The updates and new features in this update sound awesome! Once I get suited up in some armor I plan to craft myself I can test out my combat skills and see if I can keep from getting smacked in the dirt. There is an actual skill tree coming, more crafting recipes and more housing. I’m really excited to jump and see the new features. Alas, that will have to wait until tonight, curse this wicked Corporate America! I have tons of work to do in this release. Like I said yesterday, I have to get a handle on some crafting and really get myself up to speed with the new features. I don’t know about decorating a house, but I plan to stake a claim to one and check it out fully – if there are still lots available when I show up.

This is going to be a busy weekend. Just reading over this list there is a ton to do. I may end up spending the better part of this weekend just crafting. It’s almost overwhelming! 

But now, the most important question – what am I drinking for this extravaganza???

The following comes directly from the release instructions and is available at Release 5 Update and Instructions

Thank you to our loyal backers of Shroud of the Avatar. Release 5 access for all backers at First Responder level and above, and those with Weekend Access Passes, begins this Thursday, April 24 at 10:30 AM Central Time. Release 5 access will end on Sunday, April 27 at 10:00 PM Central Time. Starting today, you can begin installing and patching (see instructions below), but login will not be enabled until Thursday morning.

We are happy to report that we were able to add a bunch of new content and features, while iterating on existing ones. However those deliverables didn’t quite end up matching our original goals. The sheer scope of getting skills working, while also responding to R4 feedback, made us radically shift focus for Release 5. Below are the original R5 deliverables, along with some extra notes and new deliverables in italics.

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RELEASE 5, April 24 – 27, 2014:

  • Combat and Magic Skills: Finally you will no longer be confined to auto attack now that a wide array of combat and magic skills will be at your disposal. To let you test out a wide variety of these skills we will give you a bunch of skill points to allocate up and down as you wish. This allocation of points will automatically build your deck. Skills can be locked in your toolbar or left unlocked so they can be used in combos during combat.
    • 35 (of 171) Skills: Here is the skill list for R5. Most of these are in a very simple first state so some of them are missing secondary effects, like movement (Trip, Tumble, etc.), speed (Ice Fist), etc.
      • Blades:
        • Thrust
        • Double Thrust (“double swipe”)
        • Whirling Blades
      • Bludgeon:
        • Crushing Blow
        • Knockback
      • Heavy Armor:
        • Defensive Stance
        • Inner Strength
      • Light Armor:
        • Dodge
        • Tumble
      • Medium Armor:
        • Glancing Blow
        • Trip
      • Polearms:
        • Push
        • Puncture
      • Ranged:
        • Aimed Shot
        • Disabling Shot
        • Piercing Shot
      • Shield:
        • Deflect
        • Shield Bash
      • Air:
        • Gust
        • Discharge
        • Lightning
      • Death:
        • Death Touch
        • Death Ray
        • Corpse Explosion
      • Earth:
        • Stone Fist
        • Root
      • Fire:
        • Flame Fist
        • Fireball
      • Life:
        • Heal Self
        • Healing Ray
        • Purify
        • Resurrection
      • Sun:
        • Light
        • Searing Ray
      • Water:
        • Ice Fist
  • Linear Lighting Model: As part of an ongoing effort to improve our visuals we have have switched from gamma lighting to linear lighting. This makes a lot of the details in our textures more visible but it has required us to touch every shader, texture, lighting setting, etc. in the game. Note that this is still a work in progress.
  • Add On Store Conversion (website): Our backers now have the ability to convert their add on store purchases into credits that can either be applied to their pledge or used for other add on purchases (this feature available on website only).
  • Weekend Access Keys (Login): We added functionality to support weekend access to potential backers
  • Journal: Results of conversations with the characters in our world will now appear in your Journal. This should aid questing tremendously without going as far as exclamation points overhead.
  • Crafting: We have increased the number of starting recipes to give players a wider array of recipes so that discovery can be more intuitive.
  • Compass: Navigating through our scenes can be quite challenging so we have added an on screen compass to help guide you around
  • Overland Map Polish: We continued iterating on the overland map. We added panning and zooming, animating objects (waves, windmills, etc.) and visibility of your party members
  • Combat Floaties: For those of you craving more information about what exactly is happening in combat we have added combat numbers that appear overhead during combat if you have Names Overhead toggled (via the N key)
  • Health Bars: Discerning status from the health dot alongside the name in R4 did not work for many of you so we have moved to a more traditional health bar
  • New Creatures:
    – Chest Mimic
    – Skeleton Archer
    – Satyr Mage
    – Satyr Archer
  • Traditional Combat Shortcut Bar: While we are still heavily committed to card style combat we quickly realized when playtesting this very early version that we don’t yet have enough supporting features (deck building, skill locking, etc) in place to make it fun.
  • AFK Mode: When you type /afk or you are idle for a while your character will sit on the ground and [AFK] will be appended to the character name
  • New Vale Scenes: We shifted focus to more Vale scenes so we could create a more complete area of the game (replacing placeholder maps) versus proceeding to the main map. Player Housing: We have added 12 new player houses (4 Rustic, 6 Wood & Plaster, 2 Duke Castles) and as mentioned above we increased the number of locations that players can place houses to a total of 13. That raises the number of lots to around 600. With that change we have decided that for R5 we will no longer impose a time limit on ownership.
    • Kingsport Sewers: An intense adventure area under Kingsport infested with the undead!
    • Standard Scenes: No more placeholders!
      – Road through the forest
      – Road through the grassland
      – Road through the hills
      – Grassland
    • Player Forest Village Variation 2: We used this plus Forest Village 1 to create a total of 10 Player Towns on the Vale
  • Player Housing: We have added 12 new player houses (4 Rustic, 6 Wood & Plaster, 2 Duke Castles) and as mentioned above we increased the number of locations that players can place houses to a total of 13. That raises the number of lots to around 600. With that change we have decided that for R5 we will no longer impose a time limit on ownership.
  • Death System: OooOoooOOOOooo! Death will now turn you into a ghost. Current thinking about the death system will be shared at a later date.
  • Main Continent Scenes: Finally players will get to see their first maps on the main continent including a city that is part of the story, adventuring areas, and a player town.
  • Interactive Areas: Don’t you wish you could move that chair in the tavern to have a better view of the front door? Public areas like taverns will now be flagged as interactive areas. This will allow more freedom in those spaces by allowing the moving but not taking of items.
  • AI Behaviors: NPCs will now start to have schedules and change behavior according to the time. This will include things like going around turning on the lights around town as the sun goes down. NPCs will also now react to players taking and breaking stuff so watch out when you try to steal that loaf of bread!
  • Books: Books will no longer just be decorative objects! Read lovely poems and stories written by our very own community in the game. Try to collect them all!

So now that it is clear what you can expect, we should also be as clear about what you should not expect:

  • Combat: Combat does not yet include random dealing, decks, combos, or advancement.
  • Performance: We have only done rudimentary optimizations and we do not yet have a full suite of performance fallbacks (LODs, etc.). This means the game will be quite slow on older machines, and due to memory usage, might be unstable in certain conditions (like densely decorated areas). With each release we will be doing further optimizations and adding to our fallbacks to improve performance.
  • Crafting: The crafting system is in the game as a framework, but is still missing some key components like repair, events, and enhancement. Skill checks are also not in yet, so results are always 100% successful. Long term, the percentage chance to make items will depend on a myriad of variables and can result in a variety of results including: making the item desired, making a simpler version of the item that will need to be enhanced, or making a damaged version of the item that needs repair.
  • Game Loop: Release 5 is a further iteration on our rudimentary game loop, but it is still very bare bones. Expect this to expand with each subsequent release but it won’t be truly complete until we hit Beta later this year
  • Advanced Player Housing: There are some advanced features for player housing, including waterfront properties, basements, home exterior decorations, and ceiling decorations that are not yet integrated. Expect to see these appear in future releases.
  • Visual Quality: Efforts to improve visual quality are ongoing. This started last release with increases to our art staff (especially in animation) and continued this release with the switch to linear lighting. Next steps include looking at different shaders we can composite (relief, detail, etc.), adding more triangles to meshes to catch light better (like the flat dungeon walls) , replacing animations that came with purchased assets (wolves, bears, etc.), revisiting avatar mesh proportions, skin shaders, hair, etc.

More brilliant musings about my adventures in New Britannia

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