to use the phrase “38 Studios Up” then you are my new favorite person.

But I think you might have been my favorite person before so…scratch that I guess.

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Bruno Brito

38 is a gun caliber, so it’s even better.

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Utakata

It’s a take from going “belly up”…but more directed at the indy game developers, who should always use 38 Studios as both a warning and a goal in never making the same mistakes.

As for myself personally, I have to apologize for my pigtails taking a swipe at some of your comments in the past the occasion. But to let you, it was never personal. And you are under no obligations to agree with said swipes. So hopefully no hard feelings…as they can be bit testy at times. >.<

…other than that, thanks for laurels! /bows <3

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Armsbend

I haven’t taken a thing anyone on MOP has ever said to me to heart (in a bad way) and I hope for the life of me I haven’t personally offended anyone. Just some fun discourse, barbs and all.

(I knew you meant belly up that’s why i liked it so much)

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Utakata

Edit/Erratum: But to let you know*…proper.

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7thRankedNoob

I see you quoting feel-good stats… but not from employers.

I too work from home as an employee; pretty much 3-4 out of 5 days. I agree that from an employee’s point of view, working from home IS awesome. … but I also still have an office to go to; a company that has a desk waiting for me when I go in (open concept so its not really MY desk).

This may work for Port, due to the size of your team. I would suggest when you guys do get your new office(s) that you set up at least a bi-weekly meeting on-site. Over time, you lose a sense of touch with coworkers when working remotely. Good luck in the future.

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Caleb Cranson

comment image

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Mikka Hansen

It’s a good think your saving 10k that’ll go to advertising. they’ll join the +750k you got from seedinvest explicitly for advertising, right? Since you havent done any advertising whatsoever after getting the money, I assume the full sum is still intact and you havent spent a dime of it yet

Right? RIGHT?

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Tee Parsley

I’ve been to the building in question. It was definitely an expensive rent.

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Armsbend

Another classic reason funding kickstarters is always a bad idea.

Palatial office space they should never be able to afford – or should rent the space.

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Chris Spears

Palatial office that had $2500 rent. :P The problem is that they said that to renew would be $3200 but when it came time to sign the lease it jumped to over $6k and wanted a 4 year lease. The $8-10k number is factoring in insurance, internet, janitorial, catering food for overtime work, water service, etc.

So yeah, good luck with that “Palatial office for $2500 a month” line of attack. Seriously, we waste ZERO dollars and have been proud of that fact since day one. Ditching the office was just a continuation of us spending our backer’s money’s wisely.

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Tee Parsley

Austin real estate is crazy now. If I wasn’t already settled in the area, I couldn’t afford to live here.

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Armsbend

It was pretty crazy the last time I was there – right before the bust 10 years ago. I guess it’s gotten back to pre-bust levels and then some.

It seemed like a nice place to live. Barton Springs Pool is one of the most awesome places I’ve ever been too.

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Tee Parsley

Yeah, Barton Springs is great, especially in the summer. No matter how hot it is, a dip in the Pool makes you cool the rest of the day.

Austin is past old pre-bust levels now, lots of movement into the city and surrounding areas.

batterbatterswing
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batterbatterswing

Seriously, we waste ZERO dollars and have been proud of that fact since day one.

How about the almost $700,000 you received via SeedInvest to publish the game? Despite receiving that a year and a half ago, the game has seen almost no marketing.

oldandgrumpy
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oldandgrumpy

One step away from having to get real jobs it seems :)

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7thRankedNoob

I read somewhere Derek Smart might be looking for help if things don’t work out over at Portalarium.

Sorry … it just slipped out :)

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Maggie May

So the game which became known as having a huge cost to buy an in-game home now doesn’t have one themselves because its too expensive. I am wondering if they get the irony …

arimer
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arimer

I could see it working. What benefits are you giving up by not driving into the office vs what are you saving? If you’re all sitting at computers all day anyway do it at home. Facetime each other with important calls or meetings. Save Gas money, food money, etc.

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Armsbend

Efficiency. Collaboration. Workplace camaraderie. Knowing your place of employment can afford rent.

Incoming stories of paychecks becoming missing.