A 64-bit version of the client is finally available this release, which should finally allow us to take advantage of all that extra memory most of us have in our gaming rigs. No need to delete your old client, either. It’ll update automatically. The guys at Portalarium point out that they’re just carrying on an old Origin tradition, which is building games that force people to upgrade their hardware. Their joke aside, I’m actually rather surprised the game runs as smoothly as it does at this point in the development process. There are the occasional memory issues (on the old 32-bit client, anyway) but nothing like I would have expected. They’ve been churning out content on a monthly basis, and I think they’ve only paused once for a serious performance pass.
This month also included the tweak to Shroud of the Avatar’s online store. Pledge levels were added to fill in some of the larger gaps between tiers, something that actually began as a community suggested course of action. The player-owned communities have obviously been a huge success, but the new stretch goals are what I’m even more curious about.
It’s too early to really say for sure, but the new stretch goal system where players vote on what they want added to the game by purchasing specific add-ons is a pretty interesting idea. I have to admit, I was a little on the fence about it when I first heard about it from Richard and Starr. I couldn’t think of any specific objection, but I was a little worried about the community reaction.
I need not have concerned myself, though. Once again, Richard Garriott, Starr Long, and the other rock star (or should I say, “rock starr?”) team at Portalarium are plugged right into their community on a level that blows any other team out of the water. Take a look open-development guys, this is how it’s done. Before they ever went public with their new funding changes, the developers took the ideas to their Dev+ community. What followed were scores of pages of fantastic feedback. That feedback allowed the team to smooth out their presentation of the ideas for release to the general public, and I think it helped avoided any major pitfalls.
And because I know my readers expect the occasional scoop, here’s a great one for you. Spend a little time figuring out your armor/weapon recipes and where to get the materials to make them in this release, because in Release 8, next month, the team plans to introduce PvP. Your first reaction may be to worry because they haven’t quite gotten the PvE combat nailed down, but Richard made an excellent point about why they’re introducing PvP earlier than intended. Richard says that players will help them determine what “the speed of combat should be like, and all these other things that’ll help us tune [combat] foundationally better.”
That’s probably the first time that I’ve ever heard of someone using PvP to improve their PvE combat system, but it’s brilliant. The guys at Portalarium constantly seem to be making these statements that cause you to scratch your head and wonder why no one else ever considered that point before. I think it really shows the maturity and depth of knowledge of the folks working on Shroud of the Avatar. Then when that’s combined with the exceptional community they’re fielding these ideas to, it really makes me excited about where this game is going.
Wherever they plan on driving this epic Van of the Avatar, I’m pretty glad I’m along for the ride. If the growing number of backers is any indication, I’m not alone in that excitement, either. I think what I like best about this project, besides the incredible relationship they have with their community, is how fearless they are about experimenting with new ideas. What I find shocking though, is that they do it and still manage to stay right on schedule with the development. The future is looking seriously strong for Shroud of the Avatar.