Shroud of the Avatar - Interview @ Game Industry
So, big picture, how is development on Shroud of the Avatar going?
Very well. Almost every day I see the output of our team, and am constantly reminded about how much faster this development process going in any other game I’ve been involved with in decades, and largely thanks to Unity. We’re just now about a hundred and twenty days in, and it would be hard to find something to complain about.
We do have a lot to accomplish within eighteen months or so, so we definitely feel the burn of the urgency of getting things done, but it's so far so good.
We're hoping that even by this Christmas, Decemberish or whenever we can, we're hoping to put a version into players’ hands.
That version will probably be more of a technical demo. It wouldn’t really be fair to call it an alpha or a beta, but it's enough to where we can exercise the multiplayer system—I hope—and the combat and the crafting and player housing and some of the other core features that we need to get into the players’ hands to even know if they're working properly, and then we’ll probably take it back down for a month or two at a time and have iterative times when it’s up to test out new systems.
So what are you most excited about in the title right now?
I’d say there are three areas I’m most excited about right now. The first is working with Tracy Hickman on the story. I'm a big story guy, story is hard to do well. I think I do it reasonably well, but I'm not a professional writer, so having a top notch writer in my corner can really help that a lot.
I'm really excited about the conversation system. The fact that we are not doing what most roleplaying games do these days, which is menu-based conversations that feed into a menu-based quest system that feed into repetitive level grinding… There are arrows on the map that lead you to the repetitive level grind. We are not doing that. Instead we are going a little old-school with a little bit of new tech, with the conversation where you just walk up to NPCs and converse—as in, to type like you would to any other player in the world. And the fact that it can also extract multiple sentences the time… to respond to multiple queries concurrently… It wasn’t something I asked for from the designer, he just made it so. It’s just great when you stand in front of an NPC, and say “Greetings, bartender. My name is Richard. What kind of beer do you have on tap? I am especially interested in an ale.” And the bartender will respond to all of that.
The third [feature I’m excited about] is the crafting system. And we still might even expand it from here, but the basis of it is allowing us to create many, many more discoverable and shareable recipes for doing things.
So, if you go back to Ultima Online. Ultima Online was one of the best MMOs for living in a diverse world, beyond combat, and I think we’re going to beat that mark pretty well with Shroud of the Avatar.
So, not only will you be able to go out into the world and gather raw materials, but that raw materials list is much broader than it ever has been before. And raw materials are usable in a number of crafting trees concurrently. You then refine those resources, meaning that you refine ore into ingots, you can then pull it through wire molds, or sword blanks, then you go to a blacksmith hypothetically, and then forge those into other things. We’re even making all the tools that you need for all these sorts of processes things that you make through other versions of the processes, and keep them all in good repair, and in working order in things you do with each other’s’ things in an interconnected way.
And because of the way that falls out also, the recipe itself is not a requirement, and so you can discover good recipes, so to speak. Which means that we can also invent new recipes later, and just not tell anybody we did it, and someone may or may not figure it out.
Information aboutShroud of the Avatar
SP/MP: Single + MP
Release: In development