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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.

DRM, Offline/Online, and Microtransaction update + swag teaser!

3 days into the Kickstarter and we’ve been receiving tons of great feedback, probably more than we received in the last year through our social campaign to find out what people want! Based on one of the most common concerns, we’re making a few small changes.

First, the game can be played offline, no connection required. The character used for the offline version of the game will not be useable in the online version of the game for obvious exploit/hacking reasons. We are going to investigate ways to export your online character to the single player version of the game but the offline character will not be importable into the online version.

Second, the offline single player version of the game for those who purchase it through KickStarter will not use any form of DRM. We had been holding off on committing to that because we don’t know what our final distribution system (Steam, GOG, etc) is going to be and some of them use DRM. We may have DRM of some sort on post-KS sales but we’ll commit to keeping KS versions DRM and “phone home” free for the single player version once launched.

Third, the offline single player of the game will not have any microtransactions. We know this is kind of a no-brainer since it is offline but we wanted to be perfectly clear on that since there was some vagueness in a few statements in one of our video chats.

Also, we’ll get some more exciting news about swag to you in writing tomorrow. We thought hour long video chats were the best way to answer questions but we’re finding we really need more written updates. Also, for those that prefer in depth videos we’ll get another hour long video chat setup this week!

Comments

    1. Creator Astrobia on March 14, 2013

      @Kenneth, The silly thing about that argument is that by the same logic physical media is a form of DRM, even if you don't need the CD in to run the game you still need to insert it into you computer once to install it. How horrible.
      Don't get me wrong I hate restrictive DRM as much as the next person but using it as blanket label is counter productive. DRM as a concept isn't strictly speaking a bad thing, it becomes a bad thing when the form it takes inconveniences the end user (which it does all to often and in some cases spectacularly so, e.g. the sim city 5 launch). One time online registration isn't really doing this, heck if the installer enters the CD key for registration for you (as it does in steams case) it's actually more convenient then traditional physical media copy protection measure. If you have an internet connection (and you're reading this so you do) there is really no cause to complain about one time online registration whether you consider it DRM or not.

      Other things steam does like the need to be running (not necessarily online) while you launch and play the game is a legitimate complaint if you have a low end computer (or I don't know, are in a framerate competition or something) as it is using up system resources in the background. If you have a high end machine it's not really a factor and as many people have pointed out at this point it's up to the publisher whether or not this is a requirement. I have many steam games that don't need steam running or installed to launch and play (one that do need it are usually triple A titles).

      All of my 800+ steam games can be played offline (Well, except the multiplayer only ones). Now I agree it's totally annoying you pretty much have to make sure all the games are patched and you then have to switch steam into offline mode while logged in to insure that feature works smoothly. Other faults with it include it forgetting your authentication info if the computer crashes and needed to go back online to log in and put it back in offline mode again... Which is super annoying. So yeah it's less then ideal.

      I've experienced many other annoying bugs with the application as well.

      That said the convenience it afford usually outweighs the drawbacks by a huge margin. If the developer in question chooses to implement their game on the steam platform such that it doesn't utilise any of it's DRM features, having it on steam is entirely a convenience with zero drawbacks. So there food for thought for you.

    2. Creator Kenneth Thornton on March 13, 2013

      >> Yes, Steam is in a way DRM if you count having to register the game online once as DRM.

      There is no "in a way" about it. What you described is a form of DRM.

    3. Creator Justin on March 13, 2013

      Apparently not a no brainer for EA, didnt buy Dead space 3 because i heard it had microtransactions in edition to being a third person action game instead of a survival horror game

    4. Creator Tim Noyce on March 12, 2013

      Nice.

      I appreciate the ability to play without microtransactions..

      Keep the updates coming.. :)

    5. Creator shibby191 on March 12, 2013

      Please read again what I posted. Games sold on Steam do not *have* to have Steam running all the time to play. It's up to the developer. ;) Steam is just a digital store at it's core. Yes, Steam is in a way DRM if you count having to register the game online once as DRM. Steam can also be more heavy handed DRM in requiring Steam to be running. But again, it's all up to the developer of the game how much of Steam they want to use and require. They can just sell their game on Steam and nothing more.

      Again, Avatar can be developed so that you can play it without Steam running if they want to develop it that way. Many games sold on Steam today are just like that, as I posted.

      And they already said it's going to be a stand-alone exe you can download from them directly, so no hoping is needed. :)

    6. Creator terrisus on March 12, 2013

      "The game itself is *still DRM free* even on Steam. The only thing Steam does is require you to be online to register the game and download updates. Game can be set to and played in offline mode (offline from Steam) if the developer allows it."

      Steam is a DRM though. It is a program that must be launched and running any time you want to play a game which requires use of that particular form of DRM, and if you are unable to access Steam for whatever reason, you no longer have access to any games which are DRM-locked by it.

      Definitely hope this game makes its way to GoG, or as a stand-alone executable.

    7. Creator shibby191 on March 12, 2013

      Not sure why people are confused about DRM. It's pretty simple really:

      1) The game is DRM free. Period. They've stated this. Will be available for direct download from them. After release there is no reason why they can't continue to offer this for direct sale since they get all the money from the sale with no middle man.

      2) In addition they can also offer the game for sale on GOG (since it's DRM free) and Steam. Not being on Steam will drastically reduce the amount of sales they can get. The game itself is *still DRM free* even on Steam. The only thing Steam does is require you to be online to register the game and download updates. Game can be set to and played in offline mode (offline from Steam) if the developer allows it.

      Since the game won't be a Steamworks game (which is totally different from simply being for sale on Steam) this shouldn't be a problem. Take the game Europa Universalis III from Paradox. I bought it on Steam but I can totally shut Steam down and not have it running and even unplug the Internets but yet I can still play EU3 with no trouble because the devs designed the game to do so. Skyrim was even that way at initial release until Bethesda patched it to require Steam running all the time. So a Steam running all the time requirement it totally up to Lord British and the devs. They can simply sell the game on Steam and nothing more.

    8. Creator Timo Weirich on March 12, 2013

      Sounds very, very nice. I'm looking forward to play a (hopefully ;-) good single-player / offline RPG again. No idea why, but I really hate MMORPGs - and games that requires one to be online, even if you want to play it offline in single-player mode (crappy DRM only bugs fair buyers).

      Also, I hope you decide for GOG as your final distribution system, it's a really neat platform.

    9. Creator Julian Bybee on March 12, 2013

      @John

      Steam does have some faults, so maybe they should allow you to use Steam saves to transfer your game over to a disc if you, for whatever reason, get locked out of Steam

    10. Creator John Piddock on March 12, 2013

      Steam isn't ideal but I'll take it. The only thing about Steam is that if you get locked out of your account for whatever reason, their customer service is non-existent. Literally, I don't think they even have a CS department.

    11. Creator MBybee on March 12, 2013

      @Julian @Jog @Bérenger

      To me it sounds like we're more or less in agreement about pay-to-win being bad, removing vital pieces and then charging for them as DLC is bad, and that *real* DLC (not patches, but new content) is not a bad thing. It also seems that nobody thinks it's an issue if I like being able to pay for cosmetic items. Obviously, game-vital stuff would be an inappropriate microtransaction, but if I want to buy an additonal animation or a Duck Hat, that's not vital.

      I am a huge fan of 'player created content', and I know both this game and Pathfinder Online have mentioned it being on the list. I don't care if there's an SDK or a Map editor as long as players can contribute content/quests/etc.

    12. Creator Julian Bybee on March 12, 2013

      I put my money on this project because this game looks like a lot of fun. However, if the game stays unchanging forever after it was released, then it will lose my attention. I think that there should be micro transactions, but they need to be purchasable with in-game earned money, as well as gift cards and credit cards.
      The Steam involvement sounds like a good idea, because then, Ultima will be in the public eye, and then they can add free DLC updates that you can choose to download for single player, with the ability to donate for additional stuff for that particular DLC, like a high quality chest that has a 90% chance for a legendary item. The multiplayer should work on a everyone has everything available, and can get the same stuff with or without the money. Things that have often annoyed me, like the fact that in the pay-to-play games you can only access the highest quality stuff with actual money, cause me to lose my enjoyment of the game. I have been often staring at a really cool item that you just can't get without shelling out some hard cash, and that just isn't going to have people riveted. When they can earn it, people are going to want to play more. Also, when gamers are happy, they are more likely to consider donating for the project. I am very sorry if I made any grammatical mistakes, but I hope that at least I got my point across.

    13. Creator Bérenger Van Den Brande on March 12, 2013

      @ Jog, Knave of the Obsidian Order : I totally agree if the DLC is meaningfull ( and not an obvious rippof for moneeeeeeeeeeeeey) count me in.
      Ultima 7 was goood, don't induldge in the crappy microtransaction, stupid and greedy DLC movement mister Garriot, please, stay true to your roots and make us happy with a great independant game :). Thanks

      @MBybee
      Out of touch, who said ship a crappy game and then make the player pay for the dev to do things they should have done before shipment? That's the DLC's today, things that should be free like doing a good work on the game before shipment or things that should not be in the first place like a horse armor or a pink gun for gears of war ( true story). If you wanna pay for a purple sword for your knugh, ok but I don't want to see a full plate armor for 15 dollars when in reality people who play the game without paying more money have to wait a year to get one, that is killing the balance of gameplay and that is wrong. When we were playing on the nes, snes, playstation, etc, the games were complete and that was a good thing. Even with the early online games there were sdk ( for free) editors (for free) and everybody could give patches and things for free to make the game better graphically or gameplay wise. I'm looking at you ultima...DLC is not a must, patches are and they were free not so long ago...

    14. Creator MBybee on March 12, 2013

      @Jog: I have all those updates (Seed of Virtue, Black forge, etc) for U7/U8.

      These were by no means larger than Skyrim's updates - some of them were hardly more than bugfixes. What did Seed of Virtue add? A Key ring, a tiny area, and a bit of gear.

      I totally see your point, and it completely agrees with mine. DLC should be things like expansions and real add-ons (zones, quests, things of value). Microtransactions should be things like horse armor and little BS like that.

      I think we all remember some of the early DLC snafus that EA (in particular) made mistakes with. However, since then, companies like Rockstar have done a great job of adding reasonable DLC for reasonable prices - and helping to keep the game fresh as well.

    15. Creator Jog, OOoE / EiT / WoOS on March 12, 2013

      @MBybee: Once upon a time there were expansions, adding new locations and stories into the original game, larger than anything Bethsoft ever did for Skyrim and FO3 / NV. AFAIR the first game that had such addons was Ultima 7 in 1992.

      I don't care if those expansions are distributed as downloadable content instead of a boxed copy, but this is what I want, not horse armor, or a new party member that was obviously removed from the main game to be available as day 1 DLC.

    16. Creator MBybee on March 12, 2013

      I really don't see why people somehow confuse DLC/Microtransactions with poor games. Fable has DLC, and is one of the best RPGs of all time.
      LOTRO and AOC both have DLC and Microtransactions, and are quite good (though I am still sore about some of LOTRO's microtransaction implementations - quests that were kill 30 wolves became kill 300... or pay $1 to make it 30).

      If it is implemented well, especially for the offline people, I don't see why it would be a problem. I'd *love* to be able to get my cosmetic stuff as a microtransaction. I don't mind paying 50c or $1 to encourage the devs to do additional cosmetic work that otherwise wouldn't have made the cut.

      DLC is an absolute *must* in the 21st century. Anyone who thinks a game should ship complete, fire all devs, and then let it rot indefinitely seems very out of touch.

    17. Creator Bérenger Van Den Brande on March 12, 2013

      I want to be clear, I don't want to induldge in microtransactions, i don't want to pay for anything ingame that I hadn't paid for when I bought the game! Microtransaction like buying vanity items or things that don't affect the gameplay, I don't care but anything else is a "NO NO NOOOOOOOOO" for me and I think that I will retract my pledge (I won't be alone, will I?) if I hear about DRM, microtransactions, freemium and such nonsense... Please make it a old school online/offline game with an editor like some other ultima games I've seen in the past. Those old game where very interactive, roleplay oriented, with no drm/dlc/transaction whatsoever... Thanks a lot for reading me eventhough English is my second language...

    18. Creator Jog, OOoE / EiT / WoOS on March 12, 2013

      Just for the developers reference, none of the people who love steam and are demanding you use it actually care if there are versions that don't use it, as long as it's available on steam as well.

      With that in mind I totally vote for Steam and GOG

      @Astrobia : SCN ;)

    19. Creator MBybee on March 12, 2013

      I'm all in favor of Steam especially, and I don't mind micro-transactions for the online version. That works great for me, especially for things that are largely cosmetic.

      What I hate is when they're added *later* after a game is live, and they unbalance everything.
      If you guys do manage to deliver on Ouya, that would be AWESOME.

    20. Creator Lami on March 12, 2013

      I am *very* concerned about microtransactions. Please tell us more. I've never seen a game in which it brought anything good. Ok, maybe except vanity items, without any gameplay impact, I am fine with that.

      @Rob Craig: You need your internet connection just once for Steam game to work - first run after donwload. No permamnent connection later. I suppose some games might want it (Mass Effect maybe, not sure), but it is how developer/distributor wants it, not Steam.

    21. Creator Chris Stubbs on March 12, 2013

      Does that mean Online with microtransactions? I really hope it's not pay2win.

    22. Creator Matteo Gismondi on March 12, 2013

      Thank you for the update. This means that the game online will be p2p with a monthly transaction?
      How are you planning to do it?

    23. Creator Michael Enbom on March 12, 2013

      +1 for steam, i have over 300 games on steam, its an excellent platform, and you'd reach out to many people by using it.

    24. Creator Astrobia on March 12, 2013

      Just for the developers reference, none of the people who hate steam and are demanding you don't use it actually care if you do use it or not so long as it's not steam exclusive/compulsory.
      With that in mind I totally vote for it as one of the optional platforms.

    25. Creator Robert Silesius on March 12, 2013

      Sounds exactly like the system Dungeon Defenders uses, and that system apparently works great.

    26. Creator Snorik on March 12, 2013

      Thank your for clearing this up, as far as it is possible for now at least.

    27. Creator Mark Sprietsma on March 12, 2013

      Steam please, I <3 Steam.

    28. Creator Rob Craig on March 12, 2013

      Please don't use Steam. Its a pile of poo. I don't mind having to play with an Internet connection but please have an online NON-Steam version too. Also more text updates and maybe an a little history about the team. We've seen their faces on various videos but who are they? I don't see any of the old Ultima team there???

    29. Creator Commander Regel on March 12, 2013

      Great update and clarifies a lot. It's good to know that we have the choice to effectively ignore the multiplayer aspects and focus on single player (especially for those of us who are looking for a modern update to Ultima VII). The DRM-free news is especially appreciated.

      Also, thanks for doing a text update. A lot of us don't have the time to spend watching the videos. More of these please!

    30. Creator RafTen on March 12, 2013

      good news, thanks for clarifications. And yes, as I don't really have time to watch 1h+ long videos, a written summary would be highly appreciated. Keep up the good work! :)

    31. Creator Mikhail Aristov on March 12, 2013

      Great to see an actual textual update at last. :) Videos are nice and personal, but important stuff like DRM-free status should be written out in big friendly letters for better reference.

    32. Creator Monty on March 12, 2013

      +1 for steam and single player - thank you...

    33. Creator The Old Farmer on March 12, 2013

      Would it be possible to address how the single player world will interact with the online world. By this I am looking for clarification on if we will be able to receive up dates to our single player world so it up dates and changes with changes to the online world. Thanks for any info and keep the written updates coming, they are much quicker to scan through then the chats, though the chats are entertaining as well.

    34. Creator Paul Carr on March 12, 2013

      No. Steam's method isn't about Valve not trusting people. It's just one way of doing it.

      I've used GOG for some games, but I still prefer them on Steam. I got one of the Witcher games through GOG and now regret it. First of all because the constant updates... I keep needing to redownload the entire thing (I like to have a complete backup on my external), whereas Steam auto-updates just what needs to be (and you can still back up on an external). Plus, it's hard not to get sucked in by Achievements to know your "completion" of the game.

      The Ultima games I have on GOG. I wouldn't get them on Steam. The benefits aren't there (especially since I use Exult and various other things on them). But any new game, Steam is just easier. And again, how does Steam DRM actually effect anything? You still play the game just the same. There is no negative unless you are doing something illegal.

    35. Creator Mohammed Ameen on March 12, 2013

      @Paul Carr: GOG does all of that. All of your games will be accessible from the cloud, anytime you want it. But there is no DRM involved. GOG trusts it's users and Steam doesn't, as simple as that!

    36. Creator Jason Morejon on March 11, 2013

      I'm not terribly concerned about the game itself, as I backed this because of trust of the developer. However, I seriously hope you use something other than ustream for these videos. I can't even play more than a couple minutes of the video before it crashes. Most of the games industry these days use twitch or youtube. Twitch also allows anyone to use it, so you could make an account and broadcast there today. For youtube you may not be able to put the livestream there, but if you record a copy of it you can upload it afterwards

    37. Creator John J. Salopek on March 11, 2013

      I hope the pvp aspect is addressed early. things such as harrowers were a HUGE part of fun in UO. Ooooohhh.......... the Epic battles of Greatlakes. Such Fun.

    38. Creator Theobeau:OOoE\Mad man with a box/Exiled on March 11, 2013

      Great news about the no connection and off line single player versions.

      More comment about the extent that they differ from the multi-player (on main and side quests etc) would be great and would encourage this fence sitter.

    39. Creator High Admiral Doji on March 11, 2013

      @Pablo - If it works like the old Ultima (single player, I have no idea how UO worked), even if other people didn't witness it, it still affected that specific virtue. If you stole, the game would alert you that you weren't acting right, even if no one was around. I take it was your own conscience at work.

      To me, that's one of the major items that I hope this brings back. Whether they call it karma or something else.

    40. Creator Pablo Soares on March 11, 2013

      Will the game have some kind of karma system? I think that killing someone without being seen should not alter in any way your status towards anything but your conciousness. Been seen, however, is very easy and notice that something happended should spread very fast. Also, it would be cool if such "happening" became somehow slightly skewed as one person shares its knowledge with the next.

    41. Creator Dave blanchard on March 11, 2013

      @oddball hahah zep tried to down play it but it didn't last..

    42. Creator High Admiral Doji on March 11, 2013

      @Oddball - Yep, Zep has been slightly quiet, probably because he can't keep pointing to unknowns any more.

      I was a little worried myself because the answers from RG and Chris seemed to be somewhat conflicting. This update completely clears those concerns and it's time to move ahead.

    43. Creator OddBall on March 11, 2013

      I want a Steam copy, hope you can give us the choice and you can play steam games offline you just go to the steam folder, find the game you want and play, looking forward to rest of the campaign! The trolls aren't going to be happy with this very informative update.......but I am sure they will still have a go :)!

    44. Creator High Admiral Doji on March 11, 2013

      @Paul - Many people like a physical copy of the game, also so it can be traded. I'm not saying that would be the case with this game, but part of the fun of Ultima were the physical goodies (especially the cloth maps). Which is not available through Steam, obviously.

      I'm hoping for a boxed edition as a pledge level at some point, but it looks like that's not going to happen. Even if they do it like SC (the ship-shaped USB drives with a copy of the game), that would be great.

      Heck, they could even do an 'ankh' level physical reward (like the Citizen Cards from SC).

      Sorry, I keep harping back to SC, I just think that's the way to run a KS campaign and get the community involved.

    45. Creator Vlad Zheleznyak on March 11, 2013

      I see nothing wrong with steam, I actually like it and prefer my games there...

    46. Creator Jason R. Wells on March 11, 2013

      Great update and thank you for addressing these concerns. I couldn't be more excited about this project! Also, to those below who said "I hope it doesn't land on Origin", I don't think there is ANY fear of that happening lol.

    47. Creator Vlad Zheleznyak on March 11, 2013

      great update thank you guys. and yes please continue giving us written updates. not everyone can sit and watch a one hour video. can't wait to play this game!!

    48. Creator Edgardo- WeresheepMonkey of Original Sin on March 11, 2013

      Thank you for this update, my main concerns are nomore (DRM and offline play) so I can now back this project with my eyes closed and start thinking about upgrading my pledge, but I'll wait until I hear about this swag. :D

    49. Creator James on March 11, 2013

      I'd hate to see Steam only - I really detest that platform or any other that ties your purchase rights to a 3rd party client such as origin etc.

    50. Creator Stuart on March 11, 2013

      @Paul Carr I love Steam too, but I've read many horror stories of people being locked out of their account for no real reason. It's a fear of mine since I've invested so much money on games on Steam... the fact they can take that all away from you with one click, one error of judgment, is very worrying to me.