Shroud of the Avatar: Three Month Demo, Narrated by Richard Garriot

You know, it’s funny…I was just reading some complaints this morning about the lowish video quality that has characterized recent footage of the RTX demo build of Portalarium’s Shroud of the Avatar. Well, now it’s the afternoon, and Portalarium have released some higher-resolution footage of the gameplay demo, narrated for us by none other than Richard Garriott himself:

Naturally, I took the opportunity to grab some higher-resolution stills of some of the key systems and moments in the demo.

The more I watch it in action, the more I fall in love with the typed dialogue system and its elegant implementation. I’m not entirely sold on it, and I worry that the game won’t necessarily respond well to sentences that contain multiple keywords in context, but it does look slick, and the level of immersion it will add to the game (given how participatory it requires the player to be) will no doubt be significant. The journal-less quest system is likewise a welcome feature (or lack-of-feature, as the case may be).

And of course, we hear that the name of this particular city is called “Owl’s Head”, we learn that towns can be protected by Tesla towers somehow, and we even hear that the projected development cycle for Forsaken Virtues — the first Shroud of the Avatar game — is eighteen months, of which three have elapsed, putting the game’s release date in roughly October of next year.

5 Responses

  1. Micro Magic says:

    Scruffy blonde haired gent with a cape. That’s totally Ultima to me! It looks beautiful so far!

    Of course we didn’t hear about if you could chop down all the trees in the game and that sort of thing. Like if the single player with feature a persistent world outside your house, and how interactive the world is, the karma system, etc. I’m assuming there’ll be an option to show keywords in a different color and that the dialogue system will also function similarly to Ultima 4-6, which is fine by me!

    But from what I’ve seen, I’m very impressed!

  2. Naturally, these dungeons are so much more advanced than my first Ultima dungeon, which was Ultima Exodus on the original Nintendo :-) That game started me on a LONG line of computer adventures in RPG-land! Thanks Richard! Long Live Lord British!

  3. cor2879 says:

    I see a lot in this demo that reminds me of Ultima 9 – only the good parts, mind you, as well as the parts that Richard promised early on that didn’t quite materialize.

    Also, I love the fact that they are returning to the old skool Ultima style inventory! I know that system bugs some people but I always loved it and always will.

  4. Marquillin says:

    Great Mondain’s Ghost, I love me some smart parser interface! Particularly for dialogue, ala Adventure games. I’ve never seen it like this in a CRPG though, save with Quest for Glory (which was a hybrid Adventure), and maybe early Ultima’s had the highlighted buzz words too, but that, although nice, was in a much simpler form.

    This is probably the same concept actually, where it just needs to see the buzz word in the sentence somewhere for it to open a response, no matter how it’s phrased; but I like that it doesn’t spell those words out for you and I’m excited to see how well it can interpret each user, and how much time the developers put into each NPC for unnecessary word triggers that spice up conversation. A chair-maker is just one occupation, so how many ways will this one NPC bring up the Bone Throne? It also looks like you don’t need to be specific: “What did they find?” and “Cool story bro!” work as it remembers what you were last speaking of.

    The only thing that seemed lacking was the realism of how the wood was harvested (i.e. fell the tree and then chop it up), but the main thing is that you can interact with the world, graphics are secondary (and otherwise very nice).

    • Duke says:

      I’m glad I wasn’t the only person annoyed by the wood harvesting. It was really cool that you could actually chop the tree down – but surely it’s obvious to everybody that you only get wood from the tree AFTER it’s chopped down. . .

      I love the look of the conversation system too. The technology for conversation AI has come a long way – if you’ve ever tried playing around with one of those chat bots then they can be pretty convincing. I know they’re not planning to go all out in that regards but NPCs should be able to recognise more than just one keyword in a typed sentence.

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