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RPGWatch Forums » Comments » News Comments » Shroud of the Avatar - Update #10, Selective Multi-player

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March 17th, 2013, 18:31
Yeah, it's not really fair to compare Obsidian's finances with Richard Garriott. Not only is Garriott quite well off himself, but Obsidian was battered by bad news up until the Kickstarter. They lost a big project, lost a bonus for New Vegas because its Metacritic score was like a point off, and they actually had to downsize a bit, despite having a couple big AAA projects funded and worked on.

Also, even if Obsidian could get financing, it would only be at the wishes of Publishers. Garriott just won 30 million dollars in a legal suit a couple years ago. He could fully fund a game of Project Eternity's size without much of a worry.

Overall, I tend to see his Kickstarter as more of a public relations or marketing move than anything else. However, I don't think it's going as well as anticipated.
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March 17th, 2013, 18:46
Originally Posted by killias2 View Post
Overall, I tend to see his Kickstarter as more of a public relations or marketing move than anything else. However, I don't think it's going as well as anticipated.
Yeah I think a lot of that has to do with the pricing. I mean I can understand why they did it like this - since they're not desperate for funding they probably did it as a concious effort not to do what they felt would be to undervalue the product. Unfortunately it seems like they were too focused on avoiding under-pricing it and making it clear that the price was a limited one-time offer that they didn't consider whether they had effectively left enough slots to get to their goal with assuming they all sold and a normal distribution of backers at each level. Simply making the limits 10,000 instead of 5,000 on the first two pricing levels would likely have had them already past their goal.

As it is now they've sold out completely in their two lowest pledge levels (that get the game) as well as sold out several of their upper-most tiers including the 10k pledges. If the limits they placed on those tiers were such that even after selling all the slots they still haven't reached their goal yet, then someone fucked up. It's almost like whoever came up with those numbers just threw them out their rather than actually adding stuff up.
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March 17th, 2013, 18:54
It is totally fair to judge obsidian under the same light as portalarium, they are both companies publishing games. Regardless of Garriotts net worth, his company didn't have the connections Obsidian had with sega and bethesda(which apparently not the fault of obsidian but of sega and bethesda). Obsidian was battered by bad news true, but to make it sound like non of it was their fault is just simply false.

Regardless of which they were both using kickstarter to start and get basically free advertising. Portalarium isn't some huge company and even with the cash infused from Garriott it would be foolish to not use every avenue to market and get a game out there, which they both did.

Granted I would have liked to see the Avatar kickstarter to have taken off a bit more, but it is what it is. I am excited for it, sorry to see others are not.

Edit: And I agree they should add some more lower teirs which I think they would most likely sell out. And once again, I don't see this kickstarter as a failure. Most games don't ask for a million and most don't get even a sniff of it except a select few. Almost funded now, so I'm not worried about that.

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March 17th, 2013, 18:56
I read somewhere that LB expected to have it funded by last Monday. Maybe it's just internet hearsay, I don't know. I think that was probably a reasonable hope for LB going into his Kickstarter. I think that rossrjensen's comments represent some of the projects main problems. Simply put, we're not exactly sure what this is and who it is meant for, and they seem more focused on obfuscating that rather than clarifying it.

Edit: Rune.. really? Man, are you Lord Britain in disguise or something? It seems like you're being aggressively pro-LB and anti-everything else to an extent that doesn't seem human. How could anyone possibly compare Obsidian with Portalarium? LB's independent wealth, by its very nature, means he is.. well.. independent. Its current small size also gives it a flexibility that Obsidian doesn't have (though it certainly complicates a massive undertaking like Shroud). Obsidian gets by with huge projects but has never had the ability to actually make its own product. That's the whole reason it went to Kickstarter. They simply couldn't have raised the funding for an old school project like Project Eternity without Kickstarter. LB's wealth does, indeed, change the picture.

I'm not damning him for using Kickstarter or anything. Don't worry, this line of thinking is not meant to taint your precious Lord British with disdain. I'm just saying they are different.
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March 17th, 2013, 18:59
Originally Posted by killias2 View Post
I read somewhere that LB expected to have it funded by last Monday. Maybe it's just internet hearsay, I don't know. I think that was probably a reasonable hope for LB going into his Kickstarter. I think that rossrjensen's comments represent some of the projects main problems. Simply put, we're not exactly sure what this is and who it is meant for, and they seem more focused on obfuscating that rather than clarifying it.
And it didn't come to be, you have stated this a few times now. Regardless, I do not see how the last three updates have been trying obfuscate instead of clarifying. Pretty sure hiring a writer, explaining the overland map system and explaining how multiplayer will work is pretty much adding info.

EDIT: Only 9 computer games so far will have made more then this kickstarter if it just makes the minimum amount. That is not a large number.

And edit 2 to the edit above:

Say what? Do you think LB should be held accountable for being successful enough to have that amount? he made it from the games he made. He IS funding a large amount to this game, I mean seriously do you think a million would cover this?

I think a lot of this outrage is the blue collar opinion some have for obsidian where as they consider Richard Garriotts company a white collar company. I supported the obsidian game too before you get yourself all riled up, I also think they made the bed they found themselves in. I also believe they can make a good game as well. I also think both companies used kickstarter for similar reasons.

Also, this site seems aggressively anti LB more then anything…complain about what isn't clear, they clear it up and the yard sticks are moved yet again. I mean, they hired a top writer and it gets nothing here. What does keep being brought up is his trip to space, which although cool for him doesn't really mean anything about the game.

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Last edited by rune_74; March 17th, 2013 at 19:10.
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March 17th, 2013, 19:09
Let me tell you what clarity is. Clarity was achieved in a project like Wasteland 2. Or Torment. You know, day one, what the game is; who it's for; and what it's about.

Shroud has been murky the whole time. In the first few days, they even called it an MMO. It's still listed as such on Kicktraq. The blog post they pointed to (Ultimate RPG) specifically referenced MMOs. In interviews, they focused on multiplayer. In the pitch, they focused on multiplayer. They cite Ultima Online as one of the games they want to improve upon.

However, they were also saying that it was single-player. No details.. just that there was single-player. Then it was unclear how it could function. Then it was unclear whether it was entirely separate from the multiplayer. It's just, that they've since -decided- on these factors. But it's important to note that they didn't just clarify. They've actually made up their minds on these major, fundamental issues.. a week into the Kickstarter. And they admit it. They admit that these are -changes- they've made. That they weren't sure how it would operate, but now they're quite sure that SP will be such and so.

Murky is when you launch a MP focused game then change everything a week later and say SP will be a focus as well. Murky is when you don't know if the game will focus on MP or SP as its main platform. Murky is when the combat system is still completely unclear.

Again, compare this with Torment, or PE, or Wasteland 2. All those games were completely clear, right from the get go, -this- is what the game is. I still have no idea what Shroud is and who it is for.


Edit: "Say what? Do you think LB should be held accountable for being successful enough to have that amount? he made it from the games he made. He IS funding a large amount to this game, I mean seriously do you think a million would cover this?"

Did you even read what I said? Is English your first language?

Here, let me just quote the entire end of my statement:
"I'm not damning him for using Kickstarter or anything. Don't worry, this line of thinking is not meant to taint your precious Lord British with disdain. I'm just saying they are different. "

I also said this before:
"Overall, I tend to see his Kickstarter as more of a public relations or marketing move than anything else."

I'm not sure where I'm holding him accountable or complaining about his use of Kickstarter. I'm just saying that the situations are different. Obsidian's focus was on raising money. LB's is on raising awareness and communicating. That's not bad. I have problems with his project, but this isn't one of them.


"Also, this site seems aggressively anti LB more then anything…complain about what isn't clear, they clear it up and the yard sticks are moved yet again. I mean, they hired a top writer and it gets nothing here. What does keep being brought up is his trip to space, which although cool for him doesn't really mean anything about the game. "

You think this site is bad? Go to RPG Codex. Or Rock Paper Shotgun. In comparison, this website is a pile of pillows.
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March 17th, 2013, 19:17
That is pure crap.

What they did say is:

Derek, the game can be played single player without an additional dime spent. The main story lines are all single player focused and will live up to Richard's standards for a single player experience. The multiplayer experience is very MMO like and I think we're just confusing people by saying it is not. You will be able to see other players in game and meet new people. The only thing that will be different is that where possible, we won't be driving 100% of the experience through our servers. Instead, we'll be letting players direct connect to each other. Obviously there many situations where that isn't possible due to exploits but where possible we'll be letting the players drive much of their own scenes locally. Again though, if players choose to play solo, we let them. Our current thinking is that we'll be showing them evidence of shared elements like other players houses and banners and dynamic content just to keep the world feeling more alive but even that is up for discussion at this point.

This is a developer quote on day 2 of the campaign…what they did change was the ability to play completely with never connecting, which I gather they didn't think anyone would want to do because you would miss world changing things. They have laid out how their mp will work now, and added an offline totally because that is what people wanted. I think Single player online is what they thought people would play, and they changed that.

THIS WAS ALL DAY 2. Not a week later, they clarified statements later yes, but that is because there were questions.

EDIT: They have totally mentioned the combat system since day one, and compared it to a game like dominion in how your skills would be used.

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March 17th, 2013, 19:22
As usual: if in doubt, let time work to your advantage.

This game will get made wether the KS succeeds or fails, as Garriott already has the money. It's definitely too murky for someone who likes SP RPGs as I do, there's no way I'd cough up >100$ as I've done with the other kickstarters I've backed. They even admit that the cloth map isn't worth a dime, as it only depicts the "original" state of the world.
I'll pick this up later cheeply when I'm done with other games that will conveniently come out before SotA. I love RPGs enough to buy it eventually, just not at a higher than bargain price.

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March 17th, 2013, 19:25
Listen, they can promise shit to the moon, but the fact of the matter is that -all- the focus was on the multiplayer aspects. At least we now know that there is a writer involved for the SP story, although I can't say I know Tracy Hickman or particularly care. This was not the equivalent of WL2 picking up Chris Avellone, or Torment getting Monte Cook, George Ziets and Brian Mitsoda. I mean, around the same period in, I feel like I have heaps of knowledge about what Torment will be, what will differentiate it as a SP experience, and what its focus will be.

With Shround, I don't know, what would you even tell people that you're selling it to, other than LB? It'll have houses you'll have to pay rent for? It might have a card based combat system or something, maybe, but they're not really sure? It has Tracy Hickman writing the story (again, compare with these other KS projects)? It won't have an ending, and the game will be sold in pieces?
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March 17th, 2013, 19:31
Originally Posted by killias2 View Post
Listen, they can promise shit to the moon, but the fact of the matter is that -all- the focus was on the multiplayer aspects. At least we now know that there is a writer involved for the SP story, although I can't say I know Tracy Hickman or particularly care. This was not the equivalent of WL2 picking up Chris Avellone, or Torment getting Monte Cook, George Ziets and Brian Mitsoda. I mean, around the same period in, I feel like I have heaps of knowledge about what Torment will be, what will differentiate it as a SP experience, and what its focus will be.

With Shround, I don't know, what would you even tell people that you're selling it to, other than LB? It'll have houses you'll have to pay rent for? It might have a card based combat system or something, maybe, but they're not really sure? It has Tracy Hickman writing the story (again, compare with these other KS projects)? It won't have an ending, and the game will be sold in pieces?
You don't know who Tracy Hickman is? Really? He wrote pretty much all the dragonlance books as well as deathgate novels.

I think at this point no real civilized discussion is going to be had here between us. Regardless, I have supported it and I know quite a few others that are excited for it. You obviously are not, and don't really care to learn more about it.

For those that are interested, one of the supporters made a fan site:

http://sota.stratics.com/


Has some neat info on it, mostly just a lot of the info in one spot. All of it from the devs, which I think is important.

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March 17th, 2013, 19:35
I'm looking through the site, and I'm not seeing much on the actual gameplay. Honestly, if you had to tell someone why this game excited you so much, what would you talk about? I'm curious. I know that the big draw is LB himself, but, in terms of the game itself, what excites you?
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March 17th, 2013, 19:38
I don't understand all this chatter about why it's wrong or bad for Garriot to seek kickstarter funding since he's 'rich.'

There is nothing new about entrepreneurs using other peoples' money to get some kind of project or business off the ground. Not sure why this bothers people so much.

You have an idea. You put together a business plan. You pitch it to potential investors. If enough investors agree with your vision they invest. Nothing new about any of this. It has been done again and again by rich and poor entrepreneurs.

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March 17th, 2013, 19:43
Originally Posted by TheMadGamer View Post
I don't understand all this chatter about why it's wrong or bad for Garriot to seek kickstarter funding since he's 'rich.'

There is nothing new about entrepreneurs using other peoples' money to get some kind of project or business off the ground. Not sure why this bothers people so much.

You have an idea. You put together a business plan. You pitch it to potential investors. If enough investors agree with your vision they invest. Nothing new about any of this. It has been done again and again by rich and poor entrepreneurs.
Yeah, I generally agree with you. I was just noting that Obsidian's situation is quite different from LB's. I don't think there's anything wrong about him going to Kickstarter for a whole slew of reasons. I think I've brought it up in the past, but I always felt it was a weak argument. If anything, LB's resources make Shroud more of a sure bet than a typical Kickstarter because he has those resources to fall back upon. On the other hand, I guess it also lowers the incentive to jump on the Kickstarter rather than waiting.
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March 17th, 2013, 19:50
Fully interactive virtual world - If it looks usable, it should do something.

Deep original fiction - Ethical parables, cultural histories, fully developed alternate language text.

These two lines from the start plus the fact in how they are talking of modifying the overland map the ability to visit locations that can have different things happening at different times.

LB doesn't give out a lot of info on stories withing his games, which makes it hard to really get story elements. In update 8 the castle looked interesting, and the examples they used as well.

The combat system could be really quite interesting in how it you would use a deck of your skills and when in combat they would be cycled through as to when you could use them. I know you are probably thinking there isn't much depth to that, but you would be surprised. If you have played Dominion before(it is not at all like magic the gathering) it is a very deep strategical with a bit of luck thrown in. It could really make an interesting system that we really haven't seen before.

And, although I don't play a lot of online games, I think it would be cool to see how he does this and if he can make it work in the different levels of interactivity. Because, lets be honest some days you just don't want to play with others, and if done right some days you do.

And you did bring up a good point, LB. All these features I believe he can do, and that comes down to a bit of faith in the fact he has done it before, he was never happy to throw out the next game which was a copy of the last. He wants to push boundaries and try new things. Which I think he is trying here. I think a lot of the confusion has been that it is not the usual convention for a game, I think he will surprise a lot of you. Me, I still think he has it, maybe it is his excitement in the videos and maybe it is because this is his baby, no one else saying this is going to be this way.

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March 17th, 2013, 20:10
Fair enough. I honestly hope it works out and, with LB's resources, I'm sure something will come out. I'm not sold, but, if it ends up being great, I'll certainly pick it up.

I can see mixes of MP and SP working. Demon's Souls and Dark Souls had some interesting light MP elements. Divinity: Original Sin will allow some MP elements that sound interesting. I'll wait and see how this ends up operating.
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March 17th, 2013, 21:29
Originally Posted by TheMadGamer View Post
I don't understand all this chatter about why it's wrong or bad for Garriot to seek kickstarter funding since he's 'rich.'

There is nothing new about entrepreneurs using other peoples' money to get some kind of project or business off the ground. Not sure why this bothers people so much.

You have an idea. You put together a business plan. You pitch it to potential investors. If enough investors agree with your vision they invest. Nothing new about any of this. It has been done again and again by rich and poor entrepreneurs.
There is a big distinction between investors and backers though. Investors receive a tangible stake in the project, whereas for backers it is only implied (and sometimes it is not even implied) and certainly not guaranteed. Being a backer is more consumer-based than owner-based (you receive goods, products, and/or services in return for your pledge — and with certain projects, the belief that you can have a meaningful impact on the final result based on your input).

That being said, I have no issues with Portalarium using Kickstarter. Heck, I wouldn't have a problem with EA using Kickstarter. The problem I have is with they are trying to pitch to me for my potential pledge (for reasons I stated earlier).
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March 17th, 2013, 21:58
Originally Posted by rune_74 View Post
All these features I believe he can do, and that comes down to a bit of faith in the fact he has done it before, he was never happy to throw out the next game which was a copy of the last. He wants to push boundaries and try new things. Which I think he is trying here. I think a lot of the confusion has been that it is not the usual convention for a game, I think he will surprise a lot of you. Me, I still think he has it, maybe it is his excitement in the videos and maybe it is because this is his baby, no one else saying this is going to be this way.
Well said - and this is my feeling too. I'm one of the others very excited about this project but I just don't have the energy to keep trying to debate it or convince anyone anymore. Kudos to you rune_74 for trying to keep the positive energy going about this.

I agree that the pitch is hard to understand - it's not a quick elevator pitch like "another Torment, another Wasteland, another Baldur's Gate" that the other major KS projects had. It takes time to absorb what Garriott is trying to do, and the way things are presented could have been done better. I eventually "got it" and so I'm excited about it.
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March 17th, 2013, 23:33
Originally Posted by Myrkrel View Post
Well said - and this is my feeling too. I'm one of the others very excited about this project but I just don't have the energy to keep trying to debate it or convince anyone anymore. Kudos to you rune_74 for trying to keep the positive energy going about this.

I agree that the pitch is hard to understand - it's not a quick elevator pitch like "another Torment, another Wasteland, another Baldur's Gate" that the other major KS projects had. It takes time to absorb what Garriott is trying to do, and the way things are presented could have been done better. I eventually "got it" and so I'm excited about it.
Yeah, thanks for that I was really starting to lose steam in here. Made me feel a bit better with your post.

Thing is it would have been easy for him to come in and say I'm making another ultima7 but he didn't. He already made a .5 of that, and in his mind he has to move forward to try something new.

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March 17th, 2013, 23:55
Originally Posted by TheMadGamer View Post
I don't understand all this chatter about why it's wrong or bad for Garriot to seek kickstarter funding since he's 'rich.'
That's not what we're saying though and it's not like we haven't been emphasizing that it's not what we're saying either.

It was pointed out that a project being on kickstarter because it needs funding to happen at all is a significantly different situation than being on kickstarter because it could be a very effective means of publicizing the game. At the same time it has been explained that this is not to say it is at all wrong to do this.

I do agree that its not something to be upset about either. Its not like he's being circumspect about it and he has made it clear that he is not desperate for funding. He has been quite clear that he will not have issues with funding regardless of the kickstarter results.
Their reasons for being there inform their strategy. Obsidian was there for funding first and publicity as a welcomed side effect while Lord British is there for publicity first with the cash infusion as the welcomed bonus. That is why I consider the comparison to be a less extensive source of insight than it may have seemed because while the rewards of a successful kickstarter provide similar benefits, their reasons for being their and the benefits they prioritize are different. Once again, I don't beleive that this is a reason to be upset with them being there and they have been absolutely honest about their situation.

It is important to keep this in mind though because I think it explains some of the decisions made - some of which may have been miscalculations because the actual funding was given too little thought in their planning. In particular I think it helps explain their tier pricing; since they don't desperately need our money and aren't pretending to they didn't sufficiently consider how many people would have to pledge at the various levels to actually meet the goal. With both the lower and upper-most tiers capped as they are they actually created a situation in which funding might have been expected to stall somewhere close to the $1 million mark presuming they sold out several tiers entirely. I think they were so focused on their primary reason for being there that they overlooked the math involved with actually reaching the funding goal - presuming they would exceed it quickly and setting some arbitrary (and ultimately counterproductive) limits on certain tiers to ensure they didn't end up offering more discounted copies or high-tier obligations than they thought seemed appropriate.

The mindset during planning and focus leading up to something like Eternity, lest they succeed merely in spite of themselves, has to be different. For companies there because they need the funding to go forward, this particular sort of mistake would be less likely to be made. They're not as concerned - during the pledge drive at least -about too many discounted sales killing the success in the long run because without success now there might not be any long-run profitability to worry about. Now as a Shadowrun interview pointed out a while back, they might worry about this later so its not as though this can't result in different sorts of self-inflicted wounds.

For Lord British though we see an example of a company which is relatively sure that there will be a long-run to consider and is there for the visibility. While they may be assuring that long-term profitability isn't hurt by too many or too steeply discounted copies for backers, their focus may be resulting in different more immediate hampering of their success. This unanticipated lower performance - which they do still have time to salvage of course - might be an opportunity cost as great as what they sought to avoid from overselling low priced tiers. After all, part of the way kick-starters generate greater publicity is to get those huge numbers and smash through goals.

Different focuses and different potential pitfalls or oversights - not a question about deserving or not deserving to be there. The mindset of a company like Obsidian or Hairbrained Schemes might predispose them to oversell and over-discount lower tiers - possibly saturating more of their potential release market than they would like and even making the project unprofitable once their own investment is considered. That is a concern they themselves have mentioned. On the other hand, I would suggest that the mind-set in Lord British's case predisposes them to miscalculations intended to protect the long term profitability of the project while potentially weakening the impact of the actual kickstarter to a degree that was not anticipated.
Last edited by jhwisner; March 18th, 2013 at 00:15.
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