Category: Official Shroud of the Avatar News

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!

SotA_BunnyTheme2

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

R16 Necropolis

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

Hangout of the Avatar ~ Release 16 Postmortem

Hear Ye, Hear Ye! Thou hast been invited to the Release 16 Postmortem!

R16 Necropolis

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 right here in the comments section.*

*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 posted here directly before the hangout begins.

Source: Official SotA New Feed

Update of the Avatar #118 – 2015.03.27: Play R16 Now, FireLotus R16 Party, Q2 2015 Schedule, Novian Academy, Weekend Events, and More!

Greetings Fellow Avatars!

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

  • Play Release 16 Now!
  • Traditional FireLotus Release (16) Party!
  • Q2 2015 Schedule Update
  • Novian Academy of Arts and Sciences
  • In-game Community Weekend Events
  • Kickstarter Shout-Outs
  • 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


Play Release 16 Now!


Release 16 screenshot courtesy of Soleidad. Check out more in the Release 16 Screenshot Gallery.


Release 16 successfully launched yesterday, March 26, with thousands of backers downloading, patching, logging in, and checking out the new changes! Lots of new content to explore, including:

  • 7 new Adventure Scenes
  • Necropolis Dungeon: our very first map that is completely focused on the narrative and is a single player instance
  • Novia Overworld expanded
  • New creatures, including crocodiles, Obsidian Golem, Sand Elemental, and pet rabbits
  • New NPC skills, damage types, and resistances
  • Discovery Navigation System
  • Performance improvements
  • …and more!

Check out the Release 16 Instructions update for detailed information about all the new R16 content.

The Grand Tour Quest
Just as in our last several releases, we’ve included a Grand Tour Quest designed to guide you through all the new content. You will be able to get the Black Lepus Mask by completing the Release 16 Grand Tour Quest. This reward can only be unlocked during Release 16 (did someone say rares?), so be sure to log in soon and talk to all the Tour Guides!

If you need help completing the R16 Grand Tour Quest, then check this video walk-thru provided by The Mad Hermit:


We need all your help with testing the new patches, putting more stress on our multiplayer servers, and testing the new game content, so please join us in playing Release 16!

If you have not backed the game yet, you will need to register and login at www.shroudoftheavatar.com, select the “Pledge or Send Gift!” button in the right side-bar, and purchase a pledge at the $45 Adventurer level or above. The basic Adventurer level pledge is also available on Steam Early Access.

Release 16 Player Instructions

Release 16 Known Issues


R16 Patch Notes

Thanks to all our community members that jumped right into Release 16 and started reporting bugs. We’ve already fixed quite a few of them and pushed out several patches. Click here for the most up-to-date Patch Notes.

March 27, 2015

Build Number 248

Fixes:

  • Fix for attack speed buff to correct the bad math that was allowing 1 attack per frame!
  • Fix for sparkly desert bushes
  • Minor fixes to dialog in Soltown and Necropolis (from forums)
  • Duke Founder Keep stairs should be easier to climb
  • Lessened overdone bloom effect in sunlit rooms in Necropolis
  • Fixed “merchant skirt” asset typo
  • Lord British birthday cake no longer is as bright as a super nova
  • Fixed chain mail gear sparkles and color adjustment
  • Fixed not being able to use chat/hotkeys/zoom while sitting or doing other interactives
  • Top of village arena ladder no longer makes player off-kilter
  • Added Sooty Bark to the Maple Wood Loot Bundle
  • Removing a spammy message that is not needed for adding Focus
  • Changed Arrow Crafting recipe to result in 100 arrows instead of 10-quick fix that helps the monteary cost of arrows
  • Added camera shake back to earthquake
  • Don’t automatically open the chat window for system messages in some cases (ex. harvesting)
  • Fixed hotbar lockout when interacting with multiple resource nodes.
  • Fixed brightness/glowing on male mohawk and dreadlocks.
  • Fixed sparkling epic cloth leggings.
  • Doubled the length of healing rain from 10 to 20 seconds.
  • Attempted fix for being stuck in combat

Known Issues:

  • Some scenes are too dark at night (ex. Obsidian Keep)
  • Overly bloomed visuals in places (ex. Necropolis)
  • Some assets create flash bulb like sparks on screen
  • The screen may go dark unexpectedly in some cases.  If this occurs, you can open the video options and turn off Tone Mapping as a temporary fix.
  • Many pledge, add on, and stretch goal items have not yet been built and/or do not yet have tech support. These will not be complete until later this year
  • The update to Unity 5 caused a host of general texture and lighting related issues, and not all of these have been resolved.
  • Distant tree billboards may have a white outline that is especially noticeable at night, and some trees may shimmer with white at night.
  • Some scenes in the new Novia overworld are missing visible name scrolls, though they can still be entered and explored.
  • Hair is not responding to light correctly
  • Skin tone will sometimes not match properly on different parts of the body
  • Interior Player House culling system also culls objects on balconies, porches, roof, etc.
  • Unity 5 engine bug: Terrain is not accepting shadow casting lights and terrain lighting shows up on grid vs. radius
  • Can’t use skills after being interrupted when harvesting
  • Repairing Weapons While Equipped Makes them Disappear
  • ALT key can no longer be bound. This was necessary to re-enable quick self cast with ALT
  • Unity 5 Engine Bug: Objects in the foreground sort incorrectly against objects in the distance like trees and the horizon
  • Spectral Mines and Graf Gem Mines do not have metal ore nodes (will be fixed in R17)

[Complete Patch Notes…]


If you are new to Shroud of the Avatar we highly recommend taking a few minutes to watch the excellent New Player’s Video Guide from community member The Mad Hermit:

Click here to check out all of The Mad Hermit’s amazing SotA how-to videos!


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Traditional FireLotus Release (16) Party!

Every Release, our Community Manager, Gina “FireLotus” Dionne, hosts a Release Party during the afternoon of the first Friday of the Release. Today’s Release 16 Dance Party was held in a City Arena Basement at the World’s End Club in Port Mirren (a small island accessible via a ferry from the Kingsport docks).

Special thanks to Soleidad and Athanil for offering such a cool place to party and the tremendous work they put into the amazing decor! The Lepus Mask (both black and white) was quite popular at the event, as were the new bunny pets (warily keeping an eye on the dog pets also in attendance). And the Zombie dance moves appeared to be quite the fav! Lord British himself showed up for a little boogie-down action:

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Q2 2015 Schedule Update

[A SotA Public Forum post by Starr Long]

Darkstarr

Greetings Avatars,

As we stated in previous posts, our goal is to once-per-quarter post an updated schedule for our monthly releases. Even though these goals will likely change somewhat as we react to feedback, we feel it is important to provide you an updated roadmap periodically.

Our goal continues to be to deliver our backers content each and every month so that we can get feedback, and use it to iterate improvements. This has already paid off, with additional game features like jumping and swimming, as well as improvements to systems like crafting, conversations, and combat. Meeting that monthly goal is our highest priority, but we require flexibility in our deliverables to meet that goal. As you have seen in previous releases, sometimes we push things out, but we also often pull new things in.

It is worth noting that we develop in an iterative fashion. This means we will often get systems and content in the game as soon as we can, even if they are only partially functional. In general until you see me say something is “final” you can safely assume we will continue to improve on that feature. An example is our Pets which are in very early development and do not include a lot of their functionality like being able to hang out in your house.

As always, all dates, durations, and deliverables are subject to change as we adjust our designs based on direct feedback from you, our backers.

As you might notice many of the deliverables from Q1 are now in Q2. This is due to many factors including the Unity 5 conversion, conventions (we had not planned to attend GDC), bug fixes, and other completely normal game development challenges. This now obviously puts our launch by end of 2015 at risk. We are currently working on various strategies to keep launch within 2015 but as always our goal is to ship the product when it is ready, not before. We will do everything in our power however to complete Episode 1 in as timely a manner as possible without sacrificing scope or quality. It is worth noting that based on our current funding and fundraising data trends that we we will still be able to complete the game without any financial issues, even with slips like this. NOTE: With this schedule change we will be extending payment plans to November.

RELEASE 17, April 30, 2015:

  • Polish & Performance: We will continue the work we started with Release 16 to improve overall polish and performance in the game. We will focus not only on improving frame rate but also lowering load times. We may also spend some time on usability issues.
  • Maps: Perennial Coast and Grunvald will continue to be expanded.
  • Steam Achievements: Players will now be able to earn Steam Achievements.
  • Player Owned Town Test: We hope to have our first example of a Player Owned Town in the game with the PaxLair Metropolis.
  • Crafting: Crafting will now have events that occur during the crafting process that the player can interact with to influence the results.
  • Creatures: Our bestiary will expand to include various Human Enemies (mages, archers, etc.), the Phoenix, and Zombies!
  • Player Titles: Players will now be able to display their title in the game.
  • Street Signs: We will begin placing street signs in major towns.
  • Player Wipe: We will be wiping all game, property, and player data for this release because of some fundamental changes to item architecture.

RELEASE 18, May 28, 2015:

  • Maps: Our goal is to get the Grunvald Region near completion and begin work on the Quel Region which includes scenes like the Etceter Mines.
  • Spells & Skills: The combat schools of Shields and Light Armor will expand, and more combos will be added to the game.
  • Housing: Fences and Walls will come online as new customization options for player property.
  • Player Owned Towns: We plan to start the official submission process and begin implementing more towns.
  • Crafting: Crafting skills will start to come online, and be used during crafting to modify results.
  • Creatures: Our creature list will continue to expand with Chaos Demons and Wisps.
  • Combat: The cover system will be introduced that modifies attack and defense values when you (or your target) are behind cover.
  • Overworld: Roving encounters (patrolling creatures) will now appear on the overworld map and can be engaged (pulling you into a scene) or avoided if you wish to sneak past.
  • Emote “Teaching”: Emotes will now be teachable to other players. Some emotes (like the ones tied to pledges) will only be teachable by the original owner. Teaching will be done via secure trading a consumable item that adds the emote when used.
  • Localization: We will begin crowdsourcing the translation of the game into various languages.
  • Player Made Books: Players will be able to write in blank books in the game, and share them with other players.
  • Customization: Clothing and Armor will now be dyeable.

RELEASE 19, June 25, 2015:

  • Maps: We hope to get the Quel Region near final and start on the Midmaer Region.
  • Spells & Skills: Chaos Magic and Ranged Combat will expand to include more spells, and more combos will come online.
  • Housing: Property ownership will now incur regular fees (unless you are using a tax free deed from a pledge). If the fees are not paid, the player will lose their claim, and their possessions (including the house and decorations) will be moved to their bank. Note: We will provide more details about timing, payments, etc. near the end of R18.
  • Crafting: Tailors and Alchemists will be able to begin crafting Taming Collars. We will also be adding more Cooking and Alchemy recipes.
  • Pets & Taming: We will expand pet functionality to include the ability to tame creatures.
  • Creatures: Dragons will begin appearing in Novia! Burninating will begin. All hail Trogdor, the Burninator!
  • Combat: Guilds will now be able to declare war on each other.
  • Customization: New armor and clothing items will appear in the game.
  • Musical Instruments: Players can play music in the game with a variety of instruments.
  • Player Owned Vendors: Players will now be able to place a Vendor on their property to sell goods.

We continue to be incredibly thankful for the support we receive from this amazing community. While the funding you provide makes all of this possible, it pales in comparison with the faith you have in us, the feedback you provide us, and the content you are making for everyone to enjoy. We are humbly grateful, and we cannot wait to see you again in New Britannia!

Before I go, I wanted to include an excerpt from my original post about our Early Release Schedule that is important to set the framework for our ongoing schedule:

As a crowd funded and crowd sourced project, we feel it is incredibly important that we provide our backers with information and access well before game studios would normally do so in a traditional development model. Traditionally, the players are given information and access only after the development team has already decided exactly how things will be done, and at times, even after it has already been implemented. By the time the public normally has access to the product, there is usually no time to meaningfully react to the public feedback.

Shroud of the Avatar is different than the traditional model, as we intend to offer our backers extremely early access to information and even the game itself. With that said, we also want to be very careful that we only provide access to portions of the game when they are ready for a wider range of feedback. If we can play it internally and we know it is not ready, then there is nothing to be gained by having a wider audience come to the same conclusion. In fact, it could be quite damaging to do so.

Our strategy over the next few months is to provide you with focused and iterative releases of content. Your feedback during these releases will be critical to making the final product the best it can be, and we appreciate that you are all so willing to devote your time to helping us. With each release, we will have specific tests we will ask you all to make. As we get closer, we will send instructions on how to download, install, report bugs, etc. After each release we will review the results and reevaluate the plan including the duration of availability of each release. Please note that game data will be wiped periodically during early access.

It is important to note that all dates, durations, and deliverables are subject to change.

Sincerely,
Starr Long
Executive Producer
Shroud of the Avatar


Novian_Academy_Header

The Novian Academy of Arts and Sciences

We were pretty excited to learn of the founding of the Novian Academy of Arts and Sciences by community member Kazyn Phoenixfyre! As described on the Academy’s website:

We at the Novian Academy exist as a society of scholars, instructors and masters of our trade in order to bring our knowledge to the masses with an ever expanding collection of structured classes that Avatars of all levels of experience can learn from.

The first semester of the Novian Academy shall kick off this release, Release 16, and will continue on until release 17. From here, we hope to pick up more interested instructors and start new classes each release. If you or anyone you know is interested in becoming part of our society of teachers and scholars then by all means, contact us here in the forums!

The Novian Academy hosts a wide variety of courses which allow avatars both young and old to experience and learn more about the world of New Britannia. Each course is divided into multiple lessons, and avatars completing each phase are eligible to recieve customized degrees demonstrating their completion of the course.

Their initial course catalog includes:

CZN100 – Citizenship: Getting Started in New Britannia – Instructor: Kazyn Phoenixfyre
In this entry level course to citizenship, avatars learn the ropes of SotA and what to do starting out within the game. This course covers the basics of getting started with your character building, Weapon and armor choices, basic travel points and community sites and groups to know.

CZN101 – Citizenship: Making Your Mark – Instructor: Kazyn Phoenixfyre
In this advanced citizenship class we go beyond the bare basics of introducing avatars to new systems and instead learn about how to build your path to earning a permanent place in SotA. This course covers crafting and weapon specializations, housing, guilds, Player owned towns and Player Run towns.

CBT100 – Combat Theory and Introduction – Instructor: Net, Assistant: Gaelis Trajan
This course covers the the 10 commandments of SotA combat, and all of the key points to remember to be effective in combat. Students taking this course will understand the working theory of the combat arts utilized by some of SotA’s most prolific champion warriors and mages!

CBT101 – Deck Building and Combos – Instructor: Net, Assistant: Gaelis Trajan
This advanced course handles deck building basics. Here, Avatars will learn the important skills to learn in order to be effective in combat, the various skill lines to keep in mind and pointers for how to build an effective deck for combat.

CBT102 – PVE Combat – Instructor: Net, Assistant: Gaelis Trajan
In this course our instructors cover the practice and application of the combat theory and deck building lessons into PvE combat. Here, avatars will learn how to effectively fight monsters.

CBT103 – PVP Combat – Instructor: Net, Assistant: Gaelis Trajan
In this final advanced course our instructors cover the practice and application of the combat theory and deck building lessons into combat between avatars. Avatars will learn how to be effective in fights against the most cunning enemy – other avatars.

Last week, Community member Net provided an introductory class to his 3-part Combat Basics course. During the very first lesson on the floor of the newly founded Novian Academy, Avatars had a chance to learn the basics of combat. Net taught avatars his secrets for success in combat, Gaelis Trajan helped with the practical demonstration of the ten basic principles (and surprisingly managed to kill Net) while Arianna recorded the lesson. Amber Raine (Avatars Radio) provided a commentary over the aether. Fortunately for everyone that missed the class, they created a YouTube video:

Earlier today, Net taught his CBT100 – Combat Theory and Introduction class for the first time, covering the 10 commandments of SotA combat. Thankfully, they captured a video of the class:

Net has a thread on his combat lessons in the Release 16 Events forum detailing the schedule for his upcoming classes. If you’re interested in learning the subleties of SotA combat from one of the game’s Master Warriors, then check out the thread and mark the class dates in your calendar!


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, March 28
9:00am CST – PaxLair Working Hours – Host Winfield (Valemark)
11:00am CST – Church of the Dark Star – Saturday Service (PaxLair, Valemark; details)
11:30am CST – Wedding of Mr. James Murphy and Mrs. River Beauchamp w/special guest Lord British giving away the bride (Solania, Perrenial Coast, Novia; or “/zone Onyx”)
12:00pm CST – Welcome Quest R16 (Northshire, Hidden Vale or “/zone Dara Brae”; 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 – All Player Towns Gathering (PaxLair, Valemark or “/zone Stryker Sparhawk”; details)

Sunday, March 29
6:30am CST – Explore Novia with royalsexy (Owl’s Head entrance)
3:00pm CST – Phoenix Republic Town Hall (Port Phoenix, KingsPort, “/zone Kazyn Phoenixfyre” or “/zone Jack Knyfe”)
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 – New Britannia Press Meeting (PaxLair, Valemark or “/zone royalsexy”)
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.


The Jumping Course – Spoon’s Silly Spectacles

Earlier today, community member Spoon sponsored a jumping contest on his specially designed course in the town of Orden (two towns west of Ardoris). The goal was to climb up onto the cabinets, jump one circuit around the house, and enter the house through the 4th floor balcony. Looks like fun!

SotA_Spoons_Jumping_Course_R16


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!

SotA_WhiteLepusMask


Only 4 Days Left to Get Your Special Edition Jester Carnival Mask

In celebration of Carnival season, this Special Edition Jester Carnival Mask is available in the Add-On Store until March 31st! Get yours while they’re available!


Kickstarter Shout-Outs

Crowfall Kickstarter Campaign More Than Doubles Their Funding Goal!

Congratulations to Gordon, Todd, and all our Crowfall friends for their amazingly succesful Kickstarter campaign! At $1.78M they hit 220% of their funding goal! In their last 24 hours they blew past 5 of their Stretch Goals, including their Tournament System and Combat Pets!  Way to go guys!

If you missed their Kickstarter campaign they are still accepting pledges on their website at www.Crowfall.com.


TSI_SevenDragonSaga_SigilTSI Postpones Seven Dragon Saga Kickstarter

Earlier this week, TSI decided to postpone their Kickstarter campaign for reasons outlined by company president, David Klein in their latest update:

We’re postponing our Kickstarter campaign. No, TSI is NOT giving up on Seven Dragon Saga! Quite the contrary…we underestimated how much new content we’d need to show in the middle of the campaign to engage people that were less familiar with the older games…We need to show off more than we had ready right now…We’ve had incredibly positive results from this Kickstarter. The press awareness, fan response, and community feedback has been tremendous. We’re taking that feedback and what we’ve learned to refine our work further. We’ll be coming back as soon as humanly possible, with a better, more refined Kickstarter, and some code you’ll actually be able to play, along with killer videos and artwork.

Once again, we are extremely grateful for all of your encouragement and support…[you can] follow our progress by signing up for our newsletter on our website: http://www.tsi-games.com/…This way, you can hear about our Kickstarter re-launch when it happens. And it WILL happen!


Descent_bannerDescent: Underground

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

Last week 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.

SotA_ConvertStoreCredit

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).


Steam_logo

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: 5,693 (+40 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: 326 (+7 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).

SotA_MonthlyPaymentsCancel

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).


SotA_InTheNews_ReadingScroll

This Week In the News

March 24 – MMORPG: Shroud of the Avatar Column: Release 16 – Defying Tech-Debt


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

Q2 2015 Schedule Update

[A SotA Public Forum post by Starr Long]

Darkstarr

Greetings Avatars,

As we stated in previous posts, our goal is to once-per-quarter post an updated schedule for our monthly releases. Even though these goals will likely change somewhat as we react to feedback, we feel it is important to provide you an updated roadmap periodically.

Our goal continues to be to deliver our backers content each and every month so that we can get feedback, and use it to iterate improvements. This has already paid off, with additional game features like jumping and swimming, as well as improvements to systems like crafting, conversations, and combat. Meeting that monthly goal is our highest priority, but we require flexibility in our deliverables to meet that goal. As you have seen in previous releases, sometimes we push things out, but we also often pull new things in.

It is worth noting that we develop in an iterative fashion. This means we will often get systems and content in the game as soon as we can, even if they are only partially functional. In general until you see me say something is “final” you can safely assume we will continue to improve on that feature. An example is our Pets which are in very early development and do not include a lot of their functionality like being able to hang out in your house.

As always, all dates, durations, and deliverables are subject to change as we adjust our designs based on direct feedback from you, our backers.

As you might notice many of the deliverables from Q1 are now in Q2. This is due to many factors including the Unity 5 conversion, conventions (we had not planned to attend GDC), bug fixes, and other completely normal game development challenges. This now obviously puts our launch by end of 2015 at risk. We are currently working on various strategies to keep launch within 2015 but as always our goal is to ship the product when it is ready, not before. We will do everything in our power however to complete Episode 1 in as timely a manner as possible without sacrificing scope or quality. It is worth noting that based on our current funding and fundraising data trends that we we will still be able to complete the game without any financial issues, even with slips like this. NOTE: With this schedule change we will be extending payment plans to November.

RELEASE 17, April 30, 2015:

  • Polish & Performance: We will continue the work we started with Release 16 to improve overall polish and performance in the game. We will focus not only on improving frame rate but also lowering load times. We may also spend some time on usability issues.
  • Maps: Perennial Coast and Grunvald will continue to be expanded.
  • Steam Achievements: Players will now be able to earn Steam Achievements.
  • Player Owned Town Test: We hope to have our first example of a Player Owned Town in the game with the PaxLair Metropolis.
  • Crafting: Crafting will now have events that occur during the crafting process that the player can interact with to influence the results.
  • Creatures: Our bestiary will expand to include various Human Enemies (mages, archers, etc.), the Phoenix, and Zombies!
  • Player Titles: Players will now be able to display their title in the game.
  • Street Signs: We will begin placing street signs in major towns.
  • Player Wipe: We will be wiping all game, property, and player data for this release because of some fundamental changes to item architecture.

RELEASE 18, May 28, 2015:

  • Maps: Our goal is to get the Grunvald Region near completion and begin work on the Quel Region which includes scenes like the Etceter Mines.
  • Spells & Skills: The combat schools of Shields and Light Armor will expand, and more combos will be added to the game.
  • Housing: Fences and Walls will come online as new customization options for player property.
  • Player Owned Towns: We plan to start the official submission process and begin implementing more towns.
  • Crafting: Crafting skills will start to come online, and be used during crafting to modify results.
  • Creatures: Our creature list will continue to expand with Chaos Demons and Wisps.
  • Combat: The cover system will be introduced that modifies attack and defense values when you (or your target) are behind cover.
  • Overworld: Roving encounters (patrolling creatures) will now appear on the overworld map and can be engaged (pulling you into a scene) or avoided if you wish to sneak past.
  • Emote “Teaching”: Emotes will now be teachable to other players. Some emotes (like the ones tied to pledges) will only be teachable by the original owner. Teaching will be done via secure trading a consumable item that adds the emote when used.
  • Localization: We will begin crowdsourcing the translation of the game into various languages.
  • Player Made Books: Players will be able to write in blank books in the game, and share them with other players.
  • Customization: Clothing and Armor will now be dyeable.

RELEASE 19, June 25, 2015:

  • Maps: We hope to get the Quel Region near final and start on the Midmaer Region.
  • Spells & Skills: Chaos Magic and Ranged Combat will expand to include more spells, and more combos will come online.
  • Housing: Property ownership will now incur regular fees (unless you are using a tax free deed from a pledge). If the fees are not paid, the player will lose their claim, and their possessions (including the house and decorations) will be moved to their bank. Note: We will provide more details about timing, payments, etc. near the end of R18.
  • Crafting: Tailors and Alchemists will be able to begin crafting Taming Collars. We will also be adding more Cooking and Alchemy recipes.
  • Pets & Taming: We will expand pet functionality to include the ability to tame creatures.
  • Creatures: Dragons will begin appearing in Novia! Burninating will begin. All hail Trogdor, the Burninator!
  • Combat: Guilds will now be able to declare war on each other.
  • Customization: New armor and clothing items will appear in the game.
  • Musical Instruments: Players can play music in the game with a variety of instruments.
  • Player Owned Vendors: Players will now be able to place a Vendor on their property to sell goods.

We continue to be incredibly thankful for the support we receive from this amazing community. While the funding you provide makes all of this possible, it pales in comparison with the faith you have in us, the feedback you provide us, and the content you are making for everyone to enjoy. We are humbly grateful, and we cannot wait to see you again in New Britannia!

Before I go, I wanted to include an excerpt from my original post about our Early Release Schedule that is important to set the framework for our ongoing schedule:

As a crowd funded and crowd sourced project, we feel it is incredibly important that we provide our backers with information and access well before game studios would normally do so in a traditional development model. Traditionally, the players are given information and access only after the development team has already decided exactly how things will be done, and at times, even after it has already been implemented. By the time the public normally has access to the product, there is usually no time to meaningfully react to the public feedback.

Shroud of the Avatar is different than the traditional model, as we intend to offer our backers extremely early access to information and even the game itself. With that said, we also want to be very careful that we only provide access to portions of the game when they are ready for a wider range of feedback. If we can play it internally and we know it is not ready, then there is nothing to be gained by having a wider audience come to the same conclusion. In fact, it could be quite damaging to do so.

Our strategy over the next few months is to provide you with focused and iterative releases of content. Your feedback during these releases will be critical to making the final product the best it can be, and we appreciate that you are all so willing to devote your time to helping us. With each release, we will have specific tests we will ask you all to make. As we get closer, we will send instructions on how to download, install, report bugs, etc. After each release we will review the results and reevaluate the plan including the duration of availability of each release. Please note that game data will be wiped periodically during early access.

It is important to note that all dates, durations, and deliverables are subject to change.

Sincerely,
Starr Long
Executive Producer
Shroud of the Avatar

Source: Official SotA New Feed

Release 16 Instructions

[A SotA Public Forum post by Starr Long]

Darkstarr

Greetings Avatars,

Thank you to our loyal backers of Shroud of the Avatar. Release 16 access for all backers at First Responder level and above begins this Thursday, March 26 at 10:30 AM Central Time (16:30 UTC).

This access also includes anyone who signed up for free access to the first weekend via GDC and SXSW. Please note that everything you need to play is here (or linked from here). You will NOT receive a special code nor is a Steam key, your account activated via the email address that you signed up with.

Please read this entire message, as well as the linked instructions and known issues.

We are far from launch and in a constant state of change, and we do not yet have in-game systems to inform players of these changes, or to share ways to help them to explore new content and systems. This means we rely entirely on this message, and the linked instructions and known issues to convey the current game state. We regularly have to answer questions or filter bug reports, because players elect not to read this valuable information. By taking a few moments to read through this information, a great deal of our time and efforts can be redirected to focus on new “unanswered” questions, and addressing critical issues impacting each release. We greatly appreciate you taking the time to review this post, and for all the truly valuable feedback you continue to provide.

Unity5_logoWhile I am proud of how much we accomplished with our last release, at the same time I am chagrined that the cost of that ambition was an overall decrease in the enjoyability of the game. We did move over to Unity 5 (which was a HUGE accomplishment) but we only got partially there and that transitional state caused bad performance and some less than stellar visual results. We also moved the players over to Novia for the first time, but we failed to balance the first region, Perennial Coast, for new players. For all of that we are very sorry and we will work to do better. We promise to pay closer attention to balancing forward progress with playability.

Release 16 (and 17) has had to be our repayment of the debt we incurred with Release 15 (tech debt is a term often used in our industry). That means that we were unable to deliver quite as much content as we had hoped, but we do feel the game will be in a stronger state because of our focus on playability. We still made time to include some cool new things for you to play with though, including shield bashing skeletons that just will not die and the sprawling narrative of the Necropolis!

I will be posting a Q2 Schedule by the end of this week so stay tuned for more information about what comes next.

Also, remember that while we are providing new content with each release, our community is working overtime to make new events for you to enjoy, so be sure to check out a couple of the Community Events Calendars run by our community members (via in game book or the player run websites Avatars Circle Community Events and Events of the Avatars calendar).

Without further ado, here are the R16 deliverables.

Key:

  • Plain Text: The original plan for the Release deliverables. We intentionally preserve the original text so that our backers can compare plan versus actual.
  • Italics: Extra notes and new deliverables
  • Strikethrough: These are items that did not make the release

RELEASE 16, March 26, 2015

  • Steam Achievements: Players will now be able to earn Steam Achievements
    • Achievements Rescheduled: Refactoring of interactive objects (see below) required us to push this to a future release
  • Maps: Mainland scenes will continue to come online including Blood River Village, Vertas, and the Grunvald Shardfall.
    • SotA_Novia_Grunvald_Region_R16Region by Region Expansion: As mentioned in the R15 post, we are now expanding the scenes region by region; starting with Perennial Coast and moving north and west from there. For R16, we brought Perennial Coast closer to a finished state (minus some story elements) and moved into Grunvald (the shardfall we actually put in game way back in R14). Vertas and Blood River Village will now be worked on when we move to Verdantis near the end of our map building work (i.e. closer to launch). Please note that all scenes should be considered “in progress” which means they are simply in a functional state (and in some cases they cannot be “completed”).
    • 7 New Adventure Scenes: The Perennial Coast and Grunvald regions are filled with places to adventure and gather resources. New scenes include:
      • East Perennial Trail
      • Southern Grunvald BarrensSotA_Necropolis_Entrance
      • Northern Grunvald Barrens
      • Savrenoc Timberland
      • Deep Savrenoc Timberland
      • Savrenoc Stronghold
      • Necropolis Entrance
    • 6 Improved Adventure Scenes: We circled back to new scenes we added in R15to make them more visually distinct from each other. The modified scenes include:
      • West Perennial Trail
      • South Celestial Wetlands
      • North Celestial WetlandsSotA_Necropolis2a
      • South Brightbone Woods
      • North Brightbone Woods
      • West Veiled Swamp
    • Necropolis (first pass): This city of the dead underneath the Brightbone Mountains is our very first map that is completely focused on the narrative and it is a single player instance (this is one of the few plot moments that require solitary play). It is also one of the most complex underground spaces we have ever built. We do not yet have all of the story elements working, and there are still some lingering issues with the space itself, but it is in a mostly playable space (and looks amazing for a first pass).
    • 3 New Sewers: Entrances to sewers have been discovered in Ardoris, Soltown, and Solania! Rumor has it that smugglers have been seen entering in Ardoris and then popping up in the remote towns of Solania to sell their goods.
    • SotA_Novia_Map1Novia Overworld Expanded: Most of the Novia Overworld is now navigable and the scenes that are built are hooked up to their appropriate locations including Vertas Pass, Verdantis Shardfall, Graff Gem Mines, Blackblade Pass, and the Battle Camps. This also means we removed the Lunar Rift from Owl’s Head.
    • Hidden Vale Overworld Rework: Abe put in some weekend overtime to bring the quality of the Hidden Vale overworld closer to the Novia Overworld.
    • Overworld Travel Speeds: Overall travel speed for Novia and Vale should now be better aligned to anything that looks like a road (therefore increasing overall travel speeds).
    • Soltown and Perennial Coast New User Rework: Perennial Coast is a much more friendly place for new users. Soltown is now located closer to Solace Bridge and will be the location you go to directly after Solace Bridge (reminder that Soltown is visually identical to Braemar currently). It has NPCs who will guide you through some low level quests and send you to level appropriate adventure areas nearby.
    • Shop Signs: We have begun placing pictographic signs for businesses in the world starting with Braemar, Kingsport, Owl’s Head, Solania and Ardoris. This is a first step in making the game generally more navigable. We will expand to street signs next release.
    • SotA_U5_Speedtree_OwlsHeadNew Trees: One of the most important additions to Unity 5 was native support for Speedtrees! Speedtrees are both faster and better quality than the previous tree options available to us and we will be switching almost all scenes over to use the new trees! For R16, we switched out a few of the trees in Owl’s Head but for later releases you can expect to see a complete migration to the new tree system.
  • Spells & Skills: Chaos Magic will expand to include more spells, and more combos will come online.
    • New Spells/Skills/Combos Delayed: We made the decision to focus our tasks on shoring up skills for NPCs (see below) instead of adding more to the player skill trees.
  • Housing: Permissions for property will greatly expand to better support groups sharing of property, including tools to rent rooms and set “per area/room” permissions.
    • SotA_Castle_Arena_Basement_Exterior3More Basements: Mine style basements and the Castle Arena will now be available in game for those who purchased them in the Add On Store.
    • Decoration Proximity: Decorations can now be placed closer together to better make walls, fences, etc.
    • Interior Object Culling: As part of our performance optimizations we are trying out a system that allows us to not draw any of the objects inside a player building until you enter the lot. This has a huge positive impact on performance in scenes with a lot of player housing like Owl’s Head and Ardoris
  • Crafting: Crafting will now have events that occur during the crafting process that the player can interact with to influence the results.
    • Events Delayed: We have a very strong design for the framework of events which we have started implementing, but it is not far enough along just yet to put in this release.
    • Repair Kits Scale: Repair kits now repair items in an amount related to the value of item. This means using them on high level items will now make an actual difference.
  • SotA_CrocCreatures: Our creature list will continue to expand with Emps and Chaos Demons added to the game.
    • Crocodile: The swamps now have crocodiles lurking and waiting…
    • Obsidian Golem: These creatures are personifications of the rare obsidian. As if the shardfalls were not dangerous enough already!
    • Sand Elemental: Scorpions are no longer the only desert dwelling creatures. Sand Elementals now inhabit these dry wastes.
    • Rabbits: White Rabbits and Spotted Rabbits are now available in the game. The White Rabbit was a springtime limited time offer last year and the Spotted version is this year’s limited offer (available now in the Add-On Store).
  • Combat: The cover system will be introduced that modifies attack and defense values when you (or your target) are behind cover.
    • Cover Delayed: With the work needed to complete the Unity 5 transition we did not have time to implement the cover system.
    • Moveable Combat Bar: The combat bar can now be placed anywhere on screen (as can the non-combat bar).
    • Undead Resurrection Behavior: Undead creatures will now appear to die, only to rise again (they are undead after all). For now they will do this at all times, but in further releases this behavior will be slightly randomized and will mostly only be triggered when Undead are killed by physical means (i.e. magic will usually destroy them the first time). We will also use this behavior as the basis for the Phoenix behavior (we hope to get the Phoenix in R17). This behavior we affectionately call the “I’m getting better!” behavior.
    • Damage Types & Resistances: This release we have started adding damage types and resistances to creatures based on their type. For instance Fire Elementals are now highly resistant to fire damage and they deal only fire damage.
    • NPC Skills: We are slowly expanding what our creatures will do by providing them various skills. In Release 16, this includes Dual Wielding Elves, Shield Bashing Skeletons, Poison Biting / Web Rooting Spiders, and Poison Tail Attacking Spiders (complete with a fancy new Poison Debuff icon). Weapon wielding creatures will also use skills related to the weapon they have equipped: swords cause bleed damage, bludgeons can stun and polearms can pierce armor. In future releases we will continue to expand this so that NPCs will take full advantage of all the skills players can use (based on the NPC type of course).SotA_Dual_Wielding_Elf
    • A.I. and Door Improvements: Enemies will now reliably open a door that you closed behind you. Yes, this means the various clever tactics used in Vertas Pass (AKA the “hind behind the door” maneuver) won’t work anymore.
    • Elven Warrior Armor: This armor was previously just a clothing item. Now it has stats (equivalent to Augmented Plate).
    • Ambush Creature Nameplate Hidden: Nameplates for creatures waiting in ambush are hidden until they stand up.
    • Attack Speed Skills Fixed: Any skill that modifies attack speed should now work properly.
    • Double Death Penalty Fix: If you died and then resurrected and then changed scenes, the game was inflicting the death debuff and durability penalties a second time. This issue is now fixed.
    • Animal Charm (now just for Animals): Players will no longer be affected by the Animal Charm spell (even though technically humans are just clever animals).
    • Stealth improvements): Stealthed targets can no longer be tab targeted unless they are within a 60 degree front arc and within 5 meters of the player. This still allows tab targeting but requires you know their approximate area.
  • Customization: New armor and clothing items will appear in the game.
    • Unity 5 Cloth: Starting with Release 16 we are now using the Unity 5 cloth system. In addition to more controls over the behavior of the cloth, Unity 5 cloth supports cloth simulation for Mac and Linux!
    • SotA_WeddingDress_smallWedding Dress: With the Unity 5 Cloth sim we were finally able to get the wedding dress to an acceptable state for wearing in the game.
    • Weapon Flourish: Other players see your equipped weapon properly when you use the “Flourish Weapon” emote.
  • Player Made Books: Players will be able tio write in blank books in the game, and share them with other players.
    • Player Books Delayed: Player books were another victim of Unity 5 transition. We plan to circle back to them in Release 18.
  • Localization: We will begin crowdsourcing the translation of the game into various languages
    • Localization Delayed: We have been in the process over the last couple of releases of refactoring our dialogue and quest systems. In the long term, this work will make localization easier, but in the short term it means we have to delay work on Localization.
  • Discovery System: Some points of interest (such as scene exits, merchants, banks, trainers, etc) will display icons on the compass showing their direction once you discover them. Not all scenes have been updated to include discovery items but will be in future releases.
  • Razer Chroma Support: Razer approached us recently about partnering with them to show off their hardware and peripherals. In exchange, we would get the opportunity to be at trade shows (ex. GDC) with them and be promoted by their PR and Marketing teams. Our first project was to integrate the Chroma SDK, and it only took a few days to implement. The Black Widow Chroma keyboard by Razer is now connected to game state so that it changes colors based on what the player is doing. It is also linked to combos (corresponding numbers light up of spells that can be combined together) and hints (corresponding keys related to the system light up to teach players which keys do what).
    • Razer_BlackWidow_Chroma_keyboardWhite = non-combat mode
    • Blue = NPC Convo Mode and Crafting
    • Green = Combat mode full health
    • Yellow = Combat mode taking damage
    • Red = Combat mode, near death
    • No lights = Dead
    • Flashing colors = Dancing
  • Death View Cleanup: All player parts, creatures, and equipped items should now be properly invisible when the player is dead.
  • Random Encounter Assistance: Party members can now join fellow party members that are pulled into random encounters.
  • Shader Rework and Fully Deferred Lighting Model: In order for Unity 5 to look and run best required us to move over to the Fully Deferred lighting model. Additionally some fundamental changes happened with shaders that required us to touch almost every piece of art in the game (hundreds of them). This was a MASSIVE task and there are still many items we missed, so please report anything you see that looks “wrong” (examples include: too shiny, too wet, looks wrong at certain angles, too sparkly, too dark at night, etc.)
  • Interactive Objects Refactor: Each release starting with R15 we’ve devoted some time to refactoring systems to improve performance, stability, security, and functionality. For Release 16, we focused on all interactive objects. The most visible change is that many of them now synchronize properly over the network which means you can see others crafting for instance.
  • Performance: This represented the second largest amount of tech work in R16 and has resulted in a major increase in performance. In some cases we have increased frames per second by more than 50%. Also, performance is not as dependent upon shadow distances any longer, so these have been increased. Additionally load times should be generally better (and will be much better in R17).
  • Pledge Reward Recovery: When you delete a character, any pledge rewards in that character’s inventory is now returned to the local bank.
  • Data Rate Reduction: The game now uses less data once a scene has been joined.
  • SotA_R16_GrandTourReward_BlackLepusMaskMore Responsive PC and NPC Movement: We redid a large chunk of our update logic for both PCs and NPCs to remove most of the artificial lag we were introducing. Expect a few visual anomalies while we tighten this up a bit, but both should be much closer to real time with our latest changes!
  • Grand Tour 16: As with each release, we will have a grand tour that will take players through the new scenes and scenes that have changed the most. Completing this quest is the ONLY way to gain a rare reward. The hat for this release is a Black Lepus Mask that we hope you will all enjoy.

So, now that it is clear what you can expect, we should also be as clear about what you should not expect:

  • Performance: We have only done rudimentary optimizations, and we do not yet have a full suite of performance fallbacks (LODs, etc.). This means the game will be quite slow on older machines, and due to memory usage, and might be unstable in certain conditions (like densely decorated areas). With each release, we will be doing further optimizations and adding to our fallbacks to improve performance.
  • Crafting: The crafting system is in the game as a framework, but is still missing some key components like events. Skill checks are only in for Gathering, so results are always 100% successful for Refining and Production. Long term, the percentage chance to make items will depend on a myriad of variables and can result in a variety of results including: making the item desired, making a simpler version of the item that will need to be enhanced, or making a damaged version of the item that needs repair.
  • Game Loop: Release 16 is a further iteration on our rudimentary game loop, but is still missing some key components like Crafting Skills for Refining and Production. Expect this to expand with each subsequent release, but it won’t be truly complete until we hit Beta later this year.
  • Advanced Player Housing: There are some advanced features for player housing, including advanced permissions (renting, locking, etc.), guild housing and ceiling decorations that are not yet integrated. Expect to see these appear in future releases.
  • Visual Quality: Efforts to improve visual quality are ongoing. We will continue to iterate on these until we have highly competitive visuals.
  • Pledge Rewards: Pledge Rewards that have been built and have tech to support them are in the game; all other rewards are awaiting either content creation or tech support (ex. vendors).
  • Persistence: As part of development we will need to periodically wipe data including characters, property, etc. As we near official launch the frequency should decrease, but there will definitely be a wipe right before launch. So consider everything gained during early access temporary.

Here are links to instructions and known issues. Thank you again for your continued support. This is truly the most amazing community we have ever worked with, and we are proud to be on this journey with you.

Sincerely,
Starr Long
aka Darkstarr
Executive Producer


We need all your help with testing the new patches, putting more stress on our multiplayer servers, and testing the new game content, so please join us in playing Release 16!

If you have not backed the game yet, you will need to register and login at www.shroudoftheavatar.com, select the “Pledge or Send Gift!” button in the right side-bar, and purchase a pledge at the $45 Adventurer level or above. The basic Adventurer level pledge is also available on Steam Early Access.


Release 16 Player Instructions

Release 16 Known Issues

Patch Notes

Source: Official SotA New Feed