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Lord British returns to his fantasy RPG roots with Shroud of the Avatar, hearkening back to his innovative early work.
Lord British returns to his fantasy RPG roots with Shroud of the Avatar, hearkening back to his innovative early work.
Lord British returns to his fantasy RPG roots with Shroud of the Avatar, hearkening back to his innovative early work.
22,322 backers pledged $1,919,275 to help bring this project to life.

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Release 21 Instructions

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

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.

Combat

  • 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):​

 Creatures

  • 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.

And Much, Much, More! Click here to see all the cool stuff in Release 21!

Release 20 Instructions

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

 Thank you for being a loyal backer and follower of Shroud of the Avatar. Release 20 access for all backers at First Responder level and above, as well as attendees of Classic Game Fest, begins this Thursday, July 30 at 10:30 AM Central Time (16:30 UTC).

If you signed up at Classic Game Fest for weekend access, please be sure to create an account on our website[www.shroudoftheavatar.com] as soon as possible in order to gain access for the weekend.

This continues to be the most amazing community I have ever worked with. It also continues to be the most amazing process of development I have ever experienced. We are truly co-developing this game together in a completely transparent and iterative process, and it is humbling and thrilling all at once. Thank you so much for supporting us with your funding, your content submissions, your community run events, your suggestions, and of course your critique. You make this project possible, and you are making it better.

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.

Release 20 is probably one of the biggest releases we have made so far. It includes a wealth of new content that gets us that much closer to Alpha. The Troll expands our ability to support very large creatures, and therefore, more thrilling combat. That thrilling combat is expanded with Taming, allowing players to harness the power of wild animals. And the creativity of our players will certainly shine in Player Owned Towns, thanks to the incredibly flexible Dynamic Lot Placement tool. The Player Driven Economy is also taking real shape as we push more content towards crafting and away from Merchant sales, while at the same time providing Player Owned Vendors for pledge holders.

We know many of you have been waiting for more visible focus on the story versus the simulation. As we have said before, we have to build the entire simulation first and then put the narrative over that foundation, so the story has had to wait until that time. And we know that the length of time it has taken us to reach that stage is frustrating for many of you; and we completely understand! We are frustrated too!

The good news is that we are now within sight of the time which story progress can begin in earnest. Now, the only remaining issue is creating the spaces for the story to happen in, and that is why you have seen us ramp up hiring. For R20, we focused our story energies on the Tower of the Shuttered Eye. We hope that the mystery, challenge, and detail there will reflect well on how we want the whole game to be.

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[avatarscircle.com] Community Events and Events of the Avatars[sotaevents.com] calendar).

Without further ado, here are the R20 deliverables:

RELEASE 20, July 30, 2015

  • Full Wipe: We are going to make some fundamental changes to item architecture that require us to do a full wipe for Release 20. We apologize for the inconvenience. Please note that if you have been waiting to melt down add-ons, this is your chance to do so as long as you do NOT login to the game once R20 goes live (which automatically claims the items and prevents melt down).
    Wipe: As promised, we have done a complete wipe of all characters and properties. Unfortunately, this means everyone does have to start over, but as we have done before, there will be an experience bonus applied until you reach your previously attained level. Please note that social data (friends & guilds) remains intact.
    Melt Downs: Remember, do NOT login to the game before melting down. If you login to the game BEFORE melting down, then all your items are automatically claimed and cannot be melted down.
  • Combat Pets & Taming: We will expand pet functionality to include the ability to tame some creatures and have them help you in combat.
  • Encounter Revamp: Random encounters are being reworked to be more engaging experiences, not just ambush scenarios.
  • Player Owned Vendors: Players will now be able to place a Vendor on their property to sell goods.
  • Spells & Skills: We will continue to make a pass through the skill trees and add new skills, balance existing skills, and replace less useful skills.
  • Maps: We will continue to polish scenes along the Perennial Coast by converting to dynamic spawning and adding additional content like night-time spawners. We will also be adding a few new scenes; including the Crags Foothills (where players can enter the Etceter Crag Mines)
  • Player Owned Towns: We will launch our island template and the first city using that template will be the Duchy of Dara Brae.
  • Island Template 1: Island Template 1 is the first new Player Owned Town template not based on the original PaxLair template. It is a temperate, forested, yet rocky biome. It is built to support a dense grid, as well as a more spread-out, naturalist layout.
  • Duchy of Dara Brae: Duchy of Dara Brae is the first Player Owned Town to use the Island Template and can be found in Spindrift Bay.
  • Dynamic Lot Placement Tool: As we have been building out Player Owned Towns, we have gotten a lot of very valuable feedback from you that static lot placement was limiting the flexibility of these towns, especially if the needs of the owners’ and tenants’ changed. For instance, if you had a tenant upgrade to a larger lot, but all your lots were already allocated, you would have no recourse. We also heard how much you all wanted to make personalized tweaks to lot layout—for instance, how close row lots were to each other. So in R20, we decided to experiment with creating a new tool for town owners (and stewards) which would allow them to place lots dynamically (providing there is a big enough flat area). Once a lot is placed, everything works exactly as it always has regarding permissions, decorations, etc. Only lots can be placed for now, but we hope to expand this over the next several releases to include NPC Buildings, NPCs, and other “town” decorations (trees, signs, street lights, cache chests etc.). The dynamic lot placement tool still remains a bit of an experiment, but pending your feedback in Release 20, we think this could grow to be a great way for Player Owned Towns to express their individuality and flexibility.
  • 113 New Player Owned Towns: At the end of June we pulled data from all the submission forms. If you had completed payment up to at least Holdfast level, entered a name/location/biome, and were connected to the Overworld (or if you were connected to a hub PoT also being placed), we added your Town to Novia as a blank template map with dynamic lot placement based on the information we had at that time. We did not use ANY other criteria for making this list. Please note that "blank template" means there is currently nothing on the map other than a town crier/banker (no NPC buildings, no music, no NPCs, etc.). If you changed your template since the end of June, those changes will NOT be reflected in R20. If we did not have a biome for your request available yet (i.e. Mountain, Grasslands, or Underground), we defaulted to Forest01 until such time as a template with your biome comes online. Please be patient as we work our way through making templates, and variations, for all of the available biomes. Please note that all names, locations and connections should be considered approximations and are subject to change in future releases at our discretion and/or your request. Please do not submit support tickets or post bugs in the forums about the name, location, connection, etc. Just update the information in your form. When we do a pass through PoT’s in a future release, we will attempt to make any changes requested. There is a chance that not every PoT on this list will make release in the morning but they should all be present before the weekend. Here is the complete list of all the new Player Owned Towns appearing in R20:
  • Creatures: We intend to introduce the Troll as our first very large creature, and we hope to make the combat experience much different than would be found with normal sized opponents.
  • Troll-ing: Our very first very large creature is alive and angry. In addition to presenting a major challenge to fight (finally!), it has pushed along a lot of cool new features, including turning animation support, head and body tracking, and 180° attacks that allow large creatures to spin completely around to get at attackers trying to stay behind them. The Troll has a set of viciously powerful skills at his disposal; many of which knock you down and/or backwards. Even his death generates damage if you are too close to his gigantic, falling body. You can find Trolls in Vertas Pass, The Ruined Keep (formerly known as Obsidian Keep), and the Ravensmoor dungeon entrance. SotA_Troll_fight3Please keep in mind this is an early work in progress, and we still have some large issues to solve over the next few releases (sorting, blending the tracking with other animations, big weapons, vfx, etc.) as we head towards even bigger creatures like the Dragon.
  • Crafting: Tailors and Alchemists will be able to begin crafting Taming Collars. Additionally, weapons and shields will now display material colors from crafting.
  • Player Made Books: This feature will continue to expand with the addition of Printing (making copies of books) as well as the ability to use Player Made Books as decorations.
  • Control Points: Control Points got a major overhaul in Release 20, and they finally block movement across the Overworld. When you come to a control point, you must enter the scene and get past the fortifications in order to get to the other side. In future releases, we plan to continue expanding functionality for control points to include things like NPCs (merchants, quest givers, etc.) that only appear when players are in control of the area, and mercenary waves that can be hired to help assault the gates. In R20, we also added the following.
  • Quest Turn-In Interface: When turning in items for a quest you have completed, there is now a user interface that can be used instead of having the item automatically pulled from your inventory. We have implemented this for the Grand Tour quest this month, and a few other quests, and will migrate all quests to this system going forward.
  • Breakables Improvements: The tech supporting breakables (walls, crates, barrels, gates, doors, etc.) has expanded to include timers, difficulty, and tool requirements. In many ways, they now resemble resource nodes.
  • Books: All books are now filled with content in the game. There should no longer be any books that are simply props.
  • Swaying Signs & Lanterns: Hanging signs and lanterns now sway in the wind and sway a little more when interacted with. When weather comes online, you will see high winds make them swing even more! Ultima fans may remember this type of little detail that set Ultima apart from the other CRPGs of the time. We are as devoted to this type of detailing now as we were then!  
  • Overworld: Novia is now completely opened, with all parts of the map accessible. We also made roads much clearer and added lights along the roads and at points of interest (towns, dungeons, etc.).
  • Emote + Text Combos: We have added a long requested feature, especially from people wanting to act out plays in-game, where avatars can use the new /em command to construct their own emote/text combinations, and also embed animations into those emotes (or regular chat) via percent escape codes such as %point% or %dance%.cheer[1] Emoting while Sitting: You can finally simultaneously use emotes while sitting!
  • Daily Experience Bonus: Each day, players will get a slight bonus to experience gain for a certain amount of experience.
  • Player Housing: We polished and overhauled some existing homes as well as adding new homes and new decorations (many are available in the Add-on Store), including Obsisdian Tower Homes, Trees, Plants, Battle Banner (capture the flag device), Adobe Homes, Fountains, Outhouse, etc.
  • Grand Tour 20: As with each release, we will have a Grand Tour. Instead of sending you to new scenes this month we are using the new quest turn-in UI to have players collect materials for the Master of Hats so he can restart the production lines. Completing this quest is the ONLY way to gain a rare reward. SotA_R20_GrandTourReward_ChaperonHat_LandingPageThe hat for this release is a Chaperon (proper name for the Middle Ages “donut” hat) that we hope you will all enjoy.

 And Much, Much, More! Click here to see all the cool stuff in Release 20!

Release 19 Instructions

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Greetings Avatars,

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.

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

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.

Combos:

  • 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.

Housing:

  • 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.

 Creatures:

  • 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!

And Much, Much, More! Click here to see all the cool stuff in Release 19!

Awesome Bard’s Tale IV Kickstarter 24-Hour Promotion!

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We know that many of you loved The Bard's Tale games as much as we did, so we want to make sure you know about their Kickstarter campaign that launched today, and about their awesome offer to all backers in the first 24 hours of the campaign. As our long-time friend and colleague at inXile, Brian Fargo, announced today:

Hello Exiles,

Today is a very special day. As you may know, it marks the 30th anniversary of The Bard's Tale, the game that started my career in game development in earnest. And now, we want to bring back The Bard's Tale IV with the power of the crowd once again.

The original game has a special place in my heart and fans have shown me time and again they still love the dungeon crawl genre and want more. With your help, I can finally make this long-awaited true sequel to the original The Bard’s Tale trilogy, bringing you that sense of discovery with challenging dungeons and devious puzzles that you loved and cursed all at once.

We're very excited here at Portalarium about the revival of the dungeon crawler genre that Bard's Tale IV is helping to drive. As described by inXile, it is a single-player, party-based cRPG with dynamic phase-based combat, challenging puzzles and riddles, and a game set to beautiful Gaelic music, where the Bard’s songs and melodies affect gameplay.

inXile also announced an unprecedented crowdfunding offer: anyone who backs The Bard’s Tale IV on Kickstarter in the first 24 hours of the campaign will receive a FREE copy of inXile’s Wasteland 2, or CD Projekt Red's The Witcher, or The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings. (until 6/3 at 8am, CST) .

Pretty cool stuff, right? If you're as excited as we are to see one of the most amazing RPG series live again, then head over to inXile's Bard's Tale IV Kickstarter campaign and pledge your support!

Release 18 Instructions

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 Greetings Avatars,

Thank you to our loyal backers of Shroud of the Avatar. We were not going to let torrential rains, high winds, tornadoes, microbursts, downed trees, blown out windows, massive power losses, or any other weather calamity thrown our way stop us from delivering Release 18! Access for all backers at First Responder level and above begins this Thursday, May 28 at 10:30 AM Central Time (16:30 UTC).

NOTE: Servers will be down from 9:00 AM until 10:30 AM Thursday morning in order to upload the build.

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

We are far from launch, 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 from helpful players, because they 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.

Release 17 included a lot of new content including the first Player Owned Town, Crafting Events, Player Titles, an Experience Doubler, and Lot Access Permissions. It was also our attempt to finish a bunch of work related to the Unity 5 upgrade. The good news is that the new content improved the play experience (for the most part). However, a lot of other issues were introduced in the process. For instance, we completely reworked our character state machine which governs everything the character does (animating, moving, fighting, spellcasting, etc.). This rework will, in the long term, make the game better by giving us better controls for things like blending between animations. In the near term, however, it broke almost everything and took us an entire week after the release to address the biggest issues.

Additionally, combat had been neglected for many months. As many of you have pointed out, it has been unbalanced, buggy, and almost unplayable for a few releases (and R17 actually made it worse!). On top of all that, our new user experience has been beyond challenging--punishing is more accurate, in fact. Based on those three issues, we decided to spend more time on overall improvements to combat and the new user experience. Unfortunately, that means we had to move some deliverables out of this release, but the game is now much more playable.

Also, remember we are providing new content with each release and our community is working overtime to make new events for you to enjoy. 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 R18 deliverables.

RELEASE 18, May 28, 2015:

  • Grunvald and Quel Expansions Delayed: We decided to focus mostly on iterating and improving existing scenes, including dynamic spawning, instead of creating more new scenes (although we did add 1 new scene in the Perennial Coast: Spectral Foothills). We did finish the world building for the Etceter Mines but they won’t be spawned until R19.
  • Dynamic Creature & Resource Spawning: Starting with this release, we have begun implementing a new spawning methodology. Our hope is this new method will result in a more immersive and dynamic play experience. The scenes below represent our first initial pass, but we will periodically come back to these scenes as new features come online (escorts, complex idles, sophisticated patrols, etc.). Additionally, each new scene that comes online will be spawned this way. This will also allow for balanced tiers of difficulty within regions, commensurate with the tiers of resources found within the areas. The goals and methodology for dynamic spawning include:
    - Each full exploration of an area should feel different than the last full exploration of the same area. As you travel around a map, you may see skeletons near some ruins in one pass. The next pass, you may see kobolds near the ruins. Additionally, the next pass you may see both, and they are fighting each other.
    - Areas should always feel well/thickly spawned for ample opportunities of hunting creatures and gathering resources. This does not mean edge to edge critters and resources, just that they are not hard to find when looking. In fact, many areas may have overlapping groups of spawners, allowing players to encounter active battles between factions.
    - You should not be rewarded for camping a spawn location. When you deplete a Dynamic Resource Spawner, it will not magically reappear in the same place, but rather in a new location. Thus forcing you to keep going and continue to explore further.
    - When a map “spins up,” only about ⅓ of the “potential spawns” will spawn, and can be delayed to allow for specific situations. As spawned items are destroyed or removed, new spawns will fire off, to sustain the general ⅓ density of total spawns.  
  • 16 Improved Scenes: We polished the creature and resource spawning in several Perennial Coast and Grunvald scenes.
  • Beta Submission Form: The submission form has gone live, and we have received a lot of very valuable feedback. We will do another improvement/clarification pass on the form in the future, but for now it is lower priority than security tasks. We are also getting a lot of great submissions which are helping us designate what kinds of templates to build and also how to distribute the towns across the map.
  • Desert Template: We have created a second Player Owned Town template based on PaxLair which uses a Desert biome instead of a Forest biome
  • Player Owned Town #2: Vengeance: One of the features we are most excited about is the ability for a Player Owned Town to be flagged Open PVP. We have gotten this feature online for R18 to test the functionality, and we are placing the Crossroads Village of Vengeance at the northern end of the Grunvald Desert. Duke Violation invites all PVP inclined players to come to Vengeance for nightly PVP activities, and even to petition to live there.
  • New Decorations: The Teletype and Wishing Well are now available as home decorations. Please note that neither has their in game functionality enabled yet.
  • Removed Lot Restrictions for PVP Scenes: Players will no longer be able to choose to block off their lots in PVP scenes.
  • New Deck Mechanic: The most consistent complaint about our deck mechanic is that players have to spend too much time looking at the hotbar. To address this we have made a modification to the system that allows players to assign spells to a defined slot in the hotbar even though that skill will still be dealt to them randomly. Doing this allows players to categorize their skills. For instance, all their buffs appear in slot 4 while all their DoTs appear in slot 3. Feedback so far from players on the QA server has been that this does indeed address the distraction issue while still preserving all the positive aspects of the system. It also creates a large number of new strategies in deck building.
  • Overworld Camera Changes: In Release 17, we modified the camera to allow viewpoints similar to when you are inside a scene. This allows you to look forward to see where you are going and allows you to look up at the sky (very important now that we have Astronomy coming online, see below). However, this change allowed camera angles that exposed a host of issues around assets that were never meant to be seen closely. It also exacerbated the scale differentials between the avatar and the scenery. To combat this we have modified the camera so that it can no longer get close to the ground when you are in the overworld.
  • New Armor and Armor Variations: We have created visual variations of several armor sets representing a range from partial to full coverage. Long term these visual variations will be linked to properties of the armor, but for now durability is the only difference. Over time we will be phasing out some of the older lower quality visuals for armor so that by the time Episode 1 launches all in game armor will be of this level of quality. Here are the details (unless otherwise noted these are not yet craftable):
  • Astronomy & Calendar: The sky above is now filled with a full system of celestial mechanics, including 10 orbital bodies and a constellation-filled star field. All of these move independently and will generate phases, eclipses and multiple alignment events. These are all tied to a calendar that has a direct ratio to actual Earth time (see below). Our long term plan is to use all of this data in game play. For example, there may be certain attributes that can only be added to crafted items when Deceit is in the constellation of Chaos. Please note that for now, this new sky only appears when you are in the overworld. Over the next few releases we will propagate the sky to all the other scenes.
  • Grand Tour 18: 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 Bycocket (proper name for a Robin Hood hat) that we hope you will all enjoy.

And Much, Much, More! Click here to see all the cool stuff in Release 18!