Update of the Avatar #97 – 2014.10.31: Happy Halloween, $5M Raised, R11 Impressions, Holiday Specials, and More!

Greetings Fellow Avatars!

Here’s what we have for you in this week’s edition of Update of the Avatar:

  • $5M Raised!
  • Release 11 Impressions
  • R11 Community Events
  • R11 Stays Open!  Get Your Carnival Mask Tricorn Hat!
  • Steam Access Keys Now Available for All Backers
  • Zack’s ELEMENTUM Wins the Captivate Conference Finals
  • Get Your 15% Bonus
  • Holiday Specials
  • Last Chance Exclusives: Scissors of Prosperity and Combat Sigil Cape
  • Alienware Sponsors $20 Pledge Upgrade Coupon
  • Upcoming Events

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

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Thanks to community member Sindariya for sharing this spooky image in the Release 11 Screenshot Gallery


$5M Raised!

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We reached $5M in total pledges raised yesterday, a year and a half after starting down this incredible journey! Congratulations to our community for making Shroud of the Avatar one of a very small handful of games that have crossed the $5M mark in crowdfunding! It is a testament to this incredible community and the incredible game we are creating together!

All of us at Portalarium continue to be overwhelmed by the outpouring of support that all of you so generously contribute! Because of you, and with you, we are able to make Shroud of the Avatar so much more than we could have ever imagined. We are honored to be able to share this once-in-a-lifetime journey with each and every one of you, and we will never be able to thank you enough!

Several of our community members were dancing all night in celebration of this amazing community achievement, such as this party at Avatar’s Radio Tower in Port Phoenix:

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Release 11 Impressions

[A Public Forum post by Richard "Lord British" Garriott]
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Wow! Where do I start with R11? While I think the team did some great work for this release, the real joy of R11 for me came by seeing what the community was doing with the resources you have been given. I was thrilled to observe simulcast events such as the Bear Tavern Brawls. Sadly I missed the Chaos Sermon, though I would likely have objected or walked out had I attended. I ran, and completed 3 amazing mazes, a record for me! These were all elegant, complex, subtle and huge fun. The player designers have learned a great deal over the last few releases. The clever “jump” across lot boundaries, and multi-floor construction was phenomenal. When a group of us stood atop a wind generator atop a Dukes Keep in Ardoris to watch the sun rise…

Wow, just Wow.

I visited player run cities, like the always amazing PaxLair, but also saw how our largest structures could indeed be decorated in a manner worthy of their fine stature. This is something I was worried about, as some homes are really, really big, so this was great to see.

Finally, with advancement and leveling, we are seeing people invest more carefully in their skills and glyph deck building. And we are beginning to see level gradation between zones, demanding either a party or high level characters to tackle them. This made the Tour Quest particularly fun!

While the team still has a lot of work to do (many dozens of maps to build, skills to flesh out, recipes to integrate, ingredients to build, etc.), we can definitely see now what this game is becoming. And while our fine team has done a lot of heavy lifting, it is clear that it is ultimately your world and it will be what you make of it. So far, I love what you are making!

I am eager to get MUCH more crafting in the game for R12, I feel we have not made nearly the progress in this area as some others. I am also happy to see more interactive obstacles as well, for similar reasons. The Obsidian Keep is evolving into a showcase for players needing to solve (not just battle) their way through maps.

There is indeed more great stuff to come!

– Lord British


During this week’s Hangout of the Avatar, Richard, Starr, and Chris chatted about Release 11, recounting their favorite moments, while also looking ahead to Release 12.


R11 Community Events

As Lord British expressed in his impressions, “…the real joy of R11 for me came by seeing what the community was doing“, and boy, was the community busy! It was another event-filled weekend as community members packed their schedule with some pretty awesome activities! Here are a few samples:

FireLotus Release 11 Party

The FireLotus Release Party has now become a monthly tradition. The R11 party was held at Fire Lotus Tavern in Owl’s Head. Community member Myrcello created this very touching video of the party, complete with meaningful quotes. Myrcello said “Do not ask me why I made this. I do not know.

I can only guess as to your motivation, Myrcello, but I can tell you that I’ve watched this video several times now, and I get emotional every time. The scenes you captured, and the wisdom contained in many of the quotes you shared, awakened in me the realization that this game is accomplishing the very purpose for which we founded Portalarium, which is to make a difference in the world by fostering community, good will, and people playing together. – dallas


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Britannia Theater Troupe, Performing “They who dwell in darkness”

During a recent video Hangout, Richard Garriott suggested it would be awesome if Avatar’s Radio could play a pre-recorded theatrical production to which in-game players could synchronize their actions. The New Britannia Theater Troupe undertook just such a challenge for Release 11:

[From a forum post by Sir Stile Teckel]

Towards the end of the R10 Post Hangout, Richard Garriott mentioned in sort of a passing remark that Avatar’s Radio playing something live, that people in game where able to put actions to would be pretty neat. Ok – No I am not quoting him here, its a loose paraphrase/interpretation that im using my own words to relay

Now, who would be the best group of people to do something like that? Hmm.. Well, How about the New Britannia Theater Troupe? A group of voice actors, writers, audio editors, agents, public relations, community leaders, etc… from the community that Amber Raine of Avatars Radio also happens to be a member of and works closely with? Sounds like that might be the right group!!

So some members of the New Britannia Theater Troupe came together and did what they do best.

Author – Gabriel NightShadow
Voice Actors – Amber Raine, Asclepius, Static Grazer, and Lady Adnor
Editor and producer – Asclepius

They have recorded a play that shall air on Avatars Radio on Saturday 10/25/14 at 10am CST, 11am EST. This is NOT an Echoes from the Caverns Podcast this time though, this is something more! Because when this airs on Avatars Radio those same voice actors shall meet in game, and perform it for you!

Paxlair will be building the theater troupe a stage for the production. Invites are being sent to Lord British, Lord Darkstarr, Firelotus, and others. Community leaders are being contacted.

The full combined resources of Avatars Radio and The Caverns, Dungeons, and Beyond are being applied to get the word out to every community member possible. For they are attempting to honor and meet the request of Lord British himself!

For those of you that missed this amazing production, we can thank the The Mad Hermit for producing this video:


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Congratulations to Archaon Avenguard for winning this release’s Bear Tavern Brawl, 1 vs 1 PvP Tournament!

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The tournament was held at the Battle of Solace Bridge, and what a fitting scene for such glorious combat (the following images posted by players):

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Release 11 Screenshot Gallery

There were many, many more wonderful community events and unique player experiences in R11, and many of those moments were shared by players on the Release 11 Screenshot Gallery forum. Here are some samples:

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Check out the rest of the awesome player posted images in the Release 11 Screenshot Gallery!


Release 11 Stays Open!  Get Your Carnival Mask Tricorn Hat!

As we have mentioned previously, we intend to maintain continuous up-time (versus 4-day access windows) once Shroud of the Avatar launches on Steam Early Access on November 24th. In preparation for that event we decided to leave Release 11 open to see how the game handles up-time longer than the usual 4 days. So far so good!
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The Grand Tour Quest
Just as in our last release, we’ve included a Grand Tour Quest designed to guide you through all the new content. And just in time for Halloween, you will be able to get the Tricorn Hat with Carnival Mask by completing the Release 11 Grand Tour Quest. This reward can only be unlocked until we launch Release 12 (did someone say rares?), so be sure to log in to R11 and talk to all the Tour Guides!


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Steam Access Keys Now Available for All SotA Backers

SotA will launch on Steam Early Access on November 24, but we’ve made Steam Access Keys immediately available to all our backers as part of their basic pledge rewards! Once you’ve redeemed your Steam Access Key you’ll have the option of playing SotA either with the Steam client or the regular client (or both).

Click here for instructions to redeem your Steam access key and installing the Steam SotA client…


Pen of the Avatar: The Tower of the Shuttered Eye!

Join Concept Art Lead, Stephen Daniele and Community Manager/Writer, Gina Dionne, on November 4th at 1:30 pm CST, for Pen of the Avatar: The Tower of the Shuttered Eye!  As always, Stephen shares his passion for creating art through insightful demonstration of tools and techniques in a fashion easily accessible for novices and professionals alike. Pen of the Avatar is live and unscripted, and community involvement is a must as input and commentary are shared throughout the show. We will be focusing on the Tower of the Shuttered Eye, so join us for our next show and add your voice to the creative vision of Shroud of the Avatar!

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If you missed any of the Pen of the Avatar episodes, you can watch them all at:https://www.shroudoftheavatar.com/?cat=9


Zack’s ELEMENTUM Wins Captivate Conference Finals

Congratulations to SotA programmer, Zack Sheppard, whose student project, ELEMENTUM, won theCaptivate Competition Finals! ELEMENTUM is a 2.5d puzzle/platformer where the character harnesses elemental powers to explore the world. Hats off to Zack and the entire ELEMENTUM team!

Elementum


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Only 32 Days left to get your 15% Black Friday Bonus!

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If you were thinking of pledging your support to the development of Shroud of the Avatar, upgrading your existing pledge, or purchasing an add-on item, player owned town, or stretch goal item, now’s a great time to do it! From now thru Black Friday Weekend we’ll add an additional 15% bonus to your Store Credit! Here are the details:

For all new purchases (including pledges, pledge upgrades, add-on items, player owned towns, and stretch goal items) between 12:00 am CST October 10, 2014 and 12:00 am CST December 2, 2014, we will add an additional 15% bonus to your Store Credit! You can use your Store Credit toward any additional purchase (including pledges, pledge upgrades, add-on items, and player owned towns).

[NOTE: The 15% bonus is calculated every day at 1:00 pm CST and added to your Store Credit account; Store Credit cannot be applied toward stretch goal items]

For example, if you have the $45 Adventurer pledge and really want to upgrade to the $90 Royal Artisan pledge which includes Episodes 2 and 3 as pledge rewards, you would normally pay the extra $45 for the upgrade. But using the 15% bonus you can immediately save $5. To do so, you would first purchase $40 worth of Store Credit Gift Coupons (via PayPal, Amazon, Bitcoin, or credit card; excluding existing Store Credit) then use the “Convert to Credits” option on your account page to transform the Store Credit Gift Coupons back into Store Credit. Within 24 hours an additional $6 bonus ($40 x 15%) would be applied to your Store Credit account, bringing it up to $46. You would then use $45 of your Store Credit to upgrade to the $90 Royal Artisan pledge.


Holiday Specials

Yep, it’s that time of the year again. Halloween marks the beginning of the Fall holiday season, so it’s time for our seasonal specials!

Black Cat

The Black Cat is our most popular pet, and in celebration of Halloween you can get your very ownBlack Cat for an additional 20% off! Better hurry because this offer only lasts one week!

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Taming Turkey Call

Need a turkey for your Thanksgiving feast, or maybe you’ve always wanted your very own pet turkey? Then you need the Taming Turkey Call! This unique indestructible item can be used to call a Turkey which is then automatically tamed. While items with similar effects can be crafted and purchased in the game this particular call never needs repair. Get your Taming Turkey Call in the Add-On Store now at 33% off!

SotA_TurkeyCall_Turkey

Cornucopia

No holiday table would be complete without its own cornucopia centerpiece! But it is more than just an attractive table decoration, this Horn of Plenty generates a random edible item or ingredient per day (food, fruit, berries, mushrooms, flour, egg, etc.). During the Fall and holiday seasons there is a percentage chance of other kinds of items being generated. Get your Cornucopia in the Add-On Store now at 33% off!

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Last Chance Exclusives

Every week going forward we are removing select items from the Add-On Store, so if you want them you better get them before they are gone! Over the past few weeks we’ve phased out the Shingle-Roof Village Homes, Cubit Measure of Prosperity, Crafting Sigil Cloak, and the Rustic 2-Story with Balcony Village Home. This week, the following items are available for an additional 20% off, and then will no longer be available in the Add-On Store.

The Scissors of Prosperity

These unique, indestructible scissors increase the ability to make higher quality items, enhance existing items and repair damaged items. While scissors with similar effects can be crafted and purchased in the game, these particular scissors never need repair.

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Combat Sigil Cloak

If you loved the Combat Sigil, then you’re especially going to love it adorning this beautifully crafted cloak!

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Alienware Sponsors $20 Pledge Upgrade Coupon

Alienware’s powerful gaming rigs are a perfect match for Shroud of the Avatar! To show their support, Alienware is sponsoring $20 SotA Pledge Upgrade Coupons to members of their Alienware Arena community!

These coupons can be used to start a SotA pledge account (for new backers), or to add $20 to an existing pledge account. If, for example, you have a $90 Royal Artisan Pledge, you can use the Alienware coupon to bump you up to a $110 Virtual Collector Pledge.

Pretty sweet deal, right? So, hurry over to the Alienware Arena website and get your $20 Pledge Upgrade Coupon now!

[NOTE: Only one Alienware Pledge Upgrade Coupon can be used per account. Coupon does not apply to Add-On Store items]


Upcoming Events

2014.10.31 – SotA at PAX Australia
2014.11.03 – SotA at GDC Next
2014.11.14 – Duke & Lord of the Manor VIP Design Roundtable with Lord British and Portalarium Studio Tour
2014.11.15 – HoBLotH II: Legends of the Hearth
2014.11.20 – Release 12 Access
2014.11.24 – SotA launches on Steam Early Access
2014.11.26 – Monthly Video Hangout: R12 & R13 Discussion
2014.11.27 – SotA at Dreamhack (Sweden)
2014.12.18 – Release 13 Access
2014.01.22 – Release 14 Access
2014.02.19 – Release 15 Access
2014.03.13 – SotA at SXSW Interactive
2014.03.26 – Release 16 Access


 

Pen of the Avatar: The Tower of the Shuttered Eye!

SotA_PotA_2014.11bJoin Concept Art Lead, Stephen Daniele and Community Manager/Writer, Gina Dionne November 4th at 1:30 pm CST as we explore the Tower of the Shuttered eye! As always Stephen shares his passion for creating art through insightful demonstration of tools and techniques in a fashion easily accessible for novices and professionals alike. Community involvement is a must as input and commentary are shared throughout the show. Pen of the Avatar is live and unscripted. Add your voice to the creative vision and join Shroud of the Avatar!

You can post your questions in advance in the comments and/or join us in the chat room for our usual banter! Cya then!

Hangout of the Avatar ~ Release 11 Postmortem

Please join us Wednesday, October 29th at 3pm CDT for our next Hangout of the Avatar! Richard, Starr, and Chris will be chatting about Release 11, recounting their favorite moments while also looking ahead to Release 12. And as usual, I’ll be taking your questions and feedback about R11 live in the chat-room and also in advance, right here in the comments section!

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I’ll have the link to the broadcast posted Monday shortly before we’re set to go live. :D See you then!

Release 11 Remains Open for More Testing

Yay! More time to get your rare R11 Grand Tour quest reward!


As we have mentioned previously, we intend to maintain continuous up-time (versus 4-day access windows) once Shroud of the Avatar launches on Steam Early Access on November 24th. In preparation for that event we have decided to leave Release 11 open to see how the game handles up-time longer than the usual 4 days.

During this extended R11 Access we might release patches depending on the data we gather, but we will do everything we can to maintain your character data through Release 11 Extended Access. Enjoy!

[Join the conversation in the forums]


We need all your help with testing the release, putting more stress on our multiplayer servers, and testing the new game content, so please join us in playing Release 11 during this extended access!

If you have not backed the game yet, you will need to register and login atwww.shroudoftheavatar.com, select the “Pledge or Send Gift!” button in the right side-bar, and purchase a pledge at the $45 Adventurer level or above. For a limited time, you can get the Adventurer pledge for only $25 with the Alienware Pledge Upgrade Coupon. And don’t forget, any new purchases made from now through Black Friday Weekend receive an additional 15% Bonus (see details below)!


Release 11 Player Instructions

Release 11 Known Issues


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Only 36 Days left to get your 15% Black Friday Bonus!

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If you were thinking of pledging your support to the development of Shroud of the Avatar, upgrading your existing pledge, or purchasing an add-on item, player owned town, or stretch goal item, now’s a great time to do it! From now thru Black Friday Weekend we’ll add an additional 15% bonus to your Store Credit! Here are the details:

For all new purchases (including pledges, pledge upgrades, add-on items, player owned towns, and stretch goal items) between 12:00 am CST October 10, 2014 and 12:00 am CST December 2, 2014, we will add an additional 15% bonus to your Store Credit! You can use your Store Credit toward any additional purchase (including pledges, pledge upgrades, add-on items, and player owned towns).

[NOTE: The 15% bonus is calculated every day at 1:00 pm CST and added to your Store Credit account; Store Credit cannot be applied toward stretch goal items]

For example, if you have the $45 Adventurer pledge and really want to upgrade to the $90 Royal Artisan pledge which includes Episodes 2 and 3 as pledge rewards, you would normally pay the extra $45 for the upgrade. But using the 15% bonus you can immediately save $5. To do so, you would first purchase $40 worth of Store Credit Gift Coupons (via PayPal, Amazon, Bitcoin, or credit card; excluding existing Store Credit) then use the “Convert to Credits” option on your account page to transform the Store Credit Gift Coupons back into Store Credit. Within 24 hours an additional $6 bonus ($40 x 15%) would be applied to your Store Credit account, bringing it up to $46. You would then use $45 of your Store Credit to upgrade to the $90 Royal Artisan pledge.


alienwareHeader

Alienware Sponsors $20 Pledge Upgrade Coupon

Alienware’s powerful gaming rigs are a perfect match for Shroud of the Avatar! To show their support, Alienware is sponsoring $20 SotA Pledge Upgrade Coupons to members of their Alienware Arena community!

These coupons can be used to start a SotA pledge account (for new backers), or to add $20 to an existing pledge account. If, for example, you have a $90 Royal Artisan Pledge, you can use the Alienware coupon to bump you up to a $110 Virtual Collector Pledge.

Pretty sweet deal, right? So, hurry over to the Alienware Arena website and get your $20 Pledge Upgrade Coupon now!

[NOTE: Only one Alienware Pledge Upgrade Coupon can be used per account. Coupon does not apply to Add-On Store items]

Update of the Avatar #96 – 2014.10.24: Play R11 Now and get Carnival Tricorn Hat, R11 Community Events, Steam Access for Backers, New Housing Page, and More!

Greetings Fellow Avatars!

Here’s what we have for you in this week’s edition of Update of the Avatar:

  • Play Release 11 Now and Get Your Carnival Mask Tricorn Hat
  • R11 Patch Notes
  • Release 11 In-game Community Events
  • R11 Steam Access Keys Now Available for All Backers
  • SotA Quick Reference Card by Stile Teckel
  • New Housing Page
  • MMORPG Shroud of the Avatar Release 11 Preview: It’s Steamy!
  • Zack’s ELEMENTUM Makes Captivate Conference Finals
  • BEDLAM’s Final Hours Stretch Goals
  • Lord British vs Darkstarr: A Family Feud
  • Get Your 15% Bonus
  • Last Chance Exclusives
  • Flexible Placement Stretch Goal: Stables
  • Alienware Sponsors $20 Pledge Upgrade Coupon
  • Upcoming Events

The Mad Hermit’s “Carnival Mask Tricorn Hat – Grand Tour Head Start” Video Guide


Play Release 11 Now and Get Your Carnival Mask Tricorn Hat

Release 11 successfully launched yesterday, October 23, with thousands of backers downloading, patching, logging in, and checking out the new changes! Lots of new content to check out, including:

  • Character Advancement: Our first pass at advancement will allow players to begin accumulating experience points and levels, while earning skill and attribute points that can be spent.
  • 9 New Skills: Including Summon Skeletons and Liches, Light Armor: Escape, Heavy Armor: Taunt, Ranged: Blinding Shot, Tactics: Dexterity, Focus: Intelligence, etc.
  • New Scenes: The dynamically changing Solace Bridge, Kobold Battle Camp, Obsidian Keep, Swamps, and more.
  • 29 Cooking, Butchery and Alchemy Recipes: Alchemy makes its first appearance with the ability to craft health and focus potions. Cooking also premiers with such recipes as Garlic Cheese, Bark Bread, Ardoris Coleslaw, Iolo’s Cat Gut Gulash, and Gorn’s Venison Roast.
  • Improved Creature Combat AI: We targeted the Liches this Release, and give them the ability to summon skeleton allies, stun/root multiple players, and generate area of effect spells around them.
  • Control Point Prototype: Vertas Pass is our first prototype of a control point. If you manage to defeat the Dark Elves holding Vertas Pass, then you can attempt to hold it against increasingly difficult waves of Dark Elves.
  • 54 New Wearables: We’ve made wearables directly obtainable in-game, including Admiral’s clothing, backers tunics & cloaks, Elven bow, Sword of Ba’Heer, etc..
  • 24 new decorations: Including that nifty new life size chess set!SotA_R11_GrandTourReward_rotated
  • …and more!

The Grand Tour Quest
Just as in our last release, we’ve included a Grand Tour Quest designed to guide you through all the new content. And just in time for Halloween, you will be able to get the Tricorn Hat with Carnival Mask by completing the Release 11 Grand Tour Quest. This reward can only be unlocked during Release 11 (did someone say rares?), so be sure to log in to R11 (Oct 23-26) and talk to all the Tour Guides!


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Battle chess action at community member Forgiven’s village lot in Owl’s Head


R11 Patch Notes

We’ve been busy fixing R11 bugs reported by our players. Here are the patch notes for the two builds we’ve pushed since opening the game Thursday morning:

October 24, 2014

Build Number 171 (Linux, Mac, PC)

Notes:

  • Performance fixes in Forests and Brave Coast
  • Fixed overblown godrays in Solace Bridge maps
  • Fixed incorrect prices in NPC merchants when trying to sell after resorting inventory list
  • Tooltips made more readable
  • Linux Patcher Fix
  • Added some starting recipes for cooking, butchery, and alchemy
  • Fixed some issues with the puzzle torches in Ravensmoor
  • Knight Marshal’s Winged Helm now on the vendor in Owl’s Head
  • “Aether Vibration Amplifier” (wireless device) added to bar and decoration vendor in Owl’s Head
  • fix lot type on text of Druid Tree deed
  • Fixed word wrapping issues in Recipe Book to fix new cooking recipes going past page limits
  • Hidden Vale Overworld polish pass (more to come in R12!)

October 23, 2014

Build Number 168 (Linux, Mac, PC)

Notes:

  • Starting Round Wooden Shield is now visible
  • Replaced Humans with Kobolds in South Ravenswood
  • Grand Tour Guides should die far less often (if ever)
  • Tour guide explanation of Ravensmoor changed to make it explicit that the guide is inside the dungeon.
  • Northmarsh is now pointing to the correct scene

Build Number 167 (Linux, Mac, PC)

Notes:

  • Starting Shield is invisible, will be fixed in next patch

Release 11 In-game Community Events

avatars-circle-logo-concept-7[1]Our amazing community has another great lineup of in-game events planned for Release 11. If you missed out on these player events during the previous Releases, we highly recommend you check some of them out this weekend. Here is the latest schedule of player events from the Avatar’s Circle Community Events calendar (http://avatarscircle.com/community-events/):

Friday, October 24
2:00pm CST – DJ FireLotus Release 11 Party, at Fire Lotus Tavern (Owl’s Head)
6:30pm CST – Story of Vengeance – Town Meeting
7:00pm CST – PaxLair Gathering – Valemark Entrance

Saturday, October 25
9:00am CST – Story of Vengeance – Revenge
10:00am CST – Britannia Theatre Troupe, Performing “They who dwell in darkness” – Live @ PaxLair
12:00pm CST – Welcome Quest in R11 (details)
2:00 pm CST – Community Hangout – R11 Feedback
3:00pm CST – Storytelling Event in Port Phoenix (Holtrot)
4:30 pm CST – Explore Novia! Spooky Braemar

Sunday, October 26
10:30am CST – Church of The Dark Star – Power of Chaos – Creating a fuller, better life.
12:00pm CST – Bear Tavern Brawl (1v1 & 4v4v4 free-for-all) (details)
2:00pm CST – Maze Event
4:00pm CST – All Town Gathering
5:45pm CST – Story of Vengeance – Serenite
6:01pm CST – Story of Vengeance – Malus
7:00pm CST – PaxLair Meeting – Valemark


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Release 11 Steam Access Keys Now Available for All SotA Backers

SotA will launch on Steam Early Access on November 24, but we’ve made Steam Access Keys immediately available to all our backers as part of their basic pledge rewards! Once you’ve redeemed your Steam Access Key you’ll have the option of playing SotA either with the Steam client or the regular client (or both). Here are the instructions for redeeming your Steam access key and installing the SotA client:
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  1. If you are not currently a backer of SotA you will need to purchase a pledge. Click here for more information about our pledges.
  2. Log into SotA and go to your Account page (or look on the right side-bar of the main page)
  3. Scroll to the bottom of the page and you’ll see a box on the right side labeled “Play SotA through Steam”. Click on the link that reads “…click here to redeem an access key by signing in through Steam!
  4. You’ll be instructed to Sign in through Steam
  5. Click the “Allow” button to redeem and activate the SotA key on your Steam account
  6. You’ll see a SotA “Congratulations” message confirming successful Steam activation. Click the “account page” link to return you to your SotA Account page.
  7. Scroll to the bottom of your account page and you’ll see “Play SotA through Steam” box now states that your Steam access key has been redeemed, and displays the Steam Account it is associated with.
  8. SotA_SteamSteps3You will need to launch your Steam desktop client to see Shroud of the Avatar in your Steam Library (because SotA is not yet available in the Steam Store to the general public, it will not show up in your library if you view your Steam account through a web browser)
  9. Select Shroud of the Avatar in your Steam Library and click on “INSTALL”
  10. Follow the Steam installation instructions and once the download is complete you will be able to launch SotA from Steam (but remember, you won’t be able to play SotA until Release 11 launches next week, Oct 23).

Let us know if you have any problems and thanks for helping us test the Steam client in preparation for launching SotA on Steam Early Access on November 24th!


SotA Quick Reference Card by Stile Teckel

Community Member Sir Stile Teckel created a very handy Quick Reference Card for SotA, including some great game resource links. He put this together initially for Release 9 and has been updating it with each new Release. Here’s page 1 of the latest version:

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[Here's the link to the latest version of the full 2-page document]


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New Housing Page

We’ve added a new housing page to the SotA website (under the “Store” menu). This section compiles all the housing images and details currently scattered across all the pledge descriptions and weekly updates. Additionally, we’re including blueprint images for each house (thanks Rustic Dragon). The housing page is still under construction so look for additional houses to be added each week.

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MMORPG Shroud of the Avatar Release 11 Preview: It’s Steamy!

Red Thomas visited the Portalarium Studio this week and was treated to a preview of Release 11. Here’s excerpt from his R11 article on MMORPG.com:

I am quite literally just back from Austin as I sit down to write this latest update on Shroud of the Avatar. I wasn’t able to make it up for my typical week-before-release hangout with the guys, so today was pretty much a drive by. It’s well worth staying up past my bedtime to hack this article out, though. Despite the brevity of my visit, I got a load of cool information to share with you folks, and I’m excited to do it.

Right… So a triple shot espresso later, and we’re rolling into paragraph number two, but my energy crisis isn’t what you’re here for. You want to know about the things coming up for Release 11, like character advancement and some of the new crafting changes. You probably already know about that stuff, and about the recent news concerning Steam. There’s even cooler stuff in store though, so read on!

[Read more...]


Zack’s ELEMENTUM Makes Captivate Conference Finals

The Captivate Conference starts today (Oct 24th) here in Austin, TX, and runs through October 26th. Several members of the SotA Dev Team are giving talks there, including Starr Long, Finn Staber, Geoff Mellon, and Jay Reichman.

Special congratulations to SotA programmer, Zack Sheppard, whose student project, ELEMENTUM, made it to the Captivate Competition Finals! ELEMENTUM is a 2.5d puzzle/platformer where the character harnesses elemental powers to explore the world. Good luck in the competition Zack!

Elementum


BEDLAM’s Final Hours Stretch Goals

BEDLAM_KickstarterBEDLAM, a really cool game being Kickstarted by our friends and fellow Austinites at Skyshine Games, have reached their funding goal and first six stretch goals! Way to go Skyshine!

BEDLAM is a strategic single-player roguelike turn-based RPG set in a post-apocalyptic era, created for the PC and Mac – Inspired by great games like The Banner Saga, FTL and XCOM.

“I loved Heavy Metal growing up. I read the magazine and watched the movie about a zillion times (more than Star Wars actually)”, said Starr Long (SotA Executive Producer). “…[BEDLAM] totally resurrects that Moebius 80s sci-fi look. It is also another great example of the resurrection of turn based RPGs (hallelujah!). So go check out their Kickstarter and let’s make this happen!”

Check out their video and if you like what you see then jump over to the BEDLAM Kickstarter page and pledge your support (they are in their final hours so you better hurry)!


Lord British vs Darkstarr: A Family Feud

It seems the Lord British vs Darkstarr duel has become a family affair. Darkstarr’s daughter has joined the feud!


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Only 39 Days left to get your 15% Black Friday Bonus!

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If you were thinking of pledging your support to the development of Shroud of the Avatar, upgrading your existing pledge, or purchasing an add-on item, player owned town, or stretch goal item, now’s a great time to do it! From now thru Black Friday Weekend we’ll add an additional 15% bonus to your Store Credit! Here are the details:

For all new purchases (including pledges, pledge upgrades, add-on items, player owned towns, and stretch goal items) between 12:00 am CST October 10, 2014 and 12:00 am CST December 2, 2014, we will add an additional 15% bonus to your Store Credit! You can use your Store Credit toward any additional purchase (including pledges, pledge upgrades, add-on items, and player owned towns).

[NOTE: The 15% bonus is calculated every day at 1:00 pm CST and added to your Store Credit account; Store Credit cannot be applied toward stretch goal items]

For example, if you have the $45 Adventurer pledge and really want to upgrade to the $90 Royal Artisan pledge which includes Episodes 2 and 3 as pledge rewards, you would normally pay the extra $45 for the upgrade. But using the 15% bonus you can immediately save $5. To do so, you would first purchase $40 worth of Store Credit Gift Coupons (via PayPal, Amazon, Bitcoin, or credit card; excluding existing Store Credit) then use the “Convert to Credits” option on your account page to transform the Store Credit Gift Coupons back into Store Credit. Within 24 hours an additional $6 bonus ($40 x 15%) would be applied to your Store Credit account, bringing it up to $46. You would then use $45 of your Store Credit to upgrade to the $90 Royal Artisan pledge.


Last Chance Exclusives

Every week going forward we are removing select items from the Add-On Store, so if you want them you better get them before they are gone! Over the past few weeks we’ve phased out the Shingle-Roof Village Homes, Cubit Measure of Prosperity, and the Crafting Sigil Cloak. This week, the following item is available for an additional 20% off, and then will no longer be available in the Add-On Store.

Rustic 2-Story with Balcony Village Home

In our line of rustic homes is this quaint, 2-story, 2-room village home (you may have seen this house in Braemar).

SotA_Rustic_2Story_balcony_village_home_small


Flexible Placement Stretch Goal: Stables

If you’d like to support the flexible lot placement with multiple structures stretch goal then head over to the Stretch Goal Store and purchase these stables. It’s the perfect out-building to hold your mounts and other assorted fauna found in New Britannia. If the stretch goal is met, this item will gain the ability to be decorated:

SotA_StretchGoal_LotPlacement_Stables


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Alienware Sponsors $20 Pledge Upgrade Coupon

Alienware’s powerful gaming rigs are a perfect match for Shroud of the Avatar! To show their support, Alienware is sponsoring $20 SotA Pledge Upgrade Coupons to members of their Alienware Arena community!

These coupons can be used to start a SotA pledge account (for new backers), or to add $20 to an existing pledge account. If, for example, you have a $90 Royal Artisan Pledge, you can use the Alienware coupon to bump you up to a $110 Virtual Collector Pledge.

Pretty sweet deal, right? So, hurry over to the Alienware Arena website and get your $20 Pledge Upgrade Coupon now!

[NOTE: Only one Alienware Pledge Upgrade Coupon can be used per account. Coupon does not apply to Add-On Store items]


Upcoming Events

2014.10.23 – Release 11 Access
2014.10.24 – SotA at Captivate
2014.10.29 – Monthly Video Hangout: R11 & R12 Discussion
2014.10.29 – SotA at Paris Games Week
2014.10.31 – SotA at PAX Australia
2014.11.03 – SotA at GDC Next
2014.11.14 – Duke & Lord of the Manor VIP Design Roundtable with Lord British and Portalarium Studio Tour
2014.11.15 – HoBLotH II: Legends of the Hearth
2014.11.20 – Release 12 Access
2014.11.24 – SotA launches on Steam Early Access
2014.11.26 – Monthly Video Hangout: R12 & R13 Discussion
2014.11.27 – SotA at Dreamhack (Sweden)
2014.12.18 – Release 13 Access
2014.01.22 – Release 14 Access
2014.02.19 – Release 15 Access
2014.03.13 – SotA at SXSW Interactive
2014.03.26 – Release 16 Access


 

Release 11 Instructions

[A Public Forum post by Starr Long]

Darkstarr

Greetings Avatars,

Thank you to our loyal backers of Shroud of the Avatar. Release 11 access for all backers at First Responder level and above begins this Thursday, October 23 at 10:30 AM Central Time (16:30 GMT). Release 11 access will end on Monday,October 27 at 10:00 AM Central Time (16:00 GMT. Starting today, you can begin installing and patching (see instructions below), but login will not be enabled until Thursday morning.

Please read this entire message, as well as the linked instructions and known issues. This early in development, we are in a constant state of change and we do not yet have in-game systems to inform players of these changes or share ways to help them to explore new content and systems. This means we rely entirely on this post/email and the linked instructions and known issues to convey the current game state. We regularly have to answer questions or filter bug reports because 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.

Steam_logoWe are moving full steam ahead (oh yes, I went there) towards our Steam Early Access launch on November 24. We were nervous at first about moving to Steam, but are feeling great now based on the overwhelmingly positive and speedy results of our Steam Greenlight campaign, and the incredible support Steam has been giving us. With that said, we need this launch to be super smooth. So we need your help in R11 to play the game through Steam if you are willing. As a reminder Steam is optional for playing Shroud. You can still play without using Steam.

We have lots of new content for you to play with (over a hundred!), and some major changes, including the addition of advancement (finally a sense of progress through gameplay), modifications to combat systems (movement penalties, sprinting, encumbrance, durability, etc.), crafting (cooking, repair, alchemy), and a major change to how wilderness scenes work on the Overworld map (see below for more details).

Without further ado, here are the R11 deliverables, along with some extra notes and new deliverables in italics.

RELEASE 11, October 23 – 26 2014:

  • Steam Prep: We will make downloading and playing the game through Steam functional, and will conduct a Steam test with our backers at Developer level (and above).SotA_SteamSteps1
    • Steam for all Backers: After some internal deliberation, we decided to open the Steam test to all backers in order to get the most data prior to official Steam Early Access Launch on Nov 24. As a reminder Steam is optional for playing Shroud. You can still play without using Steam. Here are instructions on how to link your SotA account to your Steam account:
      • Log into SotA and go to your Account page
      • Scroll to the bottom of the page and you’ll see a box on the right side labeled “Play SotA through Steam”. Click on the link that reads “…click here to redeem an access key by signing in through Steam!“
      • You’ll be instructed to Sign in through Steam (NOTE: make sure you are signing into the correct Steam account! Steam does not support unlinking if you make a mistake here)
      • Click the “Allow” button to redeem and activate the SotA key on your Steam accountSotA_SteamSteps3
      • You’ll see a SotA “Congratulations” message confirming successful Steam activation. Click the “account page” link to return you to your SotA Account page.
      • Scroll to the bottom of your account page and you’ll see “Play SotA through Steam” box now states that your Steam access key has been redeemed, and displays the Steam Account it is associated with.
      • You will need to launch your Steam desktop client to see Shroud of the Avatar in your Steam Library (because SotA is not yet available in the Steam Store to the general public, it will not show up in your library if you view your Steam account through a web browser)
      • Select Shroud of the Avatar in your Steam Library and click on “INSTALL”
      • Follow the Steam installation instructions and once the download is complete you will be able to launch SotA from Steam
  • Maps: We will continue to expand the mainland scenes to include Solace Bridge (one of the three starting maps that is the aftermath of a village that defended itself against an undead army) and the Kobold Battle Camp (one of three battle camps in the game). We will also add the Swamp biome to the game, along with a swamp scene.
    • New Overworld Wilderness Scene Strategy: After playing ourselves and also observing new players in the game, we have decided to change the way we associate wilderness scenes to the Overworld. Previously, our plan was to repeat generic wilderness maps (road, forest, desert, swamp, mountain, etc.) in each hex location, and allow player to enter any hex. This had some negative effects on gameplay. The biggest, was how difficult it made it to coordinate meeting people out in the wilderness, because there was no named location to refer to; “meet me at the second tree off the road”. The second, was that it artificially spread players out, because there was a practically infinite number of scenes. Another issue, was that by repeating these scenes yet linking them to specific location it seemed to highlight the currently low number of scenes we have. The biggest issue, however, was simply learned behavior versus new behavior. Years of playing games with overworld maps taught us to go to locations with names on them. In some games, that was all there was, but in others (Ultimas, JRPGs, etc.) you might get pulled into a random encounter along the way. So, our original plan fought against that learned behavior, and made navigation counter intuitive. This has led us to experiment this release with moving to a more traditional model for the map, where every location that a player can enter is marked on the map with a name, and often a “marker” of some sort (village, dungeon entrance, tower, castle, etc.). We are also moving towards each of these maps being visually distinct (albeit similar when part of the same area). The result, we feel, is a map that is MUCH easier to navigate and coordinate with other players. We know this is slightly different than what we have presented in the past, but we feel this is the right direction for the game.SotA_Overworld2
    • Solace Bridge: This is one of the very first examples that shows how we plan to dynamically change the state of scenes in the game, either through random events, player actions, or updates to the world. There are two versions of this scene that can be visited in R11. The first version, the Battle of Solace Bridge, depicts the aftermath of a village defending itself against an undead army. This post-battle state of the scene will be players first view of Solace Bridge when they start the game. When/if players return to this scene later during gameplay, there may be another pitched battle between villagers and undead already underway (which is another game state). Solace Bridge is the version of this area that players will usually see if/when they return later, and represents the Solace Bridge scene sometime after the battle when things have been rebuilt and the land has recovered a bit. Both versions (Solace Bridge and The Battle of Solace Bridge) can be accessed via the Lunar Rift in Owl’s Head. Note that in R11 the war torn version is flagged as an Open PVP area. Solace Bridge will be where one of the three working Lunar Rifts can be found on the mainland, and is thus a key strategic location for the Perennial Coast of Novia, and one of the three common entry points for “outlanders” from Earth. Normally the Perennial Coast is considered a region that celebrates the Principle of Love, however the Perennial Coast leaders in nearby Ardoris are rumored to be discordant. This discord could not have come at a worse time, because undead hordes have been pouring South from the Drachvald region. The armies of Ardoris do their best to repel these armies, but perhaps only Outlanders can turn the tide…SotA_BattleSolaceBridge1
    • Kobold Battle Camp: The conflict between humans and Kobolds, which has of late erupted in the Northwest of Novia, is particularly distressing in the Courageous lands of the Norgard. Kobolds were once considered an ally, and they have helped humans with key advancements in military technology; such as siege engines, moon towers, and ethereal amplifiers. So, it is both sad and worrisome that this clever and brutish race has suddenly turned against us. Kobold hunting parties seeking human prey, thought to come primarily from Skrekk (the underground city of the Kobolds), are fanning out across Norgard and have even been seen in Verdantis! Travelers should be wary of their battle camps, set up for regional influence primarily in the Northwest of Novia. Not only will they attack humans on sight, but they are usually well armed, and have been seen to carry unknown and advanced weaponry! However they do not seem to have the same animosity towards Outlanders as others do, so they might be willing to talk to someone they view as a peer on the battlefield…SotA_KoboldBattleCamp
    • Swamp Variations: As we move to this new strategy for the overworld, we want each map to have variations of not just creatures and resources, but also variations in layout and decorations. The first examples of this are the three variations of swamp that can be seen in the Hidden Vale swamps and marshes on the eastern coast. Those scenes are The Mysterious Swamp (one of the R11 Grand Tour destinations), Southmarsh, and Northmarsh. Note that we will continue this strategy of map variations by working on the Ravenswood forest maps (in the southern end of Hidden Vale) in R12, but in R11 all three Ravenswood scenes share the same map.SotA_Swamp_Biome1
    • Obsidian Keep: This is an “in progress scene” but we loved it so much we decided to put it in the game even in this early state. This undead fortress is based on one of the earliest concept sketches we did. It is a great example of how we plan to introduce some strategic interactivity into our maps with locked doors, sequences of fortifications, etc. In R12 we plan to add even more functionality to this scene, including a functioning drawbridge with a crank on the other side of the wall you approach.SotA_SpalshArt_GatehouseSotA_ObsidianKeep2
    • Map Entrance Changes: We moved the temporary entrances to the PVP Arenas and the Challenge Dungeon to their new “semi-permanent” locations. You can find the Team PVP Arena in Ardoris just off the main square and the Open PVP Arena is now opposite the entrance to the Clink. The Challenge Dungeon is now a “spell” cast by using the book in the graveyard in Braemar.
    • Riot in the Clink: This scenario in the Clink is another example of how we plan to change the state of scenes. In this case, each time you enter the Clink under Owlshead, there is a random chance that a prison riot has just occurred. It makes one wonder if they might need a new, less brutal warden…
  • Character Advancement: Our first pass at advancement will allow players to begin accumulating experience points and levels, while earning skill and attribute points that can be spent.
    • New Starting State: We are now starting players at an approximate level 5. I say approximate, because this is just our first pass at what “level 5” means, as far as gear, skill points, attributes, etc. We are also starting everyone with Blade skills and blade gear only in locked mode, so that we can ease people into deck combat after they have played the game a bit. For now, you can immediately switch to deck mode, but long term we will have this be an unlock at level X. Also, note that if you want to immediately respec to play a mage, archer, etc. there is now a starting gear vendor in Braemar.
    • XP for Combat Only: Right now, the only thing that grants experience is combat, but we will expand that each release to encompass other activities, including quests and crafting.
    • Leveled Content: The forest and swamp maps around Braemar have had a pass at leveled content, so that the further you move away from Braemar the harder it gets. This is just a very early pass. So, the mix and placement of creatures is not meant to feel final in any way. Yes, we know that bears don’t roam around in packs! :) Note that none of the other maps have been balanced for low level characters. So, be careful.
  • Spells & Skills: Death Magic will expand to include summoning skeletons (formerly zombies) and liches (formerly ghouls)
    • Attributes as Passive Skills: we decided to move increasing attributes to the skill trees, because it kept all advancement spending in one place, and it was a better way to balance increasing attributes against increasing skills. This change resulted in several changes to the Tactics, Focus, and Heavy Armor Skill Trees as you can see here. It also resulted in the elimination of the Brawl and Field Repair skills.Focus Skills Tree (4)SotA_Tactics-Combat-Tree-3bSotA_Heavy-Armor-Combat-Tree-4b
    • 9 New Skills: We added the following skills:
      • Death Magic:
        • Summon Skeleton: Summons a Skeleton Footman (melee) to fight for the caster.
        • Summon Lich: Summons a powerful Lich to fight for the caster.
        • Death Field: Creates a field that drains life of those who are in it
      • Light Armor:
        • Escape: Light Armor buff that decreases agro on the caster allowing them to attempt escape or at least shift the target of aggression away when fighting A.I. This is a great skill for soft and crunchy casters to have!
      • Heavy Armor:
        • Taunt: Heavy Armor buff that increases agro on the caster to shift the target of A.I. aggression onto the caster. Works well in synergy with Escape in party situations where heavily armored melee fighters want to protect soft and crunchy casters.
      • Ranged:
        • Blinding Shot: Ranged skill that damages target and adds a debuff that lowers the target’s accuracy.
      • Tactics:
        • Dexterity: Innate skill that increases dexterity (note that the icon is temporary)
        • Strength: Innate skill that increases strength (note that the icon is temporary)
      • Focus:
        • Intelligence: Innate skill that increases intelligence (note that the icon is temporary)
  • Housing: Housing functionality will expand so players will finally be able to attach Stone & Timber and Stone style basements to their houses. This will be a first pass, so expect to see fun things like basement entrances on upper floors, on boats, etc.
    • Basements Pushed: We were able to get a version of basements working internally, but there were too many issues to address related to permissions, teleporting back and forth between linked instances, ownership of multiple linked spaces, etc. We hope to get this in before end of year.
    • House Deeds Relocated: Our “help wanted” request for an in-game realtor has still not been answered, so we have moved all the House Deed items from the bartender in Owl’s Head to the Decoration Vendors in the same town.
    • House Deeds Renamed: We edited all the House Deed names to make them more descriptive and self consistent (and by “we” I mean Lord British himself named them).
  • Crafting: A first pass at cooking and alchemy will come online, and gear will now take damage and will be repairable. We are also going to make a resource spawner distribution pass across most maps to add new resource spawns (reagents) and balance resource distribution.upload[4]
    • 29 Cooking, Butchery and Alchemy Recipes: Alchemy makes its first appearance with the ability to craft health and focus potions. Cooking also premiers, albeit with some placeholder art, and many ingredients only available through vendors, as we do not yet have the art done (ex apple trees, many of the meats, etc.).Repair Kits: In order to repair your damaged gear you will have to use a repair kit. These can be crafted or purchased, and are consumed upon use. For R11, there is just a single generic kit that repairs all kinds of gear. Long term, we plan to have varying degrees of specialized repair kits for each type of armor and weapon, in addition to generic armor and weapon kits. The more specialized the kit is, the more effective it will be. We will also likely have varying qualities of repair kits. We also plan to have repairing at a crafting tables as being much more effective than using a repair kit, and it will probably be the only way to recover maximum durability on an item.
      • 2 Alchemy Recipes: Health and Focus Potions
      • 7 Butchery Recipes: Bovine, Mutton, Venison, Pork, Rabbit, Chicken, and Duck
      • 20 Cooking Recipes:
        • 6 Refined Ingredients: Salt, Yeast Culture, Oil, Flask of Vinegar, Vegetable Stock, and Beef Stock
        • Cheese, Garlic Cheese, Banana,and Bark Bread
        • Ardoris Coleslaw
        • Grannus Beef Stew
        • Iolo’s Cat Gut Gulash
        • Dupre’s Duck Stew
        • Son of Owan Regicide Stovies
        • Gorn’s Venison Roast
        • Sauteed Bass
        • Apple Pie
        • Baked Trout
        • Planked Salmon
    • Arrow Recipe: Archers rejoice! You can now be more self sufficient by crafting your own arrows.SotA_ArrowCraftingRecipe
    • Resource Spawns: We have made a pass to greatly increase the density, frequency, and variety of resource spawns including spawners for all 8 magic reagents. The goal is to make them readily available for players so they have an alternative to purchasing from vendors. Many of these spawners do not yet have the correct art, nor are they in the correct biomes. For instance, sulphurous ash will eventually only appear in volcanic (or recently volcanic) regions. For now, you can find it in the forests, and it uses the placeholder white disc. Each release, this will improve as we add the correct biomes and we create the art..
    • Auto Harvesting Tool Choice: We now automatically select a harvesting tool from your inventory if you do not have one in your non-combat bar. This makes harvesting while adventuring much faster.
    • Recipes for Purchase: You can now purchase recipes to add to your recipe book from various vendors in the game.
  • Creatures: A pass will be made through the creatures to add more variety to them via skills and behaviors. We are going to target the Liches as an example, and give them the ability to summon skeleton allies, stun/root multiple players, and generate area of effect spells around them.SotA_R7_PlayerCapture15
    • Ranged AI: In addition to giving the Liches more powers we also updated the AI for ranged combatants so they will try to maintain ranged distance from the players versus allowing the players to just run up and melee attack
  • Combat: We are going make movement have an effect on ranged combat, so that running will decrease the effectiveness of ranged attacks, while standing still will confer a bonus. We are also removing the requirement to equip arrows in the offhand, and instead, will pull them straight from your inventory.
    • Locked Card Changes: Locked cards now have cooldown and focus cost multiplier based on the number of levels in the skill. These range from 3.0x at skill level 1 to 1.25X at skill level 5.
  • Control Point: Vertas Pass will become our first prototype of a control point. If you manage to defeat the Dark Elves holding Vertas Pass, then you can attempt to hold it against increasingly difficult waves of Dark Elves.
    • Control Point Prototype: We have a very early version of this working with Vertas Pass. For R11, players can claim the control point by standing next to the flag and the elves can do the same. If the players own the point, then the elves will attack in waves. For R11, the A.I. cannot open or destroy the gates, so they have to remain locked open. However that tech is coming in an upcoming release (R12 perhaps?). We also want to add the ability for multiple players or A.I. to speed up the time it takes to claim the control point (like most capture the flag scenarios work). Even at this early stage, it feels fun and brings back some great memories of trying to hold a base against the waves of the Bane army in Tabula Rasa.vertas_pass6
  • Customization: Hair will now play nice with helmets and hats so you will no longer suddenly become bald when you equip headgear.
    • Hair with Hats/Helmets Pushed: This task ended up being more complex than originally estimated, and the risk of breaking all the hairstyles and helmets was not worth it for R11. We hope to tackle this in R12
  • NPC Conversation: When you talk to NPCs, they will now become the focus of your screen (blurring out the background) with a dedicated chat window for the discussion.
    • Conversation Camera: This new mode is now in the game, and we feel it is a dramatic improvement over the previous attempt. Getting the camera to pick a good angle where your character and the NPC are in view is quite challenging, but it’s cool when it works! We even made it so if the camera can’t find a good angle with both characters, it just goes into first person view focused on the NPC you are talking to. There are still some lingering issues when talking to non-human NPCs who are of different heights, but we will polish those out over the next few releases.
  • Sprinting: Getting into and maintaining range is quite challenging when everyone moves at the exact same speed and the game can easily devolve into optimizing predictive paths to your target. To help with this, we have added an experimental sprinting mode that you execute by double tapping the W key while you are running. This increases your run speed, but it drains focus. So, use it strategically and sparingly!
  • Resurrection at startpoint of map: We hope to get a first pass of the Death system in R12, but for now, we put you at the entrance to the map to save you from getting spawn camped by the monsters. You are welcome. This also adds real value to resurrect spells for party members.
  • Dusk and Dawn Longer: The cast shadows during dawn and dusk are some of the most visually striking moments during our game. So, we decided to extend the time that the game spends at dawn and dusk while decreasing the length of night.
  • 54 New Wearables: We added a huge number of new equippable and wearable items into the game. They can be found (for now) on the Merchant at the College of Arms in Owl’s Head (the one with the big banners when you first come through the gates).
    • Admiral’s Clothing Set (5 Pieces including the hat)
    • Benefactor’s, Founder’s, and Royal Founder’s Tunics
    • Blade of the Avatar, Elven, Obsidian Order, Oracle, and Founder’s Cloaks
    • Elven Bow
    • Founder’s and Royal Founder’s Cloth, Leather, Mail, and Plate Armor Sets (4 Pieces each)
    • Founder’s Shield
    • Lord Marshal’s Drinking Horn
    • Riding Clothes Set (4 Pieces)
    • Spyglass
    • Sword of the Ba’Heer
  • 24 New Decorations: We added lots of new home decorations to the game including:
    • Lord Marshal Throne (Benefactor and Founder)
    • Lord Marshal’s Great Hearth
    • Chess Set (Life Size)
    • Wind Generators (two sizes)
    • Stretch Goal Buildings: Stables, Greenhouse, Garden Shed, and Knight’s Tents (3 sizes)
    • Knight’s Table (Benefactor and Founder)
    • Artisan Box of Plenty
    • Baron’s Bed (Benefactor and Founder)
    • Fyndoro’s Tablet of Finding
    • Lord British Birthday Cake
    • Puzzle Box
    • Hot Tub
    • Saddle Stands (with bags and without)
    • Wooden Wall DividerSotA_ChessSet1
  • Explorers Guild Quest: The Grand Tour returns in R11. You can talk to any Tour Guide (one is near where new players appear, in Braemar) to begin the quest. Visiting all the Tour Guides (who are stationed near the new content introduced in this release) will earn a reward for your account. For R11 we have a Carnival Mask Tricorn Hat (very similar to the traditional Venetian Bauta) in celebration of the American holiday of Halloween. This reward can only be unlocked during this release (did someone say rares?). So, be sure to complete the Grand Tour before the release is over! Also for R11 we have made the quest more challenging, so be sure to level up and form a group for some of the more challenging sections (like the Mysterious Swamp).

So, now that it is clear what you can expect, we should also be as clear about what you should not expect:

  • Performance: We have only done rudimentary optimizations, and we do not yet have a full suite of performance fallbacks (LODs, etc.). This means the game will be quite slow on older machines, and due to memory usage, might be unstable in certain conditions (like densely decorated areas). With each release, we will be doing further optimizations and adding to our fallbacks to improve performance.
  • Crafting: The crafting system is in the game as a framework, but is still missing some key components like events and enhancement. Skill checks are also not in yet, so results are always 100% successful. Long term, the percentage chance to make items will depend on a myriad of variables and can result in a variety of results including: making the item desired, making a simpler version of the item that will need to be enhanced, or making a damaged version of the item that needs repair.
  • Game Loop: Release 11 is a further iteration on our rudimentary game loop, but it is still very bare bones, even though we now have a rough first pass at player advancement (minus trainers). Expect this to expand with each subsequent release, but it won’t be truly complete until we hit Beta later this year.
  • Advanced Player Housing: There are some advanced features for player housing, including basements and ceiling decorations that are not yet integrated. Expect to see these appear in future releases.
  • Visual Quality: Efforts to improve visual quality are ongoing. We will continue to iterate on these until we have highly competitive visuals.
  • Tutorials: We do not yet have any tutorials to assist players in starting the game. In general, we try to wait as long as possible to implement these so we do not have to constantly redo them as we add new systems or tweak existing ones.

Here are links to instructions and known issues. Thank you again for your continued support. This is truly the most amazing community we have ever worked with, and we are proud to be on this journey with you.

Sincerely,
Starr Long
aka Darkstarr
Executive Producer

[Join the Release 11 conversation in the public forums]


We need all your help with testing the new patches, putting more stress on our multiplayer servers, and testing the new game content, so please join us in playing Release 11!

If you have not backed the game yet, you will need to register and login atwww.shroudoftheavatar.com, select the “Pledge or Send Gift!” button in the right side-bar, and purchase a pledge at the $45 Adventurer level or above. For a limited time, you can get the Adventurer pledge for only $25 with the Alienware Pledge Upgrade Coupon. And don’t forget, any new purchases made from now through Black Friday Weekend receive an additional 15% Bonus (see details below)!


Release 11 Player Instructions

Release 11 Known Issues


The Mad Hermit’s Video Guide to Install and Play on Steam

Check out this video guide the Mad Hermit put together to walk you through the process of redeeming/installing SotA on your Steam account.


BEDLAM Reaches Kickstarter Funding Goals

BEDLAM_KickstarterBEDLAM, a really cool game being Kickstarted by our friends and fellow Austinites at Skyshine Games, reached their funding goal yesterday! Way to go Skyshine!

BEDLAM is a strategic single-player roguelike turn-based RPG set in a post-apocalyptic era, created for the PC and Mac – Inspired by great games like The Banner Saga, FTL and XCOM.

“I loved Heavy Metal growing up. I read the magazine and watched the movie about a zillion times (more than Star Wars actually)”, said Starr Long (SotA Executive Producer). “…[BEDLAM] totally resurrects that Moebius 80s sci-fi look. It is also another great example of the resurrection of turn based RPGs (hallelujah!). So go check out their Kickstarter and let’s make this happen!”

Check out their video and if you like what you see then jump over to the BEDLAM Kickstarter page and pledge your support (only 2 days left)!


timeIsRunningOut6

Only 41 Days left to get your 15% Black Friday Bonus!

SotA_15PercentBonus

If you were thinking of pledging your support to the development of Shroud of the Avatar, upgrading your existing pledge, or purchasing an add-on item, player owned town, or stretch goal item, now’s a great time to do it! From now thru Black Friday Weekend we’ll add an additional 15% bonus to your Store Credit! Here are the details:

For all new purchases (including pledges, pledge upgrades, add-on items, player owned towns, and stretch goal items) between 12:00 am CST October 10, 2014 and 12:00 am CST December 2, 2014, we will add an additional 15% bonus to your Store Credit! You can use your Store Credit toward any additional purchase (including pledges, pledge upgrades, add-on items, and player owned towns).

[NOTE: The 15% bonus is calculated every day at 1:00 pm CST and added to your Store Credit account; Store Credit cannot be applied toward stretch goal items]

For example, if you have the $45 Adventurer pledge and really want to upgrade to the $90 Royal Artisan pledge which includes Episodes 2 and 3 as pledge rewards, you would normally pay the extra $45 for the upgrade. But using the 15% bonus you can immediately save $5. To do so, you would first purchase $40 worth of Store Credit Gift Coupons (via PayPal, Amazon, Bitcoin, or credit card; excluding existing Store Credit) then use the “Convert to Credits” option on your account page to transform the Store Credit Gift Coupons back into Store Credit. Within 24 hours an additional $6 bonus ($40 x 15%) would be applied to your Store Credit account, bringing it up to $46. You would then use $45 of your Store Credit to upgrade to the $90 Royal Artisan pledge.


 

Update of the Avatar #95 – 2014.10.17: Steam Access Keys, Chess Set, Solace Bridge, 15% Bonus, BEDLAM Kickstarter, Navigator Phonograph, and More!

Greetings Fellow Avatars!

Here’s what we have for you in this week’s edition of Update of the Avatar:

  • Chess, Anyone?
  • R11 Steam Access Keys Now Available for All Backers
  • The Release 11 Grand Tour Quest Reward
  • Solace Bridge
  • Navigator Pledge Reward: Phonograph
  • Get Your 15% Bonus
  • Tabletop Gaming with Wil Wheaton
  • Help Kickstart Bedlam
  • Double Robotics + Portalarium
  • Last Chance Exclusives
  • Alienware Sponsors $20 Pledge Upgrade Coupon
  • Upcoming Events

SotA_ChessSet1

Chess, Anyone?


Invite your friends over for a friendly (or not so friendly) game of chess on this life size chess set, gloriously crafted by Scottie Jones. Available now in the Add-On Store, this decoration comes complete with board and individual chess pieces and fits nicely in a yard, game room, or deck.

SotA_ChessSet2

SotA_ChessSet3


Steam_logo

Release 11 Steam Access Keys Now Available for All SotA Backers

SotA will not be available for purchase on Steam Early Access until November 24, but all our backers can use Steam to play Release 11 by redeeming their Steam Access key, which we made available yesterday. You won’t be able to play until Release 11 is launched next week (Oct 23), but you can install it now to help us make sure the Steam access/installation process is bug-free. Here are the instructions for redeeming your Steam access key and installing the SotA client:
SotA_SteamSteps1

  1. If you are not currently a backer of SotA you will need to purchase a pledge. Click here for more information about our pledges.
  2. Log into SotA and go to your Account page
  3. Scroll to the bottom of the page and you’ll see a box on the right side labeled “Play SotA through Steam”. Click on the link that reads “…click here to redeem an access key by signing in through Steam!
  4. You’ll be instructed to Sign in through Steam
  5. Click the “Allow” button to redeem and activate the SotA key on your Steam account
  6. You’ll see a SotA “Congratulations” message confirming successful Steam activation. Click the “account page” link to return you to your SotA Acccount page.
  7. Scroll to the bottom of your account page and you’ll see “Play SotA through Steam” box now states that your Steam access key has been redeemed, and displays the Steam Account it is associated with.
  8. SotA_SteamSteps3You will need to launch your Steam desktop client to see Shroud of the Avatar in your Steam Library (because SotA is not yet available in the Steam Store to the general public, it will not show up in your library if you view your Steam account through a web browser)
  9. Select Shroud of the Avatar in your Steam Library and click on “INSTALL”
  10. Follow the Steam installation instructions and once the download is complete you will be able to launch SotA from Steam (but remember, you won’t be able to play SotA until Release 11 launches next week, Oct 23).

Let us know if you have any problems and thanks for helping us test the Steam Access key redemption and download/installation process!


SotA_R11_GrandTourReward_rotated

The Release 11 Grand Tour Quest Reward

Release 11 is only 6 short days away and we’re pretty excited about all the new content! Just as in our last release, we’ve included a Grand Tour Quest designed to guide you through all the new content. And just in time for Halloween, you will be able to get the Tricorn Hat with Carnival Mask by completing the Release 11 Grand Tour Quest. This reward can only be unlocked during Release 11 (did someone say rares?), so be sure to log in to R11 (Oct 23-26) and talk to all the Tour Guides!


Solace Bridge

One of the new areas to explore in Release 11 (and included in the R11 Grand Tour Quest) is Solace Bridge. It is one of the very first examples that shows how we plan to dynamically change the state of scenes in the game either through random events, player actions, or updates to the world. There are two versions of this scene that can be visited in R11. The first version, the Battle of Solace Bridge, depicts the aftermath of a village defending itself against an undead army. This post-battle state of the scene will be players first view of Solace Bridge when they start the game. When/if players return to this scene later during gameplay, there may be another pitched battle between villagers and undead already underway (which is another game state). Solace Bridge is the version of this area that players will usually see if/when they return later, and represents the Solace Bridge scene sometime after the battle when things have been rebuilt and the land has recovered a bit. Both versions (Solace Bridge and The Battle of Solace Bridge) can be accessed via the Lunar Rift in Owlshead.  Note that in R11 the war torn version is flagged as an Open PVP area.

Solace Bridge is where one of the three working Lunar Rifts can be found on the mainland, and is thus a key strategic location for the Perennial Coast of Novia, and one of the three common entry points for “outlanders” from Earth. Normally the Perennial Coast is considered a region that celebrates the Principle of Love, however the Perennial Coast leaders in nearby Ardoris are rumored to be discordant. This discord could not have come at a worse time because undead hordes have been pouring South from the Drachvald region. The armies of Ardoris do their best to repel these armies, but perhaps only Outlanders can turn the tide…

SotA_BattleSolaceBridge1b

SotA_BattleSolaceBridge2b


Navigator Pledge Reward: Phonograph

Community member Bubonic is back with another great contribution to SotA! You may recall his outstanding Aether Vibration Amplifier (aka SOTA Streaming Radio) that we showcased in Update #87. Well, he’s done it again with this beautifully crafted Phonograph, a unique, in-game item that plays wax cylinders of recorded music (included in the Navigator pledge rewards).

[Check out Bubonic's forum post and let him know what you think]

SotA_Navigator_Phonograph2

SotA_Navigator_Phonograph1

SotA_Navigator_Phonograph3


timeIsRunningOut6

Only 45 Days left to get your 15% Black Friday Bonus!

SotA_15PercentBonus

If you were thinking of pledging your support to the development of Shroud of the Avatar, upgrading your existing pledge, or purchasing an add-on item, player owned town, or stretch goal item, now’s a great time to do it! From now thru Black Friday Weekend we’ll add an additional 15% bonus to your Store Credit! Here are the details:

For all new purchases (including pledges, pledge upgrades, add-on items, player owned towns, and stretch goal items) between 12:00 am CST October 10, 2014 and 12:00 am CST December 2, 2014, we will add an additional 15% bonus to your Store Credit! You can use your Store Credit toward any additional purchase (including pledges, pledge upgrades, add-on items, and player owned towns).

[NOTE: The 15% bonus is calculated every day at 1:00 pm CST and added to your Store Credit account; Store Credit cannot be applied toward stretch goal items]

For example, if you have the $45 Adventurer pledge and really want to upgrade to the $90 Royal Artisan pledge which includes Episodes 2 and 3 as pledge rewards, you would normally pay the extra $45 for the upgrade. But using the 15% bonus you can immediately save $5. To do so, you would first purchase $40 worth of Store Credit Gift Coupons (via PayPal, Amazon, Bitcoin, or credit card; excluding existing Store Credit) then use the “Convert to Credits” option on your account page to transform the Store Credit Gift Coupons back into Store Credit. Within 24 hours an additional $6 bonus ($40 x 15%) would be applied to your Store Credit account, bringing it up to $46. You would then use $45 of your Store Credit to upgrade to the $90 Royal Artisan pledge.


Tabletop Gaming with Wil Wheaton

Richard “Lord British” Garriott recently visited with Wil Wheaton and guests to play Five Tribes board game on Wil’s Tabletop show. Fun times!

WilWheaton_Tabletop

Wil later blogged about it:

In the afternoon, I played my favorite worker placement (or displacement, if you prefer) game of the year, Five Tribes, with my friends Jenna Busch and Satine Phoenix, and Richard Garriott. Yes, that Richard Garriott, as in: the guy who basically invented the MMO, and who has been to freaking space.


Help Kickstart BEDLAM

BEDLAM_KickstarterWe want to give a shoutout for BEDLAM, a really cool game being Kickstarted by our friends and fellow Austinites at Skyshine Games. BEDLAM is a strategic single-player roguelike turn-based RPG set in a post-apocalyptic era, created for the PC and Mac – Inspired by great games like The Banner Saga, FTL and XCOM.

“I loved Heavy Metal growing up. I read the magazine and watched the movie about a zillion times (more than Star Wars actually)”, said Starr Long (SotA Executive Producer). “…[BEDLAM] totally resurrects that Moebius 80s sci-fi look. It is also another great example of the resurrection of turn based RPGs (hallelujah!). So go check out their Kickstarter and let’s make this happen!”

Check out their video and if you like what you see then jump over to the BEDLAM Kickstarter page and pledge your support (only 7 days left)!


Double Robotics + Portalarium

Richard “Lord British” Garriott primarily operates out of his New York “Britannia Manor”, and commutes to the Austin Portalarium Studio about a week out of each month. However, through the amazing technology of the Double telepresence robot, Richard actually spends all day, every day, at the Austin studio even when he is in New York (or anywhere else, for that matter). Double Robotics posted the following interview with Richard and Starr on the front page of their website:


Last Chance Exclusives

Every week going forward we are removing select items from the Add-On Store, so if you want them you better get them before they are gone! Last week we phased out the Shingle-Roof Village Homes. This week, the following items are available for an additional 20% off, and then will no longer be available in the Add-On Store.

The Cubit Measure of Prosperity

This unique, indestructible cubit measure increases the quality and quantity of items produced when milling. While cubit measures with similar effects can be crafted and purchased in the game this cubit measure never needs repair.

SotA_CubitMeasure_Prosperity

 

Crafting Sigil Cloak

If you loved the Crafting Sigil, then you’re especially going to love it adorning this beautifully crafted cloak!

SotA_Crafting_Sigil_Cape


alienwareHeader

Alienware Sponsors $20 Pledge Upgrade Coupon

Alienware’s powerful gaming rigs are a perfect match for Shroud of the Avatar! To show their support, Alienware is sponsoring $20 SotA Pledge Upgrade Coupons to members of their Alienware Arena community!

These coupons can be used to start a SotA pledge account (for new backers), or to add $20 to an existing pledge account. If, for example, you have a $90 Royal Artisan Pledge, you can use the Alienware coupon to bump you up to a $110 Virtual Collector Pledge.

Pretty sweet deal, right? So, hurry over to the Alienware Arena website and get your $20 Pledge Upgrade Coupon now!

[NOTE: Only one Alienware Pledge Upgrade Coupon can be used per account. Coupon does not apply to Add-On Store items]


Upcoming Events

2014.10.23 – Release 11 Access
2014.10.24 – SotA at Captivate
2014.10.29 – Monthly Video Hangout: R11 & R12 Discussion
2014.10.29 – SotA at Paris Games Week
2014.10.31 – SotA at PAX Australia
2014.11.03 – SotA at GDC Next
2014.11.14 – Duke & Lord of the Manor VIP Design Roundtable with Lord British and Portalarium Studio Tour
2014.11.15 – HoBLotH II: Legends of the Hearth
2014.11.20 – Release 12 Access
2014.11.24 – SotA launches on Steam Early Access
2014.11.26 – Monthly Video Hangout: R12 & R13 Discussion
2014.11.27 – SotA at Dreamhack (Sweden)
2014.12.18 – Release 13 Access


 

Update of the Avatar #94 – 2014.10.10: 15% Black Friday Bonus, R11 Tricorn Carnival Hat, 4-Pack of Prosperity, Edelmann Birdbath, and More!

Greetings Fellow Avatars!

Here’s what we have for you in this week’s edition of Update of the Avatar:

  • Get Your 15% Black Friday Bonus Starting Now!
  • The Release 11 Grand Tour Quest Reward
  • R11 Grand Tour POI: Swamp Scene
  • Chris Spears’ R10 Perspective
  • Edelmann Pledge Reward: Birdbath Decoration
  • 4-Pack of Prosperity
  • Through the Lunar Rift
  • Last Chance Exclusives
  • Flexible Placement Stretch Goal: Greenhouse and Garden Shed
  • Alienware Sponsors $20 Pledge Upgrade Coupon
  • Upcoming Events

Get Your 15% Black Friday Bonus Starting Now!SotA_15PercentBonus

Last year our Black Friday Promotion ran for 6 days. This year you get 8 weeks to take advantage of our Black Friday 15% Bonus! Here are the details:

For all new purchases (including pledges, pledge upgrades, add-on items, player owned towns, and stretch goal items) between 12:00 am CST October 10, 2014 and 12:00 am CST December 2, 2014, we will add an additional 15% bonus to your Store Credit! You can use your Store Credit toward any additional purchase (including pledges, pledge upgrades, add-on items, and player owned towns).

[NOTE: The 15% bonus is calculated every day at 1:00 pm CST and added to your Store Credit account; Store Credit cannot be applied toward stretch goal items]

For example, if you have the $45 Adventurer pledge and really want to upgrade to the $90 Royal Artisan pledge which includes Episodes 2 and 3 as pledge rewards, you would normally pay the extra $45 for the upgrade. But using the 15% bonus you can immediately save $5. To do so, you would first purchase $40 worth of Store Credit Gift Coupons (via PayPal, Amazon, Bitcoin, or credit card; excluding existing Store Credit) then use the “Convert to Credits” option on your account page to transform the Store Credit Gift Coupons back into Store Credit. Within 24 hours an additional $6 bonus ($40 x 15%) would be applied to your Store Credit account, bringing it up to $46. You would then use $45 of your Store Credit to upgrade to the $90 Royal Artisan pledge.

[Update: This section was modified to reflect the 15% bonus is calculated at 1:00 pm every day and that Store Credit cannot be used to purchase stretch goal items]


The Release 11 Grand Tour Quest Reward

The Cavalier’s Hat, only available as a quest reward for completing the Grand Tour Quest in Release 10, turned out to be a very popular item! And now, just in time for Halloween, you will be able to get this Tricorn Hat with Carnival Mask by completing the Release 11 Grand Tour Quest. This reward can only be unlocked during Release 11 (did someone say rares?), so be sure to log in to R11 (Oct 23-26) and talk to all the Tour Guides!

Tricorn Hat with Carnival Mask!

SotA_GrandTourQuest_R11_TricornMaskHat


R11 Grand Tour POI: Swamp Scene

A swamp area is one of the new scenes and biome types we are introducing in R11. It will also be part of the R11 Grand Tour Quest.

SotA_Swamp_Biome1

SotA_Swamp_Biome2


Chris Spears’ R10 Perspective

Dippy_Dragon

So Starr stole my thunder by posting all the player stats so now I’m at a loss as to how to start off my post! To summarize, participation was way up, total play time was up, crashing… was up… hat envy, was also up! In case you missed it, for each release going forward, we’re adding a special reward that will only be available during that release. These will only be trophy items with no real purpose other than to prove you took part in the test.

R10 was supposed to be a polish release but we apparently need to read up on what polish means because we crammed a ton of features and bugs in instead of polishing. So, in short, we suck. Sorry, we’ll do better! Now I’ll tell you about a particularly hairy bug our players discovered and then I’ll dive into a bit of design talk!

So, for this release we added a “Challenge Dungeon”. The idea is, we need a way to test out and prove what it means to be a hard PVE encounter. For those who didn’t play it, the dungeon is basically linear and gets progressively harder with occasional variations in layout and presentation of the encounters. My direction on it was to make it so hard that no solo player can make it past 10 rooms and no party can make it to the end. Then, once you think it is so hard that not even a full party of 8 can make it to the end, go add 5 more rooms that are even harder! Aside from testing difficulty, it lets us observe strategies used and exploits and gives some replayable content.

As I expected, at least 4 groups looked to have finished the dungeon to the last room! So much for impossible. :p I unfortunately didn’t have great metrics data in place for the dungeon yet so I could only tell how far people got through the heat map data we store.

So the reason I bring up the challenge dungeon here is because it was the source of one of our nastier bugs we uncovered this release. We tested it a hundred times locally, on live, simulating a bad connection, and had no issues with it. Once it got to live, 95% of the people could get in just fine but 5% would get stuck on the zone in screen and then get kicked back to the front end. No amount of testing ever let us reproduce it…

This is reason #937 why I love having real users for our testers. Before any network coders post it, yes, we have ways to simulate net lag and packet loss. We just don’t have the bandwidth (human bandwidth, not internet) to catch all the problem cases with so much content getting added in late each month…

[Read the rest of this post in the forums]


Edelmann Pledge Reward: Birdbath Decoration

This birdbath property decoration, included in the Edelmann pledge tier, not only looks beautiful, but will also attract birds to your property!

SotA_Edelmann_Birdbath


The 4-Pack of Prosperity

SotA_4-Pack_Prosperity_small

If you love the 6-Pack and 6-More Pack of Prosperity (and we know you do), then you’re going to love the 4-Pack of Prosperity too!

Get the latest items of Prosperity for a discount in our 4-Pack of Prosperity bundle, available now in the Add-On Store! Includes the Tanning Knife, Loom Shuttle, Cleaver, and Mortar & Pestle.


SotA_ThroughLunar Rift

Through the Lunar Rift!

These tales, told as a series of journal entries written by Gina “FireLotus” Dionne, will feature the people and places of New Britannia and give you a bit of insight, and hopefully some inspiration, when creating your own stories while exploring the lands of Shroud of the Avatar.


Who Watches the Watcher?

I finally mustered my nerves and stepped through the Lunar Rift and found myself in a majestic city known as Ardoris. I was immediately taken with its urban sprawl, charming architecture, and bustling markets. Here I saw great potential for a new home… a new Tavern; one that would easily rival the two existing establishments. Truth be told, I could probably buy out the Tavern of the South Wind with the gold I have squirrelled away. That place looks like it has seen better days, and though I’d have to scrub it down (and be sure to evict “Blowhard von Strife” from his barstool. Permanently.), it had potential… not to mention location, location, location.

But it didn’t take long for me to abandon that plan. As it would seem, the entire city has a bit of an insect problem. One that not even an expert exterminator could fix. Large, invasive, mechanized insects called Watchers.

Now, I’ve survived, even thrived here for probably close to a year now, and I credit that to a fair amount of carefully constructed deceptions and staying off the radar. Nothing malicious of course, just a friendly ruse to help me assimilate more easily into my new life when I first arrived in this new land. Yes, I inherited my Tavern from a dying man who mistakenly, maybe even wishfully, believed that I was his estranged daughter. Apparently, I’m the spitting image of her… go figure! But I was the one who cared for him on his deathbed, and from what I could tell, I brought him more pride and joy then she ever did…

Read the rest of the story in the forums


Last Chance Exclusives

Starting this week, we are removing select items from the Add-On Store, so if you want them you better get them before they are gone! For the next week, the following items are available for an additional 20% off, and then will no longer be available in the Add-On Store.

Shingle-Roof Stone Village Home

The Shingle-Roof Stone Village home is a single-story dwelling with one room:

SotA_Shingle_Stone_Village_home_exterior1

Shingle-Roof Plaster Village Home

The Shingle-Roof Plaster Village home (also included in the Village Lot Property Deed in the Add-On Store) is a single-story dwelling with one room:

SotA_Shingle_Plaster_Village_home_exterior1


Flexible Placement Stretch Goal: Greenhouse and Garden Shed

If you’d like to support the flexible lot placement with multiple structures stretch goal then head over to the Stretch Goal Store and purchase the lovely new greenhouse or garden shed, shown here:

SotA_StretchGoal_FlexiblePlacement_Greenhouse

SotA_StretchGoal_FlexiblePlacement_GardenShed


alienwareHeader

Alienware Sponsors $20 Pledge Upgrade Coupon

Alienware’s powerful gaming rigs are a perfect match for Shroud of the Avatar! To show their support, Alienware is sponsoring $20 SotA Pledge Upgrade Coupons to members of their Alienware Arena community!

These coupons can be used to start a SotA pledge account (for new backers), or to add $20 to an existing pledge account. If, for example, you have a $90 Royal Artisan Pledge, you can use the Alienware coupon to bump you up to a $110 Virtual Collector Pledge.

Pretty sweet deal, right? So, hurry over to the Alienware Arena website and get your $20 Pledge Upgrade Coupon now!

[NOTE: Only one Alienware Pledge Upgrade Coupon can be used per account. Coupon does not apply to Add-On Store items]


Upcoming Events

2014.10.23 – Release 11 Access
2014.10.24 – SotA at Captivate
2014.10.29 – Monthly Video Hangout: R11 & R12 Discussion
2014.11.03 – SotA at GDC Next
2014.11.14 – Duke & Lord of the Manor VIP Design Roundtable with Lord British and Portalarium Studio Tour
2014.11.15 – HoBLotH II: Legends of the Hearth
2014.11.20 – Release 12 Access
2014.11.24 – SotA launches on Steam Early Access
2014.11.26 – Monthly Video Hangout: R12 & R13 Discussion
2014.12.18 – Release 13 Access


 

Update of the Avatar #93: 2014.10.03: R10 Perspectives, Q4 Release Schedule, Custom Avatars, Bitcoin Support, Lord Marshal Helmet, and More!

Greetings Fellow Avatars!

Here’s what we have for you in this week’s edition of Update of the Avatar:

  • Release 10 Perspectives
  • Q4 Schedule
  • Duke’s Custom Avatars
  • Lord Marshal’s Coronated Helmet
  • Pledge Rewards: Nightshade, Mandrake, and Garlic Reagents
  • Bitcoin Accepted Here
  • Fandomania Interview: Starr Long on Watch Collecting
  • Pen of the Avatar
  • Alienware Sponsors $20 Pledge Upgrade Coupon
  • Upcoming Events

SotA_R10_Player_Screenshot1

Thanks to community member mordor59 for sharing this image on the Release 10 Screenshot Gallery forum

Release 10 Perspectives


[A Public Forum post by Starr Long]
Starr_avatar
Greetings Avatars,

Release 10’s main purpose was stabilization, performance, polish, and testing. While we did accomplish this in some areas, we actually ended up adding a lot of new content. In fact, we added almost as much as we add in a normal release! This resulted in more player facing content (yay) but also more instability and lower performance (boo).

Interestingly though, most of the stability issues were not something that was visible to us internally, so even if we had spent more time on stability, we would not have had any examples to address. This “catch 22” is caused by several issues including a small team, a smaller QA team (1-2 people), and fairly homogeneous hardware on the team. Unfortunately, none of those issues are addressable in the near term. The best solution here is to increase uptime (I can hear some of you cheering) so that we are getting a continuous stream of crash data from players. The downside of increased uptime will be a steady decline in participation as people consume all available content. This means we need to put strategies in place to keep participation up despite our limited content. This leads us to solutions like Steam Early Access (potentially huge and constant influx of new players) and Monthly Exclusive items (like the Cavalier Hat reward for the Grand Tour Quest). So, now you can see how two seemingly unrelated things (stability and a fancy hat) are connected in the convoluted process that is game development.

SotA_Quest_Hat_R10_CavalierWhile we are near the subject of the Grand Tour, I am happy to report that it accomplished our exact goal of increasing participation. We had a 15% increase in logins over Release 9. When we combined this with our reduction of scenes, we also increased player density in the scenes and more players were likely to randomly encounter other players than they were in Release 9.

Another issue we saw in previous releases that we attempted to address was players rushing in to claim a lot and place a house but then not decorate them… nor use them for social activities. Part of this is, of course, due to the limited window of time each Release is up, but part of it was also just how easy (free!) we made property access. This added to the perceived emptiness of scenes, and some frustration when players who really wanted a homestead were not able to find open lots. By requiring a purchase and decreasing the scenes with player housing, we were able to greatly increase the number of houses that were actually being used (versus left empty).

While we have been making steady forward progress on combat most, if not all, of the data we were using was coming from PVP. That led us to create the Challenge Dungeon so that we could more effectively gather data for PVE as well. We are learning quite a bit from that space and there is a large queue of changes we want to make to address the issues we saw. The sameness of battles against NPCs was not surprising, but the fact that it was so similar (even if on the surface the NPCs were quite different like archer vs. melee) was a bit of a wake up call for us. So one of the very first things we are going to tackle is to start introducing behavior patterns and having NPCs use more skills instead of just standard damage dealing (see Lich battles in my Q4 post here for more details).

SotA_R10_Player_Screenshot4After several releases observing PVP combat, one of the most visible issues is the fact that it has devolved into constant movement. This is bad for several reasons. Constant movement is one of the more intensive network issues you will encounter in a game. Coupled with the constant stream of combat events being sent back and forth, you can begin to see how it is a worst case scenario. One of the obvious side effects of this is that it very visibly exposes any latency players are encountering. This means players will often not be in the place you think they are. If we want things like positioning (backstabs, shield walls, etc.) and cover to be viable mechanics, then keeping player positions relatively synched visually is important (to say the least). Our current system encourages this constant movement because there are no penalties to moving while casting, moving makes you harder to target, and moving out of line of sight will break target acquisition. A great worst-use case you can see is watching the long drawn out fight between a melee warrior and a magic caster. Currently, the melee guy just has to try to optimize his path to the caster and hope he makes range while the caster just needs to stay out of melee range consistently. The result ends up looking more like a flight combat simulation than a medieval fantasy fight. To start to address this, we are going to make movement begin to affect combat math in Release 11. Standing still without moving will offer a bonus to ranged skills/spells, walking will be neutral, and running will incur a penalty.SotA_R10_BdayParty

Our community continues to prove that we have one of the most creative, cooperative, and motivated groups of players around. Of course, I am partial to the events centered around Darkstarr’s devotee Amberraine, which included her amazing sermon about Chaos in her Church of the Dark Star in Valemark (aka PAXLair), her birthday party, and her trial! The level of organization and participation in those events shows both the power of this community and the power of the sandbox we are building with you.

For me, one of the most powerful expressions of this development process (and our community) that we are experiencing together is the Wireless Device that made its first appearance in Release 10. It is a piece of art created by Bubonic. It was particularly challenging to make because it had to adhere to our clockpunk, steampunk, medieval mashup that is our art style. In other words, it had to be obviously technological but executed with medieval / rennaisance level of resources. This required some detailed feedback from our Art Lead Hutch and resulted in a much clearer expression of this style. It also uses a piece of code written by Joviex that lets us stream audio directly into the game.

SotA_StreamingRadioIt’s worth noting that Joviex also provided a bunch of functionality that we did not have time to add, including muting, volume, stop/play/pause, waveform displays, and multiple channels. When we have time, we will get a user interface to access these functions. Of course, the audio it defaults to streaming (and currently the only choice) is Avatar’s Radio, which is our community driven radio station run by, who else but that Chaotic-one Amberraine. So in one little device we have crowdsourced art, crowdsourced code, and a community driven media channel!

There was a small bit of functionality that made its way into Release 10 that I failed to mention in my R10 Instructions post; the Makers Mark on player crafted items. Every item a player makes now has their makers mark visible in the tooltips. I believe this one little function will have a tremendous impact on the feel of our world and is another example of how we are attempting to make this world be truly player driven.

Thank you all for all your support. Release 10 is dead! Long live Release 11!

Sincerely,
Darkstarr aka Starr Long


Fun was had by all at Firelotus’ Release 10 / B-Day Party at Port Phoenix (Holtrot), complete with line dancing and hot-tub high diving!

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Check out all of the great Player posted Release 10 screen shots over in the forums!


During this week’s Hangout of the Avatar, Richard, Starr, and Chris chatted about Release 10, recounting their favorite moments, while also looking ahead to Release 11.


Q4 Schedule

[A Public Forum post by Starr Long]
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Greetings Avatars,

As we stated in previous posts, once per quarter our goal is to release an updated schedule for our monthly releases. Even though these goals will likely change somewhat as we react to feedback, we feel it is important to provide you an updated roadmap periodically.

Our goal continues to be to deliver our backers content each and every month so that we can get feedback and react to it. This has already paid off, with additional game features like jumping and swimming, as well as improvements to systems like crafting, conversations, and combat. Meeting that monthly goal is our highest priority but we require flexibility in our deliverables to meet that goal. As you have seen in previous releases, sometimes we push things out but we also often pull new things in.

We are incredibly excited to continue sharing our iterative monthly releases with you and ultimately new backers coming to us through Steam Early Access (more on that below). Here are the details about Release 11 – 13 for the fourth quarter of 2014 (October – December). In addition to these official releases, we will also do fairly frequent incremental tests with our Developer and above backers. As always, all dates, durations, and deliverables are subject to change as we adjust our designs based on direct feedback from you, our backers.

RELEASE 11, October 23 – 26 2014:

  • Steam Prep: We will make downloading and playing the game through Steam functional and will conduct a Steam test with our backers at Developer level (and above).
  • Maps: We will continue to expand the mainland scenes to include Solace Bridge (one of the three starting maps that is the aftermath of a village defending itself against an undead army) and the Kobold Battle Camp (one of three battle camps in the game). We will also add the Swamp biome to the game, along with a swamp scene.
  • Character Advancement: Our first pass at advancement will allow players to begin accumulating experience points and levels while earning skill and attribute points that can be spent.
  • Spells & Skills: Death Magic will expand to include summoning skeletons (formerly zombies) and liches (formerly ghouls)
  • Housing: Housing functionality will expand so players will finally be able to attach Stone & Timber and Stone style basements to their houses. This will be a first pass, so expect to see fun things like basement entrances on upper floors, on boats, etc.
  • Crafting: A first pass at cooking and alchemy will come online and gear will now take damage and will be repairable. We are also going to make a resource spawner distribution pass across most maps to add new resource spawns (reagents) and balance resource distribution.
  • Creatures: A pass will be made through the creatures to add more variety to them via skills and behaviors. We are going to target the Liches as an example and give them the ability to summon skeleton allies, stun/root players, and generate area of effect spells around them.
  • Combat: We are going make movement have an effect on ranged combat so that running will decrease the effectiveness of ranged attacks while standing still will confer a bonus. We are also removing the requirement to equip arrows in the offhand and instead will pull them straight from your inventory.
  • Control Point: Vertas Pass will become our first prototype of a control point. If you manage to defeat the Dark Elves holding Vertas Pass, then you can attempt to hold it against increasingly difficult waves of Dark Elves.
  • Customization: Hair will now play nice with helmets and hats so you will no longer suddenly become bald when you equip headgear.
  • NPC Conversation: When you talk to NPCs they will now become the focus of your screen (blurring out the background) with a dedicated chat window for the discussion.

RELEASE 12, November 20 – 26 2014 (and then 24/7 starting Dec 1) :

  • Steam Prep: Uptime will expand to 7 days and we will conduct a Steam test with all our current backers followed by a launch on Steam Early Access Dec 1st.
  • Maps: We will continue to expand the mainland scenes to include The Necropolis (the main underground Undead area in the game), The Graf Gem Mines surface area, and the Tower of the Shuttered Eye. We will also add the Desert biome to the game along with a desert scene.
  • Character Advancement: The advancement system will expand to include Skill Trainers
  • Spells & Skills: Life and Death Magic will expand to include more spells. The combat schools of Tactics and Polearms will also expand and more combos will be added to the game.
  • Housing: Lot Deeds will be introduced to the game so property claiming will first require purchasing a lot deed in the game (just like house deeds worked in R10)
  • Crafting: Crafting skills will start to come online and be used during crafting to modify results. We will also be adding more Cooking and Alchemy recipes and ingredients including the ability to put enchantments on gear.
  • Creatures: Our creature list will continue to expand with Ghosts, Fauns, Emps and Wisps added to the game.
  • Combat: The cover system will be introduced that modifies attack and defense values when you (or your target) are behind cover. The Death System (including ghosts) will come online and PVP will expand to include an Open PVP flag players can set on themselves. Ranged ammo types will now be linked to Ranged skills. So Piercing Shot will require Bodkin Points (armor piercing) for example.
  • Customization: New armor and clothing items will appear in the game.
  • Overworld: Traveling across the overland map will incur the chance that you might have a random encounter that pulls you into a scene. We will also release the first version of the overland map for Novia (aka the mainland).
  • Guilds: Players will now be able to start forming Guilds in the game with basic functions like Guild Name, membership, and Guild Officers.
  • Pledges Tied to Game Account: Your pledge will now be tied to your game account. This means you will start the game with your pledge rewards in your bank storage
  • Banks: Players can now start storing things in the bank. This is also where all your pledge rewards will be at the start of the game so you won’t start so encumbered that you cannot move.
  • Encumbrance: The weight of items will now factor into how much you can carry. Your carrying capacity will be derived from your Strength stat.
  • Tutorials: Tutorial text will now start appearing the first time you attempt an interaction (moving, talking, crafting, fighting, questing, etc.)

RELEASE 13, December 18, 2014

  • Steam Early Access: This will be our first update after launching on Steam Early Access on Dec 1st.
  • Maps: We will continue to expand the mainland scenes to include Brightbone Pass, Resolute, Xenos and the Paladice Shardfall. We will also add the Shardfall biome to the game along with a shardfall scene (this is the biome for our Open PVP scenes).
  • Spells & Skills: Air, Earth, and Sun Magic will expand to include more spells. The combat schools of Ranged and Shields will also expand and more combos will be added to the game.
  • Housing: Permissions for property will greatly expand to better support groups sharing property, including tools to rent rooms and set “per area/room” permissions. Property ownership will now incur regular fees (unless you are using a tax free deed from a pledge). If the fees are not paid the player will lose their claim and their possessions (including the house and decorations) will be moved to their bank. As part of all this, we will also begin facilitating storing and moving houses (with all associated decorations).
  • Crafting: Crafting will now have events that occur during the crafting process that the player can interact with to influence the results.
  • Creatures: Our creature list will continue to expand with Air Elementals, Earth Elementals, and the Phoenix
  • Combat: Stealth mechanics will begin to appear.
  • Customization: Clothing and Armor will now be dyeable.
  • Overworld: Roving encounters (patrolling creatures) will now appear on the overworld map and can be engaged (pulling you into a scene) or avoided if you wish to sneak past.
  • Player Titles: Players will now be able to display their title in the game (including guild affiliation).
  • Emote Teaching: Emotes will now be teachable to other players. Some emotes (like the ones tied to pledges) will only be teachable by the original owner.
  • Player Made Books: Players will be able to write in blank books in the game and share them with other players.
  • Localization: We will begin crowdsourcing the translation of the game into various languages

We continue to be incredibly thankful for the support we receive from this amazing community. While the funding you provide makes all of this possible it pales in comparison with the faith you have in us, the feedback you provide us, and the content you are making for everyone to enjoy. We are humbly grateful and we cannot wait to see you again in New Britannia!

Before I go I wanted to include an excerpt from my original post about our Early Release Schedule that is important to set the framework for our ongoing schedule:

As a crowd funded and crowd sourced project, we feel it is incredibly important that we provide our backers with information and access well before game studios would normally do so in a traditional development model. Traditionally, the players are given information and access only after the development team has already decided exactly how things will be done, and at times, even after it has already been implemented. By the time the public normally has access to the product, there is usually no time to meaningfully react to the public feedback.

Shroud of the Avatar is different than the traditional model, as we intend to offer our backers extremely early access to information and even the game itself. With that said, we also want to be very careful that we only provide access to portions of the game when they are ready for a wider range of feedback. If we can play it internally and we know it is not ready, then there is nothing to be gained by having a wider audience come to the same conclusion. In fact, it could be quite damaging to do so.

Our strategy over the next few months is to provide you with focused and iterative releases of content. Your feedback during these releases will be critical to making the final product the best it can be, and we appreciate that you are all so willing to devote your time to helping us. With each release, we will have specific tests we will ask you all to make. As we get closer, we will send instructions on how to download, install, report bugs, etc. After each release we will review the results and reevaluate the plan including the duration of availability of each release. Please note that game data will be wiped periodically during early access.

It is important to note that all dates, durations, and deliverables are subject to change.

Sincerely,
Starr Long
Executive Producer
Shroud of the Avatar


Duke Pledge Custom Avatars

Included in the Founder Duke pledge rewards is direct interaction with the dev team artists to model custom character features for your avatar’s head, different from the avatars of all others (can be based on your own likeness or any other image approved by the dev team).

Two of our backers that were among the first to visit with the Portalarium Dev Team were Duchess Miriam Safady (aka Elizabeth) and Lord of the Manor Francisco Vigil (aka Espada). Here are examples of their custom avatars and the photos used as models:

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Lord Marshal Coronated Helmet

Included in the Lord Marshal pledge tier is this unique, starting level helmet with crown, imbued with precious metals and jewels, suitable to hold enchantments. Comes with a permanent enchantment to act as a light source.

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Pledge Rewards: Nightshade, Mandrake, and Garlic Reagents

The Citizen, Knight, and Lord pledge tier basic rewards includes your choice of one of three reagent plants: nightshade, mandrake, and garlic! Water your plant each day to receive its reagent the next day.  Here are the nightshade, mandrake, and garlic reagent plants:

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Fandomania Interview: Starr Long on Watch Collecting

Starr Long shares his passion for collecting watches on Episode 3 of Fandomania’s Favorite Things Podcast.


Pen of the Avatar with Stephen Daniele

Join Concept Art Lead, Stephen Daniele and Community Manager/Writer, Gina Dionne Tuesday October 7th at 12:00PM CST for Pen of the Avatar: Character Armor Variations II! Stephen shares his passion for creating art through insightful demonstration of tools and techniques in a fashion easily accessible for novices and professionals alike. Pen of the Avatar is live and unscripted, and community involvement is a must as input and commentary are shared throughout the show. We will be focusing on the process of bringing one of last month’s suggestions to life, so join us for our next show and add your voice to the creative vision of Shroud of the Avatar!

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If you missed any of the Pen of the Avatar episodes, you can watch them all at:https://www.shroudoftheavatar.com/?cat=9


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Bitcoin Accepted Here

We’ve received many community requests to support Bitcoins for pledge and add-on purchases, so we’re happy to announce that we now accept Bitcoins as a full-payment option for pledges, Add-Ons, and Player Owned Towns!


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Alienware Sponsors $20 Pledge Upgrade Coupon

Alienware’s powerful gaming rigs are a perfect match for Shroud of the Avatar! To show their support, Alienware is sponsoring $20 SotA Pledge Upgrade Coupons to members of their Alienware Arena community!

These coupons can be used to start a SotA pledge account (for new backers), or to add $20 to an existing pledge account. If, for example, you have a $90 Royal Artisan Pledge, you can use the Alienware coupon to bump you up to a $110 Virtual Collector Pledge.

Pretty sweet deal, right? So, hurry over to the Alienware Arena website and get your $20 Pledge Upgrade Coupon now!

[NOTE: Only one Alienware Pledge Upgrade Coupon can be used per account. Coupon does not apply to Add-On Store items]


Upcoming Events

2014.10.07 – Stephen Daniele’s Pen of the Avatar: Character Armor Variations Part 2!
2014.10.09 – NAAEE Conference
2014.10.23 – Release 11 Access
2014.10.24 – SotA at Captivate
2014.10.29 – Monthly Video Hangout: R11 & R12 Discussion
2014.11.03 – SotA at GDC Next
2014.11.14 – Duke & Lord of the Manor VIP Design Roundtable with Lord British and Portalarium Studio Tour
2014.11.15 – HoBLotH II: Legends of the Hearth
2014.11.20 – Release 12 Access
2014.11.26 – Monthly Video Hangout: R12 & R13 Discussion
2014.12.18 – Release 13 Access


Pen of the Avatar: Character Armor Variations II

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Join Concept Art Lead, Stephen Daniele and Community Manager/Writer, Gina Dionne Tuesday October 7th at 12:00PM CST for Pen of the Avatar: Character Armor Variations II! We will be sharing community input and focusing on the process of bringing one of last month’s suggestions to life!

Stephen shares his passion for creating art through insightful demonstration of tools and techniques in a fashion easily accessible for novices and professionals alike. Community involvement is a must as input and commentary are shared throughout the show. Pen of the Avatar is live and unscripted. Add your voice to the creative vision and join Shroud of the Avatar! Watch all the shows at https://www.shroudoftheavatar.com/?cat=9 and join us Tuesday for our next show!