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Shroud of the Avatar: What it is and isn't


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I shall preface by saying this is my understanding based on the information presented to me thus far. There is some speculation in here. So here I go.

 

It is not an MMO.

 

You won't log in, visit the bank and see every other player on your "shard" while wondering what to do next.

 

So what is it?

 

It's an RPG more like Ultima 7 with some (very) extensive multiplayer elements.

 

From what I understand, you could go to the bank, see everyone in your SotA friends list and a few others based on preferences and information given to the game. Alternatively, you could choose to play offline and you won't see anyone.

 

The online portion is persistent while the offline version is not. If you choose to play it online, you'll always get the current persistent state of the towns, which includes any vendors set up or houses they own, even if you never meet the players themselves.

 

While there will be crafting and housing and all kinds of side/mid quest stuff you can do, the game will have an overall story like in Ultima 7, and there will be an end to the story (though I suspect you'll still have access to the multiplayer stuff when you complete it).

 

Also I understand more will be added to the story as time goes on.

This all sounds a bit weird.

 

Yes it does and I can really think of only a few games that have tried to mix what is basically a single player single story RPG with online elements. The most recent (and one that sticks in my mind anyway) is Dark Souls. Though not to the extant SotA proposes.

 

Dark Souls is an RPG with a metroidvania world design, but a single story and eventual goal (as in you start at the beginning and the story finishes eventually). But it can be played online or offline. Online is more fun because while you rarely meet the thousands of players out there face to face, they are out there and they have an influence on your own game.

 

Using a certain item, players can leave messages, which many other players will see (they are usually helpful but not always). You will occasionally see the spectres of other players roaming around. When a player dies, they will leave a bloodstain which other players can examine to see how they perished. Players can leave summon signs so other players can summon them into their own game to help them overcome certain challenges and bosses. There are many other little things. By playing online other players influence your own game in subtle and not so subtle ways yet it is still an RPG with a single story.

 

How does this related to SotA?

 

I'm not fully sure, but a hybrid single story RPG with multiplayer elements does work in my opinion. SotA seems to carry it much further thought. Other players aren't summoned, they will simply be there. The state of housing and vendors will be stored centrally so they will always be present. It seems you'll be able to gather in large guild-like groups.

 

 

I don't think it is going to replace an MMO proper (like UO) but it sounds like it could be a great deal of fun and adventure that is more than the 40-60 hours of your typical RPG. But much remains to be seen! I do think a hybrid game like this is workable though.

 

Also if you wanna play it completely offline, they said it will be free of all DRM. A very respectable position to take!

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I just read this at Kickstarter: Shroud of the Avatar: Forsaken Virtues by Portalarium, Inc. » Shroud of the Avatar - Dual Scale vs Mono Scale Maps ? Kickstarter

"Because the multiplayer version of the game shares the majority of the single player quest line, there are times when we need to isolate the player from a party situation for storyline reasons. These situations won’t be too common but there are just some things that an avatar must do alone!"

 

This seems to indicate, in multiplayer mode, we can do a lot of the quest line together as a group.

 

And the creator commented with the following:

"Absolutely interactions with other players! Nothing keeps players in games like making new friends and partners. We'll get a video up soon clearing up some of the questions on the multi-player stuff."

 

So let's keep an eye out for more multi-player updates.

 

Winfield, Old Man

Edited by Winfield
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Clarified in the most recent discussion with Markee Dragon is that he expects the "single player" quest content to be exhausted quickly, so there will be a lot of Multiplayer stuff to do. It seems like he is trying to please both the "I want UO" and the "I want U7" camps. It shall be interesting to see!

 

Also mentioned was how visible other players are. It was suggested there would be something akin to a "slider" (or set of options) which stretched from "friends only", to "friends and friends of friends" to "almost everyone".

 

My only wonder is... well lets say me and Winfield meet up in Marsh Village or whatever, and he is set to "almost everyone", but I am set to "friends only". If he suddenly starts talking/interacting with someone random, will it appear to me like he is talking with himself? It'd be rather weird and I guess we'll learn more about how it works!

 

The old ultima/JRPG dual map style thing was mentioned too and it makes sense. Basically it means that it is easier to evolve and expand the world.

 

Also support for existing communities was also mentioned so they can establish settlements with help from the... people running the game.

 

Anyway, the whole thing is here:

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My only wonder is... well lets say me and Winfield meet up in Marsh Village or whatever, and he is set to "almost everyone", but I am set to "friends only". If he suddenly starts talking/interacting with someone random, will it appear to me like he is talking with himself? It'd be rather weird and I guess we'll learn more about how it works!

 

It kind of reminds me of Guild Wars, I think? You are free to partner up with whomever in the starting area, where you can see the people you've indicated. Once you've grouped, you can only see the people in your group and the rest of the world does not exist, except for the persistent features. Once you go into another grouping area (starting point or other node) you can see other people again. I can't say what would happen if Winfield had more options than you and he accepted another person to the group, but I'd guess you'd all have to be able to see each other when grouped.

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I received this information in an email today. It doesn't really answer our question above, but I think it is interesting . . .

 

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[TD] Posted by Portalarium, Inc. ImageProxy.mvc?bicild=&canary=y5JPATXLBmz65tJl8VPev%2bmjwum5A%2brbDaeSXyS  Btdc%3d0&url=http%3a%2f%2fd297h9he240fqh.cloudfront.net%2fc  ache-89aa79622%2fimages%2ficons%2ffb-like.gif

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[TD] Today's update is brought to you by Chris Spears, Tech Director for Shroud of the Avatar.

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Shroud of the Avatar has an innovative Selective-Multi-player system, which allows players to select the play experience they want; from a completely offline solo player mode, through a solo player online mode where you can view and contribute to the persistent world, multi-player online modes where you can select whom you explore the game with. We think this lets people play the game in a way that can feel very much like a traditional MMO, or solo player as they desire.

 

Here are the ways we anticipate the game can be played:

Single player offline:

This is the DRM free, completely off-line version of the game. Your character is stored on your computer and can not be used in any of the online modes.

 

Single Player Online (SPO)

In the SPO mode you connect to the server, receive content updates, and can see the long term changes others are having on the world. However, you are not visible on anyone else’s screen, nor for grouping, and you don’t see anyone else in the world. You can switch from SPO to FPO or OPO modes whenever you like while in a city or overland map. Some parts of the main storyline quests may temporarily force the player into SPO mode for some parts of the quest.

 

Friends Play Online (FPO)

In friends play online, you only see people you have flagged as friends in the game and only they can see you. Like single player, this is just a server side filter. For those who prefer the quieter game with friends or maybe for those who prefer a more focused role playing experience, this lets you enjoy a more limited online experience. You can switch to SPO or OPO modes whenever you like while in a city or in the overland map.

 

Open Play Online (OPO)

In OPO players will see everyone that the server thinks they should see. This will not necessarily be all people in the area but should be people you care the most about based on what we believe is their relevance to you.

 

For the most part, OPO will feel like an MMO. Lots of social interaction options with friends and other players. We are trying to distinguish ourselves from traditional MMOs only in that, unlike a normal MMO players are frequently connected directly to each other instead of all data flowing through our servers. We believe this will provide numerous advantages to both players and our service, but does differ from a traditional MMO in that the upper limit of players simultaneously on one map may be restricted.

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Yes I think the desire is to create an immersive world. Something I wholly support.

 

They have also stated that in open play mode the game won't look much different from any other MMO.

 

Honestly for all the "this isn't an MMO" type statements, everything I have come across suggests it sort is if you're playing it online in open play mode. It does raise a few concerns (if you thought housing in early UO was at a premium it will be even more so here where there is effectively only one server).

 

They also said they expect the story content to be exhausted pretty quickly and with all the talk of multiplayer features, I suspect there will be a focus on them.

 

Regarding the map design... I actually think that is rather clever. Not only are you literally creating hotspots where players will congregate, it adds the ability to more easily alter the map and zones within. For example in UO if you want to edit and area of the map, players basically have to download the whole of trammel or whatever again. In SotA, this would just be adding a new zone and then a link on the main map. It makes new areas very "modular".

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  • 4 weeks later...

Well in something of a revelation, LB posted recently on the Combat/PvP forum about design goals and how PvP will tie in. The model outlined is basically Open PvP with only the towns and roads being safe zones.

 

Which has very considerably dented my enthusiasm for the game.

 

You can find the relevant post here.

 

I would be interested in hearing what others think of this.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hey,

 

This is the original Angriff (aka Elistan, my tamer) from 1998 - approx. 2005. I have been researching this game a bit and the thought of a game similar to how UO was originally, and was always intended to be, is pretty exciting. I don't know much about this new game yet, and I'm not sure how long you've been in UO, but you ask anyone who was in or around paxlair back in 98 and the several years that followed how much more exciting the game was back then.

 

In my opinion this is how an MMO should be. Players should be as free as possible to play how they want. The fact is that the chance to be attacked while outside of safe zones adds more to a game than you can imagine. I remember back when UO started, just how awesome the game was. I was thrown into an environment with basically nothing, and had to forge my own path. I remember my first moment in UO, in Britain, running around aimlessly trying to figure out what to do. I think I got a message that said my character was hungry or something like that, and I didn't know whether I would starve to death, so I decided to try to figure out how to get some food. This turned into me running outside into a nearby forest, to try to punch a goat to death, only to find out that goat would've ripped my head off. So I ran back to town to try to figure out where to get a sword or something, and I saw a group of players, all dressed in red cloaks. One of them casted a gate before I could talk to them and they all went through, and i decided to follow. These people turned out to be the guild CK, who took me in and got me started.

 

I have been, and tried everything in UO during the time I played. I went from a noob punching a goat, to a swordsman fighting Reds with my guild (back when you could cast spells with an order shield...and also still a noob lol), To a guard of the player-run town Haven, to my later years as a powerful mage and a persistent disturber of the peace in paxlair. There is no other game environment which offers this level of freedom and excitement. I have tried others since - I leveled up to level 60 in WoW and got bored, there was nothing to do after reaching level 60. I tried Runes of Magic with my brother, we got to the highest level and put a little money into our characters only to find out the same thing - BORING once you reach the highest level. Nothing to do. I even bought GW2 recently - same story. We got to max level and it's just so boring. You can go pvp in a predetermined, set battleground. If you die, guess what? You respawn right back and lose absolutely nothing, and just run out and fight more. In UO if you die, you lose some stuff. But so what? Items didn't matter - if I died and lost a bag of reagents and some clothes, did it set me back a month? No...i went to my tower or bank, got a new bag of reagents and new set of clothes, and i was on my way.

 

The amazing thing about UO was that once you reached "max level," in this case a maxxed out skillset, the game JUST began. There was endless content, because everything was controlled by players.

 

Look at what Trammel did to UO. It killed it. It took everything that was great about the game and just destroyed it. You can go roleplay in a totally safe environment, and do events, and whatever, but those who played UO before Trammel existed know what I'm talking about. These are my opinions, obviously - you can agree or disagree. I hope this new game turns out more like how UO was originally. If it does, you will find me there. Maybe I'll play on the "good guys" side this time around:)

 

Those who know me, say hi:)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Well in something of a revelation, LB posted recently on the Combat/PvP forum about design goals and how PvP will tie in. The model outlined is basically Open PvP with only the towns and roads being safe zones.

 

Which has very considerably dented my enthusiasm for the game.

 

You can find the relevant post here.

 

I would be interested in hearing what others think of this.

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