Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The evolution of the Arms of Hamilton (Shroud of the Avatar)

I've designed a crest of sorts for my character to use to identify the Arms of Hamilton in Shroud of the Avatar.

It incorporates my Canadian heritage, my respect of the virtues and my dedication to the blacksmith's craft.

And some modifications made to look "less Canadian"

And with black ankh:

Modified anvil with 2 ankhs:

Some changes to size of charges:

Requested change of maple leaf layout:

Final PNG for submission to College of Arms:

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

iOS 7 Review

I've been using an iPhone5 for almost a year to the day and I've been more than happy with iOS6 up to this point. It's snappy and responsive and everything works as it should, for the most part. This will be a direct comparison review of iOS 6/7 and it's goal is to sway you to upgrade without a second thought.

The update process was pretty straightforward, update iTunes 11 to 11.1 and restart for changes to take effect. After plugging in my iPhone, it immediately prompted me to download and update to iOS 7. The download took a little while, about 45 minutes, which I suspect is because EVERYONE and their dogs are trying to download it at the moment. The whole process took about an hour, I didn't lose any data, contacts, music, apps, etc...(As an aside, you COULD download iOS 7 OTA but it requires 3gb of space to do it, screw that!)

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Introducing the Panasonic GX7 (or as I like to call it, my dream m4/3 cam)

On August 1st Panasonic dropped a bomb on the m4/3 world and announced the Panasonic GX7, the spiritual successor to the Panasonic GX1. In many ways this is the camera that m4/3 shooters have been screaming for since the release of the Olympus Pen E-P1, a rangefinder style camera with ALL the perks. Do I sound like I've already been won over by Panasonic's grand marketing and even bolder claims? You bet your bottom dollar I have. First I will explain my current m4/3 situation and why this new camera is not like the others.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Summary of March 30th Chat with RG and CS

Thanks again to AndiZ27582!

Ok, what have we heard in todays chats (LB stands for Lord British, CS for Chris Spears):
But first a disclaimer: Since SotA is Pre-Alpha, many things can change. Also I‘m summarizing the chat-log, so missinterpretations from myself are always possible. So please don‘t use this as amunition for attacks against the developers. And don't forget to voice your opinions and concerns in the Forum:
- Tracy Hickman and Richard Garriott are working on the story (LB); the „foundation“ is set
something is coming this week about the story, but they still consider, what they can tell without spoilering too much (LB)
- Story will be „a great „homage“ to the past, and a dark introduction to that lies before you!“ (LB)
- about the „darker side“ (players, that act not so much according to the virtues): that‘s one of the things, that exites LB at most: what to do with players, that fail to meet the high standarts (LB)
- Intro and Cut Szenes: there will probably a intro cinematic; and the cut scenes are done probably in the game engine (LB)
- The world has been renamed several times and the final name will be up to LB (CS)
Cities/Villages/Towns and housing:
- each city is unique and different (LB)
- Cities have a „protective wall“ and roads, so they look like a tic-tac-toe board (LB)
- center square of cities has the „central services“: shops, banks, etc.: so lots of foot traffic in the core of the town (LB)
- Cities Cont: approximately 8 outer areas: for player ownership only (mostly): could be houses and shops; shops especially valuable in cities, because of most traffic; (LB)
- Villages: have one major reason to visit: one unique shop or a major NPC activity of some kind; rest is up to players (LB)
- villages are generally larger than cities (more spread out), so they have more room for housing; they are also somewhat cheaper at first (LB)
- players can build many „amazing things“ in a town or village: so they can create traffic of their home (LB hopes, that for example people of „Pax Lair“ come to build a city of their own in the new world); (LB)
- „dimensions“ of villages/towns are still settled: likely the total demands of a house will be similar if not exactly the same, so you can pack your house and deploy it in a new lot; but: internal volume and things like gardens will vary greatly by house type (LB)
Character Development:
- LB was very proud in UO about the many Non combatant players; he hopes that players can follow the story without the demand to be a fighter or wizard; But even Frodo wore a swort to Mordor (LB)
- since Chris wasn‘t happy with the crafting video, he wants to do it again (CS)
- there are currently 5 planned ressource collection skills: fishing, hunting, mining, forager and lumberjack
each skill is plit in a gathering and refining tree with at least 4 skill groups in each currently
those then feed into the crafting skills (CS)
- Cooking is one of the five major crafting categories (CS)
- Chris doesn‘t like hunger in the game; he doesn‘t want to punish people(CS)
- one idea is to go a bit old school, but give „more a carrot thant the stick“; so food will probably give buffs, faster healing, etc. and doesn‘t penalize; but LB hasn‘t weighted on that idea yet and he likes the stick
Accounts and Characters:
- Transferring of Characters and power level/difficulty balance across expansions: power curve isn‘t as steep and there is more skill in combat => they don‘t have to give too much to players, that missed game 1; players starting with episode 2 will be sufficiently equipped (CS)
- not steep = in most games you stand no chance against enemies 10 levels over you; not here: broadth of options increases greatly, but power ramps up more slowly (CS)
- same goes for single player: main quest line will give all you need to survive the episode (CS)
- do you have to import your character after each episode or may you retain it? current plan is, to retain the character between episodes, but that‘s a decision of Richard and Tracy (CS)
- main server is responsible for match making and transaction verifications; but most logic will be simulated locally and verified remotely
Coming Updates:
- next week will be crazy business; a 24/7 web cam will broadcast through the end of KS (CS)
- a crafting video is done, but he doesn‘t really like it and wants to redo it (CS)
- Chris wants to capture at least one more ingame scene for a video next week, but they are a bit starved for character modelers (CS)
Thanks again to Umbrae for the transcript and off course to the team of Portalarium for the infos.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Summary of March 22nd SotA chat log with RG and CS

Thanks to AndiZ27582 for the leg work in summarizing. 

Chris Spears' comments:
- So yes, PVP is not completely open BUT yes, you will be able to enable PVP at will though turning it off will take some time 
- AND there will be quests that require you to go PVP to take
-Those PVP quests will give you a reward if you survive and complete them and others, even those not on a quest, a reward for killing you
- Because we are going to have significant itemization, we do not plan on having full looting
- We have our own ideas for PVP stuff but I think how "carebear" we make it will be somewhat based on feedback. Because we're letting people just play with friends, we can't enforce full open PVP
- PVP will be meaningful and PVP is honestly the cheapest content known to developers! Trust me when I say we are spending time on it
- Yes, and how to make PVP both enjoyable for "grey shard" types but also not let it ruin the game for the much larger "carebear" types
- Lordy, I'll have a 3 page house update posted within the hour!
- Also, for those who are hard core PK'ers, we are discussing making some guilds flaggable as full PVP, all the time
- So PK'ers only need to join a PK guild and battle other PK guilds
- What we can't allow is for PK'ers to grief and slaughter new players as they enter the game, especially if they are really more interested in the story line aspects
- We'll either have a full post or a video chat session on PVP before the end of the campaign. We have LOTS of ideas that are all implementable but it is such a divisive issue, we're scared to talk about it much until we get more player feedback
- Richard and Tracy have been hammering on the story and details and new fiction all week. Been pretty inspiring seeing them work together so well on stuff
- I recorded a video on our classless system, brief overview of skills, and how our system allows players to take on multiple roles on the fly
- I've mentioned that it has a bit of a card game feeling element to it that adds a lot of strategy both in planning before entering combat and also during combat. Also, don't think Magic or other CCG when I say card mechanics, think Dominion
- a large pledge backed out because we still have not released house details. :/
- 18 months till the final game but we'll have stuff in people's hands before the end of 2013
- I have a video of Richard talking about how he came up with the Gypsy questions. Very powerful and interesting. I'm going to try and get that up this weekend. Also will require user feedback on the video! and no, I'm no Richard in the videos
- And by "Chris gets right to the details" what you really means is Chris blabs about stuff that is supposed to be secret! =p
- I think we decided we just didn't have the staff to cover PAX East during the KS. =(
- We should have more to show later this year and will attend more shows. Right now we have playable prototype stuff but it mostly has programmer quality art in it and, as we saw from our early feedback, fans don't like my art.
- Richard and others will be at GDC in a few weeks
- (about the prototype graphics): Which is why we switched back to what all KS seem to do and threw up some pretty concept art
- Should have said "Prototype with programmer art!"
- BTW, some of my levels are still on the front page!… is mine =)
- It was really just a test to see how curved sewer walls, moving water, fire based lights in dark scenes, and some other stuff worked
- our artists would disagree on my art not being that bad. =p
- (on Population in Cities): we've already started investigating several solutions to get more visible in key areas, like cities through hosted microinstances on Amazon.
- It will definitely be enough to make the city feel full
- More just worried about stuff like, "HEY, Lord British is coming to town, join us for a party!"
- and then half the people can't get to him
- Vendors at houses yes. There will also be a bazaar for those without a house but it will take a % cut
- KS houses will have no % rake on the vendors, post KS they will probably take a small rake, maybe 10% vs 30% for bazaar.
- Bazaars will also only sell goods added in that town/city/village
- Intentionally done that way so people can create their own profits by going to towns with low prices, buying and reselling locally
- So the document will explain it all but what you are actually buying that is super rare is a property deed, the right to build a house somewhere. Houses will be expensive but the value is in the property deed.
- Deeds allow you to claim an open lot. House comes free with the deed but once you claim a lot it is yours till you give it up
- Once you claim the lot, you can sell the house to build something different if you choose for your own personal tastes
- the reason for the deed system is so you can move your house to another town if you choose. So if we open up a cool new area, you will be able to go there and move your house there. It will take a bit to transfer
- No, KS deeds and the vendor that comes with them are free for life
- All pretty simple really. We put the value in the deed because we realize people like to swap houses!
- The KS property deed will always be rent free even if you move it to another town or trade it to another player!
- to move your house you go to the empty lot you want and move the deed. You claim the new one before the old one is released. No fear of getting stuck out int he cold. Also, only selling as many property deeds as we have open spots
- we'll have a PVP/PK update before the end. I think most people will have options to play in the style they want
- we'll open a store post kickstarter and will have some way to get most of the stuff on KS but no guarantee we'll have everything and KS will be your cheapest option
- before the end of the KS we should have any and all this type information I occasionally spill represented in some official update.
- Deeds will come with a choice of probably 3 starter homes which vary based on the level of the property deed
- part of my reason for chatting with people here is it is a little more loose and I can get feedback from people before we put it in bold letters for everyone to see
- we'll get more stuff answered officially. Our plan was to roll out stuff over the month and build some suspense but I think people are so pumped that they are rage quitting over not getting answers. We'll keep pushing updates
- I'll try to get in here at least an hour a day for the rest of the campaign and also make it a scheduled time each day.
- final game not till late 2014 but we expect to have early versions of the game in people's hands by the end of 2013 for feedback and testing
- known and we have plans so PK's and non-PK's will be happy
- we have an economy expert who will be focusing on making sure it is all balanced. Designer who was responsible for Wizard101 and a number of noteworthy social games
- Guys, I'm also going to have go shortly but I'm having Firelotus schedule a few 1 hour chat sessions that we will publicize in advance so you can know when to stop in and harrass me
- Also, we'll get this Housing update out now and try to get yet another FUN update out tonight
- Todays video will be from Rick and B, two of our designers

Lord British's comments:
- We are working hard to craft a POWERFUL solo player story...
- Yes, we will soon launch THIS site, which will go on after KS, and have new options on it, that KS does not allow, details TBD. (about Paypal and another pledging site aside Kickstarter)
- Story: While we/I already had a strong "base" story, I desperately needed help from a story crafter like Tracy Hickman... we have been working most every afternoon detailing the 1st game.
- Story: I feel the best Ultima stories I wrote when working with Warren Spector, as he is also a better story teller than me. While then, and now the story is still under my clear leadership, Warren and now Tracy are invaluable!
- Andi - good idea! (to my question, if Tracy Hickman can do some videos, explaining the world and story, too =) )
- Belief System: yes, we will have virtues... the exact words I use, for virtues you all know is still in debate. Clearly I do not want to cross any legal lines, but the virtues words are also clearly public domain... so... let me figure out how to do it... but fear not, you will know it!
- Radar, arrows etc. You make a good point, we all added radar and arrows to mitigate the pain of early games.... but I still think it has gone to far to the simple side. We will all work togtehr to craft the right level of player aids and not destroy the sense of exploration and discovery.
- A housing video is going up this afternoon. basically yes, to what you asked: you can upgrade your house, and you can move it to another city. Also in single player.
- Smack - A system of "clues" when you need them, perhaps at a cost or recharge, is fine, if we need it, just don't destroy the sense of exploration.
- Honestly, its too early to see all the polishing details we have yet to implement, much less refine, but we have done this many times. We know the target pretty clearly, we know how to get there pretty confidently. The biggest new ideas, like our blended multiplayer - solo gameplay is what we need to prove to ourselves and you. I believe it will work, but we can always split them if needed.
- PVP is obviously an important AND contentious area. We think we have a plan that keeps beginners from being ganked, but encourages PVP in a way that feels risky and rewarding to both sides. We want neither extreme of gank the noob, nor opt in PVP flags which are no fun either.
- What do you think about LB being immortal? Should i purposefully always be open to attack?
- My team is advising me not to take the bait on chatting about killing children... =)
- I would love to see a town called Skara Brae!
- We have PVP threads on the forums, we will continue to collect data there. I know it will be tricky, but I think we have the basis of a plan, and will present it when we think its at least one level of bullet proof.
- Andi - I agree. (about my statement, that killing Lord British should never be a quest, but stay an easteregg =) )
- Crafting - there are the basics, which I can describe, then the "advanced" we are still working on....
- Crafting: start with a "recipe" that has a list of needs such as: a craftying station (forge), tools (tongs and gloves), skills (level 3 sword making), consumed ingredients (ore, coal, ash, silver). Then a "process" to make it...
- Crafting "Process": we are sill working this out... but we would like there to be more of a process, the process will be either simple to begin with and expand in the live game, or we will add it in our stretch goals. But '"eventually" we would like to get to at least a minecraft level of process, and perhaps mini game like actions, but we are still discussing short and long term plans for this.
- Magic: Not much has been said about magic! Like crafting this system is in early planning. But, it will likely have: Consumed Reagents, words of power or Logos "Vas Flam", etc. the details of execution, TBD
- Friends! I have another video interview I must run off too, but Fire Lotus is going to schedule me some known visit times. See you again soon. THANKS for your support. We do really work for YOU! We are listening, we will make you proud!
- Bye!

Chris came back a little later on and also stated:
- Back, but only for a minute! 
- Lordy, we will probably not have schematics for houses before the end of kickstarter. We have a fair number of house types already but I don't think they are well balanced. We will also keep rolling out new houses, just like we roll out new instances 
- @IpkeeZ, if we end up going with the "PVP guild" option for PK'ers, we will likely also add some type of house break in option as well. Likely not a ship thing but it has already come up in discussions for the "Grey Shard" types. 
- Instanced house options have been discussed but it was lower priority since you'll have access to a bank 
- @Lordy, we have a mostly finished village that we put together just to try and get a solid grasp of how much space is enough but not too much. Might have a screen shot of it but it is intentionally kind of boring 
- Walls will not stop local chat so you can run a house of ill repute but the neighbors might complain... 
- We'll release something on crafting and farming at some point. Still a point of contention but I'm hoping farming will not be a skill but just something you do. So you can find an elderberry that restores mana when eaten. Using it leaves you an elderberry seed. You can take that and plant it and get another set of elderberries the next day. I'm still fighting for that idea. Wish me luck 
- @Rune_74, Story is the one topic I don't touch. I'm in on the conversations but not even daring to think about revealing anything until Richard and Tracy say more! 
- @Vyrinor, current design has 5 major gathering categories and 5 major crafting areas. Farming was one that kind of didn't match with the others in terms of how it worked so I was proposing doing something fun with it that gets people coming back daily. I curse you for comparing it to Farmville but yes, same psychology 
- @Fifty, current expectation is that advancement in adventure skills will not interfere with advancement in craft skills. Richard is a big fan of one player, one character. The combat system allows people to solo or pick a party role so we haven't quite found a reason to allow multiple character yet. 
- And current expectation is you get 1 online character and as many offline characters as you want 
- @Tekkamansoul, traveling is pretty quick and safe with the dual scale map if you stick to the roads and don't travel at night! The "faster travel" thing has come up but will likely wait till we expand our world even more 
- and as you probably saw from some of the sketches, there is a "Lunar Rift" type thing that will allow you to move quickly between some key areas 
- Ok, you guys are sucking me in! I'll get Firelotus to schedule some official chat time with people. 
- Need to get back to work making a game and cleaning up some more updates!

Shroud of the Avatar Public Chat with Chris and Richard

Hey Guys,

Here's the FULL chat log from this morning's chat with Chris, Richard and Gina on


Sunday, March 17, 2013

Shroud of the Avatar Ustream #3 Transcript (so far)

Shroud of the Avatar Ustream transcript 2013-03-09 (66:31)

Richard Garriot: RG
Chris Spears: CS

RG: How's everybody out there? Let's see here, alright, we've already got people piling in with questions. Glad to see you all this morning. Oh by the way, thank you all so so much we're greatly indebted to the support you guys you've already given us...CHEATER...Aftermarketgirl did you put in your guilt pledge? I hope so.

CS: Any questions? Try and get up a house pledge...In the siege will there be player owned towns and player sieges?  It's likely going to be one of our stretch goals, maybe not player sieges but we're talking about player owned towns. It's extremely good for the in-game economy to have player run towns. Will the Avatar's child make an appearance in game? And its mother by Raven? 

RG: That's a very good suggestion/idea. Yesterday somebody asked if Lord British will be married in game and it had literally never crossed my mind but I know that the obvious answer to that question has to be yes. My wife would not allow it to be otherwise, I'm sure you'll see Lord and Lady...Hmm not sure if she would be called Lady British because she's French...We'll have to decide exactly what she wants to be.  I did see people ask if they could break bread and I'd say yes, Ultima 7 is our target for the interactive world. We're going to start with as much of that as we can put in within the year and a half or so that we have, but we'll just keep adding and adding and adding and yes Ultima 7 is what we'll be targeting for interactivity. We're going to start at the beginning with that in mind, all items that will be created for the game must be interactive in that same way. We'll just keep adding for the life of the game. 

CS: Someone did say you look incredibly young for an old guy.

RG: Oh that's very near and dear to my heart. Maybe if I didn't have this wisp of hair sticking up over here. Get down there. I thought I would provide you guys some entertainment this morning. The entertainment I have to offer today comes in the form of this famous letter file that contains something we've had since the Ultima days, it's called the Glinkie Letters. I don't know if any of you have ever received mail from the users of whatever you've created in life. I at least have found that when people write to you about your creations, no matter how much they might have liked something, a piece of feedback, the thing that compels someone to write to you, a sentence or at most a paragraph that says they appreciate the work you've done and the rest of however long they write after that is describing what you did wrong. In the history of receiving letters that have usually started as compliment but ended in criticism, nothing has been as entertaining as the letters we've seen from Mr. Donald K. Glinkie. I'd like to read to you what Donald wrote about Ultima 3, the first game we published as Origin and I'm sure that Mr. Glinkie had written to us about earlier games but this was the first one I encountered. You'll probably understand this after I read what he had to say. 

His first letter to us about Ultima 3 reads on January 20th 1984: Ultima 3, you've got the dumbest damn game here, Ultima 2 was such a good game, how you ever let some freak half-wit come up with this crap as a follow up will forever be a mystery. Anyway he complains on about the rest of the letter and his final paragraph says, this game stinks and when you write to me saying it's sold 1,000s I don't believe it. I can tell from your statement that you're full of crap just like this game, you haven't sold 1000s and you wouldn't be permitted to sell anymore if I had my way. You don't have any satisfied customers or players either except the freak that wrote it. Signed Donald Glinkie, Pompano Beach, Florida. That wasn't enough for Mr. Glinkie he ended up writing to us again about Ultima 3. This game stinks, I've been to level 21 and I still get killed by an excess of monsters and have to start all over again. I'm going to file a complaint to the attorney general of your state and the attorney general of the United States, you've got some half-baked freak to come up with this game that shouldn't even have been put on the market and at 65 dollars yet! The little pissy hints you provide with the original disc are nowhere near enough to get ahead. I've been playing this for 6 months, I've never had a gem or key or anything of a higher level, all I do is run into gang after gang of stupid monsters and it is not possible to travel the country side as you suggested. He goes on for 2 pages, I'll skip to the end, I can not continue to spend money on phone calls to the West coast as I have not ripped off people, I am not as affluent as you are. I've got almost $100 into a real dud, a smeller, a stinker and I'm going to do something about it. Disgusted, Donald K. Glinkie. One thing about Mr. Glinkie is he liked to play all our games and write to us about them. He played Knights of Legend, he wrote, bad bad bad, terrible, I'll skip to end, I'm pissed, not going to buy this junk, we're the ones that make the wax float around here. Donald Glinkie would always write us hate mail while playing games but after finishing the games, his letters would be very different, like after Ultima 4. Great game, sign me up for the newest game, paid in full...he was a bit bi-polar. Trip Hawkins visited us and we told him about Glinkie Letters...he went back to EA and read a letter from Glinkie as well, he replied to this letter. Trip told Mr. Glinkie that he was honoured to receive his letter, he spoke about the letters to Origin and that he was happy to be in good company. Glinkie letters ended after that, Robert Garriott called Mr. Glinkie and he was very polite on the phone but never wrote another letter.

CS: I've called out Donald Glinkie as the First Internet Troll before his time.

RG: Basically true. Alright so I thought you'd enjoy that history. 

CS: Let's see, why the decision to zoom out for travel?

RG: For a couple reasons, both technical and play value. The fictional purist in me sort of still likes the mono-scale map, it is fraught with pain of building out largely empty space, you spend a lot of time adding detail to empty space. You spend a lot of time simply walking through empty space, exploring if you will, not that I'm against that, if you can have that space detailed I'm not against it. By going to a two scale map, it allows us to focus on the developing of scenarios, and that's how we want the story to unfold, through scenarios. These scenarios allow us to make the game playable in bite size pieces. You can put the game aside for a moment, come back to it, see where you are on the outdoor map, you can be strategic with what you need to do now and you're leaving that city and I know that I need to get to that city. Then you can move around and find a point of interest by choice or stumble across a random encounter and be presented with that scenario. We're planning to have 5-30 minute scenarios, you can complete that scenario and then you have time to relax, we think it has good pace between tension and release, if you need to you can put the game away or dive into another scenario, it's a good rhymn of gameplay, a good pace of unfolding the story. 

CS: Everytime you die, do you have to restart?

RG: Well we haven't even discussed death yet but if you're asking my opinion, when you die you certainly don't have to restart, no perma-death. Will you have to run back to your corpse or will you resurrect at a shrine or something of that nature, we will want to make sure that you have an aversion to dying, as opposed to resurrecting on the spot but we're not sure how severe just yet.

CS: AH PERMA DEATH PERMA DEATH! Just kidding! I've been told to stop putting my hand on my mouth when thinking...I'll try to avoid that. Any Brazilian servers? 

RG: Well let's talk about servers for a second, that question is something we can clarify. Which is when we were building UO, we were planning on only having one version of reality, one server, THE server. The sale's projections for Ultima Online lifetime were 30,000 units, and when we put up the Beta and asked people to pay $5 we got 50,000 people and that was our first clue that we were going to sell record numbers of this game. That's when we decided to create several "shards" of reality and each shard existed  as shattered remnants of Mondain's gem of immortality. Each shard of reality could become re-unified again so each shard was not separate completely, they were part of the same metafiction, if you catch my drift. I would still much prefer a single reality, my tech lead here assures me that we can go back to a single reality and whether you're playing in US or Europe or Asia, the way we're designing these ad-hoc multiplayer activities, that the amount of lag or traffic will be manageable. That also makes me want to keep reiterating, this game is fundamentally made up of 2 parts, the solo experience, it really can be played single player  and the persistent online world where you'll see the contributions made by your friends. Those two parts we're hoping will be very complete experiences. I know that we have two schools of thought, the people who NEVER want to log on and the other faction that is exciting about UO in the future. We're positive about both styles of game play. The persistent world will be available to you if you choose to play online either temporarily or constantly.

CS: People have questions about how other players will appear to you. We've mentioned that it's not an MMO, it's more of a social relevance ranking system, as people flag themselves for PvP they'll become more relevant to you for example. It'll be a simple relevance scoring system based on how important that person is to you. Friends will be high, guild members will be high, we're not doing 10,000 people here, it's not an MMO. Other factors will work as tie-breakers so to speak, people around your same power level will be shown around you, people you're likely to adventure with. 

RG: Sorry someone was asking who's sitting next to me that isn't Richard. 

CS: The relevance system is what will determine who you see, we're not going to have a full open world, where we see 1000s and 1000s of people, oh Richard is trying to give up his seat...

RG: I'm not going far, I just want to make sure you get some facetime with the whole team. 

*Lauren Hoffman Enters*

CS: Alright Lauren and I should start off by saying it's SXSW here in Austin and we've just returned from the bar.

RG: What and you didn't bring me anything?

LH: No, but it was amazing.

RG: Did you have your 5 shots?

CS: No, 2 beers.

RG: Well you're probably still behind.

CS: Let's see.

LH: Guards!

CS: Rainz!


CS: What's the deal with Rainz? Is that the...

RG: That's the guy that killed me in Beta of UO. My nemesis!

CS: I thought it was that Japanese (actually Korean) music superstar.

RG: No that guy's different, that's the guy that Colbert goes after. Different Rain.

CS: How will we be given access to the Developer's Chat Forum? Right now we're aiming to open up a private forum and continue to do these talks on a bi-weekly basis. It'll be more of a private talk instead of the 100s of people in here right now. Instead of over 300, it'll be just the people who have pledged at that level so we can have more private conversations, more direct regarding problems and concerns. That'll go live as soon as the Kickstarter ends. That's when we'll open the private forum and have more private talks so it's not just people typing in all caps and cutting and pasting their answers in. Will there be a party in single player? We'll likely have some form of companion in single player just because it helps with balancing and stuff, but in terms of party, I guess you mean companions. 


RG: That's literally something we were just talking about in the other room so we'll try this out on you guys. Not only can you hire henchman if you go down to the local pub or something like that but it might also be particularly fun if those henchman were people you actually know even if they were offline, you can hire your friend's character to go out adventuring. We think something like that would be a lot of fun.  This is also how we can actually get companions from older games because they were based on real people and they'll be playing this game so you might be able to encounter some of your old friends.  

CS: It seems that a lot of people have noticed we've been joined by epic moustache guy, hello Luigi.

MG: We all got nicknames.

RG: Is Luigi your name now? I thought it was pornstar man or pornstache. 

MG: Still need to get Prince British back. 

CS: He's not actually a Mario Brother, we'll keep his name hidden for anonymity, he's actually from Germany.

RG: Yep, he's already been keeping tabs on our European and especially German websites, we have a lot of European fans of games we've produced in the past. Our market is exactly split in 3: Americas, Europe and Asia. In fact, I got a ping yesterday from the UO team who still noted that 30% of their player base still comes from Japan. We haven't started our Japanese outreach yet but we'll have more on that next week too. 

CS: People are talking to him in German, apparently there are a few Germans here. There's a question there about itemization and I think I mentioned this in chat a while back, most likely stats will not be as important as in other RPGs today. Itemization is still important because it adds to your options.

RG: We're really trying to make this game not based on the level grind. Of course there will be a difference between a low level player and a high level player with lots of experience and a diversity of abilities. The game is not about leveling up and it allowing you to suddenly defeat bigger monsters, we're really trying to create a story-driven game and one that you can play a variety of different ways outside of combat. 
CS: What's the biggest difference between SotA and the Ultima series?

RG: I think the biggest difference is going to be the technological capabilities that we have now, most notably this new hybrid way that we're trying to introduce multiplayer. Whether you're playing solo player or multiplayer, the game is still very story-driven just like Ultimas 1-9 but if you are playing multiplayer it's not an MMO, it's a persistent evolving multiplayer, that's the technical differentiation. From a creative story telling stance, we're drawing a line that goes back to the first Ultimas where you'd talk to characters by typing phrases and you drew a map yourself and you had to keep copious amounts of notes, if you contrast it to RPGs today you click on menu options of conversation and follow the path to go where you're told to go which I find to be completely uninteresting. Instead we're going right in the middle, we won't force you to take a bunch of notes, the game will instead have note-taking assistants so to speak but we're not going to give you quest logs, no arrows on a map, no exclamation marks on NPCs we're instead going to let you go through and explore the game. You might be asked to find a woman in a red dress in the next city but you will actually need to find the woman in the red dress not some exclamation mark and when you find her you have to remember what you have to ask her so you'll find a way to remember how to think about quests instead of having it spelled out for you. 

CS: There's one on there I have to call out. Some people were concerned about first day numbers because a certain kickstarter project had a little bit of a headstart because it came from an already successful kickstarter that they still haven't shipped but they pulled from their audience and did really well so far but our first 2 days have us in the top3 of games on kickstarter right now.

RG: We're really excited so far but please keep going, we're right on track we what we had hoped we could do. We had the pleasure of helping Chris Roberts with his kickstarter project last month so we got a good post-mortem with him where he told us that doing this at this time worked really well and to make sure that we are working with, talking with and being with you, the players through the entire project. Once the kickstarter ends don't worry we're not going anywhere. This is a permanent relationship we're building through this game.

LH: We have looked at Dragon's Dogma and it is an excellent title for what they did with their multiplayer to allow you to play with your friends when they're not online.

RG: Are you volunteering to take on that system? Seriously though, who will get that system, partying, npc system? 

RC: It'll be a little round robin but probably Justin.
RG: That'll be a good system when we get Justin in since he is likely the one to inherent the party character system, we'll try to get him in here to talk about that.  

LH: Who is Pachi? That is what they're recommending as my nickname...

CS: Or Patsu?