Release Candidate

It’s been a long time since I’ve looked at the heart and soul of Shroud of the Avatar, but this release seems like a good place for it. Release 23 should take a lot of Ultima fans back to the days of Ultima IV when instead of pressing the Space Bar repeatedly until you got stats you could be happy with, you were presented with a series of questions that determined your fate – and character class if I recall correctly.

For the start of Release 23, we are presented with the Cairn stones and a Mysterious Mage who is not only ready to welcome us to this new realm, but set us off on our chosen path. She is a messenger of Lord British and when you’re ready she presents a few questions to decide what type of hero you might be. This will also determine skill attributes and combat glyphs when the time comes.

I was put on the path of Blades and soon found myself within the Highvale battle scene with carnage all around. It’s worth the time to look around, read some of the scraps of paper you’ll find within the abandoned homes and maybe it might be against the ways of the Oracle, but I may have, sort of, perhaps, rifled through the pockets of a couple of the fallen to see if there might be a spare coin or two. I’m going to use the money for good which makes robbing from the dead less severe.

This scene is also a practice area so you can get your bearings and learn how to swing a sword without taking off your own toes or thumbs.

I also found a couple of interesting items such as the Obsidian Chip and a pumpkin patch. It wasn’t the most sincere one I’ve come across, but it wasn’t a bad start.

Exiting Highvale put me back in Soltown where I met up with other players. It is interesting to note that meeting the Mage and my time in Highvale were spent alone. This appears to be a single player instance, so you are alone to contemplate your answers and the repercussions.

To be honest, I was quite thrilled with this new intro, which as I mentioned, took me back to Ultima IV. I think this is a great way to start things where you can get your bearings, try out of a few things and pick a path that won’t be the same as everyone else. I assume as we get further along, there will be more questions corresponding to all the Virtues which will in turn make things a little more unique. It would also be interesting if there were multiple scenes to be sent to, with slightly different bits of information about the ongoing conflicts and different people to talk to. I know we go to different scenes, I’m referring to subtle little changes that change the story to give create a bit of uniqueness to your adventures.

We have come a long, long way and the amount of content making appearing  in the game is impressive. Most of the story is being held back so that when it releases, people who’ve been playing it for the past year, don’t run through everything and finish off the story within a couple of hours and not only ruin the game for everyone else, but spend the next year whining about how there is nothing to do.

That was the extent of my adventures. I talked with a couple of the refugees from Solace Bridge to offer a bit of help and spoke to a couple of the townspeople to see how I could be of use there.

I’ve barely started with this release, so stay tuned for more adventures. I’m going to go out on a limb and predict one or more or all of the following will occur:

I’ll die trying to get the Plague Mask from the Tour Guide
At some point I’ll be incinerated
I will meet my death at the hands of a cliff
I will get a beat down from at least one bandit mob
I will do some fishing
I’ll be incinerated again
I’ll wear a pumpkin on my head
Alley will have to save my life
Alley will have to save Blake’s life
I’ll get stuck in tree
I’ll end up on the roof of a home that isn’t mine
And at some point, I will make disparaging comments about Halmar and end up in the pub

Oh, and if you find yourself up the road from Braemar and down the road from Kingsport, stop on in to the Hollow, we’ll be decorating for Halloween – in all it’s immersion breaking glory!!!

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More brilliant musings about my adventures in New Britannia

Release 16 is in full swing and there is a ton to see and quite a bit to do. I say quite a bit to do since those of us playing for the last two releases have checked off a lot of items on the list already. But if you’re brand new to the game for this release, oh my goodness, you better get started.

One of the first things to notice is of course the new content. We have the Grand Tour and the Necropolis is ready for opening day of the dead. The Necropolis has been on the list of places to visit for a couple of releases and now we finally have it.

There’s also been a lot of changes to the visual style of the Realm as well. The Overland map for the Hidden Vale looks dramatically different, we also have more festive trees and now vendors have signs on the outside of their shops to let you know what sort of merchant they are before you run inside and throw gold coins at them. This will keep you from making the embarrassing mistake of trying to sell rusty swords in the dress shop.

Along with several new locations are some new quests. While wandering the streets of Soltown, I ended up in the pub (like that part is news) and discovered a couple of the patrons could use my help. Seems many of the homesteaders are in fact refugees from their own lands and had to abandon their homes as the undead came storming through. One man asked if I would return to his farm to retrieve some key that was most important and dear to him. Really? You want me to return to some undead infested farm to retrieve a key? No interest in saving a loved one or bringing back some treasured family heirloom? You want a key? All right then.

But when I got to the right place I began to question this chap. I checked the map several times and I was indeed where I was supposed to be, but this is no farm. It’s not even farmland. Many would call it a swamp! And this is not your beautiful house. And there is no presence of your beautiful wife. I was sent to a shanty in the middle of a swamp. Sir, you are a liar and thine pants are on fire!

I did make a couple of discoveries though. He had a strange new contraption tucked away in the attic of his hovel. It was a wondrous device, but I’m not entirely sure what it does. It has valves and dials and he had many tall bottles sitting next to it. I questioned him on the matter, but he seemed quite hesitant to answer me. I’ve got my eye on you my good man. Farmland indeed!

Another new change is that Ardoris has become a center of attention. We have some new people to meet, new quests and of course the grand opportunity to meet with the spirit-talkers. Now which one should I hire to take me into the depth of the undead so I won’t get left behind?

And apparently, there are more people getting lost on the streets of the city than just me. Now, when you find a landmark such as the exit, the market, the bank, the pub or the town center, it is marked on the compass. The size of the icon also dictates how far away the landmark is and will increase in size as you get closer. Very handy indeed!

New adventures and of course the Grand Tour awaits and who knows what else is waiting out there to be discovered. It’s time to put on the combat leggings, grab a bow and put on my explorers hat and get out there!

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What can this strange device be? What does all the tubes do and why do they lead into this tank? Oh, do these dials go all the way to 11?

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Oh my goodness, Mandrake root. Does it taste good if you eat it straight?

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Braemar is looking quite lush and green in this edition

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This forest looks quite inviting and not in anyway creepy and scary

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I like the new signs so you can see what sort of shops a city has to offer. This place clearly offers explosives.

More brilliant musings about my adventures in New Britannia

Today is the day, Release 15 is close at hand and it brings a slew of new content. I was just looking over the Release 15 Instructions and it’s almost overwhelming. There will be new towns, updated graphics, new scenes, a new mine, more spells and skills, gathering skills, updates galore and of course, a new Grand Tour for the Silver Jester Carnival Mask. There is going to be so much to do and see in this release. And further good news, not only do we get to keep our characters (no character wipe) our Pledge and Add On Rewards will get duplicated. This will be a one time deal, but it does mean a resupply of decorations, weapons, armor and the like. Knight Tables all round!!

The only real disappointment is The Necropolis didn’t get finished. I was really looking forward to finally seeing this area and working on the quests contained within. Looks like that will have to wait, but when it’s done, I bet it will be amazing.

The new Shardfall made it in, and it’s another PvP Zone. I’m going to bet money part of the Grand Tour will be in this location (no preying on newbs ya dirty devils!). But then again, considering the huge number of new locations, this Grand Tour could take us anywhere.

Another interesting piece is Harvesting. There will now be skills for Harvesting as well as Gathering Duration and Interruption. I’m sure this means I won’t keep chopping at that tree or picking at that copper deposit while wolves attack and spiders drown me in venom.

The gates will open shortly, so tonight I will set off into the new world. First order of business will be the Grand Tour. Considering we should all be at a decent level, this shouldn’t be too hard. But, that nefarious Chris knows all about that, so perhaps he has countermeasures in place. I’m prepared to go it alone, but hopefully I can find a friend or two to come along. And by this I mean so they can protect me from the evil that lurks out there.

Lots of changes for this release and so much new content. I’m going to have to make a checklist just to keep track of all the new places and make sure I visit them. And here I was thinking I would spend the weekend making some chairs and tables for my house.

Novia awaits! Come, we go!

More brilliant musings about my adventures in New Britannia

As I was reading over the latest news about Release 14, two items stood out to me. First, we have the Shardfall Biome which will be an Open PvP area rich with resources. Oh my, temptation and risk. This will be the first area where entering means you’re fair game. Now, I’m not a PvP style player, not my thing and just as importantly, I’m terrible at it. But now we have a risk and reward area. Will I take my chances and head out there? Are the riches worth putting myself to the hazard? Is this a place to adventure to solo or is it best to travel as a group?

Going to have to think and strategize about this one. Will my want of epic loot overcome my inability to hit the broad side of a stable? Will the Dev team be diabolical enough to put a Tour Guide in a PvP area??? The carnage! The horror!

Next, we have Wyrmsands, a place where the dragons have fallen. This looks very interesting. If you remember, there are the bones of beast like this out in Deep Ravensmoor. It now appears that isn’t the only place they were held captive. Did they all meet such a terrible fate? What else are we going to find out there? My curiosity is piqued.

The Island of Novia will have a number of these Shardfall areas where the Blessings of the Oracle do not hold sway and all who venture in them are at risk of conflict (open PVP). With that risk though there is rumor of even greater reward for the Shardfall both generates and exposes more resources than anywhere else in Novia.

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I wonder if I can harvest this plant and put it outside my home in Braemar?

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Pretty grim indeed

More brilliant musings about my adventures in New Britannia

Since Release 12 is just around the corner I wondered what we should expect for this release. Without really meaning to, I stumbled onto this post from Starr Long about their planned inclusions for each release. There’s a fair bit, but some of the main things include new monsters, our pledges (and rewards) will be tied to our accounts, the use of Banks to store items and if all goes according to plan, the overworld map can have the chance of pulling you into a combat scene. And according to the list, The Necropolis (one of the quests for Ardoris) should make an appearance. That’s certainly something to look forward to, but we’ll probably need to get a few levels under our belts before heading out there. It’s the city of the undead, so combat will be a heavy priority.

Also, from the latest Update, there is a new clothing item, the Steampunk hat awarded to all backers as a thank you for going over the $5m mark. That’s quite a few funds raised. Impressive milestone.

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And finally, since the Holiday season is upon us, I decided to use the last couple dollars in my account to get the Yule Tree and the Cornucopia. Those will make some neat decorations for my house – if I actually get one. Worst case, I’ll find a nice Row House in Ardoris and do my best with the space.

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RELEASE 12, November 20 – 26 2014 (and then 24/7 starting Dec 1) :
    • Steam Prep: Uptime will expand to 7 days and we will conduct a Steam test with all our current backers followed by a launch on Steam Early Access Dec 1st.
    • Maps: We will continue to expand the mainland scenes to include The Necropolis (the main underground Undead area in the game), The Graf Gem Mines surface area, and the Tower of the Shuttered Eye. We will also add the Desert biome to the game along with a desert scene.
    • Character Advancement: The advancement system will expand to include Skill Trainers
    • Spells & Skills: Life and Death Magic will expand to include more spells. The combat schools of Tactics and Polearms will also expand and more combos will be added to the game.
    • Housing: Lot Deeds will be introduced to the game so property claiming will first require purchasing a lot deed in the game (just like house deeds worked in R10)
    • Crafting: Crafting skills will start to come online and be used during crafting to modify results. We will also be adding more Cooking and Alchemy recipes and ingredients including the ability to put enchantments on gear.
    • Creatures: Our creature list will continue to expand with Ghosts, Fauns, Emps and Wisps added to the game.
    • Combat: The cover system will be introduced that modifies attack and defense values when you (or your target) are behind cover. The Death System (including ghosts) will come online and PVP will expand to include an Open PVP flag players can set on themselves. Ranged ammo types will now be linked to Ranged skills. So Piercing Shot will require Bodkin Points (armor piercing) for example.
    • Customization: New armor and clothing items will appear in the game.
    • Overworld: Traveling across the overland map will incur the chance that you might have a random encounter that pulls you into a scene. We will also release the first version of the overland map for Novia (aka the mainland).
    • Guilds: Players will now be able to start forming Guilds in the game with basic functions like Guild Name, membership, and Guild Officers.
    • Pledges Tied to Game Account: Your pledge will now be tied to your game account. This means you will start the game with your pledge rewards in your bank storage
    • Banks: Players can now start storing things in the bank. This is also where all your pledge rewards will be at the start of the game so you won’t start so encumbered that you cannot move.
    • Encumbrance: The weight of items will now factor into how much you can carry. Your carrying capacity will be derived from your Strength stat.
    • Tutorials: Tutorial text will now start appearing the first time you attempt an interaction (moving, talking, crafting, fighting, questing, etc.)

More brilliant musings about my adventures in New Britannia

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