Prepare for a server wipe in Release 17, but there are a number of reasons why you shouldn’t be bummed about the global reset. While Starr Long is out working his way around Europe, having finally been convinced that he needs a vacation, Chris Spears, and Richard Garriott took time to walk me through some of the big updates we can expect in Shroud of the Avatar’s 17th monthly release.
The big move in this update is an extensive overhaul of the crafting system. Initial implementations were introduced a couple releases back when the gathering skills were updated with unique bonuses. Where players who spend points in gathering harvest faster and get chances for harvesting resources to respawn the node after the last strike, points in the new crafting system will be a primary source of bonuses for crafted gear and come with their own cool set of events.
This release is the realization of an idea Richard Garriott had talked to me about nearly a year and a half ago. In his initial explanation of what he wanted to accomplish, Richard used the act of baking bread as an example for what he was intending. They’re right on track with his earlier vision, so I’ll just dip back into my notes and use the same example here.
To begin with, he wanted to explain Portalarium’s position with crafting failures. They want to be fairly forgiving where it’s concerned, but within reason. As Richard noted, bread has a lot of ingredients and failing doesn’t mean you lose everything. Rather, you get something sort of like bread that may not be exactly appetizing but is still minimally nourishing.
By the same token, there are plenty of opportunities in the process to recover from failure. Finding the dough a bit dry, you might add water or alternatively add flour if it’s too wet. In either case, even an unmitigated failure might net you something unexpectedly good. What was intended as biscuit dough might turn out to be ideal for a pizza. Thus the small problems here and there can lead to really good things.
You might also add additional seasonings mid-attempt to create a variant of a more generic recipe, and it’s this idea along with the random events that create the need for a wipe. After this new system is introduced, crafting will be much more robust and the generic items in the game now need to be removed as they don’t follow the same format. That said, don’t be surprised if some aspects of crafting are a little light. I think you can look at how combat was rolled out for an indication of how this is likely to go. I expect we’ll see the generic structure take form in this pass along with some of the options for tweaking generic recipes, and find more added in each pass.
Brandon Cotton, who initially prototyped the crafting system, walked me through some of the options they have on the table for creating later complexities in the system. Carebears rejoice, you’re finally getting some much-needed love, and the door is wide open for increasingly complex crafting on down the road. The devs point out that they likely won’t even announce some additions, so master crafters will have a reason to experiment on occasion.
By the way, if you’ve had trouble finding a vacant lot for a house of your own, the wipe means this will be a good chance to land some prime real estate. Don’t expect status quo, however. There are some changes coming that impact houses, as well.
For one, PaxLair as the longest running in-game community from Ultima Online, is getting their initial player village in the game. Governor Winfield was visiting the Portalarium offices the same day I stopped in to visit with Richard and the guys, and was working with devs to create the layout of the new PaxLair community as it’ll exist in Shroud of the Avatar. I got an early look at what they were working on, and the result of developer and backer contribution once again proves itself with outstanding results.
PaxLair is just one of the many player-owned communities to pop up in Shroud, however. Plenty of other villages and small cities will be added over the next several releases as developers team up with organized backers to customize the scenes. That means new housing locations will be up for grabs, and hopefully make for an early buyer’s market in some of the more public areas.
Where and how houses are placed is changing a bit in some locations, too. Players will now have the option of what sort of fence or wall they want along the parameter of their yards, or if they want anything at all. Also, the team is working on a new placement system that in some areas will allow players to place houses where and however they want. To me, it sounds a bit more like what you saw in UO, though there’s obvious room for griefing that they’ll need to work out before implementing it totally.