Shroud of the Avatar – Update of the Avatar #258
Greetings Fellow Avatars! Here’s what we have for you in this week’s edition of Update of the Avatar:
- Play Release 49 Now!
- Q1 2018 Schedule and Candidate Launch Date
- R48 Postmortem Missed Questions
- Pledge Reward Replacements
Play Release 49 Now!
Release 49 launched December 14, with backers downloading, patching, and logging in to check out the changes! There’s lots of new content to explore, including:
- Framerate Improvements
- Story Polish
- More Side Quests
- Conversation Improvements
- Blood River and Highvale Outskirts Polish
- New Scenes: Elysium Mines & East Longfall Wetland
- NPC Behavior Polish & Additions
- New Recipes & Patterns
- More Virtue Armor
- UI Polish
- Combat Balance
- New Decorations (Clock Towers, Street Signs, etc.)
- More Crown Merchants
- R47 Telethon Items
- Audio Polish
- VFX Polish
- R48 Lot Deed Raffle Winners
- R48 QA Testing Incentive Winners
Q1 2018 Schedule and Candidate Launch Date
The Devs announced a candidate launch date for Shroud of the Avatar! On Tuesday March 27, 2018 (Release 52), they are planning to launch out of Early Access!
So what does that mean for a game that has been both persistent for over a year and been doing monthly releases for over 4 years? Well, that should mean they are finally delivering the list of features and physical goods they promised during the Kickstarter. However they have decided on a few exceptions and/or replacements (see article below). It also means that the devs are going to start marketing the game. For me, however, it means I will finally put a couple dozen hours into the game and do my official review, including youtube video(s), so all of you here on Ultima Codex can hear what my final thoughts and criticisms are.
As the devs have stated previously, they intend to publish quarterly schedule updates detailing our monthly releases and those monthly releases will continue. So below you will find their next update on this “roadmap”.
Post by Devs:
Our priority continues to be to deliver new content to our backers regularly, so that you can give us feedback that will help us iteratively improve Shroud of the Avatar. This collaborative process continues to benefit the game, and often results in sweeping changes such as the recent polish passes to the user interface. As you have seen in previous releases, the flexibility inherent to this process means that we sometimes push things out, but we also often pull new things in.
Most recently we have been collaborating with our partner Travian to survey our backers on their experience with the game so we can correlate feedback scientifically with the metrics we are collecting in the game. Thank you everyone who has participated, your survey answers have helped guide our Top 10 priorities for launch and our Q1 schedule.
Q1 Top 10 Priorities: As mentioned in last quarter’s schedule update we keep a running list of our Top 10 priorities at all times that we use when building our schedule and prioritizing where to allocate our team’s resources. We often refer to it when making decisions about the project. While it has a VERY strong influence on what we work on at any given time, it does not mean that we only work on something that is on the list. It just means that if someone can assist with something that will help address an item on the list, then we will make sure they do that first before working on anything else. Sometimes team members cannot assist with anything on our top priorities, so they work on other tasks such as visual polish, combat balance, or content that helps us raise funds. Q1 will focus on performance, launch preparations, and polish.
- Launch Readiness
- Physical Goods
- Improved Reward Cycle
- Clearer Player Direction
- New User Experience (NUE)
- Story Polish
- Improved Enemy Behaviors
- User Interface Polish
To repeat what I said in the Q1 2017 post:
“We believe that we have reached the final 20% of development before Commercial Release, at which point we will transition out of Early Access. The next two quarters will be the most exciting and challenging times for the project so far. This will be when we get the final features and content in the game and make the last important balance changes. The changes will be fast and furious, and they may occasionally be hard to understand when you become accustomed to the way things were before. Please trust that we firmly believe that every change we make is best for the long term health of the project.”
As always, all dates, durations, and deliverables are subject to change as we adjust our designs based on direct feedback from you, our backers.
NOTE: Release 52 launch date is a Tuesday vs. a Thursday due to Easter weekend.
RELEASE 50, January 25, 2018
- Story: We will continue to work on adding side quests and polish to the Paths of Truth, Love, and Courage. Additionally, we will continue doing polish work focused specifically on the starting scenes. Also, we will continue to add and update maps for the in-game map system. Finally, some scenes will be rebuilt from scratch including the city of Yew.
- Performance: Performance work will mainly focus on improving framerate and reducing hitching during gameplay. Work will also continue to be done on load time reduction on the few outstanding scenes that are not meeting our 15 second load time target.
- Crafting & Economy: We will continue adding more loot to the game, including unique components for crafting, more Virtue Gear, and Barbarian wearables. We will begin adding refining skills that increase the overall output of the refining step of crafting by increasing speed, batch size, and raw good to component ratios.
- User Interface Polish: We will make various improvements to the in-game map system, including support for localization and quest locations. We will begin adding options to disable assistive features like quest highlighting. Additionally, we will polish targeting to better identify your current target and whether your target is in or out of range of your weapon.
- Physical Goods: Production of the physical goods including the cloth map, box, and manual will continue.
- Combat: A pass will be made on combat balance looking at different combat and magic schools.
- Character: We will be adding wild boars as a new creature and doing polish passes on the wolves and female peasant NPCs.
RELEASE 51, February 22, 2018
- Story: We will continue to work on adding side quests and polish to the Paths of Truth, Love, and Courage. Also we will continue to add and update maps for the in-game map system. Additionally, we will continue doing polish work focused specifically on the starting scenes. Finally, work will be done on “The Lost Vale”; new mini-adventure centered around a lost valley previously hidden to players, now visible only during special astronomical alignments.
- Performance: Performance work will mainly focus on improving frame rate and reducing hitching during gameplay. Work will also continue to be done on load time reduction on the few outstanding scenes that are not meeting our 15 second load time target.
- Combat: More balance passes will be made through combat. Additionally, Cabalists will get some behavior improvements so that fights with them will be more interesting. Also, Chaos Magic will finally get more spells! Finally, we will be making a Training Accelerator Potion that temporarily increases how fast your skills use experience out of your pool to advance (note that a replenishing box of these potions will be a replacement for the 2 Week Skill Head Start reward).
- Crafting & Economy: We will continue adding more loot to the game, including unique components for crafting and more Virtue Gear. Also, we’ll continue adding refining skills that increase the overall output of the refining step of crafting by increasing speed, batch size, and raw good to component ratios.
- User Interface Polish: We will make various improvements to the in-game map system including support for Offline Mode and Linux. We’ll continue adding options to disable assistive features like compass notations.
- Physical Goods: Production of the physical goods including the cloth map, box, trinket, and manual will continue.
- Loot Rules: Parties will now be able to choose from a set of rules on how loot is allocated between party members.
- Heraldry: Players will be able to create heraldry through a blazon system that can be displayed on shields, tabard chest pieces, and banners in game.
- Character: Polish passes will continue to be made on various creatures and non-player characters including the bandits and various woodland creatures like the bear.
RELEASE 52, March 27, 2018 <LAUNCH CANDIDATE> Note that R52 launch date is a Tuesday vs. a Thursday due to Easter weekend.
Story: We will continue to work on adding side quests and polish to the Paths of Truth, Love, and Courage. We’ll continue to add and update maps for the in-game map system. Additionally, we’ll continue doing polish work focused specifically on the starting scenes. Finally, some adventure scenes in various regions of Novia will be rebuilt from scratch.
Frame Rate Increase: Performance work will focus on improving frame rate and reducing hitching during gameplay.
Player Towns & Player Housing: Updates to Dynamic Player-Owned Towns (POTs) that have locked submission forms will start appearing in the game again. Additionally, the globe decoration that replaces the Map Atlas reward will appear in the game. Finally in-game Lot Deed Raffles will resume.
Crafting & Economy: We will continue adding more loot to the game including unique components for crafting.
User Interface Polish: We will provide more feedback about locations on the compass and map for quests, services, points of interest, etc.
Multiple Characters: Players will now be able to have multiple characters on a single account. Note that these characters will share virtue and will have a common bank account. Characters will also share guild membership and land ownership ( including lot access permissions and rentals).
Physical Goods: Physical goods including the cloth map, box, trinket, manual, lot deeds, etc. (and the signed versions of each) will begin shipping.
Localization: All interface text and quest dialogue will be fully translated into our launch languages including English, French, German, Russian, Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian.
Read the full post, including a comprehensive list of launch content, here.
R48 Postmortem Missed Questions
Here are the questions that we did not have time to get to during the R48 Postmortem. I tried my best to answer these (with help from the rest of the team) but some we just don’t have details yet to provide. I probably won’t have time to do any follow ups to these. The community did a great job assisting us this telethon to make sure we didn’t miss a single question.
Sorry for the extreme delay (yet again) on getting these answered but since the end of year releases are mid-month time is super compressed. Thank you for your patience!
Please note I deleted a bunch of duplicated questions and also deleted any questions that we answered with the Q4 post or with the release of R48. Also note that we are generally going to stop answering questions about “when?” as those are answered by our quarterly schedule posts and any other answers are going to be either “No ETA” or “soon” or “will update with the next quarterly post”.
A final thought: we see a LOT of repeat questions and requests. Please consider reading one of the other missed question posts, watching one of the previous post mortems, reading one of the post mortem transcripts, and/or reading our Post Episode 1 plan post before posting a question. Your question might have already been answered.
Mugly Wumple: Do you have any “Top Priorities” post launch?
Definitely. A big one for me is to make sure all game systems we have started are fully fleshed out. For example we really want to include weather and fertilizer in agriculture. Another example is to really make the rent system viable. Right now one of the biggest issues is connecting landlords to potential tenants, especially if the landlord is offline when the potential tenant is online.
Rosemourne: After a telethon would it be possible to have the funds between a reached stretch goal and an unachieved stretch goal go into a persistent pot that could unlock previously unachieved stretch goals? (This could also help maintain motivation when a stretch goal seems unlikely)
Well we intentionally put the most aspirational goals at the top of the list to drive excitement so it would not make sense to make the biggest most aspirational goal more easily achievable with previous funds. If we did that then there would be less reason for folks to be excited in the next telethon.
Merrik: with the changes over the past several releases, how does damage and to hit work? (adv level vs skill level)
Atos: Nothing has changed in the normal attack math recently. Critical hit math got some love but mostly just to make it so the min and max damage can be modified by effects or gear. Adventurer level only matters when fighting PVE stuff that is more than 40 levels higher than the player and then it just decreases base hit chance by 1% per 2 levels beyond 40.
Stryker Sparhaw: Are we still going with similar weapon classes for offhand attacks, or a plan to have them eventually be allowed to be mixed (sword/blunt, blunt/piercing)?
Same weapon types is still the plan. While we have considered allowing mixed we worry that it would drive EVERYONE to adopt this style as it could easily become overpowered and further undermine specialization.
Tedio: Will you remove the autoattack on autotargets (or make an option for it)? This is very annoying and messes with the combat. (Only want autoattack on the targets I targeted)
Atos: I don’t believe we want to continue to support the near infinite variety of options that players continue to ask for. This one for instance, would turn into multiple more options. For instance, as soon as we add this we will get a request to not auto-attack most stuff but do auto-attack when I’m directly attacked. As we near launch, we need to focus on fewer options and making the default be what most people expect.
Kron Caledon: Do any of the new artifacts drop from existing bosses such as Torc’Dawl, Phoenix, Daemon, etc.?
Atos: Yes! Some of the new items were added back to the loot bundles for existing boss types. Also, most can be found in loot bundles.
Echondas: How about having potion usage be faster/better if the player has an empty hand, and adding animation of swigging the potion then throwing away the empty bottle?
We are changing the anim in R49 to show you throwing the empty bottle down
Post by Starr Long
Back in August we stated in a forum post about priorities that there were a couple of pledge rewards from the original Kickstarter that no longer made sense, so we were going to retire them.
When we started the Kickstarter, we were still designing the game and many systems were in flux so it was not always clear what the viability would be of some rewards years later. Now that the game is near completion, some rewards do need to be retired. It is worth noting that we have added at least 5-10 items per pledge since the Kickstarter, not to mention the tons of new features and content we have also added to the game.
With that said we understand that those new items and new content were not specifically noted as replacements for these retired items so we will be creating new rewards to replace the retired items.
Retired Items + Replacements:
- 2 Week Skill Head Start: This would have serious balance implications and would only discourage players who did not have access to it.
- REPLACEMENT: Replenishing Box of Training Accelerator Potions: These new Obsidian potions temporarily increase how fast your skills use experience out of your pool to advance the skill. This box of 12 potions replenishes annually.
- Pick Last Name Early: This simply does not work at all with our current naming system.
- REPLACEMENT: Character Name Change Request Vouchers (2) & Ornate Runic Letter Set: Backers will receive two name change request vouchers and one set of Ornate Runic Letter Decorations.
- Map Atlas: With the acquisition and implementation of the in-game map system (formerly known as SotAMap) this reward no longer makes any sense because maps will no longer be in-game objects. The existing object that is a container that looks like an atlas and the few maps we made will still remain but they will be collector items.
- REPLACEMENT: New Britannia Globe Decoration: This home decoration shows the known world of Novia and Hidden Vale. In the Great Cataclysm we lost touch with the other continents and explorers have not yet given enough information to globemakers to fill in those areas accurately.
Thank you everyone so much for the incredible support you’ve shown us these past four years with your constant testing, your feedback, and of course your financial backing. That is what makes this all possible. I also want to thank all of you for your incredible patience with this entire process that is full of changes and uncertainties.
Starr “Darkstarr” Long