A hefty new gameplay demo for Richard Garriott's Shroud of the Avatar: Forsaken Virtues surfaced this week, giving us a look at a "90-days-in prototype" of the in-progress RPG. As Garriott himself points out in the video, the gameplay represents the initial steps into developer Portalarium's 18-month plan for the Kickstarter-funded project.
Shroud of the Avatar's Kickstarter drive may have closed with a moderately whopping $1.9m to its name - nearly double the amount Portalarium were asking for - but Richard Garriott isn't done asking for your money just yet. You can still purchase, and upgrade, cash pledges for the project over on the website - and pretty soon you'll be able to do so in instalments. Thanks to the new 'Layaway plan', you can support SOTA with regular monthly payments rather than with one giant lump sum - for example, to afford the $11,000 necessary to become a 'Lord of the Manor'. The catch, however, is that there will be a monthly service fee associated with the scheme, meaning that overall you'll end up paying more.
Most people would be ecstatic about raising the money for their dream project on Kickstarter. But Richard Garriott has been to space, so presumably every subsequent achievement pales in comparison. "That was an excellent quiche I just made," a man who had been to space might hypothetically think, "but it wasn't as good as the time I was strapped into a giant rocket and went to goddamn space." Nightmare.
If Garriott can still feel earthly pleasure, he's presumably pretty pleased right now. The Kickstarter for his spiritual successor to Ultima, Shroud of the Avatar: Forsaken Virtues, has closed out at $1.9 million - nearly double the required target.
Richard Garriott has posted a follow-up to our interview with him published on Tuesday ("Richard Garriott on why 'most game designers really just suck'") which he titled "Words Taken Out of Context."
I agree with him - they were. When he says that "Behind the inaccurate inflammatory headlines extracted from a longer dialog..." he's clearly referring to a number of news sources that chose to repeat his provocative statement, but failed to take the time to fully examine and independently interpret the whole story, or even follow up on their own with Garriott to ask what he was getting at rather than just blurting out the most provocative thing they could. That's tacky.
When Ultima creator Richard Garriott stopped by to show me Shroud of the Avatar, his new RPG which just met its $1M Kickstarter funding goal, he brought along some objects for show and tell. First, he produced a folder containing a stack of loose, lined paper—the first record of Ultima's world, featuring Sosaria, Lord British, and the evil Mondain. Holy crap, that should be in a museum, I thought.
In inevitability news, Richard Garriot's Shroud of the Avatar has sauntered past its Kickstarter goal, perhaps twirling a cane and singing a jaunty tune as it walked over the line. It was accompanied by the announcement of a bunch of new reward tiers and stretch goals, with pets and weather being added to the game if it hits $1.1m and $1.2m respectively. The pets will come in "social" and "combat" varieties, while the weather will be "seasonal". As, I'm told, it is in real life.
Richard Garriott's Avatar gets a little less shrouded in mystery with the announcement of the game's lead story designer. If Lord British's fantasy credentials weren't enough, it's been revealed that Tracy Hickman - of Dragonlance fame - is overseeing Shroud of the Avatar's story. If you're a fan of '80s/'90s RPGs and fantasy novels, you probably just spilled something on your keyboard. Sorry about that.
Many have weighedin on the ongoing war of speculation regarding PCs and the next generation of console boxes, but we've not yet heard the opinion of someone who's been in space. Until now! You could rightly argue that breaking free of the Earth's atmosphere doesn't qualify you to comment on the intricacies of gaming hardware, except this particular spaceman is Richard "Lord British" Garriott. He makes games too. Games like Ultima, and Shroud of the Avatar: Forsaken Virtues.
Speaking to Edge, Garriott questioned long-term viability of console devices. "It’s going to be interesting to see how consoles evolve in the next few iterations to see if they can find some new compelling reason to exist. Because, at least from my perspective, I think their days might be numbered."
Taking a break from visiting space, ruling over his fantasy kingdom, and performing his other lordly duties, Lord British (or, as he's known in this realm, Richard Garriott) has created a new teaser website, which primarily consists of a giant clock counting down to... well, we don't know. However, the fantasy-ish font, the use of his Ultima name (Lord British), and a few other hints on Twitter leads us to believe the big reveal - due in just over 5 days - may be something RPG related, and probably for the PC.
In 2007, Warren Spector taught a class at the University of Texas and invited 12 prominent developers to tell their stories of being pioneers in the game development industry, with the goal of preserving the history of our favorite hobby. His tenth guest was Richard Garriott, the game-developer-turned-astronaut who created the Ultima series of games that played a strong part in defining the RPG and MMO genres. In this 3-hour video, Garriott gives incredible insight into the process of making games, and is very frank about the problems, errors, and mistakes made along the way.
The confusing tale of EA and Richard Garriott exchanging words or suggestive winks or smoke signals or something continues. First, Garriott claimed that Ultima-licensing-related talk had occurred at a "very high level." Then EA more or less said, "Wait, what? Since when?" So I got in touch with Garriott's current company, Portalarium, in an attempt to figure out why the two stories sounded like they'd occurred in alternate dimensions. Here's what I found out.
Richard Garriott's ambitious plans for Ultima Online 2 appear to have hit a bit of a snag. Like a bad horror movie plot twist, it turns out that his "very high level" discussions with EA don't exist. And, I don't know, his roommate's actually been dead for 20 years or something. At any rate, EA's giving the whole thing a big shoulder shrug.
"I'm not sure what Richard Garriott is referring to. But no one at EA is discussing partnership or licensing opportunities related to the Ultima Online franchise," EA head of corporate communications Jeff Brown told IndustryGamers.
So yes, those stories are rather, er, at odds with one another. Somewhere along the line, wires clearly got crossed. As such, I've contacted both sides in hopes of straightening things out. More soon, hopefully - unless, of course, I'm actually a ghost.
Richard "[Whichever title he's going by these days] British" Garriott has been to space. But whatever goes up must come down, and that includes rocketships. So now the legendary game designer/castle-owner is hoping to rekindle memories of a simpler time - you know, back when people were trying toassassinate him.
Garriott's certainly not keeping any secrets about his "spiritual successor" to Ultima Online. However, if all goes according to plan, that "spiritual" tag may get kicked to the wayside sooner rather than later.
In an interview with IndustryGamers veteran RPG creator Richard 'Lord British' Garriott said that he would be interested in making new Ultima games with EA, who currently hold the rights to the brand, saying "In fact, we’ve had some discussions at what I’ll call very high levels."
It has been twelve years since Ultima IX: Ascension, the last of the series, sadly Garriott followed his statement by saying "The individuals who are currently shepherding the property don’t seem to be particularly interested in that, so we’ll see." He did remain optimistic though, saying "The door's always open if they were ever interested."
Would you be interested in more Ultima games? Or is it too late to bring the series back?