Richard Garriott, award-winning game designer and creator of the hugely successful Ultima series of games, is returning to the origins of game design that helped make him a pioneer and legend in fantasy role playing games. Shroud of the Avatar’: Forsaken Virtues from Portalarium, Garriott’s Austin-based game studio, was announced today via simultaneous live stream on Rooster Teeth and the Shroud of the Avatar website. The announcement also falls on the opening day of SXSW Gaming taking place at Austin’s Palmer Auditorium.
The game is being backed on Kickstarter at http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/portalarium/shroud-of-the-avatar-forsaken-virtues-0.
Backers have a chance to fund the project via multiple levels of giving, which are all documented on the Kickstarter page. One of the most anticipated pledge levels will include access to in-game player houses. Available in multiple sizes and styles, the houses provide players a chance to own their own virtual property in the game. Players can outfit their homes how they want, gather there with friends and potentially run their own business from their properties.
"Shroud of the Avatar will include what I think are the keys to an ultimate role-playing experience," says Garriott. "These important tenets include things like a fully interactive virtual world, deep original fiction with ethical parables such that players’ choices are relevant, cultural histories and fully developed alternative languages and text. Also we want our players to have physical game components like cloth maps, fictional manuals and trinkets. These are all things that people came to expect in my earlier works and we plan on bringing them all back to create Shroud of the Avatar."
Players in Shroud of the Avatar will be introduced to the game, but then discover their own story. There is an overarching story woven into the player experience, and players may choose to follow the life of an adventurer or, if they prefer, focus on exploration and discovery. Players may even choose the life of a homesteader, either safely within the settled lands or on the dangerous but potentially lucrative frontier.
From familiar psychological profiling used to create your character to organically derived game response to player behavior, fundamental virtues and consequence of actions play a huge role in Shroud of the Avatar. Players will be free to choose their path, but must then live with the consequences of their actions.
Shroud of the Avatar will be a PC product available via digital download with episodic content available later for a charge. The game is being built to be enjoyed as a solo experience but it will also contain a persistent world where you can meet and share your experiences with friends both old and new. "This will not be a Facebook or casual game," said Garriott. "We think it will appeal to a multitude of audiences, but we are planning on making a game that will harken back to the same design principles that you can find in my earlier games. And we couldn’t be happier to be introducing the game on Kickstarter, which has really changed the landscape for game developers. It allows us to connect directly with our fan base and it keeps us from being so dependent on the traditional publishing model. There’s now a direct feedback loop with people who like our game and have decided to back it. With Kickstarter we can listen to what our fans are saying about how we are developing the game and make changes and additions based on that feedback, before the game launches. We hope people will like what they are seeing and hearing about Shroud of the Avatar and back the project on Kickstarter."