There was a ton of information to be gleaned from watching the Shroud of the Avatar “Streamathon” yesterday and I wanted to put down a couple of thoughts about some of the things I heard. This is by no means all encompassing. It’s merely a few ideas of the things that really struck a chord with me and piqued my interest.

There are still tons of features, locations and quests that need to be added to the game. From the way it sounded, we’ve barely scratched the surface of what the final game will contain. Many of the things we see and interact with are merely “testbeds” to check viability and playability for future systems. For example, the size of towns themselves are an example of density and layout. What is a good size? What is too big? What is too large for a city to look dead or players to get lost and miss quest NPCs? Additionally, the quests we see now are tests of the conversation system to confirm what works and what doesn’t. It’s also a way to gather what words we type in to interact with them. So, with that in mind, this really is just a working demo and the final game will have so much additional content.

Player towns will be a huge part of the final release. Starr indicates there are 80 player owned towns so far. Holy hell! That’s a huge population and tons of places to visit! So, besides all the towns the SotA team plans on sticking into the game, an entire collection of player towns will be added. That is pretty damn amazing! And considering most of these will be specialized areas such as PvP, Crafting, etc, just exploring those will take a huge amount of time. And think of all the experts we will find there?!

The Blade of the Avatar will be expanded to a Trilogy. We all knew the Blade of the Avatar would be a printed book for those of us who pledged for it, but as Richard and Tracy talked with publishers it was agreed that the original book would be expanded and two more volumes would be written. This will certainly expand the lore and history of the world and give even more backstory and character development for Novia and the rest of New Britannia. What happens after the trilogy is complete? Is this the start of a new series? Well, that remains to be seen doesn’t it?

But speaking of lore and history, Tracy Hickman made an interesting statement regarding “canon” for Shroud of the Avatar. In essence, it just doesn’t matter. History is written by the victors, so writing something that contradicts the lore of SotA isn’t a big deal and in fact he almost seemed amused by people doing just that. Writing something that went against the grain simply added to the myth and legend of the story and the world. If everyone wrote the same sort of thing, then what’s the point? So when it comes to fan fiction and writing your own tales for SotA, feel free to walk whatever path suits you. Now, that’s pretty cool. As he said, the Obsidian’s thought they were a great people and would glorify their exploits in their tales. But those they raided would have a bit of a different story wouldn’t they?

There were hints at Episode 2 and hints at how the game would progress. The game is not linear and your actions will have an effect on later events. The simple example they presented and one I’ve seen personally is The Clink. If you get the quest and then take one from Morgan where you lie about the meat being rancid and making you sick, it affects the outcome of The Clink quest, meaning, you can’t finish it because Myra won’t talk to you after she hears about your lies. That’s exactly what I did in R11. Plenty of these “tests” will be peppered throughout the game and your “reputation” will be built based on how you respond. Even some of the things you say to an NPC could have an impact. Many people try to seduce the barmaids of the game and in the future this might cause a ripple effect. You may not get served when you come back, you may not get side quests, or you may be refused in other towns.

To be honest, this sounds absolutely fantastic! I love the idea that what you do in one part of town will follow you to other NPCs as well as to other towns. This basically means that each of us could and should get a different experience when playing the game. What I do and see won’t be the same as what you do and see. We may not get the same quests. We may not get to talk to the same people. We may get sent down two different paths. That would be so amazingly fun when comparing notes! “Why won’t this Merchant sell me anything?” Perhaps they heard of your theft in the last town.

Some more details about Crafting came out that really had me intrigued. Right now, you pick up resources and make an item. Every try is a success. That won’t be so later on. Once the Crafting skill tree is implemented the chances of failure will outweigh success. Just because I have the right ingredients for a sword doesn’t mean I can actually make it. Or I might be able to make it, but the durability is very low, or the damage is low. For people who want to be crafters and dedicate points to these skills, it means you can make better weapons and can make weapons and items other people can’t. I won’t be able to imbue a weapon because I’ve dedicated points to combat, but you can since you took the time to invest in quality crafting. The way it sounded, this could literally mean it’s possible that only a couple of players can make a couple of extremely high quality items. This goes with what Chris said, which is that the game will not give better items than a player can make themselves. Oh wow, does that sound cool or what? You could quite literally be the one person in the game that can make a perfect type of jeweled or enchanted sword. That is pretty wild to think about. Unlike Diablo where you did Magic Find runs to find the best loot, that loot will now be crafted by players so you need to seek them out and perhaps haggle over the price. Or, develop your own skills in that area.

It makes me wonder, can I build myself as a melee fighter and then change my skills over to being a master craftsman? Would I get enough skill points to do both? I could see my character living the life of the warrior and the returning to a quiet life to craft amazing weapons and armor for other players to use.

The “random encounters” will be much more useful in later releases. I’ve read a lot of people are annoyed by them right, but from some of the descriptions they will change radically. You may be drawn to help defend a town, or intersect with merchants carrying rare weapons, or bandits pretending to be merchants, or some other encounter that will have meaning and story behind it. Being attacked by wolves is just a test scenario.

And finally, the Oracle will play a much bigger role as we progress in the game. What that means remains to be seen as both Tracy and Richard were somewhat elusive, but wickedly snickering. I can only image that means visits to the Oracle will be quite important in later Releases.

Listening to parts of the Steamathon got me so excited about the game and what it has to offer down the road. There is a huge amount of work to be done and what we see is merely the tip of the iceberg. Sounds like we’ve barely gotten a taste of this game. The future depth and scale are almost hard to imagine. That also means there is a lot more dev time needed and this rascal won’t be done in a couple of months. But you know what? I’m fine with that. It may take another year to hit a release date, but we’ll still have so much to work with and explore. And as Richard said, we’ll be on this adventure for the next decade. Can you imagine? In 10 years from now, we’ll be talking about the final episode and what the total journey has meant. And think of what the game will look like and what features it will have. And how big the world will be. And what travel from one side to the other will be like.

Oh my goodness, what a world it’s shaping up to be!

More brilliant musings about my adventures in New Britannia

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