Richard Garroitt's Shroud of the Avatar announced

The man who arguably was the creator of the PC RPG, Richard Garriott, is going back to work on an all new franchise. Garriott, who launched the Ultima game franchise, has started a Kickstarter campaign to help fund the fantasy RPG Shroud of the Avatar: Forsaken Virtues.

The Kickstarter page has the details of Shroud of the Avatar, which Garriott, sometimes known as "Lord British", is developing with a small team at Austin-based Portalarium. While the game can be played as an MMO, Shroud of the Avatar can also be played as an single player offline game.

The Kickstarter page states:

Using state-of-the-art tools and technology, the game will focus on what made his seminal Ultima Series great. Once players are introduced to the game, they will discover their own story woven into the immersive world and lore surrounding them. Players may choose to follow the life of the adventurer or, if they prefer, focus on exploration and discovery. Players may even choose the life of a homesteader; either nestled within the safety of the settled lands, or on the dangerous but potentially lucrative frontier. The world is full of opportunities and challenges!

The campaign launched just a few days ago but the efforts have already raised over $650,000 as of this writing. The team is looking for $1 million to reach its funding goal and with 27 more days to go it looks like it will reach that amount with some time to spare, Shroud of the Avatar is scheduled to be released in October 2014.

Source: Kickstarter | Image via Portalarium

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I'm kind of curious how article properties are generated on Neowin, now. The article text gets Garriott's last name right every time, but the headline, URL, and tags all get it wrong. Weird?

Ascension was Brilliant?! I think not.

Ultima 1-4 were good.

Ultima 5-6 was great.

Ultima 7 is the pinnacle of Ultima. If you split them up, part 1 + The Black Gate was awesome, Serpent Isle + The Silver Seed was brilliant, and combined they were an epic masterpiece no gamer who doesn't hate RPG's should miss.

Ultima 8 Pagan was an ok game with a good story, but it forced The Avatar to become male as all female options were now gone. Its story was a good continuation of Ultima 7, the game was mostly stable, and really the plot made sense as was his entire separation from his comrades. From a plot perspective I don't think there is anything that could really be improved with Pagan, but from a gameplay perspective it had some issues. It was a strange hybrid RPG, action game, and platformer on an isometric perspective engine, which lead to its worst problem: jumping. A few areas of the game really sucked due to the jumping element because it was very hard to judge where you were compared to other platforms, and as I recall some platforms were moving. The cheat engine they built into 8 was amusing, and it was fun building platforms up to the edge of zone worlds to jump off the world

Ultima 9 Ascension is a pale shadow of its original script. The game was supposed to be non-linear like Ultima 7, with a party system, with connections being re-established between The Avatar and his companions. Instead, we got a game where EA (or where EA was made to be the scapegoat) changed the course of gameplay multiple times in development to make it “more suitable for a wider audience”, resulting in the constant cutting of story to make up for coding changes, and then completely failed to provide adequate quality assurance before final release. It was an unstable mess which crashed frequently, and the Avatar constantly wound up getting stuck on objects or falling through elevators. Once the game was patched up, some people were able to complete the game front to back, but it was still very unstable, with a couple of points in the game being almost 100% guaranteed crashes that made many people rely on the saved games of others to get past unplayable points. The worst thing is that they even bothered to have The Avatar's companions show up after having pretty much 100% of their content cut, and almost completely failed to cover any aspect of the gap of time between their separations after Ultima 7. Not even a simple explanation for how everyone survived after Ultima 7 or how they returned to Britannia. Also, Town schedules were gone and the world was lifeless, villagers had no real story content, there was no real point to return to being virtuous after everything done in Pagan, and I personally think it was a mistake to replace the voice actor for The Guardian. The end result was a poorly made boring game that pretty much answered no questions from Ultima 7.

Ultima 9 Ascension: The Bob White plot/script. He is unwilling to publish the entire original script without EA's blessing, which EA will not grant.

Pagan had great atmosphere and a well written story. I liked them adding physical manuevering to the game, like jumping and climbing, but it was too unforgiving (like drowning in a puddle of water instead of being able to swim), and the obstacles were too puzzle like and arcadish. I didn't care that they limited you to a male avatar. The biggest problem that it was linear compared to earlier games.

Ascension had some good aspects, and some really bad aspects to it. The things you mentioned were problems, I also thought some elements that didn't owe to the redesign were a bit goofy.

At any rate, so far from what I've seen, the graphics for Shroud of the Avatar look really awful. I don't mean sophistication and technology wise; aesthetics-wise it irritates me. They need better art designers.

The outdoor/indoor map distinction actually goes back to a discussion he was having with fans after Pagan. He wrote a letter to fans asking them what they wanted in the next game, and said that he was considering it. I don't know that I like it.

Er, no. I'd rather double down or more on Torment: Tides of Numenera. Garriott/EA, you already burned me with Ultima 8, and that horrible piece of trash that was Ultima 9. I don't understand how anyone has enough faith to risk their money on a kickstarter for you. Considering how much EA protects the Ultima brand from its fan base there is no chance they don't have some tentacles wrapped around this.

Ultima 7 was the end of Ultima. Odds of me ever spending money on this series again (without an actual good continuation of 7) is highly unlikely.

Oh, why the hating? Ultima IX was absolute brilliant.

Anyway, this project looks tremendously interesting for me. I've longed for a "successor" of sorts to Ultima Online. This sounds just like it.

Jub Fequois said,
Oh, why the hating?

It's what Reddit would call "Brave". It's a really safe thing to hate, and U9 is mocked even by people who've never played it. Standard fare punching bag, and an easy way to get the warm and fuzzies of watching people agree with you, which I'm pretty sure motivates most internet comments.

Anyone who's been following this project since it was a blog post by Garriott knows it has no connection to EA, no brand connection to Ultima, and knows what RG is trying to accomplish with it. The negativity is from people who didn't even know this existed until they read about the Kickstarter and immediately transferred all of their pubescent EA rage to it (it needed the fresh air after spending a week on SimCity hate).

Joshie said,

good stuff

I'm about to go cook dinner, but I've enough time to say that what you say makes sense and I agree with it.

I'm so looking forward to this though. I hope there'll be a proper real estate market.

In all fairness, this is ground-work level stuff at this point. Nothing is indicative of the final visual quality of the game.