Shroud of the Avatar changes hands as Portalarium transfers assets to Catnip Games

    
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Hey you know when’s a good time to drop potentially bad news? Underneath somebody else’s even bigger bad news. Apparently, today it’s going to be the revelation that Portalarium has sold Shroud of the Avatar to Catnip Games.

“As of October 2019 Austin-based production studio Catnip Games has acquired the operating assets of Portalarium, Inc.; primary of which is Shroud of the Avatar. Portalarium was co-founded in 2009 by Hall of Fame videogame designer Richard Garriott (aka Lord British),” Portalarium’s Starr Long announced on the forums this afternoon. “Portalarium’s most recent game Shroud of the Avatar has a large global community of players which Catnip Games will continue to develop and expand.”

So what the heck is Catnip Games? It’s apparently a studio “established by Chris Spears, who served as CTO of Portalarium for over 6 years and was appointed President of Portalarium in 2019.”

There’s a quote attributed to Richard Garriott too: “We’re immensely grateful to the community who has built this game with us. The community’s support and participation remains strong and growing, and Starr and I plan to continue being involved in the community and within the game.”

SOTA currently counts a rather tiny population on Steam; Portalarium has long maintained that the majority of the playerbase does not play through that platform, however. Earlier this year, the studio offered up a graph that showed as many as 350 new players logging in on weekends.

Over the course of 2019, the game and studio have thrown up serious warning flags. In March, Portalarium closed its physical offices, insisting it was a temporary move. Then in May, we covered several SOTA snafus: the still-missing Kickstarter rewards, missing SEC filings required by the game’s equity crowdfunding (still not filed), and the weird obfuscation surrounding who exactly was CEO of the company and when that happened.

We have reached out to the studios with a stack of questions and will update if they comment.

Source: Official site. Thanks, Pepperzine!
Update 10/10/2019 11:30 AM
We’ve just posted an article about the revelation that the studios will not be delivering the missing Kickstarter book but in-game items instead. The studio has still not responded whatsoever to our questions.

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sawthelightsota
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sawthelightsota

Just so folks who may only come into this thread (MOP has a separate article on the book topic) are aware – Port is actively cleansing its forums of just about anyone who dares question their decision to not ship the Kickstarter signed book reward. Pathetic.

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Singularity Bound

Essentially they are bailing of responsibility..saying they will be around is like oh look they popped their heads in and waved.. They no longer have faith and prob lost it long ago.. I can only image the struggles that happened off cam internally that prob dmg production during that time too.
If anyone actually loves or likes the game, then it is Chris that is at least trying to save it so people should get off him.
The people in charge, skills, plans, and the fact they are dated and outpaced in general by modern groups was always obvious so saying the wrong people are X is stupid. It is what it is.. otherwise it would not exist at all (for those that do like it)
So people need to understand it is essentially heading off a cliff where it would be dropped off like Richard has done before..and no game left at all suddenly.
Chris is trying to negate dmg done to the product and keep it alive. While still carrying that damage; which at least shows he wants to make good on something.
At least there will no longer be any slow downs because of leadership disagreements. He is the good guy here in this case..
I like Richard and Star :/ but it is what it is..

So much of the negatives here should just default to that they are the downside risks of crowdfunding which is well known…
If you have not learned by now then you should understand if you participate this is the risk.. Uber rich people do this in the RL world all day long with products/companies etc at great loss to hit the success they do. Unfortunately that reward does not pay off in this different reality of it with regular people.
People get so mad over crowdfunding when its bad.
Your problem isn’t the people. Your problem is allowing hype and hope; eye candy (to/for you) to set yourself up..

The people who spend the large amounts of money.. well they should understand that all the more should they not – so any of them crying is insane to me.
I understand things not being met and how if you are funding something that leads to a lot of problems for all sides. But there is no way in this format other then through an already established success rate for the persons/people on the task(s)
to have a confidence worth investing.. your are lit counting on THIN AIR (lol) outside that, I mean come on. You toss the dice and lose your money so deal with it.
To have faith in it.. well means you shoulda been in a comfortable place in the first place where feeling like you lost your money didn’t matter. If you are/were not then I point back to the pit holes of hype and hope..

Richard has a habit of disappearing… Both by being made to go away and leaving himself.. I mean come on. Its not a shame me once, shame me twice situation at this point. Many love what he wants to bring – but the truth is he’s dated now.
He didn’t have to be.. Improvements during their introduction to alpha were pretty amazing.. but that pace of development did not stay and was ruined by to many unfinished things and ideas out of asses floating around in the air.. trying to be different has its risks also. They lit did what Elon Musk said don’t do recently as far as development.. Getting stuck on things that should not or do not need to exist is a massive waste of time, resources, money. you get trapped in a self defeating cycle then.
Richards vision is as deadly as it is fun.. had his own hope that made him blind and slow to change etc..
You have to be reality based while having hopes and high aims in some fashion.
And there are many success with crowdfunding. This just isn’t one.
Never was going to be to me and many others, even though we had hoped.
The obviously had the team that could pull it off but there was just to much fat going around. Slowed, Strangled and drowned themselves.
This is also btw in the defense of evil publishers why teams complain about feeling rushed etc. Because there is reality.. People spending money, attention spans, other competing products etc. And the teams as hard as they work do not have a leader(s) that function. I can not count the times Ive seen teams ruined by the slightest thing.. Like the lower guy on the leadership or even a Dev if had been in their hands could have completely saved everything. But the top person doesn’t understand they are the problem.
Anyway shutting up..
We all knew this was the way it was going lol. Do not kid yourself.
Be thankful Chris is trying to keep it up and maybe even somehow turn it around..
Its never going to be an empire tho..
If they can get to the point there is enough there to keep people involved for a long time and a format that can keep the workers paid then they could easily with assets they already have keept developing the game..even turn and invest instead in working with what they have and perhaps focus on keeping the world active/interactive more. Old Dev stuff ie.
Work more on the mechanics etc..

Narficus
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Narficus

The core problem with SotA’s development was simple and twofold.

1.) Despite the legendary grudge about World of Warcraft being more popular and “stealing thunder” (when EverQuest and Asheron’s Call did that well enough on their own because UO’s development was becoming its own worst enemy), none of those involved with SotA really had experience making MMOs in the last 20 years. At least not competently, given that Tabula Rasa was having the same problems and disconnects between company and community as UO and SotA, with fragile developer egos and fanatical personality cultists taking over any discourse about any actual problems of the game.

To change the habits of the devs involved would require the dismantling of a common delusion around UO, that it was the first MMO and is still the greatest MMO ever despite that it kept turning into more and more of a mess as time went on. Mythic/Broadsword are still clowning around on that front.

2.) The initial crowdfunding was to pull the company out of debt, like about $10M total to make that mobile game nobody heard about, Ultimate Collector.

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Jeremy Barnes

Garriot is the classic case of a creator who needs to be reined in and not the person with the final say…he has a lot of great ideas, but he lacks focus on the implementation.

sawthelightsota
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sawthelightsota

That is a very charitable view of RG; I wouldn’t say he knew or cared about the implementation of much of anything for SotA.

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Jeremy Barnes

You’re likely correct. I’m basing this more off of Tabula Rasa which I actually liked, but felt was unfinished despite it’s long development period.

I should also mention he should have zero to do with the “business” side of things.

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Mikka Hansen

I think RG lost any interest in convential game design ages ago.In the later years he has only shown interest in doing gacha/facebook-esque freemium games because of the massive quick buck potential with minimal effort

he tried that with SOTA, it failed to gain any momentum, and once it became clear it would never be the “ultimate collector” money printing machine he wanted it to be, he lost interest, so he handed it out to long and spears, which instead of doing the morally right thing and shutting it down, piled lie after lie after lie to keep fleecing hopeless idiots for as long as possible

Narficus
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Narficus

Tabula Rasa was so unfinished it was being constantly reworked and having MMO-basic features added months after launch. It arrived as unfinished and half-baked like OtherSide shoveled out Underworld Ascendant as a sequel to Ultima Underworld (at least that was what their KS FAQ lied).

The real laugh track for the failure of Tabula Rasa was having the vehicles added in just before the game was closed because NCSoft found out how much RG really mattered to the game’s production.

We’re seeing that involvement again. Just like we saw from Ultima IX.

“Gimme money! Who is responsible? NOT MEEEE!!!!!!!”

Yeah, I’m done with funding aging rockstar developers.

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Jeremy Barnes

“Yeah, I’m done with funding aging rockstar developers.”

A solid creed to live by

Narficus
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Narficus
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Reginald Bottomsworth
sawthelightsota
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sawthelightsota

Unacceptable to replace a physical, signed book with some in game dungeon room nonsense.

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Reginald Bottomsworth

No doubt the legal wizardly responsible for the announcement yesterday also gets them off the hook for the book.

sawthelightsota
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sawthelightsota

The press release sure was careful to announce that Catnip purchased the assets of Port, not any liabilities such as, you know, the book. So once Port likely files to dissolve in the near future, that legal wizardry kicks in to yes, get them off the hook.

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Eric E

Too bad those not playing the game any longer and who paid for a book will not see their physical signed book turned into pixels.

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Eric E

Hopefully we’ll get news on the Seedinvest now as well.

sawthelightsota
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sawthelightsota

“Good news! Your Seedinvest shares have been converted to an in game dungeon room that resembles a stock trading boiler room full of golden crops you can harvest once per month!”

ObstreperousBear
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ObstreperousBear

It occurs to me.. maybe we’re not psychic. Maybe they’re listening to our sarcastic banter and thinking “Hey that’s a good idea”

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Alex Willis

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Mikka Hansen

Let’s not delude ourselves, this was a deck chair rearrangement on the titanic. SOTA has been Chris’ one man show for a long, long time, with starr and RG largely absent and uninterested for over a year by now (in RG’s case prolly MUCH longer). Not much has changed with this annoucement other than clearing the air, the game keeps sinking to new lows with every passing week and currently its a rat’s race to get pennies on the dollar before everything inevitably goes belly up

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Whaar Garbl

Forsaken Virtues indeed.

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HolyAvengerOne

I’m glad I didn’t get onto that bandwagon. It’s always sad to see a project not shine how we would have liked to see it, but it’s downright frustrating, insulting and damaging to the industry when veterans like that get into shenanigans and obscure deals in what seems to be mocking players and crowdfunding backers.

Sad. Donald sad.

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Reginald Bottomsworth

Time for Garriott and Long to quietly fold Portalarium and slip out the back door.

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Mikka Hansen

They already did long ago. Now they are just oficializing it

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Baemir

As a spectator looking in from the outside (never bought or played the game), the impression I got from the story of this game is that the product just wasn’t solid enough to survive, not unlike the cheaper korean and chinese imports that rarely last more than a year or two. That and there was probably quite a bit of mismanagement, considering how they actually got some pretty solid backing compared to other crowdfunded games, not counting the formal investors.