When you look for famous characters in your MMO, you may be looking for someone complete different than the rest of the crowd.
Lt. Commander Hikari gives us an example of that with this Star Trek Online pic: “In Star Trek, I’ve always been a fan of Janice Rand. An often underestimated member of the crew (and cast) she’s one of the things that really stood out for me through the series and movies. There are lots of reasons to be a fan of the actress and character that I would encourage people to find on their own. When Agents of Yesterday was released, Grace Lee Whitney had only just passed a year prior. It was lovely to see her with the rest of the crew, where she always belonged.”
I always cheered her appearance in Star Trek VI, myself!
Drama seems to plague Shroud of the Avatar, but if you can look past it, there’s some fun innovation going on inside Portalarium in regard to MMO mechanics. Portalarium Technical Director Chris Spears, for example, has been slowly revealing a massive new player-generated dungeon system for the game, hidden away in the bowels of the forums until this week’s newsletter.
If you’re a fan of City of Heroes’ old Mission Architect, Star Trek Online’s Foundry, or even Star Wars Galaxies’ ancient Chronicles system, you’ll see remnants of all of those in this system. Basically, you buy blueprints for individual pieces from NPCs, then combine them with mats to build your dungeon space chunk by chunk, on a housing lot, out in the real world. Eventually, you’ll populate “encounter rooms” with mobs and make it a real delve for other players.
Have you ever attended an album release party? You can in Shroud of the Avatar! Shooter Jennings, whose music is in game, has an album releasing on August 10 and there’s a party going on to celebrate it. Massively OP’s MJ is hoping she is makes it in to the event and can sneak you in as well! Tune in live at 8:00 p.m. to listen to some music from the upcoming album, Shooter.
What: Shroud of the Avatar
Who: MJ Guthrie
When: 8:00 p.m. EDT on Tuesday, July 31st, 2018
No, your eyesight hasn’t just gotten way better than last week; it is just that Shroud of the Avatar is starting to look a lot nicer. A few of these global visual improvements have hit the game with this past week’s Release 56, and many more of them are slated to arrive with August’s content update.
“We have started overhauling some of our global systems to dramatically improve the visual quality throughout the game,” said Portalarium. “The main focus is on shadows, lighting, and full screen visual effects.”
Meanwhile, the game’s interesting association with “country-rock-electronica mad scientist” Shooter Jennings continues as Shroud of the Avatar is hosting an album release party on Tuesday, July 31st, in the game. This isn’t merely a mob of people milling around in a pub but rather a series of quests that culminate in special rewards and an early listen to his latest album “Shooter.”
Shroud of the Avatar’s 56th release is upon us, having been pushed live successfully yesterday. A big chunk of the update is necessary but boring bug-fixing, Portalarium says, with “nearly 100 issues” taken care of, some of which should improve performance and load times, polish up the UI, boost the look of shadows and lighting, and make large player gatherings run more smoothly.
As we’ve previously covered, this month’s content drop is focused on the first playable iteration of the game’s PvP-centric Obsidian Trials, “with multiple features including timed matches, a poisonous boundary that reduces the play area, a revamped PVP scoreboard, two new currencies, and new rewards including emotes, potions, and titles. Best of all, when you are killed you do not lose any items, nor trophies, to the person who killed you!”
Housing fiends, there are gobs of new craftables for you; lore people, the comet is still coming! Check out the whole set of patch notes for the full run-down of what to expect.
Shroud of the Avatar’s release 56 is coming on Thursday, which means Portalarium’s latest newsletter includes recaps of some of the content the team’s working on. Of note, that includes the first playable version of the Obsidian Trials, which is basically the game’s version of PvP: 10-minute matches with a battle royale-esque shrinking map and a special currency for PvP-themed emotes, titles, and consumbles.
The studio also gives a preview of the ongoing revamp of the newbie tutorials, though that won’t be fully complete until September’s update. “We are also removing the tutorial elements and having them be almost entirely focused on story,” the team says. “In the case of Solace Bridge this means rebuilding it which we are excited to show you progress on in this week’s update.”
But I can’t help it: My eye was drawn to the part of the newsletter where Shroud of the Avatar basically puts R2-D2 into the game in the form of “the cylinder automaton pet.” Yes, he goes live this week as part of the “Sky Navy” suite of items. I’m smitten.
Strange sights abound in Shroud of the Avatar right now. “Astronomers across New Britannia have noted that the approaching comet has agitated the creatures of Novia and Hidden Vale, making many bolder and more ferocious,” the game’s latest newsletter teases. “Rumors suggest that the aether surrounding the comet has been mutating some of the most powerful creatures into new monstrous variations.” That’s all in the lead-up to next week’s Release 56, so best get in there and try not to die. Portalarium further notes that it’s planning another stream with more info about what’s inbound to the game, including more tools for player-generated content.
“One of the new features we plan to discuss is a set of new building tools including dungeon creation (player property) and defense building (player property, castle defenses and control points). These are part of a larger effort to increase the community’s ability to craft their own adventures that includes existing tools like notes and signs but is also expanding with other new features like advanced container settings (locks, place/take settings, etc.) along with craftable/purhasable/placeable traps and spawners (spider eggs, skeleton crypts, etc.). When you put all of these things together your ability to craft adventures will be limited only by your imagination! Last livestream we also did not get a chance to talk another cool thing coming for Episode 2 which is the ability to ‘un-nest’ and/or transfer your Player Owned Town into the new lands!”
On this week’s show, Bree and Justin cleans up after Guild Wars 2’s PR disaster, chew over the survivability of Shroud of the Avatar, and commiserate about Camelot Unchained’s delay. It’s not all downer news — there’s some really great stuff happening in the MMO industry, and that makes an appearance on this extra-long episode!
Special note: If you want to skip the ArenaNet discussion for the rest of the news, go to the 50-minute mark (yeah, we talk about it a lot!). Also, please note that this was recorded before the Polygon article that came out Monday night, so it’s missing some the additional commentary on Mike O’Brien’s second formal statement.
It’s the Massively OP Podcast, an action-packed hour of news, tales, opinions, and gamer emails! And remember, if you’d like to send in your own letter to the show, use the “Tips” button in the top-right corner of the site to do so.
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With release 55 now behind it, Portalarium is focused on the future of Shroud of the Avatar. Specifically, that means episode 2, which is basically the second season of content for the game. To fund that content, the studio has opened up what it’s calling a “stretch goal store” tied to the episode.
“These are stretch goals with rewards that can be used in the game now (or at least very soon),” Portalarium says. “These rewards are completely unique. They will not be sold in the add-on store, in-game nor as a bundle item. Once the stretch-goal is met we will begin work on the functionality for Episode 2 and all the items purchased would gain some function related to the goal when Episode 2 launches. For instance the foal from the Mounts stretch goal would grow into a horse that you could then ride. Each goal will have a progress bar underneath tracking the progress. General philosophy is that these items cost slightly more than equivalent items because they are linked to stretch goals.” $42,500 was raised on the last stream alone.
The company has also kicked of a new rewards program, which looks like an optional subscription to us; for $9 monthly, players will be picking up a monthly currency stipend, vet titles, dyes, potions, and $5 credit toward month livestream stretch goals. We’ve tucked the game’s latest livestream below – the beginning is worth a look for the Antiques Roadshow spoof!
Shroud of the Avatar has long been an odd bird in the MMORPG crowdfunding space. Driven by the eccentric Richard Garriott, it raised large sums of money and managed to be one of the first nostalgia-driven MMOs to make it from Kickstarter to launch – several times, we’ll note. And yet today, Eurogamer went so far as to call the game an apparent flop, citing its low Steam numbers and the layoffs we covered a few weeks ago.
Garriott has rejected the idea that the game is “on the ropes.” To Eurogamer, he reiterated Portalarium’s party line that the majority of players play off Steam and that the playerbase is “in the many thousands but not in the many tens of thousands of monthly active users at the moment.” He also rebuts the claim that half the team was let go, stating that the company went from more than 20 to a “little under” that now, not counting contractors.
So what the heck is going on over there? Garriott says Portalarium has struggled with marketing, spending on publicity that didn’t materialize; the company is “trialing new marketing internally” to try to tap into the “millions” of Ultima fans who still don’t know his new game exists.
What better way to celebrate freedom than in a game that is all about freedom to do and create as you want? Shroud of the Avatar allows players the chance to create their own content with cities, events, plays, bands, sports, and much more. Massively OP’s MJ is also free to wander the world and explore cool cities and zones, seeking out cool vistas and creatures. She’ll be doing just that while looking for some trouble to get into, so join us live at 7:00 p.m. to celebrate independence from themeparks.
What: Shroud of the Avatar
Who: MJ Guthrie
When: 7:00 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, July 4th, 2018
Portalarium is shaking off its layoffs and plunging onward with the release of Shroud of the Avatar’s 55th update. Release 55 should be live just as this post goes out, and it’s set to include an elaborate brewing system, the UI overhaul, new minizones, and new enemies. But the best news of the update is the fact that SOTA now has a reasonable in-game way for every single player to pick up a starter house.
“All Avatars who complete the entire story will receive a Player-Owned Town Row Lot Deed (Taxed) from the Oracle! This means completing the Paths of Truth, Love, Courage, and the Path of the Oracle. This will be retroactive, so anyone who has already completed the story will merely need to revisit the Oracle to receive their lot deed.”
This is a huge deal given that one of the biggest pre-launch complaints about the game revolved around the difficulty and grind associated with house ownership. The studio says it’s being implemented “at the suggestion of the community.” Do note that it’s not a tradeable deed; it’s “meant to celebrate a significant achievement, and as such is a retroactive reward, given to all players who have successfully completed the three Avatar paths.”
It appears as if Portalarium is suffering some layoffs and downsizing in the wake of the launch of Shroud of the Avatar: The studio’s Starr Long admits to “adjusting [the] team size” in a forum post written yesterday.
“Now that we are almost complete fulfilling our Kickstarter promises (brewing coming online in R55, physical rewards shipping very soon, progress being made on castle defense, etc.), we are adjusting our team size to better match our current monthly revenue. This will give us the balance we need to begin work on Episode 2 while ensuring we can support the online service. To do that means having, at least for now, a smaller team. Right now we will shift our focus from creating new content to polishing our existing systems. This means making a stronger new user experience, fixing bugs, reworking the quest system, performance improvements, user interface polish, and more. At the same time we will continue the Tier adjustments in progress which will rework our existing scenes to more appropriate difficulty levels based on our current player population.”