Thank you to our loyal backers of Shroud of the Avatar. Release 19 access for all backers at First Responder level and above begins this Thursday, June 25 at 10:30 AM Central Time (16:30 UTC). If you signed up at E3, please be sure to create an account on our website as soon as possible in order to gain access for the weekend.
While we are getting closer to launch we are still 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 some 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.
Those of you who have been with us for a more than three months know that each quarter we put out a release schedule for the upcoming quarter (expect a Q3 update this week). In general, the accuracy of that prediction, especially during the final release of the quarter, can sometimes be considerably off our original plan. This is symptomatic of our responsive and iterative production methodology that gives us the flexibility to respond directly to player feedback and pivot when needed. Release 19 is certainly no exception to this pattern, and when you scan the deliverables below, you will notice many items that have been struck through. Many of those were painful for us to delay, especially taming, musical instruments, and guild warfare. However, there were more fundamental issues with combat that needed resolving first before we could proceed with those other deliverables. Overall, we continue to maintain a robust pace, and the amount of content we deliver each month is always what we estimated, it is only the actual deliverables that change.
As you will see below, we focused most of our efforts on improving the combat experience; an effort we will continue to focus on over several more releases. We have made sweeping improvements to AI, skills, spells, combat math, armor, animations, sound effects, and visual effects, all in order to make combat feel better and be more balanced. While we are still not quite there, we are beginning to see where we will end up, and we feel confident it will be a fun place to be. We also spent some time starting down the path of player created quests with the additions of player writable books (quest clues) and public cache chests (waypoints, quest rewards, clue repositories, etc.).
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 R19 deliverables.
RELEASE 19, June 25, 2015
- Nighttime Spawners: Adventuring at night is now a more dangerous endeavor because higher level undead spawn at night, including Zombies.
- Improved Scenes (+Zombies and Nighttime Spawners): We polished the creature and resource spawning in several Perennial Coast and Grunvald scenes. We also added Zombie and/or Nighttime spawners to almost all of them.
- Whiteguard Foothills: Visitors to this new area in the Whiteguard mountains should keep their coin purses hidden. Savage wolves and bears are bad enough, but now rumors are spreading of highwaymen waylaying merchant caravans traveling through these foothills.
- Etceter Crag Mines: Our first scene in Quel is a source of many a tale. Long ago, when Etceter was nothing more than a collection of prospector shacks and tents hugging the coast of the Bay of Storms at the mouth of the Barren River, the Etceter Crag Mines were being dug deep into the nearby mountainous hills known as the Crags. At first the miners were sure their fortunes were made. The deeper they dug, the richer the veins of gold ore seemed to be. However, the stories say they became too greedy, and they braved the trembling depths of the world too deeply. Perhaps the view of distant volcanic islands should have warned them of the dangers they were about to unearth. After a horrifying tragedy, the mine was abandoned, and terrible tales of chasms that opened up into Hell itself and fiery demons emerging to slay all in their path began to emerge. The lower levels of the mine were supposedly sealed in an enormous cave-in, with barely half the terrified miners emerging to tell the tale of what really happened. Venture deep within the tunnels, breaking through walls and floors, but be careful you don’t unearth your doom!
- Ardoris Bridge Life: The 3 long bridges in Ardoris now have a bit more life to them, including merchant stalls (entrance bridge), guard patrols, and watchers.
- Elysium Overworld: The overworld version of the island of Elysium off the coast of the Novia mainland has now been completed.
- Horizontal Breakaway Barriers: We now have breakable surfaces that can be used over holes in the floor. Our first use of them is in the Etceter Crag Mines.
- Bug Fixes: General polish pass was done on quite a few scenes to fix bugs like floating items, gaps in the map border, etc.
- Sounds on Overworld: A general pass was made across Novia to add sound effects like bird chirping, water, etc.
- New Sky Propagated: We added the new sky system to the following scenes:
- Chaos Magic: Chaos magic consists of spells that rewrite the rules when cast. Each Chaos spell causes a change in the very fabric of combat.
- Juxtapose: This spell cannot be cast except when used in a combo and it reverses or radically changes the effects of the other spell in the combo (see below for the new Juxtapose combos).
- Tabula Rasa: Discards all cards and redraws equal number. Usable on self or enemies.
- Strength of Earth: Now usable on other group members
- Purify: Now usable on other group members and also cures the Plague
- Resurrection: Updated to have longer cast times, lower focus cost, lower fizzle chance.
- Skewer: Now actually roots!
- Enlighten: Now usable on other group members.
- Chaotic Backdraft: Juxtapose + Gust = Behaves like gust but instead of pushing them away from the player, it pulls them closer.
- Enfeeblement: Juxtapose + Strength of Earth = Reduces target's Strength.
- Clumsy: Juxtapose + Air's Embrace Reduces target's Dexterity.
- Imbecile Incantation: Juxtapose + Enlighten = Reduces target's intelligence.
- Darkness: Juxtapose + Light = Turns off all lights in an area effect.
- Evaporate: Juxtapose + Douse = Reduces fire resistance.
- Cleansing Rain: Soothing Rain + Banish Undead = Area of Effect spell that heals friendlies and damages undead.
- Sacrifice: Healing Ray + Death Ray = Transfers a large amount of health to target from caster.
- Summon Skeleton Mage: Enlightenment + Summon Skeleton.
- Summon Ice Elemental: Juxtapose + Summon Fire Elemental.
- Summon Earth Elemental: Juxtapose + Summon Air Elemental.
- Summon Air Elemental: Juxtapose + Summon Earth Elemental.
- Summon Fire Elemental: Juxtapose + Summon Ice Elemental.
- Glacial Glissade: Now slows as well, as its description claims.
- Piercing Breeze: Now updated to correctly require a bow to cast!
- Spell Fizzle Updates: Spell Fizzle saw a major overhaul this release. Different schools have different fizzle rates based on armor. Death and Air magic are the most prone to fizzle in heavy armor and Earth and Life the least likely to fizzle. Higher tier spells have a higher fizzle chance. Also, each skill level you have in a spell beyond the first reduces the Fizzle chance. Additionally fizzle chance is affected by equipped weapons.
- Private Lot Change: In R17 we gave players the ability to make their lot private. This created “invisible walls” that were probably the biggest immersion breaking change we have ever made and it was almost universally disliked by our team and our players. Now there is a “Locked Doors” option which makes all doors and gates non-functional for other players.
- PVP Basements: Players can now flag their basements as Open PVP (this was previously hardcoded to specific “Arena” basements).
- Decoration Limits UI: For game balance and performance reasons, we have to place limits on how many objects can be placed on player property. Those limits are different based on location (interior/exterior), type (lights, containers, decorations), and number of floors. Tracking your current status versus all these different numbers was very difficult when it was only communicated via text message. Now there is a visual interface that appears while decorating that shows the player graphically how close they are to all the various limits.
- Container Renaming: Players can now rename containers, including chests.
- Public Cache Chests: Public cache chests operate just like other containers on your lot, only this one allows any player to take items from it, or put items in it (but they cannot move or take the chest). Fill it with any items that you want to make available to visitors. Great for player created quests where you may want to leave quest clues or loot for questors to discover.
- Zombies: The ranks of the undead armies have swelled of late with the addition of hordes of zombies. These reanimated corpses move slowly but they carry a foul zombie plague that can only be cured with magic spells or potions (or leaving the area). The zombie plague is spread through vicious clawing attacks and a noxious cloud that explodes out of destroyed zombies. Anyone killed by a zombie or anyone who dies from the zombie plague creates another zombie that must be destroyed.
Player Owned Town #3:
Port Phoenix: Port Phoenix is located on the island of Elysium and can be reached by boat from outside the future location of the town of Etceter to the far west of Ardoris in Quel. The Phoenix Republic is an alliance of guilds that have come together to unite in the name of commerce, adventure, and fellowship. Always a leader in Community Event planning and a hub of in-game fellowship even before Port Phoenix was ”on the map” so to speak, our newest player owned town promises to be a popular addition to Novia. Wrath Phoenix has led the recent streaming initiative that has resulted in increased streaming coverage of our game and the recent water.org fund raiser. The Phoenix Republic also founded the Novian Academy where community members teach combat, role-playing, and citizenship. Port Phoenix is only the first township in the Phoenix Republic to “come online”. Member towns Phoenix Fields, Stonegate Hollow, The Drowned Mountains, Sparrowfall and Jade Valley are also being planned. From Field Days to Trade Fairs, Port Phoenix will be hosting a variety of events in R19 (and beyond) so be sure to pay them a visit!
Grand Tour 19
This release we chose to do something different with the Grand Tour to make it more than just a simple list of scenes to visit. Players will be sent on a quest to discover a Kobold camp, where they will then need to figure out how to be granted the reward of a Kobold Commander Mask. To begin, talk to the tour guide in Soltown. Like other Grand Tours, this will only be available this release, so be sure to try it while you can!