Thank you to our loyal backers of Shroud of the Avatar. Release 11 access for all backers at First Responder level and above begins this Thursday, October 23 at 10:30 AM Central Time (16:30 GMT). Release 11 access will end on Monday,October 27 at 10:00 AM Central Time (16:00 GMT. Starting today, you can begin installing and patching (see instructions below), but login will not be enabled until Thursday morning.
Please read this entire message, as well as the linked instructions and known issues. This early in development, we are in a constant state of change and we do not yet have in-game systems to inform players of these changes or share ways to help them to explore new content and systems. This means we rely entirely on this post/email and the linked instructions and known issues to convey the current game state. We regularly have to answer questions or filter bug reports because players elect not to read this valuable information. By taking a few moments to read through this information, a great deal of our time and efforts can be redirected to focus on new “unanswered” questions and addressing critical issues impacting each release. We greatly appreciate you taking the time to review this post and for all the truly valuable feedback you continue to provide.
We are moving full steam ahead (oh yes, I went there) towards our Steam Early Access launch on November 24. We were nervous at first about moving to Steam, but are feeling great now based on the overwhelmingly positive and speedy results of our Steam Greenlight campaign, and the incredible support Steam has been giving us. With that said, we need this launch to be super smooth. So we need your help in R11 to play the game through Steam if you are willing. As a reminder Steam is optional for playing Shroud. You can still play without using Steam.
We have lots of new content for you to play with (over a hundred!), and some major changes, including the addition of advancement (finally a sense of progress through gameplay), modifications to combat systems (movement penalties, sprinting, encumbrance, durability, etc.), crafting (cooking, repair, alchemy), and a major change to how wilderness scenes work on the Overworld map (see below for more details).
Without further ado, here are the R11 deliverables, along with some extra notes and new deliverables in italics.
RELEASE 11, October 23 – 26 2014:
Steam Prep: We will make downloading and playing the game through Steam functional, and will conduct a Steam test with our backers at Developer level (and above).
Steam for all Backers: After some internal deliberation, we decided to open the Steam test to all backers in order to get the most data prior to official Steam Early Access Launch on Nov 24. As a reminder Steam is optional for playing Shroud. You can still play without using Steam. Here are instructions on how to link your SotA account to your Steam account:
Scroll to the bottom of the page and you’ll see a box on the right side labeled “Play SotA through Steam”. Click on the link that reads “…click here to redeem an access key by signing in through Steam!“
You’ll be instructed to Sign in through Steam (NOTE: make sure you are signing into the correct Steam account! Steam does not support unlinking if you make a mistake here)
Click the “Allow” button to redeem and activate the SotA key on your Steam account
You’ll see a SotA “Congratulations” message confirming successful Steam activation. Click the “account page” link to return you to your SotA Account page.
Scroll to the bottom of your account page and you’ll see “Play SotA through Steam” box now states that your Steam access key has been redeemed, and displays the Steam Account it is associated with.
You will need to launch your Steam desktop client to see Shroud of the Avatar in your Steam Library (because SotA is not yet available in the Steam Store to the general public, it will not show up in your library if you view your Steam account through a web browser)
Select Shroud of the Avatar in your Steam Library and click on “INSTALL”
Follow the Steam installation instructions and once the download is complete you will be able to launch SotA from Steam
Maps: We will continue to expand the mainland scenes to include Solace Bridge (one of the three starting maps that is the aftermath of a village that defended itself against an undead army) and the Kobold Battle Camp (one of three battle camps in the game). We will also add the Swamp biome to the game, along with a swamp scene.
New Overworld Wilderness Scene Strategy: After playing ourselves and also observing new players in the game, we have decided to change the way we associate wilderness scenes to the Overworld. Previously, our plan was to repeat generic wilderness maps (road, forest, desert, swamp, mountain, etc.) in each hex location, and allow player to enter any hex. This had some negative effects on gameplay. The biggest, was how difficult it made it to coordinate meeting people out in the wilderness, because there was no named location to refer to; “meet me at the second tree off the road”. The second, was that it artificially spread players out, because there was a practically infinite number of scenes. Another issue, was that by repeating these scenes yet linking them to specific location it seemed to highlight the currently low number of scenes we have. The biggest issue, however, was simply learned behavior versus new behavior. Years of playing games with overworld maps taught us to go to locations with names on them. In some games, that was all there was, but in others (Ultimas, JRPGs, etc.) you might get pulled into a random encounter along the way. So, our original plan fought against that learned behavior, and made navigation counter intuitive. This has led us to experiment this release with moving to a more traditional model for the map, where every location that a player can enter is marked on the map with a name, and often a “marker” of some sort (village, dungeon entrance, tower, castle, etc.). We are also moving towards each of these maps being visually distinct (albeit similar when part of the same area). The result, we feel, is a map that is MUCH easier to navigate and coordinate with other players. We know this is slightly different than what we have presented in the past, but we feel this is the right direction for the game.
Solace Bridge: This is one of the very first examples that shows how we plan to dynamically change the state of scenes in the game, either through random events, player actions, or updates to the world. There are two versions of this scene that can be visited in R11. The first version, the Battle of Solace Bridge, depicts the aftermath of a village defending itself against an undead army. This post-battle state of the scene will be players first view of Solace Bridge when they start the game. When/if players return to this scene later during gameplay, there may be another pitched battle between villagers and undead already underway (which is another game state). Solace Bridge is the version of this area that players will usually see if/when they return later, and represents the Solace Bridge scene sometime after the battle when things have been rebuilt and the land has recovered a bit. Both versions (Solace Bridge and The Battle of Solace Bridge) can be accessed via the Lunar Rift in Owl’s Head. Note that in R11 the war torn version is flagged as an Open PVP area. Solace Bridge will be where one of the three working Lunar Rifts can be found on the mainland, and is thus a key strategic location for the Perennial Coast of Novia, and one of the three common entry points for “outlanders” from Earth. Normally the Perennial Coast is considered a region that celebrates the Principle of Love, however the Perennial Coast leaders in nearby Ardoris are rumored to be discordant. This discord could not have come at a worse time, because undead hordes have been pouring South from the Drachvald region. The armies of Ardoris do their best to repel these armies, but perhaps only Outlanders can turn the tide…
Kobold Battle Camp: The conflict between humans and Kobolds, which has of late erupted in the Northwest of Novia, is particularly distressing in the Courageous lands of the Norgard. Kobolds were once considered an ally, and they have helped humans with key advancements in military technology; such as siege engines, moon towers, and ethereal amplifiers. So, it is both sad and worrisome that this clever and brutish race has suddenly turned against us. Kobold hunting parties seeking human prey, thought to come primarily from Skrekk (the underground city of the Kobolds), are fanning out across Norgard and have even been seen in Verdantis! Travelers should be wary of their battle camps, set up for regional influence primarily in the Northwest of Novia. Not only will they attack humans on sight, but they are usually well armed, and have been seen to carry unknown and advanced weaponry! However they do not seem to have the same animosity towards Outlanders as others do, so they might be willing to talk to someone they view as a peer on the battlefield…
Swamp Variations: As we move to this new strategy for the overworld, we want each map to have variations of not just creatures and resources, but also variations in layout and decorations. The first examples of this are the three variations of swamp that can be seen in the Hidden Vale swamps and marshes on the eastern coast. Those scenes are The Mysterious Swamp (one of the R11 Grand Tour destinations), Southmarsh, and Northmarsh. Note that we will continue this strategy of map variations by working on the Ravenswood forest maps (in the southern end of Hidden Vale) in R12, but in R11 all three Ravenswood scenes share the same map.
Obsidian Keep: This is an “in progress scene” but we loved it so much we decided to put it in the game even in this early state. This undead fortress is based on one of the earliest concept sketches we did. It is a great example of how we plan to introduce some strategic interactivity into our maps with locked doors, sequences of fortifications, etc. In R12 we plan to add even more functionality to this scene, including a functioning drawbridge with a crank on the other side of the wall you approach.
Map Entrance Changes: We moved the temporary entrances to the PVP Arenas and the Challenge Dungeon to their new “semi-permanent” locations. You can find the Team PVP Arena in Ardoris just off the main square and the Open PVP Arena is now opposite the entrance to the Clink. The Challenge Dungeon is now a “spell” cast by using the book in the graveyard in Braemar.
Riot in the Clink: This scenario in the Clink is another example of how we plan to change the state of scenes. In this case, each time you enter the Clink under Owlshead, there is a random chance that a prison riot has just occurred. It makes one wonder if they might need a new, less brutal warden…
Character Advancement: Our first pass at advancement will allow players to begin accumulating experience points and levels, while earning skill and attribute points that can be spent.
New Starting State: We are now starting players at an approximate level 5. I say approximate, because this is just our first pass at what “level 5” means, as far as gear, skill points, attributes, etc. We are also starting everyone with Blade skills and blade gear only in locked mode, so that we can ease people into deck combat after they have played the game a bit. For now, you can immediately switch to deck mode, but long term we will have this be an unlock at level X. Also, note that if you want to immediately respec to play a mage, archer, etc. there is now a starting gear vendor in Braemar.
XP for Combat Only: Right now, the only thing that grants experience is combat, but we will expand that each release to encompass other activities, including quests and crafting.
Leveled Content: The forest and swamp maps around Braemar have had a pass at leveled content, so that the further you move away from Braemar the harder it gets. This is just a very early pass. So, the mix and placement of creatures is not meant to feel final in any way. Yes, we know that bears don’t roam around in packs! Note that none of the other maps have been balanced for low level characters. So, be careful.
Spells & Skills: Death Magic will expand to include summoning skeletons (formerly zombies) and liches (formerly ghouls)
Attributes as Passive Skills: we decided to move increasing attributes to the skill trees, because it kept all advancement spending in one place, and it was a better way to balance increasing attributes against increasing skills. This change resulted in several changes to the Tactics, Focus, and Heavy Armor Skill Trees as you can see here. It also resulted in the elimination of the Brawl and Field Repair skills.
9 New Skills: We added the following skills:
Summon Skeleton: Summons a Skeleton Footman (melee) to fight for the caster.
Summon Lich: Summons a powerful Lich to fight for the caster.
Death Field: Creates a field that drains life of those who are in it
Escape: Light Armor buff that decreases agro on the caster allowing them to attempt escape or at least shift the target of aggression away when fighting A.I. This is a great skill for soft and crunchy casters to have!
Taunt: Heavy Armor buff that increases agro on the caster to shift the target of A.I. aggression onto the caster. Works well in synergy with Escape in party situations where heavily armored melee fighters want to protect soft and crunchy casters.
Blinding Shot: Ranged skill that damages target and adds a debuff that lowers the target’s accuracy.
Dexterity: Innate skill that increases dexterity (note that the icon is temporary)
Strength: Innate skill that increases strength (note that the icon is temporary)
Intelligence: Innate skill that increases intelligence (note that the icon is temporary)
Housing: Housing functionality will expand so players will finally be able to attach Stone & Timber and Stone style basements to their houses. This will be a first pass, so expect to see fun things like basement entrances on upper floors, on boats, etc.
Basements Pushed: We were able to get a version of basements working internally, but there were too many issues to address related to permissions, teleporting back and forth between linked instances, ownership of multiple linked spaces, etc. We hope to get this in before end of year.
House Deeds Relocated: Our “help wanted” request for an in-game realtor has still not been answered, so we have moved all the House Deed items from the bartender in Owl’s Head to the Decoration Vendors in the same town.
House Deeds Renamed: We edited all the House Deed names to make them more descriptive and self consistent (and by “we” I mean Lord British himself named them).
Crafting: A first pass at cooking and alchemy will come online, and gear will now take damage and will be repairable. We are also going to make a resource spawner distribution pass across most maps to add new resource spawns (reagents) and balance resource distribution.
29 Cooking, Butchery and Alchemy Recipes: Alchemy makes its first appearance with the ability to craft health and focus potions. Cooking also premiers, albeit with some placeholder art, and many ingredients only available through vendors, as we do not yet have the art done (ex apple trees, many of the meats, etc.).Repair Kits: In order to repair your damaged gear you will have to use a repair kit. These can be crafted or purchased, and are consumed upon use. For R11, there is just a single generic kit that repairs all kinds of gear. Long term, we plan to have varying degrees of specialized repair kits for each type of armor and weapon, in addition to generic armor and weapon kits. The more specialized the kit is, the more effective it will be. We will also likely have varying qualities of repair kits. We also plan to have repairing at a crafting tables as being much more effective than using a repair kit, and it will probably be the only way to recover maximum durability on an item.
6 Refined Ingredients: Salt, Yeast Culture, Oil, Flask of Vinegar, Vegetable Stock, and Beef Stock
Cheese, Garlic Cheese, Banana,and Bark Bread
Grannus Beef Stew
Iolo’s Cat Gut Gulash
Dupre’s Duck Stew
Son of Owan Regicide Stovies
Gorn’s Venison Roast
Arrow Recipe: Archers rejoice! You can now be more self sufficient by crafting your own arrows.
Resource Spawns: We have made a pass to greatly increase the density, frequency, and variety of resource spawns including spawners for all 8 magic reagents. The goal is to make them readily available for players so they have an alternative to purchasing from vendors. Many of these spawners do not yet have the correct art, nor are they in the correct biomes. For instance, sulphurous ash will eventually only appear in volcanic (or recently volcanic) regions. For now, you can find it in the forests, and it uses the placeholder white disc. Each release, this will improve as we add the correct biomes and we create the art..
Auto Harvesting Tool Choice: We now automatically select a harvesting tool from your inventory if you do not have one in your non-combat bar. This makes harvesting while adventuring much faster.
Recipes for Purchase: You can now purchase recipes to add to your recipe book from various vendors in the game.
Creatures: A pass will be made through the creatures to add more variety to them via skills and behaviors. We are going to target the Liches as an example, and give them the ability to summon skeleton allies, stun/root multiple players, and generate area of effect spells around them.
Ranged AI: In addition to giving the Liches more powers we also updated the AI for ranged combatants so they will try to maintain ranged distance from the players versus allowing the players to just run up and melee attack
Combat: We are going make movement have an effect on ranged combat, so that running will decrease the effectiveness of ranged attacks, while standing still will confer a bonus. We are also removing the requirement to equip arrows in the offhand, and instead, will pull them straight from your inventory.
Locked Card Changes: Locked cards now have cooldown and focus cost multiplier based on the number of levels in the skill. These range from 3.0x at skill level 1 to 1.25X at skill level 5.
Control Point: Vertas Pass will become our first prototype of a control point. If you manage to defeat the Dark Elves holding Vertas Pass, then you can attempt to hold it against increasingly difficult waves of Dark Elves.
Control Point Prototype: We have a very early version of this working with Vertas Pass. For R11, players can claim the control point by standing next to the flag and the elves can do the same. If the players own the point, then the elves will attack in waves. For R11, the A.I. cannot open or destroy the gates, so they have to remain locked open. However that tech is coming in an upcoming release (R12 perhaps?). We also want to add the ability for multiple players or A.I. to speed up the time it takes to claim the control point (like most capture the flag scenarios work). Even at this early stage, it feels fun and brings back some great memories of trying to hold a base against the waves of the Bane army in Tabula Rasa.
Customization: Hair will now play nice with helmets and hats so you will no longer suddenly become bald when you equip headgear.
Hair with Hats/Helmets Pushed: This task ended up being more complex than originally estimated, and the risk of breaking all the hairstyles and helmets was not worth it for R11. We hope to tackle this in R12
NPC Conversation: When you talk to NPCs, they will now become the focus of your screen (blurring out the background) with a dedicated chat window for the discussion.
Conversation Camera: This new mode is now in the game, and we feel it is a dramatic improvement over the previous attempt. Getting the camera to pick a good angle where your character and the NPC are in view is quite challenging, but it’s cool when it works! We even made it so if the camera can’t find a good angle with both characters, it just goes into first person view focused on the NPC you are talking to. There are still some lingering issues when talking to non-human NPCs who are of different heights, but we will polish those out over the next few releases.
Sprinting: Getting into and maintaining range is quite challenging when everyone moves at the exact same speed and the game can easily devolve into optimizing predictive paths to your target. To help with this, we have added an experimental sprinting mode that you execute by double tapping the W key while you are running. This increases your run speed, but it drains focus. So, use it strategically and sparingly!
Resurrection at startpoint of map: We hope to get a first pass of the Death system in R12, but for now, we put you at the entrance to the map to save you from getting spawn camped by the monsters. You are welcome. This also adds real value to resurrect spells for party members.
Dusk and Dawn Longer: The cast shadows during dawn and dusk are some of the most visually striking moments during our game. So, we decided to extend the time that the game spends at dawn and dusk while decreasing the length of night.
54 New Wearables: We added a huge number of new equippable and wearable items into the game. They can be found (for now) on the Merchant at the College of Arms in Owl’s Head (the one with the big banners when you first come through the gates).
Admiral’s Clothing Set (5 Pieces including the hat)
Benefactor’s, Founder’s, and Royal Founder’s Tunics
Blade of the Avatar, Elven, Obsidian Order, Oracle, and Founder’s Cloaks
Founder’s and Royal Founder’s Cloth, Leather, Mail, and Plate Armor Sets (4 Pieces each)
Lord Marshal’s Drinking Horn
Riding Clothes Set (4 Pieces)
Sword of the Ba’Heer
24 New Decorations: We added lots of new home decorations to the game including:
Explorers Guild Quest: The Grand Tour returns in R11. You can talk to any Tour Guide (one is near where new players appear, in Braemar) to begin the quest. Visiting all the Tour Guides (who are stationed near the new content introduced in this release) will earn a reward for your account. For R11 we have a Carnival Mask Tricorn Hat (very similar to the traditional Venetian Bauta) in celebration of the American holiday of Halloween. This reward can only be unlocked during this release (did someone say rares?). So, be sure to complete the Grand Tour before the release is over! Also for R11 we have made the quest more challenging, so be sure to level up and form a group for some of the more challenging sections (like the Mysterious Swamp).
So, now that it is clear what you can expect, we should also be as clear about what you should not expect:
Performance: We have only done rudimentary optimizations, and we do not yet have a full suite of performance fallbacks (LODs, etc.). This means the game will be quite slow on older machines, and due to memory usage, might be unstable in certain conditions (like densely decorated areas). With each release, we will be doing further optimizations and adding to our fallbacks to improve performance.
Crafting: The crafting system is in the game as a framework, but is still missing some key components like events and enhancement. Skill checks are also not in yet, so results are always 100% successful. Long term, the percentage chance to make items will depend on a myriad of variables and can result in a variety of results including: making the item desired, making a simpler version of the item that will need to be enhanced, or making a damaged version of the item that needs repair.
Game Loop: Release 11 is a further iteration on our rudimentary game loop, but it is still very bare bones, even though we now have a rough first pass at player advancement (minus trainers). Expect this to expand with each subsequent release, but it won’t be truly complete until we hit Beta later this year.
Advanced Player Housing: There are some advanced features for player housing, including basements and ceiling decorations that are not yet integrated. Expect to see these appear in future releases.
Visual Quality: Efforts to improve visual quality are ongoing. We will continue to iterate on these until we have highly competitive visuals.
Tutorials: We do not yet have any tutorials to assist players in starting the game. In general, we try to wait as long as possible to implement these so we do not have to constantly redo them as we add new systems or tweak existing ones.
Here are links to instructions and known issues. Thank you again for your continued support. This is truly the most amazing community we have ever worked with, and we are proud to be on this journey with you.
We need all your help with testing the new patches, putting more stress on our multiplayer servers, and testing the new game content, so please join us in playing Release 11!
If you have not backed the game yet, you will need to register and login atwww.shroudoftheavatar.com, select the “Pledge or Send Gift!” button in the right side-bar, and purchase a pledge at the $45 Adventurer level or above. For a limited time, you can get the Adventurer pledge for only $25 with the Alienware Pledge Upgrade Coupon. And don’t forget, any new purchases made from now through Black Friday Weekend receive an additional 15% Bonus (see details below)!
The Mad Hermit’s Video Guide to Install and Play on Steam
Check out this video guide the Mad Hermit put together to walk you through the process of redeeming/installing SotA on your Steam account.
BEDLAM Reaches Kickstarter Funding Goals
BEDLAM, a really cool game being Kickstarted by our friends and fellow Austinites at Skyshine Games, reached their funding goal yesterday! Way to go Skyshine!
BEDLAM is a strategic single-player roguelike turn-based RPG set in a post-apocalyptic era, created for the PC and Mac – Inspired by great games like The Banner Saga, FTL and XCOM.
“I loved Heavy Metal growing up. I read the magazine and watched the movie about a zillion times (more than Star Wars actually)”, said Starr Long (SotA Executive Producer). “…[BEDLAM] totally resurrects that Moebius 80s sci-fi look. It is also another great example of the resurrection of turn based RPGs (hallelujah!). So go check out their Kickstarter and let’s make this happen!”
Only 41 Days left to get your 15% Black Friday Bonus!
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.