I had to resist the urge to throw some exclamation marks in that title, because this is something I’ve been waiting years for. Richard Garriott – that’s Lord British to you commoners – has revealed a kickstarter today for Shroud of the Avatar: Forsaken Virtues. As of this writing the funding is already over 1/3 of the way to the 1 million dollar goal, and it’s easy to see why: this is the creator of the Ultima series pitching this one, assembling what sounds like a fantastic team with a glorious vision. At least in terms of the pitch, Garriott has not forgotten what made the Ultima games really stand out – and frankly, he’s got me pledging money already. Let’s take a look at some of the features Shroud of the Avatar is going to be offering up.
From Lord British’s Treatise on “What is an Ultimate RPG?”:
- Fully interactive virtual world – If it looks usable, it should do something
- Deep original fiction – Ethical parables, cultural histories, fully developed alternate language text
- Physical game components will be available: Cloth map, fictional manuals, trinkets
- Multiplayer Online Game – which can also be played solo player / offline
- Unlike most RPGs, players will not be limited to the class they select at the beginning of the game. We will be discussing this feature in more detail during an upcoming Developer Blog.
- Player housing will live in the persistent shared world, so real estate will have location value.
- Craft as a hobby or as a career!
- An incentive-driven system will draw players into the challenge and intrigue of the PVP experience, whether they become the hunter or the hunted!
- In a nod to Garriott’s early RPG works, Shroud of the Avatar is split up into a high-level overland map and adventure scenes. Scenes are generally re-playable and can be experienced solo or with others.
Now, I’m an Ultima fanboy (except for VIII and IX), but really – I’m also cautiously optimistic even in the best case scenario. Garriott clearly knows what his fans want to hear with this title, and is playing to their expectations. But this is a title I’m willing to put my faith in, and judging by the rapid uptick in kickstarter funds, it looks like I’m not alone. So hey, Richard, if you’re reading this – please don’t let us down. The gaming world shouldn’t have gone so long without a proper Ultima title as it stands. Work that magic again and give us a glorious world to get engulfed in all over again.