The Ultima Codex http://ultimacodex.com The Ultima Fan Network Tue, 07 Jul 2015 21:33:14 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.2 Crowfall: Knight Powers and UI First Look http://ultimacodex.com/2015/07/crowfall-knight-powers-and-ui-first-look/ http://ultimacodex.com/2015/07/crowfall-knight-powers-and-ui-first-look/#comments Tue, 07 Jul 2015 21:26:09 +0000 http://ultimacodex.com/?p=35111 No sooner do I post about all the Crowfall news updates from last week than ArtCraft Entertainment publish a new update to the game’s website. This update, by designer Thomas Blair, focuses on the Knight character archetype, specifically on the class’ skill tree and powers, and the UI which will drive the use thereof:

Our Approach: Minimum Viable Powers

We have been building each archetype with what we think would be a ‘minimum viable power’ kit for that archetype to be useful and fun in combat. This means that the current list isn’t final, and some of the powers might even jump to other archetypes (or be cut entirely!) as we continue development.

You’ll also notice that this is just our first iteration of the combat user interface (UI). As such, we are also leaving ourselves room on the powers tray for the player to eventually slot additional combat powers (i.e. the ones that the player will acquire via disciplines, advantages, or class promotions). We also assume there will be another non-combat related power bar when we start building those systems.

In other words, don’t freak out about the interface!

The first round of powers was selected for a dual purpose: to build a set of cool, functional powers (obviously) and also to test the limits of the PhysX simulation in Unity. Each power often had a set of new (and different) components that would be useful not only in the construction of that particular power, but would also open up a new area of design discovery.  The goal is to build reusable elements that we can repurpose in other powers.

For example, in order to build the Knight’s Shield Slam power, we defined what we needed first. This power should:

  •          Use a hold-to-charge-up mechanic to activate,
  •          Deal more damage the longer it is charged,
  •          Allow the player to rotate their facing while charging up,
  •          Display a small screen shake visual effect at each charge level,
  •          Guarantee a critical hit if charged over a threshold value,
  •          Stop charging at some point (a max charge level),
  •          Have a maximum hold time at max charge level and, lastly,
  •          Send an email to any player who gets hit by a fully-charged power to inform them that they are a bad player and need to get better (no, not really).

That’s a lot of new features needed to make this power work! Rather than hardcode it as a single feature, we want to build it in components so that we can mix them and match them, then reuse them to create other powers (for other archetypes and disciplines).

The payoff for this, eventually, is that our toolbox of features will become bigger and more varied, and it will become easier (and much cheaper) for us to build new powers.

Click on through to read the rest. If you can believe it, the above is only a short excerpt relative to the length of the entire post.

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Rock, Paper, Shotgun: Why Are People Still Playing Ultima Online? http://ultimacodex.com/2015/07/rock-paper-shotgun-why-are-people-still-playing-ultima-online/ http://ultimacodex.com/2015/07/rock-paper-shotgun-why-are-people-still-playing-ultima-online/#comments Tue, 07 Jul 2015 19:38:29 +0000 http://ultimacodex.com/?p=35099 Rock, Paper, Shotgun’s Jake Tucker spent some time exploring Ultima Online recently:

Later this year, Ultima Online [official site] will turn 18 years old. In the genre of MMOs, that makes the game positively ancient – and it’s even more remarkable when you consider that it’s still funded via a subscription model.

I’ve never played an Ultima game, much less one that’s nearly my age. I wanted to find out what the game is like to play today as a newcomer, and to ask people why they’ve continued visiting Britannia for nearly two decades.

He got off to a good start, at least, making a connection with one of the better-known members of the UO community:

Digging into the game’s forums, I found myself talking to user “Petra Fyde”. Fyde has been playing since October 2000 when she succeeded in bugging one of her sons for a character on his account. Soon after this she got an account with her husband and has been playing ever since.

What does it take to play a 20 year old MMORPG? Petra now spends a lot of time writing guides to help others understand some of the more obtuse systems in the game. She’s one of the biggest advocates for the community, so I asked her what keeps her logging in after all these years…

And he perhaps wasn’t prepared for the game’s unflinching brutality (even in PvE):

I tried to play in standard MMO style by grinding skills and killing monsters, but an eagle ate me and when I logged back in after a break I’d lost my clothes and one of my many swords.

I felt a little put out. I remembered Petra telling me about fighting her first dragon, a pet that broke free of its master and was running loose. She managed to fell the beast using a combination of spamming healing items and running bravely away. I couldn’t even best an eagle. I dusted myself off to try again.

That being said, his overall impression of the game seems to be exceedingly positive:

I wasn’t sure how different UO could actually be, in spite of its status as one of the first MMORPGs. It turns out that while it definitely felt familiar in places, as its DNA has been passed to those games followed, UO is altogether something stranger. I’ve seen incredible things in the last 10 days with Ultima Online, perhaps more exciting things than I’ve encountered in my first few days with any other MMO.

“[Ultima] endures because it is diverse, appealing to many different people with many different play types and makes no demands,” says Petra Fyde. “Basically you do what you want, when you want, if you want. You don’t have to commit to hours online while undertaking a ‘raid’. You can log in for 10 minutes and still feel you’ve achieved something. It endures because players have ‘ownership’ of property, they have houses which they have built and furnished, they ‘live’ in UO. There’s a sense of presence here.”

While initially I couldn’t understand the appeal of Ultima, when I decided to shake off the limitations of an early level character and simply explore for myself, I found a game world with a lot to offer. Player created civilisations, unique monsters, and the sheer mystery of the world combine to keep this ancient MMO compelling.

Click on through and read the whole thing…it’s neat to see the process by which the legacy of Ultima has touched the heart and mind of a newcomer to the series’ setting and lore.

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Crowfall: Payment Issues; Combat Chat Part 2; July Q&A http://ultimacodex.com/2015/07/crowfall-payment-issues-combat-chat-part-2-july-qa/ http://ultimacodex.com/2015/07/crowfall-payment-issues-combat-chat-part-2-july-qa/#comments Tue, 07 Jul 2015 18:19:10 +0000 http://ultimacodex.com/?p=35094 There have been a few updates posted to the Crowfall website since Browncoat Jayson last checked in with the project.

This one isn’t really relevant now, since the deadline it pertains to has passed, but ArtCraft evidently had to extend the deadline for Kickstarter pledge upgrades and second pledge purchases by a day:

The Kickstarter offers—pledge package upgrades and buying a second package—were slated to run throughTuesday, June 30, 2015; however, we had several folks last week and this weekend who had difficulty completing their transactions through our payment vendor. We don’t want people to miss the sale because of logistical reasons outside their control so we’re extending the sale through Wednesday, July 1, 2015.

As well, the second part of the combat chat video, featuring designers Tully Auckland and Thomas Blair, has been posted:

In this second half of Combat Chat 2, the Designing Duo tackle topics like blackout times, chains and mitigations.

And finally, the July Q&A video, featuring J. Todd Coleman and Thomas Blair, has been posted:

It’s time for another ACE Q&A. (If you missed the June episode, CLICK HERE.) Here are the questions Todd and Blair answered on this month:

  1. If we completely surround strongholds with tax free parcels, will this drop the multiplier mentioned in the May video to zero?
  2. Will you allow landowners the ability to purchase and put in some monster camps and such for flavor?
  3. One of my fondest memories of Shadowbane was the theory-crafting aspect in regards to template building. In SB, you could start from scratch to completed character in a of couple weeks. Do you plan on capturing this dynamic in Crowfall?
  4. What level of UI customization will be available or, at least, what are you planning to implement?
  5. Should the PvP community continue to be concerned about more PvE features?
  6. Traditionally, in MMORPGs, items get discarded. Although, in non-MMORPGs (e.g. Diablo), items fall to the ground for others to pick up. What are the plans for item drops/discards in Crowfall?
  7. Have you planned any sort of thief-type discipline that can actually steal from player inventories? (Maybe Dregs only?)

That’s all for now. It’s actually a bit odd that there hasn’t been an updated posted to the Crowfall site in about five days…but then, it was the Independence Day weekend just recently, which likely accounts for the silence.

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Ultima Online: Napa Valley and Warehouse Issues; Time of Legends Focus Group Procedure http://ultimacodex.com/2015/07/ultima-online-napa-valley-and-warehouse-issues-time-of-legends-focus-group-procedure/ http://ultimacodex.com/2015/07/ultima-online-napa-valley-and-warehouse-issues-time-of-legends-focus-group-procedure/#comments Tue, 07 Jul 2015 17:51:14 +0000 http://ultimacodex.com/?p=35089 Ultima Online has been having a rough couple of weeks, it seems. Broadsword Online Games had to revert the Napa Valley shard back in late June, to address an issue caused by a corrupted file. And on July 1st, they had to take the login servers down for a while to correct unspecified issues therewith.

Today, they’ve had to take the game’s warehouses offline:

Due to issues we have had for the past few days we are restarting the following warehouses:

Log in
Promotional Codes
Vet Rewards
Housing

The warehouses should only be unavailable for 1 hour approx. We will be taking them down at 10:45 am EDT.

So if you’ve been experiencing issues with any of those aspects of the game today, that’s probably why.

Additionally, Bonnie Armstrong published a series of steps to follow for those interested in joining the Time of Legends focus group, thereby to test that upcoming expansion:

Steps for the Time of Legends focus group:
1. Players email me they are interested in joining the focus group and give me the name of their account.
2. An email is sent to those that applied congratulating them and providing some links for moving forward.
3. Players fill out the NDA and a survey.
4. We pull the information supplied by the survey and link the requested internal forums name to the account name.
5. I make each person an Internal forums account after which the player will receive an automated email from the Broadsword forums.
6. The list is then given to Bleak so he can plug in all the account numbers so players can have access to Eodon (the test shard).

Please understand that if you have the email from the Broadsword Forums it will take approx. 1 day to get the information plugged in so you can have access to the shard. If you are being bounced back to the log in screen please give it a day.

If for any reason when I looked up the game account name given and it was closed, you were not added to the focus group. If anyone is still having trouble please email mesanna@broadsword.com with the account name and I will do my best to resolve the issue.

I don’t know if these steps are still relevant, or if focus group applications are still being accepted. But, in case you were wondering…there you go.

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Ultima IX Redemption: New Video Incoming; Corv Talks Fallout 4 http://ultimacodex.com/2015/07/ultima-ix-redemption-new-video-incoming-corv-talks-fallout-4/ http://ultimacodex.com/2015/07/ultima-ix-redemption-new-video-incoming-corv-talks-fallout-4/#comments Tue, 07 Jul 2015 17:05:46 +0000 http://ultimacodex.com/?p=35085 There’s a fresh bit of news on the Titans of Ether website this morning, in which Corv promises that a new video showing off Ultima IX: Redemption gameplay is imminent:

If you check our site only once a month or less then you might want to know that within the next few days I will upload a new video. So check back more often. The video will be quite long. I am not done yet and it’s already 8 minutes. It will be purely ingame footage.

He’s also pretty excited about Bethesda’s announcement of Fallout 4 at E3:

I doubt any of you missed it, but if you did make sure to check out the FALLOUT 4 gameplay footage from E3. Bethesda outdid themselves. It’s easily my most anticipated RPG in years. Todd Howard mentions very often how Ultima 6 and 7 influenced him and it shows. This guy and his team are on fire. Even if you are not a fan of post-apocalyptic scenarios you should give Fallout a chance. If you like Ultima chances are you will like Fallout, especially 4. Btw: I managed to pre order a pip-boy edition :)

Stay tuned to the Titans of Ether website this week, and watch for that gameplay video!

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Underworld Ascendant: Reaching for the Lich http://ultimacodex.com/2015/07/underworld-ascendant-reaching-for-the-lich/ http://ultimacodex.com/2015/07/underworld-ascendant-reaching-for-the-lich/#comments Tue, 07 Jul 2015 05:00:33 +0000 http://ultimacodex.com/?p=35064 The ongoing crowdfunding effort for Underworld Ascendant has kind of plateaued, it seems; the pledge total on the project website is still a few thousand short of the $900,000 threshold…as was the case a few weeks ago when they announced that if that particular funding level is reached, liches — and, in particular, Tyball the Damned — will be added to the game.

So it’s perhaps fitting that the latest news update from OtherSide Entertainment re-iterates what reaching the $900,000 stretch goal means, and what lies beyond it as well:

We’re going to start off this issue of the Stygian Sentinel with a reminder to everyone that we are oh so close to getting Liches into Underworld Ascendant! With just a few thousand dollars to go to hit the next stretch goal, we can literally feel the malevolence that may soon be found in the darkest depths of the Abyss.

Once the Liches have arrived, it’s on to the Necropolis. Pledge now (or increase your pledge) to bring a bit of evil to your game. We promise not to let them corrupt your entire soul… just the good parts!

The rest of the latest Stygian Sentinel was written by Joe Fielder; he discusses his role at OtherSide:

My game background is pretty wildly disparate, ranging from level design in first-person shooters in the Medal of Honor series, puzzle design for Stephen Spielberg’s BOOM BLOX, narrative for BioShock Infinite, and more. I’ve also been a producer for art, narrative, and design, a game journalist, and a comic book writer. I’ve worked on enormous AAA games and scrappy indie projects.

The reason I mention this is I’ve found myself drawing on ALL those experiences on a daily basis.

For instance, puzzle design comes to bear, albeit a little abstractly, while considering ways that the player will utilize the Improvisation Engine to find clever ways to interact with the environment and the creatures within it. Narrative and level design play a part in plotting out how we introduce those gameplay elements and tie them into the overall world in fun, interesting ways. Comic book writing helps me consider what information we might express visually and game writing, how to keep dialogue lean, focused, and out of the way of the action. Game reviewing means always thinking about what players will find compelling and fun. And my time in production means I have some incredibly talented artists and audio designers to draw upon to help ensure the Stygian Abyss looks and sounds amazing.

Click on through to read the rest.

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Wallpaper for the Week (Views of Britannia: Waveguide) http://ultimacodex.com/2015/07/wallpaper-for-the-week-views-of-britannia-waveguide/ http://ultimacodex.com/2015/07/wallpaper-for-the-week-views-of-britannia-waveguide/#comments Mon, 06 Jul 2015 18:43:48 +0000 http://ultimacodex.com/?p=35043 There are several lighthouses in Britannia that the Avatar will explore in Ultima 5, but I think the one in this image looks as though it would best stand in for Waveguide.

A lighthouse set atop a small castle or fortress? Quite possibly the place called Waveguide.

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Shroud of the Avatar – Update of the Avatar #132 http://ultimacodex.com/2015/07/shroud-of-the-avatar-update-of-the-avatar-132/ http://ultimacodex.com/2015/07/shroud-of-the-avatar-update-of-the-avatar-132/#comments Fri, 03 Jul 2015 22:45:33 +0000 http://ultimacodex.com/?p=34893 Greetings Friends and Fellow Avatars!

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

  • Q3 2015 Schedule Update
  • Architecture of the Obsidians!
  • Very Large Creatures: Trolls
  • Remix of the Avatar
  • New Outdoor Fountain Decorations
  • Thou hast been invited to the Release 19 Postmortem!

 

Q3 2015 Schedule Update

[A SotA Public Forum post by Starr Long]

Darkstarr

Greetings Avatars,

As we have stated previously, our goal is to once-per-quarter post an updated schedule for our monthly releases. Even though these goals will likely change somewhat as we react to feedback, we feel it is important to provide you an updated roadmap periodically.

Our goal continues to be to deliver our backers content each and every month so that we can get feedback and use it to iterate improvements. This continues to benefit the game, with additional game features like jumping and swimming, and improvements to systems including crafting, conversations, and combat. Meeting that monthly goal is our highest priority, but we require flexibility in our deliverables in order to meet that goal. As you have seen in previous releases, sometimes we push things out, but we also often pull new things in.

As always, all dates, durations, and deliverables are subject to change as we adjust our designs based on direct feedback from you, our backers.

RELEASE 20, July 30, 2015

  • Full Wipe: We are going to make some fundamental changes to item architecture that require us to do a full wipe for Release 20. We apologize for the inconvenience. Please note that if you have been waiting to melt down add-ons, this is your chance to do so as long as you do NOT login once R20 goes live (which automatically claims the items and prevents melt down).
  • Combat Pets & Taming: We will expand pet functionality to include the ability to tame some creatures and have them help you in combat.
  • Encounter Revamp: Random encounters are being reworked to be more engaging experiences, not just ambush scenarios. Additionally, roving encounters (patrolling creatures) will now appear on the overworld map and can be engaged (pulling you into a scene) or avoided if you wish to sneak past.
  • Player Owned Vendors: Players will now be able to place a Vendor on their property to sell goods.
  • Spells & Skills: We will continue to make a pass through the skill trees and add new skills, balance existing skills, and replace less useful skills.
  • Maps: We will continue to polish scenes along the Perennial Coast by converting to dynamic spawning and adding additional content like night-time spawners. We will also be adding a few new scenes; including the Crags Foothills (where players can enter the Etceter Crag Mines) and Desolate Hills.
  • Player Owned Towns: We will launch our island template and the first city using that template will be the Duchy of Dara Brae.
  • Creatures: We intend to introduce the Troll as our first very large creature and we hope to make the combat experience much different than would be found with normal sized opponents.
  • Crafting: Tailors and Alchemists will be able to begin crafting Taming Collars. Additionally, weapons and shields will now display material colors from crafting.
  • Player Made Books: This feature will continue to expand with the addition of Printing (making copies of books) as well as the ability to use Player Made Books as decorations.

RELEASE 21, August 27, 2015:

  • Crafting: Crafting skills will start to come online, and be used during crafting to modify results. Additionally, players will now have the ability to salvage items for materials and components.
  • Combat: The cover system will be introduced and will modify attack and defense values when you (or your target) are behind cover.
  • Maps: Perennial Coast polish will continue and new scenes will come online that expand the story, including the desert town of Desolis and the Chamber of Souls dungeon beneath it.
  • Emote “Teaching”: Emotes will now be teachable to other players. Some emotes (like the ones tied to pledges) will only be teachable by the original owner. Teaching will be done via secure trading.
  • Player Owned Towns: We will continue to expand the number of templates and introduce a new Player Owned Town to the game.
  • Creatures: Dragons will begin appearing in Novia! Burninating will begin. All hail Trogdor, the Burninator!
  • Localization: We will begin crowdsourcing the translation of the game into various languages.
  • Weather: Weather will make a first appearance with rain and snow linked to seasonal changes.
  • Spells & Skills: More new spells, skills, and combos will come online.
  • Control Points: These scenes will now pull you into them automatically if held by enemies

RELEASE 22, September 25, 2015

  • Maps: More polish passes will be made in scenes beyond the Perennial Coast, including the shardfalls and the Graff Gem Mines. We will also continue to expand the story with new scenes including the town of Etceter and the dungeon of Artifice.
  • Housing: Property ownership will now incur regular fees (unless you are using a tax free deed from a pledge). If the fees are not paid, the player will lose their claim, and their possessions (including the house and decorations) will be moved to their bank.
  • Creatures: Our creature list will continue to expand with Chaos Demons and Wisps.
  • Guild Warfare: Guilds will now be able to declare war on each other.
  • Musical Instruments: Players can play music in the game with a variety of instruments.
  • Fishing: Players can begin catching fish in the game.
  • Crafting: Crafting Table quality, location, and calendar will begin to factor into crafting results.
  • Player Owned Towns: We will continue to expand the number of templates and introduce at least one new Player Owned Town to the game.

We continue to be incredibly thankful for the support we receive from this amazing community. While the funding you provide makes all of this possible, it pales in comparison with the faith you have in us, the feedback you provide us, and the content you are making for everyone to enjoy. We are humbly grateful, and we cannot wait to see you again in New Britannia!

Before I go, I wanted to include an excerpt from my original post about our Early Release Schedule that is important to set the framework for our ongoing schedule:

As a crowd funded and crowd sourced project, we feel it is incredibly important that we provide our backers with information and access well before game studios would normally do so in a traditional development model. Traditionally, the players are given information and access only after the development team has already decided exactly how things will be done, and at times, even after it has already been implemented. By the time the public normally has access to the product, there is usually no time to meaningfully react to the public feedback.

Shroud of the Avatar is different than the traditional model, as we intend to offer our backers extremely early access to information and even the game itself. With that said, we also want to be very careful that we only provide access to portions of the game when they are ready for a wider range of feedback. If we can play it internally and we know it is not ready, then there is nothing to be gained by having a wider audience come to the same conclusion. In fact, it could be quite damaging to do so.

Our strategy over the next few months is to provide you with focused and iterative releases of content. Your feedback during these releases will be critical to making the final product the best it can be, and we appreciate that you are all so willing to devote your time to helping us. With each release, we will have specific tests we will ask you all to make. As we get closer, we will send instructions on how to download, install, report bugs, etc. After each release we will review the results and reevaluate the plan including the duration of availability of each release. Please note that game data will be wiped periodically during early access.

It is important to note that all dates, durations, and deliverables are subject to change.

Sincerely,
Starr Long
Executive Producer
Shroud of the Avatar


Architecture of the Obsidians!

[A Dev+ Forum Post by Scottie Jones]

As we begin to build out areas of our game referenced in the Blade of the Avatar novel it becomes important to define general style themes for some of the most influential past cultures depicted in the storyline. One such culture was that of the corrupt and powerful Obsidians who existed at the height of their influence over 200 years before the present day of Shroud’s game fiction. Some of you may have already seen the imposing structure of the Tower of the Shuttered Eye, created by Andy Cortez, found at the heart of the Veiled Swamp. The brooding look of this edifice became the touchstone for Obsidian architecture in general, and is influencing the look of a family of additional pieces being made.

SotA_Obsidian Architecture_large elements

The first of these are a set of larger structures being created to allow for the placement of imposing walls, towers, and gates, and will eventually contain ruined versions of these as well as other similar structures, dwellings, and building elements. Seen out of context here, you can get an idea of how these individual element might be combined in a variety of interesting ways, but the real test is how they might look in an actual scene map.

SotA_Obsidian Architecture_large elements_mapexample01

Here I’ve temporarily placed these pieces on the same scene as the Tower of the Shuttered Eye as an example of how the architectural style carries over. Each of the towers you see can be accessed by an iron door on one side with a ladder leading to the parapets above.

SotA_Obsidian Architecture_large elements_mapexample02

From the top you can get an indication of the versatility of the set, which allows a three-way intersection of walls. Here too you can see the trapdoor at the top of the tower, as well as the circular dais that can either be used as handy stairs in this case, or as a platform for smaller objects that will eventually be a part of this set, such as altars, obelisks, and thrones.

SotA_Obsidian Architecture_large elements_mapexample03

I’ll be glad to show you more as they come online!

Enjoy!

Scottie ^_^


Very Large Creatures: Trolls

As mentioned in the Q3 schedule above, Portalarium intend to introduce the Troll as our first very large creature. They also hope to make the combat experience with very large creatures different than what will be found with normal sized opponents. For the Troll they are working on huge area of effect attacks that include striking the ground for nearby attackers and throwing boulders for distant enemies.

They began the modeling process this week and Geoff Mellon provided these WIP images to show the current direction:

SotA_Troll_wip

SotA_Troll_wip2


 

Remix of the Avatar

Zack_Sheppard_soundcloud_iconFrom development team member, Zack Sheppard (programmer…and musician too, it would seem):

“This is a remix of the intro theme that plays at the splash screen. Richard gave me his permission to use samples of his voice in the song and I got to work right away. I intentionally chose the Drum and Bass genre just to be in a completely different space than all of the music in Shroud of the Avatar: Forsaken Virtues, as well as to challenge myself.” – Zack

Zack_Sheppard_soundcloud_RemixOfTheAvatar_banner


New Outdoor Fountain Decorations

Dress up your yard with these beautiful spilling fountains, now available in the Add-On Store!

Cinereous Stone 2-Tier Outdoor Pedestal Fountain

SotA_Cinereous_Stone_2Tier_Fountain

 

Isabelline Stone 2-Tier Outdoor Fountain

SotA_Isabelline_Stone_2Tier_Fountain


Thou hast been invited to the Release 19 Postmortem!

campout
Please join  Thursday, July 9th at 3:00 PM Central (20:00 GMT) for the next Hangout of the Avatar! Richard, Starr, and Chris will be chatting about Release 19 and looking ahead to Release 20. And, of course, FireLotus will be taking your questions and feedback live in the chat-room and also in advance in the original comments section.*

They will be giving out some really awesome 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. And, some very special guests will be joining to close the show.  As always, the link to the hangout will be included directly in the original post before the hangout begins.

*Please keep in mind that questions and feedback related to Release 19 specific topics will be given priority and really verbose questions may be skipped, as they can be a challenge to shorten and summarize live on the air. In brief… please keep your questions… brief. ;)

 

 

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Support Nystul on Patreon http://ultimacodex.com/2015/06/support-nystul-on-patreon/ http://ultimacodex.com/2015/06/support-nystul-on-patreon/#comments Wed, 01 Jul 2015 05:39:43 +0000 http://ultimacodex.com/?p=34829 Mike Nystul has recently created a Patreon account, where he is distributing games to his supporters. You may remember Nystul as the real-life inspiration for Lord British’s court magician in Ultima VI and VII.

Nystul has already posted a couple items for backers, including some Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition monsters and some generic role-playing suggestions, but he also wants to know what *you* want to see! So make sure to check out his Patreon, lend him your support, and give him some of your thoughts on what game ideas he should pursue.

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Return to Skara Brae in The Bard’s Tale IV http://ultimacodex.com/2015/06/return-to-skara-brae-in-the-bards-tale-iv/ http://ultimacodex.com/2015/06/return-to-skara-brae-in-the-bards-tale-iv/#comments Tue, 30 Jun 2015 02:57:56 +0000 http://ultimacodex.com/?p=34796 If you havn’t seen the hype yet, inXile Entertainment are returning to the city of Skara Brae in The Bard’s Tale IV, currently on Kickstarter.

Although we’ve previously touched on the fact that the game was being developed, I thought it was noting that as of right now the game has surpassed its original funding goal of $1,250,000, as well as its first two stretch goals. These are especially important to Ultima players, because they add an enhanced Companion NPC system and an enhanced Crafting system to the game. With 10 days remaining, it is likely that additional stretch goals will be reached, unlocking new dungeons to explore.

If you have a fond place in your heart for The Bard’s Tale, the city of Skara Brae, or even just the Gaelic music that will adorn the world, you should check out The Bard’s Tale IV on Kickstarter before it ends next Friday, July 10. In the mean time, check out this video of the in-game engine.

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Shroud of the Avatar – Third Quarter 2015 Early Release Schedule http://ultimacodex.com/2015/06/shroud-of-the-avatar-third-quarter-2015-early-release-schedule/ http://ultimacodex.com/2015/06/shroud-of-the-avatar-third-quarter-2015-early-release-schedule/#comments Tue, 30 Jun 2015 02:36:29 +0000 http://ultimacodex.com/?p=34792 Hello fellow Avatars! Over the weekend, Starr Long posted the schedule for Releases 20 through 22.

Greetings Avatars,

As we have stated previously, our goal is to once-per-quarter post an updated schedule for our monthly releases. Even though these goals will likely change somewhat as we react to feedback, we feel it is important to provide you an updated roadmap periodically.

Our goal continues to be to deliver our backers content each and every month so that we can get feedback and use it to iterate improvements. This continues to benefit the game, with additional game features like jumping and swimming, and improvements to systems including crafting, conversations, and combat. Meeting that monthly goal is our highest priority, but we require flexibility in our deliverables in order to meet that goal. As you have seen in previous releases, sometimes we push things out, but we also often pull new things in.

As always, all dates, durations, and deliverables are subject to change as we adjust our designs based on direct feedback from you, our backers.

RELEASE 20, July 30, 2015

  • Full Wipe: We are going to make some fundamental changes to item architecture that require us to do a full wipe for Release 20. We apologize for the inconvenience. Please note that if you have been waiting to melt down add-ons, this is your chance to do so as long as you do NOT login once R20 goes live (which automatically claims the items and prevents melt down).
  • Combat Pets & Taming: We will expand pet functionality to include the ability to tame some creatures and have them help you in combat.
  • Encounter Revamp: Random encounters are being reworked to be more engaging experiences, not just ambush scenarios. Additionally, roving encounters (patrolling creatures) will now appear on the overworld map and can be engaged (pulling you into a scene) or avoided if you wish to sneak past.
  • Player Owned Vendors: Players will now be able to place a Vendor on their property to sell goods.
  • Spells & Skills: We will continue to make a pass through the skill trees and add new skills, balance existing skills, and replace less useful skills.
  • Maps: We will continue to polish scenes along the Perennial Coast by converting to dynamic spawning and adding additional content like night-time spawners. We will also be adding a few new scenes; including the Crags Foothills (where players can enter the Etceter Crag Mines) and Desolate Hills.
  • Player Owned Towns: We will launch our island template and the first city using that template will be the Duchy of Dara Brae.
  • Creatures: We intend to introduce the Troll as our first very large creature and we hope to make the combat experience much different than would be found with normal sized opponents.
  • Crafting: Tailors and Alchemists will be able to begin crafting Taming Collars. Additionally, weapons and shields will now display material colors from crafting.
  • Player Made Books: This feature will continue to expand with the addition of Printing (making copies of books) as well as the ability to use Player Made Books as decorations.

RELEASE 21, August 27, 2015:

  • Crafting: Crafting skills will start to come online, and be used during crafting to modify results. Additionally, players will now have the ability to salvage items for materials and components.
  • Combat: The cover system will be introduced and will modify attack and defense values when you (or your target) are behind cover.
  • Maps: Perennial Coast polish will continue and new scenes will come online that expand the story, including the desert town of Desolis and the Chamber of Souls dungeon beneath it.
  • Emote “Teaching”: Emotes will now be teachable to other players. Some emotes (like the ones tied to pledges) will only be teachable by the original owner. Teaching will be done via secure trading.
  • Player Owned Towns: We will continue to expand the number of templates and introduce a new Player Owned Town to the game.
  • Creatures: Dragons will begin appearing in Novia! Burninating will begin. All hail Trogdor, the Burninator!
  • Localization: We will begin crowdsourcing the translation of the game into various languages.
  • Weather: Weather will make a first appearance with rain and snow linked to seasonal changes.
  • Spells & Skills: More new spells, skills, and combos will come online.
  • Control Points: These scenes will now pull you into them automatically if held by enemies

RELEASE 22, September 25, 2015

  • Maps: More polish passes will be made in scenes beyond the Perennial Coast, including the shardfalls and the Graff Gem Mines. We will also continue to expand the story with new scenes including the town of Etceter and the dungeon of Artifice.
  • Housing: Property ownership will now incur regular fees (unless you are using a tax free deed from a pledge). If the fees are not paid, the player will lose their claim, and their possessions (including the house and decorations) will be moved to their bank.
  • Creatures: Our creature list will continue to expand with Chaos Demons and Wisps.
  • Guild Warfare: Guilds will now be able to declare war on each other.
  • Musical Instruments: Players can play music in the game with a variety of instruments.
  • Fishing: Players can begin catching fish in the game.
  • Crafting: Crafting Table quality, location, and calendar will begin to factor into crafting results.
  • Player Owned Towns: We will continue to expand the number of templates and introduce at least one new Player Owned Town to the game.

We continue to be incredibly thankful for the support we receive from this amazing community. While the funding you provide makes all of this possible, it pales in comparison with the faith you have in us, the feedback you provide us, and the content you are making for everyone to enjoy. We are humbly grateful, and we cannot wait to see you again in New Britannia!

Before I go, I wanted to include an excerpt from my original post about our Early Release Schedule that is important to set the framework for our ongoing schedule:

As a crowd funded and crowd sourced project, we feel it is incredibly important that we provide our backers with information and access well before game studios would normally do so in a traditional development model. Traditionally, the players are given information and access only after the development team has already decided exactly how things will be done, and at times, even after it has already been implemented. By the time the public normally has access to the product, there is usually no time to meaningfully react to the public feedback.

Shroud of the Avatar is different than the traditional model, as we intend to offer our backers extremely early access to information and even the game itself. With that said, we also want to be very careful that we only provide access to portions of the game when they are ready for a wider range of feedback. If we can play it internally and we know it is not ready, then there is nothing to be gained by having a wider audience come to the same conclusion. In fact, it could be quite damaging to do so.

Our strategy over the next few months is to provide you with focused and iterative releases of content. Your feedback during these releases will be critical to making the final product the best it can be, and we appreciate that you are all so willing to devote your time to helping us. With each release, we will have specific tests we will ask you all to make. As we get closer, we will send instructions on how to download, install, report bugs, etc. After each release we will review the results and reevaluate the plan including the duration of availability of each release. Please note that game data will be wiped periodically during early access.

It is important to note that all dates, durations, and deliverables are subject to change.

Sincerely,
Starr Long
Executive Producer
Shroud of the Avatar

Although much of what is currently scheduled was originally planned for prior releases, there are a number of new items in the mix as well. Weather effects and crafting enhancements have been something I’ve been watching for a long time, while guild wars and fishing will provide additional activities for the community, which already host dozens of events throughout each release.

Remember, you can always see the calendar of Upcoming Events on the Shroud of the Avatar website. And, if you are not already a backer, you can create an account on the Pledge Store, or through Steam.

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Massively Overpowered’s Broadsword Interview http://ultimacodex.com/2015/06/massively-overpowereds-broadsword-interview/ http://ultimacodex.com/2015/06/massively-overpowereds-broadsword-interview/#comments Mon, 29 Jun 2015 15:53:50 +0000 http://ultimacodex.com/?p=34786 One of the coolest things about the internet as well as having cohorts is that when one person is away, it is easy for peers to jump in and take care of things.  Kenneth is away on a much needed and deserved vacation.  In his absence the rest of us here are happily doing what we can to keep up on giving everyone new info or just great posts of fun stuff for everyone to enjoy.  Today Massively Overpowered posted their exclusive interview with Broadsword about the state of the games, Ultima Online and Dark Age of Camelot.  Feel free to jump over to their website and check it out!

Below is one item of their conversations with President Rob Denton, UO Producer Bonnie Armstrong, and DAoC Producer John Thornhill, that I want to highlight.

Massively OP: So let’s talk about Ultima Online first. Why the decision to create an expansion for the game after all of these years? What is this expansion’s focus and what will it add to the game?

Bonnie Armstrong: UO has had several expansions, boosters, and theme packs over the years such as Stygian Abyss, High Seas, The King’s Collection, and the Rustic and Gothic packs.  Now we are doing Time of Legends because we want players to know Broadsword is committed to continuing UO’s legacy.

We have never stopped adding new content and making improvements to the game.  Ultima Online is coming up on its 18-year anniversary, and our gift to the players this year will be new land to adventure, Eodon.  Eodon will feature unique mobs not seen in the game before, new masteries for players to specialize their characters, new clothing, new champ spawns, and a currency conversion that allows us to clear up space in banks and houses for players.

This is very exciting…. Now while after almost 16 years of playing UO i have been away from it the past few years, a new land and especially changes to masteries and currency is very much good news for those who still play or even just follow Ultima Online news.

 

 

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Shroud of the Avatar – Update of the Avatar #131 http://ultimacodex.com/2015/06/shroud-of-the-avatar-update-of-the-avatar-131/ http://ultimacodex.com/2015/06/shroud-of-the-avatar-update-of-the-avatar-131/#comments Sat, 27 Jun 2015 15:22:55 +0000 http://ultimacodex.com/?p=34742 Greetings Fellow Avatars!

Here’s what we have for you in this week’s edition of Update of the Avatar. Make sure to especially check out the Combat Scrum information from Chris Spears.  It is again proof that he is one that is the true Lord of Balance as chosen by GolemDragon.

  • Play Release 19 Now!
  • Player Owned Town #3: The Swamp Town of Port Phoenix
  • Player/Developer Collaboration: The Combat Scrum
  • SpeedTree Blogs About SotA
  • New Adobe Homes and Decos

Play Release 19 Now!

 Check out more screenshots in the Release 19 Screenshot Gallery.


Release 19 successfully launched June 25 with thousands of backers downloading, patching, logging in, and checking out the new changes! Lots of new content to explore, including:

  • Port Phoenix: SotA’s first swamp biome Player Owned Town
  • Zombies!
  • Etceter Crag Mines
  • Chaos Magic that rewrite the rules when cast
  • 15 New Combo Skills
  • Combat Balance Overhaul
  • More Dyeability and Material Colors
  • An Actual Gustball
  • Player Written Books
  • Public Cache Chests
  • Enhanced Player Owned Lot and Town Permissions
  • …and more!

Check out the Release 19 Instructions update for detailed information about all the new R19 content.

 


We need all your help with testing the new patches, putting more stress on the multiplayer servers, and testing the new game content, so please join us in playing Release 19!

If you have not backed the game yet, you will need to register and login at www.shroudoftheavatar.com, select the “Pledge or Send Gift!” button in the right side-bar, and purchase a pledge at the $45 Adventurer level or above. The basic Adventurer level pledge is also available on Steam Early Access.

Release 19 Player Instructions

Release 19 Known Issues


R19 Patch Notes

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

June 26, 2015

Build Number 285: 5:00 PM

Fixes:

  • Charge skill should no longer happen in slow motion
  • Fixed issue where you could not jump after executing a free attack
  • Increased movement speeds on Overworld
  • Fixed terrain looking black on player town islands
  • Fixed various collision issues with Adobe Keep
  • Improvements to chair assignments in Soltown refugee camp
  • Fixed secret door in Knight Benefactor house
  • Fixed floating door in The Clink
  • Fixed issue with free attack and sitting that could put the interface in a bad state
  • Reduced training cost for all tier 2 and above skills
  • Fixed some broken dresses
  • Fixed issue where decorations could be placed inside of other things.
  • Fixed bug that prevented a player from putting more items in the bank after putting in a non-empty container
  • Lots of Etceter Crag Mines mining nodes are now fixed
  • Fixed inaccessible ore and crystal nodes in these maps: Grunvald Shardfall, Verdantis Shardfall, and Graff Gem Mines
  • Made Tap Soul to be more effective.
  • Solace Bridge: Fixed an oyster bed at (40.7, 37.2, 86.8) so it can be harvested
  • Fixed broken Lich in the Necropolis

Known Issues:

  • Cloaks sorting and bunching through the body of players when doing directional changes
  • Time is not in synchronized between scenes that have the new sky vs. the old sky
  • Red crystal nodes in Etceter Crag Mines are all yielding blue crystals.
  • Books with writing in them (including Player Made Books) cannot be used as decorations
  • If your video drivers are out of date characters will appear as if they are covered in triangles.
  • Some cities are experiencing performance spikes
  • Some assets create flash bulb like sparks on screen
  • The screen may go dark unexpectedly in some cases.  If this occurs, you can open the video options and turn off Tone Mapping as a temporary fix.
  • Many pledge, add on, and stretch goal items have not yet been built and/or do not yet have tech support. These will not be complete until later this year
  • 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
  • Unity 5 engine bug: Terrain is not accepting shadow casting lights and terrain lighting shows up on grid vs. radius
  • 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…]


Player Owned Town #3: The Swamp Town of Port Phoenix

SotA_PortPhoenix_ZombieGreetings

Our third Player Owned Town, Port Phoenix, launched with Release 19 yesterday! It is the first PoT to use the swamp biome template. The citizens of Port Phoenix are working diligently to get moved in.  In the meantime, here are a few “moving day” images from the Release 19 Screenshot Gallery:

SotA_PortPhoenix_MovingDay1

SotA_PortPhoenix_Feast

SotA_PortPhoenix_MovingDay2

SotA_PortPhoenix_MovingDay3

SotA_PortPhoenix_MovingDay5

SotA_PortPhoenix_MovingDay4


 

Player/Developer Collaboration: The Combat Scrum

As always, I get excited to see any post or info from Chris Spears… here is his Combat Scrum post, as well as more proof I was correct in choosing Chris to be the Lord of Balance and the leader of the disbanded “Cult of Spears”…

 

SotA_Chris_Spears_Forum_Icon

The “Combat Scrum” is made up of 15 players and 5 devs.  We have met at least once per week for the past 5 weeks to test out new systems, new skills, demonstrate exploits, and discuss ways to make combat better.  Usually they last about 90 minutes and I take notes and create tasks during the session so we don’t lose that knowledge.

Since only the devs know how things really fit together and what changes are easy or hard, I push the players to focus on telling us problems, not fixes.  Then I propose fixes and try to get them in for the next session for them to test.  Each session has resulted in about 10 items to be addressed.

Some examples of actionable player feedback included rolling back changes to how armor worked. I moved hits so they hit a random location and just used the armor for that location.  Players expressed too much concern over it though because they felt like it was too punishing to the guys who were highly concerned with the look of their character and less concerned with min-maxing.

Also, based on their feedback I added set bonuses for armor.  I put that in for one session and they tried it out and liked it, but they pointed out that it could be punishing to people who liked to wear the quest hats or gear from their pledge.  So the next session I updated it so pieces could be set as “universal” meaning they work with any set!

I constantly use the Kibana tools for analyzing combat data.  An important example is the “Skill Usage” chart.  Seeing how much skills are used is one of the best ways to find things that are unbalanced and tune them.  For example, here is a snap shot from last month:

SotA_Combat_Stats1

This is way out of whack.  Deathtouch is used almost twice as much as the next closest skill!  Based on this, I went and tuned death magic very slightly and made a few small tweaks to double slash. The chart shows what effect that change had on skill usage:

SotA_Combat_Stats2

Still a ways to go but just a few tweaks and already got closer to a flatter slope!  For R19, Death Touch was moved up the tree one level to make it a bit more challenging to get to.  I’m shooting to have this MUCH flatter by R21.  Flat meaning that players are using a wide variety of skills instead of just a few unbalanced ones.

Chris “Dippy Dragon” Spears

SotA_Chris_Spears_Forum_Banner


SpeedTree Blogs About SotA

One of the awesome outcomes of switching to Unity 5 is that it provided native support for SpeedTrees. SpeedTrees are a massive visual improvement, and performance improvement, and the dev team has been slowly replacing all regular trees with SpeedTrees since Release 16. The SpeedTree tools are a pretty big deal, including winning an Academy Award this year:

SpeedTree_AcademyAward

On February 7, 2015, at a ceremony in Beverly Hills, California, a Scientific and Technical Academy Award® was presented to the three principal developers of SpeedTree®: IDV co-founders Michael Sechrest and Chris King, and Senior Software Architect Greg Croft.

In selecting SpeedTree for this honor, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences wrote:

“This software substantially improves an artist’s ability to create specifically designed trees and vegetation by combining a procedural building process with the flexibility of intuitive, direct manipulation of every detail.”

SpeedTree use has been confirmed in dozens of major films since the software was featured prominently in 2009’s Avatar, which received nine Oscar® nominations and three Oscars. Several other Oscar-winning and -nominated films have featured SpeedTree, including The Great Gatsby and The Wolf of Wall Street, as well as blockbusters like The Avengers, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Iron Man 3, and Maleficent.

Additionally, you’ll find SpeedTrees in many, many AAA games, including Witcher 3, Destiny, Assassin’s Creed, Call of Duty 3, Grand Theft Auto IV, Batman Arkham Knight, and the list goes on!

new_games2[1]

Needless to say, the dev team felt very honored to be included in such distinguished company when SpeedTree posted an article last week about our use of SpeedTrees in Shroud of the Avatar! Especially when they prefaced their article with the comment: “Now, fair warning, there are some people in this office who cut their gaming teeth on the Ultima series starting with Ultima II. To say that we’re excited to be working with this talented studio is an understatement.”

Here is what they had to say:

SpeedTree and Shroud of The Avatar: Forsaken Virtues

Shroud of The Avatar: Forsaken Virtues is a forthcoming game from the creator of the Ultima series Richard Garriott, Starr Long, the director of Ultima Online, and Tracy Hickman, the author of Dragonlance. Now, fair warning, there are some people in this office who cut their gaming teeth on the Ultima series starting with Ultima II. To say that we’re excited to be working with this talented studio is an understatement.

The game has moved into Unity 5, where it will use the power of the new engine to feature deep character building, single player offline play, player driven economy and more. They were kind enough to share some of the latest screenshots from environments where they’ve begun replacing trees with SpeedTrees (See below).

You can jump in the world they are building now by pledging $45 and gaining early access. Be sure to follow their blog as well for updates and announcements as development continues. We’re looking forward to seeing this game grow as one more example of great games being made with Unity 5!

Also, be sure to check out what’s so exciting about SpeedTree in Unity

SotA_SpeedTree_castle_012

SotA_SpeedTree_forest_03

SotA_SpeedTree_Mountains_03

SotA_SpeedTree_Mountains_05

SotA_SpeedTree_spectral_01

SotA_SpeedTree_vertas_01


New Adobe Homes and Decos

Portalarium added seven new Adobe homes and one new Adobe decoration, including our first city sized home, to the Add-On Store! These homes fit almost any locale, especially the dry, desert areas.

Adobe Stables – This 3-room stable decoration can be placed on a property along with your home.

SotA_Adobe_stables_village

 

Adobe with Roof Access Village Home – This 1-story, 3 room, village home includes roof-top access.

SotA_Adobe_RoofAccess_village

 

Adobe 2-Story with 3-Level Terrace Village Home – This 2-story, 6 room, village home includes a three level terrace leading to the roof-top.

SotA_Adobe_Two-Story_3-LevelTerrace_village

 

Adobe 2-Story with Upper Deck Village Home – This 2-story, 3 room, village home includes an upper level deck.

SotA_Adobe_Two-Story_upperdeck_village

 

Adobe 2-Story with Patio & Balcony Village Home – This 2-story, 4 room, village home includes a back patio and upper level balcony.

SotA_Adobe_Two-Story_patio_balcony_village

 

Adobe 2-Story Village Home – This 2-story village home includes 4 rooms.

SotA_Adobe_Two-Story_village.2

 

Adobe Brick 2-Story with Roof Access Village Home – this 2-story, 7 room, village home includes roof-top access.

SotA_Adobe_Brick_Two-Story_RoofAccess_village

 

Adobe Brick 2-Story Keep with Courtyard City Home – This spacious 2-story, 18 room, city home includes roof-top access, and a grand, central courtyard.

SotA_Adobe_Brick_Two-Story_Keep_Courtyard_city

To give you a better sense of just how large this city home is, here you can see it beside the Adobe 2-Story Village Home:

SotA_Adobe_Brick_Two-Story_Keep_Courtyard_city_comparison


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Crowfall: Layaway Purchasing, Last Days for Upgrades, and Combat Chat http://ultimacodex.com/2015/06/crowfall-layaway-purchasing-last-days-for-upgrades-and-combat-chat/ http://ultimacodex.com/2015/06/crowfall-layaway-purchasing-last-days-for-upgrades-and-combat-chat/#comments Thu, 25 Jun 2015 23:59:36 +0000 http://ultimacodex.com/?p=34666 Today’s Founder’s Update to the Crowfall website introduce a new way of purchasing pledges for the game: Layaway.

Here’s a quick overview:

  • You may only have one item at a time in layaway. (You’ll find it under your Account/Backer Rewards tab, and see it at the top of the Pledge Packages once you have activated a layaway.)
  • Layaway is only available for items costing $100 or more.
  • The layaway down payment is 15% of the price or $20, whichever is more, with 18-months to pay the balance. (This means you can take advantage of special offers and sales by locking in those prices but giving yourself additional time to pay.)
  • Payments must be a minimum of $20 and may be made at any time.
  • If you layaway an upgrade to an existing package, that package is locked (and removed) from your inventory residing with the layaway until you fully redeem it.
  • You will still get the badges and testing privileges that came with that locked package.

Example: You want to upgrade eventually to Amber level at $275, but are currently at the $60 backer level. You will be able to layaway the Amber upgrade ($275 – $60 = $215 * 15% = $32.25) for $32.25. You can then pay the remaining $182.75 over time with a minimum layaway payment of $20.

They also noted that the last day to upgrade Kickstarter pledges, or to buy a second Kickstarter pledge, will be June 30th.

Also posted today is the first part of a new Combat Chat:

Finally, to complement the recent combat archetype images, Creative Director J. Todd Coleman posted some bonus art: the Knight in leather armor, with materials:

Crowfall_Knight

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Spam Spam Spam Humbug: Episode 12 – I Suppose We Should Talk About E3 http://ultimacodex.com/2015/06/spam-spam-spam-humbug-episode-12-i-suppose-we-should-talk-about-e3/ http://ultimacodex.com/2015/06/spam-spam-spam-humbug-episode-12-i-suppose-we-should-talk-about-e3/#comments Thu, 25 Jun 2015 14:44:31 +0000 http://ultimacodex.com/?p=34612
SSSH 12 – I Suppose We Should Talk About E3

E3 has come and gone. There were actually some pretty neat things presented thereat, albeit EA has once again refused to announce a new single-player Ultima.


Linguistic Dragon and I recorded this episode more or less at the last minute…and that’s entirely on me, mind you. Work and other things have kept me busy and then some, and it was all I could do to block off Tuesday evening for this discussion.

That being said, it was a pretty good discussion. The topic, of course, was the recently-concluded Electronic Entertainment Expo and the various computer games shown off and/or announced thereat by a variety of publishers. EA of course failed to announce a new Ultima title this year, as is always the case…but hey, a Dragon can hope, right?

Listen to the Episode Online

Note: Apart from any Underworld Ascendant or Shroud of the Avatar coverage posted by Browncoat Jayson or Golem Dragon, this post will be the last one published here on the Codex until July 6th. I’ll be away from the site until then, although I can be reached via email, Twitter, Twitter, Facebook, or Google+ should anything come up.

As always: if you’d like to recommend anyone for a shout-out, send an email to UltimaCodex@gmail.com…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.

As well, 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.

Finally, there’s the Ultima Codex Patreon. Even a $1 pledge will get you access to Spam Spam Spam Humbug episodes the day before they go live here on the site, 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.

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Shroud of the Avatar: Release 19 Instructions Posted http://ultimacodex.com/2015/06/shroud-of-the-avatar-release-19-instructions-posted/ http://ultimacodex.com/2015/06/shroud-of-the-avatar-release-19-instructions-posted/#comments Thu, 25 Jun 2015 03:59:09 +0000 http://ultimacodex.com/?p=34601 Starr Long has posted the instructions and change notes for Release 19, the nineteenth monthly pre-alpha test release of Shroud of the Avatar.

Thank you to our loyal backers of Shroud of the Avatar. Release 19 access for all backers at First Responder level and above begins this Thursday, June 25 at 10:30 AM Central Time (16:30 UTC). If you signed up at E3, please be sure to create an account on our website as soon as possible in order to gain access for the weekend.

Please read this entire message, as well as the linked instructionsand known issues.

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.

Those of you who have been with us for a more than three months know that each quarter we put out a release schedule for the upcoming quarter (expect a Q3 update this week). In general, the accuracy of that prediction, especially during the final release of the quarter, can sometimes be considerably off our original plan. This is symptomatic of our responsive and iterative production methodology that gives us the flexibility to respond directly to player feedback and pivot when needed. Release 19 is certainly no exception to this pattern, and when you scan the deliverables below, you will notice many items that have been struck through. Many of those were painful for us to delay, especially taming, musical instruments, and guild warfare. However, there were more fundamental issues with combat that needed resolving first before we could proceed with those other deliverables. Overall, we continue to maintain a robust pace, and the amount of content we deliver each month is always what we estimated, it is only the actual deliverables that change.

As you will see below, we focused most of our efforts on improving the combat experience; an effort we will continue to focus on over several more releases. We have made sweeping improvements to AI, skills, spells, combat math, armor, animations, sound effects, and visual effects, all in order to make combat feel better and be more balanced. While we are still not quite there, we are beginning to see where we will end up, and we feel confident it will be a fun place to be. We also spent some time starting down the path of player created quests with the additions of player writable books (quest clues) and public cache chests (waypoints, quest rewards, clue repositories, etc.).

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 find a top-level list of change notes at the Codex’s event entry for Release 19, or a more comprehensive set of change notes in Long’s post. Release 19 seems to have been a combat-focused release, primarily, although several new areas were added to the world, and several existing areas saw significant refinement.

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Underworld Ascendant: Answers from the Abyss #2; News Updates Now Bi-Weekly http://ultimacodex.com/2015/06/underworld-ascendant-answers-from-the-abyss-2-news-updates-now-bi-weekly/ http://ultimacodex.com/2015/06/underworld-ascendant-answers-from-the-abyss-2-news-updates-now-bi-weekly/#comments Thu, 25 Jun 2015 03:48:32 +0000 http://ultimacodex.com/?p=34597 The latest update posted to the Underworld Ascendant website is another Q&A-style post, in which OtherSide Entertainment answer several backer-submitted questions. However, to kick off the post, they did announce one other thing:

Starting this week the Stygian Sentinel will go to a bi-weekly publishing schedule, and will be released on Mondays instead of Fridays. This change allows us to focus more attention on making the game and our current goal of finishing a pre-alpha build before the end of the year.

This slower release pace for updates will also mean that each issue will be even more chock full of Underworld Ascendant goodness.

I’ll encourage everyone to click on through to check out all of the questions that were asked, and the answers that were given. But here’s one, just for a taste:

“Are NPC’s/creatures going to have other needs besides food in the ecosystem?” – SteveC

Absolutely. While food may be the strongest need for many creatures, other things will also factor into their behaviors and motivations. For instance, creatures will have a predilection for the kind of environment they want to live in – lava bat want to live in hot areas, preferably with some lava flows. If that environment changes then the creatures will have a desire to migrate to a new location that more suits their needs.

We expect light and darkness to play a real role in creature behaviors as well. To feel safe some creatures or NPCs may be more comfortable in well-lit parts of the Underworld, while others may prefer the darkness in which to hide. Light levels is an atmospheric state which can be readily changed by the player, or even by happenstance, and which will have a big impact on the lives of creatures and NPCs.

There’s a lot of intriguing promise in the two paragraphs above. I do earnestly hope that OtherSide can implement a truly dynamic environment in the Abyss; it would be intriguing to be able to impact whole monster populations by fundamentally changing their preferred environments.

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Did Savage Empire Borrow From (Or Inspire) The Hollow World? http://ultimacodex.com/2015/06/did-savage-empire-borrow-from-or-inspire-the-hollow-world/ http://ultimacodex.com/2015/06/did-savage-empire-borrow-from-or-inspire-the-hollow-world/#comments Wed, 24 Jun 2015 19:23:24 +0000 http://ultimacodex.com/?p=34568 There’s an interesting discussion going on over at The Piazza, which is (I assume) a forum dedicated to the Hollow World Campaign Set for Dungeons & Dragons…which was written by none other than Aaron Allston. Published in 1990, it shares a release year with another project that Allston worked on: Worlds of Ultima: The Savage Empire (commonly known as just Savage Empire).

The setting of the Hollow World Campaign is known as Mystara, and as one Piazza poster notes, there are a number of thematic and conceptual overlaps between the setting and the world of Savage Empire, Eodon.

I found this great resource website for the video game. It is convincing me more and more that since Allson must have been working on both Savage Empire and the Hollow World boxed set at the same time, he must have been using similar ideas into both game products. Let us have a look at the tribes of the Valley of Eodon:

THE KURAK TRIBE

From the manual: The Kurak were one of the more interesting cultures of the lost valley. Evidently descended from certain South American Indian tribes (or so their dialect attests), they appear to have profited more from interaction with other tribes than their fellows. Their legends make it clear that they have frequently accepted exiles into their ranks, particularly exiled warriors and runaways from other tribes. This has certainly profited their gene pool and given them a reputation as the valley’s “melting pot” tribe.

A tribe of deep jungles, the Kuraks revere the jaguars, and some of the tribesmen actually appear to develop emotional bonds with the wild felines.

The Kuraks are famed in the valley as stealthy warriors, as very accurate spearmen and bowmen. Though they have a history of warfare with the Yolaru, they are much like that tribe in many ways.

These tribesmen seem similar to the Oltecs of the Hollow World

THE YOLARU TRIBE

From the manual: The Yolaru are a black tribe dwelling in some of the deepest jungles of the valley of Eodon. Their antecedents are definitely African, but I have been unable to pin down even an approximation of the era they left their homeland and came to the Valley of Eodon.

I had the fortunate opportunity to live among the Yolaru for a time, and found them to be among the most civilized of the human tribes of the valley – civilized not in terms of technological advancement, but in the sophistication of their tribal laws and the tolerance in which they hold the beliefs of other tribes.

Their dialect of the common valley language contains elements of what I believe to be Bantu dialects. Their choices of weapons include the to – be – expected spear and knife, but the Yolaru warriors also had a certain affection for large wooden club – like maces featuring wicked – looking obsidian spikes.

This seems like the equivalent of a Tanagoro Tribe.

THE NAHUATLA TRIBE

From the manual: There is no double in my mind that the Nahuatla people are related to the outer-world Aztec culture. Indeed, it is my belief that the Nahuatla and the Aztecs both descended from a single culture, and that members of that culture were transported to the Valley of Eodon at a time in the ancient past. The very word “Nahuatl,” in fact, refers to the language spoken by the Aztecs.

The Nahuatl, like their outer-world counterparts, build massive pyramids, temple buildings, and homes in stone. They work gold. They have a certain reverence for the sun, but they do not anthropomorphize it, or directly worship it: Like the other valley natives, and unlike the Aztecs, they withhold their special reverence for the valley’s nature – spirits. However, Nahuatla legend and the behavior of a recent Nahuatla leader make me believe that ancient customs of human sacrifice were once part of the Nahuatla culture.

They are somewhat more technologically advanced than the other tribes, working copper and bronze for ornamentation … although tradition has apparently kept them to the obsidian standard for their weaponry. And they are distinctly more agrarian than the other tribes, growing and harvesting much of their food, hunting and gathering the rest.

These are obviously Azcans.

Since Allston was working on both projects at the same time, it’s not unreasonable to assume that he borrowed from one when crafting the other. The question, I suppose, is: in which direction did that inspiration flow?

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Sad, But True http://ultimacodex.com/2015/06/sad-but-true/ http://ultimacodex.com/2015/06/sad-but-true/#comments Wed, 24 Jun 2015 16:08:55 +0000 http://ultimacodex.com/?p=34555

We're the children of Ultima & Wizardry! We used to wield might & magic! Oh Apple, what have our bards' tales become? pic.twitter.com/5B8a8c6IGK

— Matthias Worch (@mworch) June 23, 2015

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Ultima Online: The Lost King; Codes Available Again on Origin Store http://ultimacodex.com/2015/06/ultima-online-the-lost-king-codes-available-again-on-origin-store/ http://ultimacodex.com/2015/06/ultima-online-the-lost-king-codes-available-again-on-origin-store/#comments Tue, 23 Jun 2015 19:16:10 +0000 http://ultimacodex.com/?p=34517 As part of Broadsword Online Games’ continued run-up to the Time of Legends release, EM Malachi has penned another piece of fiction to establish the backstory and lore of the expansion.

The tale is split into two parts. The first chronicles the death of Wolfgang (Mondain’s father), and the way in which the citizenry of Akalabeth marked his passing. The second continues the story of Dupre, centuries after Wolfgang’s death, as he struggles past ambushes set by Minax. His objective seems to be to find the tombs of the kings of Akalabeth, which brings a nice circularity to events in the story.

Addionally, it seems that Ultima Online codes were briefly unavailable for purchase via the Origin storefront. They have since become available thereat, again.

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