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Release 8 - Good Old Ultraviolance

Red Thomas Posted:
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Food for Thought

Before I left, Richard had one other new idea he wanted to pass by me.  I like to tell myself that he does something along these lines each time we meet because my opinion matters.  In reality, I think he just enjoys having a witness to Starr’s facepalm when he realizes he has to figure out how to implement Richard’s new great idea.

This stroke of creativity should cause Mr. Long a bit less consternation, though.  Richard wants to implement food in the game, which they’d already planned on, but he wants to put a twist on it.  After some reading and research, Richard says he realized that most food falls into three categories, mostly equal in a balanced meal once the water removed.  By weight, the average human diet is mostly a third each of carbohydrates, fats, and protein.  That’s not exactly accurate, but it’s close enough to use as a rule in the game.

Thus, Richard wants to give in-game food stats that equate to each of those categories, and have each impact different components of the game.  Body and strength related attributes would depend on eating a healthy amount of protein, for instance.  For mind activity, you might need more fast-burning carbs instead.  The result should be that food isn’t something you periodically shovel into your character’s mouth to meet a generic requirement.  You’ll want to find the best and most balanced food possible, which makes player-run kitchens and restaurants a little more likely.

I’m always for anything that gives a little more power in the game to players, or creates an opportunity for playing the game in a different way.  Shroud of the Avatar is one of those games that should have that in spades, and it’s the ideas like this that demonstrate why that’s true.  Richard obviously has a story he wants to tell inside this game, but he works so hard at empowering the players to do whatever they want, that you wouldn’t know it sometimes.

Faster Than Slow

As I was hanging out with the team and talking about their progress, an interesting conversation developed.  Viewing things from inside the development and seeing mostly what they want to do and haven’t been able to get done, the devs in Portalarium have a sense of moving too slow sometimes.  I know this because of their shock upon my remarks about how fast this project appears to be moving.  It’s interesting because the truth is probably more in the middle.

It wasn’t completely finished for my visit, but the new intro cinematic promises to set a great tone for the game.

I see a team that has made dramatic shifts in direction which have completely altered their development schedule more than once based on backer feedback, and yet they manage to churn out huge content pushes in each update.  The mechanics behind Shroud of the Avatar continue to grow and become more developed with each month.  Having done a little programming myself, I continue to be amazed at how much they can do in each month-long cycle.

Because Portalarium is using a more open development methodology, where they openly share more of the process with their backers and pull in more feedback.  I really expected the psychology of the situation to make it feel like development was moving more slowly than it was.  In fact, it’s just the opposite.  Unlike a traditional development, or other less open developments, where you don’t hear much in the way of developmental details, you may go weeks or months at a time with no new information, but Shroud of the Avatar backers have virtually immediate information about what’s going on at Portalarium.

I got to sit in a developer meeting, and what they were talking about was precisely what I’ve seen them post about on the forums.  The fact that backers are exposed to so much information, I think actually gives them a better appreciation of how much work is really being acomplished.  It’s not exactly what I expected, but it is one more example of how ahead of his time Lord British continues to be.  Richard Garriott just can’t help himself.  If there’s a paradigm out there, he’s got to shake it apart.

That’s why you’re getting to engage in PVP in this release, rather than attacking AI critters.  Everyone else does it the other way around, but LB doesn’t care to color inside the lines.  It’s obviously a little rough, but as a first pass at serious combat and with all the new pieces of the system, I have to say I’m pretty dang impressed once again with what these folks manage to do in a mere thirty days.  So, login and give it a shot.  I think you’ll have a lot of fun.  I sure did.

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Red Thomas

A veteran of the US Army, raging geek, and avid gamer, Red Thomas is that cool uncle all the kids in the family like to spend their summers with. Red lives in San Antonio with his wife where he runs his company and works with the city government to promote geek culture.