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RPGWatch Forums » Comments » News Comments » Shroud of the Avatar - Update #9, Tracy Hickman

Default Shroud of the Avatar - Update #9, Tracy Hickman

March 16th, 2013, 03:09
Tracy Hickman joins the team as Lead Story Designer.
“There is a tremendous opportunity to create something meaningful, challenging and wondrous in Shroud of the Avatar,” Tracy said. “I’m thrilled to play a part in it.”
"Tracy is not only a good friend, but also a master storycrafter whose writing I've greatly admired for over twenty years," says Richard Garriott. "Tracy’s talent will add a unique richness and depth to Shroud of the Avatar."
More information.
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March 16th, 2013, 03:09
Seems like a good choice.

Sadly, the SotA campaign started strong but has slowed to a crawl…
Richard had hoped to pass $1M by last Monday so he could talk about stretch goals.

I know everyone would've been more excited had this been, Akalabeth 2… but we should give Lord British the benefit of the doubt and throw some cash at it.

Has everyone pledged yet?
I'm in at $150 for SotA and $110 for Torment.
Last edited by Vindicator; March 16th, 2013 at 03:25.
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March 16th, 2013, 03:11
I'm not to sad about the campaign at all, it will still make it…sad people don't see it like I do, but I hope that will change. They seem to be making a lot of good updates lately.

And of course I already pledged

Also, in peoples minds is dead state a more successful kickstarter campaign then this one? I pledged for that too.

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Last edited by rune_74; March 16th, 2013 at 03:31.
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March 16th, 2013, 03:54
It's over 90% of the way to funding with 22 days to go. Plus Garriott has enough cash to take a trip into orbit. Why risk my cash so a millionaire can make more money? I'll wait for the game to come out and buy it if it looks like it's worth it.
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March 16th, 2013, 06:03
Okay, well that's a cool bit of news.
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March 16th, 2013, 06:55
Although I'm not familar with Hickmans work, having a pro writer on board is definitely a good thing.
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March 16th, 2013, 07:07
Hickman spoke to us at an indie night a little over a year ago, and told us that he and Garriott were old friends. Apparently, Garriott was trying to figure out what he was going to DO in space during the week, and Hickman suggested he make a movie. Garriott took him up on it, and asked him to write the screenplay.

So apparently, though it has been screened to only a few people (Hickman said he'd try and get a copy if we invite him back for a return visit at indie night), he and Garriott are responsible for the first sci-fi movie ever filmed ON LOCATION in Space.

Anyway, I can't see this being anything but good news for the project. Hickman was about game design before he became a writer, so he won't run into the problem many other writers do when struggling with interactivity "interfering" with their story…
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March 16th, 2013, 07:46
Eh I've only really been able to justify the number and speculative nature of the kickstarter's I've backed by reminding myself I've been spending less than half what I would pay for many games at release on them. So that, and my inner-scottsman screaming at the idea of paying a penny let alone $8 more for the same package because of their odd choice in tier limits and price ratcheting, is holding me back unless I catch a $25 slot as it opens up.
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March 16th, 2013, 09:43
Originally Posted by jhwisner View Post
Eh I've only really been able to justify the number and speculative nature of the kickstarter's I've backed by reminding myself I've been spending less than half what I would pay for many games at release on them. So that, and my inner-scottsman screaming at the idea of paying a penny let alone $8 more for the same package because of their odd choice in tier limits and price ratcheting, is holding me back unless I catch a $25 slot as it opens up.
Same feeling here.
He invested several million himself or so he says, so from that point of view it is a logic step to get more money from backers.
Still on this one i feel like you, jhwisner.
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March 16th, 2013, 11:21
Am I the only one having trouble imagining content that works both for single player and massively multiplayer? Dozens of respawning identical monsters walking in circles waiting to be farmed, bosses to kill again and again and again…

How will playing single player be different than playing WoW solo? No access to whatever requires a group, NPCs that stay at the exact same location all the time and only have one or two things to say, extremely linear…

I really hope he addresses apparent incompatibilities between single and multi-player. It could get me on board but right now I just can't imagine it.

Of course a good writer is a big plus but if he is crippled by the MMO constraints there's only so much he can do IMHO.

And if it is an MMO that can be played solo (online or offline) why not just say it? There are plenty of UO fans out there but with this pitch I am getting the impression he is turning them off as well.

Also, time to talk about quest design and leave the houses and offline mode alone already. I personally could go for an MMO if it offers a different take on the concept, which RG says it will, but in all the videos / updates I've seen I haven't learned much about how it'll be different (he even says he loves and studies the WoW levelling in the last one).

Still very confusing.

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March 16th, 2013, 12:18
Originally Posted by Charles-cgr View Post
Am I the only one having trouble imagining content that works both for single player and massively multiplayer? Dozens of respawning identical monsters walking in circles waiting to be farmed, bosses to kill again and again and again…
Yes. The story problem with MMOs comes down to the fact that it isn't possible to progress the world as a plot unfolds, since everyone is at a different stage. So the world, at least the parts where people meet, has to be essentially static. As Keates puts it (he's talking about an NPC presumably):

"Fair youth, beneath the trees, thou canst not leave Thy song, nor ever can those trees be bare…"

But, the devs are also talking about moral choices and story progression, which one would think rather depend on a dynamic plot and a changing world.

Of course, there are ways that these two things can be reconciled (such as GW2's personal story instances), but as far as I can see they haven't explained what they have in mind to overcome this necessary limitation of MMOs. And it's such a fundamental point.

If they did have some new revolutionary and innovative mechanism in mind for making a story driven MMO, surely they would have told us by now and the KS would then surely have done a lot better than it is doing. Really with a good presentation and RGs name this could have been *the* top grossing KS of all time. As it is they are way behind Obsidian & InExile.
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March 16th, 2013, 12:41
As far as i am concerned they botched this kickstarter completely. I'm not saying i'll not buy the game if it comes out and appears to be good, but whatever they might say now, i'll not trust them enough, to jump in.
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March 16th, 2013, 13:24
Just can't seem to get a proper grasp on this one. I hope it gets made, and then if fellow watchers think it's good I'll buy it. But nothing so far has made me want to pledge. My problem, like many others, is that I just don't see where this game is going. It might turn out to be the greatest game ever made, and it that case I'll gladly pay full price at release. But I just don't feel it…
Last edited by tomasp3n; March 16th, 2013 at 13:37.
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March 16th, 2013, 14:58
Originally Posted by Charles-cgr View Post
Am I the only one having trouble imagining content that works both for single player and massively multiplayer? Dozens of respawning identical monsters walking in circles waiting to be farmed, bosses to kill again and again and again…
Absolutely not, you are not the only one. I am not saying that this project will turn into a shitty game, but it negates the meaning of Kickstarter from the very beginning. Instead of investing his millions of dollars in 'Portalarium' (whatever that is), he should have invested his money in this project, since he's so fond of it and sure it will be the 'ultimate RPG'. Look at this article if you wish:

http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2013…s/#more-145147
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March 16th, 2013, 15:44
Originally Posted by mbpopolano24 View Post
Absolutely not, you are not the only one. I am not saying that this project will turn into a shitty game, but it negates the meaning of Kickstarter from the very beginning. Instead of investing his millions of dollars in 'Portalarium' (whatever that is), he should have invested his money in this project, since he's so fond of it and sure it will be the 'ultimate RPG'. Look at this article if you wish:

http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2013…s/#more-145147
Um, he did invest in this project, Portalarium are the developers.

Secondly, for the MMO bits a lot of you are talking about the way WoW and other MMO's did it. Ultima Online was different in that things changed all the time with the game since players drove a lot of the content.

They plan on releasing some single player stuff today.

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March 16th, 2013, 19:11
Originally Posted by rune_74 View Post
Um, he did invest in this project, Portalarium are the developers.

Secondly, for the MMO bits a lot of you are talking about the way WoW and other MMO's did it. Ultima Online was different in that things changed all the time with the game since players drove a lot of the content.

They plan on releasing some single player stuff today.
I'm still keeping an eye out and yes, I am more familiar with WoW than UO (which I only played briefly) but how does player driven content make NPCs evolve or make changes to a world in a way that rivals what a single player game can do? Did such changes in UO go beyond real estate and crafting? My concern isn't that the game will be terrible but that there is a LOT of potential lost just for the sake of making a hybrid.

Like Roq said, moral choices or story progression are vey much hindered by NPCs stuck in a given place for example. And the possible consequences of choices are very limited as well - it cannot have a visible effect that players that haven't reached that stage would see without having caused it themselves.

Unless the MMO and single player games have completely different story archs (essentially making them different games) I don't see how the game can overall be pushed beyond a certain limit.

Story instances could work to a certain extent but it would still be very limited. Guild Wars is an MMO and isn't ashamed of being that.

The single player also affects the MMO part at least by driving players away from the multiplayer game. Too few players kill MMOs. So even the UO fans are affected by this.

To boost this campaign I thing RG needs to address how he intends to work around these issues, or start over with a pure UO or UX pitch (at this stage though, ouch).

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March 16th, 2013, 19:40
I think he agrees with you, all your questions answered.

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/…irtues-0/posts

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March 16th, 2013, 20:52
Originally Posted by rune_74 View Post
I think he agrees with you, all your questions answered.

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/…irtues-0/posts
A much better update. And starting to give some idea of how things are intended to work. They still need to clarify how the story progresses, I notice that in certain circumstances you get funneled back into solo (SPO) mode, no doubt for story progression reasons. But, how is that going to work if you are grouped up?

OPO or full MMO mode appears similar to Elder Scrolls online's mega server. i.e. they restrict the people you see in the game according to some criteria of suitability. How these ideas will work out in practice isn't clear.

I don't think they really need the single player offline mode: Is that just to pacify pledgers who object to any form of DRM? Why didn't they just say they were making an MMO, instead of all that stuff about "ultimate RPGs"? Then noone would have asked for offline mode in the first place.

So they are making an MMO, but on what appears to be a very low budget of < 10m, when most of the AAA competition are in the >50m category, I reckon. That is presumably the reason for the episodic approach.

Plus I'm still not happy with how player housing / shops has been described, just seems really odd to have a feature restricted to a tiny proportion of the population.
Last edited by Roq; March 16th, 2013 at 21:10.
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March 16th, 2013, 21:15
Originally Posted by Roq View Post
A much better update. And starting to give some idea of how things are intended to work. They still need to clarify how the story progresses, I notice that in certain circumstances you get funneled back into solo (SPO) mode, no doubt for story progression reasons. But, how is that going to work if you are grouped up?

OPO or full MMO mode appears similar to Elder Scrolls online's mega server. i.e. they restrict the people you see in the game according to some criteria of suitability. How these ideas will work out in practice isn't clear.

I don't think they really need the single player offline mode: Is that just to pacify pledgers who object to any form of DRM? Why didn't they just say they were making an MMO, instead of all that stuff about "ultimate RPGs"? Then noone would have asked for offline mode in the first place.

So they are making an MMO, but on what appears to be a very low budget of < 10m, when most of the AAA competition are in the >50m category, I reckon. That is presumably the reason for the episodic approach.

Plus I'm still not happy with how player housing / shops has been described, just seems really odd to have a feature restricted to a tiny proportion of the population.
I'm not sure how you got that they were making an exclusively mmo with the single player mode tacked on. The SPO mode for me is where I think it is at, which gives you only dynamic play while allowing you to not being annoyed.

I think in some ways you could call some parts of it a full MMO, but I think that it is more of a smaller scale version of one. Also, the episodic approach is just the term they are using to build expansions to the game, saying that all the episodes would basically be expansion level doubling the effected area.

In the end they are not calling it an MMO because it really isn't want they were aiming for. And really with this update we don't need to try and pigeon hole it into one.

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March 16th, 2013, 21:22
Temporarily forcing into SPO does seem to open up a few possibilities like having an NPC show up that others shouldn't see. Or perhaps cutscenes (the advantage being primarily that while you are watching it you aren't a sitting duck). But it switches off at some point and then you're back in the world that is the same for everyone, regardless of their advancement in the game.

Take for example that castle he said could be overtaken by shooting an arrow at a part of the gate. Is taking that castle a quest? If it is, then it is taken and that is done with. If you didn't take part in the siege then you never can, unless the enemy continually takes it back. Or if there are opposing factions you can join (Alliance / Horde) and you can always either be on one side or the other. That would make it a battleground and wouldn't be all that innovative.

Maybe the guy turned me off with all the talk about his revolutionizing. I find myself much more critical than usual. But unless I missed something I don't really see how this update answers my questions.

I don't think they really need the single player offline mode: Is that just to pacify pledgers who object to any form of DRM?
It was kind of shoehorned in due to backer feedback. Which kind of suggests it wasn't thought through too much.

One of the commentators echoed one of my concerns about how the single player and intermediate connection modes could affect the MMO experience:

So OPO is going to be empty and everyone will be playing SPO or FPO.
The words that come to mind are still "mutually crippling".

EDIT |
v

In the end they are not calling it an MMO because it really isn't want they were aiming for. And really with this update we don't need to try and pigeon hole it into one.
True, even the OPO, highest level of connectivity, filters quite a bit. But the problem is that while they're doing rather well at saying what they're not aiming at, I'm really having trouble picturing what it is they are after. And quite a bit of what I do see (perhaps wrongly) seems flawed.

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