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Spam Spam Spam Humbug 35 - Shroud of the Avatar: Richard Garriott & Starr Long Interview
February 3, 2016

Spam Spam Spam Humbug 35 - Shroud of the Avatar: Richard Garriott & Starr Long Interview

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As a prelude to discussing the news related to Shroud of the Avatar from 2015, Spam Spam Spam Humbug interviews Richard Garriott and Starr Long about the game.

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Intro

Novia Overworld, from the Shroud of the Avatar soundtrack

New Patrons & Shout-Outs

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Podcast Topic(s)

Welcome back to another year of Spam Spam Spam Humbug. This year, to ring in 2016, episodes for the month of January will mostly be focused on re-capping the news pertaining to Ultima, including Ultima Online (which, at least for now, is the only game still in active development that is carrying on the Ultima namesake), various Ultima fan projects, and also different games that have been inspired by Ultima (including Shroud of the Avatar and Underworld Ascendant).

This week, we will be looking at what has transpired with Shroud of the Avatar over the course of 2015. But before that, I'm fortunate to be joined by Richard Garriott and Starr Long; I've invited them on the show to take some time to talk about Shroud of the Avatar, especially in light of the recent news that has broken concerning the game.

  1. Shroud of the Avatar recently crossed the $8 million mark in its ongoing crowdfunding campaign; congratulations!
    1. Shroud of the Avatar: The Many Ways It Conserves Cash — A look at just how frugal Portalarium tries to be as Shroud of the Avatar’s development continues.
  2. One important milestone that was reached (and exceeded) in 2015 was Release 24, which marks two years of consistent monthly releases of new game content. That's an impressive trend!
    1. You mentioned, in a recent update, that there would be news forthcoming concerning the final wipe, or the last wipe of server, player, and social data that will occur on the game servers. That update has since gone live there were some big announcements therein:
      1. You are expiring approximately half of the currently available pledges during the Spring 2016 Expiration Event, which occurs at 10:30 AM CST, May 2, 2016. Will this affect a broad strata of pledge tiers, or will you, say, only be expiring high-level tiers?
      2. You are expiring all of the remaining pledges during the Summer 2016 Expiration Event, which occurs at 10:30 AM CST, August 1, 2016. So this will mark, if I understand correctly, an end to Shroud of the Avatar's crowdfunding efforts, at least as far as Episode 1 is concerned?
      3. And on top of that, you are also expiring the Stretch Goal Store on February 29th at 10:30 AM CST. Do you think that some/many/any of the stretch goals will make it by that date? Last I looked, most of them were pretty far off of their respective funding goals.
      4. The final wipe will take place for Release 32, and by then you'll have stopped using terms like “alpha” and “beta” to describe the development state of the game. Instead, you're adopting the Steam terminology of “Early Access”...so of course, the question that is raised here is: when do you envision moving Shroud of the Avatar out of Early Access and into mainline release?
    2. Is it too early to start asking about Episode 2, what it will entail, how it will be funded, and/or when you envision it being worked on/released?
  3. We're starting to see the implementation of features, now, for the Single Player Offline mode. It was discussed some time ago how, in the game's online modes, there wouldn't be a truly freeform object interaction model (i.e. players can't just move stuff around willy-nilly), but has there been discussion about allowing offline players — whose actions, by definition, won't have impacts that translate into the online areas of the game — a higher degree of freedom in this respect?
    1. More generally, will there be opportunities for offline players to “break” the game, as it were? One of the hallmarks of the Ultima experience — this is really typified by DOUG the Eagle Dragon's anti-walkthroughs of the later games in the series — is that there were always a number of ways to interact with or encounter the world, its contents, and sometimes the plot, in unintended ways...which, in turn, often led to unpredictable (though not necessarily progression-killing) outcomes. It's still something that is almost totally unique to Ultima, and maybe certain latest-generation Bethesda games. Will Shroud of the Avatar allow for this sort of thing?
    2. You are, however, going to be making almost all the add-ons and pledge rewards (except tax free lots) available in single player offline mode through gameplay, albeit these won't necessarily be available for cheap; the cost to purchase a Castle Deed in Offline Mode will be at least $120 million gold (per the example you gave) and it will have a very high tax rate.
  4. Personal question: any chance we can get a point-and-click navigation option on the overland map?

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

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Where to Find Us Online

WtFD - Twitter | Facebook | The Ultima Codex | About.me

Richard Garriott - Shroud of the Avatar | Twitter | RichardGarriott.com

Starr Long - Shroud of the Avatar | Twitter

Outtro

Novia Overworld, from the Shroud of the Avatar soundtrack

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