Shroud of the Avatar’s R69 test build brings back a comet and Aether Creatures, adds a high tier dungeon

    
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The QA test server for Shroud of the Avatar has a new build of the sandbox MMORPG for players to check out. Release 69 is up for testing, and it’s bringing back some things and adding some new things for players.

For one thing, the Aether Comet is back, which also means that aetheric versions of dragons, liches, and corpions are back, because regular dragons just aren’t enough, so you’ve got to make them out of falling star stuff. Release 69 is also introducing Despair, a high tier dungeon that promises to be the hardest encounter in the game yet. There’s also some new items and creatures, performance improvements, and bug fixes to check out.

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Spunky Flurkin
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Spunky Flurkin

This whole conversation is around the conspiracy theory that people will purposely inflate the leaderboard numbers. If you are spending hours on your alt, you’re in the game playing, not inflating the leaderboard as part of a wicked plot.

You’re in the minority, but yeah it happens. People have their pirate they like to break out occasionally, or their elf or whatever.

Getting rewards has no bearing, it doesn’t inflate the leaderboard at all. Getting Oracle gold has no bearing, it also doesn’t inflate the numbers.

This entire thing is about people wanting to claim there are only 100 people playing the game. So trash talk all you want, you’re not doing anything but proving my point by talking about all your guildmates and such.

Spunky Flurkin
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Spunky Flurkin

Note: the reply above this was deleted, that’s why it looks like I’m talking to a wall.

Reader
Caleb Cranson

Spunky, while I appreciate your passionate defense of Shroud, I would point you to this website that gleans player population from specific API metrics within the game: https://shroudoftheavatar.net/how-many-people-play-shroud-of-the-avatar

As you will note, your numbers below aren’t entirely off from their “Estimated Players” tabulation; despite “Confirmed Players” being as low as 198. For arguments sake, let’s use the estimated numbers; which as of yesterday was around 777 players. Does this sound like a success to you? 777 players a day, when Portalarium has stated they need tens of thousands for longitudinal growth and sustainability? Even if you were to multiply that number by five, that’s still less than four thousand active players daily. In you’re opinion then, why is game population so low?

Furthermore, players utilize alts all the time in Shroud. Not to inflate the leaderboards, that is a ludicrous claim, but rather so they can collect gold from the Oracle daily and “double down” on unique quest items. Items that can only be obtained once per character but can be resold to other players for a premium. Each time an alt does this it is tracked within the API. So while the data might show an estimated number of lets say 700, that number isn’t truly accurate because alts are definitely being counted in that tally, even though it’s one player. It’s most likely a de minimus amount, granted; but consideration of that fact needs to be taken into account all the same.

Lastly, while I am happy you are enjoying the game, understand that what Shroud has become is far different from the “Selective Multiplayer” game with a story rich environment, purported at the Kickstarter. Portalarium’s disingenuous business/development practices in this regard has disenchanted many original backers (myself included) because it isn’t what we “signed up for”. Hence the reason why there can be a lot of acerbic vitriol against the game. It’s not a conspiracy theory, but rather a visceral response; stemming from the simple fact that we feel lied to.

Spunky Flurkin
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Spunky Flurkin

At last, someone I can agree with, on player count ballpark at least.

And no, the player count isn’t high enough. I’d be crazy to try to say which reason, but I would like to see more players in game, that is for sure.

Reader
Caleb Cranson

Okay, so then you would probably also agree that there are inherent issues with Shroud; directly correlating to low player population, right? If not, then what in your estimation is the reason why the player count is so abysmal?

It’s easy for me to posit why, but I am more interested in hearing other players opinions; especially when that opinion can be corroborated with anecdotal evidence/data.

Spunky Flurkin
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Spunky Flurkin

That’s too big of a question for me to do justice to, but I’ll throw out some thoughts.

Since player count is really a business thing, it should probably be being looked at from that angle. They could probably also use an outside set of eyeballs taking a long hard look at it as a business.

There’s a business strategy, I can’t think of the word right now, but it is essentially figuring out what your unique strengths are and running with them. And figuring out what your biggest weaknesses are, and mitigating them as much as possible.

Shroud has some pretty big strengths, and some unique things that could be strengths. Obviously housing. The super customizable combat. Even the world map, something that is mostly just a place to run around, could be a really unique experience if they ran with it.

I’ve seen the developers admit their quest system isn’t good enough, so that’s a weakness. They should minimize that as much as possible. And it’s probably not helping that that is the start of the game. Most of us don’t spend a huge amount of time questing, so the system doesn’t really impact us after a bit, but it really hits you hard at the start. So obviously that isn’t a good idea, if it is a weakness, to put the new users straight into it.

Reader
Tom Thumb

Now this post above was very constructive and very well thought out. I think you are 100% on all of it except the questing part.

While some might not like questing such as yourself, others do like it, so rather then scrap it they should fix it and if you don’t want to quest you shouldn’t have to like you posted above. Some people do like to quest and the story line of the game was prime for quests, it’s just that it was poorly executed with misspellings, broken UI, broken quest journal etc. Shroud was built as an RPG so it should have quests in it.

I think like you said they need a group to come in with a fresh set of eyes and fix all the issues, including the quests so people aren’t scared off from it or quick because it them. I like your last post!!

Keep up the constructive posts rather then the combative.
Cheers

Spunky Flurkin
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Spunky Flurkin

My point is you don’t actually want to fix all the issues. You need to know your product, and I remembered the term finally, figure out your competitive advantage.

Once you know your competitive advantage, you can build your whole business strategy around that. Who are your customers? What do they want? Where do you advertise to them?

Only a company like Blizzard can fix and be everything. And even they have trouble with it, it’s too big of a task.

So maybe because this is a Garriot game, quests SHOULD be the competitive advantage. Or maybe the ship has sailed, I don’t know. But if they are going to be the focus they need to be plowing a lot more time and effort into them.

This release we had new areas, which is always nice for players, but the game has quite a few, perhaps that shouldn’t be a focus. There are some really cool spots, but it is pretty hard to communicate that to a new audience.

Combat tweaks. Combat at the moment isn’t a competitive advantage in my opinion, even though the system is unique. There are players who stay specifically for it, but if the developers want it to be the key aspect of the game, then they have to pour a bunch of resources into the art side of it, animations, etc. At the moment the combat is good enough, so shouldn’t be getting any development time other than tweaks, and no advertising dollars.

Maps were a major weakness. If they did a SWOT analysis, Maps may have been the top Weakness. How many new customers left just because of the map? Probably a lot, so knocking that one down could have far reaching implications for the player count.

But still, what’s the one competitive advantage of the game? That should be getting a large percentage of the development dollars, and all of the advertising dollars.

I kind of think it might be the housing. It stands out, it is well built, a number of people have said they play just for that, and some of the meaner critics focus on it specifically, angry that it gets so much play I guess.

Not only that, it’s their primary revenue stream. So it is always a good idea to play to that. Combat makes them diddly squat for money, that’s my guess. Same for crafting.

It might be wise of the developers to pivot to full housing sim with combat trappings. What would an outside business owner do if they acquired the game or were suddenly the CEO? I would be willing to be that would be the play.

What would that mean? I don’t know, maybe more RP support, focus on making NPCs really shine, advertising to an entirely different audience, perhaps a bit more gamification of housing instead of it being static.

Spunky Flurkin
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Spunky Flurkin

Lots of misstatements going on so I’ll just make a habit of this, here’s the current player count from the PvE leaderboard. This doesn’t include crafters, RP’ers, or event goers who aren’t out killing monsters:

Today: 745
Last week: 1,736
Last month: 4,114

Reader
Mikka Hansen

That’s Characters, not players. Many people still clinging to the game are known to have in excess of 10+ accounts

Spunky Flurkin
Guest
Spunky Flurkin

Please explain to me why, in a classless, no upper limit game, someone would PvE with more than one account, outside of finishing the main quest for that character?

Reader
Mikka Hansen

Easy. To pad the numbers on the leaderboards and make sure that posts like yours paint a merrier picture.

The leaderboard also accounts for new players that download the game, give it a go, kill a few mobs, find the game is awful and quit in the same day, but will appear as “active” for the entire month

Didn’t steam showed a 90%+ drop-off from the people getting AL 10 to AL20?

Now it’s your turn. Please explain why
crafters, RP’ers, or event goers don’t kill one, not even a single mob, in an entire month of playing religiously. Why are you so sure they arent already accounted for in your numbers which anyway are ridiculously, ridiculously pitiful for a free game

Spunky Flurkin
Guest
Spunky Flurkin

Easy. To pad the numbers on the leaderboards and make sure that posts like yours paint a merrier picture.

laughing.jpg
Reader
Mikka Hansen

I’m not sure it works like that. There’s plenty of white knights on SOTA that definetly play multiple chars a couple hours a month just to make the stats look better.

The opposite however doesn’t sound like very…. feasible… Haters that play chars but don’t kill stuff so they don’t appear on the board… Wouldnt just be easier…. not playing? Same effect. Specially with being a hater and all that.

anyway judging by your response, you dont seem interested in honest discussion, so dont need to answer

Regardless, the figures are so dismaying, borderline abyssmal, that haters of SOTA have the easiest work on the industry, don’t have to do anything at all, just sit back, relax and watch the train wreck unfold on its own

Spunky Flurkin
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Spunky Flurkin

Do they do it every day?

Today: 745 (yesterday)

That’s a lot of dedication. Or a wild conspiracy theory. I’ll leave it to the readers to decide.

Spunky Flurkin
Guest
Spunky Flurkin

744 today.

Reader
Tom Thumb

It’s widely known most people have alts. If you think 700 people is a great number to have you’re delusional. V

Reader
Tom Thumb

Here is a link to a post where one person admits to having alt accounts for the log-in rewards while others do it for the subscriptions.
https://www.shroudoftheavatar.com/forum/index.php?threads/r69-build-1036-heritage-items.158643/page-2#post-1255624

Spunky Flurkin
Guest
Spunky Flurkin

So do you also think they run from the Oracle, out to a zone, kill one creature, and run back to the Oracle every day just to inflate the numbers?

Again, laughing minions, you guys are hilarious.

Reader
Tom Thumb

Yes, most alts do use the Oracle to get gold and xp, but it’s ok that you don’t comprehend why people use alts. It’s okay Vlad.

Everyone is sad that all of your white knighting hasn’t done anything for the game and neither has Portalarium. New players just aren’t staying. :(

Spunky Flurkin
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Spunky Flurkin

Ok Bruce. :s

So again, you think that the people then run their alts out to the adventure zone just to make a kill and get on the leaderboard? And then run back?

Reaching…

Raleigh-St-Clair
Reader
Raleigh-St-Clair

Curious as to what the future holds for this game. Minimal staff, no office, releases based around selling cosmetic items more than anything else. Yet Episode 2 is promised! And people have paid for Episodes 3, 4 & 5 as well. Honestly, I see the game shuttering long before then. The reasoning? Well, aside from the aforementioned lack of staff, office space and real updates, it’s a stone-cold fact that Episode 1 couldn’t be made satisfactorily with a full staff, an office, 20 million bucks, and years to do it. The team (or what’s left of it), is still chasing its tail on that episode, yet claims it will make another 4 once it sorts that first one out? It seems very, very, very unlikely, folks.

Spunky Flurkin
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Spunky Flurkin

A portion of the staff having a livestream today, including Lord British, who trolls will insist doesn’t participate at all.

Them talking about the large number of changes that have gone in and are coming to crafting, having nothing to do with the cosmetic items.

Them showing off two new scenes, having nothing to do with the item shops.

https://www.twitch.tv/videos/477746098

From what I’m reading, trolls have been claiming the game is dead for 3 years now. Well, the proof is in the livestream, I guess.

Raleigh-St-Clair
Reader
Raleigh-St-Clair

What about the aspects I actually raised? The game doesn’t have an office, right or wrong? The dev staff is way down on what it used to be – despite 4 episodes still needing to be made, right or wrong? And the team is still working on stuff from Episode 1, despite it being launched some time back, right or wrong? Throw in stuff that I didn’t raise like SteamCharts showing peak players at 176 and average players at 95 over the past month (numbers that are TERRIBLE for an MMO), and I don’t think anyone should be doing a song and dance about this game being in great health and nothing’s wrong.

Spunky Flurkin
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Spunky Flurkin

Seems like a lot of drama where none is needed. Working from home is a good thing, right or wrong? Ok nevermind, I won’t do the passive aggressive snark.

Working from home is good. They seem to have a sizeable staff, or they would not be able to get out the size of updates they do. And I could care less about the distinction between Episode 1 and others, just keep updating and I am happy.

Your numbers don’t reflect the in game stats, but I bet you know lots more than them so I’m ready for more snark.

Raleigh-St-Clair
Reader
Raleigh-St-Clair

And, as expected, you didn’t properly address any of the things I raised. You might think your answer was clever, but to any third party reading this, they can see how evasive you’re being. And we all know why people act evasively, instead of addressing topics head on, don’t we? The facts are that Portalarium, which was very proud of its office space – even having its own museum of past games (albeit from other companies), inside that office – now has nothing. So, did they get a sudden urge for flexible working? No, it was a cost-cutting exercise. As for staff, they do not have a “sizeable” staff – you just made that up. Admit it. You. Just. Made. That. Up. In 2018 the SEC filing listed 33 people. In June of this year, a thread on the official forum couldn’t even count 10, and of those it could count, most were part-timers. So there goes another of your comments, up in smoke. As for the Steam stats I listed, they are absolutely correct – for Steam. Obviously not everyone plays through Steam, so how much do you want to multiply them by? Double? Triple? Nah, let’s say five times! As unlikely as it would be, I will raise those numbers five times… and we get an average 500 players for the month. They are hopeless figures, no matter how you slice and dice it. Even multiplied by that highly unlikely five times figure, the Steam stats I mentioned are terrible, pure and simple. People like you, who white knight in the face of stats, and in the face of reality, need to have a good, hard look at yourselves. Gamers, like the people who read this site, are pretty savvy creatures and unless they have thousands of dollars locked up in this game – like it sounds you might – are going to see through this charade of Shroud doing just fine, thankyouverymuch. They’re smarter than that.

Spunky Flurkin
Guest
Spunky Flurkin

And, as expected, you didn’t properly address any of the things I raised. 

Admit it. You. Just. Made. That. Up.

Wow. Condescend much?

Your wall of condescension doesn’t change my answers. Have a look at the leaderboard if you want to know player counts. Obviously.

Have a look at the new areas and features if you want to judge effectiveness of the team. Obviously your statements about it being all cash shop items are false.

Out of curiosity, are you playing the game or just here to slam it? I don’t think the cash shop comments would come from a player, as they are so obviously incorrect.

Reader
bparry

Love the new GrandMaster crafting stuff this release. Look forward every month to the big patches. Been following this game since 2014 and even though it had a rough start its now a pretty sweet game. Can’t wait to see all the stuff coming ep2 in the next few months, along with some of the new player quest stuff and soon player made adventure zones. Only game I have seen where players can be what every they like for class, crafter, house designer, lot building, town building, dungeon building, basement building, soon adventure and quest making, and so much more…. PVP stuff is finally getting abit of love in the next few patches but still has aways to go before there is a good reason to flag.

Spunky Flurkin
Guest
Spunky Flurkin

Maps are local now!

Reader
Eric E

When all else fails dump it on the player’s client.

Nerf to archery and air tree now making players readjust to melee weapons again.

Spunky Flurkin
Guest
Spunky Flurkin

When all else fails dump it on the player’s client.

What a strange thing to say. This is exactly what we want…. sooooo…..

Reader
Tom Thumb

Sure just what we want a larger download file. It should be optimized on the game side of the server like every other online game. That way when ever there is an update it’s visible without having to download all the files again.

Spunky Flurkin
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Spunky Flurkin

Ok, for everyone but you, this is a big win!

I doubt the files are going to break the bank for you either, but if you want to be angry about it you do you.

ObstreperousBear
Reader
ObstreperousBear

A performance improvement for a utility they bought off someone else, that should never have been integrated into the game… sure. “A big win”? Really?

Spunky Flurkin
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Spunky Flurkin

Maps working locally now is a big win. Spin how you like, it’s great for the players.

Reader
Tom Thumb

Too bad most are missing and a bunch never had maps before they moved it locally. This game is sooo great they are winning awards left and right and it has drawn so many new players that they had to add new staff and servers, right?

WRONG!! They actually are talking about splitting time with another studio because they can’t afford to hire new staff.

Reader
Tom Thumb

Here’s another example for your comment that people don’t run alts through adventure zones. https://www.shroudoftheavatar.com/forum/index.php?threads/upper-tiers.157767/page-2#post-1249911

You must not play this game since you don’t know what actually goes on in the game. Perhaps since you don’t play you move on to troll another game’s articles. You’re just another example of someone who doesn’t play and tries to tell others fake truths.

More examples that people use ALTS to RP and adventure.
https://www.shroudoftheavatar.com/forum/index.php?threads/the-story-so-far-choosing-the-path-or-not-history-of-destroying-a-meaningful-part.156332/#post-1243556

Spunky Flurkin
Guest
Spunky Flurkin

Someone bringing 4 – 5 alts at one time huh? Seems pretty unbelievable. BUT it’s on the internet, so it must be true.

Even though the next person says it’s pretty unbelievable, lets go with it must be true.

Reader
Tom Thumb

All you have to do is come to Kahli and ask how many players here have alts. We all have at least 3 or more alts to RP our storylines. Many of us RP battles with undead and the cabalists. So yes we do go out and adventure. Most of the people in the guild have alts that are their character’s husband/wife. So just because you don’t know what actually goes on in the game doesn’t mean you should not believe it, which shows you DON’T play!

Spunky Flurkin
Guest
Spunky Flurkin

No one ever said people don’t have alts. I’m objecting to the “people are vastly conflating the numbers on purpose with alts” conspiracy theory.

Obviously people have alts. This is an online game.

Spunky Flurkin
Guest
Spunky Flurkin

And bringing bit back around to finished, lets not forget the people who don’t leave town. I think they more than make up for the alts. I do believe the numbers are pretty close and not being conspiratoraly inflated.

What’s going on over in Khali anyway, where’s all this negativity coming from?

Reader
Joseph Warren

((Deleted by mod. Review the commenting code.))

Reader
Chris Spears

Shroud has a number of seasonal items that return yearly. The comet and Aether creatures that come with are one of those seasonal things. In a month you can repeat this post when the seasonal Pumpkin Head creatures return.

As someone who doesn’t play the game, I know you don’t care but many of the seasonal creatures have unique drops that can only be acquired once a year so many players are excited about it.

Reader
Joseph Warren

Yes, I am aware of shrouds repeated low effort ‘unique drop’ events in which items continue to drop on a recycling cycle. Making the items not unique and less valuable every time it comes back around. Low effort low-quality events right up there with the naked dance parties and emote contests.

I do have one question for you though. What’s your basis for claiming I don’t play the game? Is it because I have a critical opinion?

Reader
Chris Spears

Actually, I assumed you didn’t play because you made a completely unconstructive negative post. Sorry, my bad if you do play the game you are here publicly disparaging. It seemed you just didn’t realize that this was repetitive content on purpose but it was just a single bullet point from pages of updates of actual new stuff.

If you actually want to contribute constructive negative feedback I absolutely welcome it. I stream for an hour or more 3 times a week on the Shroud channel and implement much of the feedback. If you actually play or used to play but stopped, stop by the stream and chat and tell me you concerns so we can fix them.

Reader
Eric E

I find it hilarious that with any negative comment you assume they haven’t played the game. It also doesn’t surprise me that you find negative criticism as “unconstructive”. Yet here is someone with over 3100 hours in the game that has given negative feedback https://web.archive.org/web/20190903185412/https://steamcommunity.com/id/maevealleine/recommended/326160

What most people have an issue with is that you squash any and all feedback unless it is positive or plays to your narrative. You have yet to understand that people shouldn’t have to “stop by your stream” to give feedback. Your hardworking players have given you pages and pages of feedback of their concerns and on possible fixes on the game’s official forums only to hear crickets. All the while you thank people on your stream for giving you twitch bits. This shows that the only chance to voice feedback is at a certain time of the day when it is convenient for only you and if someone is able to fork out bits/$$$$.

Keep telling yourself the same narrative over and over that the customer is never right and only more money will fix all the issues.

Reader
Caleb Cranson

((Deleted by mod. Review the commenting code.))

Reader
Reginald Bottomsworth

It’s clear that you think you’re helping your game by replying with snark and passive-aggression, but you’re doing more damage than you would by remaining silent.

Reader
Joseph Warren

See, Chris. The problem is it seems you thrive on negativity. When someone gives positive feedback, which I have done several times on the forums, you ignore it.

But when someone like me says something negative or snarky or sarcastic you want to jump on them and try to attack and make accusations. The forums you run have enough censorship happening to make China proud. Also, your community of toxic white knights will shoot down anyone that comes into your stream and gives any sort of criticism and you full well know it.

But you are right, I should give constructive feedback instead of feeding into the cycle of excessive negativity you have surrounded yourself with and helped build-up by your efforts.

The game needs more immersion, more story, more question. More… RPG. The current storyline is so soft handed it doesn’t feel like it’s part of the world. The storyline is so flimsy that if you were to flip a switch tomorrow to remove it, I don’t think most people would notice. Now, yes, I do realize that you have tacked on a bunch of rather subjectively interesting rewards to the tail end of the storyline to get people into the housing system. But that’s another problem.

The current housing system is the worst of the worst of the worst of the old Ultima system. Museum housing. Houses as of right now are only places to store huge amounts of crap to display how much money one has spent in the game on the fundraisers, often called begathons for a reason. Give the houses something useful. Yes, I realize the vendors exist, but the economy has tanked due to brainless development choices. So, give the houses another reason to exist. Say, add some NPCs that can do crafting for me while I am away actually on an adventure. They can use my craft skill, their craft skill, or a craft skill dependant upon how much I pay them or paid for them. Could easily span out their work so it takes them an hour per craft instead of single click like a player to make them more immersive. You can further enhance homes by giving us access to quest givers. By the power of gods and dogs we all know this game needs more quests, so let players help with this. Since you are too busy streaming to do this, give players the ability to do so. Give us an NPC where we can make quests. Have the NPC give out XP relative to the difficulty and extent of the quest, but the owner has the option to provide money or item rewards and let the owner limit how many times that quest can be run before it gets shut off.

Come up with some more immersive events. Things that have an impact on the world instead of just the same rares every year. Having the same rares dropping only results in their value dropping every time as more and more of them get put into a community that isn’t growing as fast as the items drop. Instead, try to do some events that have some actual innovation and thought put into them. Events that affect storylines of upcoming content. 2, 3 or 4 factions pop up that are fighting over an area. Individual players get to decide which one they are going to run quests for. The one that has the most points(quests completed, resources donated, etc) at the end has control of the new area next patch.

Fix the economy. The economy is currently mostly tanked because there is a saturation of materials and not enough stuff moving through the game. Create quests where players can turn in items, materials, rares, and so on for reputation, fame, money, experience, and so on. Perhaps some sort of documents indicating certain NPC types wishes to receive certain crafted items in large quantities. Turning these in once filled would result in consumable tools and assets that enhances crafting potential while having finite uses thus making them a consumable resource.

To there you go, Chris. I have given you five MMO friendly ideas on how you can increase the RPG value and immersiveness of the game. If you want a sixth, continue to expand upon and enhance the crafting system. Don’t take away from it, expand it. Make it more not less. The crafting system is, in my opinion, the shining best part of what this game has to offer.

Reader
Eric E

I guess renaming spiders and polar bears and increasing their HP makes them “new creatures”?

Reader
Reginald Bottomsworth

Don’t worry! They’re half-assing stuff like this so they can focus on Episode 2, which is definitely coming.

Reader
PanagiotisLial1

I had been mostly working my blacksmith masterworks these days and this uses a lot of silver – so I mine a lot too while bashing ghosts and satyrs in Elysium mines.