The Ultima Codex The Ultima Fan Network Sun, 29 Nov 2015 04:39:52 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Ultima Codex 32 32 Underworld Ascendant: Interview with Producer Chris Siegel Sun, 29 Nov 2015 04:21:27 +0000 A couple weeks ago, Underworld Ascendant’s Lead Producer Chris Seigel sat down for an interview with fans DawnrazorDCLXVI and 90sgamer92. The YouTube video, which comes in at just over 40 minutes, was cut from the original hour recording due to some faulty audio. The whole audio version is available on SoundCloud.

This is the first in a series of interviews, which will occur roughly quarterly. The next video is scheduled for January 2016.

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Shroud of the Avatar – Update of the Avatar #153 Sat, 28 Nov 2015 17:28:18 +0000 Greetings Friends and Fellow Avatars!

Here’s what we have for you in this week’s edition of Update of the Avatar:

  • Making of the Demon
  • Hangout of the Avatar ~ Release 24 Postmortem
  • Athanil’s Arena Construction 101

Making of the Demon

[From a Dev+ Forum Post by Geoff “Qball” Mellon, Lead Character Artist]

It’s been about 4 Releases since I’ve had the time do a creative process post, but here is one at last!

Before we get to that, I want to give you a look at some of the things I have been working on:


Okay, so now that that’s out of the way, back to the Demon. This first thing to look at is the Demon we are basing it on.This should be familiar to some:


Yeah, it’s a typical and straightforward version of a demon. So from there, I did some research and a bunch of rough sketches to get a feel for what I thought we could do with it.


Here is the sketch I decided to flesh out…

Here is the 2d paint start…


Close up on the head (my favorite part to work on)…


Then I make a side outline thinking about bone structure. This is used for the base structure of the 3d model….


And while there is a really rough 3ds Max version, here is the current sculpt which is a little more fleshed out…1st half day: Blocking forms and figuring out how the parts fit together….


2nd half day…Changed the direction the horns faced at the suggestion of the Lead Animator. Much better!



So you may ask, “why only half days?” Well there is another thing I am working on half of the time for R25. It’s…It’s…No I can’t tell you yet, but I will be posting about it soon!

I’ll post more [of the Demon] as it gets done!


Hangout of the Avatar ~ Release 24 Postmortem

winter theater

Brave howling winds, snow, and sleet. Gather ’round and take a seat.

Please join the dev team Thursday, December 3rd at 3:00 PM Central (20:00 GMT) for the monthly Hangout of the Avatar! Richard, Starr, and Chris will be chatting about Release 24 and looking ahead to a very special release indeed; Release 25!  And as usual, FireLotus will be taking your questions and feedback live in the chat-room and also in advance in the OP comments section.*

They will be giving out some prizes during the 90 minute extended Hangout, and all you have to do to qualify for one is to come hang out with us in the IRC chatroom during the broadcast.  Be sure to join, no matter what the weather brings… the link to the hangout will be provided in the original post on the SotA website before the hangout begins.


Athanil’s Arena Construction 101

The Beran League is back with their ever popular Bear Tavern Brawl PvP tournament (scheduled for December 12), and this time they are hosting it in their BearTavernBrawl_zps50d44443[1]amazing new arena constructed by guild member, Athanil. The Bear Tavern hosted their first Bear Taven Brawl in the PvP Castle Arena Basement in Owl’s Head just as soon as the PvP combat system was introduced in Release 8 in July 2014.

For next week’s Bear Tavern Brawl tournament, Athanil meticulously constructed an awesome arena in Victory Arena, one of The Beran League’s Player Owned Towns that opened in Release 23.

For those of you that are curious as to how Athanil was able to craft such a complex structure, he graciously provided us with a very detailed walk-thru of the arena construction process (below). Much thanks to Athanil (and to The Beran League for sponsoring the arena, and those community members that assisted him with design feedback and materials) for his efforts in building this amazing arena for the rest of us to enjoy, and for the following detailed description of how he did it!


The Making of the Arena – by Athanil


As promised here is my write up on how I made the arena. I will be using a lot of pictures since it’s easier to explain things.

Once I had the idea of making the arena in my head, the first thing I did was test some designs on a lot. I wanted to see what was possible with them and to get a general idea of what I wanted to make. This also helped me to avoid certain issues with blocks when I started building for real. More about that later.

After finally settling on a design, I started working on the arena for real on a castle lot. Now the first thing I did was to determine the absolute center of that lot. I used rough stones fences to achieve that.


Now since my design requires a perfect circle, this center is the most important thing I placed on the lot. I used a short stone cornerstone to be used as the center.

After the center was determined it was time to map out the circle. You do this by creating a frame of rough fences.


Place the rough fences against the center and place another short stone cornerstone. You will end with 8 points that your inner circle is built around. Turn the fences with the CTRL button, since we want points that are at exactly the same distance from each other. Now for smaller arenas, 8 points should be enough, but when using a castle lot you will need more points to get a perfect circle.


As you can see here I placed fences around the 8 points to give me even more points to use. I used corner rough stone walls and some other blocks to create those points. If you look close enough you can see how I did it in the picture above. Do take note that it’s impossible to get those points at the exact spots, so only use these as an indicator, not as set points to build towards.

So, after this most important part of the project is done, it’s finally time to start placing blocks! I started out with placing the arch blocks since you only have to turn them with CTRL to switch their angles and it will give you the end points of the walls. Place them by putting the corner stone in the middle of the opening the arch block has.


Once finished placing all arch blocks I started placing the blocks. Just slightly turn them using the shift button to slow the turning down and then follow the points you’ve set out. Make sure to place them as tightly as possible, and right on the border when green turns into red. Blocks have a slight overlap as well which helps to prevent any openings showing up if done correctly. You might have to get creative to fill up the wall completely though. Fill any gaps with smaller blocks and if that’s not enough use the overlap of the blocks to stretch the wall up. Once finished with a wall, make sure to check if the curve is looking okay.

My wall design for the arena looks like this:


First two rows are single 2x4x4 Dark blocks. I recommend the first 2 rows of blocks for all wall first before moving on to the third and fourth row.

For the third and fourth row, I used 2x4x2 dark blocks and 2x4x4 crafted blocks. This is the point where things get tedious (slightly). There is a bug that changes the angle of stacked items once the items are reloaded. The result you will get is this:


Only the block on top will change angle. To work around this you have to place the bottom block under the angle you need it, place it away from the wall, and then place the top block on top of it. Once the top block is placed you can move it back against the wall. As long as the stack you’ve created isn’t rotated the top blocks won’t change angles. On a side note, only the person placing the items will see this. Weird huh?

Moving on…the 5th and 6th walls are made from 2x4x4 blocks as well, two on top of each other. 2x4x4’s are really the best blocks to build large curved structures with.

Once all the walls are completed it’s time to finish up the towers.



All I basically did was add some blocks to the arch blocks to make it look nice.

After finishing the towers, all that’s left is to make things look better, add some stairs, and make some royal boxes.


All-in-all, around 1,100 items were needed to construct the arena, and the inner arena circle is slightly shorter than the length of a city lot.

Personally, I’m pretty happy with the end result. As you can see, the interior of the arena can be decorated in a variety of styles, allowing for all kinds of events.


I hope this is enough information on how I created the arena, if not, feel free to send me your questions!


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The Dark Unknown: New Website; Magic System Improvements; Kickstarter Ongoing Fri, 27 Nov 2015 23:11:48 +0000

Goldenflame Dragon hasn’t been slacking off from working on The Dark Unknown while its Kickstarter campaign is underway. But before we get into his progress since then, we should loop back and quickly look at what he accomplished in the days leading up to the campaign’s launch; our last news update about the project was from before that happened.

In early November, whilst preparing for the Kickstarter campaign, Goldenflame found and fixed a few notable bugs:

Fixed bug with being attacked by a monster group on the world map: you weren’t properly being put back in the timeline so the monsters were all getting turns and beating you up.

Modified some NPC stats to make their behavior on the map (in re seeking out and attacking the player) make more sense.

…fixed a bug where sometimes a monster group on the world map would not move when it was within 5 tiles of the PC.

Fixed a bug where when a monster on the world map attacks you, it wasn’t properly taken out of the game after you finished the fight.

Fixed a few minor bugs. Have at least one major AI bug left, which I’ll be looking at this week.

And a few days later, even as he celebrated reaching his base goal on Kickstater, he kept hard at work on the game:

…the KS going doesn’t mean I should take a break from actually working on the game itself. Today I mostly did but I wrote one character’s dialogue, bringing me up to 28 dialogue trees written (some are for the same character at various points, so 24 actual characters have dialogue- and that includes some boring ones like guards), which is probably a little under 1/4 of the total I need to write.

Also on the fly invented another organization in the world, and added a section to the Almanac where I will describe some of them.

In fact, he ended up adding a fair bit of new content:

* Added loot to the chests in Palace of the Skies
* Character creation no longer automatically saves over the existing saved game.
* Added “Shadow” versions of many of the terrain tiles. You’ll see what those are for later. smile emoticon
* Started the map for Tharock’s castle

Earlier this week, Goldenflame made a bunch of changes & additions to the magic system in the game:

Worked on magic today. Intended to try to finish the L5 spells, made one (Paralyze), then discovered that one L4 spell wasn’t done yet, got halfway through that, and decided I needed to standardize some things about the spells, so I spent the evening making a spreadsheet and run-on sentences. Spell resistance is currently case by case, which is pretty stupid, so that’ll be standardized but it isn’t done yet. Did some minor fixes though-

* Cure now tells you what it has cured; Cure infused now heals you a little bit as well. (There was a time when Cure only removed Poison, and you needed to Infuse Cure to heal Disease, but that was contrary to even my own expectations, so now normal Cure gets rid of both and Infused cure gets rid of both and heals you.)
* Distract now correctly reduces the target’s chance to hit and no longer makes it negative.
* Poison Cloud now actually checks the distance from the chosen center when determining what to poison; Infused Poison Cloud adds a little up front damage to the poison.
* The slow effect from Iceball no longer has a duration based on the world map scale rather than a combat map scale.
* Telekinesis now will not work on usable items that are labeled as “heavy” unless you Infuse it. I still need to actually label things “heavy”.
* Firefields from Wall of Fire now have a duration. (They used to just last until the map left memory. I don’t think that was particularly abusable, but it is contrary to expectation.)

More recently, in addition to adding the Smite spell, he also launched a new website:

New website! is currently deprecated while I decide how to integrate it, and is my new website. I spent all day yesterday setting up a forum (by which I mean, 5 hours trying to set up a weird forum that required a ton of tweaking, then I threw out all the work and spent 15 minutes setting up phpBB), so feel free to register and say hi!

Indeed, you can head on over to the new Tapestry of Ages Games website, and check out its forum. And if you haven’t yet, consider chipping in for The Dark Unknown’s Kickstarter campaign, the proceeds from which will be used to pay the lovely and talented Indi Martin for more art for the game’s manual.

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Shards Online: Pre-Alpha 3 Release Date Announced Fri, 27 Nov 2015 21:32:48 +0000

Citadel Studios have announced the release date for Shards Online’s third pre-alpha test:

The soft-launch for all backers $75 and above will begin on December 3rd, and all backers at the $40 level and above will begin a week later on December 10th.

“We’re incredibly excited about this next major step in the development of Shards Online,” said Derek Brinkmann, Citadel’s Founder and CEO. “Pre-Alpha 3 is one of the biggest updates to the game since we fully funded its development, and marks the culmination of so much feedback and testing from our backers. We can’t wait to let all of our backers in, and with PA3 we’re that much closer to doing so.”

During this phase, the Citadel Studios run servers will be up 24/7, and no character wipes are planned during the course of the testing phase. Sometime during the PA3 phase, the Cluster system will also go live. This is key step towards the vision of Shard’s interconnected worlds, as this allows players and server admins to connect their maps and games together, creating fully functioning player-run universes.

The major focus of game system updates for the Pre-Alpha 3 phase is on controls and the new player experience. As such, we’ve completely revamped the controls, added a brand new targeting system to make combat far more responsive and accurate, and we’ve extended the new player quest that includes 7 profession quests and 4 exploration quests to get players acclimated to life before setting them out on their own.

They also dropped a bit of news about the upcoming first alpha test of the game:

Firstly, the Outlands map will be added and the Catacombs map will be fully fleshed out and supported when the game hits Alpha 1. Currently, Alpha 1 is targeted for a March 2016 release, and will be rolled out in two phases like PA3. The second phase will include a Steam Early Access launch, bringing thousands of new players into the world of Shards Online.

You can still make a crowdfunding pledge to support Shards’ development; $40 USD is the minimum spend to get in on the alpha test.

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Ultima: “the forefather of the vast main category of CRPGs” Fri, 27 Nov 2015 21:01:31 +0000

There’s an article up at Gamasutra — the latest in the site’s ongoing Game Design Essentials series — which discusses twenty RPGs, examines what makes them significant, and explains why they should be considered essential experience game designers. The second entry on the list, after the Wizardry series, is the Ultima series:

The Ultima series is the forefather of the vast main category of CRPGs.

Wizardry didn’t change much among the majority of its lifespan, but the Ultima games changed greatly during their early years. This article is mostly concerned with the earlier games, but the flow of its design can be traced up as far as Ultima VII, generally regarded as the zenith of the series’ popularity and influence.

The first games (technically the first Ultima game was Akalabeth) were dungeon-crawly things, but without the benefit of Wizardry’s many specials or mapping tricks. Dungeons were primarily just places with monsters, and the occasional important plot item. They tend to be less interesting places than Wizardry’s treacherous dungeons.

That’s okay however, for Ultima brought us what has become known as an “overworld,” a tile-based world in which the dungeons are set as special locations. It also brought us real towns, and a routine for speaking with people (instead of treating them as another thing to handle with specials).

Later Ultimas would even allow for interactive conversations with characters. This was usually handled using keywords, where speaking with people would reveal some things that could be asked about, either with that character or others.

Okay, technically, treating the entirety of the Ultima series (or the Wizardry series, for that matter) as one of twenty RPGs on a list is kind of…cheating, really, seeing as how the series comprises quite a number of games. Then too, though, each Ultima brought something new and innovative to the RPG space, did something to establish a convention that is probably still in use today in some form…so one can kind of see Harris’ point in listing the series as one entire entry.

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Check Out Richard Garriott’s Notes for DND #29 Thu, 26 Nov 2015 20:07:31 +0000

DND #1, Richard Garriott’s first game, was written in 1975. Between then and the release of Akalabeth (in 1979), he wrote DND #2 through DND #28, all for teletype. Not all of these were completed; many were, per Garriott’s own explanation, abandoned in mid-development. And Akalabeth itself is DND #28b; essentially an Apple II port of #28, with actual graphics. All of this is (fairly) well-known to those familiar with the history of Garriott’s emergence as a game designer.

But just recently, Richard Garriott himself happened upon a set of notes for another game — DND #29 — which, as he quipped when passing along these scans to the Ultima Codex:

I have no memory of this.
I will have research what this is myself!

Check Out the Gallery

What we see in these scans is mostly code (the cover page notes that Fortran is the language in use); there are no maps of dungeons or anything. Still, we get some idea of the monster types that would have been included in the game, how the game would have tracked player stats (and the player’s position in the game), and what equipment would have been available to players (including what I assume was the ultimate weapon in the game, a +20 dagger).

The Ultima Codex is, as always, grateful to Richard Garriott for sharing these; it’s interesting to see the next thing that he had been planning as a follow-up to what became Akalabeth. And hopefully, he will be able to unearth additional notes pertaining to DND #29, to give us still yet more of an idea of just what his plans for the game had been.

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Spam Spam Spam Humbug: Episode 28 – Ultima Online Wed, 25 Nov 2015 23:08:12 +0000

This week, as a way of belatedly marking the 18th anniversary of Ultima Online (which actually happened back in September), Spam Spam Spam Humbug is pleased to welcome members of the Ultima Online development team from Broadsword Online Games.

The First Age of Update: The download link has been corrected.

Listen to the Episode

Always remember: If you like Spam Spam Spam Humbug, please leave us a review on iTunes, Stitcher, Podbean, or anywhere else you listen to us. More important than that, however, is to make sure you subscribe to the podcast. This is especially true for iTunes; the more subscriptions a podcast has, the more visible it will be in iTunes. So, even if you subscribe to us using some other, better technology (Pocket Casts, for example), consider subscribing in iTunes (or in the Podcasts app) as well.

There’s also the Ultima Codex Patreon. A $1 pledge will get you access to Spam Spam Spam Humbug episodes the day before they go live here on the Ultima Codex, and you’ll be helping me both maintain and — with sufficient funding — expand the server infrastructure of the Codex to better deliver all the things you come looking for thereat. You can also support the site by buying computer games through GOG; the Codex is a GOG affiliate. This one is really easy; all you have to do is visit the Codex and click on the GOG banner in the sidebar before you go and buy a game at GOG. You won’t pay any more for the game, but we’ll get a bit of a commission on the sale.

Also, if you haven’t already, you should totally sign on with the Ultima Dragons group on Facebook, or with the Ultima Dragons community on Google+ . The Facebook group is easily the larger and more lively, but that just means that the Google+ one needs a few more members posting content there on a more regular basis. Also, don’t forget to contribute to the #udic hashtag if you’re on Twitter.

As well, please consider Liking the Facebook page for The Ultima Series, following the Ultima Codex on Twitter, or encircling the Ultima Codex on Google+. And whatever social network you favour, please also consider sharing any content posted to those social media profiles with your own followers and friends; spread the word, spread the Ultima.

Finally, if you’d like to recommend anyone for a shout-out, send us an email…which you can also use to suggest podcast topics, offer commentary or criticism about podcast episodes, and/or to volunteer your time as either an occasional or regular contributor to podcast sessions.

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Underworld Ascendant: Very First Build Releasing to (Certain) Backers Tue, 24 Nov 2015 20:42:53 +0000

The latest Stygian Sentinel update from OtherSide Entertainment contains news of a very promising milestone in Underworld Ascendant’s development: the release of a first build to (some) backers:

Tomorrow we’re releasing the very first build to Backers at the Lore Seeker and higher pledge tiers, who get as one of their perks early access to play these first prototypes. In a few weeks we will roll this build out more broadly to Backers at the lower pledge tiers. Details will be emailed out directly to Backers on how to download the build.

The Playground prototype all about physics-based puzzles set in a corner of the Stygian Abyss. The visuals have been intentionally dumbed down, since we’re avoiding trying to set any sort of visual bar with this prototype, and instead want to focus on just the gameplay aspects. So be forewarned, it looks as plain as vanilla can 😉

The fun is in the physics puzzles, where we challenge you to solve tricky bits using an early pass of the Improvisation Engine. Even at this early stage, there are dozens of ways to solve challenges, some which I’m sure our team has not yet discovered. Will you? The prototype also features a first pass on the magic system, which likewise feeds into the open-ended nature of solving challenges.

The Lore Seeker tier is a fairly high-level one; it’s set at $300 USD in OtherSide’s current crowdfunding campaign (and that’s also the price it was at during the Kickstarter campaign). So, not everyone gets to try this first build out…but some people will, and hopefully we’ll hear some good impressions thereabout.

The other piece of news in the update concerns the hiring of Nate Wells to the development team:

Nate has join the OtherSide team as our Studio Art Director. Nate has been the Art Director on some pretty impressive titles, like Irrational’s Bioshock & Bioshock Infinite, Naughty Dog’s Last of Us and most recently the new Rise of the Tomb Raider. Nate got his start back at LookingGlass as a level designer and artist onThief & System Shock 2. We are thrilled to have another one from the LookingGlass fold!

Click on through to find a lengthy treatise from Mr. Wells about his vision for Underworld Ascendant.

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Richard Garriott’s Handwritten DND #1 Design Notes Tue, 24 Nov 2015 17:17:32 +0000

Now this is an exciting find.

You may all recall that Richard Garriott’s Akalebeth — the progenitor of the Ultima series — began as a project called DND #28 which, as the name suggests, was his 28th simple game built around a basic implementation of Dungeons & Dragons. The history of these games is chronicled, in brief, on the Shroud of the Avatar website:

Richard’s father told Richard, that if he could create a whole working role playing game, that he would split the cost of an Apple ][ computer with him. The result was DND #1!

DND #1 was created on a teletype at Clear Creek High School in Houston Texas, connected via an acoustic modem to a PDP 11 type mini-computer. Richard typed the game on a separate terminal onto paper tape spools, then read the tape strips into the terminal connected to the offsite computer, and ran the resulting program. The resulting program would play a simple Dungeons and Dragons like role-playing game. The player had a character that would explore a dungeon in search of treasure while fighting monsters along the way.

Richard wrote 28 of these “DND” games in High school. He numbered them DND #1 through DND 28. When he finally had that Apple ][, he rewrote DND #28 to become DND 28b… also known as AKALABETH the precursor of all things Ultima!

Just recently, however, as he was going through boxes of archival material that he had kept since the earliest days of his career as a game development, he came across the original, handwritten notes he had made for the game.

Check Out the Gallery

Several of the pages appear to be the layouts of dungeons that featured in DND #1. There are also written notes (including code) for the game, especially the dungeon generator. The dungeon maps are basically grids of numbers, with each number denoting a different thing. The cover page is also interesting, as it includes a “please return” notice (along with a phone number) that gives an idea of how long it took for Richard Garriott to write out his notes and plans for DND #1: 98 hours.

The Ultima Codex is, as always, very grateful to Richard Garriott for sharing this piece of game development history. We’ve heard a lot about DND #1 over the last year or so, especially since it is now playable in Shroud of the Avatar (as of that game’s eighteenth pre-alpha test release), but these documents help complete our understanding of it: we’ve seen the source code, and people have even found ways to get the game to run on emulators for very early computer systems. Now we also get to see the by-hand work that went in to its design and creation…where it all began, as it were.

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Ultima 9 Was Released Sixteen Years Ago, Today Mon, 23 Nov 2015 22:08:11 +0000

Soryu Dragon does his thing, reminding us that November 23rd is the anniversary of yet another Ultima game’s release:

I don’t have any new and special Ultima 9-related content to release today, but I would encourage you to head on over to the Origin Gallery…whereat you can find a number of interesting tidbits of Ultima 9’s development history. In particular, there’s the source images for the box art, Ed Del Castillo’s plot notes, and the complete Bob White Plot document…all well worth checking out.

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Not Ultima-Related, But Newsworthy: Massive Archive of Old Infocom Documents at Mon, 23 Nov 2015 21:44:52 +0000

What I wouldn’t give to see a similar release of Origin Systems materials!

Digital historian and archivist Jason Scott — the director of the text adventure documentary GET LAMP — connected with game developer Steve Meretzky during the making of said film, and discovered that Meretzky had very meticulously archived a massive collection of documents from his time at Infocom:

If you’re coming into this relatively new, or even if you need a little brush-up, let me state: Steve Meretzky has earned the title of “Game God” several times over, having been at the center of the early nadir of computer games in the 1980s and persisting, even thriving, in the years since. He continues to work in the industry, still doing game design, 35 years since he started out as a tester at what would become Infocom.

But more than that – besides writing a large amount of game classics in the Interactive Fiction realm, he also was an incredibly good historian and archivist, saving everything.


When we finally connected during production (as it turned out, we lived within 10 miles of each other), Steve showed me his collection of items he had from the days of Infocom (which spanned from roughly 1981 through to the company’s eventual closing and absorption by Activision in the early 1990s).

Some of the materials that Meretzky provided were used in GET LAMP, but Scott wasn’t satisfied to leave it at that. Thus, this has now happened:

Today, I’m dropping the first set of what I hope will be the vast majority of the stuff I scanned during that production year, onto the Internet Archive. The collection is called The Infocom Cabinet, and right now it has every design notebook/binder that Steve Meretzky kept during the period of what most people consider “Classic” Infocom. This includes binders for:

Right there are nearly 4,000 pages of material to go through related to the production of these games.


And that’s not all:

…Steve kept all the memos, business process, and related papers that were generated through Infocom Inc.’s life. Like, pretty much all of it.

This gets slightly harder for me to put up – I am going to have to work with Steve and some of the other people involved as to what can go up now and what should stay in Stanford’s stacks for researchers to work with. But for now, a healthy set of materials have gone up:

This is a relatively tiny amount of the total internal company scans I have made, but these are the ones that I can put up without worrying about it crashing into anyone’s life. Again, personal information has been removed, and the focus has been on company process and interesting historical documents.

You can find the entire set of uploaded documents at’s Infocom Cabinet page; that’s right, this is all being hosted now by the Library of Congress. It’s a fantastic collection of data, and offers an incredible level of insight into the design and creation of many of Infocom’s early text adventures.

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“This Is Greatest Game…Needs Greatest Package”: Notes About Ultima 2 (From Richard Garriott) Mon, 23 Nov 2015 18:11:52 +0000 ultima-2-needs-a-box

Richard Garriott has been going through some old boxes of archived game development material. He graciously shared these hand-written notes about Ultima 2 — some of his discoveries during that process — with the Ultima Codex.

The notes themselves are pretty self-explanatory; one records the need for Ultima 2 to be well-packaged for presentation, and the other lists a bunch of features — or events — that are present in Ultima 2. Interestingly, the game of Nim merits a mention in the feature list, though you’ll note that it has been crossed out. It would ultimately not be until Ultima 6 that a playable form of Nim would be included in an Ultima game.

The First Age of Update: Richard Garriott points out, via Twitter, just what the result of this note was:





And the rest, as they say, is history.

Check out the Gallery

We are, as always, grateful to Richard Garriott for sharing these glimpses into the history of Ultima 2’s development, and is hopeful that he will continue to unearth more such treasures.

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Shroud of the Avatar – Update of the Avatar #152 Sat, 21 Nov 2015 20:50:20 +0000 Greetings Fellow Avatars!

Here’s what we have for you in this week’s edition of Update of the Avatar:

  • Play Release 24 Now!
  • Celebrate 2 Years of Releases at FireLotus Release 24 Party!
  • R24 Patch Notes
  • The Making of Brittany Graveyard
  • Going Public With SotA Daily Standup Notes

Play Release 24 Now!

[A scene from the FireLotus Release 24 Party!]

Release 24 successfully launched yesterday, November 19, with thousands of backers downloading, patching, logging in, and checking out the new changes! Lots of new content to explore, including:

  • New scenes including Nightshade Pass, Mariah Overlook, Britanny Outlander Graveyard, and Etceter
  • Lots of Winter Holiday content
  • Localization started
  • More types of weather coming online
  • More combat balancing and new skills
  • Guild Chapter Houses
  • Over 15 new Player Owned Towns
  • …and more!

Check out the Release 24 Instructions update for detailed information about all the new R24 content.

The Grand Tour Quest

You will be able to get the Pilgrim Bonnet by completing the Release 24 Grand Tour Quest. This reward can only be unlocked during Release 24 (did someone say rares?), so be sure to log in soon and talk to all the Tour Guides!

Release 24 Player Instructions

Release 24 Known Issues

Avatars Radio Presents: The FireLotus Release 24 Party – Celebrating Two Years of SotA Releases!

Release 24 is a major milestone for SotA, marking two years of monthly Releases! This month’s traditional FireLotus Release Party was held in the Garden in the center of Hometown, an island town just south of Solace Bridge in the southeast quadrant of Novia! Special thanks to all the players that have beautifully decorated Hometown, to Avatars Radio for producing these Release Parties, Lord Blake Blackstone for hosting the party, and to Lady FireLotus for her most excellent DJing!

R24 Patch Notes

Thanks to all our community members that jumped right into this Release and started reporting bugs. We’ve already fixed quite a few of them and pushed out several patches. Click here for the most up-to-date Patch Notes.

November 20, 2015  

Build Number 354 10:00 PM CST: 


  • Player Owned Towns: Fixed naming, connection, and ownership issues that were blocking access to almost all PoTs in the game
  • Brittany Graveyard now has proper exits to Novia

Known Issues:

  • Mystery boxes are not always working properly
  • There are two versions of Etceter in the game. If you claim property there you will have to zone to your home to get to the proper version.
  • Aether Amplifiers do not work on Mac nor Linux clients
  • Players are unable to interact with triggers with weapons
  • We do not yet officially support Windows 10. If you have upgraded to Windows 10 you may experience instability
  • Lighting and fog levels are still being tuned to work with the new weather system, expect anomalies
  • Weather has not been propagated to all scenes yet so there may be mismatches
  • Some skills have not been fully adjusted to work properly with the new use based system
  • Sound effects are not always playing properly
  • Death and Resurrection do not work properly in the team arena
  • Water lots in Dynamic Player Owned Towns can currently only be placed along shorelines, not on docks
  • If you upgrade from a property owning pledge between data wipes you will receive extra lot deeds.
  • Time is not in synchronized between scenes that have the new sky vs. the old sky
  • If your video drivers are out of date characters will appear as if they are covered in triangles.
  • Some cities are experiencing performance spikes
  • Many pledge, add on, and stretch goal items have not yet been built and/or do not yet have tech support.
  • The update to Unity 5 caused a host of general texture and lighting related issues, and not all of these have been resolved.
  • Distant tree billboards may have a white outline that is especially noticeable at night, and some trees may shimmer with white at night.
  • Skin tone will sometimes not match properly on different parts of the body
  • ALT key can no longer be bound. This was necessary to re-enable quick self cast with ALT
  • Unity 5 Engine Bug: Objects in the foreground sort incorrectly against objects in the distance like trees and the horizon

[Complete Patch Notes…]

The Making of Brittany Graveyard


[From a Dev+ Forum Post by Esteben “SorcerousSteve” Zaldivar]

Brittany Outlander Graveyard

“The Avatars now flooding the land are not the first Outlanders who have visited Novia. An earlier wave of Outlanders appeared in Novia, but did not share the immortality of the current visitors. When they eventually met their demise, they were interred in this massive graveyard on the outskirts of Brittany where most had made their homes. Most Outlanders were buried in this separate graveyard from other Novians due to the inherent distrust most Novians harbor towards Outlanders.”

In a future release, these gravestones will contain the names that Ancestor and above backers choose to represent their “ancestors”, but for now these gravestones are blank.

Inspiration for the Brittany Graveyard was heavily drawn upon from the Arlington National Cemetery:


Chatting with Art Lead, Michael Hutchison, we came to the idea that we wanted this to be a place to honor those who have fallen.


Placing 5000 tombstones was no quick task…well at first. Through the use of a tool by Tech Director Chris Spears, we were able to speed up the process and snap the tombs to terrain level.


The winding paths through perfectly aligned tombstones and little gardens nestled between tall oaks provide a serene experience.



Esteben Zaldivar
Level Designer

[NOTE: If you want your name permanently recorded on a tombstone in the Britanny Graveyard, then make sure you have pledged at the Ancestor pledge tier or higher before that reward expires on January 4, 2016]


Going Public With SotA Daily Standup Notes

As many of you know from what Richard, Dallas, and Chris have said from the beginning, that they want to strive to be as transparent as possible to our backers through weekly updates, monthly releases, and quarterly schedule updates. One of the things they have been doing has been to also post their Daily Standup notes to the Founder section of the forums. That read only forums section was created to satisfy the Founder pledge reward of “Developer Blog Access” which promised: “You will be privy to the game development progress before it is live! As concepts are created, screenshots are taken, and news is delivered for the game, they will be posted to a private Developer’s Blog page to which you will have access.” Among other content, this was the place we put our Daily Standup Notes. This unfortunately placed them behind a $65 paywall (a $20 increase from the base pledge). On top of that, because this section was Read Only, the only way backers could discuss the standup notes was to be Dev+ which put conversations about standups behind a $550 paywall.

After some very pointed feedback from our backers, and some serious soul searching, the dev team has decided that the standup notes should be public information and not behind any paywalls. Additionally, discussion about them should be available to all those with forum access ($5 and above). To that end, effective immediately, they are eliminating the Founder section of the forum and removing the “Developer Blog Access” reward from Founders pledge. All content in the Founder section will now be relocated to the “Shroud of the Avatar Announcements and Dev Posts” Forum (formerly “Community Announcements”) and our Daily Standup Notes will be posted there as a Read Only thread (to make it easier to go back and read each day if you have been away for a bit).

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Check Out Helen Garriott’s Original Cover Art for Ultima 3 Fri, 20 Nov 2015 19:51:31 +0000

Yesterday, Richard Garriott teased every Twitter-bound Ultima fan with this remark:


Today, he made good on the promise:


If you click on the cropped image above, you’ll get to see the image in as large a resolution as I was able to pull off of Twitter. This piece was composed by Helen Garriott, who has been a source of significant artistic inspiration and guidance for her son Richard over the years. As you can see, the final Denis Loubet-created box art draws on a number of elements from Mrs. Garriott’s original work, though the Loubet piece obviously has a darker tone to it overall.

And just for the record, Koalaman108 and everyone else can find a number of cleaned-up, high-resolution scans of box art from Origin Systems’ games right here.

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In Defense of Ultima 9 Fri, 20 Nov 2015 17:41:40 +0000

There was a great exchange that took place on Twitter back in September, between Richard Garriott and Kristian Bland. You can see the main body of the conversation in the parent and reply tweets to this tweet from Lord British, or you can click on the image to the right here to find an image of same.

Good stuff herein.

Good stuff herein.

In essence, Bland wanted to write an article about Ultima 9, albeit one that differs significantly from…certain other coverage the game has received in recent years. So he posted a series of questions to Richard Garriott, who not only cheerfully answered many of them, but also happily admitted to being a fan of Ultima 9. Garriott even defended the Avatar’s “amnesia” in the game as being a means of accommodating new players coming to the series for the first time (though he did opine, “in hindsight”, that they maybe could have “done less of that”).

The final result of the discussion was this excellent post at Bland’s website, in which he offers a surprisingly frank, and very staunch, defense of Ultima 9. Indeed, I’ve made many of these same points myself in the various debates about Ultima 9 that I’ve allowed myself to become embroiled in…but Bland is even more forceful in his presentation:

People hate this game. Like, way more than should be legal. And I’ve never understood why. It’s not a bad game, and it’s definitely nowhere near the “worst RPG ever” as some have described it. Nor is it a betrayal, as Noah Antwiler (in)famously proclaimed it to be. It’s just what it is: a good game wrapped in impossible expectations, with a side of french fried bad timing.

First up, the hate. It’s actually been building over the years, like an angry little snowball rolling down the side of a mountain in a Saturday morning cartoon. However, contrary to what people want to believe now, it wasn’t actually hated then. Not really. Sure, it wasn’t given glowing reviews, but it wasn’t universally loathed in the legendary way it has become. It was received with, at worst, mediocre reviews.

The biggest gripe fans had way back in 1999 when the game came out had to do with performance and compatibility issues more than anything to do with the game itself. People didn’t start ripping apart the plot and yelling about things like, “What’s a paladin?” until much later, after YouTube happened and taking giant dumps on other people’s hard work became a subscriber-fetching trend.

I’ve mentioned this in a few places, but I’ve come up with my own take on Godwin’s Law: “if an online discussion about Ultima 9 goes on long enough (and sometimes it doesn’t take that long), sooner or later someone will ask what a paladin is.” And in much the same way that “there is a tradition in many newsgroups and other Internet discussion forums that once such a comparison is made, the thread is finished and whoever mentioned the Nazis has automatically lost whatever debate was in progress” (as Wikipedia explains it), I kind of take the same view of those who invoke the paladin question. Or, at least, I know I’m dealing with someone with whom serious, rational, intellectual discussion on the topic of Ultima 9 is functionally impossible.

Bland’s post goes on at length; he describes his love for the game, and tries to avoid calling out Spoony even as he critiques Spoony’s critiques of the game. This part, I think, was really quite brilliant:

Ultima IX without Electronic Arts would’ve undoubtedly been one of those amazing games I mentioned at the beginning of this post, just like every Ultima before 8 was one of those amazing games that changed everything. Nobody likes EA. I get that. We all get that.

But…it’s not entirely EA’s fault.

Nor is anyone to blame for things that aren’t really problems, to begin with.

Yes, Ultima 9 severely retconned the previous fiction.
Yes, Ultima 9 basically gave the Avatar amnesia.
Yes, Ultima 9 catered more to new players than it did to returning players.



The hardcore market was also shrinking. People tend to get less “hardcore” about anything as they get older, and other demands for their time start taking priority over gaming. Careers, family, children, mortgages, student loans, etc… Things add up, and people start leaving the hobby, or at least abandoning the “hardcore” games for titles that are easier to slip into and back out of again after the baby monitor goes off and you’ve got to get a crying infant back to sleep. It happens.

This sword was especially sharp for something like Ultima, which not only needed to attract new players, but somehow still please the returning ones. Which brings me around to what I said I’d get to in a minute earlier: that Ultima IX was never intended to be the last Ultima.

Wait, what?

…as Richard said, Ultima IX was not always meant to be the end to the series – just the final installment of the third trilogy. The series didn’t end until he left, regardless of what EA might’ve had in mind.

So, yes. At the time it was being developed, Ultima IX had to adapt to the new gaming landscape. It had to bring in new players, and it had to go easy on returning players who might not have memorized every last little detail and event that happened over the course of a series that had been running continuously for the past EIGHTEEN YEARS.

Finally, Bland hammers home what might just be the most important point:

Which is why Ultima 9 needed to do something for everyone who wasn’t a member of the hardcore superfans club. In an era before the concept of rebooting a franchise ever occurred to anyone, Ultima 9 had to straddle the line between introduction and continuation, in a sort of quasi-reboot dance that a lot of players have since come to look back on with disdain.

Which, I think, is faulting the game for something beyond its control. Sure, it wasn’t handled as adeptly as we’ve come to expect from more recent attempts at doing the same thing (the Marvel cinematic universe comes to mind), but it was charting new territory. Again.

Because that’s what Ultima did…for every one U8 (or, I admit, the horribly misguided and woefully executed romance subplot of U9), I can show you 7.5 other Ultima games that nailed it, along with two others that took the adventure to the Underworld and did things no one had ever seen before.

That’s a pretty good track record, and Ultima IX is somewhere closer to the Good side of that number line than the Bad side. Yes, it’s closer to U8 – but only by way of it not being Ultima 4 or 7. It’s less good by comparison, but it is in no way bad.

As noted above, Bland’s post (do read the whole thing) makes a lot of the same points that I’ve made, and that Sergorn Dragon has made, in various debates about Ultima 9 over the years. But there’s something to Bland’s presentation — a certain forcefulness, maybe — that just seems to say everything better than I could have. And his comparison to EverQuest, when discussing Ultima 9’s graphics (which really do still hold up today, unlike many 3D games of that era), is really very apt.

You should also all check out Bland’s “Absurd Alternative Guardian Theory”, which is attached to his article discussing Origin’s acquisition by EA (a subject he also handles with rather…unminced words).

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Crowfall: Pre-Alpha 1.1 Underway Fri, 20 Nov 2015 16:29:46 +0000

ArtCraft Entertainment issued a press release yesterday, by way of Conley Swofford Media (David Swofford’s PR company; Swofford was Origin’s publicist for a long, long time):

AUSTIN, Texas, November 19, 2015 — Independent game developer ArtCraft Entertainment, Inc. today announced the kick-off of the next phase of pre-alpha testing for its flagship MMO, Crowfall. A new type of online experience, Crowfall is described as a Throne War Simulator in which thousands of players vie for glory, wealth and power in a game of feudal empire building and territorial conquest.

“This is a critical phase of development,” explained ArtCraft Co-Founder and Crowfall Executive Producer Gordon Walton. “This round of testing adds core RPG elements like monsters and grouping – as well as a host of performance improvements to make combat more immersive and visceral.”

In addition, this milestone introduces a new hero: the Champion, described by ArtCraft as “a hulking skull-crusher who towers over his opponents and pulverizes everything in his path.” The Champion joins the Knight, the Confessor and the Centaur Legionnaire to become Crowfall’s next playable archetype.

“The core philosophy of our team is to over-deliver. As with our last test, we are unveiling more content and more features than expected, and we are delivering them on the date that was promised,” says ACE Co-Founder and Creative Director J. Todd Coleman.

Riding on the momentum of a successful Kickstarter campaign in March of this year, Crowfall has established itself as one of the most successful crowdfunded projects in video game history. Total project funding (from pledges and investment) currently stands at almost $6 million, and more than 95,000 players have registered at for next year’s open beta test.

There’s some additional information about the pre-alpha over on the Crowfall website proper:

Our first official match will begin tonight with our Pre-Alpha testers from 5pm to 7pm Central Time.   This is also the PERFECT opportunity to finally reveal a few of the final details about the 1.1 test.  In addition to the Champion, this version also includes:

  • No more greybox environment!  The Hunger Dome level is 90% complete, with the remaining pieces to be added over the next few weeks. I’m sure you will agree that it looks VASTLY improved over the previous version!
  • Monsters!  While we won’t ever have a WoW-style PvE experience, we have always intended to include monsters as a way of raising the general threat level of the universe. (If you’ve ever seen “The Walking Dead”, you have a good idea of what to expect.) The Hunger Dome now includes a scattering ofzombies and hellcats to make the environment more dangerous for both you and your enemies.
  • Custom Teams!  In addition to the random matchmaking system used in our last test, we also included a very simple mechanism for players to team up with friends and guildmates.

As a reminder, testing invites will be sent in waves to all backers with the Pre-Alpha, Alpha 1 and Alpha 2reward tiers, in that order – and, within each group, in waves based on the date that you first backed the project.

Playtest announcement emails will be sent from the same mail program we use for our newsletters (MailChimp). This means that if you unsubscribed from our mailing list, contact Support to get reactivated. Be sure that you have our domains, and, added to your Contact list. Gmail users can simply click, drag and drop the email to the Primary tab and select the option that will automatically send emails from us to that tab in the future.

I gather that the Champion archetype — the concept art for the female Champion is above — features prominently in this round of Hunger Dome testing.

Other Crowfall-related news since the last time we checked in on the project includes this interview with Thomas Blair about combat and customization, a new lore piece about Hero, the first Crow, some survey results illustrating the demographic breakdown of Crowfall’s audience, and this video interview in which Thomas Blair and Tully Auckland discuss the changes made to the game’s combat for pre-alpha 1.1.

And if lore is your thing, you may want to check out this interview with J. Todd Coleman at Ten Ton Hammer.

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Troika Games Once Pitched an Ultima Underworld-Inspired Arcanum Sequel Thu, 19 Nov 2015 21:26:42 +0000

The RPG Codex reports on the sudden appearance online of a pitch document for a sequel to Troika Games’ Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura:

…legendary Arcanum modder and Codex alt suspect Drog Black Tooth reappeared on the Codex (with his original account) for the first time in over four years, with a link to what appeared to be a Journey to the Center of Arcanum pitch document dated to August 2001, allegedly provided to him by the leader of a Russian modding team. Interestingly, the document, entitled “Arcanum Underworld: Journey to the Center of Arcanum”, directly references Ultima Underworld and promises a game with a systems-driven design rather reminiscent of the currently-in-development Underworld Ascendant.

Here’s a clip from the pitch document:

In JTCA (Journey to the Center of Arcanum), we hope to incorporate the best aspects of the most popular first-person RPG’s on the market, as well as include a new direction, one that is inherently Troika’s. If Arcanum has proved anything, it is that we know how to craft a well-balanced RPG, with memorable characters, a compelling story, and a character-development system that is second to none. The dichotomy between magick and technology gave us a perfect game environment to create an almost infinite number of playing styles, and we hope to translate that same environment into a 3-D world.

We hope to achieve a similar gaming environment as was presented in Half-Life or Deus Ex. The complexity of the levels in Half-Life, as well as the obvious care that was put into their design, created a game that was both fun and challenging at all levels. The use of puzzles and the intelligent placement of enemies helped players learn the use of the items presented to them, as well increasing their skill in items they previously had. The puzzles in JTCA would make the best use of these items, offering multiple solutions for every puzzle.

Imagine taking the weapons in Arcanum, such as the Tesla Rod or the Elephant Gun, and wielding them in a 3-D environment. The technological gadgets in Arcanum will almost drop into a game like this; lay down the Bear Trap and watch your enemies being trapped, struggling to get away while you pull out your Compound Bow and pick them off from a distance. Items like the Flow-Spectrometer could alter the game-view (think infrared-vision), where Mages and magickal items glow different colors and intensities, depending on their power. Mages will have an enormous number of spells at their disposal, and the size and power of those spells is basically limitless once we’ve moved into 3-D. A summoned Water Elemental could look just like flowing water, leaving behind puddles when it walks, exploding when hit with electricity or dissolving quietly when it dies otherwise. Fireballs, spewing flaming embers (particles), could track follow enemies around corners. And all of this in the world of Arcanum, with its industrial-age cities and magickal kingdoms and deep, dwarven mines and dungeons. The possibilities are endless.

Infinitron Dragon, being the one who reported on this discovery, remarks thusly to conclude the news post:

So there’s another historical mystery clarified. Although this was apparently but one of several pitches for Journey to the Center of Arcanum, taking the series in an Ultima Underworld direction sounds like it could have resulted in something interesting. Not to mention, it would have been a clever tactic for preventing fanrage by directing attention to the existing precedent of a top-down party-based franchise successfully making the leap to first-person. I imagine things might have gotten awkward after Arx Fatalis was released in 2002, though.

Another one for those moments of contemplation about what might have been.

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The Serpent Isle German Translation: Manual Translations Released Thu, 19 Nov 2015 19:42:44 +0000

In addition to releasing translations of the manuals for Ultima 7: The Black Gate, Sir John has also released German translations of the manual for Serpent Isle and the manual for its add-on, The Silver Seed:

the manual for the Ultima VII Part 2 „Serpent Isle“ is now also translated into German. If you don’t like the Design or the Layout, this time it is me alone to blame. As the original was somewhat boring I decided to have a go at these myself. I hope, you like it.

The translation has been reworked to a degree. As Serpent Isle has never been translated to German before, the translators of the manual obviously disregarded the existing in-game translations of the German Version of „The Black Gate“. As a result, the names and namings that have been used were sometimes accurate, sometimes peculiar and sometimes even totally off the mark. All names, creatures, spells and so on now comply with the official Black Gate translation as far as possible.

the manual for the Ultima VII Part 2 „Serpent Isle“ expansion „The Silver Seed“ is now also translated into German. The Layout design . I hope, you like it.

Again the translation has been reworked to a degree. Also the content has been moved around a bit as in the original manual spoilers and non-spoiler content have been mingled. These are separated now.

You can grab both manuals in one combined download from Sir John’s site, or from the newly-created project entry here for his effort to translate Serpent Isle to German.

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Pre-Order Tracy Hickman’s “The Sword of Midras” (A Shroud of the Avatar Novel) Thu, 19 Nov 2015 17:37:04 +0000
A Blade of the Avatar Novel

A Blade of the Avatar Novel

Fantasy author Tracy Hickman — whom, you’ll recall, has contributed to the story design of Shroud of the Avatar and is credited as its Lead Story Designer — has been working on a trilogy based on his Blade of the Avatar novella, which was written to give some backstory to Shroud of the Avatar and was released as a reward to backers of the game.

The first novel in this trilogy bears the title The Sword of Midras, and the cover art (visible here to the right) features the statue that also graces this piece of concept art (which depicts a ruined city situated in the Blackblade Pass lava fields).

This book is actually an expanded version of Blade of the Avatar (the novella was 220 pages in length; this book is listed as being 304 pages). It and the two others in the trilogy are the result of a publishing deal struck with Tor Books, who agreed to publish Blade of the Avatar if it was subjected to additional edits and was expanded upon.

The Sword of Midras will be released in hardcover format on June 21, 2016 (or, at least, that’s the estimated date). The two other books in the series will follow along in their own time, but at present we have no idea of when that will be…or, for that matter, what the titles thereof will be.

The Sword of Midras is available for pre-order via Amazon, Indigo-Chapters (for you Canadians), and Macmillan.

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Shroud of the Avatar: Release 24 Instructions Posted Thu, 19 Nov 2015 15:03:52 +0000

Starr Long has posted the instructions for Shroud of the Avatar’s 24th monthly pre-alpha release, Release 24 as it is otherwise known. Can you believe that they’ve been doing this for two years now?

Thank you for being a loyal backer and follower of Shroud of the Avatar. Release 24 access for all backers at First Responder level and above begins this Thursday, November 19, at 10:30 AM US Central Time (16:30 UTC).

Has it really been two years and twenty four releases? Were we really so crazy as to let our backers in before we had all the features in place, much less the content? Have we really been able to work together as a community of backers and developers to make something this special? It is a big resounding YES to all of those questions, and we have each of you to thank for it. Thank you for being patient with us as we try this new way to make games. Thank you for allowing us to take more time, and yes, spend more money. Thank you for letting us make some mistakes and then letting us try to correct them. Thank you for letting us balance fulfilling our kickstarter and pledge promises against making changes we all feel will make a better game. Thank you for understanding when at times we have had to make some painful compromises. Most of all, thank you for being here with us.

Release 24 was supposed to be a short release where we didn’t add very much content and we focused almost entirely on fixing bugs, polishing content, and optimizing performance. As you will see below, that is not really what happened. Instead we ended up delivering a lot of new content and delaying most of the polish and performance work we had originally planned. A big part of why we did this was because we started working on our Alpha Punch List while we were finishing R23.

This list of course contained all the systems and pledge rewards we wanted to have complete by Alpha, and was mainly fed from our Kickstarter goals. Once we had that list, we looked at what items we could get in place quickly and realized there were a few that could happen as soon as R24; including Localization, more Story Maps, Guild Housing, Clockwork Pets, Talking Mirror, and extensions to the Weather System.

This just opened the floodgates, and R24 quickly became a tide of new content with multiple new scenes, a Pickpocket skill for the Subterfuge combat tree, more musical instruments, Mystery Boxes, snowball throwing, NPC renaming (pets, vendors, etc.), and more feminine clothing options. We are incredibly excited to share all this new content with you, but we do know that we still have a lot of performance and polish to do before we are ready to launch next year. In the meantime, however, enjoy the new content and give us your feedback!

Yet again I want to express a huge amount of gratitude to our Dev+ backers who tested all of the below on the QA server and uncovered lots of bugs. They also provided editorial feedback on this post, so they are a big reason that this post actually matches what is in the game and that it is easy to read.

While we are getting closer to launch, we are still in a constant state of change, and we do not yet have in-game systems to inform players of these changes, or to share ways to help them to explore new content and systems. This means we rely entirely on this message, and the linked instructionsand known issues to convey the current game state. We regularly have to answer questions or filter bug reports because some 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.

Also, remember that while we are providing new content with each release, our community is working overtime to make new events for you to enjoy. So, be sure to check out a couple of the Community Events Calendars run by our community members (via in-game book or the player run websites Avatars Circle Community Events and Events of the Avatars calendar).

You can, as always, check out a summary list of change notes — details about what is new or has changed in Release 24at this calendar entry here on the site, or you can read over the complete change notes on the Shroud of the Avatar website proper.

I’d normally end the article there, but there was one item in the notes that I wanted to highlight here, because it greatly amused me:

  • Clothing: We created several new clothing items, including various Bodices as part of our effort to offer more feminine options.
    • 2015 Yule Hat: This plain dyeable version of the Yule hat is available in the Add On Store.
    • SotA_Yule_Velvet_Bodice_BundleSatin Bodices: A Satin Bodice and Panty can now be crafted in game by tailors. Additionally skirted bodices, long gloves, and lace ankle boots are available for purchase in the Add On Store.
    • Yule Velvet Bodice: In celebration of the winter holidays, players can now purchase from the Add On Store a red velvet and fur lined skirted bodice, long gloves, and ankle boots.
    • Bonnet: This plain dyeable version of the Grand Tour hat is available in the Add On Store

Now, I’m all for women in lingerie; I’m kind of a fan (as my wife will attest). That being said, however, it’s the wording here I find amusing: as part of an effort to offer more feminine options in clothing, Portalarium have added…sexy lingerie.

Plus ça change, as they say.

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