Thank you for being a loyal backer and follower of Shroud of the Avatar. Release 21 access for all backers at First Responder level and above begins this Thursday, August 27 at 10:30 AM Central Time (16:30 UTC).
It has been a truly amazing and humbling month. Our community believes in us so much that we have managed to raise over seven million dollars to date! To celebrate, we are having an all-day telethon on Monday August 31 from 10:00 AM to 10:00 PM Central Time (16:00 UTC to 04:00 UTC). The telethon will be hosted by members of our community and include deep dives, Devs vs. Players PVP, Devs vs. Players Gustball, and hourly prize giveaways! We will be posting a detailed schedule this Friday, so stay tuned.
Release 21 contains a lot of new content, but the largest change is a fundamental shift in how advancement works. After many hours of gameplay, more hours of internal discussions, even more hours of digesting player feedback, and even more hours of design, we have decided to move to a Use-Based System for advancement; which replaces our current leveling and skill point allocation system. Trainers must still be visited to unlock abilities, and abilities are still arranged in skill trees, but all skill advancement now comes from use. The more you mine, the better you become at mining… and the more you swing your sword, the better you become at sword swinging. We did not make this decision lightly and it came at the cost of slightly delaying some other features, but we firmly believe this makes the game fundamentally better and more in line with our statements of this game being a spiritual successor to the Ultima games. Please note that the next several releases will involve a lot of rework and balancing to get this working properly with all of our skills. Also expect us to rearrange skill trees multiple times to make them work better with this new system. For now, expect some oddness and skill arrangements that might not make sense in the current system (although they made sense previously). Also we know that we need to better deliver information in the game about the way the system is working. You can find and discuss more details about our current design thinking about the Use-Based System implementation in this forum topic here.
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.
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 R21 deliverables:
RELEASE 21, August 27, 2015:
Crafting: Crafting skills will start to come online, and be used during crafting to modify results. Additionally, players will now have the ability to salvage items for materials and components.
- Base Skills: All Refining and Production skills now have a base skill that increases when used. (See Use Based Advancement, below.)
- Salvage: Players can now use crafting stations to salvage materials from items. Salvage will never yield all the original materials, but increasing your Salvage skill increases the amount of materials gained. Salvage is accomplished by placing an item on the appropriate crafting station (smithing for metal items, carpentry for wooden items, and tailoring for cloth/leather items) with the standard tool for that station and then hitting the “Salvage” button.
- Scrap: Sometimes salvage is not successful enough to render out full units of a given material so sometimes you will receive scraps. Scraps can be combined to create a full unit of a given material (like an ingot or a board).
- “Max” vs. “Current Max” Durability: Wear on gear (weapons and armor) will now not only decrease durability, but also decrease the current maximum. Using repair kits will only add durability up to the current max, not full maximum. Full maximum can only be reached again by repairing the item at a crafting station.
- Repair at Crafting Stations: Items (weapons, armor, and wooden decorations) can now be repaired at a crafting station using a repair kit and the corresponding tool for that station (ex. smithing hammer for metal weapons at a smithing station). This is the only method that will both repair durability and restore maximum durability. For now, there is only one type of repair kit. Starting in R22, repair kits will begin specializing (smithing, carpentry, and tailoring). In R21, all weapons and armor can be repaired to maximum durability at crafting stations. We will implement the repair of crafting tools in R22.
- New Crafting UI: In addition to adding Repair and Salvage buttons to the crafting UI (in both bag and list modes), we also made a new UI change for list mode. When a crafting station is used in list mode, a new interface will appear that shows a filtered version of your inventory displaying all items that can be used in the crafting system, This includes items that can be repaired and salvaged. This will also clean up the UI while crafting since you no longer need to have a separate window open for your Inventory. We plan to expand this in R22 to also be contextual based on the station you are using.
- Salvage & Repair Pages: We added information about how salvage and repair work to the Recipe book.
- Cover Delayed: With fundamental changes to how advancement works (see Use Based below) and some changes to combat math, we decided it was too early to introduce cover as another variable.
- Log Out Timer: Another aspect that needed changing was handling log-outs, so they will no longer be instant (an easy way to get out of a losing fight). Now when you log out, a timer begins and your character stays in the world, even if you disconnect.
- Auto-attack uses Free Attack: Auto-attack now shares the same logic as free attack. Essentially, auto-attack is now a free attack that is repeatedly triggered as long as you have a target in front of you and while your camera is facing the target. Double-clicking on a target or selecting a target then hitting the “T” key initiates auto-attack
- Combat Math Changes: With the change to the use based system, much of the combat math had to change. Damage calculations and to-hit rolls are heavily dependent on the skill value in the related skill. Also, armor values and how they are used has been adjusted to make heavy armors avoid more damage but absorb less than in previous builds.
- Parry: The parry skill was moved from swords to the tactics tree and can now be used with any melee weapon. A successful parry blocks an amount of damage based on the weapon power and player strength. Most ranged attacks and spells can no longer be parried.
- Block: Shield block was given an upgrade for this release. When successful, it stops damage based on the shield type and the player’s strength. Also, block can now protect players from missile types AND many magic spells! We are also experimenting with giving block a weakness in that it doesn’t protect against skills in the polearm tree.
- Dodge: Dodge can now be used to help avoid many magic effects. Unlike Parry and Block, if successful, it completely avoids the damage instead of just stopping a certain number of points. Combine Parry, Block, and Dodge to become a defensive machine.
- Attack Range: Creatures can now have modifiers to attack ranges to make them easier to attack in melee range. This was particularly true of the wolf and bear models who really loved putting their noses where they didn’t belong. They can now be attacked from a range that more closely matches their visuals.
- Ranged Weapons and facing: Bows and other ranged weapons will now only work when facing the target. Sorry archers... no more sprinting away while shooting something behind you.
- Deck Size Scaling: For those that enjoy the deck mechanic, the minimum number of cards in your deck has been changed to smoothly scale with total adventurer experience earned instead of going up in increments of 5.
Maps: Perennial Coast polish will continue and new scenes will come online that expand the story, including the desert town of Desolis and the Chamber of Souls dungeon beneath it.
- Desolis: This town of former nomads sits on top of the ruins of an ancient Obsidian Order city. It is dominated by a captured Obsidian shard and the ancient Obsidian Order fortress known as the Epitaph. The locals use the old fortress as a prison and death sentence.
- The Epitaph (aka Chamber of Souls): This vast underground complex was the heart of the Obsidian Order’s power. It was where they used the power of the Obsidian shards to create the Elves, Satyrs, Kobolds, and Trolls. Remnants of these experiments still roam the halls and eat unwary adventurers as well as those poor souls sent here as prisoners. It is also the location of the Chamber of Souls, where a key element of our story unfolds.
- Desolate Hills: The Desolate Hills of the Perennial Coast have been reduced to a ruined graveyard in the North, an abandoned settlement in the South, and a Shrine to a mysterious Obsidian Lord in the East. It is truly an inhospitable place for travelers, overrun with undead and wolves scavenging the bodies of the defeated.
- Hometown: Using the dynamic Player Owned Town tools, we built Hometown during R20 to include every single home and basement available in the game. Our amazing community jumped in and volunteered to decorate these spaces. If you are considering a property and/or home purchase, then we highly recommend visiting Hometown to get a feel for what is available (it’s on an island just off the southeast corner of Novia, near the starting town of Soltown).
- Polished Scenes: Polish passes were made on various scenes along the Perennial Coast including: Deep Savrenoc Timberlands, Savrenoc Timberland, Savrenoc Stronghold, and Necropolis Barrens
Player Owned Towns: We will continue to expand the number of templates and introduce a new Player Owned Town (PoT) to the game.
- Snowy Mountains Template: This is the first snowy biome template and is a PaxLair variant. We plan to create at least one more snowy template and at least one more mountain template (not snowy). New Player Owned Towns coming online this release who have selected this template will receive it, but if your PoT came online in R20, we currently do not have a way to swap biome without wiping all the town data (which would include everyone losing their houses, lots, items, etc.). So, unfortunately, some of you will have to wait until the next wipe (maybe R23?) to swap.
- Player Owned Town Decorations: Player Owned Town owners (and stewards) are now able to place certain items anywhere in their PoT without requiring a lot, if there is a large enough flat area to place the item on.
- Arx Draconis: The capital town of the Syndicate (current holder of the Guinness world record for longest running guild) is our newest static Player Owned Town to come online. A large fortress with a Dragon statue centerpiece, it uses the island template and is located off Spindrift Island on the north side of Bay of Storms.
- 38 New Dynamic PoTs: We added another round of dynamic Player Owned Towns to the game. Here is the list of new towns that can be found in R21 plus an updated map of Novia (new towns are in yellow):
- Dragon (model, texture, & rigging): Our amazing character team worked diligently on updating our dragon that we purchased to meet our standards. While that work is nearing completion we do not yet have the behaviors nor flight visuals to a releasable level yet. Additionally, the sheer scale of his wings and tail create sorting issues we don’t yet have solved. So instead of releasing the dragon in this state, we are holding him for one more release and using the Phoenix (see below) to test out some of these issues.
- Phoenix (boss variant): We decided to make a scaled up boss level variant of the Phoenix (summoned creature from Sun Magic) as a test case for behaviors we want to use for the Dragon, especially related to flight and combat. This meant trying to get a flying creature that can take off, land, hover, fly AND attack while doing so -- and have it feel right. While it still isn’t quite where we want it, we feel like its close enough that we can let you all play with it a bit. We also wanted the fire attacks from Phoenixes and Dragons to generate an area of effect and leave behind a fire field that lasts a long time. That means that the longer the fight goes on, more and more of the scene will be set on fire, therefore increasing the challenge. Look for these high level Phoenixes in the highlands of desert scenes.
- Under Dwellers: For The Epitaph complex, we created Obsidian experiment versions of Elves, Satyrs, Trolls, and Humans.
Use Based Advancement
Using a skill or spell now advances that ability, replacing the levels and skill points system we had before. Trainers will teach you an ability initially, but your advancement in that ability after that is based solely on your use of it in gameplay. For example, the more you mine, the better you get at mining; the more you swing your sword, the better you get at sword-swinging. Please note that the next several releases will involve a lot of rework and balancing to get this working with all our skills properly. Also, expect us to rearrange skill trees multiple times to make them work better with this new system. For now, expect some oddness and skill arrangements that might not make sense in the current system (although they made sense previously). Also we know that we need to better deliver information in the game about the way the system is working. You can find and discuss more details about our current design thinking about the Use Based System implementation in this forum topic here.
Grand Tour 21
As with each release, we will have a Grand Tour. Completing this quest is the ONLY way to gain this rare reward. The hat for this release is the Highwayman, inspired by garb supposedly worn by 17th and 18th century mounted thieves.