British Invasion: Shroud Of The Avatar Raises $2 Million


Shortly after Torment: Tides of Numenumenumenuma-BATMAN claimed its title as the most-funded Kickstarter game in the short history of Kickstarted games, Richard Garriott’s definitely-not-an-Ultima sequel, Shroud of the Avatar has raised over two million dollars. The Kickstarter campaign, which had a one million dollar goal, finished just shy of doubling the target but direct pledges through the RPG’s website pushed it to a current total of $2,057,992, a figure which will almost certainly be out of date by the time you click on the link. Understandably, recent updates have been focused on clarifying and altering reward tiers, although as is increasingly common, I find the whole system cumbersome in the extreme. There were details about crafting last week though and some of that information is below.

Even though the crafting systems may well change between now and the October 2014 release, I find the thought processes behind the current plans interesting.

Each of the five categories for the resource production is split into a gathering skill section and a refining skill section. For instance, for mining, there is one skill tree dedicated to the collection of ore and gems, and another for the refining of those into final forms for use by the crafting skills. This same idea is mirrored for the other four categories of hunter(skinning/tanning), forager(herb collection/preparation), woodsman(lumber collection/lumber cutting and planing), fishing(fish catching, fish cleaning).

Skill trees for each of the above categories has branches for faster collection/refining, more output from each collection/refining, higher quality collection/refining, and greater tool endurance for collection/refining.

You can read more here, where you’ll also find Warren Spector chatting to Lord British.


  1. Jade Raven says:

    Lord British is staring at me.

    Look I don’t have any more money mate.

  2. Freud says:

    That crafting system sounds terrible. Fish cleaning? WTF.

    • InternetBatman says:

      To be fair, they’re remarkably different skills. When fish catching goes wrong, you get swept out to sea. When fish cleaning goes wrong, you get very, very sick. In the case of Tuna, sometimes Americans and Canadians will catch it and Japanese businessmen will buy it, ship it to Japan where it’s butchered, and then ship it back to America, where it’s sold.

      • solidsquid says:

        Or when fish cleaning goes wrong you end up cutting your hand open badly. Fish gutting generally requires pretty sharp knives, and the bones can make it easy for the knife to catch and jump

    • bladedsmoke says:

      I don’t know if you’re annoyed because you misunderstand what “fish cleaning” means and think it sounds silly (it actually means correctly gutting and preparing a fish to be cooked), or because you know what it is and just think fish cleaning is an unnecessary skill to put into a game.

      Either way, I disagree, I won’t be satisfied until I get Fish Cleaning Simulator 2013.

    • Blue_Lemming says:

      Great bit of escapism from the ol’ daily grind, clicking “catch fish” then “clean fish”, i wonder if its a qt event…
      Also why is he dressed like Blackadder?

      • TillEulenspiegel says:

        Can the simulationists have one game? Just one?

        You have a whole world full of gamey shit like WoW and GW2 designed to continuously shove “fun” in your face. Feel free to play them instead of this.

  3. Subject 706 says:

    Garriott is a little too in love with “social features”, these days, which stopped me from pledging to this Kickstarter. Spiritual successor to Ultima VII would have gotten my money ASAP, this seems to be more llika pseudo-MMO with an absurd focus on player housing.

    • Infinitron says:

      Ahem Divinity: Original Sin ahem

      • Subject 706 says:

        Backing ’em for 65 to get it AND Dragon Commander. But thank you for the concern :)

      • Hobz says:

        I wish there was a prestigious magazine that could help rpg fans in separating the wheat from the chaff. That way, they would have know better than to spend money on this crap when Divinity : Original Sin is out there.

    • BoMbY says:

      Let me quote some things from the “What IS Shroud of the Avatar?” update on KS:

      “Our primary objectives are to tell a story even more compelling than Ultimas IV-VII, create a virtual world more interactive than Ultima VII, develop deep rich multi-player capabilities beyond combat akin to Ultima Online, and offer a bold new approach to integrate them with “Selective Multi-Player”. […] Shroud of the Avatar is infused with rich storylines, deeply integrated into game play, developed by Best Selling Author Tracy Hickman and RPG legend Richard Garriott. […] the main quest line will provide greater than 40 hours of focused, story driven content.”

      The good news is, you can still support the game via the homepage.

      • Subject 706 says:

        Yeah sure, but most updates are clearly multiplayer focused, as are most stretch goals. Not to mention that Garriott himself was “surprised” at the amount of people that wanted offline singleplayer. My impression is that they suffer from wanting to be everything to everyone, with the single player assurances being a bit of an afterthought. Therefore their kickstarter failed to convince me, who primarily plays singleplayer games. But they clearly convinced enough people to get funded.

        That being said, I might be wrong in the end, but in that case I’ll purchase the game after it has been released and reviewed.

        • BoMbY says:

          I really hope you’ll be wrong in the end … we’ll see …

          • iridescence says:

            Yeah it was basically:

            LB:”I’m going to make the best game ever! I promise!”
            ME: “*sigh* take a bunch of my money for 5 of your hypothetical games.

            Funny thing is I’m dead set against actually pre-ordering games. But Kickstarting seems do much more appealing somehow.

        • cpmartins says:

          Yep, that they were “surprised” that so many people wanted offline-play was the eye-opener for me. Withdrew the pledge. Not to worry, Original Sins got their money, and I’m quite sure I’ll get the better single-player game.

    • Scare Tactics says:

      I’m hoping it will be a worthy sequel to Ultima Online as UO2/UOX never saw the light of day, despite being on the way to completion and being way ahead of WoW, which wasn’t even released back then.

      I know its not focused on multiplayer only, it’s a fact I tend to ignore as I’m getting heavy Hellgate: London vibes the longer I think about it.

  4. Drake Sigar says:

    Ooooh this is going to be sweet, that means SpoonyOne gets to interview Mr British!

  5. P-Dazzle says:

    Well isn’t this just great news. I would have lost sleep had this multi millionaire who has been to space and owns a house the size of a castle had not been given loads more money to help him with his new project. Phew.

    • Entitled says:

      Actually, his castle is already up for sale.

      link to

      • Strabo says:

        Yeah, but only because he wants to buy a bigger, better one.

        • Strangerator says:

          He’s already living in Britannia Manor III, last year when I drove past it looked like construction was just about done.

    • Moraven says:

      Why invest millions into something you are not sure if it has interest or not? Kickstarter is the thing today and is a great way to spread PR and see how interested players are. I’m sure he is kicking in a fair share.

    • ScubaMonster says:

      Yes I’m sure other notable designers like Tim Schaffer are poor.

  6. Lemming says:

    Utterly undeserved. First time I’ve felt the twinge of doubt about Kickstarter. Oh well, they can’t all be decent can they?

  7. TheMick says:

    no staring eyes?

    • Premium User Badge

      Earl-Grey says:

      A glaring omission.
      Surely the lustfull stare of Garriot deserves a tag?

  8. Rei Onryou says:

    Torment: Tides of Numenumenumenuma-BATMAN

    News post wins comment thread.

  9. Pony Canyon says:

    If this had been a successor to Ultima VII and been single player only, I would have been interested.
    If this had been a successor to Ultima Online and been a sandbox MMORPG ,I would have been interested.

    The mish-mash of both leads me to believe that we’ll get a sloppy game that achieves neither.

    • BoMbY says:

      Either that, or we’ll get the best game ever …

    • Stromko says:

      Personally, I’ve seen no evidence that Richard Garriot is a good designer.

      I loved the old Ultima games, Ultima Worlds, etcetera and Ultima Underworld was also incredible, but since Origin Systems broke up the only thing I’ve seen from Garriot was that awful MMOFPS that I can’t even remember the name of anymore.

      I think the people he worked with were the real key to making such great games, and I don’t think Dr. Spector is leaving his job to help with Shroud of the Avatar.

      • iridescence says:

        Wouldn’t the 8-9 good Ultima games (plus Ultima Online from what I’ve heard) be evidence the he is or at least was a good designer?

        I mean Ultima IV has to be one of the greatest games ever made for PC.

  10. Singularity says:

    Although I applaud the success of this Kickstarter (I put in $40) I think it’s kind of silly talking about it being the highest funded Kickstarter. Sure, on the website. Star Citizen did almost double, also brought to you buy a British guy.

    • Harlander says:

      If it’s not on Kickstarter, is it really a Kickstarter?

      I mean, “crowd-funded project” isn’t quite as snappy, but is that kind of genericisation the road we really want to go down?


      Oh, OK.

  11. fenriz says:

    skill for extraction and skill for refining? Are you kidding me? That’s a rip off of Mortal Online!!

    Which i’m totally fine with, but it should be recognized as such

    • Moraven says:

      Star Wars Galaxy and Horizons did gathering/crafting where it was a focus, interesting and had a impact on the world. Other than streamline bits of it, I wish Blizzard would try to make it more interesting. The cooking and farm was a start, but they need to do more. Have not played enough EVE/Perpetuum to hate or enjoy it.

      • fenriz says:

        That’s right, but you can’t expect depth off a themepark online game, they focus on story, something that shouldn’t even EXIST in an online world, for god sake. Stories are timeless and linear, a virtual world is progressive, real time(and imo entirely player-driven).

        Anyway *relief* finally, it’s the right path, it’s the evolution of the sandbox genre, of actual fantasy simulations, to make activities more realistic and compelling and interactive. Ooooopf…. did we need LB to show us? Evidently yes!
        Damn it, it’s the only possible road for a freeroaming game!.

        What else? Reminds me of Ultima Ascension magic system, where you had to manually position the magic ingredients. IT WAS GOOD(mmm unfortunately the only good thing i remember about U9), you had to TOUCH those ingredients, place them. I mean jesus, that’s what interaction is, you need to have a direct contact with what you see, not just double click icons of recipes. You wanna make a cooking recipe? Do it JUST as you would in R/L, find a fire, get a pan, put ingredients in the right order, set the time, see the “nutrional attributes” of the dish, retry until you get the best, then maybe put “secret ingredients” on you might get a rare magical dish that you can sell for lots.

        Voilá, that’s sandbox. To me a sandbox rpg is synonym to fantasy simulation. Simulation means it’s like reality but in a setting you could never be in R/L(yeah, camping’s still fun, kids). So fantasy simulation is the paradox of reality plus implossibility. That’s the magic of videogaming, right there, easy. But anyway, to me, a fantasy simulation needs to give players one “sensation”, that of:


  12. Strangerator says:

    I think an important point to mention is the division of skill types, I believe the crafting skills won’t detract from the more combat focused skills, it was phrased something like “it only costs you extra time to train those skills.” So I get the feeling most people will specialize in gathering skills so they can grab stuff from dungeons and sell them to dedicated crafters.

    • Bart Stewart says:

      I agree that’s the mechanically important bit… but it’s also the part I disagree with.

      Giving crafting and combat character abilities their own separate advancement point pools means that everybody will pick up crafting skills because they can. That reduces social engagement.

      When non-combat and combat skills draw from the same pool (as in the original Star Wars Galaxies, for example), players have to make a choice for their character. You can max out combat skills, or you can be a master crafter, but not both in one character.

      That does a couple of interesting things. One is that it creates the opportunity for people to excel at crafting because they prefer making things over destructive action. In a game like that, when you see a highly skilled crafter the odds are good that they’re doing it because they actually enjoy it, not because it’s merely a means to some other end (like self-sufficiency or winning the mass-production economic subgame). This does require a one-character-per-server rule, though, which I know some gamers don’t like. But without that cost, there’ll be a lot of players with crafter alts — fine if your design goal is that crafter characters exist only to supply combat characters with stuff, but problematic if your design goal is for crafting to be something most players do because they specifically enjoy that kind of play. (Yes, a few people will still buy additional accounts. I don’t think they’re ever a majority of the players in any major online RPG.)

      A more subtle effect of combat and non-combat skills using one pool is the message it sends that both styles of play are equally valued. Non-combat stuff isn’t basically “free” (which says the dev team considers it less important than combat); if you want it, you have to pay for it just like everything else.

      On balance, I’d rather see one shared advancement point pool and a one-character-per-server rule, since I like the idea of crafting as being worth implementing as its own full gameplay mode. But I’m funny like that. :)

  13. HisDivineOrder says:

    Just proves that you have to have a name in order to be given money. Can’t wait till this game shows up (if it ever shows up) as far less than what he’s promising and everyone suddenly remembers that’s his specialty.

    Too late, he spent yer moneys on a second yacht. Whoops.

  14. onlyinshadows says:

    The community is WAY involved guys, they are making it as much as he is. Check out some of the dev chats, it’s great how much they are listening.

    btw – Ultima fans NEED to watch this lmao…. link to