Shroud of the Avatar – Cult of Spears Final Post and Why I am done with SotA

*Note* – Comments have been turned off per my request due to the fact that I did not like the direction they were going and wanted to avoid an escalated drama, harsh words, accusations, etc.  Please be understanding of MY Choice to do this.  Thank you!

 

Good Evening Friends!  This is not a post I truly wanted to make.  In fact, I have continued to struggle for months to avoid making it for a number of reasons.  I have spent alot of time taking with some current and past SotA community members about this for quite some time as well.  I am basically leaving Shroud of the Avatar as  I simply see no more point in my continuing to support Shroud of the Avatar, as I have since Kickstarter.  With the events of the past few weeks, I have today contacted Starr Long and Chris Spears and cancelled my interview stream that was planned for Post R32 launch.  I am I am also cancelling all future full version posts of the Cult of Spears lore (lore about Chris Spear’s in game character named “Atos”) here on Ultima Codex.   I am going to post a chapter timeline however below for those who are curious to see where it was going to go.

Why?  I have spent the past 18 days going through every possible conclusion based on current information as to where I see the game will be in one year.  It has lead me to no longer be able to support Portalarium or Shroud of the Avatar as I have done since March 8th, 2013.   I find it difficult to believe the game will survive long term due to a multitude of reasons.  I believe bad decisions were made, and are being made, that unfortunately will result in this game not living up to even a portion of the possibility of what it could be.  This includes items in regards to project management, community management, gameplay, etc.  The toxicity of some in the community also continues to go unchecked, and in fact some behavior has continued to be encouraged due to both action and inaction.  I sometimes think the dev team cares so much about the community, that it is affecting the game development and their art.  As I told Chris, I hope and pray the game does become what so many of us hoped it would be, and if it does I will be back… but until then, I need to leave because I currently have no hope with the game.

While I am not selling my account, I put the money I did into this game’s development as an investment into what I thought could be something truly special.  It was a donation of which I expected no return if things went bad. The money I have given has been good enough payment for the journey I have taken with the dev team and some in the community.  I have met and made new friends. I have gotten to be part of the College of Arms and design graphics for that.  I got to write fiction aka lore instead of what I typically write, which is non-fiction.  If God-willing the game turns around, awesome… I will still have my main pledge and I will be able to use it.    I will continue to do the weekly “Update of the Avatar posts on the Ultima Codex”. I cannot leave a job I have willingly and eagerly taken undone, and I said I would take care of doing the weekly SotA posts.  The community and my friends here at Ultima Codex, deserve that; as well as they expect that from me, because it is the standard I have always held myself to.

 

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Cult of Spears Timeline – Very Brief Overview of what Each Chapter was to have.

Chapter 5 – Dippy leaves for the kingdom to the north, ruled by Lady Cassandra’s Son.  Meeting of Aarun and his history.  We learn of Aarun and the Undeadimifyer artifact. We learn about the destruction of Aarun’s village by Lady Cassandra’s troops while trying to destroy the undead.  Lady Cassandra’s death during this battle is revealed.  We also learn about Lady Cassandra being the atypical queen in all she did, including her relationship with Gladys.

 

Chapter 6 – Aarun and Dippy see a Hot Air Balloon while traveling through the plains to arrive in the capitol.  Meeting with King Letholus and the questions about the Hot Air Balloon they saw while traveling.  The learning of the mountain village of Brightwell.  Dippy learns that Gladys passed away and is grief stricken.  Aarun and Dippy meet Breena (a follower of The Mistress).  History of Breena meeting the Mistress. Dippy is certain the Mistress is someone who could be a valuable friend because of shared goals.

 

Chapter 7 – The three travel to Brightwell.  Overview of Brightwell being underground as well as a few above ground homes and shops to give the illusion of normalcy.  Aarun and Dippy meet the Mistress and Andres.  Dippy is fascinated by the stories of Nimbus from Andres.  The Mistress preys on Dippy’s urge to travel and learn all he can and informs him about the pink crystals that grow like rhubarb, and how they can be used when crushed to create a fire that burns hotter and stronger then any mundane fire.  Dippy sees similarities between the hot air balloon as the paper lanterns he did for Evergrove each year.  Realizes that those strange things he sometimes said growing up were tied to subconscious memories from the other world.  Dippy and Aarun prepare to leave for Nimbus.

 

Chapter 8 – Description of Nimbus, no story about Dippy until next chapter.  The Capitol city is described in details. Giant Shardfall crystal in the center of the city.  Palace to the north of the crystal.   The Ivory Library is described in details as there are many ritual setups that exist in one wing of the library for experimentation.  The royal family and aristocrats, who are supposedly the only magic users, live in the capitol city.  The poor, the laborers, and tradesmen live in the outskirts of the city, outside the city wall and are not allowed inside without a special pass.  The view of magic is different in Nimbus vs the Overworld.  Those who can use magic without need of crystal and ritual are considered to be of a higher class of citizen and blessed by the Divius.  Mundane and Magic Crystals alike are used in industry.  Ritual magic is used to supplement industry, including blacksmithing, agriculture, milling, etc.  There is much hatred between the two classes of citizens.  The Exiles are those who live in the crystal wastelands to the east of the capitol.  The Royal Family and Aristocrats claim they dont exist. They are members of the lower class that were born with the ability to magic without rituals and crystals, but were not born into aristocratic families, and thus are banished.  In the West lay a forest with two villages. Both contain being who look like humans but have wings and  horns.  They are known as The Fallen Ones. The two villages have been in odds about the history of their people as their ancestors were supposedly from a city in Novia that was wiped out around the time of the Fall.  They keep to themselves except to trade the magic crystals that they are experts at harvesting.  The Magic Crystals of each other grow in areas that are naturally saturated with larger amounts of magic.  Due to the Shardfall, all of Nimbus is that way.

 

Chapter 9 – Aarun and Dippy arrive in Nimbus. They are fascinated by the land and people. They notice that the majority of individuals on Nimbus have lobe-less ears.  Dippy gets lost in the outskirts and saves a boy from being arrested.  He meets the boy’s family who are blacksmiths (father and his 2 sons).  Description of Blacksmithing with Magic Augmentation to the process.  Forging of a Dagger for Dippy for saving his son from being arrested and probably sentenced to death.  Aarun talks to a guard and mentions Andres.  We learn that Andres’ wife was an aristocrat.  The Guard recommends a meeting with the King and Queen, but demands Aarun find Dippy as he should not be wandering around on his own.  Meeting with King and Queen. Permission is given to learn at the library for one week as thanks to Dippy for what a Guard saw as Dippy stopping treason against the Royal Family.  Dippy finds it interesting how his actions are seen so differently by both sides.  Dippy comes to discover the bigotry in regards to magic during his studies.

 

Chapter 10 – Dippy and Aarun meet the Fallen as they gather materials to try to grow their magic ability.  We learn about the class system more within Nimbus and how the bigotry is perpetuated by the royal family.  With the rise of more and more low-class citizens being born with natural magic skill, the problem is not going away.  Aarun and Dippy struggle to decide on if they should intervene.  The Exiles commit a terrorist act destroying one of the storehouses of food the aristocrats use.  Aarun and Dippy learn of the Obsidians and the twisting of human form to create new beings.  They also learn that while those on Nimbus found that to be a perversion of magic, a similar thing is being done which is the transplanting of souls into other bodies.  This is seen as ok, however, because the soul isnt twisted and changed along with the body. The persons’ original being is left intact.  Dippy witnesses the soul of a summoned being, being transplanted into a sword.  The royal family discovers Dippy is an Outlander/Avatar.

Chapter 11 – Dippy and Aarun are invited to the home of an aristocrat.  They learn about the Exile Sympathizers.  Dippy and Aarun use the blue sapphire from the Mistress to inform her and Andres about the situation in Nimbus.  Andres and the Golems make their way to Nimbus.  Civil War occurs with both the Exiles and their sympathizers asking for Dippy’s help along with the Royal Family requesting his help.  Dippy makes his choice and Balance is found upon Nimbus.  The Royal Family are overthrown and banished to the Overworld, as they brought more Chaos to Nimbus from their bigotry.  Andres is welcomed back and is requested by many aristocrats to lead a representative government for the people.

Chapter 12 – Dippy leaves for Brightwell.  Dippy and Mistress discuss their mutual goals.  Dippy questions Mistress as to why she only surrounds herself with women.  Mistress tells part of her tale of her arrival in the world and that she didnt want to return to the world she left.  She talks about the betrayal she felt when the Titans refused to help her and so she left for other lands.  She talks about traveling the world and discovering other women who were like her and her sisters from her old world.  Abused, Beaten, Abandoned, Neglected, etc.  She had promised she would never allow another like her to ever feel unloved or without a home.  The ladies who serve the mistress are not slaves, but her “sisters” as she calls them, for while they are of this world, that does not make them any better or worse than she is as an outlander.  Mistress goes on to explain her hatred of the Titans and especially the Avatars for what they did to this world. Dippy shares information about the Divius and the Mistress takes him underground and shows him the 12 altars of the Divius that exist there from before the fall.

Chapter 13 – Story and Description of each of the 12 Divius.  4 attributes of Order, 4 Attributes of Balance, 4 Attributes of Chaos.  We learn of the never-ending conflict that has occurred since almost the beginning of time between them.

Chapter 14 – Dippy creates a ritual in the underground area of the altars to try and communicate with any of the 4 Divius of Balance.  It goes wrong.  A Divius of Chaos gets involved, Dippy ends up in a coma.  The Mistress uses her own magic to awaken Dippy, but the damage to his psyche is already permanent.  Mistress is pleased because Dippy was too concerned with Harmony and Balance without the loss of Free Will.  The second attempt to speak with a Divius of Balance is successful. Because of this, Dippy learns that Avatars/Outlanders will return to the world soon and will be arriving in Novia.   He vows to go to Novia and find artifacts and others who will work with him, the Mistress, and those from Nimbus to bring Balance to the world.

 

Chapter 15 – Dippy arrives in Novia.  Aarun returns to Brightwell and goes back to his village to rebuild so it could be a trading post between Nimbus and Segura. Dippy discovers that the Obsidians meant well but used chaos to bring order which was why they sorcerers of the Obsidian could not reach the success of the mages of Nimbus.  Dippy discovers a Tomb of an Avatar.  Much time is spent studying the stories on the scrolls.  Dippy comes to the conclusion that the return of the Avatars if left alone will only bring the world to its final destruction.  He vows to convert the Avatars from “these virtues that obviously didn’t work” to see the truth of how Order, Chaos, and Balance are the only paths that exist.  Dippy changes his name to “Atos”, for those who bring only Order or Chaos will learn to fear him.

39 Responses

  1. Pac says:

    Can’t blame anyone for leaving. It really feels like we were lied to from day one and this was always about herding people into the cash shop.

  2. One thing to keep in mind is that there is always evolution and drama involved in making games. It’s not all cut and dry from the start. There is a lot of experimentation and really just walking around in the dark until you find the light. It’s more about knowing where you want to go, but not necessarily about knowing exactly how to get there. Some places take longer to reach and there is never a cloth map to follow! Especially when you are trying forge a new path against the norm.

    Some of you may remember the drama that went along with UO when it was still in alpha/beta. There were tons of issues with it. Everything from balancing to crashes to performance. In fact, Garriott was getting so much slack about the state of that game from the gaming and game dev community that he actually cancelled a keynote appearance at GDC in Long Beach that year! I remember that all too well because I was at GDC that year and was really looking forward to hearing him talk Ultima and hopefully finally get a chance to meet one of my childhood heros. (Finally meeting him at GDC in 2007 and getting a picture with him did much good in allowing me to forgive him for that keynote no-show).

    The point is, we all know how great UO turned out after all the ‘kinks’ were worked out right?

    Historically most of the “growing” pains and drama involved in game dev was kept in-house. However, nowadays with the transparency that companies try to maintain with their crowd funding base, they risk exposing themselves, and unfortunately their fans, to much of the drama and “sausage making” that normally stayed in-house and behind closed doors. This is just one of the major disadvantages of crowdfunding.

    Personally, I dislike constant updates and previews for projects, movies, etc… I try to filter them out as much as I can. I would much rather wait until it “comes out” and go form my own opinion about it instead of having others form it for me. You know, this is how it used to happen and we were much better because of it. All the praise or backlash happened after release time, not throughout the life of the project! That at least gives the creators a chance to focus on their vision, whether good or bad in the end.

    Since I’ll always be more a single-player fan, I’m going to wait patiently until I’m told the single player aspect of SotA is finished before I give it a go again and form my own opinions. As much as I haven’t always agreed with Garriotts design choices in that past, I think all of you have to admit that he has a pretty good track record of coming up with some innovative designs in most of his games. Many of those designs end up shaping other games and even genres for many years to come. I’m hoping in the end some of his innovations will show through in SotA and am willing to ignore all the fan driven drama and give it a go in the end for that alone.

    • GolemDragon says:

      I still hope and pray things turn around and we get at least an amazing story that has solid gameplay that makes going through the story feel satisfying. If I can get that someday down the road, awesome. I just have to step away cause I have lost that hope and trying to stick around will have me turn into someone who I could not even respect.

  3. TimeLord Smith says:

    This guy is a bone head. In fact ultima codex is just a bunch of bones. Without Richard Garriott Ultima Codex isn’t worth the pixels on our screens. What future does ultima codex have? Probably, Zipity zap.

    • TimeLord Smith says:

      HAHAHAHahahahahahahahahhahha

      • I could be wrong but I think it’s a chick that wrote this article? 🙂 Also I don’t think anyone could deny the fact that Codex has done tons to keep the spirit of Ultima alive and works hard to develop the Ultima and UDIC communities throughout the social networks. The Codex is THE place to go for any news even slightly Ultima related and they do a good job at reporting and archiving it all. Yes, there are tons of passionate (and opinionated) people involved in this community, however, I think they all really want the same thing. They want to once again experience a taste of that joy the Ultimas of yesteryear gave them.

        The problem is that experience comes across differently to different Ultima fans. Some like the single player Ultimas, some the muliplayer, some like action based, some like turn-based, some like crafting, some hate it, etc… No one game can please them all, and in the case of a crowdfunded game, peoples expectations can become their worst enemy. SotA is an ambitious project and may not please all Ultima fans, but I’m sure it will satisfy a portion of them. And for the rest, I would say don’t loose hope that someday another game may just come along to scratch that Ultima itch you desire, whether it comes from Garriott or not.

      • GolemDragon says:

        Indeed I am female, Stirring. also. Good to see you TimeLord. Your lightheartedness is appreciated. SotA is very ambitious, Stirring. I think that the love many on the dev team have for the community is what lead to some bad choices. Can it turn around? Absolutely. Will it? I don’t think so, but I have been wrong before. I have never been known to shy away from speaking my mind without the Ultima community for the almost 2 decades I have been involved. I am not going to stop now. <3

    • WtF Dragon WtF Dragon says:

      TimeLordSmith: Much emptiness I sense in you.

      And don’t fret your head about the Codex’s future. It will always have a purpose as a repository for fan projects. And if it should come to pass that there ceases to be a need to post news to it, Spam Spam Spam Humbug would seem to be the obvious future/continuation point for the site.

      • TimeLord Smith says:

        In all honesty it was a mistake. I had bad insomnia the past two nights following a really rough two weeks. I was seriously confused due to late night and a sedative to try to help me sleep. I mixed up this article with some guy’s trolling comments on facebook and when I read it again today I realized this article did not say what I thought it said. I’m not sure how that happened and it literally seems like both this story and the other commitments were rewritten, but I doubt that is the case. I was just tired and extremely confused. Sorry for the negative comments.

      • WtF Dragon WtF Dragon says:

        Apology accepted, for my part. (Golem is a forgiving sort as well, but I won’t go quite so far as to speak for him.)

        There’s a lot of negative commentary going around; that certainly wasn’t Golem’s intent, though. He wanted to bow out of SotA gracefully, without burning any bridges.

      • GolemDragon says:

        It is ok Timelord. I tried to find a way to do this bowing out in a particular way to minimize alot of blowback against anyone over my opinion(s).

  4. I would really be interested in what it was, that tipped you over. You know, even thought I’ve been smiling on the forum at all times, I’ve voiced my concerns numerous times. Explained in detail where I see problems with the game. Most prominently – the games focus on all the Online parts, when all I’ve been hoping for is a successor (in spirit) to the legendary single player RPGs that inspired so many to come after them. When 99,5% of the informative emails you receive are about online this, online that — you get frustrated. In fact, really pissed, but I didn’t want to go into an all out rant on the forum. I could go into details but let’s not waste more time on that. I’m tired of hearing about this game. Every time I see another update about it, I skim through and it feels like it’s always just a reiteration of stuff I just plain don’t give a damn about. Like player housing. I’m not the Grinch, nor do I swing my fist at new game elements like some old fart, but I still want to cry “Humbug!” every time. The unwavering focus on Online is … annoying. Tiring.

  5. Micro Magic says:

    Yeah, so, haven’t been following very closely and I’m mostly in agreement with Jammet Leopard. WTF happened in the past 18 days to make GolemDragon go from a SotA lover to a SotA hater?

    • GolemDragon says:

      One reason why i didn’t go into specifics is I didn’t want to be seen as throwing Chris Spears or other specific dev team members under the bus. I also didnt want ppl to attack specific team members as well. My bowing out is the culmination of many things at the same time as well as my realization that certain things will never change, and the one reason I think that motivates the fact it wont change is one that has me questioning how long until bad decisions eventually kill the game or the community.

      I wanted to try and a balance of trying to be respectful towards them, as I respect the team for what they are trying to do and obviously as game devs who often get the short end of the stick from many in the gaming community, I even consider some friends. I also tried to counter that aspect, in the balancing act, with still stating the generic areas, especially project management and community management, that I especially have issues, with their decision making. I think many events of the past 3 years perpetrated by certain individuals and groups in the community have also pushed the devs to make some of these bad decisions, and I hold them responsible for doing that to the devs.

      I think some of SotA’s issues could be fixed just by spending 6+ months of solely polishing the game and not doing any more vanity items, streams, etc. Just focusing totally on existing systems, animations, graphics, story, etc, while not focusing on input from the community until that polish is done. But this isn’t going to happen, so I know that the game, I and many others in my social circles know the goal is in the minds of like Chris and Richard, won’t be seen for at least a year or more. Chris hopes I come back in a year. I plan on doing so because I respect and trust him.

  6. This is probably heresy around here, but I never really cared about Ultima Online. I just played it because it was the only Ultima being actively developed. I was on the Origin servers for a while, but once I found player-ran shards I was much happier, and then when I ran my own private RunUO shard, I was even happier. I essentially developed my own offline version of UO just for me. I have loved watching SotA develop. I’ve played every release extensively up until maybe two months ago. I log in every other day or so just to check in, but I feel like I’ve seen it at this point. I’m waiting for story and offline stuff to be fully developed. That’s what I care about. When I go online it feels like a ghost town. I hope that changes after this next release.

  7. avataracid avataracid says:

    Thank you Golem Dragon, for speaking your mind and doing so with the utmost respect to both Portalarium and the community that they have, cultivated. It does show many, that one can have a disagreement with how the game has been managed while at the same time not being a raving mad alien narwhal in a harvested body of a chimpanzee whom wishes to do nothing but hate on the game, its creators, and its community. Speaking for myself, that was an experiment taken too far and lesson learned too slowly for at least one person out there…

    Though I will be sorry to see your Fan Fiction go away! I hope you could perhaps continue to write? Anything is fine, but why not make it about Ultima proper seeing as this would be a great place for it, I’m looking at you too SoL, there are enough writers out there to create something new and interesting for the inspired works area!

    • GolemDragon says:

      thank you to you as well. I may do more fiction writing, but since I spend a good number of hours each week already doing non-fiction writing and research, I don’t know when I will have the time. I barely was able to make time to rewrite and remake the storyboard timeline for this.

  8. cescoaiel says:

    I respect your opinion, and am sad to see you go… If only SotA had the SC bankroll, they *could* spend 6 months just polishing, but they’re trying to build an AAA game on 1/8th the budget…

    I am hoping it keeps improving until it *does* become what we all want to see! *Grizzlyhugzeses all around!*
    (BTW: This is Ard Rí Sídhe Dragon, AKA Bodhbh)

    • GolemDragon says:

      <3.. good to see ya.. I hope they improve it alot too to the point where certain choices are no longer an issue for many of those who have stepped away or totally left.

  9. Rune_74 says:

    Someof you are now starting to see what has happened. There is some really shady things happening with this “team”. I can’t even say much about the game anymore since they banned me from even commenting on steam after sharing one of their forum moderation emails….needless to say it embarrassed them.

    I was a huge supporter once…then they let me down and really basically told me my opinion doesn’t matter.

    Feel free to ask me more if you want, I am always honest.

  10. WtF Dragon WtF Dragon says:

    Regarding this:

    If only SotA had the SC bankroll, they *could* spend 6 months just polishing, but they’re trying to build an AAA game on 1/8th the budget…

    And, to a certain degree, this:

    There is some really shady things happening with this “team”.

    While it would be incorrect to say that either of you are flat-out wrong on all points, I should point out that despite its massive budget, Star CItizen has far, far less to show for itself after almost as much development time as Shroud of the Avatar. The $117 million that Chris Roberts’ game has managed to raise hasn’t resulted in as much — or as viable, to date — a product as has Shroud’s $8ish million.

    Not that Shroud is without issues, and not that there is real reason for concern that it will not do well once Episode 1 reaches a version 1.0 state…but on the other hand, we actually do have a significant chunk of the game at our disposal now, with much of the plot in place and many of the promised features implemented. The Star Citizen community cannot boast of having anything approaching that.

    I can’t even say much about the game anymore since they banned me from even commenting on steam after sharing one of their forum moderation emails….

    So basically, you did a dumb and wildly inconsiderate thing, and reaped an appropriate punishment for it. Funny how that happens.

    …needless to say it embarrassed them.

    Not as much as you think.

    • Rune_74 says:

      I wasn’t getting any traction talking to them offline through the official mode. How do you do anything when the person you are dealing with is the person who you are having issues with. It’s not nearly as simple as you made it out. I tried for months to resolve some of the issues through emails and got ignored. But thanks for assuming that exactly what I did. I ran out of avenues to do anything….I couldn’t discuss offline with them, I couldn’t post on the main forums, I could share one of the moderation emails that did show something wasn’t right hoping to get some help.

      The bigger issue is they didn’t want to upset those with the higher stake in the game(money spenders). Also, they thought I was posting on another website so moderated in the official forums for that. But don’t worry as long as you are on their good side I’m sure you will do fine.

      At the end of the day I really wanted to like this game, I grew up with the ultima’s and loved them. I didn’t come here thinking “hey, let’s totally bash this game”, like I said I was one of the strongest supporters at the start…but over the last year and a half the wheels came off. I would be hard pressed to recognize this from the kickstarter campaign,

  11. WtF Dragon WtF Dragon says:

    The question is posed (albeit it is not punctuated as a question):

    I wasn’t getting any traction talking to them offline through the official mode. How do you do anything when the person you are dealing with is the person who you are having issues with.

    It’s a good question; it can be difficult to deal with being (or at least feeling) stonewalled. That said, leaking excerpts from correspondence that is reasonably expected to remain private seems to be an unhelpful and fundamentally counter-productive response…which brought about entirely predictable consequences.

    Don’t forget: I’m a Shroud moderator, so I was privy to just about everything concerning your case. Your relation of the facts of the matter leaves out a few sundry details, which it would be inappropriate to discuss publicly.

    The bigger issue is they didn’t want to upset those with the higher stake in the game(money spenders).

    This is a valid concern, and one I’ve spoken at length with FireLotus (and now Berek) about.

    Also, they thought I was posting on another website so moderated in the official forums for that.

    As I recall, it wasn’t so much that people were posting elsewhere, but what they were posting, that was deemed actionable, and then not just in your case.

    But don’t worry as long as you are on their good side I’m sure you will do fine.

    It isn’t as though I haven’t been critical; I’ve been quite openly critical of several things I dislike about Shroud, both publicly and in private conversations with various members of the development team. But again, it isn’t the criticism itself, but the form which it takes. Golem’s post here is a keen example of that; there’s not been any bad blood with the developers, and Golem hasn’t been banned from the Shroud community. Despite hosting this article, I’m still a Shroud moderator, and I’m still on speaking terms with the developers; I’m even trying to arrange to have them come onto a future Spam Spam Spam Humbug episode to talk about Release 32 and the final wipe.

    At the end of the day I really wanted to like this game, I grew up with the ultima’s and loved them. I didn’t come here thinking “hey, let’s totally bash this game”, like I said I was one of the strongest supporters at the start…but over the last year and a half the wheels came off.

    And it’s fine to say as much. It’s all in how one goes about saying it.

    • GolemDragon says:

      exactly, you have to be professional and civil when it comes to giving good criticism. I especially avoided posting any of my emotional frustration to the public and internet because it would be inappropriate and not help the situation or the game. I reached my point where I needed to step away. I still hold they have and continue to make some mistakes in how they handled business and game development choices. By being respectful in how you bring up stuff and discussing them, you can avoid all the drama and bad things that can happen. I still am friends with some on the dev team and they see me as such too. While they understand my frustrations and disagreements, we treated everything in a way in which nothing became personal or hurtful. We kept our avatarhoods.

  12. Rune_74 says:

    I was respectful and I tried to find a common ground in the emails. I got nothing. I think it was due to a personal thing with firelotus. One just has to go on the forums now and see what is posted by users such as Envy(posting things for beyond what I got moderated for). Did I get predictable results, maybe, but usually if you do something they don’t like they say hey you can’t post that here…they don’t ban you forever on steam for that. As a moderator using such terms as slippery slope as a means to infract someone is questionable at best. I have reached out since the banning and have received nothing in response. Why do you think I would possibly feel slighted by these people?

    I have never gone on a rant in the forums with swearing or anything along those lines. I upset the baron and then they tied me to a poster on shroud unlimited(regardless if it was me or not) and actioned on that.

    Like I say, I’ve reached out since and gotten nothing…I can’t participate in the game even if I wanted to…I’m cut off from this so called great community. There is little to no point playing the game at this point.

    • WtF Dragon WtF Dragon says:

      Envy is a persistent thorn in our sides, it’s true, and he is a bit of an example of money talking louder than it should. But even that is changing, albeit incrementally.

      That being said, the fact that he’s behaving way worse than you were isn’t exactly to your credit. In the end, if a line is crossed, the exact distance past the line is fundamentally a secondary consideration; it’s the actual crossing that’s the main issue. And sharing correspondence was that sort of line-crossing event.

      Like I say, I’ve reached out since and gotten nothing…I can’t participate in the game even if I wanted to…I’m cut off from this so called great community. There is little to no point playing the game at this point.

      The question is: do you still want to?

      • Rune_74 says:

        I did, even before they banned me. Thing is I agree that if I shared that correspondence before the ban then sure that would make it bannable, but I did not. I didn’t share it until they banned me permanently. I wanted to share with people the level of infractions I was deemed worthy of, many of which were questionable at best. I even disputed some asking what rule I broke etc, and got nothing in return other then I understand your frustration and we will definitely look into it….they never did. I can read those forums now(as I am sure you can) and see stuff that wouldn’t have been allowed before, but because they are staunch defenders they get the it’s ok. Since you were behind the scenes you know that the majority of infractions were minor things, nothing over the top. I never cursed anyone out or told them they were worthless(like the baron did to me without any moderation.) Before I got banned I did bring up a rather large thread of how the game is being perceived as have and have not….that the high end backers would be in control. The only line I think they think I crossed was pasting in another forum(they never confirmed that, but the baron alluded to it an taunted me in your forums). I pissed off fire lotus and that’s the simple truth of it.

        The question was do I want to though…I’m not even sure anymore. I know as it is right now even if I wanted to I can’t contribute in the community so it makes it kind of a moot point. The point of the matter is I have a game that as a single player game is rubbish, and as a multiplayer game I can only some what participate in. It’s generally worthless to me.

      • Rune_74 says:

        Also, if you think I’m making this up from my side why not look into it from the moderation side. Ask why my emails were ignored or why I was never contacted for months to tell me the moderation decision if it was a permanent ban or not? I’m sure you can understand why I am upset with them.

      • WtF Dragon WtF Dragon says:

        Don’t forget: I was party to most of the conversations surrounding the disciplinary actions taken against you. I can see both sides of this; I do sympathize with some of your concerns, and I do wish things could have gone down differently. But I was there for all the moderation discussions (or most of them, at any rate), and I don’t disagree with the decisions they made regarding disciplinary action.

  13. Rune_74 says:

    Really? Because to this date I have no idea what I did to get a permanent ban other then they said I had a lot if infractions, many of which were trivial at best, or not even an infraction for other posters. I even asked them in email why, I will say it came shortly after baton accused me of posting elsewhere.

    Funny thing is I tried to play today, had a technical issue and realized I cant even ask about that. i have no means of this.

    • WtF Dragon WtF Dragon says:

      You could try reaching out to support@portalarium.com, at least about the technical issue. Not as immediate or effective as the forum, sure, but certainly better than nothing at all.

      • Rune_74 says:

        I could, but like I said they have ignored my emails. Once in the dog house with this inclusive community you really are.

      • WtF Dragon WtF Dragon says:

        Well, that is the price one pays for publicizing private correspondence.

        That said, even if you don’t get a reply, a technical report will probably be acted upon; if there’s a bug there, it can be identified and patched out.

  14. Rune_74 says:

    You do know I only publicized it after they did what they did….I wanted people to see how moderation worked there and what some get moderated for. If it was legit why hide what they did?

    • WtF Dragon WtF Dragon says:

      So it was retaliatory? That’s not better.

      • Rune_74 says:

        It was the only thing I could do when they didn’t answer emails or act professional. My other option was to walk away, letting something shady like that happen, but I decided to share the ridiculous thing they did. Now, I don’t shy in sharing the info to anyone, this was entirely avoidable if they discussed things like adults and actually responded at all.

      • WtF Dragon WtF Dragon says:

        No, it wasn’t the only thing you could have done, and it was indeed one of the things that you shouldn’t have done. If you genuinely felt they were acting unprofessionally, the recourse for that was not to act unprofessionally in turn. I don’t know why you feel the need to justify yourself here; have I not made it clear enough that I’m not going to affirm the legitimacy of your unfortunate actions?

        Walking away wouldn’t have been as kenotic or as dramatic, sure, but it would have been the better — more virtuous, if you will — choice.

  15. TotalCowage says:

    ” I don’t know why you feel the need to justify yourself here; have I not made it clear enough that I’m not going to affirm the legitimacy of your unfortunate actions?”

    That you ask why someone feels the need to justify themselves is part of the reason Shroud has drifted so, so far from what we all hoped it would be. Do you really not understand that other people can have a valid point of view which opposes your own? You work in public relations for a crowd sourced game, is it really so strange that considering the variety of human experience should be the starting point of a successful game, and not the end point of an interpersonal relationship you assume you’re on the correct side of?

    Indeed, Rune_74 clearly has a valid point about one of his infractions, and I’ll explain how directly; I make absolutely no secret of the fact that I posted at Shroud Unlimited. I linked my Shroud forum name to my Unlimited name. It’s the same character in my video reviews of Shroud too, which should be easy enough to find as I’m posting on the account they’re hosted on Youtube under. And I’ve been pretty intemperate there at SU myself. I don’t post in such a way outside of there, because I respect that other communities have other standards; but what you’ve accused Rune_74 of is effectively thought crime under the roof of a different church to your own. And I’m guilty of that too, but have never been given an infraction for it specifically.

    Whilst I think I only had one previous infraction at the official forums, and that more than 2 years ago, so I don’t have “prior form”, you are still extending judgement on areas of a poster’s existence outside of your own requirements. Would you think it acceptable to judge him on the actions performed in his private, or sexual life? If he were running for office on legislating morality, maybe… but we’re not, we’re talking about a computer game here. And Rune_74 and myself both have done so in rather more risque terms. The Steam reviews for Shroud in turn are full of gibbering enraged rubbish; they too aren’t given infractions. Rune_74 is entirely right to suspect a double standard. I know for a fact there is one, because I’ve never been hit with such a judgement. But I share the disgust he, and they feel… and in the same locations he was condemned for.

    Which brings me on to the second point; at what point is it acceptable to be truly angry? How much of a disappointment does someone have to feel before it becomes a valid warning about your, not their behaviour? Online in games forums it’s often assumed to be “Never”. But why should it be? That’s a scoundrel’s charter if ever I heard one.

    Last night in bed I was idly pondering the development of my own morality; how to answer the question “What do I think is good?”; and one of the interesting conclusions I came too was that it had been formed in large part by the Ultima series, especially Ultima IV. “The quest of the Avatar is forever”, remember? Morality isn’t about doing one good thing and being a hero forever. You have to live it, every day, do the best you can for everyone until you can do no more.

    And Shroud, with it’s focus upon the Whales, pees all over that morality; It’s saying you can buy your way to being a hero. That you can pass through the eye of the content needle if you are rich enough. At a deep, moral level, that goes right to the core of my feelings, feelings that Origin Systems helped inspire in the first place, and I’m deeply, sorely offended by that. Am I supposed to be polite just because you at Portalarium don’t want to hear about that? Then how will it ever change for the better if you never get to hear the sheer power of my disgust?

    In my Steam review, still the most uprated of them all, I point out that Shroud is tending towards a cult; one of the ways cults tend to snowball into extreme self destruction is that dissenting voices are locked out, even when the warning signs of disconnect from basic normality are flashing bright red. Instead of using that criticism as a reality check, it’s used to double down upon the delusions inherent; “If someone hates us so much, we must be righteous!”

    You are illustrating a tendency towards that here; “Portalarium aren’t perfect, but they must still be decent, and Rune_74 bad”. But it doesn’t change the fact that on both a moral and practical level, Shroud is seriously disconnected from the majority of the gaming public; it’s funding model is widely offensive, it’s content seriously lacking when viewed outside of the backer bubble. Rune_74 may express that in shocking ways… but is he really wrong to be shocked? That’s the question fewer and fewer dare answer for fear of ostracisation, and the result is not a healthy community, because none dare say how they really feel.

    Indeed, friends were warning me not to post this either, because of your position at Portalarium; “don’t attract attention, you may suffer negative consequences too!” But if the feelings for your product have decayed to the point it no longer feels a threat… whose sin is that, really?

    I don’t point all this out because I want to hate you or your product; the world has enough evil to deal with on a daily basis already. But I post as a warning for something I once loved, to still find a way to be better than it currently is. Do you have ears to hear the truer message though? It increasingly doesn’t feel like it over at Portalarium, and that should concern you too.

  16. WtF Dragon WtF Dragon says:

    Oh boy.

    That you ask why someone feels the need to justify themselves is part of the reason Shroud has drifted so, so far from what we all hoped it would be. Do you really not understand that other people can have a valid point of view which opposes your own?

    I do understand that, but you don’t understand what I’m asking Rune_74. I don’t care what he thinks about Shroud; I have my own opinions about the game, many of which are not favourable, and I routinely express these…not here, so much, because Golem Dragon tends to be the one who handles Shroud of the Avatar coverage here while I concern myself with the other news, but I’ll speak up about it on Facebook, and to the developers directly.

    What I’m wondering at is why Rune_74 feels the need to justify his actions within the Shroud community to me and all else who will listen to his tale of (carefully spun) woe. Of course, he leaves out various details, such as his penchant for instigating flame wars, and his use of gendered slurs against certain of Portalarium’s staff. I’m wondering why he feels the need to justify that behaviour.

    You work in public relations for a crowd sourced game…

    No, I don’t. I run a fan site for a series of CRPGs which is no longer seeing significant active development, but for which a crowdfunded spiritual successor is currently in development.

    …is it really so strange that considering the variety of human experience should be the starting point of a successful game, and not the end point of an interpersonal relationship you assume you’re on the correct side of?

    I look at it this way: I may be on the wrong side of things when it comes to my hopes for the success of Shroud of the Avatar, and I may even have significant concerns about the direction the game is taking. But I don’t start fights on forums about it, and I certainly don’t use gendered slurs to insult female developers. And I daresay that yes, I am on the correct side of things in that respect.

    Indeed, Rune_74 clearly has a valid point about one of his infractions, and I’ll explain how directly; I make absolutely no secret of the fact that I posted at Shroud Unlimited. I linked my Shroud forum name to my Unlimited name. It’s the same character in my video reviews of Shroud too, which should be easy enough to find as I’m posting on the account they’re hosted on Youtube under. And I’ve been pretty intemperate there at SU myself. I don’t post in such a way outside of there, because I respect that other communities have other standards; but what you’ve accused Rune_74 of is effectively thought crime under the roof of a different church to your own. And I’m guilty of that too, but have never been given an infraction for it specifically.

    As noted above, his involvement at Shroud Unlimited wasn’t — in and of itself — the root cause of his ban. That isn’t to say that it wasn’t a contributing factor, but there are a number of people who post at Shroud Unlimited (yourself included) who haven’t incurred bans from the mainline Shroud community.

    However, certain other of Rune_74’s actions were sufficient to earn him a ban from the community.

    Whilst I think I only had one previous infraction at the official forums, and that more than 2 years ago, so I don’t have “prior form”, you are still extending judgement on areas of a poster’s existence outside of your own requirements.

    No, I’m leveraging additional information in my possession — since I am a moderator, albeit not a terribly active one, for the Shroud forums — to inform my decision that Rune_74 is not the blameless victim he makes himself out to be. And I was trying to do so from within only the information set that he had deemed fit to publicly expose; sharing private messages publicly is not a good thing in almost any circumstance (it’s a suspension-worthy Terms of Service violation on Facebook, I believe, if you need a better example).

    But there was more to this sordid tale than was being disclosed.

    If he were running for office on legislating morality, maybe… but we’re not, we’re talking about a computer game here.

    Let’s remember this for later, hmm?

    And Rune_74 and myself both have done so in rather more risque terms.

    You utter heroes.

    The Steam reviews for Shroud in turn are full of gibbering enraged rubbish; they too aren’t given infractions. Rune_74 is entirely right to suspect a double standard. I know for a fact there is one, because I’ve never been hit with such a judgement. But I share the disgust he, and they feel… and in the same locations he was condemned for.

    Steam reviews aren’t moderated as heavily, and that’s mostly because any game which heavily moderates its reviews or comments on Steam tends to get utterly savaged by the community there. It’s a known thing, and various of the moderation team have encouraged Portalarium to just live and let live where Steam is concerned.

    But equally, that’s just Steam. There’s no reason for Portalarium to permit the same level of toxicity in their own, self-hosted forums.

    Which brings me on to the second point; at what point is it acceptable to be truly angry? How much of a disappointment does someone have to feel before it becomes a valid warning about your, not their behaviour? Online in games forums it’s often assumed to be “Never”. But why should it be? That’s a scoundrel’s charter if ever I heard one.

    Be as angry as you want; Rune_74 can be as angry as he wants. I don’t care about that. The issue isn’t that a person becomes angry, but what a person does when angered. There are constructive and destructive ways to express anger; Rune_74 chose the latter.

    And Shroud, with it’s focus upon the Whales, pees all over that morality; It’s saying you can buy your way to being a hero.That you can pass through the eye of the content needle if you are rich enough.

    Admittedly, this is something that many of the moderation staff have been battling with as well: we constantly urge against allowing the level to which any backer has pledged to have any influence on how that backer is moderated when s/he is being a complete snot within the community. So I do agree with you here; money shouldn’t talk (at least not when it comes to things like expected standards of behaviour and the consequences that flow from slipping beneath those).

    But…

    At a deep, moral level, that goes right to the core of my feelings, feelings that Origin Systems helped inspire in the first place, and I’m deeply, sorely offended by that.

    …I also don’t care about your feelings. There’s a moral argument to be made here, don’t get me wrong, but its root isn’t in emotion.

    Am I supposed to be polite just because you at Portalarium don’t want to hear about that?

    Again, I’m not at Portalarium. “We stand apart,” to quote some Romulan I saw once in a movie.

    Then how will it ever change for the better if you never get to hear the sheer power of my disgust?

    Because I don’t care about the sheer power of your most awesomely awesome disgust, sir/ma’am. Because it has no power as far as I’m concerned; I am unmoved thereby.

    Which is not to say that I’m not open to other convincing arguments about the issues that exist with Shroud of the Avatar. It may even surprise you to learn that I have my own issues with the game; we may even overlap and agree upon some or all thereof. But I don’t care about your feelings or your disgust; those are your feelings, and I don’t share them.

    In my Steam review, still the most uprated of them all, I point out that Shroud is tending towards a cult; one of the ways cults tend to snowball into extreme self destruction is that dissenting voices are locked out, even when the warning signs of disconnect from basic normality are flashing bright red. Instead of using that criticism as a reality check, it’s used to double down upon the delusions inherent; “If someone hates us so much, we must be righteous!”

    Let’s save this for later, too.

    You are illustrating a tendency towards that here; “Portalarium aren’t perfect, but they must still be decent, and Rune_74 bad”. But it doesn’t change the fact that on both a moral and practical level, Shroud is seriously disconnected from the majority of the gaming public; it’s funding model is widely offensive, it’s content seriously lacking when viewed outside of the backer bubble. Rune_74 may express that in shocking ways… but is he really wrong to be shocked? That’s the question fewer and fewer dare answer for fear of ostracisation, and the result is not a healthy community, because none dare say how they really feel.

    At the core of this paragraph are two things I don’t disagree with: I’ve had my issues with the funding model employed by Shroud of the Avatar as well (particularly, its focus on selling housing and what I’ll call yard bling), and I do think the game needs to borrow some ideas from other games; its crafting system needs some work (it should really feel like an evolution of the one in Skyrim, but at present it doesn’t), and its combat needs a lot of love (albeit I am a tad over-picky in this regard, because almost nothing has combat that is on par with that of Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, which I loved).

    But surrounding these legitimate points is all this drama and window dressing that, frankly, doesn’t need to be there, and which fundamentally detracts from what would otherwise be a solid argument. And, again, don’t yoke yourself and your position to the defense of Rune_74; he’s not the set-upon innocent he portrays himself as on Reddit. There are plenty of people who criticize Shroud of the Avatar openly, but who do so in a way that doesn’t incur a forum ban. It’s not the criticism that’s the issue, but how it is delivered.

    Indeed, friends were warning me not to post this either, because of your position at Portalarium; “don’t attract attention, you may suffer negative consequences too!” But if the feelings for your product have decayed to the point it no longer feels a threat… whose sin is that, really?

    My position at Portalarium, such as it is, is that of a part-time forum moderator (and calling what little I do there part-time is a pretty generous stretching of the truth; I’m barely on the forums these days). Oh, and I host the IRC channel, which has mostly been abandoned in favour of Discord.

    It’s not all that much, then…and, as you can imagine, I don’t get paid for it. So can we really say I have a position with the company? Not so much; it’s an association at best, and then not a particularly huge one. Again, “we stand apart”.

    I don’t point all this out because I want to hate you or your product; the world has enough evil to deal with on a daily basis already.

    Agreed. But equally, a bit dramatic; all this talk of sin, hatred, and evil is better suited to a discussion about…oh, I don’t know…ISIS-inspired terrorism or the current political scene in the United States, don’t you think? But we’re not, we’re talking about a computer game here. And such moral hand-wringing is hardly appropriate to a discussion about a CRPG that didn’t quite turn out to be Ultima 7: Part 3 (which fact I am actually grateful for).

    Also, for the umpteenth time, Shroud of the Avatar isn’t my product, and I’m not with Portalarium.

    But I post as a warning for something I once loved, to still find a way to be better than it currently is. Do you have ears to hear the truer message though? It increasingly doesn’t feel like it over at Portalarium, and that should concern you too.

    For all your talk of cultic tendencies, you seem awfully blind to the fact that you’re using cultic language here. Do I have ears to hear the truer message…what, are you handing out copies of The Watchtower?

    Again, what matters is how the message is delivered. If you have criticisms, by all means share them…but if you share them whilst being nasty about it, is it really reasonable to expect that a) they’ll hear you out, and b) that they’ll allow you to continue communicating with them at all?

    Because that was the main issue with Rune_74…not that he had criticisms, but how he went about delivering them. You need to yoke yourself to a better champion, methinks; your chosen one is not the unsullied messiah he presents himself as.