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Shroud of the Avatar Interviews: Starr Long Goes Back to His Roots

By Garrett Fuller on July 16, 2013

MMORPG: Congratulations on rejoining Richard Garriott on Shroud. Can you tell us what it’s like to work with your old teammates?

Starr Long: Fun with a capital F! I have really missed working with Richard and my other old teammates. Making games with them is such a challenging and fun experience. I love that we always push each other to do something “different.”

MMORPG.com: Shroud is a very different approach to a fantasy online game. Tell us how you approach development, what is your process when looking at a new world?

Starr Long: I believe in establishing a core vision and then getting to a playable version of that vision as quickly as possible. From there you iterate until it is the best it can be. Now with our incredibly tight communication loop with the community they can have direct input on those iterations.

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MMORPG.com: Ultima Online still remains relevant in the MMO space, especially with the move back to sandbox style games. Can you tell us some of the lessons you learned when working on that title?

Starr Long: The biggest lesson I learned is that while we built the world, the players were the ones who owned it and ultimately, it was the players who determined what the experience was going to be like. We also learned that the deeper you make the simulation the more unexpected results (both good and bad) you will get; but that of course is what made it so exciting.

MMORPG.com: What expectations do you bring to Shroud of the Avatar? Are there areas you would really like to see grow within the game?

Starr Long: I hope that Shroud will be a game that both feels nostalgic while at the same time new and fresh. I really love crafting and I hope to really push how intertwined player-made items are with the overall economy much like we did with Ultima Online.

MMORPG.com: What elements of the game will you be working on directly? Do you have your team in place already?

Starr Long: I will be managing the entire project including milestones, budgets, etc. I will also be heavily involved with all aspects of game design. There is already a very strong team on Shroud, which is part of why I was so attracted to the project. We have a very small, tight team that works great together and we hope to stay very lean.

MMORPG.com: Where do you see the MMO genre going over the next few years? How does Shroud fit into this future?

Starr Long: I feel like we are seeing the MMO genre diversify and disperse itself amongst what were more traditionally multiplayer games. I think we are seeing the boundaries of what an MMO like experience can be. Games like Shroud and Destiny are great examples of taking MMOs in new directions where you can have a “massive” experience while still having the opportunity to enjoy a more intimate gameplay experience. 

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