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Default Shroud of the Avatar - Developer Insights From Vision to Virtual Worlds

March 14th, 2013, 19:54
Originally Posted by DarNoor View Post
You're not alone. I think thats why the campain goal hasn't been met yet. I fully expected them to reach their goal jsut based on RG's name. But, i thik people (met too) are still confused on what kind of game its going to be. I read one thing and then read something else that contradicts what i read prior. So, i'll continue to wait to see if i will participate in the KS.
Exactly what I am doing. I am very reluctant to support a KS where the game vision seems very fluid and somewhat vague. One reason I think Torment, WL and PE succeeded on KS, it that the visions were strong and clearly-defined.
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March 14th, 2013, 23:29
Originally Posted by SpoonFULL View Post
I am not sure its the graphics alone. I am confused by the single player, solo, offline, multiplayer and MMO keywords that are flying round and mentioned by the developers. Moreover, since I play single player rpgs mainly, I don't see how the multiplayer fits in and why should I play it anyway.

This is in addition to the fact that this is just a single episode and there are 5 more larger ones to come which puts me off a bit as I don't feel I am getting a full game. I don't mind expansion packs to an already huge game like Skyrim, but episodes .. not comfortable with them.

Another issue that bother me is the RG on the first day of the kickstarter mentioned in an interview that they had surveyed fans before the kickstarter about their prefernce and they preferred a single player rpg. But in his wisdom and far reaching sight said in that same interview that multiplayer is the way forward ignoring fans preference and that is how they designed that game originally. Now few days after the kickstarter he is saying that now they are listening to fans! and they made a single player only part in addition to the multiplayer. This immediatley tells me that they have not thought this through, they are only saying this to get money while the original concept is highly likely to remain, which is fine for people who like MMOs but not for me.
I think part of the problem is people read stuff on a message board posted as fact and think that is what the game is about. Then when shown an actual developers qoute they don't believe them. Spoonfull here for instance is convinced this is a cheap knock off of mount and blade and thinks that is a fact.


I have posted quotes from the start of the campaign to the updates that pretty much say the same thing with added details. It is not as fluid as many of the posts stating facts with no developers comments backing them would make you think it is.

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March 14th, 2013, 23:30
Double post, sorry.

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March 15th, 2013, 05:18
Originally Posted by SpoonFULL View Post
I am not sure its the graphics alone. I am confused by the single player, solo, offline, multiplayer and MMO keywords that are flying round and mentioned by the developers. Moreover, since I play single player rpgs mainly, I don't see how the multiplayer fits in and why should I play it anyway.

This is in addition to the fact that this is just a single episode and there are 5 more larger ones to come which puts me off a bit as I don't feel I am getting a full game. I don't mind expansion packs to an already huge game like Skyrim, but episodes .. not comfortable with them.

Another issue that bother me is the RG on the first day of the kickstarter mentioned in an interview that they had surveyed fans before the kickstarter about their prefernce and they preferred a single player rpg. But in his wisdom and far reaching sight said in that same interview that multiplayer is the way forward ignoring fans preference and that is how they designed that game originally. Now few days after the kickstarter he is saying that now they are listening to fans! and they made a single player only part in addition to the multiplayer. This immediatley tells me that they have not thought this through, they are only saying this to get money while the original concept is highly likely to remain, which is fine for people who like MMOs but not for me.
I have said this before that they have said right from the beginning that this is a single player offline game with a multiplayer mode. It has been on the kickstarter from the beginning and this time I will quote it below which comes from the FAQ towards the bottom of the kickstarter page.

The game can be played offline, no connection required. The character used for the offline version of the game will not be useable in the online version of the game for obvious exploit/hacking reasons. We are going to investigate ways to export your online character to the single player version of the game but the offline character will not be importable into the online version.
Also many of the rpgs have loved over the years have had multiplayer like the Baldur's Gate series and Arcanum and they were well liked so having multiplayer is not going to ruin a game and probably most games that were ruined by multiplayer would have been anyways.

It has been mentioned by a developer that each episode is the size of a full game (I can't find where that was stated right now but I think it was a video) so it would be no different to any of the other long running series like Ultima in that aspect.

PS. I think they should have made the Kickstarter clearer but also people need to stop assuming things especially when the information is already there to contradict the assumptions.
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March 15th, 2013, 08:06
I have been saying the same thing.

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March 15th, 2013, 09:55
Well, no guys, it's not people just jumping to conclusions, it's because their pitch is very confusing. Contrary to what you claim, the first thing you read on the pitch (even now) ist
Multiplayer Online Game - which can also be played solo player / offline
So don't blame people assuming it's a multiplayer online game first and foremost. in fact there now are a lot of comments by disspointed UO fans, who realise it may be too little like UO for their liking. The pitch goes on explainging player housing, crafting, PvP, and re-playable scenes - all things we associate with MMORPGs more than with a single player experience. But not a thing about the SP story, combat system, skill system, the virtues, etc. etc.
Also the info that it would be fully playable offline came later, and it was more like (all quotes praraphraased by me) "that's not what we plan, everbody would want to be online, right?" -> "Ok, it should be possible, we are thinking about it but don't want to commit right now, there may be technical issues" -> "Good news, fully offline SP is in, we just need to separate online from offline characters".

There is also that bit in the RPS interview wher RG reacts to the question about NPC companions with "hey good idea, we haven't thought of that!". You haven't thought of NPC companions, seriously?

No, I'm in at the moment but only because that $25 slot opened up, I would currently not pitch in more, and I will evaluate at the end whether I stay in.
This was not a good and clear pitch, and while it's nice that they seem to be trying to listen to the fans, it als seems that due to this ambiguity and lack of a clear vision (or alternatively, inability to convey it) they are now nicely caught in the middle between fans of the classic Ultimas, and fans of UO.
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March 15th, 2013, 10:54
Everything is confusing

I wonder if RG has been out of the game (pun not intended) for too long to make something exceptional anymore?
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March 15th, 2013, 10:56
Agree with GBG - And there is a big difference between basic cooperative multiplayer as in say Baldur's gate and features such as player housing, shops etc. which imply that everyone is playing together in a single world; that's an MMO (at least if everyone is playing together throughout the world). Further, the fact that your offline character would need to be completely separate reinforces that distinction.

What, they might be doing (I can't really tell so far) is something similar to the Guild Wars 2 personal story. You could then have towns and outposts that act as lobbies (like Guild Wars 1) and can have housing etc. and venture out from those either solo or with a group of friends into an instance which loads the current stage of someone's personal story. In that case you would need to decide first whose story you were doing, as different players would be in different stages of progression.

EDIT: Incidentally you can play GW2 exactly like this - i.e. you can help someone out with their personal story, but it does not progress your own story, since you are most likely at a different stage.

EDIT2: If OTOH they "match" you up randomly in lobbies then I don't imagine many people would like that. What's become pretty clear is that people prefer to play with friends or guild mates and otherwise solo. Very few like playing in PUGs, where there are always griefing/rushing etc. issues.
Last edited by Roq; March 15th, 2013 at 11:11.
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March 15th, 2013, 11:44
Originally Posted by Roq View Post
EDIT2: If OTOH they "match" you up randomly in lobbies then I don't imagine many people would like that. What's become pretty clear is that people prefer to play with friends or guild mates and otherwise solo. Very few like playing in PUGs, where there are always griefing/rushing etc. issues.
Well, that at least would seem to have been taken care of by their friend matching strategy.
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March 15th, 2013, 13:15
Originally Posted by GhanBuriGhan View Post
Well, that at least would seem to have been taken care of by their friend matching strategy.
Presumably though you can play solo too, if you don't have friends online or just feel like it. The problem with this being that it's then necessary to scale the challenges in the game (which you'd also need to do for single player offline) according to numbers, or have NPC companions. I haven't seen these issues mentioned.
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March 15th, 2013, 22:56
The quote I quoted above about the game being able to be played single player offline and not being able to play that character in multiplayer (which most games that have a multiplayer mode do) was there from the beginning of the Kickstarter so I don't know why they said there were difficulties and that they hadn't decided on it yet since it was already there.

Roq: They already said that it isn't going to be an mmo and that rather you just play with a few people directly. It sounds like what they may be doing is having it so that when you connect to other worlds that it updates to include the changes made to it so you will have other peoples houses and shops in your world along with being able to play with other people.

PS. Player housing originated before mmorpgs existed and it was taken from single player games and also many single player rpgs have crafting so none of that is really saying it is an mmorpgs.

PPS. I wish they would just stop the Kickstarter and fix all of the problems before restarting since they are never going to get to what they could potentially get with how it is now.
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March 15th, 2013, 23:22
Originally Posted by guenthar View Post
PPS. I wish they would just stop the Kickstarter and fix all of the problems before restarting since they are never going to get to what they could potentially get with how it is now.
Yeah they seem to be reconsidering the bullet-point high-level description of their project as people react to it in ways it does not look like they had anticipated. While that is good, it also seems like they're presenting this in an odd way by acting as though it was their plan from the start but they just didn't explain it clearly enough. That is as opposed to how Harebrained Schemes made changes in response to criticism by not only clarifying stretch goals and design points but explaining that they were in-fact changing things in response to their backers and in some cases apologizing for not anticipating certain reactions.

The problem with this approach is not that it is nescessarily as disingenous as I may be making it sound - some of this is very likely just miscommunication regarding a nebulous and tentative set of priorities one would have at this very early stage. The issue is that there is a lack of clarity on which interpretation of priorities, features, etc. a potential backer should go with. As the descriptions seem slightly inconsistent from interview to interview - which is probably just because they are adapting them based on feedback - I can see how someone who had not followed each update and newsbit as they were released in order could easily find the answers and descriptions contradictory and confusing. Heck even if you did follow them, the fact that the wording in the kickstarter description does not change to provide clarity might still be cause for confusion over which interpretation was correct.

They probably don't need to start over though if they updated and clarified the description noting which changes were made and super-ceded previous items. They would probably also benefit greatly from opening an unlimited $25 tier as they are progressively pricing themselves much farther from other projects which either seemed like more substantial installments (instead of being one of many chapters) or where there was greater clarity of vision and far less confusion about priorities.

Also their lowest donation tier is.. an odd choice compared to other projects. While many projects will include a token small donation with their thanks - and perhaps community access - the $10 option they provide comes across as somewhat snarky. Instead of having an option to get the game at somewhere around $20 dollars or failing that to chip in what you can for an implied "thank you", they provide the option to either pay $30+ to get the game or chip in less to make up for all those games you stole. Its certainly not their intent, but it comes across as though they view much of the fans of their previous games as thieves responsible for them needing to ask for money on kick-starter in the first place. Again, I would suspect they probably didn't intend to come across that dickish but I can really see how that odd choice of a token lowest tier might come across as a that or worse.
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March 15th, 2013, 23:30
Explain to me why a project which has nearly reached it's goal would even be thinking of starting over?

And seriously if the 10 dollar one sounded snarky, you guys need to get out more it was funny and you could tell it was a joke.

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March 15th, 2013, 23:39
Originally Posted by rune_74 View Post
Explain to me why a project which has nearly reached it's goal would even be thinking of starting over?

And seriously if the 10 dollar one sounded snarky, you guys need to get out more it was funny and you could tell it was a joke.
Yeah I don't think they should start over - just that they could probably benefit from a major edit of their main page and a big bullet point clarification update because clearly people are still confused about some things. I also think they need cheaper tiers since the increasingly expensive lowest available tier that gets you the game does not seem to be selling all that well and is more expensive than other projects in similar categories. Looking at how they structured the limited-quantity and increasingly expensive low end tiers it seems that they planned on selling through them much faster and counted on that for reaching their goal. At this point though, that structure is likely choking the influx of potential backers rather than making them more money as they might have hoped.

As for the snarky $10 tier - yes it is a joke but it's not a particularly funny one and its in poor taste when you're asking for donations. A self-depricating joke might work, but this is more the opposite of that. Consider the token lowest tier for many other kickstarters (those that have them) is usually something like "Pledge 5$ - Receive a heartfelt thanks, we appreciate your support" acknowledging and thanking those who maybe can't swing much more than that but still want to help. It probably would come across better if the next highest tier wasn't relatively high compared to other game projects and if maybe it was bookended by a lower "thanks for chipping in what you can" tier.

Don't get me wrong, they'll meet their goal and then some by the end of the project. I would guess probably about 1.5 million if they don't offer pricing that compares less unfavorably with currently better performing projects like Torment and doesn't ratchet up the price in expectation of an overwhelming initial response their pitch unfortunately did not generate.

Now given his personal wealth its possible that he doesn't really care about quintupling his goal but rather wanted this to act as a debut announcement and early pre-order system. He might actually have more interest in the publicity the kickstarter helps him generate than the revenue (a good idea if fully capitalized on and well executed). Still, multi-million dollar goal smashing projects seem to generate more and better press. Nothing succeeds like the appearance of success right?
Last edited by jhwisner; March 16th, 2013 at 00:19.
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March 16th, 2013, 00:42
True, I do think they should offer more cheaper versions.

However, I think it is hard to look at all the other successful games and say they aren't doing as good, since most games, except for a few don't make multiple millions. The majority ask for a lot less.

Dead state for instance I believe made 300k total. And if you look at the trend of other kickstarters the second kickstarter by a company always does better then their original.

I also wonder if more of the people doing kickstarter remember some of these other companies a bit more. Torment for instance, was a lot more recent then ultima. As for shadowrun, also a lot more recent.

They also have looked to update the main page a bit, for instance they now mention tracey Hickman on the front page. Also, multiplayer isn't the first blurb on their list of ideas it was actually the last. Interactivity I think was first.

I wish they could get some more info from the outsources put into a better FAQ because the more they answer the more interesting it becomes.

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March 16th, 2013, 07:34
Originally Posted by rune_74 View Post
However, I think it is hard to look at all the other successful games and say they aren't doing as good, since most games, except for a few don't make multiple millions. The majority ask for a lot less.
Right and most of them don't come from people whose names are on top 100 games of all time lists. I guess it would be fair to compare them to other… let's call them "legacy projects" running the gamut from Star Citizen and Project Eternity to that Wizardry spiritual successor that made its debut under the title "Old School RPG." They're executing this far better than the low end of that spectrum but the pricing strategy is just bad. If you look at the limits on the tiers (the biggest ones are either already gone or nearly gone) they were expecting to sell through 3 or 4 price increases on the base tier to even make their goal. Basically they went with the combination of lowest non-joke slots and big-backer slots on offer not even being enough to reach the goal. Whether they were expecting a distribution of pledges wholly unlike every other successful big video game kickstarter to date or simply didn't do the math - I don't know.

Whether or not one finds it reasonable, there is a perception that the clarifications on design priorities and overall structure have been confusing or at least muddy. The problem there is not necessarily that answers haven't been given but that they've been given through a variety of sources and interviews and are not necessarily reflected by changes on the kick-starter itself. They're pointed to in updates linking to interviews, but if the language on the main page is not amended to reflect them without too much ambiguity then it would appear contradictory to someone hearing it out of order at the very least.

Both these things are marketing failures really (failure to gauge attractive pricing and some lack of organized concise communication in response to apparent lack of clarity, misconception, or dislike of aspects that are accurately communicated). The project itself is certainly not a failure and will almost certainly reach its funding goal. It could generate more revenue, more publicity, and more excitement though if these things are fixed. They can be and I hope they are - though admittedly one is a simpler issue.

The pricing could be made more attractive fairly simply. The easiest and most cost effective way is to introduce a lower priced tier with just the game while adding something to all higher tiers (behind the scenes look at something, pdfs of sheet music, a free download of Ultima IV, etc.) Since backers can change their pledge and anyone who already pledged would be getting more for the same they were already willing to pay, there shouldn't be too much grumbling about a cheaper entrant and looking at pledge distributions on other projects it seems that an unlimited bottom tier would bring in far more money than it would lose from people lowering pledges.

The problem of dissatisfaction with the clarity of vision as presented is half easy to fix. That half is to summarize all clarifications made so far clearly in one update and to amend the main description to unambiguously reflect those clarifications. Priorities and design goals which one might not find particularly appealing regardless of ambiguity would still be just that, but it's no good scaring away money over ambiguity alone.

Whether the design priorities/goals which some might see as sticking points morph in response to the community is something Lord British will have to decide. Those of us who want this to be first and foremost to be the modern heir to our memories of Ultima IV through VII probably aren't hoping for quite the kind of game Richard Garriot is most personally excited to create. This comes down to how much they can bridge his consistently expressed love of social gaming(more in the sense of his love of table top RPGs than facebook) and many old-Ultima fan's absolute prioritizing of the richness of the single player experience.

The only thing that can be done for that is for him to explain how far he can satisfy that without compromising his vision - but that probably needs to be in a video update. It will have multiplayer, that will be a major focus of development because it's what he's interested in most. He needs to explain to what extent he can provide a rich experience for those who want to play it wholly single player. To Garriot the experience with multiplayer is far more interesting - but he needs to give a better idea of how interesting the experience without it can be expected to be. Basically, he intends to make a great game when taken together as a whole including the multiplayer but he needs to better convey if and in what way it will still provide a great but not as great (from his viewpoint) experience for those who would forgo that. To what extent he can actually do that and how convincingly he can explain it is something I'd like to see.
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