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.

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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.

Discussion

133 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.

reddog00
reddog00

@Aydenuille Friggin "A" ;D  You saw what I noticed "can play completely solo and offline".  Sounds epic and innovative.  I am kickstartin' it!

grove12345
grove12345

@coolmike999 90s PC gaming was great. Some of the games back then are still yet to be outdone. But most of this stuff is just nostalgia. I dont think Garriott has what it takes to make a modern day game a classic

HanzoSTE3L
HanzoSTE3L

@coolmike999

I couldn't agree more. I was a tester on his ill-fated Tabula Rasa charade, and he supplied this same talking game while leaving major decisions and inclusions (DAY ONE AUCTION HOUSE!!!) on the back burner while he planned his space trip. With his head quite literally in the clouds (and beyond), he lost my respect as both a game designer as well as a voice for our culture. You made me a liar to enough good folks on the PAX East floor, Garriott, I'll not be adding myself to your list of most recently fleeced!

reddog00
reddog00

@Zapffe You missed Grim Dawn ;(  If anyone still wants to contribute you still can at the games website.  Just Google Grim Dawn.  Nice llst you got their Zap...pretty impressive!

Daian
Daian

@AceBalls + Project Eternity which sounds equally exciting.

lumbergoose
lumbergoose

@VarietyMage I thought Tom Chilton was the one who ruined Ultima Online.  As for the single player games, I'm not really sure.

BlazeODU
BlazeODU

@VarietyMage It wasn't Richard's fault though. EA bought out his company and took complete control over all Ultima Projects.

EA forced Garriot to focus most of his team's resources on Ultima Online, bottle necking the resources that would have gone to to Ultima 8 and 9, this, destroying Richard Garriot's hopes of making proper entries into his series.

lumbergoose
lumbergoose

@Meta-Gnostic I think people go to kickstarter after real publishers are not interested in what they are making.  Not everyone but I would guess that is the general flow of things.

batman5
batman5

@dmblum1799   UO may be a great game, but it needn't color the direction of this "Shroud."  Consider that MMOs are growing stale and Garriot's fans are still waiting for the game that U9 could have been.  He should stick to single player and pay us all back.

decebal
decebal

@J_Dangerously His prototype looks like a rehash of Tabula Rasa. I bet they reused the code to convice people to say exactly what you just said.

MoronGotMyName
MoronGotMyName

@Zapffe Except Torment is infinitely more ambitious than this project, Torment aims for unprecedented reactivity and player choice - this is so far a single player RPG with an online element or a MMO that can also be played offline - not even Garriott knows. 

Valkyari
Valkyari

@decebal  Even with the $10 KS donation, you are getting a copy of the game.  You aren't just "donating" to the games development, you are essentially "pre-ordering".  He's not asking for free money.

Valkyari
Valkyari

@Mr_BillGates The game is pre-alpha... it even says "Prototype" in all the videos. Give it time, or ignore it and go on your way. Micro-transactions are the future of the game industry, whether you like it or not. Most of the micro-transaction games aren't Pay to Win as it is; not required, so why does it even matter?

VarietyMage
VarietyMage

@lumbergoose @VarietyMage No, that's not what I'm talking about.  There was an interview or three with Garriott where he talked about the Ultima world that he created, and he expressed feelings akin to loathing concerning the world of Ultima.  He disliked it so much that he brought murder into Ultima 7 / 7-2, then brought pagan stuff into Pagan and forced you to steal in order to move forward in that game.  Then he killed off the Avatar in 9, making way for UO.  He did all this deliberately, he wasn't forced to it by EA.  He ran his game series into the ground, and may his name be cursed forever for doing so.  Make no bones about it, I loved the Ultima series, I was playing Ultima 3 on my C64.  I gave that man money time after time to keep that world alive...and what does he do?  He destroyed it.  Burn in hell, Garriott.  I won't even consider your game unless it's single-player offline only.

Meta-Gnostic
Meta-Gnostic

@lumbergoose @Meta-Gnostic Yup. I'm not saying Sony should publish it, I'm saying they should pay a small donation to obtain a port. The Kickstarter is for a PC game and is entirely funded by it. Sony could pay just enough to secure a port. 

decebal
decebal

@batman5 @dmblum1799 UO was a great game. But I've listened to him talk about UO in the past decade... and I'm certain that he has no clue what made UO good.

Zapffe
Zapffe

@MoronGotMyName @Zapffe Torment is Planescape: Torment with perhaps a larger scale. That's not ambitious. Especially considering that most likely will the game be another isometric game.

At least Richard Garriott seems to try something that mixes both the past and the present and his whole career with Ultima. There has already been investment in pre-production, while it seems they're looking for feedback on how the online element should be handled, which I think is good that they do.
Their ultimate goal is to make it as much a real world as possible, offering full interactivity.

decebal
decebal

@Valkyari @decebal No you are not. $10 gets you "a clear concience"

He is asking for free money! Kickstarter is a place to fund things that would otherwise not be funded. If he wanted preorders, he would have gone to gamestop.

This game will suck

MoronGotMyName
MoronGotMyName

@Valkyari @Mr_BillGates The future whether you like it or not? Oh, you silly man - you will obviously bend over to any money-grabbing scheme they come up with thinking it's "the future". 

MoronGotMyName
MoronGotMyName

@Zapffe @MoronGotMyName If you actually believe this project is more ambitious than the truly promising Torment, then good luck with that. Garriott has been doing the "interact with every object" hype before the Ultima games as well, we know what that means (ooo you can pick up every object). This is also Tabula Rasa's pre-hype all over again, and you are falling for it. And if Torment surpasses the reactivity level of the original and offers widely varied paths through the game as natural consequences of player actions, which they are the right guys to do, it will be spectacular. See, they even do the hype better - and they won't fail. 

Zapffe
Zapffe

@decebal @MoronGotMyName @Zapffe I can take the risk with my $30 for a man who has largely shaped the whole genre.
The prospects of profit with Kickstarter isn't large enough, and of course the whole point of Kickstarter is minimizing risk by spreading it across a lot of people, while creating a game by the budget you eventually get. The reason for the Torment kickstarter isn't just because they want to create a new P: Torment, they want money as well, which is why they want to "recreate" the magic of old franchises, since it has fan appeal.

Valkyari
Valkyari

@decebal @Valkyari You are right, it's $25 and up that gets you a copy of the game.  My bad.  So you can donate 10 bucks or $25 or more  to "pre-order" the game.  

MoronGotMyName
MoronGotMyName

@Valkyari @MoronGotMyName Haha, MMO's and EA. MMO's are as relevant to core gamers as Angry Birds and EA is killing themselves slowly if they go through with this and will have to  become a new Zynga to survive. And having missed out on the massive opposition to micro-transactions from gamers and intelligent developers alike just shows you are a hype tool that doesn't know what's going on. 

strahd01
strahd01

@Valkyari @MoronGotMyName 

"A fool and his money are soon parted." The only reason micro-transaction games are "the future of gaming" is; because; most consumers do not understand that if we didn't buy their crap they wouldn't sell it. Micro-transactions based games will never overtake the market to the extreme that gamers no longer have any other options.  If you wish to invest hundreds or thousands of your hard earn money into a game that is your joy, but I personally will not be "Nickel & Dime" by a game no matter how good it is.  

Valkyari
Valkyari

@MoronGotMyName  Yea, that's exactly what i'll do buddy.  It's not that 80% of the MMO market has swapped to F2P and uses micro-transactions... or that EA and other large companies have destroyed single player games with the same micro-transactions.   Yea, it's all me falling for the scheme, not a reality.  /supersarcasmsaturday
 
My original comment is not "in favor" of micro transactions at all, just facing reality.  It's based on the very clear picture, that is; the industry has decided micro-transactions are more profitable, and more and more companies are switching to the "micro market".  It's the future of the gaming industry... i don't like it, but there is nothing that we, the consumer, can do about it, other than not give them money... and we all know how good that works (psst, it doesn't)  Good job failing the flame, just put your big boy pants on, ignorant children aren't welcome to the conversation.