When I saw the email from Potalarium… well, I saw it several times as I end up getting updates on three different email addresses… I was a bit taken aback at the message. Shroud of the Avatar was on the eve of launching finally.
I couldn’t remember if there had been some build up to this in the weekly email updates, which at this point I just skim for headlines then delete, or if this was a brand new twist.
Well, at least I moved Shroud of the Avatar to the “will ship” list on my predictions this year. I am up at least five points today.
The suddenness flustered me a bit, and I half expected to see a follow on message announcing a delay. But there was only a follow up about Release 52 that went through in detail what was going into this release build and linked out to the whole how to get started document for the release.
Of course here we are, just shy of five years after the Kickstarter for the project closed, having secured a little over $2 million, and I am trying to recall what this was all about again.
There was that whole Madness of Lord British season where he was talking at (not to) EA about wanting his IP back, thinking a line about great fondness might help I guess. EA chose that moment to launch Ultima Forever, which seemed to answer the question. So it was just Lord British talking about his Ultimate RPG, set in a land which could not yet be named. (His comment at the end of that about “ville” clones was doubly amusing given his then recent attempts to get into bed with Zynga, complete with comedy quote.)
Eventually though he seemed to get back on the rails in the right direction and launched the kickstarter to fund his project, Lord British’s Shroud of the Avatar; Forsaken Virtues. Aside from that whole “game designers suck and/or are lazy” thing (later he explained that when he said people he worked with were essentially shit he was taken out of context) the whole thing went very well. Lord British still has name recognition and the whole nostalgia factor going for him and was able to haul in double the amount of money he was asking for.
Since then however… I haven’t really been paying all that much attention. By late 2014 there was something you could download and tinker with, but it was a very rough cut. I tried it for a bit and then let it be. There was also something about virtual real estate that came up at one point. But other than putting it on my possible list of games to play every year for a few years, only to have it still be in development, I haven’t paid much attention to it. Somewhere along the line I got a Steam key and activated it there, but otherwise it has just been news about the game coming along. Even Lord British, with something to occupy his attentions, has kept his crazy side out of the news.
But today it is live. The server status declares it ready.
I checked over at Steam and the early access warnings have all been removed and there is a launch day sale for 15% off the $39.99 price, which keeps it higher than the $30 I pledged five years back.
It looks like the the four modes originally promised are there, offline solo, online solo, online friends, and online in an MMO-esque setting. It is also available on Windows, Mac OS, and Linux. The reviews, however, are mixed, something that seems to come from the cash shop.
And now to see how big the launch will be. I have speculated in the past that doing crowd funding and early access means that a game’s core audience has likely already bought in by the time that launch comes, so there is no big boost at launch. That is what we saw with Landmark certainly, and H1Z1′s recent transition out of early access was pretty much a yawn until they made the game free. And even that only got it back up to its December numbers as opposed to its peak over the summer. But H1Z1 has better competitors now in PUBG and Fortnite. Still, launch alone didn’t seem to do much.
So how will launch affect Shroud of the Avatar?
Also, when am I going to find time to play it? I am currently still noodling around with Rift Prime, and there is Project: Gorgon now available on Steam. It seems like 2018 is the year of stuff from five years ago. Maybe Camelot Unchained will stir this year as well.