Lord British Presents Shroud of the Avatar

Lord British Presents Shroud of the Avatar

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Ultima creator Richard Garriott is returning to his roots with an all-new fantasy MMO, and a Kickstarter.

The "Lord British Presents" countdown has hit zero, and what has Lord British presented? Shroud of the Avatar, a new MMO that hearkens back to his early work on the classic Ultima series. It's not actually an Ultima game, but the connections are obvious, from the use of "Avatar" to the promise of meaningful choice and moral quandaries in a living, breathing world, and even the font used in the title. The map revealed earlier today on the "Ultimate RPG" Facebook page is also a tad familiar, which is to say that it's nearly identical to the land of Sosaria on the old Ultima III map.

Shroud of the Avatar will offer all the usual MMO amenities, including housing, crafting and PvP, but the intent is to give everything purpose and value while avoiding the pitfalls of conventional online games. The Kickstarter page doesn't go into detail but claims that the crafting system will avoid "busy work," and "an incentive-driven system will draw players into the challenge and intrigue of the PvP experience" while at the same time minimizing the hassles of griefing.

Kickstarter rewards range from $10, which gives you a chance to support development in order to make up for all those Ultima games you pirated when you were a kid, to $10,000, which earns you a guided tour of Britannia Manor, Garriott's crazy-cool home, and a rare, original copy of Akalabeth: World of Doom, the pre-Ultima game Garriott created while he was still a teenager.

Garriott is after a million bucks with the Shroud of the Avatar Kickstarter, which will run for just 30 days and end on April 7. It's a bit of a crunch, but things are looking pretty good at this point: Less than an hour after it was revealed to the world, it's already attracted more than $100,000 in support. Shroud of the Avatar is being developed for Windows and Linux-based PCs, and Mac, and according to the estimated reward delivery date, will be in some state of readiness in late 2014. For more information, go to shroudoftheavatar.com.

Source: Kickstarter

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As long as the player character doesn't ask "what's a shroud?"

I'm glad to see Garriott returning to something closer to the games that made him famous, but I have to wonder about the tenability of yet another MMO in a crowded market, even one with his name on it. Honestly, I'd have sooner seen a single-player game.

I will be watching this very closely. Lord British may actually be back.

DVS BSTrD:
As long as the player character doesn't ask "what's a shroud?"

Actually it tends to be 'Hexproof' these days.

Seriously though: This looks like the sort of MMO I'd actually enjoy. Of course, it's easy to make an MMO that SOUNDS good, it's another to actually build it and keep it profitable. I suppose I'll throw in a few dollars on the off chance it turns out alright. I still have a couple bucks marked 'throw into nearest open flame' so why not?

DVS BSTrD:
As long as the player character doesn't ask "what's a shroud?"

What's a paladin?

That any better? :p

OT: We'll see how it goes, tis interesting though.

DVS BSTrD:
As long as the player character doesn't ask "what's a shroud?"

What's a paladin? The Codex of Ultimate wisdom?

I seem to recall Garriot's last MMO failing spectacularly. I'm a fan of the old ultima games, hell 4 ate huge chunks of my childhood, but maybe it's time for him to hang up the crown. The MMO market is pretty crowded already.

Because the last time he tried an MMO, it went extremely well. I know this is more his style than Tabula Rasa was, but you would think the man would try to reestablish his name with a smash-hit single-player title before jumping on the MMO bandwagon again, familiar territory or not. I for one have to see that he's still able to craft anything worth playing before I'll agree to sink time and money into an MMO he's designing, much less support one through Kickstarter.

Yeah, I'm not so excited for this one. Looks bad from the screenshots even for an alpha, I don't much trust Garriott, and one million dollars for an MMO isn't even scratching the surface.

To be honest I lost every ounce of interest at 'MMO'.

Another medieval fantasy MMO... wow, thanks Richard! I was so hoping for another true Ultima experience, but I guess riding the MMO train offers the best financial outlook.

SonOfMethuselah:
Because the last time he tried an MMO, it went extremely well. I know this is more his style than Tabula Rasa was, but you would think the man would try to reestablish his name with a smash-hit single-player title before jumping on the MMO bandwagon again, familiar territory or not. I for one have to see that he's still able to craft anything worth playing before I'll agree to sink time and money into an MMO he's designing, much less support one through Kickstarter.

Did you forget about Ultima Online? That game was pretty successful in it's time. I mean yeah Tabula Rasa wasn't great but I don't think he was the only factor in that game's demise. Granted I never followed the game that deeply so if he was the reason that game sank, let me know.

The man has shown he can make good games in the past, sans the one's that were marred by executive oversight.

Jorec:

SonOfMethuselah:
Because the last time he tried an MMO, it went extremely well. I know this is more his style than Tabula Rasa was, but you would think the man would try to reestablish his name with a smash-hit single-player title before jumping on the MMO bandwagon again, familiar territory or not. I for one have to see that he's still able to craft anything worth playing before I'll agree to sink time and money into an MMO he's designing, much less support one through Kickstarter.

Did you forget about Ultima Online? That game was pretty successful in it's time. I mean yeah Tabula Rasa wasn't great but I don't think he was the only factor in that game's demise. Granted I never followed the game that deeply so if he was the reason that game sank, let me know.

The man has shown he can make good games in the past, sans the one's that were marred by executive oversight.

Not only was he not the reason it failed, the game was actually doing pretty well. It was shut down by NCSoft to avoid giving him a windfall in stock options. In fact, his resignation letter was forged while he was on his trip up in space to promote the game. Needless to say, there was a lawsuit involved, with Garriott winning. http://www.gamespot.com/news/garriott-wins-28-million-in-ncsoft-suit-6271808

I met him once, about twenty years ago, and I sure wish I'd gotten something signed then. It was back when he did his Britannia Manor Haunted House, so that was a pretty cool tour and I got to meet him and several of the folks behind the Ultima games at the time.

Ultima was a huge part of my introduction to gaming way back in the day, and even though I didn't start in until Ultima IV, I've played all of them by this point.

Hard to pass up just throwing down $25 for the 'first responder' option. Here's to hoping it turns out well!

Jorec:

SonOfMethuselah:
Because the last time he tried an MMO, it went extremely well. I know this is more his style than Tabula Rasa was, but you would think the man would try to reestablish his name with a smash-hit single-player title before jumping on the MMO bandwagon again, familiar territory or not. I for one have to see that he's still able to craft anything worth playing before I'll agree to sink time and money into an MMO he's designing, much less support one through Kickstarter.

Did you forget about Ultima Online? That game was pretty successful in it's time. I mean yeah Tabula Rasa wasn't great but I don't think he was the only factor in that game's demise. Granted I never followed the game that deeply so if he was the reason that game sank, let me know.

The man has shown he can make good games in the past, sans the one's that were marred by executive oversight.

I did forget about Ultima Online, actually. I was never interested in that one, and as such it never really registered with me. And, as far as I recall, Garriot didn't actually have all that much to do with the end of Tabula Rasa. So, maybe I was a little quick to decry his new one. However, it's still been a while since he's been behind the helm of a big project, so my opinion is still kind of valid: I want to see that he still has some chops before I jump into an MMO.

Am I the only one who thinks that "Shroud of the Avatar" sounds almost like a synonym to "Shadow of the Colossus"? (in your definition of Avatar is a large legendary being) Also, the concept art in this article looks pretty similar to the Shadow of the colossus box art...

hmmmm.... Lord British wot on eath are you doing, good sir?

DVS BSTrD:
As long as the player character doesn't ask "what's a shroud?"

therandombear:

DVS BSTrD:
As long as the player character doesn't ask "what's a shroud?"

What's a paladin?

That any better? :p

OT: We'll see how it goes, tis interesting though.

whats a paladin?

okay Richard..... you got me.

just make sure any theif classes dont get nerfed to hell and back and you will have my forgiveness.

....just a little bit, still feel a bit betrayed by Tabula Rasa's closing.

Genocidicles:
To be honest I lost every ounce of interest at 'MMO'.

yeah they lost me at that as well. ah well, i hope its everything the supporters are looking for and that its a rousing success for them

thebobmaster:

Jorec:

SonOfMethuselah:
Because the last time he tried an MMO, it went extremely well. I know this is more his style than Tabula Rasa was, but you would think the man would try to reestablish his name with a smash-hit single-player title before jumping on the MMO bandwagon again, familiar territory or not. I for one have to see that he's still able to craft anything worth playing before I'll agree to sink time and money into an MMO he's designing, much less support one through Kickstarter.

Did you forget about Ultima Online? That game was pretty successful in it's time. I mean yeah Tabula Rasa wasn't great but I don't think he was the only factor in that game's demise. Granted I never followed the game that deeply so if he was the reason that game sank, let me know.

The man has shown he can make good games in the past, sans the one's that were marred by executive oversight.

Not only was he not the reason it failed, the game was actually doing pretty well. It was shut down by NCSoft to avoid giving him a windfall in stock options. In fact, his resignation letter was forged while he was on his trip up in space to promote the game. Needless to say, there was a lawsuit involved, with Garriott winning. http://www.gamespot.com/news/garriott-wins-28-million-in-ncsoft-suit-6271808

Very interesting, and kind of a shame.

Before jumping into the MMO waters... why not try your hand at making an actual game first? I'm sure all that work on "Ultimate Garage Sale" was plenty practice to get you ready for an MMO Mr. "British", but it never hurts to be safe.

I forsee almost 70% of this games budget going into a "dream team" that can't do jack squat, breaks up, then leaves whats left of the 30% of its budget to try and cobble something hopefully similar to a working MMO.

Then he runs off and does whatever as the game flails and drowns.

Jorec:

SonOfMethuselah:
Because the last time he tried an MMO, it went extremely well. I know this is more his style than Tabula Rasa was, but you would think the man would try to reestablish his name with a smash-hit single-player title before jumping on the MMO bandwagon again, familiar territory or not. I for one have to see that he's still able to craft anything worth playing before I'll agree to sink time and money into an MMO he's designing, much less support one through Kickstarter.

Did you forget about Ultima Online? That game was pretty successful in it's time. I mean yeah Tabula Rasa wasn't great but I don't think he was the only factor in that game's demise. Granted I never followed the game that deeply so if he was the reason that game sank, let me know.

The man has shown he can make good games in the past, sans the one's that were marred by executive oversight.

Emi's right. In a lot of ways Ultima is to western RPGs what Final Fantasy is to JRPGs. Ultima also came first so we saw it die first. Die horribly. And we're seeing that happen with Final Fantasy now, mind you the fates were different. Like the fates of many long lived franchises the moment money making opportunities were seen the controlling company utterly rapes the franchise, destroying it's quality. The Ultima fate. The Final Fantasy fate is the games jumping the shark during the SNES era, relying on a gimmick and mostly old gameplay for the next game which still draws support but rapidly writing quality declines and ideas become more and more dumb before even diehard fans want it to die.

Oh right, the topic. While Lord British may have at one point been a legend, i don't see Shroud of the Avatar working. While Guild Wars II was an admirable effort i don't see Lord British dethroning World of Warcraft, i see Shroud of the Avatar meeting the same fate as Star Wars MMORPGs.

Bah. I was hoping he'd make a game for a change, instead of an mmo.

thebobmaster:

Not only was he not the reason it failed, the game was actually doing pretty well. It was shut down by NCSoft to avoid giving him a windfall in stock options. In fact, his resignation letter was forged while he was on his trip up in space to promote the game. Needless to say, there was a lawsuit involved, with Garriott winning. http://www.gamespot.com/news/garriott-wins-28-million-in-ncsoft-suit-6271808

I thought you were being sarcastic the moment you said a trip to space. I'm really glad you posted the link, as it at least gives me some interest knowing that he did produce a decent MMO in the past.

klaynexas3:

thebobmaster:

Not only was he not the reason it failed, the game was actually doing pretty well. It was shut down by NCSoft to avoid giving him a windfall in stock options. In fact, his resignation letter was forged while he was on his trip up in space to promote the game. Needless to say, there was a lawsuit involved, with Garriott winning. http://www.gamespot.com/news/garriott-wins-28-million-in-ncsoft-suit-6271808

I thought you were being sarcastic the moment you said a trip to space. I'm really glad you posted the link, as it at least gives me some interest knowing that he did produce a decent MMO in the past.

Let's just say that the most creative minds tend to be a bit...eccentric.

SonOfMethuselah:
Because the last time he tried an MMO, it went extremely well. I know this is more his style than Tabula Rasa was, but you would think the man would try to reestablish his name with a smash-hit single-player title before jumping on the MMO bandwagon again, familiar territory or not. I for one have to see that he's still able to craft anything worth playing before I'll agree to sink time and money into an MMO he's designing, much less support one through Kickstarter.

I've had to put some things on hold due to putting some $$ in a few Kickstarters this month when I probably shouldn't have. This was one of them.

I'd personally like to see a return to single player RPGs myself, but I can see why Richard Garriot is going with an MMO. As I remember from way back in the day, he was always interested in the idea of virtual worlds, and trying to push the envelope of what technology could do forward, even if the results were mixed. Things like "Pagan" and "Ascension" being attempts to create a more gradually realistic enviroment in terms of movement and interaction, with the idea of a character being able to say play Hopscotch (Acension Movement Tutorial) being kind of the point, even if I, and others were not please with the results. I seem to remember Richard at one point mentioning how he planned for his games to go into VR early on, and as a result I can sort of see how he'd be interested in the idea of shared worlds like MMOs above and beyond wanting to make single player fare.

I'm sort of a Lord British fan, and absolutly worshipped the single player Ultima games for a long time (even if the last two were lacking IMO). He's got what support, and very limited funds I can contribute. To me the question is less whether he can create, and more on whether he's going to go off in wierd semi-experimental tangents that while interesting on a certain level don't lead to a very fun gameplay experience. For example I felt "Tabula Rasa" was pants as an MMO, and really not all that fun (it died, so apparently I'm not alone) but the big selling point, the idea of enemies attacking bases, taking them over, and then changing the enviroment all on their own, was very interesting, but at the end of the day I increasingly felt like I had little control over what was going on other than to maybe show up in the right place and generally kill things for a while and hope the invisible counter maybe allowed us to "win" not that it really mattered in the big picture. Truthfully I suspect this basic concept heavily inspired a lot of what you see going on in RIFT and even with WoW's experiments in "phasing" (Wrath Gate, etc...).

I think the problem won't be creativity, so much as Richard needing to realize that first and foremost he has to make things fun for the average user, and make it so they keep wanting to play, and then work his experimental mechanics and ideas around that. I mean as cool as it was to see what he did with "Ascension" to begin with was also (for it's time), it like Tabula Rasa wound up being not a lot of fun in the long term.

I'll also say that I think Richard needs to be a little less naive when it comes to human behavior. As nice as it is to envision a "Dreampark" type enviroment where everyone co-exists in, and contributes to the fantasy together, and even the bad guys are kind of fun to deal with when people play them, he needs to get that a lot of people are jerks and are going to derive enjoyment from messing with other players, and in a practical sense, a game without any real permanant penelties means that those harassing players will always have an advantage since everyone dropping what they are doing to try and stop them (if it's even possible) isn't condusive to the enviroment, since even in the best cases it simply becomes a game for the troublemakers to make everyone spend all their time reacting to them, rather than playing the game and doing whatever it is they want to do. UO wound up becoming a hellhole early on for this reason, and we're not just talking the PKers, but people doing crap like making characters called "Sir Lagsalot" running around dropping nested bags and backpacks full of trivial items on the ground specifically to create as much painful lag as they could for the rest of the players.... and so much paranoia everyone ran around spamming a hotkey for "guards" 24/7. :)

I guess the point of my rambling amounts to me hoping he's not only learned, but also puts together a good team, that happens to be more grounded in reality, that he's actually going to listen to. :)

Therumancer:

SonOfMethuselah:
Because the last time he tried an MMO, it went extremely well. I know this is more his style than Tabula Rasa was, but you would think the man would try to reestablish his name with a smash-hit single-player title before jumping on the MMO bandwagon again, familiar territory or not. I for one have to see that he's still able to craft anything worth playing before I'll agree to sink time and money into an MMO he's designing, much less support one through Kickstarter.

I've had to put some things on hold due to putting some $$ in a few Kickstarters this month when I probably shouldn't have. This was one of them.

I'd personally like to see a return to single player RPGs myself, but I can see why Richard Garriot is going with an MMO. As I remember from way back in the day, he was always interested in the idea of virtual worlds, and trying to push the envelope of what technology could do forward, even if the results were mixed. Things like "Pagan" and "Ascension" being attempts to create a more gradually realistic enviroment in terms of movement and interaction, with the idea of a character being able to say play Hopscotch (Acension Movement Tutorial) being kind of the point, even if I, and others were not please with the results. I seem to remember Richard at one point mentioning how he planned for his games to go into VR early on, and as a result I can sort of see how he'd be interested in the idea of shared worlds like MMOs above and beyond wanting to make single player fare.

I'm sort of a Lord British fan, and absolutly worshipped the single player Ultima games for a long time (even if the last two were lacking IMO). He's got what support, and very limited funds I can contribute. To me the question is less whether he can create, and more on whether he's going to go off in wierd semi-experimental tangents that while interesting on a certain level don't lead to a very fun gameplay experience. For example I felt "Tabula Rasa" was pants as an MMO, and really not all that fun (it died, so apparently I'm not alone) but the big selling point, the idea of enemies attacking bases, taking them over, and then changing the enviroment all on their own, was very interesting, but at the end of the day I increasingly felt like I had little control over what was going on other than to maybe show up in the right place and generally kill things for a while and hope the invisible counter maybe allowed us to "win" not that it really mattered in the big picture. Truthfully I suspect this basic concept heavily inspired a lot of what you see going on in RIFT and even with WoW's experiments in "phasing" (Wrath Gate, etc...).

I think the problem won't be creativity, so much as Richard needing to realize that first and foremost he has to make things fun for the average user, and make it so they keep wanting to play, and then work his experimental mechanics and ideas around that. I mean as cool as it was to see what he did with "Ascension" to begin with was also (for it's time), it like Tabula Rasa wound up being not a lot of fun in the long term.

I'll also say that I think Richard needs to be a little less naive when it comes to human behavior. As nice as it is to envision a "Dreampark" type enviroment where everyone co-exists in, and contributes to the fantasy together, and even the bad guys are kind of fun to deal with when people play them, he needs to get that a lot of people are jerks and are going to derive enjoyment from messing with other players, and in a practical sense, a game without any real permanant penelties means that those harassing players will always have an advantage since everyone dropping what they are doing to try and stop them (if it's even possible) isn't condusive to the enviroment, since even in the best cases it simply becomes a game for the troublemakers to make everyone spend all their time reacting to them, rather than playing the game and doing whatever it is they want to do. UO wound up becoming a hellhole early on for this reason, and we're not just talking the PKers, but people doing crap like making characters called "Sir Lagsalot" running around dropping nested bags and backpacks full of trivial items on the ground specifically to create as much painful lag as they could for the rest of the players.... and so much paranoia everyone ran around spamming a hotkey for "guards" 24/7. :)

I guess the point of my rambling amounts to me hoping he's not only learned, but also puts together a good team, that happens to be more grounded in reality, that he's actually going to listen to. :)

My only problem with that is suggesting that a man with an alter ego named 'Lord British' is likely to have any grounding in reality. I mean, I know the origin of the name and everything, but my God does it make him seem airy.

$10, which gives you a chance to support development in order to make up for all those Ultima games you pirated when you were a kid

this is the actual quote from the Kickstarter page - what an asshole!

anyway MMO = instand death

Genocidicles:
To be honest I lost every ounce of interest at 'MMO'.

wombat_of_war:

Genocidicles:
To be honest I lost every ounce of interest at 'MMO'.

yeah they lost me at that as well. ah well, i hope its everything the supporters are looking for and that its a rousing success for them

Sol_HSA:
Bah. I was hoping he'd make a game for a change, instead of an mmo.

Everyone talking about it being an MMO, but the project isn't described as such, and it seems Richard Garriot already said somewhere that the game will be playable as a single-player experience, although it is designed to be multiplayer. It's a bit nebulous and it does have MMO-like features, but RG himself doesn't call it an MMO. This is from the project FAQ on Kickstarter:

Will this be a MMO? Can I play with my friends?

Yes, you will be able to play with your friends! Multiplayer games encourage social bonds that go far beyond what can be accomplished in a solo player game. I remember the depth of these bonds in players who met in-game only to get married in real life, how people who died in the real world were deeply mourned and celebrated by their online friends whom they may never have met face to face. Though Shroud of the Avatar won't be a massively multiplayer online role playing game, it will be a multiplayer game. We will be describing this in more detail in our upcoming community blogs.

The focus seems to be more about playing with friends than playing with random strangers. I haven't backed yet, but I hope he clarifies exactly how it works in the next few days.

Wouldn't it be absolutely fucking hilarious if Spoony was the guy to go to Britannia Manor. I'd give the guy fifty dollars so he could go. Only $9950 left!

 

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