Thank you for being a loyal backer and follower of Shroud of the Avatar. Release 26 access for all backers at First Responder level and above begins this Thursday, January 28, at 10:30 AM US Central Time (16:30 UTC).
We decided to start 2016 with a BANG by making Release 26 one of our biggest releases to date! The world expanded with five completely new scenes including new segments in the Truth and Courage storylines (along with polish across multiple scenes). We also made over 100 playability tweaks to combat to address responsiveness, playability, and balance. On top of that, we migrated to the new crafting architecture which unlocked a huge swathe of crafting changes and additions.
Yet again, I want to express a huge amount of gratitude to our Dev+ backers who tested all of the items below on the QA server and uncovered lots of bugs. They also provided editorial feedback on this post, so they are a big reason that this post actually matches what is in the game, and that it is easy to read.
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 R26 deliverables (the following is a brief excerpt of the full post, which can be found here):
Full Wipe: Once again we are going to make some fundamental changes to item and quest architecture that require us to do a full wipe for Release 26. We apologize for the inconvenience. Please note that if you have been waiting to convert add-ons to store credit, this is your chance to do so as long as you do NOT login once R26 goes live (which automatically claims the items and prevents conversion to credit).
Combat Speed: Melee combat in R26 will be much faster than in previous releases. Magic will be slightly faster but more powerful than before. Damage per second is up on both sides but players will need to pay attention to managing their focus as it is now much easier to completely deplete your focus!
Free Attack Speed and Damage: Auto-attack and a standard free attack will do the same damage per hit but free attack can be done slightly faster. Charged free attacks (click and hold) now charge faster and do slightly more damage than before. With the current settings, well timed free attacks will do about 10% more than auto attack, and very well timed charged attacks will do about 10% more than the uncharged free attacks.
Consider System: Name plates on enemies will now show the level difference between the enemy and the player. Level Difference = Monster Level - Player Level. We are considering moving this to be an active skill in the future.
Resolute: The city of Resolute is the next destination for a new avatar following the Path of Courage. Holding an amulet of testimony from a dying Knight of Norgard, the player finds a fortified town held by his companions in arms and begins to learn about what threatens that noble order, both from within and without. The geothermal vents in the area have been harnessed to generate power using Kobold technology. Knights of Norgard maintaining watch in Resolute proudly display a mighty statue of Grannus, the Titan of Courage, in the main square.Quests in this area will take new avatars on the Path of Courage back to the scene of the Battle of Highvale to assist the Knights in retaking the village.
Aerie: The city of Aerie is situated on the tip of the Longfall Peninsula, surrounded by prairies and swamps and heavily reliant on wind power. Aerie is the City of Truth, and a key stop for players seeking the secret of bonesteel discovered in Blood River. The largest city in the Verdantis plain, and for a long time the hub of commerce and daily life in the region, the people there are most recently concerned of the elven settlers north of the city—some counsel coexistence, some warn of war. In the face of prejudice and fear, truth can take more than one shade… Please note that not all NPCs may be complete for this scene on day one of R26.
North Varisalla Foothills: This adventuring area in the Varisalla foothills was once rich in copper and other ores, but a massive Satyr-run mining operation in the area effectively stripped the land bare over several decades. The miners, primarily Faun slaves, were forced to work daily shifts of 12 hours or more, even after it became apparent that the ore in the area had been over mined. Even after productivity had hit bottom, the Satyrs refused to abandon the mines in the belief that a “motherlode” was still to be found. Over the decades, the entire area became honeycombed with an interconnected network of tunnels. Several years ago, a poorly reinforced mine shaft was constructed very close to an underground lake. The shaft’s wall was breached and the lake water quickly filled it and all connected tunnels. Hundreds of miners and their overseers were killed. The mining operation was finished, but rumors still inspired Kobolds and other scavengers to search the area for the never-found motherlode.
Sanctus Spine: This control point is located on the mountainous border of where South Paladis meets North Paladis and controls traffic flowing between the two regions. Recently, Kobolds have seized control of this important landmark and seek to stop any humans moving through the narrow pass.
Dysborg Ruins (PVP): Rumours say that Dysborg was once a great city of valiant fighters loyal to Lord British and his ancient Virtues. Sadly, Dysborg fell in ancient times. It is not known if Dysborg was overtaken by the Obsidian Cabal that rose 200 years ago, or crumbled on its own, under the corrupting power of the Obsidian Shards still seen within its walls. The Dysborg ruins remain a place of ruin and strife, generally avoided in modern times by those who fear falling prey to its corrupting influence.
Grasslands Template: This newest template is a rolling grassland with a river running through it and has the largest placeable area of any of the templates. Please note that Hometown is now a Grassland Template.
Dynamic Player-Owned Towns: We added another round of dynamic Player Owned Towns to the game. We also fixed issues, converted biomes, added connections, and upgraded sizes of several POTs.
New Crafting System: After several months of preparation we finally changed over to the new architecture which removes the last few blocks we had to greatly expanding crafting, providing for material modifiers, gear naming, components, etc.
Components Tooltips: Now show their exact modifier both before and after being incorporated into gear.
Agriculture: We made some passes through agriculture to clean up some bugs and fix some balance issues.
Chaos Daemon: This master of chaos will assault players with Chaos Bolts, teleports, and even turn their own pets against them. Additionally, he randomly changes his highest Attunement, forcing players to constantly adjust their strategy. Rumors that someone was foolish enough to summon and trap one underneath Solania have yet to be verified…
Performance: For R26 we began taking some baby steps towards our long term performance goals. The focus for this release was primarily improving our worst case areas. This includes heavily populated and decorated cities and also, scenes with a large number of players in small spaces. Much of the work focused on Level of Detail (LOD). LOD is a system where lower polygon count versions of objects are made and dynamically swapped to improve performance. That swapping happens either through quality settings, distance from camera, or performance fallback routines.
Seasonal Content: In support of the Lunar New Year and Valentine’s Day, we created a set of seasonal items for sale in the Add-On Store.
Localization: Various tasks were completed and bugs were fixed to support the ongoing localization effort. All the initial languages are advancing steadily with Spanish still in the lead at over 60% and German steadily catching up with almost 50%
Grand Tour 26: As with each previous 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 a Bowler. Please note that this is the final Grand Tour so we can focus on the storyline going forward.