Update of the Avatar #119 – 2015.04.03: Happy Easter, SotA Companion App, Book Covers, Fez Hat, R15 Deco Winners, and More!

Greetings Fellow Avatars!

Here’s what we have for you in this week’s edition of Update of the Avatar:

  • SotA Companion App
  • More Spectral Mines Entrance
  • Judging a Book by its Cover
  • Release 17 Grand Tour Quest Reward: Fez Hat
  • R15 Decoration Contest Winners
  • Hangout of the Avatar ~ Release 16 Postmortem
  • Black Gate Games GDC Interview: Meeting the Ultima Team
  • In-game Community Weekend Events
  • Descent Kickstarter in Final Week
  • Receiving Pledge Rewards and Add-On Items
  • Changes to Store Credit Conversions
  • Steam Access Keys Available for All Backers
  • How to Cancel Monthly Layaway Payment Plans
  • This Week In The News
  • Upcoming Events


Happy Easter!

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All of us at Portalarium wish you a Happy Easter! It warmed our hearts to see so many of you embrace the “bunny” theme for Release 16, as shown by some of these great screenshots posted to the Release 16 Screenshot Gallery and Steam Community Screenshots:

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SotA Companion App

We were excited to learn of the new SotA Companion App being developed by community member Brenton. As stated in his forum post:

Hello! I am making a thread here for the SOTA Companion app I am currently developing for iOS and soon Android. This app is designed to be used as a reference for maps, crafting, skills, and creatures that you will encounter in your journeys…I have a number of beta testers currently trying it out and giving suggestions, but I would love even more! If you have an iOS device and are interested in trying it out, let me know by sending me an email address and I will add it to the beta tester list!

Here’s a video and a few screenshots of the app (Beta 3 version):

 

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Brenton just pushed out Beta 4 version, which includes map pins:

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This looks like a pretty handy app, right? If you’d like to help Brenton beta test it then go to his forum post to sign up!


More Spectral Mines Entrance

Here are more images from Abe Robertson’s latest work on the Spectral Mines entrance:

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Judging a Book by its Cover

Scott Jones has been busy this week designing new book covers for in-game books. Each unique book cover will give players a hint of the book’s contents. Here are a few samples:

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Release 17 Grand Tour Quest Reward: Fez Hat

Just as in our past several releases, we’re including a Grand Tour Quest in R17 designed to guide you through all the new content. When you complete the R17 Grand Tour Quest you will be rewarded with a Fez Hat. This reward can only be unlocked during Release 17 (did someone say rares?), so be sure to log in to R17 starting April 30 and talk to all the Tour Guides!

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Time is Running Out to Get Your R16 Grand Tour Quest Reward

Better hurry if you want to add the Black Lepus Mask to your collection because the R16 Grand Tour Quest ends on April 30 when we launch Release 17. If you need help getting your R16 Black Lepus Mask reward, then check out The Mad Hermit’s video guide to completing the R16 Grand Tour Quest:


Release 15 Decoration Contest Winners

There were twenty participants in the Release 15 Decoration Contest coordinated by community member Lollie last month, representing a wide variety of decorating styles and themes. Congratulations to the winners announced in this forum post by Lollie:

We have the results in folks! So without further ado –

1st place = Lord Thomas – Home for Adventurers
2nd place = Gaelis – Furniture Shop
3rd place = Themo Lock – Performing Arts Centre

Was a very close fight for second and third place (and even fourth place!). Lord Thomas just gave us the whole package – fresh ideas and good taste, with all areas given attention.

Special mention goes to Net and Gaelis Trajan with the Bear Tavern Brawl Arena, then Umuri and his torture box puzzle box, tied with Ravicus and the very famous Wody’s Bar, followed by Raven Swiftbow with a very cool cemetery/crypt, and Soleidad and Silverglade and their City Home.

Thanks to our judges – me (of course), and Doctor (Doctor Shroud) and a special guest judge – Bumnog (had to pull in a favour at the last minute after one of the judges found himself unable to complete the judging). And thanks to all the awesome entries – it really was a hard choice, so many wonderful ideas and so much hard work. Really fantastic work guys! Feel free to PM me if you want any feedback, all our judges worked hard to take down notes as we went along.

One of the winners of the previous decoration contest, Doctor Shroud, was a judge for the R16 contest and had this to say:

Congratulations for producing wonderful and original homes. Lord Thomas, thank you for inviting me into your home and giving me your own personal tour. I loved how it gave the “home sweet home” vibe. Well deserved. -applauds and cheers- I did want to announce if anyone wished to give me a tour, but I was very busy. Next judging, I’ll be more than happy to visit your submission with a tour. Gaelis, your furniture shop was beautiful. The moment I stepped into that basement I was flabbergasted with what you created. Auction like rooms. -Applauds and cheers-. To Themo Lock for creating a very detailed home with a wonderful stage outside and in the basement. And for Umuri who gave me a splitting headache with his truly magnificent puzzle box. -Applauds you both and cheers-

Here are a few screen shots of the winning entries:

3rd Place: Themo Lock – Performing Arts Centre: A Knight Marshal home on a Village Lot in Valemark, (Loc: -113.0, 25.0, -8.7)

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2nd Place: Gaelis – Furniture Shop: A Lord home on a Town Lot in Valemark, (Loc: 114.0, 48.2, 80.5)

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1st Place: Lord Thomas – Home for Adventurers: A Rustic 3-Story home on a Village Lot in Aldwater, (Loc: -86.8, 25.1, 45.5)

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I happened to run into Edward Newgate (owner of the lot) while I was capturing the screen shots for this article, and asked him what his favorite room in the house was. He said he loves this house (which is the only remaining Rustic home available in the Add-On Store), and his favorite room is the living room, with the fireplace. He added that the outhouse built onto the side of the house was the most difficult room to build:

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Hangout of the Avatar ~ Release 16 Postmortem

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Please join us Tuesday, April 7th at 3:00 PM Central (20:00 GMT) for our next Hangout of the Avatar! Richard, Starr, and Chris will be chatting about Release 16, recounting their favorite moments while also looking ahead to Release 17. And, of course, Fire Lotus will be taking your questions and feedback live in the chat-room and also in advance in the comments section of the original post here.*

*Please keep in mind that questions and feedback related to Release 16 specific topics will be given priority and really verbose questions may be skipped, as they can be a challenge to shorten and summarize live on the air.  In brief… please keep your questions… brief.  ;)

We will be giving some really awesome prizes during the 90 minute extended Hangout, and all you have to do to qualify for one is to come hang out with us in the IRC chatroom during the broadcast. As always, the link to the hangout will be provided on the original post before the hangout begins.


Black Gate Games GDC Interview: Meeting the Ultima Team

From Black Gate Games’ YouTube post:

Black Gate Games’ John Gould and Elonka Dunin talk about their experiences at the 2015 Game Developers Conference. In this episode, John Gould talks about the significance of the Ultima games on his life and career, and what it was like to finally meet “Lord British” (Richard Garriott) and “Lord Blackthorn” (Starr Long) at this year’s conference, where they were showing off their current project, “Shroud of the Avatar”.


In-game Weekend Community Events

Our amazing community has another great lineup of in-game events planned for this weekend. Here is the latest schedule of player events from the Avatar’s Circle Community Events calendar and the Events of the Avatars community calendar:

Saturday, April 4
9:00am CST – PaxLair Working Hours – Host Winfield (Valemark)
11:00am CST – Church of the Dark Star – Saturday Service (PaxLair, Valemark; details)
12:00pm CST – R16 Obstacle Run Tournament – 1v1 – Prizes! (Bravecoast, city lot, or “/zone Net”; details)
2:00pm CST – Vengeance 1v1 PvP – BARE KNUCKLE BRAWL! (“/zone Sciamano Malus” or “/zone Duke Violation”; details)
3:00pm CST – Novian Academy – Citizenship 100 Course – Covers the basics of character building, Weapon/armor choices, travel points/community sites/groups to know (“/zone Kazyn Phoenixfyre”; details)
4:00pm CST – Easter Maze Event (Owl’s Wash)

Sunday, April 5
6:30am CST – Explore Novia with royalsexy (Owl’s Head entrance)
5:00pm CST – BMC Grid Iron Feast and Registration (details)
6:00pm CST – BMC First Blood at Grid-Iron (details)
7:00pm CST – PaxLair Meeting (Valemark, or “/zone Winfield”)
8:00pm CST – Fishing with Winfield (some lake or pond, “/zone Winfield”)
9:00pm CST – Beach Party by BMC (details TBD)

Be sure and check out the Release 16 Events thread in the SotA forums for additional events that may not be included here.


MoonGate Travelers Present: Scavenger Hunt!avatar[1]

From a Release 16 Event Forum Post by DavenRock [MGT]:

The Moongate Travelers presents a Scavenger Hunt for all the Avatars of Novia to participate in!

All entries must be proven by screenshot, everyone who submits a completed list will be entered into a random drawing for a Hot Tub from the Add-on store, courtesy of Dinsoo! Contest ends Opening day of Release 17, Random Drawing will be R17 Weekend.

The best ways to present your found items is to use a chest/container, or go into a trade with a player, move all the items into the trade window and then take a screenshot. You could use Postimage.org (image hosting) to be able to post the screenshots in the forum here.

[Click here for additional information]


April Fools Mini Deco Contest

From a Release 16 Event Forum Post by Lollie:

You have one objective: make us laugh. Winner gets $10 store credit (prize is sponsored by Athanil)

Seeing as there is just a month before the R17 wipe (and we’ll be doing another big Deco Contest after this for R17-R18), we’re taking the pressure off you – all you need to do is dedicate some small part of your lot to create a fun, April Fools Prank. Something to bring a smile to the judges’ faces :)

Do whatever you want – whatever you think is funny, pranky, and April Fools-ish…Somehow create some kind of joke, or prank, or trick, or funny scene. Doesn’t have to be interactive but it could be. Can be a tiny part of your lot, or just a room, or a construction – you decide. The only point is – make us laugh!

Get your entries in by Saturday 11th April – we want everyone to have time to see what kinds of tricks you’re willing to play on our hardworking judges before the next wipe!

[Click here for additional information]


Wedding Ceremony

Congratulations to Mr. James Murphy and Mrs. River Beauchamp for their wedding on March 28th! The event was held in Solania on the Perrenial Coast in Novia. Lord British had the honors of giving away the bride!

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Easter Bunny Pet

Easter is almost upon us and what would an Easter be without your very own Easter Bunny Pet. This spotted rabbit is available in the Add-On Store until May 31 and will never be available again. The spotted rabbit is a non-combat pet that can follow you wherever you go.


Special Edition White Lepus Mask

Just in time for your Easter celebrations, this Special Edition White Lepus Mask is available in the Add-On Store until April 30st! Get yours while they’re available!

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Descent_bannerDescent: Underground Kickstarter Campaign in Final Week

As described on their Kickstarter site, Eric “Wingman” Peterson and team are bringing back six-degrees-of-freedom combat by blasting 90’s action game favorite, Descent, into the 21st Century with current-generation gaming technology. Descent: Underground is more than a graphics upgrade. Get ready for multiple types of customizable ships! Prepare for upgradable weapons and sensors with richly-detailed tech trees. Brace yourself for destructible voxel maps with new power-ups and mod tools to make your own maps and more!

Checkout their Kickstarter site and if you like what you see then pledge your support!


Player Owned Town Price ChangesSotA_Metropolis

In a previous Update we shared Starr Long’s forum post that discussed the scope and design for Player Owned Towns. If you’ve been thinking about getting your own Player Owned Town, then you might want to take advantage of the current price, because the price for all Player Owned Towns will be increasing approximately 20% starting May 1, 2015.


Receiving Pledge Rewards and Add-On Items

SotA_Bank_Interior2Go to any bank to claim your Add-On items and Pledge rewards. There is a banker NPC in every map where there is player housing because when you switch houses or unclaim a lot, all the decorations will go to your bank. In most locations the Town Crier is now also a banker.

Banks are local only. You can see your items in other bank locations (they appear in location tabs), but you can only access the items in the bank you are currently at. Pledge rewards are an exception to this and can be accessed from any location.

[NOTE: there are some Add-On and Pledge reward items that have not been built yet so you may notice some of your items not showing up in your bank. If you delete your character, all equipped and inventory items, including pledge reward items, will be deleted and cannot be recovered until the next wipe]

Player Bank Upgrades

Your bank inventory size can easily be upgraded with in-game gold, with the price in gold increasing the larger your bank gets. For those that need/want really big banks faster, we’ve added a Bank Upgrade to the Add-On Store. Currently, each Bank Upgrade adds 10 more slots to your bank inventory, but that number is subject to change based on game balancing needs.


Changes to Store Credit Conversions

If you wish to convert any of your purchased Add-On items to Store Credit, you will need to do so before logging into Shroud of the Avatar.

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The instant you log into the game all of your available Pledge reward items and available Add-On items will be flagged as “claimed” and deposited in your in-game bank. Once the Add-On items are “claimed” they cannot be converted to Store Credit until the next wipe (which is currently unpredictable). After you’ve logged into SotA, the “Convert to Credits” button on your account page will be deactivated for all those items available in the game, so if you had any plans to sell back some of your Add-On items, make sure you do it before you log into the game!

We intend to change the claiming process in an upcoming Release so that items are not automatically claimed when logging in, but will require you to actively claim them in your bank before they can be used.

If you purchase any new Add-On items, or upgrade your Pledge tier, those new items and upgraded rewards will automatically appear in your in-game bank the next time you log into the game (providing those items are available in the game).


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Steam Access Keys Available for All SotA Backers

SotA successfully launched on Steam Early Access on November 24, and we’ve made Steam Access Keys available to all our backers as part of their basic pledge rewards! Once you’ve redeemed your Steam Access Key you’ll have the option of playing SotA either with the Steam client or the regular game client (or both).SotA_SteamTradingCards2_small

Click here for instructions to redeem your Steam access key and installing the Steam SotA client…

If you play SotA on Steam you can collect the SotA Trading Cards! Collect a full set of SotA trading cards to earn SotA badges, profile backgrounds, and emoticons that help you customize your profile and show off your Shroud of the Avatar gameplay. Check out Steam’s trading card FAQ for more information.


Word-of-Mouth Marketing

Our goal is to make Shroud of the Avatar the best game we can for you, our backers, and the best way we can do that is by growing our community of backers through the power of word-of-mouth marketing. That’s where we could use your help! With essentially no marketing budget, we rely on things like press coverage and friend-to-friend networking on platforms such as Facebook and Steam. Here’s how you can help us with your word-of-mouth efforts:

If You Like SotA then Like Us On Facebook

Current Facebook Likes: 5,729 (+36 from last week)

Facebook can be a powerful word-of-mouth marketing tool at very little cost, but only if we can reach a large enough network of Facebook users. You can help us to reach a larger Facebook audience simply by going to the Shroud of the Avatar Facebook page and clicking on the “Like” button. If every one of our 50k backers gave us a “Like” the marketing reach of our Facebook posts would be incredible!

If You Like SotA then Write Us a Positive Steam Review

Current Positive Steam Reviews: 328 (+2 from last report)

One of the most important word-of-mouth tools on the massive Steam platform is their user reviews. Many Steam users rely on a game’s Steam reviews to help them decide if they want to play a game or not. If you feel positive about SotA, or feel positive about what SotA may become, even if you have concerns and issues, then please jump over to our Steam Store Page and give us a positive review (and feel free to include your concerns and issues in that review as well)!


How to Cancel Monthly Layaway Payment Plans and What In-Game Rewards to Expect

Remember that Pledge payment plans are not canceled automatically after reaching the desired pledge. You must manually cancel your monthly payment plan, which can be done at anytime on your SotA Account page. We apologize for any inconvenience this might cause, but it is a result of how recurring billing functions with PayPal, Amazon, and Stripe (our credit card service).

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If you are on a monthly payment plan, the rewards you receive in-game may not reflect the final pledge tier you are making payments toward, but will reflect the rewards for the current pledge tier that your cumulative monthly payments have reached (your current pledge tier is shown on your Account page on the SotA website).


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This Week In the News

April 03 – Black Gate Games @ GDC 2015, Part 2: Meeting the Ultima Team!


Upcoming Events

2015.04.03 – Duke & LotM VIP Design Roundtable w/Lord British and Portalarium Studio Tour
2015.04.30 – Release 17
2015.05.28 – Release 18
2015.06.16 – SotA at E3
2015.06.25 – Release 19
2015.07.25 – SotA at Classic Game Fest 2015

Source: Official SotA New Feed