Ultima creator reveals Shroud of the Avatar

Industry veteran Richard Garriott announces his "ultimate RPG" coming to PC; Kickstarter campaign asking for $1 million under way.

Ultima creator and role-playing game founding father Richard Garriott today announced Shroud of the Avatar: Forsaken Virtues, the industry veteran's "ultimate RPG." Garriott's Portalarium studio is heading up development on the project, with a Kickstarter campaign for the PC game going live today asking for $1 million.

Describing Shroud of the Avatar, Garriott told GameSpot that the game is both emblematic of what he has created in the past and also a vision into what the future of role-playing games could look like.

"I not only believe it will hearken back to my work of the past, but I believe it also makes some important strides forward in what a multiplayer role-playing game can be," Garriott said.

Shroud of the Avatar (which has nothing to do with the World of Warcraft item of the same name) is not a single-player game, nor is it a massively multiplayer game. Instead, it's somewhere in between, Garriott explained.

"It's a game you can play completely solo and offline, but it's also a game that ad hoc will feel more like an MMO when you are online, in the sense that you'll see both friends and strangers in the world alongside you," he said.

Regarding structure, Shroud of the Avatar will be made up of two distinct elements: an outdoor travel map and then third-person encounter scenarios. Garriott described the overworld map as similar to that of Civilization V.

"We are not doing a social game; we're not doing a game where it's free-to-play then it endlessly pesters you for money. That is also not what we are doing."

"And as you travel around the map it will feel like an Ultima 3-6 feeling. You'll see both static locations that you can go find, whether they're towns or dungeons or other points of interests, as well as you'll see mobile points of interests like bands of gypsies traveling around or dragons flying around mountains," Garriott said.

"And when you then find that encounter, it will take you down into what we call the scenario-level activity, which is a third-person, over-the-shoulder exploration of a scene," he added. "And the scenes are story-based scenarios that you can complete in five to 30 minutes, and it can be completed or played solo or multiplayer."

In terms of pricing, Garriott said the game does not easily fall into a simple category. It's easier to explain what the game is not, he said.

"It is neither what I'll call a standard retail boxed game where it'll have a retail price and that's the end of it; nor are we anticipating that it will be a subscription-based MMO," Garriott said. "But at the other end of the extreme is also what we're not going to be; we are not doing a social game, we're not doing a game where it's free-to-play then it endlessly pesters you for money. That is also not what we are doing."

"What we are doing is somewhere in the middle," he added. "We're doing a game where we will make the trial version you can play for free. But then as soon as you really want to participate in a meaningful way, there's a game cost; so we don't have an exact price for that. "

The first alpha testing period will be held at the end of 2013, if all goes to plan. For more, check out Garriott's comments on how his exotic travels--including trips to space and to the Titanic wreckage--have affected his creative process.

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Eddie Makuch

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and would like to see the Whalers return to Hartford.
Shroud of the Avatar: Forsaken Virtues

Shroud of the Avatar: Forsaken Virtues

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132 comments
Jestersmiles
Jestersmiles

The game looks like crap graphic wise, just saying.

jinzo9988
jinzo9988

He hasn't done anything significant in over 15 years.  His name has no weight anymore, like Peter Molyneux.

codeman101360
codeman101360

That's funny, I thought Kickstarter was for people who actually NEEDED money.

zyxahn
zyxahn

When I watch his interviews and get an idea on what he is and has been going for in making games that alone gets my imagination running.  Never played Blank Slate because I didn't have a PC at the time, sad I know.  I finally got to play Ultima 9 and almost couldn't get out of the first 1/2 hour or so in the avatar's house.  I loved the normal world, magic world portals.  Love then in any game really if done right for the story.  Can't remember exactly but I played the Ultima games on the NES and loved them.  I really need to wrap this up.  I love his imagination and story elements in his games and can't wait for this one to come out.

decoy1978
decoy1978

Wasn't this the same guy who had the idea for Tabula Rasa? Man that game was horrible... I don't like the fact that he said the game is soloable up to a point and if you want the real grit of the game you got to pay for it... 

Aydenuille
Aydenuille

"It's a game you can play completely solo and offline,.."

Stopped reading right there. I'm in.

coolmike999
coolmike999

This does sound really vague - all except the part where Garriott wants money. I already took a chance on his last project. He was more interesting in going to space while collecting my money.

I loved the Ultimas - especially 3 through 7. But I'm done with Garriott. I don't think he's in it for the games anymore. Take a chance on this guy if you want, he's used up all of my goodwill though.


wepeel
wepeel

I also get a bad taste in my mouth from a multi-millionaire like Garriott asking for the player base to chip in. He could fund 10 games like this without having to cut down on his luxuries.

Daian
Daian

The Kickstarter is now at 478,794 , halfway through, so this will probably end up funded. So many old school RPGs in the works tnx to Kickstarter, I am loving this.

0239666
0239666

People will do anything for cocaine money

Zapffe
Zapffe

It's weird to think that since I first backed Double Fine's kickstarter I have backed: The Banner Saga, Wasteland 2, Shadowrun Returns, Leisure Suit Larry 1 remake, Yogventures, Ouya (just to see if it might turn into something), Project Eternity, Torment: Tides of Numenera and, now, Shroud of the Avatar: Forsaken Virtues. Not regretted it for a second.


AceBalls
AceBalls

Wasteland, Torment and Ultima. All 80's n 90's masterpieces - all coming back again ;) I got no problem with that. Pledge time!

xxBenblasterxx
xxBenblasterxx

Well the pricing model of this sounds ominously vague.. hmmm 

Treadstone71
Treadstone71

Meh.  I can tell you one thing for 100% certain.  Somewhere, someplace in this game, there will be softly lit glowing mushrooms.

VarietyMage
VarietyMage

After running his own series into the ground, he has a lot of nerve trying to bring it back.  And it sounds MMO...just say no to MMO.

Meta-Gnostic
Meta-Gnostic

Sony should donate to Kickstarter projects like this if they can get the developers to sign a contract agreeing to port the games to PS4 or Vita.

dmblum1799
dmblum1799

Well, at least he isn't taking state govt. money from taxpayers like Schilling did.

UO was a great game, probably top 10 most influential. I won't be sending him a check but I'll check it out and if it's good then I'd consider it.

Link3301
Link3301

I kind of lost interest when I heard about the whole world map thing. Then again many great games like Mass Effect still use that. Oh well, game looks like it could be good.

Lhomity
Lhomity

I would not give Garriot a single measly cent.

J_Dangerously
J_Dangerously

To all the people complaining about why Garriot hasn't put any of his money into the game, I should remind you that the game is already in a playable state.  It's clear that his team has been already working for some time now, and the engine he's using has been licensed, or designed from scratch, whatever the case may be.

All of these things have been provided out of his pocket so far.  

I'd say this is a much safer investment than a kickstart from a bunch of unknowns without anything playable.

Zapffe
Zapffe

I guess I owe it to Richard Garriott to at least pledge in $30. At least this kickstarter is far more ambitious than the Torment one (although I pledged to that one as well), which is good since there's the tendency that kickstarters end up being purely nostalgia trips.

decebal
decebal

The guy always makes the top ten list for the richest people in the game industry. He drops 30 million dollars on a ticket to fly to space, and is asking for kickstarter! I don't blame him per say for trying. But I don't understand anyone who would support rich guys like him and Peter Molyneux on kickstarter. These guys are ultimately partly responsible for the crap games we get nowadays.

Mr_BillGates
Mr_BillGates

$1 million for a crappy game like this? You PC Gamers are really gullible. After all, they are the same goons pushing for in-game microtransactions and other weird crap that hurts the industry.

Tak666
Tak666

Uhhh I saw a picture of Ultima IX during the kickstarter presentation....HOW CAN YOU EVEN REMEMBER THAT $%$#% OF CRAP. Never again I want to be dissapointed like I was with Ultima IX.

Poodlejumper
Poodlejumper

Isn't he fricking loaded?

Even Chris Robert's said he'd be putting a crapload of his own money into Star Citizen.

Gotta concur with many others...looks like another MMO...

norolim
norolim

Another MMO...boooring...

KaSeRRoR
KaSeRRoR

I have faith in ANYTHING this man says! I was a HUUUUGE Ultima Online guy and still have the itch to go back to it every once in a while! Its the longest lasting MMORPG in HISTORY and still is going strong over 15 yrs later! Insane... I am looking forward to this project SO MUCH! ALL HAIL LORD BRITISH! Britain and Yew alumni will always have your back!

>=)  

wilson336
wilson336

I am going to make the best game ever. Honest! Give me a million bucks and I'll show you.

Fandango_Letho
Fandango_Letho

With the rest of the money, will he go back to space?

espiranza88
espiranza88


Shroud of the Avatar will be made up of two distinct elements: an outdoor travel map and then third-person encounter scenarios" "And as you travel around the map it will feel like an Ultima 3-6 feeling. You'll see both static locations that you can go find" "And when you then find that encounter, it will take you down into what we call the scenario-level activity, which is a third-person, over-the-shoulder exploration of a scene," "And the scenes are story-based scenarios that you can complete in five-to-30 minutes and it can be completed or played solo or multiplayer." 

...sounds so fucking boring !!!



MoronGotMyName
MoronGotMyName

Lol, just reading the backer comments is amusing - so much skepticism and confusion. Looks like the backing is slowing down fast now as well. I love how they try to pull off the "this is no MMO" double speak, single player gamers actually backing this will feel so ripped off they better GTFO before the deadline. 

rasputin177
rasputin177

If he is such a legend why does he need kickstarter? It does look interesting but the random skill system is a risk.

N0tYrBeezin
N0tYrBeezin

Surely he can cough up $1 million of his own money! Or he is just here to gauge the gamers' interests and support? And see how many of his fans are left? He does not really need our $ 1 million.

DarkSaber2k
DarkSaber2k

Garriott can fund this himself several times over, and has a proven track record of disappointment. Not interested.

kerrman
kerrman

Please sit down Mr. Garriott.

Kr3isen
Kr3isen

Thats great, we got billionaires asking for help on kickstarter now. I guess its only a matter of time before we start seeing Activision and EA trying to get mobile games or whatever funded.


MoronGotMyName
MoronGotMyName

Haha, Richard Garriott - and this game sounds so underwhelming. He actually tries to make it sound interesting and it's just pathetic, I am getting flashbacks from old Garriott interviews - he always seemed so clueless. And the amusing "We are not doing a social game", which is exactly what they are doing - ah, priceless. 

And while every RPGamer is supposed to respect Ultima for its pioneer work - the games are just too shitty. Every single Ultima game, including the Underworld ones, barely had story choices and had atrociously cliched writing. I am well aware it was before choices existed and almost became essential but that doesn't make them less boring. I am sure the story won't be deep or mature, just trite, regurgitated nonsense - it's all Garriott can do. And I love that he brought up both the godawful Avatar, the generic champion of all that is shit, and the godawful "virtues" in the title - hellbent on upholding nostalgic crap that was generic already decades ago. 

2bitSmOkEy
2bitSmOkEy

This sounds interesting.  Though, the only game I've played with his name on it was Tabula Rasa, which was not so good, to say the least.

somberfox
somberfox

Wow, something post-Ultima from Garriott that actually sounds interesting. Third Kickstarter this month that I will consider pledging for, and I've never pledged for anything before.

evil-zodiark
evil-zodiark

he is talented.... yes....

Ultima was epic.... yes....

I trust him... yes...

he's very arrogant..... I have no problem with since I am very arrogant....

but he simply didn't convince me to back his project, he didn't give us enough details about the game or the team that will be working on it, so sorry I won't get involved....

TheEveryMan
TheEveryMan

For those of us who played Ultima instead of Wizardry say aye!

MooncalfReviews
MooncalfReviews

Good to see this, but what's with the unimaginative titles for video games now? We already have about 4 things with the word "avatar" in the title.

Stebsis
Stebsis

This seems interesting, already pledged $25 and am happy to back this project. Some of the things like not really a single player but not really multiplayer is kind of iffy and might become really annoying, time will tell. I just hope, that when he said that this isn't a game that holds your hand, that it doesn't change into a type of game you don't know where you're supposed to go. There's not holding your hand and then there's the where the fuck am I supposed to go, and I hope Garriot realises that. Some of the Ultima games were just needlessly complicated and didn't provide almost any information where to go or what to do.

sonicare
sonicare

I loved the Ultima games, but not sure how they would do today.  Fun times, though.

aquaglow
aquaglow

Kickstarter places all the financial risk with the people donating, I don't believe the person funded is under any obligation to deliver. Seems a misuse of Kickstarter when it's used by someone:

a) Already well known in the industry
b) Reportedly extremely wealthy

If he genuinely believes in the project, he should either fund it himself or ask for investment via a traditional route.

kingJord
kingJord

How can the man who brought you Tabula Rasa possibly be wrong?

(I mean, aside from spending more time in development than live...)

Ultramarinus
Ultramarinus

The least I can do for him is 25$ in thanks to what he did for me with UO, met dozens of current friends there that I still play together in many games.

kozzy1234
kozzy1234

Ultima series are one of my favorite ever, loved em.

Dumachum
Dumachum

Sounds like he's giving Ultima the Phantasy Star Online treatment.