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Shroud of the Avatar - First Impressions

Slapshot1188Slapshot1188 Member LegendaryPosts: 12,561
edited August 2016 in Shroud of the Avatar

First some background:

 

Some of my earliest and fondest gaming memories are playing the Ultima games on my C-64.  I believe that Ultima 2 was the first RPG that I “won”.  I can remember sitting in my friend’s basement while the grass literally attacked us at the end of Ultima 3 (yes, that’s what we old folks called multiplayer games back then).  Then the next trilogy with Ultimas 4-6 were simply incredible leaps forward for the computer RPG genre.   I was also right on board with the launch of UO and gamed extensively on Atlantic and Catskills servers.   Since that time I have become a huge consumer of all things related to computer RPGs and MMORPGs. I backed this game at a reasonable level that gave me access to the first 3 Episodes as some other goodies.  Between discount codes and Kickstarter discounts it was only like $40 or so which seems like a pretty good deal.  I am an almost reflexive Kickstarter backer, even though by now I should know better… there is always that unquenchable HOPE in the back of your mind.  Just like Charlie Brown always thinks THIS time Lucy won’t pull the football away and he will kick it, I keep thinking THIS time a game is going to under promise and over deliver.     Anyhow, what follows is a First Impressions of the Shroud of the Avatar Early Access (no wipe) launch. 



 

The game starts with a very Ultima like intro.   You are once again just a normal human from the “real world” who becomes aware of a parallel world and eventually gets sucked in.   Initially you find yourself as an unmanifested “spirit” standing in this new world and talking to an NPC that welcomes you to the world.   At this point a few things become apparent:

·         The graphics are not cutting edge but they are fine.  I have heard folks complain about them, but I’m not playing an RPG for the graphics.  These do not detract from my experience so they get the job done.

·         The UI is absolutely horrendous.   Now I’m someone who cut his teeth on the earliest RPGs.  I played ZORK.   This contraption they put together is just, bad.   Unfortunately, unlike graphics the UI really DOES have a negative impact on the game. It’s kind of a mishmash between clicking, hitting enter, finding the highlighted key words in the NPC text and typing them.    When we talk about wanting a throwback game we mean the GOOD parts, not crap like this.  

 


Anyhow, eventually we are directed to a mirror which (believe it or not) literally zones you to a new area where you can build your character’s looks.   Nothing special here.  Others have done it better, some have done it worse.  It gets the job done.   From there it’s down the road a bit to “The Oracle” who looks amazingly like a differently colored cousin of The Guardian from prior Ultimas.   In this version though he seems to be combined with the Gypsies from the old Ultimas as he asks you a few moral dilemma questions (just 3) at which point he recommends a character type for you.  Of course he also has a disclaimer that only 1 of the choices (Bow) is actually fully functional at this time.  Some notes:

·         The Guardian and Gypsie similarities at first seemed cool because it provided a link to what has come before. Unfortunately, both turned out to be pale imitations of their predecessors.

·         No more Wipes and only 1 fully functional starting class?  WTF?





"I should point out that no other company has shipped out a beta on a disc before this." - Official Mortal Online Lead Community Moderator

Starvault's reponse to criticism related to having a handful of players as the official "test" team for a supposed MMO: "We've just have another 10ish folk kind enough to voulenteer added tot the test team" (SIC) This explains much about the state of the game :-)

Proudly wearing the Harbinger badge since Dec 23, 2017. 

Coined the phrase "Role-Playing a Development Team" January 2018

"Oddly Slap is the main reason I stay in these forums." - Mystichaze April 9th 2018

My ignore list finally has one occupant after 12 years. I am the strongest supporter of free speech on here, but free speech does not mean forced listening. Have fun my friend. Hope you find a new stalking target.

Comments

  • Slapshot1188Slapshot1188 Member LegendaryPosts: 12,561

    From there we use a rift to teleport to the “site of a recent battle”.   We find ourselves in a small courtyard that has a few burning houses (I think 2).  Only one of which I found a way to enter to the cries of a girl.  Some notes:

    ·         You can interact with an incredible amount of items.  Cups on tables, boxes, parchment.  Even books on bookshelves.

    ·         I jumped over some fire and started taking books from the bookshelves.  I was still taking damage so I grabbed what I could and jumped back out. 

    ·         Heading upstairs I find the young girl and she is going to follow me out of the fire

    ·         Once back downstairs, I have healed up… so being the crazy completionist I feel compelled to go back to the bookcase to try and get every last book.  Who knows what kind of Easter Egg might be found in the 30th book on the bottom shelf!  Turns out that was a big mistake as this time the fire hurt exponentially more and I was dead in seconds.

     

    Here is where it all falls apart for me.   I decided that my death was too painful so I log out to grab some food.   After lunch I log back in, but the girl is now gone.  I relog, search everywhere.  Try the game in single player, multiplayer and offline modes…  No luck.   Oh well, I’m sure it’s no big deal so let’s move forward!    At the end of the courtyard is a portcullis which luckily is opened by the key that I find on a corpse next to it.   On the other side is an older gentleman who offers me a free bow (lucky me!) and asks that we fight our way across the bridge which is filled with walking dead.

    ·         On the plus side, sticking with the concept of interacting with most items I can nab myself some extra weapons off the rack.  I think I grab a sword, mace and shield but don’t really remember.

    ·         Combat is pretty bad.  There is no real explanation of what the “cards” at the bottom do.  Most of the time I just left click my target and fire my bow.  Holding it down longer makes a bar fill up on screen, but I didn’t really see a difference in damage.

    ·         While fighting and using skills they go up as evidenced by some icons popping up where your right hotbar would be showing skill gains.

     

    After fighting to the end of the bridge, the old guy asks me where the little girl is an berates me for leaving her behind.   Once again I go back, but she is not to be found.  I try countless key words (lost, help, charlotte, kiss my ass…) but none trigger anything.   This leaves me to wander aimlessly.  I eventually find some nasty looking elf standing in ruins who really just tells me that the old guy is a Bard and that I should talk to him.   Gee thanks!

     

    Anyway.  At this point I have spent 2 hours in game.  Pretty frustrated.  Pretty sad.  So I have logged out.  That brings me to writing this First Impressions.    If you are interested in hearing more please give me some feedback by Agreeing, saying how Awesome I am, how Insightful this was or simply laughing at my ineptitude (as a player or writer…).    

     

    "I should point out that no other company has shipped out a beta on a disc before this." - Official Mortal Online Lead Community Moderator

    Starvault's reponse to criticism related to having a handful of players as the official "test" team for a supposed MMO: "We've just have another 10ish folk kind enough to voulenteer added tot the test team" (SIC) This explains much about the state of the game :-)

    Proudly wearing the Harbinger badge since Dec 23, 2017. 

    Coined the phrase "Role-Playing a Development Team" January 2018

    "Oddly Slap is the main reason I stay in these forums." - Mystichaze April 9th 2018

    My ignore list finally has one occupant after 12 years. I am the strongest supporter of free speech on here, but free speech does not mean forced listening. Have fun my friend. Hope you find a new stalking target.

  • MMOredfalconMMOredfalcon Member UncommonPosts: 167
    It don't get much better after that noobie point either. After that you are left wondering around a huge map with no clue where to go really. The population isn't really there either to help out. Travelling along the world map I saw a whopping 6 people in the past few days. And you can't talk to anybody while travelling the world map...so socialising at all is impossible.

    Personally I put money into this game a couple years ago...buying a village plot. Well now the 'land rush' has started, I was hoping to find a plot and settle into the game for a few months. I pay a couple hundred US to play and be first to place a house in the early stages. But they make taxes on land plots impossible for the casual gamer to even bother grabbing a house...well that is unless they put more money into the cash shop for coins to sell and help pay the taxes.

    Graphics are at least dated by 6 years. Animations are looking even older then that. Combat is horrible. And the devs don't care at all about the community. Just the ones that dump the most money into development. And still in 'pre-alpha' stage after over 3 years. I doubt this game will ever make it out of the beta stage.

    The game completely revolves around its cash shop. Land, housing, best gear, pets...just bout every aspect of the game is cash shop. 
    Rawyn
  • Slapshot1188Slapshot1188 Member LegendaryPosts: 12,561
    Yeah... Honestly at this point I don't have a huge desire to continue.  Maybe wait a few more months...

    Rawyn

    "I should point out that no other company has shipped out a beta on a disc before this." - Official Mortal Online Lead Community Moderator

    Starvault's reponse to criticism related to having a handful of players as the official "test" team for a supposed MMO: "We've just have another 10ish folk kind enough to voulenteer added tot the test team" (SIC) This explains much about the state of the game :-)

    Proudly wearing the Harbinger badge since Dec 23, 2017. 

    Coined the phrase "Role-Playing a Development Team" January 2018

    "Oddly Slap is the main reason I stay in these forums." - Mystichaze April 9th 2018

    My ignore list finally has one occupant after 12 years. I am the strongest supporter of free speech on here, but free speech does not mean forced listening. Have fun my friend. Hope you find a new stalking target.

  • laxielaxie Member RarePosts: 1,071
    For a game that is heavily instanced, the zones seemed a little bland.

    I'd hope for lush zones full of character. Instead, the zones have little decorations. The zone borders are painfully obvious, made of stones (reminds me of Everquest 2 when it came out).

    The whole experience feels a little too clunky. I don't mind complex "old-school" systems. It feels this game has the old-school clunkiness, minus the interesting systems. :anguished:
    Rawyn
  • NildenNilden Member EpicPosts: 3,174
    This game seems really bad. From combat, to cash shop, to loading screens, to pretty much everything. It's just bad. I can't get past 10 minutes in any youtube video without being bored. I tried a couple villagemonk videos, just such a clunky, ugly, mess.

    Steam charts paints a very grim picture of the amount of people playing after the big release/non-release.

    http://steamcharts.com/app/326160

    Pretty abysmal showing considering the people behind it.



    Rawyn

    "You CAN'T buy ships for RL money." - MaxBacon

    "classification of games into MMOs is not by rational reasoning" - nariusseldon

    Love Minecraft. And check out my Youtube channel OhCanadaGamer



  • angus858angus858 Member UncommonPosts: 381

    You are a fine writer, but I don't care what anybody thinks of a game after having  played for only two hours.  Honestly, what you describe seems more like the first ten minutes.  I hope you reported the quest bug.  The game is in alpha and that is what we are requested to do.

    SotA has many serious issues, which you will encounter if you continue to play.  It also has some wonderful aspects, which can be discovered if you delve deeper.  Will the cool stuff out-weigh the problems?  Maybe in six months, if they continue to make improvements.  Maybe not.   It is very much a niche game in any case. 

    Since you asked, I'd suggest you play for 2+ weeks before writing another report.  On the other hand, if you don't enjoy play-testing a game you paid $45 for, just wait another six months before your next log-in.

  • Slapshot1188Slapshot1188 Member LegendaryPosts: 12,561
    angus858 said:

    You are a fine writer, but I don't care what anybody thinks of a game after having  played for only two hours.  Honestly, what you describe seems more like the first ten minutes.  I hope you reported the quest bug.  The game is in alpha and that is what we are requested to do.

    SotA has many serious issues, which you will encounter if you continue to play.  It also has some wonderful aspects, which can be discovered if you delve deeper.  Will the cool stuff out-weigh the problems?  Maybe in six months, if they continue to make improvements.  Maybe not.   It is very much a niche game in any case. 

    Since you asked, I'd suggest you play for 2+ weeks before writing another report.  On the other hand, if you don't enjoy play-testing a game you paid $45 for, just wait another six months before your next log-in.

    Yes I played 2 hours. 2 frustrating hours.   That's why it a First Impression and not a full review like you can find from the MMORPG reporter.

    As for Alpha, that defense lost all credibility when they decided to be fully persistent with no wipes. When you charge money and there are no wipes it's launched, no matter what cute wording is used.  

    That said, I will definitely check back in at some point.  As I said, the Ultima games make up some of my fondest gaming memories.  At this point though,  the game is just a disservice to that memory. 
    Rawyn

    "I should point out that no other company has shipped out a beta on a disc before this." - Official Mortal Online Lead Community Moderator

    Starvault's reponse to criticism related to having a handful of players as the official "test" team for a supposed MMO: "We've just have another 10ish folk kind enough to voulenteer added tot the test team" (SIC) This explains much about the state of the game :-)

    Proudly wearing the Harbinger badge since Dec 23, 2017. 

    Coined the phrase "Role-Playing a Development Team" January 2018

    "Oddly Slap is the main reason I stay in these forums." - Mystichaze April 9th 2018

    My ignore list finally has one occupant after 12 years. I am the strongest supporter of free speech on here, but free speech does not mean forced listening. Have fun my friend. Hope you find a new stalking target.

  • laxielaxie Member RarePosts: 1,071
    The nice thing is that they keep going. There have been many hardships (and arguably many to come), but the updates keep coming.

    The population is sub-optimal, yet the developers seem very dedicated to it.

    I've seen numerous Kickstarters that completely abandoned projects, started completely new ones or switched to mobile and you had to "be glad they are able to get additional finances".
  • YashaXYashaX Member EpicPosts: 2,781
    Awesome first impression, thanks for that- would love to hear more.

    Anyway, that story about losing the girl is actually something that I think would be clever in some games, assuming it was not just a bug. If you think about the situation- you just leave a poor little girl on her own to go and steal some unknown books in the middle of a fire, it is not surprising that something bad would happen to her. 

    In this game it was probably just a bug, but the approach you took to playing the game in itself is quite interesting. You decided to just collect everything no matter how illogical it would actually be to do that, which is a very classic rpg gamer playstyle (imo). Especially in a sandbox type rpg, I would welcome a game that to some extent provided real consequences for your actions. 
    ....
  • Sarg01Sarg01 Member UncommonPosts: 170
    It's sort of a bug, sort of not. The likelihood is that the girl followed you into the fire and died after you did. The quest specifically charges you with keeping her safe. It may be possible that logging out breaks the quest - and there certainly should be some sort of message telling you when you've failed it, so that's a fair point. However, to be clear, failing or just refusing to undertake the quest is absolutely one of the things the developers track. 

    In regard to the interface, I thought the same thing until I realized you start with your mouse cursor locked. Hit <tab> to release it and use a more typical MMO control scheme. I ultimately rebound that key elsewhere. 

    You can hover over the cards to see what they do. They probably should introduce this before you start combat, so you're not trying to figure it out on the fly while fighting. 

    Basically, the tutorial is pretty junk. It gets better afterwards, but only if you're a self-starter. Outside the (bad) tutorial and a recommendation to visit Soltown, the game is never going to tell you what to do next. The deck system really needs some sort of tutorial as well -- but it's actually rather interesting once you figure out what you can do with it. 
  • AethaerynAethaeryn Member RarePosts: 3,118
    I can't even bring myself to try it.  Bought in for the basic package on day 1.  My email is flooded with emails that seem more about what new things they have for sale rather than being focused on the game.  I will wait for a "complete" launch or just pass this one by.  I don't mind that I supported the idea. . I just don't think it made it or will.

    Wa min God! Se æx on min heafod is!

  • MMOredfalconMMOredfalcon Member UncommonPosts: 167
    angus858 said:

    You are a fine writer, but I don't care what anybody thinks of a game after having  played for only two hours.  Honestly, what you describe seems more like the first ten minutes.  I hope you reported the quest bug.  The game is in alpha and that is what we are requested to do.

    SotA has many serious issues, which you will encounter if you continue to play.  It also has some wonderful aspects, which can be discovered if you delve deeper.  Will the cool stuff out-weigh the problems?  Maybe in six months, if they continue to make improvements.  Maybe not.   It is very much a niche game in any case. 

    Since you asked, I'd suggest you play for 2+ weeks before writing another report.  On the other hand, if you don't enjoy play-testing a game you paid $45 for, just wait another six months before your next log-in.

    Three years of alpha....You have to BUY the game to gain access. Also there is no more wipes to the server, so really, by most game standards, it is a full release. As long as they are selling it, and it no longer has wipes, no longer in alpha no matter how much they claim it is.
    Rawyn
  • AstraeisAstraeis Member UncommonPosts: 378
    MMOredfalcon said:
    Three years of alpha....You have to BUY the game to gain access. Also there is no more wipes to the server, so really, by most game standards, it is a full release. As long as they are selling it, and it no longer has wipes, no longer in alpha no matter how much they claim it is.
    Even when there would be more wipes I would consider it to be released. Unfinished, but released.

    It is a good idea to warn potential buyers about the unfinished state of the game. It would have been better not to have released the game in an unfinished state.

    It takes one to know one.

  • mercstermercster Member UncommonPosts: 22
    It's hard for anyone, let alone end users with no (or little) development experience to evaluate games that aren't finished like this.

    "But, it doesn't take a fool to see that they aren't even half done!"

    It may appear so, but some things take longer than others.  The last 20% of development will bring a lot of changes rapidly.  Game systems will not change radically, but they will be "filled out".

    This is not the game for everyone, to be sure.  But those proclaiming doom and gloom, and acting like the developers are a bunch of incompetent boobs is way premature.
  • postlarvalpostlarval Member EpicPosts: 2,003
    mercster said:

    This is not the game for everyone, to be sure.  But those proclaiming doom and gloom, and acting like the developers are a bunch of incompetent boobs is way premature.
    Four years isn't enough time to prove you know what you're doing? I beg to differ. 

    SotA white knights have no power here. Your horse looks healthy enough to get you back to Brittany. Have a safe trip. 
    Rawyn
    ______________________________________________________________________
    ~~ postlarval ~~

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