Die Shard: First Footage Of Shroud Of The Avatar

The resolution of this first video of Richard Garriott’s Shroud of the Avatar: Forsaken Virtues is so bad that I thought I’d time-traveled back to the 90s. However deductive reasoning on my part eliminated that notion quickly enough: I wasn’t wearing an X-Files t-shirt, and I wasn’t pining over [name redacted], [name redacted], [really, Craig?], nor Gillian Anderson (a message to lank-haired teenage me: you’ll eventually live your lifelong ambition of traveling, working in the games industry, and squeezing a bit of any girl. Please, get a haircut). No, it’s just low-res. It’s part of an hour-long presentation Garriott and his team gave at RTX 13, talking about his adventure in crowd-funding, the many eras of multiplayer games, before finally showing off early footage. Video is below.

If you’re impatient, you can skip to 22 mins in, but about 8 mins in he gets onto the infrastructure of modern multiplayer, which I think is kind of interesting. It’s something a lot of these new crowd-funded games are considering. Garriott’s proposal: everyone together on one shard, but the game will continually try and group friends together. He calls this “re-sharding”. This is incredibly early footage, only three months in, and shows off some crafting, combat, and the two-scale map reminiscent of early Ultima games. More importantly, it shows off the cape physics.

Mmmm, flappy. So backers, do you think what you’re seeing is a step in the right direction?


  1. Arglebargle says:

    KInd of a shame his fans and backers just want retread UO, with better graphics. I’d lay you good odds Garriott would really rather be doing something a bit different.

    • Red_Avatar says:

      Are you serious? UO is still my favorite MMO of all time for a good reason: immense freedom and tons and tons of stuff to do. Think Skyrim a decade and a half earlier but with more limited combat. If they can improve the combat yet keep the depth, we could have a brilliant RPG which loads of people have been waiting for for many many years (especially since Ultima IX, while not being anywhere near as bad as claimed, didn’t live up to expectations).

      If they would announce UO2 with similar gameplay but modern combat and quests, I’d probably be doing a victory dance while naked in the middle of the town.

    • MadTinkerer says:

      “KInd of a shame his fans and backers just want retread UO, with better graphics.”

      Oh hell no I don’t. I backed this despite the online elements. I’m one of the diehard Ultima fanboys who bought the one copy of UO because it came with The Ultima Collection and I found I could fit the discs for the Underworld collection and Ultima IX in there as well. The original jewel case I had for U9 broke, so it was no longer handy for storing all of the Ultima-related discs, so I bought UO (Third Age, I think) for the replacement jewel case and extra copy of the Ultima Collection.

      It’s not like I didn’t try UO at some point, but I never found any of the versions I tried to be worth subscribing. The fact that I was stuck on dial-up until 2008 might have had something to do with that, though.

  2. Cinek says:

    It’s just me or it still looks rather disappointing?

    Somehow I have an impression that they’d do better by just creating a very beautiful 2D game than trying to make stuff in 3D (eg. keep the details to the level Basion had). Somehow I can’t resist an impression that even a Morrowind looked better (which is already very aged game by today’s standards)

    • Samwise Gamgee says:

      I agree. I am a huge Ultima fan but since its reveal I have not been too excited about this which is weird and disappointing. I think if they put their energy into making an incredible 2D game in the style of the old Ultimas but with the benefits that modern hardware bring I would be really excited for it but as it is at the moment I am just not that bothered. Hopefully I am being pessimistic and when comes out I will love it, only time will tell.

    • Wurstwaffel says:

      absolutely. If they really want to go for a realistic style, they need higher fidelity. Otherwise they should really do a heavily stylized look.

  3. frightlever says:

    Any girl? Playa.

  4. Freud says:

    Of all the things to keep from the Ultima games, the sack inventory system isn’t one of them. Nor the need to drag and drop stuff into the sacks.

    Glory days, well they’ll pass you by.

    • KevinLew says:

      In all seriousness, who really thought that was a good idea to reuse a decades-old inventory system? The player is forced to drag and drop individual items from one sack to another, which looks slow and tedious even in their tech demo. The worst part was when they were creating five dowel rods from a single board and they had to drag one rod at a time to their inventory.

  5. Arglebargle says:

    Some of it looks pretty cool. Some looks tedious. But others are a bit problematic. No log of information that you’ve heard….so if you have to not play for a week, you can come back and not remember anything you character should know?

  6. Skeletor68 says:

    Gillian Anderson in the X-Files made me a happy young man.

    • Strabo says:

      Oh, yes. Although I think she looks even better nowadays (or as I get older I appreciate more mature women more). Glad she has quite a comeback now.

      The video they put up during the Kickstarter convinced me not to back it to be honest. It looked all quite clumsy and not really well designed (sure it’s pre-Alpha stuff, but still).

  7. Cinek says:

    From video:
    “Retail price: $50
    Wealth male nerds”

    wow… seriously… who we are now if games run for $60 ?
    Or games are free and a stupid hat or yellow gun costs 20$? And that’s just a single item – how about creating few full outfits for your character?
    Gold-tooth male idiots?

  8. Shinwaka says:

    When I initially heard of Shroud I was so hoping it might of been a superb blend of DA: Origins and Ultima IV (or something thereabouts).

    Online games are (for me anyway) so blasé.

  9. Myrdinn says:

    Yeah, I can’t really understand why he’d give the game an over-the-shoulder point of view. Having drawn sprites with an isometric POV befitted UO very well, he should have stuck to that.

    • Cinek says:

      especially when nearly every MMO got over-the-shoulder perspective (offering MUCH better graphics at the same time) while there are nearly no nice-looking 2D MMOs.
      So while they could have easily used graphics for their advantage – now it’s the most obvious disadvantage of their game.

  10. Wurstwaffel says:

    I don’t like the world map at all. I mean, those technical limitations that forbade a seamless open world aren’t really there anymore, especially not at that level of detail.

    Also, he says they’re gonna crowdsource graphics assets? Has that ever worked?
    Then again, the assets they have now don’t look exactly great either.

    And then there’s the MMO aspect. I for one am at a point where I think any MMORPG would probably be a better game as a singleplayer only title; even WoW, i’d jump right back into that if they made a singleplayer expansion with a questline that spans all levels.

  11. Zelnick says:

    Here is a higher resolution video of just the game: