News Updates / BLOG
Today is the day we have one more week to wait for the biggest event since Ultima Online's opening it's doors out of Beta - Shroud of the Avatar's beginning of persistence!
This not the final release many Ultima fan's have been waiting for - this is when everything you do in the game matters and means something. The game will still be completed within the next 6 months or so. I am excited as a clam on a sunny day at the beach.
Call me a fanboy if you want but I know software development does not go always as planned. I know that you have a concept that is shown to people, that concept can change. Sometimes due to scope creep (Player Owned Towns) and sometimes due to expanding an original concept (crafting went from a single piece to many parts to assemble). I am positive for the end gaming result as I have seen first hand from the chicken room where all you could see was a dungeon walled room with a chicken, a chair, and a light in it. I could sit in the chair, turn on/off the light, run around at the chicken who would run away from me. Cool, right? Yes, very!
I have been backing Shroud of the Avatar since the KickStarter beginnings. I remember watching all of the video casts they did and when they did it. The only thing I did differently was I pledged directly on the Shroud of the Avatar's page to save Portalarium the Kickstarter fee from my pledge. Money saved to a software developer company means more money to run the business and get qualified designers/programmers. So more money is good. Right now there is just over $9 million of dollars in funding from gamers who believe in this game.
From what was first shown to us:
The current state of the game is where the "Love" quest is finished. The other virtue quests are not. But this is progress because making a single story line is tough on it's own. In a few months all of the story lines will be completed and we will be testing those while everything we do is saved. Progress I say!
With this new playing while coding/testing paradigm many gamers will be confused with the changes and development placeholders. If you look at ARK: Survival Evolved, they are in a state like this too. Things are being built while players are playing the game. Portalarium is on the front lines of this style and not every backer will be pleased with the results. There have been times I have not been pleased, but I know the team is busy making changes and they have shown in the end, the dev team comes through.
Lots of players are offering suggestions and the good ones are being implemented into the game. I don't know of another game company that is doing that. But each time that is done things that were seen in the early videos or hangouts can get delayed or replaced. Some backers will be angry with that decision. In the whole of the game - I feel it is for the best. I think it is for the best. The best game we can get out that enriches our lives and imagination.
To many backers this game is personal, an extension of ourselves. An extension of our passion for creativity. I know for myself I can design my house lot to the way I want it. I can express my creativity. Seeing the pride on my face is something others in the game cannot see, but I know they can feel it when I show them. The only other game I have experienced that is Ultima Online. Shroud of the Avatar carries that torch forward.
By now you are probably thinking - this guy really drank all the Kool Aid! Maybe or maybe not. I like the concept and I like the vision. I like the story background (Sword of Midras) and the story in the game that I have experienced so far. Part of it for me is remembering the discovery in the single player Ultimas and what it felt like. Part of it for me is remembering the adventure in each Ultima Online expansion pack and what it felt like. Shroud does that for me - it makes me feel alive in the game. This is something only Lord British can do.
So in a week we can start to see how our decisions affect our avatar. Start to build things that will last a gaming lifetime. See how the world changes with new adventures. I am excited to say. "I have been part of all of this!"
All true Ultima fans have been waiting for this.
Now that you are an adult, lets share some of the embarrassing stories about you from when you were younger...
Everyone has those moments including virtual world based video games. Ultima Online (UO) has been around as the first Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game, that almost every one out there now has a connection to it through technology, use of the words Origin came up with (Avatar, Shard, etc), or experiences from playing.
One thing that sets an Ultima game apart from any other game is Richard Garriott, Lord British. His stories were kind of basic to kooky with Ultima 1 and 2. Got more AD&D like with Ultima 3. Then got real serious with Ultima 4 - 9.
I have played them all, beaten most of them, watch videos of people beating them for the ones I did not beat, and enjoyed
Last year in 2014 I played in the largest Ultima event that Rustic Dragon put on. It was very special as I got to meet up with other Ultima fans and many of the NPCs form the Ultima video games. Plus being knighted from Richard Garriott, Lord British was the icing on the cake!
My UO stories are the main ones of "creating your own adventure" or what others call a "sandbox style of game play" where I just roam around and see what is out there, to helping a friend with my Wyrm Dragon in Buccaneer's Den to gank a PvPer that is harassing him, to surviving the official OSI events and quests EA added in later.
A big THAKN YOU to Electronic Arts for putting the money into acquiring Origin Systems,Inc. and helping fund the Ultima Online game. I really wish EA would of listened to more of Richard Garriott about UO2 and other projects he wanted to do, but then we may not of received the blessing that is called Shroud of the Avatar...
A Thank you to UO on Facebook for finding this gem:
Ultima Online Public Beta Testers
Dear Beta testers, fellow Origin development team members, and fellow citizens of the first ever true virtual world, Britannia:
Tomorrow, the world as you know it comes to an end. We are closing the
public beta test after the event planned for tomorrow.
You have just been part of something wondrous. Imagine now what you
will be a part of in the future.
Consider what Ultima Online has been thus far. It has been over two
years in the making: by far the largest, grandest, most complete
virtual world there has ever been. Since the pre-alpha test that many
of you participated in over a year ago, we have come so very far. At
that time we tested a concept with some early art and some UNIX code
running on a couple of servers to see if the virtual world concept
could work at all.
Now here we are, many months of hard work later, and the future looks
We have three worlds, three "shards of reality," running on server
farms scattered across the United States. Each is a testament to the
future of online gaming. Each shard holds thousands of Earth-based
players, many times more thousands of creatures, and tens of thousands
"But is it fun?" you ask.
Oh yes, it is. Over the past few days I have spent many, many hours
traveling Britannia, sometimes openly in your company, and sometimes
discreetly following and observing. What I have seen amazes me.
I have witnessed brave adventurers delve deep into deadly dungeons in
search of danger. I have watched businesses and whole industries
spring up to supply the needs of these adventurers. I have seen the
blacksmiths auctioning off their wares in crowded squares, hiring
miners with guard escorts to bring them metal to forge, hiring bards to
calm the inevitable arguments and fights that break out in the fever of
competition. I have seen intrepid crews take to the open ocean to seek
new islands, only to be surprised by other crews on pirate ships armed
with magic, ready to steal the contents of their cargo holds. I have
seen people master the arcane and difficult arts of magic, and become
powerful mages capable of transforming their shape and walking down
city streets, terrifying the populace.
I have seen a group of artists hold auditions for their play. I have
seen a wrestling pit marked off in the dirt, and crowds calling out
bets from the sidelines.
I have watched as scholars walked into moongates over and over,
building tables of destinations, to try to unlock the patterns behind
them. I have read the research into unknown magic, and waited for
players to discover the hints left for them.
Newspapers have sprung up, and great libraries have been founded to
gather the books of the world in one place.
I have seen people build lives here. Build houses and businesses. Tame
animals, and cry when they die. Bring old friends with them. Make new
Found cities--shiny new ones like Mystery City, which organized its
own town militia, and shanty-towns made of crates and abandoned
furniture. Use whatever words you choose: people have made HOMES here.
They have settled a new frontier, with all that implies--the joy of
breaking new ground, and the lack of conveniences it offers. The
frustration of meeting new, unknown obstacles, and the thrill of
This game--no, this WORLD--has already become much more than any of us
could have envisioned. Yet it is only now about to really begin.
We--all of us, game makers and game players alike--are walking down a
new road together. What is this that we have made together? Is it an
Ultima, with a finite plot? Is it like other multiplayer games, with a
clear goal to reach for? Is it just a huge medieval theme chat zone?
No, Ultima Online is far more than any one of these, it is more than
all of these put together. It is an Ultima, with an epic plot as yet
largely unrevealed. It is a world. It is now our second home. A living,
breathing, changing place, that will provide constantly varying
Just like the real world, the virtual economy and ecology will
change--even fail in places--as players either exploit or care for it.
As developers, we will be challenged by keeping up with the "holes" in
the "laws" of economy that players discover, just as a government must
continue to pass laws to keep the economy and ecology of the real world
on an even keel.
There is so much in the world of Britannia that you have seen... and
you are about to see much more. Many of the updates that we have made
have not been part of the public beta test process. You have yet to see
Britannia swept by rain and thunderstorms, or snow falling gently
during the winter. You have not seen a crystal blink to let you know
your friend is calling you with his own attuned crystal from across the
world. You have not seen other things yet to come--the gatherings of
necromancers building dread towers in clearings in the wilderness, the
wonder of a magic carpet soaring high over the mountains, or the pride
of being accorded the title "Dragonslayer" by all who meet you, your
deeds known and published to bulletin boards in the local taverns
across the land. It will not be long before we see the first wedding,
the first day that a couple who met in Britannia send news to us of
their child born somewhere here in our world, perhaps in Illinois, or
Alaska, or Germany. These and many other things will be adding to the
world of Britannia for months and even years to come, providing you
with excitement and challenges. We have not "finished" Ultima Online.
Finishing implies reaching an end. How does a world reach an end? It
grows over time. It lives, it changes. It evolves. It becomes a
Come, join the development team, the gamemasters, Lord Blackthorn, and
I, as we discover together where that evolution will lead. The world
where the future of role-playing resides. The place where we have all
found another home...
Come live with us in the world of Britannia in Ultima Online!
Tuesday, Sept 23
No matter how you spell this classic RPG game from Richard Garriott it is free on gog.com. Some call this as Ultima 0 others call it D&D 30. IT does not matter. What? You say the name is really Akallabeth? I will have to get to the bottom of this.
Here is what D&D 1 - D&D 29 Richard Garriott programmed on a PDP-11 mini computer looked like and this is what those are stored on - Paper tape! I know I have seen this at Portalarium myself.
Now is it:
(Richard "Lord British" Garriott's, original "Akallabeth!" (yes, the original spelling included two "L's" in the title) Dungeons & Dragons campaign he designed as a teenager, and that became the foundation of his first commercial RPG, "Akalabeth.)
Ok, mystery solved, It is Akalabeth. Whew. Still pick it up for free! The Akallabeth is a physical copy of the game notes as a reward you can get if you pledge as a collector level as a Founder (pledged before April 2014) at www.shroudoftheavatar.com.
Congratulations to the latest recipients of Lord British's "Order of New Britannian Empire" ONBE Medal or Royal Warrant! These were televised as part of the Community Awards segment on Shroud of the Avatar's Cyber Monday Streamathon on December 1, 2014.
I had one of the most amazing times of my life two weekends ago by attending the Hearth of Britannia Legends of the Hearth II event.
We started out like any other Ultima video game. Watch the pre-entertainment which outlined your purpose. You got extra coin for dressing up in "Ultima type" of costume and received our cloth maps, journal, and money pouch. Then were giving the "go ahead" by Lord British to Journey Onward (just like in the video games)!
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Welcome to the Shroud of the Avatar (SOTA) & Ultima Museum.
We celebrate all of the amazing Shroud of the Avatar and Ultima game series created by Lord British (Richard Garriott). This site is a place to share my vast Ultima and Shroud of the Avatar collection for your enjoyment.
Member since "forever" in Ultima Dragons Internet Chapter as Lord G Dragon