Update of the Avatar #101 – 2014.11.26: Steam Early Access Launch, R12 How-To Video, New R13 Scenes, Cyber Monday Telethon, Final Days of Recruitment Bonus, and More!

Update of the Avatar #101 – 2014.11.26: Steam Early Access Launch, R12 How-To Video, New R13 Scenes, Cyber Monday Telethon, Final Days of Recruitment Bonus, and More!

Greetings Fellow Avatars!

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

  • SotA Successfully Launches on Steam Early Access
  • The Mad Hermit’s Video Guide to Release 12
  • New Release 13 Scene: Graff Gem Mines
  • SotA Community is Rockin’ It!
  • Cyber Monday 12 Hour Telethon
  • In-game Community Weekend Events
  • R12 Steam Access Keys Available for All Backers
  • 6 Days Left to Get Your Black Friday 15% Bonus
  • Holiday Specials
  • Last Chance Exclusives: Carpentry Hammer and Rustic Village Home
  • Recruitment Bonus and Alienware Pledge Upgrade Promotions End
  • Upcoming Events
SotA Successfully Launches on Steam Early AccessWhat an exciting week it’s been, starting with the Release 12 Weekend and immediately followed by the successful launch of SotA on Steam Early Access! We’ve had a great response on Steam, currently rated as “Very Positive” across 52 player reviews! During the first 24 hours we even climbed as high as #11 on the Steam Top Sellers chart (for all Steam products).Thanks to all our veteran community members that have put in extra effort to warmly greet the flood of new Steam players, providing a welcome atmosphere and guidance when needed!
The Mad Hermit’s Video Guide to Release 12Community member The Mad Hermit has crafted another excellent How-To Video, this one walking you through the various game mechanics to get you up to speed as quickly as possible in Shroud of the Avatar Release 12. It covers basic character controls, how to access various menus and interfaces, combat, experience, skill points, training, health and focus, deck building, crafting, harvesting, item repair, shopping, housing, Overworld travel, Lunar Rifts and death.
The R12 Grand Tour QuestSotA_R12_GrandTour_PilgrimHat_captionJust as in our last few releases, we’ve included a Grand Tour Quest designed to guide you through all the new content. And just in time for Thanksgiving, you will be able to get the Pilgrim’s Hat by completing the Release 12 Grand Tour Quest. This reward can only be unlocked during Release 12 (did someone say rares?), so be sure to log in to R12 and talk to all the Tour Guides!
Player Posted R12 ScreenshotsIf you haven’t seen the community posted screenshots from Release 12 we encourage you to check them out! There is a  Release 12 Screenshot Gallery in the SotA forums, as well as the screenshots posted in the SotA Steam Community Hub. Here are a few sample player posted images:

New Release 13 Scene: Graff Gem Mines

The Graff Gem Mines can be found in the farthest Northeast corner of Novia. Graff himself founded these rich mines long ago, and they have proven to be the most productive mines of the largest and most valuable gems ever known. Recently however, the difficulties with undead in the region have, hopefully, lead to their temporary abandonment. Rumors of Kobolds moving in to claim the mine’s wealth have recently been heard. Here are a few new images of the Graff Gem Mine entrances:

SotA Community is Rockin’ It!We would again love to celebrate the quality and diversity of music being created by the wonderful composers within our community. I believe we are ending up with one of the strongest soundtracks ever created for a game world. Today we offer you 3 more fine examples from 3 separate composers, and would also love to showcase the intro musical piece crafted for us by the beloved “Space Bards”, who recently produced their first album as “Recap” and played their first public full concert at the HoBLotH II:Trade and Commerce, by Sir Wombathttps://soundcloud.com/sirwombat/trade-and-commerce-1
Sir Wombat has composed an amazing piece which will be found throughout the land in growing communities as they aspire to grow from small villages to industrious towns.

Trekking in the Tall Grass, by Kailefhttps://soundcloud.com/kailef/tiptoe-version-4
Kailef provided “Trekking in the Tall Grass” to inspire explorers as they traverse the wide open plains of Novia.

Valor and Cowardice, by Peter Boikohttps://soundcloud.com/peter-boiko/valor-cowardice-final-updated-strings-1
Peter Boiko masterfully pulled off one of the more difficult requests, to begin to show the juxtaposition between the virtues and their forsaken opposites with “Valor and Cowardice.”

Dark Planet, by The Space Bardshttps://soundcloud.com/spacebards/dark-planet
Finally, here is the complete instrumental created by the Space Bards for the opening cinematic for Shroud of the Avatar.

– Lord British

Cyber Monday 12 Hour TelethonPlease join us Monday, December 1st at 10:00 AM CST (16:00 GMT) for our Cyber Monday 12 Hour Telethon celebrating our Steam Early Access launch and raising over $5 Million from our amazing backers! Richard, Starr, Chris, and the rest of our team, as well as various community members will be live on air throughout the day, hanging out and answering questions. As usual, I’ll be taking your questions and feedback live in the chat-room and also in advance,  (please post your Telethon comments/questions on the original post).Schedule (tentative): All times and content are subject to change

  • 10:00: Welcome, R12 Post Mortem & R13 Preview
  • 11:00: Meet the Devs & Office Tour
  • 12:00: Community Spot: Music
  • 13:00: Deep Dive: Story & Single Player
  • 14:00: Deep Dive: Crafting & Economy
  • 15:00: Community Spot: In Game Events
  • 16:00: Deep Dive: Player Owned Towns Templates
  • 17:00: Deep Dive: Combat, PVP, & Death
  • 18:00: Dev Team Table Top Gaming Session
  • 19:00: Community Spot: Awarding of Orders of New Britannian Empire and Royal Warrants
  • 21:00: Community Spot: Hearth of Britannia

Hourly Prizes: If you are registered on our website (no purchase required) you will be eligible to receive one of the many prizes we will be giving away every hour including: Plantronics_Logo_RigHeadset

  • Plantronics Headsets / Earbuds (1 per hour, 12 total)
  • $100 Store Credits (1 per hour, 12 total)
  • Release 13 (December 18) Opening Weekend Access Keys (10 per hour, 120 total)
  • Alienware Desktop Grandprize for the the final hour

I’ll have the link to the broadcast posted Monday shortly before we’re set to go live, and a new link every 4 hours when we change the broadcast feed.. :D See you then!

– Lady Firelotus

[Click here to post your questions/comments for the Telethon]

Release 12 In-game Community Eventsavatars-circle-logo-concept-7[1]Our amazing community has another great lineup of in-game events planned for Release 12 this weekend. 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/):Thursday, November 27
2:00am CST – Explore Novia with royalsexy (Braemer cemetery)

Friday, November 28
10:00pm CST – Dungeon Run – Braemar Cemetery
7:00pm CST – Dungeon Run – Braemar Cemetery

Saturday, November 29
9:00am CST – PaxLair Working Hours – Host Winfield (in Valemark)
1:00pm CST – Church of the Dark Star – Power of Chaos – The Hunger of Coveting (PaxLair, Valemark)
4:00 pm CST – Riya’s Birthday Bash (/zone Net , /zone Riya or /zone Amber Raine to attend!)
6:00 pm CST – PvP Tournament – 2×2 Double Elimination (at the Brave Coast or “/zone Duke Violation”; signup at http://challonge.com/OoVr12t3)

Sunday, November 30
5:30am CST – Explore Novia with royalsexy (Braemer cemetery)
12:00am CST – Bear Tavern Brawl R12
3:00pm CST – Guild Meet and Greet (at Castle Lot in Owl’s Head; open to all; sponsored by The Order of Drunken Elders)
6:00pm CST – Community Tag (Kingsport, details)
7:00pm CST – PaxLair Meeting – (in Valemark or /zone Winfield PaxLair)

You will also find the “Release 12 Events” book in your in-game inventory, providing a list of the community events provided by the Avatar’s Circle Community Events calendar. Here are some sample in-game images from the Events book:

Steam_logoSteam Access Keys Now Available for All SotA BackersSotA successfully launched on Steam Early Access on November 24, and we’ve made Steam Access Keys 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 game client (or both).

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

Recruitment Bonus and Alienware Upgrade Promotions EndThe Recruitment Bonus program that we started in August 2013 will be coming to an end after this Black Friday Weekend (12:00 am CST December 2, 2014). If you know anyone that’s been sitting on the fence about pledging their support to Shroud of the Avatar you have 6 more days to convince them to pledge and specify you as their referral so you can get your $25 Friend Referral pledge upgrade bonus. The recruitment bonus only applies to pledges purchased on the SotA website and does not apply to Steam purchases (click here for more details).alienwareHeader

We’d like to extend a special thanks and deep appreciation to Alienware for the 9 months they sponsored their $20 SotA Pledge Upgrade coupon! We had planned to announce that the program would conclude at the end of Black Friday Weekend, but compliance with Steam policies regarding pricing mandated we act sooner, so we removed the promotion yesterday, November 25th.

Alienware’s powerful gaming rigs are a perfect match for Shroud of the Avatar and we still have plenty of Alienware promotions in the works, including giving away an Alienware desktop during our Cyber Monday Telethon, December 1! Alienware will also be sponsoring 1000 Free R13 Weekend Access passes so stay tuned for details in an upcoming update.

 

Update of the Avatar #100 – 2014.11.21: Play R12 Now and get Pilgrim’s Hat, HoBLotH II, Easter Eggs, Cyber Monday Telethon, and More!

Update of the Avatar #100 – 2014.11.21: Play R12 Now and get Pilgrim’s Hat, HoBLotH II, Easter Eggs, Cyber Monday Telethon, and More!

Greetings Fellow Avatars!

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

  • Hearth of Britannia: Legends of the Hearth II
  • Play Release 12 Now and Get Your Pilgrim’s Hat
  • Release 12 In-game Community Events
  • Easter Egg: Sword of Power!
  • Lord British Weighs In on Companions, Solo Play and the Development Process
  • Community Spotlight: Scholars of Novia’s First Writing Contest Winners
  • R12 Steam Access Keys Available for All Backers
  • Get Your 15% Bonus
  • Cyber Monday All Day Telethon
  • Holiday Specials
  • Last Chance Exclusives: Cooking Pot of Prosperity and Magic Sigil Cloak
  • Monthly Payment Plan Extended Through June 2015
  • Alienware Sponsors $20 Pledge Upgrade Coupon
  • This Week In The News
  • Upcoming Events
Hearth of Britannia: Legends of the Hearth IIOn November 16th and 17th 2013, Rustic Dragon’s Hearth of Britannia opened its Indianapolis, IN doors to thirty Ultima, Shroud of the Avatar, and Lord British fans across the country for the Hearth of Britannia Lords of the Hearth (HoBLotH), a 1:1 recreation of the meal served just a month prior at Britannia Manor IV. There was Britannian food, plenty of libations, celebrity guests, themed activities, and a host of garbed attendees.Last weekend, November 15th and 16th, almost one year exactly from HoBLotH I, Rustic Dragon once again assembled a semi-exclusive group of fans for HoBLotH II: Legends of the Hearth. Forty-one adventurers from all over the globe and fifteen cast members turned Richard’s lakefront property of Castleton into Cove, the quiet hamlet East of Britain in the original Ultima games.

Saturday morning, questers stepped through the red moongate and entered a living, breathing recreation of Britannia, complete with cloth maps, trinkets, quests, NPCs, combat, and camaraderie. Saturday was jam packed with activities including a may pole dance with the eight colors of Virtue led by SotA artist Scott Jones, tipping Dr. Cat for stories and drinks at his tavern, having their fortunes read by Penumbra, a live concert by Recap (a.k.a. The Space Bards), and so much more.

The main focus of the event was to achieve Avatarhood through mastery of the principles of Truth, Love, and Courage. However, Blackthorn was also present and offered participants the ability to gain Avatarhood through Mandrake’s alternate principles of Wine, Women, and Song.

Strip the Willow Dance

Virtue Pole

The Space Bards

Recap Concert

Quest Completion

Lord Jouten Knighted

For many, the crown jewel of the event was Capture the Keg, a 50 minute battle between Lord British and Blackthorn (a.k.a. Darkstarr). Players divided into two teams and played a modified version of Capture the Flag, each side having special advantages granted to them by their leaders. Lord British could resurrect players at-will while Blackthorn could instantly kill players with special throwing weapons that only he could touch. In true Ultima form, dead players had to say the customary “ooooOOoOOoOoooOoooo” as they ran back to their base to resurrect.

Rustic Dragon Knighted

Sunday, after waking up the wonderful sounds of Iolo playing his lute and telling stories, players walked up into the hills in search of the ruins of Stonegate where they completed their quests. There, the players rang the Bell of Courage, held aloft the Book of Truth, and lit the Candle of Love to complete their quests. The finale of the event involved the awarding of two Shroud of the Avatar Orders of the New Britannian Empire, one to Joe Garrity, curator of the Origin Museum, and one to Rustic Dragon, proprietor of the Hearth of Britannia and creator of the HoBLotH. Afterwords, all players were knighted by Lord British and received a special ankh, engraved with Lord British’s silver serpent. A fabulous time was had by all and the same question is asked by everyone: “When is the next one?”

Ankh of Lord British

“Last weekend was phenomenal. The closest any of us may ever come to experiencing the world of Britannia around us. The sights, the smells, the sounds all contributed to such an immersive experience.” – Gallara Dragon

“There are other games, groups and hobbies. But it is rare to be surrounded with so many people setting ego aside and throwing themselves in so completely into a shared passion together.” – Sir Eric O’Connor

“Now we can tell everyone we played the first new Ultima game in years!” – Goldenflame Dragon

And lastly, prominent SotA member Amber Raine, Avatars Radio founder and High Priestess of Chaos, was unable to attend at the last minute. Unbeknownst to her, this special non-Ultima item was waiting for her at the event. Everyone posed with it as a toast to her missed presence. She’ll be receiving this tapestry in the mail.Event photos will be posted early next week at www.hearthofbritannia.com.Photos compliments of Harley Dwortz, Mel Soest, and Tyler Tate. Complete cast list available here
Play Release 12 Now and Get Your Pilgrim’s HatRelease 12 successfully launched yesterday, November 20, with thousands of backers downloading, patching, logging in, and checking out the new changes! Lots of new content to check out, including:

  • An in-game hint system and New User Experience
  • More than 15 new skills
  • More than 50 new weapon and armor crafting recipes
  • 40 new songs (all crowd sourced by players)
  • Skill Trainers: when a player levels up they’ll now have to go to trainers to unlock skills
  • New Maps: Ravenswood Forest, Tower of the Shuttered Eye
  • The Overworld Map now has polished visuals and random encounters
  • Guilds
  • Open PVP Flags
  • The death system now includes being transformed into a ghost when you die
  • Alien FX support for Alienware keyboards and cases
  • …and more!SotA_R12_GrandTour_PilgrimHat_caption

The Grand Tour Quest
Just as in our last few releases, we’ve included a Grand Tour Quest designed to guide you through all the new content. And just in time for Thanksgiving, you will be able to get the Pilgrim’s Hat by completing the Release 12 Grand Tour Quest. This reward can only be unlocked during Release 12 (did someone say rares?), so be sure to log in to R12 and talk to all the Tour Guides!

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 12!If you have not backed the game yet, you will need to register and login at www.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. And don’t forget, any new purchases made from now through Black Friday Weekend receive an additional 15% Bonus (see details below)!

Release 12 Player Instructions
Release 12 Known Issues

Release 12 In-game Community Eventsavatars-circle-logo-concept-7[1]Our amazing community has another great lineup of in-game events planned for Release 12. 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, November 21
2:00pm CST – DJ FireLotus Release 12 Party, at Fire Lotus Tavern (Owl’s Head)
6:00pm CST – PvP Tournament (at the Brave Coast, Hidden Vale or “/zone Duke Violation”; for more details use the “/sotawiki Vengeance” command in-game)
6:00pm CST – Dungeon Run – Braemar Cemetery
9:00pm CST – PaxLair Gathering -(in the upper meadow of Valemark or /zone Winfield PaxLair)

Saturday, November 22
9:00am CST – PaxLair Working Hours – Host Winfield (in Valemark)
12:00pm CST – Welcome Quest in R12 (starts in Northshire, Hidden Vale or “/zone Celtic”)
2:00 pm CST – Port Phoenix Storytelling Event (center of Kingsport or “/zone Kazyn Phoenixfyre”)
3:00pm CST – Storytelling Event in Port Phoenix (Holtrot)
6:00 pm CST – PvP Tournament (at the Brave Coast or “/zone Duke Violation”; for more details use the “/sotawiki Vengeance” command in-game)

Sunday, November 23
11:30am CST – Live Book Reading – Net’s Contest Winner (PaxLair Theater, Valemark or “/zone Winfield PaxLair”)
1:00pm CST – Church of the Dark Star – Power of Chaos – The Hunger of Coveting (PaxLair, Valemark)
2:00pm CST – Real Human Live Chess Event (meet at Town Crier of PaxLair, Valemark)
3:00pm CST – All Town Gathering (at Kingsport or “/zone Jack Knyfe”)
6:00pm CST – PvP Tournament (at the Brave Coast or “/zone Duke Violation”; for more details use the “/sotawiki Vengeance” command in-game)
7:00pm CST – PaxLair Meeting – (in Valemark or /zone Winfield PaxLair)

You will also find the “Release 12 Events” book in your in-game inventory, providing a list of the community events provided by the Avatar’s Circle Community Events calendar. Here are some sample in-game images from the Events book:

Easter Egg: Sword of Power!Some of you may have already discovered the Sword in the Stone Easter Egg hidden by designer Finn Staber in Shroud of the Avatar. For those of you that haven’t, check out this video by community member The Mad Hermit guiding you to this elusive sword:
Community Spotlight: Scholars of Novia’s First Writing Contest Winners

“In a crumbling stone tower, deep in the Shadow Wood, there live two sisters, Vomica and Repugna. Some say they are immortal, having survived from the time before the Cataclysm by the use of an enchanted hair comb. Others say they are simply two old crones who have gone half-mad eating poison mushrooms in the forest…”

This introduction to the Scholars of Novia (SoN) first player-written book contest for Shroud of the Avatar revealed the “Sisters Grim”. The strange “Sisters” received 19 book submissions through the SotA Scholars of Novia Forum, they read and savored every word, and argued for hours about which books were the best. In the end, they decided five books were the winners to be published in Shroud of the Avatar.

Winfield, one of the three Grand Masters of the Scholars said, “We Scholars of Novia are a new player group, formed over the past few months. We envision a New Britannia filled with great player-created literary works to entertain, educate, and inspire people for many, many years. We seek to foster a community which loves to read and write. We are committed to discovering and documenting lore for everyone’s enjoyment. Our contest revealed many great authors and stories worthy of being in New Britannia. The top 5 were selected:”

1. A Tale of Braemar – By royalsexy
2. The Journal of Dereck Warden – translated and with an introduction by “The Bard from Shadow Valley” (by Net)
3. The Smokehouse – Anonymous (by grnarrow)
4. Mirror, Mirror…of the Lost – by Gaelis Trajan, translated by Tolon
5. Moonlit Vigil – a selection from the Tales of Lux, from the Lux Sanctuary Library Collection (by Spoon)

The Scholars also help bring the literary artists and their books to events in New Britannia. In fact, royalsexy read his book live in Release 11 and narrated by Trevor on Avatars Radio. In Release 12, Net plans to read his award winning book as well, also narrated on Avatars Radio. Keep an eye on the Avatars Circle Calendar for all the latest events and times.

“Whiiiiiiizzzzz” is the best word to describe the sound the boy’s sling made as he
spun it over his head. He loosed the stone and startled a lizard basking on the
side of the mountain, part of the range known as the Bone Spires.

“I’m so bored! Nothing ever happens here!” the boy complained to his friend.
You can read all the Contest #1 stories on the Scholars of Novia Forum final books thread. The Scholars are currently extracting loric references from the books to be published as reference material in the SotA Wiki and will have another call for books out soon.

The Scholars of Novia are led by three Grand Masters: Winfield, Amber Raine, and MalchorII. Within their ranks they have several Scribes and Lore Keepers working with authors, Portalarium, and publishing areas such as the SotA Wiki Library. They are the notable and immensely talented Unseen Dragon, Wahooka, Miracle Dragon, Balec Fares de Cani, Bowen Bloodgood, Browncoat Jayson, and Grant MacGregor. For more information, see SoN Wiki Page  or reach any of the Scholars on the SotA Forums any time.

Steam_logoSteam Access Keys Now Available for All SotA BackersSotA 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…

Only 11 Days left to get your 15% Black Friday Bonus!SotA_15PercentBonusIf you were thinking of

Release 12 Instructions

Greetings Avatars,

Thank you to our loyal backers of Shroud of the Avatar. Release 12 access for all backers at First Responder level and above begins this Thursday, November 20 at 10:30 AM Central Time (16:30 UTC). Steam Early Access will begin on Monday, November 24 at 10:00 AM Central Time (16:00 UTC). 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. Also, please note that there has been a data wipe for Release 12.

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.

We started Release 12 with a very aggressive and large set of deliverables, as well as a goal to launch on Steam Early Access. We quickly realized that these were not necessarily complementary goals. Prepping for the Steam launch ended up taking much more time than we had initially estimated. We also ran headlong into the network effect of ever more intertwined systems. The network effect I speak of is that each time you add a new system or a new feature to an existing system, you increase the number of connections all systems have with each other. That means each new feature that goes in requires more work than the previous feature, and often requires some level of rework on several existing features. This is a natural progression of a project’s development, but for some reason we were optimistic that it would not require us to move at a slower pace.

However, it was indeed the case that for a few of the larger new features (like Encumbrance, Banks, and linking Pledges to Accounts) that we had to go a bit slower to make sure that they had all the proper connections to everything else. This required us to take longer than one release to finish them, and so they did not make it into Release 12. We also spent a significant amount of time on performance and stability which came at a cost. However, there are a lot of other things we did get in, including a prototype of our “First Time User Experience” that shows a lot of promise.

SteamEarlyAccess_logoWe are very excited about the launch on Steam Early Access on November 24th. We believe it will be a very important milestone for us, and it has the potential to increase our amazing community even more. We launched the store and community pages last week, and I want to express how much we appreciate that the community is already showing off Shroud of the Avatar with great screenshots, videos, and discussions.

Without further ado, here are the R12 deliverables, along with some extra notes and new deliverables in italics. Please note that text that has strikeouts through it is information and/or deliverables that have either changed or been pushed from this release. We purposely keep all the original text (even when it changes) for transparency.

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.
    • Steam Early Access: We made the call last release to allow all backers to play via Steam for the entire release (which we extended to almost 3 weeks). For this release, we will be launching on Steam Early Access on November 24. We plan to mostly leave the servers on full time going forward.
  • Maps: We will continue to expand the mainland scenes to includeThe Necropolis (the main underground Undead area in the game), The Graf Gem Mines surface area, andthe Tower of the Shuttered Eye. We will also add the Desert biome to the game along with a desert scene.
    • Veiled Swamp & Tower of the Shuttered Eye: These are the newest locations on the mainland of Novia. The Veiled Swamp is the scene where the Tower resides. From the lore: “The Tower of the Shuttered Eye appeared in the swamps of southeast Novia not long ago. No one saw it being built, because few ventured into the swamps other than those in search of rare reagents from time to time. As soon as it was known to be there, rumors began to arise about its inhabitants and their activities. Some visitors find the tower empty, filled only with cobwebs and rats, yet others, who visit on dark and stormy nights see hooded figures going in and out by torch light, often followed by lightning and thunder emanating from the top of the tower. Today, most avoid these swamps altogether, even those who seek rare reagents usually seek elsewhere!”
      SotA_TowerShutteredEye_external1b
    • Updated Hidden Vale Scenes: We did a massive pass through almost all the places on the island of Hidden Vale. Changes included increases in playable space, clear visual variations for each map, and spawning polish on the Valeway maps so creatures are not just “standing around”. Scenes modified include: Valeway South, Valeway North, East Ravenswood, South Ravenswood, West Ravenswood, and Kingsroad
  • Character Advancement: The advancement system will expand to include Skill Trainers
    • Trainers: Trainers can now be found in Kingsport, Owl’s Head, Ardoris and Braemar. They are now required to unlock skills in your skill trees and you will have to spend skill points and gold. For now, there are only two kinds of trainers: Combat and Magic. In the future, there will be more specialized trainers, including trainers for specific schools, and even trainers for the most powerful and rare skills (ex. Summon Lich). Also, in future releases, trainers may require certain tasks to prove your worth before they will train you.
  • Spells & Skills: Lifeand Death Magic will expand to include more spells.The combat schools of Tactics andPolearms will also expand, and more combos will be added to the game.
    • Skill Polish / Balance: All magic attack spells have received a balancing pass and are now MUCH more effective. We also made it so that some skills gate further progression on the skill tree by requiring multiple levels. Finally fizzle rates for many spells were greatly reduced, primarily those in the Life, Earth, and Water trees.
    • 15 New Skills: We added a wide variety of skills, mainly to Polearms, and also added some new Combos. We also modified function on some existing skills (Douse & Body Slam)
      SotA_Combat_Skill_Bar
    • Polearms:
      • Skewer: Attack that also roots the target
      • Leg Sweep: Attack that has a chance to knock down the target
      • Spinning Attack: Spinning attack that hits multiple targets around the caster
      • Block: Increases defense value
      • Pull: An extended range melee attack that pulls the target into normal range of the polearm
    • Life:
      • Healing Grace: Restores hit points on the target over time
      • Healing Burst: Heals all friendly characters in a radius around the target
    • Water:
      • Douse: Now includes a 1 minute fire resist buff.
    • Bludgeon:
      • Break Weapon: Attack that increases damage done to target’s weapon
      • Break Armor: Attack that increases damage done to target’s armor
    • Heavy Armor
      • Body Slam: Now when used has chance to cause increased damage to the caster’s armor
      • Absorb Impacts: Buff that increases defensive value, but increases damage to caster’s armor
    • Light Armor
      • Escape: Decreases all aggro accumulated so AI are less interested in caster allowing them to escape
    • Combos: Note that these new combos don’t yet have icons
      • Piercing Breeze: Gust + Aimed Shot = Long range attack that has chance to push back the target
      • Smoldering Shiv: Thrust + Flame Fist = very long duration but low damage fire attack
      • Splintering Strike: Stone Fist + Crushing Blow = attack that has stunning effect, does high damage to armor, and temporarily reduces defense values of target’s armor
      • Glacial Glissade: Ice Fist + Push = Long range attack, pushes target backwards, slows them and has chance to knock target down
  • 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)
    • Basements: Players will finally be able to attach Stone & Timber style basements to their houses. This will be a first pass, so expect to see fun things like basement hatch entrances on upper floors, on boats, etc.
      SotA_TimberStone_Basement_overhead_angle
    • Images in Deeds: House Deeds now have images in the tooltips so players can better see which house they are purchasing
    • Price Increase: Houses and Lots are now 10 times more expensive to better reflect what we believe future pricing might be like.
    • Lot (Property) Deeds: Getting basements working and also closing up some loopholes in house deeds used up our available schedule time so we were unable to get to lot deeds for R12
  • 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.
    • Material Variation: With R12 we are starting to introduce different materials (pine, maple, copper) beyond the simple base examples (wood, iron) we have seen to date. These different materials bring different properties to the finished goods. So Copper Armor has a different set of properties than Iron Plate or Iron Plate with Cotton Straps is different from Iron Plate with Leather Straps. This introduces a vaster array of items and much greater variation in their properties.. Getting this foundation built and adding example recipes of this was deemed more important than our original R12 crafting goals ( crafting skills, cooking recipes, alchemy recipes, and enchanting).
    • 50+ New Armor / Weapon Recipes: We added many new recipes for armor and weapons that represent the material property variations mentioned above. Some examples include:
      • Iron Plate Leggings with Cotton Straps
      • Iron Plate Leggings with Leather Straps
      • Copper Chainmail Chest Armor with Leather Straps
      • Maple Shortbow with Cotton Bow String
      • Maple Shortbow with Leather Bow String
      • Pine Short Bow with Cotton Bow String
      • Copper Mace with Maple Wood Handle
      • Copper Mace with Pine Wood Handle
  • Creatures:Our creature list will continue to expand with Ghosts, Fauns, Emps and Wisps added to the game.
    • New Creatures Pushed: We made the decision to prioritize the female avatar rework (see Customization below) over the new creatures (which are fully custom pieces).
    • Turkeys: Just in time for the season, turkeys make their first appearance (note these are based on a purchased asset versus fully original like the creatures we pushed). For now, they are merely ornamental like the dogs and cats, but long term they may be formidable and hard to track…
      SotA_TurkeyCall_Turkey
    • Wolf & Bear Variations: Wolves and Bears now appear in a variety of colors. There are also top tier versions that have larger claws and teeth (the better to eat you with, my dear).
  • 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.
    • Death System: The Death System expands with Ghosts. Upon death, players will now transform into a ghostly form, and they can wander around in that form. Other entities appear as simple balls of light while you are in this form. So, the scouting ability of ghosts is limited.
      SotA_Death_R12
    • Open PVP: By talking to the Oracle in the Confirmatories of Kingsport or Ardoris players can request removal of the Blessing of the Oracle (which prevents Outlanders from killing each other whenever they want). If players change their minds, they must return and request to receive the blessing.
    • Ranged Ammo Types: Ranged skills now require specific ammo in order to work. This ammo can be found at the Archery shopkeeper in Ardoris
    • Magic / Ranged Weapons vs Melee Balance: We have made several updates to combat math and data in order to make Magic and Ranged combat better balances with/against Melee.
  • Customization: New armor and clothing items will appear in the game.
    • Skin Shader Rework: We continue to iterate on the shader for the character skin to display better in varying light conditions, provide more visual detail, and better show darker skin tones.
    • More Skin Tones: We have doubled the number of skin tones you can choose during character creation.
    • Female Face Rework: We continue to iterate on our female character to make her look as good as we possibly can. For R12 we have completely redone the default female face based on feedback from our players.
    • Lip & Mouth Sliders (and more nose sliders): Facial customization expands with new sliders for lip, mouth, and nose.
    • New Wearables: 5 pieces of Elven Armor, a Wizard hat, and the Steampunk Top Hat were added to the game.
    • Hair / Facial Hair with Hats/Helmets Pushed: The rework of the female face and the skin tones ended up taking most of the release which cost us making helmets work with hair. We hope to tackle this in R13
  • 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).
    • Random Encounters: Travelling through plains, hills, swamps, or forests in the Hidden Vale will sometimes create a random encounter. These encounters will put you in the middle of a scene where you will have to choose to stand and fight or run for the exit.
      SotA_Overworld_R12
    • Hidden Vale Polish: We did more polish work on the visuals for the Hidden Vale Overworld including better foliage, better town layouts, more defined roads, and visual effects like volcanic smoke.
    • Camera & Movement Controls: The movement and camera controls are now identical to the rest of the game, the only exception being that there is a limit to how far down you can bring the camera (you can’t look up).
    • Terrain affects Speed: Terrain types affect how fast you can move with roads being the fastest.
    • Novia Overworld Pushed: Based on player feedback about the overworld visuals we decided that polishing Hidden Vale Overworld (and other maps, see above) was higher priority than getting a working Novia Overworld.
  • Guilds: Players will now be able to start forming Guilds in the game with basic functions like Guild Name, membership, and Guild Officers.
    • R12 Guild Function & Location: Seek out Marcus the Guild Registrar in Owl’s Head to begin creating a Guild. Marcus can be found in the Owl’s Head barracks. Bring plenty of funds, as creating a guild costs 25,000 gold. Right click on an existing Guild Member (who is displaying their guild tag) and select the appropriate option from the context menu to join a guild. To leave a guild, right click on yourself and choose the option from the context menu. (You may need to enable “Target Self With Mouse” under the options menu.) Be aware that if the last guild member leaves a guild it will be dissolved, and an additional 25,000 gold fee must be paid to create a new one. Creating or joining a Guild will add a Guild tab to your Social menu. From here you can view Guild membership. The Guild tab also allows you to toggle displaying your guild name on your nameplate on or off. Guildmates share access to an exclusive chat channel, available with “/g”. Guilds are still rudimentary and will likely see many changes and additional functionality in coming releases, especially to how joining and managing a guild works.
  • 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
    • Pledges Tied to Account Pushed: This turned out to be a very complex task with a lot of interdepencies because it touches almost every single system in the game. While we did make some progress on this we did not feel comfortable pushing it out before it was completely finished and thoroughly tested so we are pushing this to a later release.
  • 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.
    • Banks Pushed: Banks are a natural extension of inventory and non-mobile storage (chests). Therefore they are not the most complicated feature for us to implement. However work on the Hint/Tutorial and First Time User Experience ended up costing us this feature for R12. We hope to get it in very soon, perhaps in R13.
  • Encumbrance: The weight of items will now factor into how much you can carry. Your carrying capacity will be derived from your Strength stat.
    • Encumbrance Pushed: This is a system that touches a lot of other systems and is one of the core drivers of the loop that takes players between adventures and towns. While we have it working internally we did not feel like we could enable it without working banks because players would end up having more than they could carry.
  • Tutorials: Tutorial text will now start appearing the first time you attempt an interaction (moving, talking, crafting, fighting, questing, etc.)
    • Tutorial Hints: These are now hooked up to just about every major interaction in the game and should be invaluable in helping players ramp up.
      SotA_NewUserExperience_R12
  • First Time User Experience: The new hint system is very powerful, but after experiencing it we still felt it was not enough for new users (mainly because it required you to try systems you did not know how to use in order to learn how to use them!). While that would work over time as purely trial and error, it completely lacked guidance. So we pulled in this task from much later in the project and we have begun iterating on the First Time User Experience. The goal of this is to guide you through the most fundamental issues (movement, equipping items, inventory, combat, and conversation) while also providing some level of entertainment. Our first attempt puts you in the aftermath of the Battle of Solace Bridge, which will actually be one of the three main starting areas in the final game. To make this work, we added a new feature that allows us to force a player into conversation with an NPC. We plan to iterate and polish this experience each release, so please provide us feedback to make it as strong as possible. It is important to note that in the final version of the game, players will have had one experience prior to this that will be our version of the Gypsy starting experience in Ultima.
  • 40 New Songs: We added 40 new and incredible songs to the game this release, all of them player made!
  • NPCs & Doors: Several releases ago we started making NPCs more aware of their surroundings and we began giving them the ability to act on that awareness. Our first implementation was giving them the ability to turn lights on and off depending on time of day. In R12, we continue to expand this functionality so that NPCs are now aware of doors and able to use them. This may sound simple, but it is actually a complex issue that touches how we do movement and collision in the game and how those must be completely dynamic. You can expect much more of these kinds of things that bring the game to life in future releases. Please note that this is a work in progress so you might still see some NPCs run through closed doors or not be able to open a door right in front of them.
  • Drawbridges: Drawbridges were a commonly used defensive technique used in Castle fortifications. We plan to use them as puzzles (like in Obsidian Keep) and for Control Points and sieges. Like doors, they seem simple, but are actually quite complex and require dynamic navigational meshes in the game.
  • Energy Fences: The moon towers that channel aetheric energies in cities like Owls Head and Ardoris are used to beam energy to various devices, including defensive energy fences surrounding these cities. It is the only way those cities have been able to steadily grow, as the lands recover from the Great Cataclysm, the continuous wars, and the recent mass risings of undead. In R12, we have gotten the first of these energy fences built around Owls Head.
  • Sprint Animations: We added sprinting (double tap W) in R11. In R12 we have added a specific suite of animations to visually show that your character is sprinting
  • Message of the Day: We now have functionality for a Message of the Day at login and broadcast into chat.
  • Player Event Schedule Book: Our community continues to create an amazing series of events each release. Long term we are brainstorming ways for that to appear as a feed to players in the game. For R12 we are going to provide players a book in their inventory which will list all the events we know of.
  • More Player Towns: We initially lowered the number of player towns to increase player density. However, now that we are extending access beyond a mere four days we need to give players more places to own property. Thus, we are adding back in several of the player towns and islands.
  • Bloom: We added bloom visual effects (linked to Tone Mapping) several releases ago, but at some point it got disabled as a side effect of some other optimizations. We have reenabled this effect in R12. It still needs some fine tuning, but it already greatly improves the visual quality of the game.
  • Minimap Zoom & More Minimaps: You can now zoom in closer on the in game minimaps, and we created minimaps for all the wilderness zones in the game
    SotA_MiniMap_zoom_R12
  • AlienFX: Alienware keyboards and cases have lights in them that can change color and can be linked to game events. For Shroud, we wanted this functionality to be helpful in indicating game states in the following ways:
    • White = non-combat mode
    • Blue = NPC Convo Mode and Crafting
    • Green = Combat mode full health
    • Yellow = Combat mode taking damage
    • Red = Combat mode, near death
    • No lights = Dead
    • Dancing = flashing colors
      AlienFX_image
  • Durability and Pricing: NPC shopkeepers will now factor durability of items into the price they will pay for them. The more damaged the item the less money you will receive.
  • Quests: More quests were added to Braemar and the surrounding wilderness, and we will continue to add to them. Many quests now give experience points as well.
  • Quick Reference Card: We created a first draft of a quick reference card for players. Many thanks to Stile Teckel who made one for the community.
  • Explorers Guild Quest: The Grand Tour returns in R12. You can talk to any Tour Guide (one is near where new players appear, in Braemar after Solace Bridge) 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. The Pilgrim hat (also known as a Cockel) is the prize for the R12 grand tour in celebration of the American holiday of Thanksgiving. 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!
    SotA_R12_GrandTour_PilgrimHat_caption

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 12 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. Expect this to expand with each subsequent release, but it won’t be truly complete until we hit Beta next year.
  • Advanced Player Housing: There are some advanced features for player housing, including advanced permissions 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.

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


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 12!

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. And don’t forget, any new purchases made from now through Black Friday Weekend receive an additional 15% Bonus (see details below)!


Release 12 Player Instructions

Release 12 Known Issues


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Only 13 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 #99 – 2014.11.14: VIP Design Roundtable, Steam Community Hub, R12 Grand Tour Quest, Backer Bonus Hat, and More!

Greetings Fellow Avatars!

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

  • Duke & LotM VIP Design Roundtable
  • Share Your Screenshots on SotA’s Steam Community Hub
  • More Release 12 Scenes
  • $5M Backer Bonus Reward
  • SotA Community is Rockin’ It!
  • Get Your 15% Bonus
  • Holiday Specials
  • Last Chance Exclusives: Cooking Pot of Prosperity and Magic Sigil Cloak
  • Alienware Sponsors $20 Pledge Upgrade Coupon
  • Upcoming Events

Duke & LotM VIP Design Roundtable

Today we were honored to host several of our Dukes and Lord of the Manors for the VIP Design Roundtable and Portalarium Studio Tour (part of the Duke and LotM pledge rewards).
SotA_VIP_Roundtable1_2014.11.14

 

The design discussions started around noon and kept going till dark! Our VIPs had lots of amazing feedback to share during the roundtable and team breakout sessions, covering every aspect of the game. At the end of the day it felt like we’d just scratched the surface of their wealth of design insights!

Duke Henk Birkholz (aka Wahooka) showed  up a little early, so in the true spirit of a crowdsourced project, we immediately put him to work helping Richard relocate his desk and workstation to a different room:

DukeHenk


Share Your Screenshots on SotA’s Steam Community Hub

We also put Duke Joe Tate (aka Violation) to work helping us publish the SotA Steam Store Page and Community Hub.

DukeViolation_Publish_SotA_Steam_EarlyAccess_update

In the true spirit of game development, it failed to publish on the first try! But not to fear, it worked on the second try!

The game cannot be purchased on Steam until November 24th, but the SotA Store Page andCommunity Hub are now live and accessible by the public, ready for your discussions, screenshots, artwork, videos, guides, and reviews!

SotA_Steam_EarlyAccess_CommunityHub

Community members have already posted some great Release 11 screenshots and videos to the Steam Community Hub. We invite all of you to help us showoff the game to the Steam community and get ready to post your great Release 12 screenshots next week when R12 launches (Nov. 20th).  Here are the steps for capturing screenshots and posting them to the SotA Steam Community Hub:

1. Run the Steam version of Release 12 when it launches on November 20th (if you haven’t redeemed your Steam Access Key then click here for instructions)

2. Press F12 while in-game to take a screenshot. Steam stores the captured screenshots on your local computer for each session.

3. Press SHIFT-TAB when you are ready to upload the screenshots you have captured, and click on “VIEW SCREENSHOTS” from the Steam menu that appears:

Steam_Screenshots1

4. Select the images you wish to upload (add a caption if you like) and select “UPLOAD”

Steam_Screenshots2

5. Next you select “Public” visibility so others can see your great screenshot (this menu is disabled in-game until SotA launches on Early Access on Nov 24th, so you can skip this step for now)

Steam_Screenshots3

6. Select “UPLOAD”

7. After they are uploaded, select “VIEW ONLINE LIBRARY”

Steam_Screenshots4

8. Steam will overlay an in-game browser, allowing you to manage all the screenshots you’ve uploaded. Click on the “Manage screenshots” button, click the checkbox in the top-left corner of each screenshot you wish to share with the community, then click the “Make Public” button:

Steam_Screenshots5

9. Press ESC to close all the Steam windows and you are back to the game screen and the screenshots you made public can now be viewed by the entire Steam community! Yay!

Here’s the link to the SotA Community Hub if you want to check out your screenshots online:http://steamcommunity.com/app/326160

Once you’re at the Community Hub, select the “Screenshots” tab, and then select “MOST RECENT” from the “SHOW” menu, and your screenshots should be near the top:

Steam_Screenshots6


More Release 12 Scenes

Here are a few of the new scenes you might encounter in Release 12…if you can discover where they are!

SotA_R12_teaser1

SotA_R12_teaser2

SotA_R12_teaser3

SotA_R12_teaser4

The R12 Grand Tour Quest
Just as in our past few releases, we’ve included a Grand Tour Quest in R12 designed to guide you through all the new content. Just in time for Thanksgiving, you will be able to get this Pilgrim’s Hat by completing the Release 12 Grand Tour Quest. This reward can only be unlocked during Release 12 (did someone say rares?), so be sure to log in to R12 starting next week and talk to all the Tour Guides!

SotA_R12_GrandTour_PilgrimHat2

SotA_R12_GrandTour_PilgrimHat3


$5M Backer Bonus Reward

As a special thank you to all of our amazing backers that helped us reach $5M funds raised a couple weeks ago, we are adding this Steampunk Hat to the basic rewards of all pledges! We can never thank all of you enough for your generous support that is helping make Shroud of the Avatar the best game it can be!

SotA_5M_Reward_SteamPunkHat

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SotA Community is Rockin’ It!

Last week we introduced you to some of the exceptional music from our community of composers that is showing up in Shroud of the Avatar. If you had not noticed in that first group of musical compositions we showcased, the titles I requested for the compositions were also a description of what I wanted the pieces to sound like.  While the composers were also allowed to provide a few sentences to describe the piece, I had really hoped that the musical pieces would sound like their names and vice versa.  This naming standard also helps us keep track of what is done, and what remains. This week, we showcase 5 more of the musical compositions that you are already hearing inside SotA:

Kobold Industry: https://soundcloud.com/kailef/the-clockwork-storm-final-sota-kobold-industry-submission
Another masterful piece from Jarrod Kailef, perfectly captures the sound environment we are looking for when players discover the cleaver constructions of the Kobold race. Humans in our world owe a lot to the industry and intelligence of the Kobolds.

Loss of Honor: https://soundcloud.com/doug-yassen/loss-of-honor-shroud-of-the-avatar-final-mix
Douglass Yassen created this wonderful piece which will be found in one of the ruins of ancient Britannia. Sad indeed that the virtues have been forsaken. The loss of Honor is but one of the deep tragedies of the new world.

Mysterious Cavern: https://soundcloud.com/peter-boiko/mysterious-cavern-3
Peter Boiko has crafted a great track here that nicely blends the environmental ambiance we are looking for in mysterious caverns, while also having a captivating and mysterious melody!

Over Hill and Round the Mountain: https://soundcloud.com/richarddaskas/over-hill-and-round-the-mountain-final-version?in=richarddaskas/sets/shroud-of-the-avatar-sota
Richard Daskas perfectly captured this exploration and discovery piece which players will hear as they explore new Britannia. The sun is shining and the world is growing in wonder, what will we find round the next bend or over that far hill?

The Garden of Sorrow: https://soundcloud.com/tinottt/the-garden-of-sorrow
Faustino Sanchez II’s garden of Sorrow will sound perfect in the Necropolis, while players explore this underworld meeting it undead gods and unrestful spirits.

We have so much more to share with you, I am overwhelmed by the creativity and quality of music created for Shroud of the Avatar by YOU, our amazing community!

– Lord British


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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…


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Only 18 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.


Holiday Specials

Yep, it’s that time of the year again. Over the past couple of weeks we’ve brought back some holiday favorites, including the Taming Turkey Call, Taming Reindeer Call, Menorah, and Cornucopia, and this week we have even more seasonal specials:

Yule Tree

This beautiful Yule Tree will create a festive mood in all who see it. Perfect for both in-door and out-door decorating! Available for a limited time in the Add-On Store!

SotA_Holiday_Tree_scene

 

Replenishing Snowball Box

This magical box of 50 snowballs regenerates annually during the holiday season. One Replenishing Snowball Box is included in the basic rewards of all pledge tiers. By popular demand we added it to the Add-On Store so you can get extra Snowball Boxes (thus insuring a steady supply of snowballs in between the holiday regenerations). Available for a limited time in the Add-On Store at 33% off!

SotA_ReplenishingSnowballBox

 

Replenishing Fireworks Box

Get ready to celebrate the holidays with a bang with your own Replenishing Fireworks Box! A magical box of 50 fireworks that regenerates periodically. Available for a limited time in the Add-On Store at 33% off!

SotA_Replenishing_Fireworks_Box

 

2014 Holiday Bundle

You can get all 7 of the 2014 holiday items at an even greater savings with the 2014 Holiday Bundle! Includes Taming Turkey Call, Taming Reindeer Call, Cornucopia, Yule Tree, Menorah, Replenishing Fireworks Box, and the Replenishing Snowball Box. Available for a limited time in the Add-On Store.

SotA_2013_Holiday_Bundle


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 Scissors of Prosperity, Cubit Measure of Prosperity, Combat Sigil Cloak, Crafting Sigil Cloak, Shingle-Roof Village Homes, Rustic 2-Story with Balcony Village Home, and the Wood & Plaster 2-Story with Balcony Town 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 Cooking Pot of Prosperity

This unique, indestructible, cooking pot increases the ability to make higher quality foods. While cooking pots with similar effects can be crafted and purchased in the game this particular pot never needs repair.

SotA_CookingPot_Prosperity

 

Magic Sigil Cloak

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

SotA_MagicSigil_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

2014.11.14 – 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
2015.01.22 – Release 14 Access
2015.02.19 – Release 15 Access
2015.03.13 – SotA at SXSW Interactive
2015.03.26 – Release 16 Access

 

Update of the Avatar #98 – 2014.11.07: Tower of Shuttered Eye, Community is Rockin’ It, R11 Impressions, Lord Marshal Automaton, and More!

Greetings Fellow Avatars!

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

  • Tower of the Shuttered Eye!
  • SotA Community is Rockin’ It!
  • Chris Spears’ Release 11 Impressions
  • Lord Marshal Automaton Servant
  • R11 Still Open! Get Your Carnival Mask Tricorn Hat!
  • Steam Access Keys Now Available for All Backers
  • Get Your 15% Bonus
  • Holiday Specials
  • Last Chance Exclusives: Wood & Plaster 2-Story with Balcony Town Home
  • Alienware Sponsors $20 Pledge Upgrade Coupon
  • This Week In The News
  • Upcoming Events

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Tower of the Shuttered Eye

The Tower of the Shuttered Eye appeared in the swamps of southeast Novia not long ago. No one saw it being built, because few ventured into the swamps other than those in search of rare reagents from time to time. As soon as it was known to be there, rumors began to arise about its inhabitants and their activities. Some visitors find the tower empty, filled only with cob webs and rats, yet others, who visit on dark and stormy nights see hooded figures going in and out by torch light, often followed by lightning and thunder emanating from the top of the tower. Today, most avoid these swamps altogether, even those who seek rare reagents usually seek elsewhere!

Look for the Tower of the Shuttered Eye in Release 12, launching November 20th!

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

If you missed the Pen of the Avatar: The Tower of the Shuttered Eye with Stephen Daniele earlier this week, then check it out here:

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You can find all of the Pen of the Avatar episodes at: https://www.shroudoftheavatar.com/?cat=9


SotA Community is Rockin’ It!

It is about time, in fact overdue, that we begin to more publicly celebrate the wonderful community of composers whose work is now showing up in Shroud of the Avatar.

SotA_sDaniele_mountainPass_cghubFor SotA, I have had my heart set on finding music that hearkened back to the golden age of our work on the Ultima series. For me, the music composed by Iolo and Ken Arnold remains the best music of the series. Not that we have not had great composers since… we have. But there was something compelling about the simple memorable melodies, that most modern games lose in their hugely orchestrated scores (very much like movie scores). While I hoped we could have fuller music, I hoped we could reign in the desire to go overly large, and provide players with tracks that not only felt right for the area and happenings within the game, but were also both memorable, yet not annoyingly repetitious. I knew going into it, this would be difficult.

To be honest, when we first faced the problem of musical compositions for SotA, I was lost. We got bids from a number of composition houses, that both far exceeded the budget we had available for this crowd funded game, but also, and perhaps more importantly, their demos were far from the soundscape target I was hoping to achieve in SotA. We were stuck. We tried buying music off websites that had affordable music on them, but even after enormous amounts of searching, I found little that felt right. We started down that path though because of budget reasons, never feeling quite right about it.

Then YOU, our wonderful community, stepped up. People asked why they could not submit music tracks for inclusion. My initial thoughts, and even my first response to proposals, was lukewarm at best. Early offerings from the community were far from the mark I was hoping for. While they were often great pieces of music, they generally were either too modern, too orchestral, to much like a movie score, did not sound period enough, or were well off target for some other reason. I did not believe this was going to work.

SotA_PlainsThen Holt Ironfell of the Poets Circle contacted me and asked a simple question: “Please tell us, exactly what you ARE looking for.” Only at that moment, did I realize what a disservice I had been doing the community. I quickly made copious notes to clearly articulate what I felt was, and was not, music I would hope to find for SotA. The Poets Circle (and others) then went off, formed their own councils for peer review, and raised money when needed to acquire equipment and software. Then a few short months later, the community started to submit new work.

I was literally moved to tears, to hear what amazing work this community, all of you, have been able to produce. In a few short weeks, we went from ZERO accepted pieces of work, to about 100%! While for some of the MOST complex work involving Virtues and pieces that must play together, we have had vigorous exchange to “get it right”, the VAST majority of work now done by the fine Poets Circle and many other members of the community, deserve GREAT acclaim.

I know others will wish to do as I have, which is build a music list to play throughout my home, of the wonderful inspirational work of our community! I would like to highlight a few now, and more in coming months:

Beautiful Meadow, by Jarrod Kailef: https://soundcloud.com/kailef/kailef-ttf-beautiful_meadow
This is a fine example of the primary goal I set for the musical environment of SotA. To me it has all the qualities I sought: First it matches the scene description very well “Beautiful Meadow”. It is both atmospheric and melodic without annoying repetition. It is not overly orchestrated, and sounds like something of the world. While not purely period instruments, it does not take you out of the period feel. Lovely!

SotA_Monster_lichMage_01Dark Alien Magical Warping, by Sir Wombat:https://soundcloud.com/sirwombat/dark-alien-magical-warping-1
Tackling the dungeon, and other more unusual environments, was always a weak point back in the Ultima days. Previous works were environmental but rarely melodic. Sir Wombat does a great job with this piece to accomplish the goal of building a more environmental and disquieting piece, without losing the melodic values we seek.

Elven Truth Seekers, by tinottt aka Faustino Sanchez II:https://soundcloud.com/tinottt/elven-truth-seekers-final-mix-1
Those familiar with the SotA backstory represented in Blade of the Avatar, know that the Elves of our world were created by the Obsidian Kabal as powerful combat troops for their attempt to dominate the world. Yet on SotA, you will meet the Vertas Elves, who (like Star Trek Vulcans vs their Romulan ancestors) have given up their warlike past and become peaceful truth seekers. This piece captures that perfectly!

Foundation & Strength, by Richard Daskas: https://soundcloud.com/richarddaskas/foundation-strength-version-2
Richard captured perfectly the confidence of the city builders of New Britannia, coming back from the brink after the fall of the moons and the obsidian cause. The hope, the power and confidence show through in this masterful, properly balanced piece.

SotA Enchanted ForestDance of Fauns / The Hidden City, by Grandmaster Bard Holt Ironfell:https://soundcloud.com/poetscircle/dance-of-fawns
From the master bard himself, has come many tunes you will hear going forward. But this early piece remains a favorite. The fauns of New Britannia, live lives of enslavement, yet, when they occasionally are free of the domination of their wretched Satyr masters, they frolic in the meadows and joyfully celebrate the world and possibilities. How they can remain so positive deep in their souls proves the real value of this race.

These are but five of the dozens of wonderful pieces we are proud to have in the game, and will be showcasing in coming weeks to you here with these updates.

By the Virtues!
Lord British


Chris Spears’ Release 11 Impressions

[Excerpt from a forum post by Chris Spears]

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Wow! Concurrency, first time users, total hours, average hours, and pretty much all the other stats were through the roof for this release. Everyone of these metrics was up at least 50% over release 10, which was up something like 50% from release 9! We spent several days cleaning up exceptions, spammy log messages, and getting down to the bare minimum log messages for this release to make sure we’re only looking at real data. Even after all that, our metrics box recorded 19,937,381 events in the first 24 hours the servers were open! Yowsa!

Before I jump into my usual fun stats and then my stream of babbling, I wanted to throw a few theories out for you guys to discuss as to why numbers were so much higher.

So I think a large number of the 1000+ first time users in this release were an unexpected side effect of getting onto Steam. For whatever reason, many people were just not interested enough to deal with figuring out our downloader, but Steam made it easy enough that they were willing to install and play. Maybe it was people now believing that because we were on Steam we were somehow a more legitimate game? Maybe the Steam “collectors” who just like to collect more and more games and decided to give it a try since they already had it installed?

I believe that it also had to do with progression finally being in the game, if only in a limited way. Many people don’t like playing without feeling like they are accomplishing something so playing a game with no advancement is just not fun. I think word got out pretty quick that we were also leaving the servers up for a few weeks, which also got a few more people interested.

Ok, now for some numbers!

[Read the rest of Chris' post in the forums...]


Lord Marshal Automaton Servant

Included in the Lord Marshal pledge rewards is this special automaton servant befitting your regal status:

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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…


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Only 25 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. Last week we brought back some holiday favorites, the Taming Turkey Call and Cornucopia, and this week we have even more seasonal specials:

Taming Reindeer Call

Just in time for the holiday season, this unique indestructible Taming Reindeer Call can be used to call a Reindeer 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 Reindeer Call for a limited time in the Add-On Store at 33% off!

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Menorah

Make the festival of lights even more beautiful with this exquisite Menorah. Masterfully handcrafted, it’s a treasure to behold every holiday season. Available for a limited time in the Add-On Store.

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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 Scissors of Prosperity, Combat Sigil Cloak, Shingle-Roof Village Homes, Cubit Measure of Prosperity, Crafting Sigil Cloak, and the Rustic 2-Story with Balcony Village Home. This week, the following item is available for an additional 20% off, and then will no longer be available in the Add-On Store.

Wood & Plaster 2-Story with Balcony Town Home

In our Wood & Plaster line is this 2-story, 4-room town home, with a second-story front-facing deck.

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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]


SotA_InTheNews_ReadingScroll

This Week In the News

October 28 – MMORPG.com: Shroud of the Avatar Release 11 Live Stream:Part 1 and Part 2

November 4 – MMORPG.com: Shroud of the Avatar Column: Full STEAM Ahead!

November 6 – MMO Play: Top Five Ways to Build MMO Hype


Upcoming Events

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
2015.01.22 – Release 14 Access
2015.02.19 – Release 15 Access
2015.03.13 – SotA at SXSW Interactive
2015.03.26 – Release 16 Access