Today, Richard Garriott, the creator the celebrated Ultima series, is launching a new project: a episodic co-operative RPG named Shroud of the Avatar: Forsaken Virtue. The game is a hybrid of the kind of offline storytelling that were the hallmarks of the Ultima series, combined with an online backend that allows small groups of players to co-operate and share their world.
Shroud of the Avatar has been in development at Richard’s new company, Portalarium, for over 10 months. Today marks the announcement of the game, but also a Kickstarter effort which Garriott hopes will both help fund the project (to the tune of a million dollars) but to also source feedback from the RPG community.
“It’s not a traditional MMO,” says Richard. “Even though there’s a persistent world and we have a client server MMO backbone operating behind it, we’re really trying to provide the story driven experience while allowing you to play with family and friends. While leaving a mark on the world.”
The game plays in two phases: there’s an outdoor overworld that’s used to navigate the setting, then, as you get to a point of interest, the game will turn into an over-the-shoulder third person RPG. Players will be given the choice to pick on their quest, go exploring, or crawl through dungeons, or engage in hobby activities including crafting, farming or looking after in-game pets.
The first episode, of which the crowdsourcing funds will be put towards is named Foresaken Virtue. The goal is for the episodes to be self funded after the first has been released, and sees the player fighting “a malevolence with a very specific battle plan.” Your quest is to discover why attacks are occurring in this world.
Garriott is keen to impress that the game has all the trademarks players expect from an Ultima game: the design began after Garriott laid out his beliefs of what an Ultima game should feel and play like in a long treatise on his blog. Design work took around six months, while full production has only started in the last month. The game’s being built in the Unity cross platform engine.
We’ll have more on Shroud of the Avatar very soon.