Friday, March 15, 2013

Shroud of the Avatar Video Transcript #2 (Part 3 of 3)

(1:01:15 - 1:28:52)

*Start of Part 3 (1:01:15)*

CS: Have you talked about the story at all? Anything you’re willing to talk about?

RG: Oh yes, so I’m not going to talk about the story but I will tell you a little bit. The bit of the story that I will tell, well I’ve already given a little bit of it so I’ll see if I can recast it slightly, you know the first mystery of the first episode, the forsaken virtues piece of the shroud of the avatar is to see how and why this new malevolence has risen in the world. You arrive in the world and the first things you discover is that you’re in a medieval world and there’s a little bit of technology developing, the mechanical age has begun but only in the wealthier pockets and there is a new evil that has risen. It’s not a mindless evil, it’s not just in the dark that monsters rise and cause trouble, there is a very specific plan that they are executing. Your first job is to figure out who they are, what their ultimate goal is and what they’re trying to execute right now as they lay siege to one town after another, after another. Once you’ve discovered the nature of this new evil and the goal of their plan, that’s when you move on to the second episode. Ha! Chuckles revenge, I was just talking about Chuckles the other day when I booted up my old AppleII before I brought it to the RoosterTeeth interview. I found Caverns of Callisto that Chuckles wrote and I filmed it on the AppleII and I sent it to Chuck and I said hey what’s this? He couldn’t recognize his own game, admittedly it was running in black and white and pretty old school, not too surprising he couldn’t remember it. Killing children, you may not have known but that’s such a great question for me, I don’t know if you all know the story of killing children but if you don’t you might enjoy this. When I was writing Ultima 4, which was the first time I was trying to create a game that monitored your behavior in accordance with your virtues, I was also setting up scenes to trap you into behaving against the virtues and after I made dungeon room after dungeon room, at the very end I made a room that had children in cages in the four corners of the room, there was a lever in the center of the room and if you flipped that lever, thinking you were going to free all the children, the children would turn into monsters all around you and either you’d have to kill the monsters or get killed by them. I thought this was great because it made people think they were going to lose some virtue points and I knew in fact that there was no test in there but I knew the players wouldn’t know there wasn’t a test in there and I suspected it would cause a moral dilemma.

Well my brother came into my office one day with a letter written to him from someone in our QA department that said “Mr. Garriott I refuse to work for a company that so clearly supports child abuse.” And my brother goes “What in the world did you put in this game that is promoting child abuse?” I had no idea, so we had to track down this guy and ask him what he was on about and he was talking about that room, and he said that he went into that room and he flipped that lever and was forced to slaughter children and I don’t think that’s appropriate. My brother said “Richard you gotta take that room out of the game” but I disagreed “no you guys don’t get it, first I invoked a strong emotional reaction, that’s a good thing in a game, second you don’t have to kill the children, don’t throw the lever, simple.” If you have to throw the lever you can actually charm the children and walk away or the third thing you can do is put the children to sleep and then they couldn’t hurt you. You could even drop your sword, punch them once and they’d run away. There are actually lots of ways you can get through the room; you don’t have to kill children and it became a family battle. My brother kept telling me I had to remove the room from the game, my parents who my brother lobbied to said you should take it out Good Housekeeping is going to be against the game because of this killing children thing, I said no way the room stays. The game was released and it wasn’t an issue, nobody got mad, there were no comments negative or positive about the children. Ever since then I’ve put a shrine to killing children in every Ultima and not just every Ultima but every game I’ve ever developed, I’ve tried to put the honorific room for killing children except for one, the last game we did and it was Susan Cath, a friend of ours who worked with us in the past and failed to put in the room of killing children to our last game. Now in this game not only do we have a room for killing children, Susan will be in that room too. We started it already and you’ll see a character named Susan in the prototype who’s being hunted down by wolves and she is one of the first people to die in the game for her failure to put in a room of killing children in our last game. Will you be able to drive a boat?

CS: Don’t answer him, don’t answer him, he’s trolling, don’t answer the troll!

RG: Oh look there’s some good Russian *speaks Russian* Graphics you’ve seen in the prototypes, so the Unity engine that we’re developing in is actually a very powerful engine and our team is very programmer heavy and REALLY artist light, and that’s just where we found ourselves when we were putting all this together, so most of the art you’ve seen in the game honestly has been begged, borrowed or steal’d or hacked together with spit and bailing wire. By no means do we think that the art is up to our final target we were just trying to communicate the direction and intention with this prototype, so well we have high confidence in our tools and vision, we have a really great concept artist but we haven’t really had a change to make much of our original art.

CS: Did we come to a final decision on Paypal, I know we were going to open a store using paypal after the Kickstarter has finished.

RG: We don’t have a final decision but this is our thinking, we’ve talked to a lot of people who have been through this Kickstarter path ahead of us and a lot of people are reticent above putting their money through Amazon and that’s one of the reasons why we put up our sister-site, the SotA site, it can’t at the moment but in the future it could be set up to accept payment. We certainly don’t want to do that at this point, we want to make sure we put enough money through the kickstarter site to close out our goal, so we definitely won’t do it before then. We could start doing this as soon as the Kickstarter reaches its goal, but we’re still managing things in realtime so we’ll decide when the best time to open up that other site for commerce is. We’re going to put other things on that commerce site by the way, I don’t know if we’ve put up Iolo’s video yet.

CS: I just mentioned that.

RG: David Watson, who’s the real character behind Iolo, the bard who plays the lute and crafts crossbows in Ultima, is in real life Austin, Texas, he is known as Iolo, he plays the lute and he sells crossbows. He was here playing a little bit of lute for us and showing off some of his crossbows, it might not help us too much but we thought it would be great for the community, we might on our own site sell some other things other than the things in our Kickstarter pledges. We might introduce you all to Iolo and allow you to build a relationship with him and perhaps acquire one of his fine arms and we’re discussing this live but we might make it so if you buy one of Iolo’s crossbows from our site, it might map into having a special crossbow in the game, for example. When you get to see his video he’s a cool guy, he’s a little bit crazy, a little kooky and wonderful. You’ll get to meet him at least by video shortly.

CS: Give my 5 minutes and I’ll have it up on Youtube.

RG: Denis Loubet question, yes Denis not only did all those great Ultima covers but he also helped us with those concept sketches of the mechanical equipment that is being introduced into the game. He is still a close friend and does contract work for us and may join us in time, we’ll see. Show everyone your phone case. I waited 50 years to live the bachelor life, I built myself a crazy house with secret passages, I flew myself into outer space, I did all this wacky stuff and enjoyed very much my misspent youth but after 50 years I actually found a woman with whom I just decided I had to become married we’ve settled down and we have a baby daughter, here is baby Kinga, who is now 8 months old. We’ll have to figure out how to sneak her into the game somehow. Thank you for asking, by all means I’m a proud poppa, in the second half of my first 100 years. 

Will Lord British be married in game, that’s a good question, as Lord British is married in real life, the presumptive answer would be yes, as you know one of my big fictional pieces in my virtual worlds is I like to create the new world as a unique world to the Earth, you and I are people from Earth who find a way to get there. I like the metaphoric methods they use in The Chronicles of Narnia, where people from Earth go to that virtual world, and when they return from that virtual world, not much time has passed back on Earth, no matter how much time they spent in the other world. I also like that because it means that you age as you would in this other world but you’ve just found this portal in which you can travel between these worlds and have your adventures and then return to Earth. What that allows us to do for example is between games 100 years or 1000 years has past, well it hasn’t past for you on Earth so it makes sense that you can travel to this world 1000 years later when in actuality only 10 or 15 years has past by for you back on Earth. This is why Lord British can still be around even Eons after the dark lords have come and gone because I live here with you, we age at the same rate, we don’t age the way Britannia did in the original Ultima, or perhaps we might call it New Britannia ages here in the new world. So yes we are from Earth, you are from Earth and I am from Earth and just as I have always liked to do, we find a portal that takes us to that new world. David would you like to come over and say hi to people?

*David Swofford Enters*

DS: Yes, I have an errand for you to run.

RG: An errand eh?

DS: Yes I need Rick to come and sit in for you while I get a picture it’ll take about 5 minutes.

RG: Alright so send somebody in and we’ll let them take over. In fact it’s 4:48 here central so we’ll wrap this up in about 5 minutes. For those of you who don’t know, I don’t know how many of you are in Austin right now but it’s SXSW here and this evening at 8pm I’m going to help open up the SXSW games expo and give a little demo of the game there, we’ll shut this down in the next 5 minutes. So get Rick in here. Thank you guys VERY much! We’ll get Rick and Bee in here and I’ll go with David and I’ll say my good byes now, I told them already they’ll have 10 more minutes to talk with y’all. I’ll be out of the room so you can bad mouth me all you want, if you feel it’s necessary. So thank you thank you thank you, tell your friends, see ya.

*Rick and Bee Enter*

RH: Hi there guys you remember me I’m Rick and this is Bee, let’s answer some questions. What ya got there?

Bee: I’m not sure, let’s see, I see some people talking about the graphics so yea this isn’t even alpha, it’s a prototype at this point so everything is going to look better as time goes on. I wouldn’t even look at the visuals you see as anything that will resemble the final game. Pretty much everything you see will be different in our final game, right now just think of it as a prototype trying to explore different systems and some of the things that we’ve spec’d out we’re looking for your input in the forums, what you want from an Ultima, what things define an Ultima, the things you’re really looking for. We need you to get to the forums and tell us what you want,  a lot of these detailed questions we don’t really have answers for you yet, because it’s a kickstarter game we’re looking to see what you want before we make it that way.

RH: And there’s been a ton of good stuff on the website we’ve set up and through this video right now, the comments on the kickstarter forum, the questions aer things I like the most, there are some very straight up suggestions, as a designer I like to take to Richard and see what he thinks. I want to facilitate him first and foremost and the players secondly. In a single player Ultima, people enjoy different things and in UO people enjoy different things. So today has been really exciting, not just for the kickstarter but all to kick off the dialogue to see what’s most important to everybody and to bounce that off Richard. That’s really going to define a lot of the direction we take and right up until now a lot of the stuff has been prototyped and we were just talking earlier about how much is too much work to finalize on graphics for a scene that really is nothing more than a prototype of what we’re thinking of and I’m really excited to move past this to really start making the game you want.

Bee: Yea and I think I saw someone ask the question about the forums and I think they’re on our website is where the community site is and where our forums are, and I saw someone talking about the Mac and we’re using Unity which is of course PC-first, it allows us to compile for Mac.

RH: I won’t spend a great deal of time on it but someone asked how’s life working at Portalarium and this is one of my favourite places to work over the course of my life and working with Richard as well. It’s been tons of fun and it seems the creativity is a lot more wide-open here as we’ve tooled ourselves to a much smaller tribe than what we’d usually be working with in a large corporate environment. I mean just being able to sit down and do this; I really miss this interaction of throwing things out there and getting that feedback to make what we’ll really decide to do. I think you have better eye sight then me, oh wow news that the First-Responder pledge just sold out, that’s great news. A question about the single player style…I have a tendency to really love answering questions…we certainly have a plan for that stuff…that is first and foremost…how do you share that experience with your friends…I have a few brothers…I have a few people close to me that I want to share this with…I have played numerous MMOs in the last 10 years…we’re lucky that we have that knowledge of what worked well and what didn’t…its at the top of Richard’s list to do that right.

Bee: Someone asked if we’ll do this talk again…definitely something we’ll do…people give us feedback…we respond…we have other forms of communication as well…forums…facebook…chat…we plan on adding other ways to keep track of the project…dev blogs…people asked about mod tool…realistically not going to happen because of budget…we want your input on creating new content…we will create it you can come up with ideas…

RH: Questions about the balance of single and multiplayer…splitting single and multiplayer world isn’t what we want to do…doing something in the single player world will have effects on your multiplayer world…how that works comes down to us…that seems to be the basis on a lot of questions today…will there be a split…you feel like you have two personas…nice guy and bad guy…we want to avoid that…

Bee: People keep asking how to avoid cheating in online play…we’ll figure it out…technical thing…too detailed to answer at this point…we’ll see how it goes…encourage you guys to help us…

RH: A couple people asking about whether we’ll support Turkish…not just Turkish but other languages…time will tell…tech side of things will allow us to do other languages…in our best interest…our job will be to support as many languages as we can.

Bee: A lot of people talking about NPC schedules…living breathing world…meteor strikes …

RH: I’m a carebear…NPC schedules were always my favorite things…woman who swept the streets…knew where she lived…made the world come alive…definitely something important in this world…distinct possibility of doing this better than ever before

Bee: I see people talking about PvP…look at the wide spectrum of gamers…solo players to themselves…PKers wanting to hunt down other players…we want to encourage players to play the way they want…friend elements but not an MMO…connected and social…as social as you want to be.

RH: Our time is running out…we’ve had a great time, thanks!

*End of Video*

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