Thank you to our loyal backers of Shroud of the Avatar. Release 14 access for all backers at First Responder level and above, as well as those who signed up at CES and PAX South, begins this Thursday, January 29 at 10:30 AM Central Time (16:30 UTC).
This far from launch, we are in a constant state of change and we do not yet have in-game systems to inform players of these changes, or to share ways to help them to explore new content and systems. This means we rely entirely on this message, and the linked instructions and known issues to convey the current game state. We regularly have to answer questions or filter bug reports because players elect not to read this valuable information. By taking a few moments to read through this information, a great deal of our time and efforts can be redirected to focus on new “unanswered” questions, and addressing critical issues impacting each release. We greatly appreciate you taking the time to review this post, and for all the truly valuable feedback you continue to provide.
Release 14 is our first release of 2015 and represents several major new features (Banking, Pledge Rewards, Encumbrance, Enchantments) as well as overhauls to existing features (Crafting). It is also a milestone because now more than half of the Adventuring schools (magic and combat) are complete! Of course, with new content comes new bugs and balance issues, so help us out by posting bugs and feedback in our official forums.
Also, remember that while we are providing new content with each release, our community is also working overtime to make new events for you to enjoy, so be sure to check out the Community Events Calendar (via in game book or the player run website Avatars Circle).
Without further ado, here are the R14 deliverables.
Plain Text: The original plan for the Release deliverables and what was actually delivered.
Italics: Extra notes and new deliverables
Strikethrough: These are items that did not make the release. We intentionally preserve the original text so that our backers can compare plan versus actuals.
RELEASE 14, January 29, 2015
Scenes: Brightbone Pass and Blackblade Pass Entrances will expand the mainland while another Desert scene will expand the Vale. We will also add the Shardfall biome to the game, along with a shardfall scene (this is the biome for our Open PVP scenes).
Brightbone Pass:This dangerous control point sits high atop the Brightbone Mountains near the Necropolis, city of the undead. Hordes of undead haunt this ancient fortress and block all who would venture through.
Grunvald Shardfall: The Continent of Novia will have a number of these Shardfall areas, where the Blessings of the Oracle do not hold sway and all who venture in are at risk of conflict (open PVP). With that risk, though, there is rumor of even greater reward, for the Shardfall both generates and exposes more resources than anywhere else in Novia. This particular shardfall is located near the desert town of Desolis and is our first example of a scene built in the shardfall biome.
Wyrmsands: This desert in the southwest corner of the Vale is also known as the graveyard of dragons. No one knows why these beasts came here to die in such large numbers. Some say those same dragons left behind great treasures upon their death, but few have dared to venture too far in these wastes to find out.
Owl’s Head Polish: Shop signs have begun to be added, and we have relocated merchants and shops to more logical locations
Blackblade Pass Entrances Delayed: The entrance maps to the underground Blackblade Pass have been delayed in order to give us more time to work on the Novia overworld map that we are targeting for Release 15.
Unity 5: We will begin transitioning the project to the latest version of Unity. For R14, it will most likely be a separate build, purely for testing.
QA Version: We have made significant progress on our port to Unity 5 and we hope to have a QA version to test the week after R14 goes live.
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.
Local Banks: Banks are local only. You can see your items in other bank locations (they appear in location tabs), but you can only access the items in the bank you are currently at. Pledge rewards are an exception to this and can be accessed from any location until claimed.
Current Bank Locations: In R14, there will be a banker NPC in every map where there is player housing because when you switch houses or unclaim a lot, all the decorations will go to your bank. In most locations the Town Crier is now also a banker. Long term, there will only be banks in towns and cities like Owl’s Head, Kingsport, Ardoris, etc.
Encumbrance: The weight of items will now factor into how much you can carry. Your carrying capacity will be derived from your Strength stat.
Encumbered Debuff: When you are encumbered you move more slowly and a “debuff” icon will appear on screen to indicate that you are encumbered. Please note that all weights are only a rough first pass and will be tuned continuously.
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.
Available vs. Unavailable: Pledge Rewards, Stretch Goals and Add Ons that have been created and/or have tech to support them will now be available in the bank in the “Rewards” location (available in all banks until claimed). Any items that we have not yet created will not be available.
Available: Lot Deeds, House Deeds, Some Basement Deeds, Wearables (cloaks, helmets, armor), Weapons, Prosperity Tools, and Decorations
Not Available: Pets, Vendors, Servants, Titles, Emotes, Crafting Stations, Physical Goods, Some Basement Deeds, etc
Add On “Convert to Credits” Disabled: Once you create a character in R14 you will no longer be able to melt down your add on items until the next server wipe.
Trading of Rewards, Add Ons, etc.: All pledge rewards, add on store items, stretch goal store items, and grand tour quest hats will revert to the original owner everytime we wipe. So any trades made before launch are only temporary.
Water Lots: For R14, Water Lot claiming is available to all players who have Village Lot Deeds (or larger). Starting in R15 only Citizen Founders (or higher) can claim water lots.
Customization: A pass will be made to improve hair and facial hair.
Hair and Facial Hair delayed: We are waiting until we convert to Unity 5 to invest effort in this because the shaders we use for these are changing.
New Wearables: 3 new wearables were added to the game including the Lord Marshal Coronated Helmet, Knight Cloak, and Baron Cloak
Combat: Various skills will be added to finish out Earth, Water, Ranged, Blades, Bludgeon, Tactics, and Heavy Armor schools.
New or Modified Skills / Spells: We added 10 new skills and modified 5 existing skills in R14. Even more exciting is that 11 of the 18 schools are now complete (until we change them) including Blades, Bludgeons, Polearms, Tactics, Earth, Fire, Death, Air, Water, Life, and Focus!
Blades: This school is now complete! In general we removed defensive values from innate skills and added more innate effects that directly improved DPS to emphasize DPS as the defining characteristic of Blades.Blade Speed: Increases attack speed bonus for Blades. Moved from Tier 3 to Tier 2
Vital Points: This skill now increases critical hit chance for bladed weapons.
Blade Mastery: This skill increases base weapon damage of bladed weapons. NOTE: This replaces the Defense Skill
Bludgeons: This school is now complete! In general we replaced long term effects (gear damage) with immediate effects (debuffs) to improve in-combat effectiveness of this school.
Break Weapon: This attack now adds a timed debuff to the target that reduces weapon damage. NOTE: This skill formerly did direct damage to the target’s weapon
Break Armor: This attack now adds a timed debuff to the target that reduces damage resistance. NOTE: This skill formerly did direct damage to the target’s armor
Breaker: This innate skill increases the strength damage bonus for bludgeons. NOTE: This skill formerly increased damage to armor and weapons
Polearms: This school is now complete!
Armor Weak Points: This innate skill now increases critical hit chance for Polearms. NOTE: This skill formerly did direct damage to the target’s armor
Death Shield: Converts a portion of damage received into health
Earth: This school is now complete!
Shield of Crystal: Creates a shield of crystal around the caster that absorbs a certain amount of damage before shattering. NOTE: This replaces the Wall of Stone spell
Mirror Image: Creates an exact visual copy of the caster that can be commanded using pet commands. The perfect decoy!
Water: This school is now complete!
Summon Water Elemental: Summon a Water Elemental that will heal the summoner as needed. NOTE: This represents our first support pet AI!
Chain Lightning: Powerful lightning attack that has a chance to hit multiple enemies beyond the initial target. Now actually chains across multiple targets (only hit a single target in R13).
Armor Slugs Removed: With encumbrance coming online we felt that slugs as an armor penalty was doubly punishing and not required. For R14 we are leaving armor as without an encumbrance penalty. For future releases expect to see an encumbrance multiplier on the weight of armors that can be reduced with skills.
Tooltip Improvements: Spell tooltips now accurately reflect fizzle chance and include the effects of reagents
Max Hand Size: It is now increased to 10 (from 9)
Tool Weapons: Tools are now flagged as weapons (albeit very weak ones) so they can be wielded in combat and will display properly (prior to this they were triggering the unarmed combat stance and therefore would stab into your face!)
Housing: Lot Deeds will be introduced to the game, so property claiming will first require purchasing a lot deed in the game (or receiving one via pledge rewards). Also, more basements will be available.
Lot Deeds: Lot Deeds are now in the game and are required in order to claim a lot. They will return to your inventory when you unclaim a lot or lose a lot due to inactivity. Lot Deeds can be found on the Realty merchants in the Owl’s Head Bank.
Stone Basements: 6 Stone Basements are now in the game (5 for pledge rewards and add-ons, 1 for general usage)
New Decorations: The Edelmann birdbath and snowball box are now in the game (but do not yet have their special abilities)
Crafting: We will also be adding more Cooking and Alchemy recipes and ingredients including the ability to put magical enchantments and stat enhancements (durability, weight, value, etc) on gear.
Materials Effects for Gear: Formerly the crafting system was a fixed (aka deterministic) model where there was always a strictly defined output and input for any given recipe. Now we are moving to a more dynamic model where the materials in a recipe can be variable and therefore produce variable results. We have also added the concept of “materials memory” so that a finished good “remembers” the base materials and uses that memory to determine the modifiers and effects on the weapon (ex. +stats). This will allow a much wider array of gear that can be tuned to specific play styles based on the modifiers from the materials and also introduces a level of experimentation heretofore unavailable. In R14, this did not result in new recipes but instead resulted in a wider array of gear coming from those recipes. For example, crafting a Dagger with an Iron Dagger Blade and a Copper Hilt results in an Iron Dagger of Haste (+Melee Damage from the Iron Blade and +Attack Speed from the Copper Hilt). Another example is crafting a Plate Helm with Iron Sheets and Hard Leather Straps results in an Iron Plate Helm of Defense (Damage Resist from the Iron Sheets and Damage Resist from the Hard Leather).
Enchantments: Gear can now have gem sockets added to it via Smithing. Two sample Gem Enchantments are now in the game: Weapon Cut Ruby and Weapon Cut Sapphire. The Weaponized Ruby adds Flame effect and Flame damage to a weapon, and the Weaponized Sapphire adds Lightning damage to the weapon. Please note that the exact process of how player made enchantments are made is still being developed, so some steps are missing and ingredients are not yet finalized.
Recipe Book & Prosperity Tools: The recipe book now recognizes prosperity tools and prioritizes them when you autoplace items on the crafting table.
Shopkeepers: Prices will now fluctuate based on available stock, and each vendor will have “I will buy” and “I will sell” lists. This means that the fruit vendor might not be interested in buying that sword from you.
Price Fluctuation: As the frequency of purchase increases in a shop, prices on those goods will increase; as frequency decreases the price of goods will decrease thereby simulating supply and demand.
Buy/Sell Lists: Certain vendors now have defined lists that control what they will buy or sell and/or determine prices of what they buy
Sold Goods Destroyed: We do not yet have a system to control what items a vendor displays beyond their predefined stock. This results in vendors being overstocked with items players have made or looted from the world. For R14, we have temporarily removed those items from vendors stock.
Creatures: Our bestiary will expand to include Man-Eating Plants, Water Elementals, Greyhounds, and various Human Enemies (mages, archers, etc.).
Flesh Flayers: These giant carnivorous plants are found in Shardfall areas.
Water Elemental: These powerful elementals are our first example of support pet AI and will heal players who summon them. Note that the final visuals for the Water Elemental are waiting for our new water shader in Unity 5.
Air Elemental Visuals: We have iterated on the visuals for the Air Elemental to improve the way she appears.
Bound vs. Unbound Elementals: In order to make summoned elementals visually distinct from “wild” Elementals we have added visual bindings to all summoned elementals.
Greyhounds and Human Enemy Variants delayed: We decided to prioritize the updated elemental visuals over these new creatures
Fall Damage Revamped: Falling damage is now calculated based on distance fallen versus time that the character is in a falling state. This should fix most of the crazy falling damage bugs (ex. killed jumping off a fence but surviving a fall from the top of the lighthouse).
Control Point Looping Elite Waves: When players take over a control point, ever increasingly difficult waves of enemies will try to take the control point back from the players, culminating in a wave of “elite” enemies. Now those elite enemies will continue to come in repeated waves until they can regain the control point. Note that previously, the waves would loop back to the easiest wave once the “elite” wave was defeated.
Book Content: We have begun to replace blank, pre-placed books in Owl’s Head and Kingsport with books that have stories in them. Please note that currently, you have to have a book in your inventory to read it.
NPCs: “Barks” (what NPCs say to each other and to you as you pass) have been retuned so you will hear them more often, but only once every half hour or so. More clues for questing opportunities in your area, less desire to murder the barkeep who keeps repeating themselves.
Knight & Flourish Emotes: These emotes now show your equipped weapon so they finally look correct
Chats During Transitions: Chats received during level load (or any time that there is no chat window) are no longer lost.
General Visual Improvements: While we have been porting over to Unity 5 and investigating all the visual improvements we can make once we move over completely, we discovered some issues with the way we were rendering some of our effects and lighting. In some cases, we were rendering effects in the wrong order so they never looked quite right, bloom being an example. In R14, we took the opportunity to fix some of these draw sequence issues to improve general visual quality across the game. Additionally, high definition rendering is now enabled after working through some graphics problems that it was causing on approximately half of the video cards. The result is complete elimination of color banding and tone issues. Finally, with the other rendering issues dealt with, we have started enabling some color mapping features to bring an even more vibrant color set to the users.
Windows 32 Bit Support Dropped: Our minspec for Windows has been Windows 7 32 bit with 4GB of RAM. That 4GB is the maximum memory that a 32 bit Windows OS can use, so even if your system has more memory it cannot be addressed. To make SotA run in this environment, we have spent considerable effort to reduce runtime memory utilization. This results in longer load times and reduced quality on many assets. Recently, Microsoft announced that Windows 10 (to be released in October) will be a free upgrade to Windows 7 (and higher) customers. This removes the upgrade price barrier for those who are still running 32 bit Windows 7, and therefore we are no longer going to support Windows 7 32 bit as our minimum spec. Our new min spec will be Windows 7 64 bit with 6GB of RAM. For R14, we will still provide a 32 bit build, but we will no longer provide support of any kind for that version.
Mac 64 Bit Builds, 32 Bit Support Dropped: We finally got a fix in Unity 4 that allows us to create 64 bit builds for Mac. This should solve many of the performance and stability issues that mac users were facing. For R14, we will still provide a 32 bit build, but we will no longer provide any support of any kind for that version.
QA Version: In R13, we were able to get a QA version of the game working for Dev+ backers so they could do some early testing of the releases. Unfortunately, it only worked through Steam. For R14, we have managed to make the QA version accessible with or without Steam.
Grand Tour 14: As with each recent release, we will have a grand tour that will take players through the new scenes and scenes that have changed the most. Completing this quest is the ONLY way to gain this rare reward. The hat for this release is a Hennin (aka Princess hat) that we hope you will all enjoy.
Character and Property Wipe: There will be a complete wipe of all characters and property in R14. However we will be preserving Guild and Friends data.
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. 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 14 is a further iteration on our rudimentary game loop, but it is still very bare bones, even though we now have a first pass at player advancement. 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 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
Pledge Rewards: Pledge Rewards that have been built and have tech to support them are in the game, all other rewards are awaiting either content creation or tech support (ex. vendors).
Persistence: As part of development we will need to periodically wipe data including characters, property, etc. As we near official launch the frequency should decrease but there will definitely be a wipe right before launch. So consider everything gained during early access temporary.
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.
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 13!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. The basic Adventurer level pledge is also available on Steam Early Access.