Watching Shroud of the Avatar take shape

All this talk of Ultima and the Avatar has made me sentimental so I’ve literally watched a couple of hours worth of interviews with Richard Garriott about the history of Ultima and how we ended up with the concept of Shroud of the Avatar. Turns out the kernel of SotA has been floating around since 2011. Garriott brought it up at some keynote speeches as well as offering the concept in a couple interviews. And then he went off to create Portalarium with the express intent of making SotA.

Garriott also noted that he tried to reach a deal with EA over using the Ultima name. It seems they couldn’t come to terms, which may not be a bad thing. Maybe it’s best to start anew rather than trying to make an Ultima Online 2.

I have to say even though this is a merely a prototype, the parts I’ve seen look pretty damn impressive. And it will only get better from here. Once the graphic designers actually get to work we’ll see a complete world come together.

It was also interesting to note that Garriott is an avid tablet gamer. He didn’t specifically call out one, but I can only assume he meant the iPad. He’s a big tower defense fan and believes that tablet gaming will eclipse console gaming. With that in mind he mentioned more than once that he wanted to see SotA run on a tablet. Judging by the complexity and size he’s talking about I don’t know if that’s feasible, but it’s great to hear him say it. Although, it’s possible it could be done for the Surface. Wouldn’t that be something?

The more I read about this game the more excited I get. I get a little leery when people use the terms “social media” and “social gaming”. To me those are craptacular games you see on Facebook or in a browser. But when talking about an MMO there has to be some sort of social element so I guess I will have to get used to it. When listening to Garriott this new world is going to have a bit of everything. It sounds like plenty of Minecraft and Monopoly elements will be in there. It doesn’t sound like SotA will have levels either which means more emphasis on exploration and building. There was a comment made about whether or not people want sandbox games. I think the success of Minecraft says they do.

And hell, look at Minecraft. It’s a sandbox game that’s folding in more and more adventure elements with each release. Only thing missing in Minecraft is an overall story and main villain. But you never know when that might show up.

Garriott has spent a lot of time thinking about SotA and has spent a few million of his own money to get the project this far. The Kickstarter cash is mainly to help hire a few key people. I’m pretty sure a game like this will cost $20 million to get out the door.

So, who else is ready for SotA? Have you jumped on board with Kickstarter?

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