I hope everyone who participated had a great time playing Shroud of the Avatar Pre-Alpha Release 3 (R3), for the extended period over the weekend; thanks Portalarium!
I wanted to share with you my own personal Top 5s for R3. Stratics would also love to hear your own Top 5s, so please have your say in the Discussion Hall over on the SotA Stratics Forums.
So to start with the Top 5 aspects of SotA I am really enjoying already:
- The world: While still fairly restricted to a limited area (and I’m hoping the graphics will get a polish) the world is certainly building an immersive feeling and I spent most of my time exploring the accessible areas.
- Particle Effects: Some of the effects such as dust sweeping over a road and up into the air or a flock of birds passing overhead have been expertly implemented and add to the immersion I noted.
- Music: The music has a very nostalgic feel; perhaps rekindling memories of UO or earlier Ultimas. I can’t say but it fits what I would expect from SotA.
- Crafting: There is already an extensive set of recipes (have heard in excess of 150) which can be crafted at the various crafting stations. Please be aware however recipes are still subject to change, as noted by Stratics staff and the SotA community between Release 2 and Release 3.
- Housing: A lot of work has already been done on the player housing, I expect to satisfy the early and high backers who have invested significant sums of money into the success of the game. There also appear to be a large number of lots available in the accessible areas so perhaps there will even be some housing for those not fortunate enough to start with a house.
A lot of the systems have not yet been implemented or are partially implemented at this time so there is a lot to look forward to. The Top 5 things I am looking forward to are:
- Combat: PvE (Player vs. Enemy) combat is due to be implemented in Release 4. While running around getting to know the world has been interesting I’m looking forward to getting to bash something
- Magic: A combat related system but a system in its own right. The competing schools of magic concept put forward by the Development team has intrigued me and my character preference in RPG games has always been spellcaster.
- Multiplayer: Release 3 marked the first true multi-player experience though meeting up with others could be challenging and the instancing was obvious. I expect significant development of the mechanics and new or improved systems for playing with friends to be introduced in the coming releases.
- Story: Some themes and plots can already be discerned from speaking with NPCs. I am hopeful playable quests will be introduced soon, perhaps even a dungeon!
- Crafting: The crafting system is probably one of the more advanced systems which has been implemented however there are still crucial aspects missing such as Resource Gathering.
In an unprecedented fashion Portalarium have opened their gates to early backers of the game extremely early on in the development process (Pre-Alpha) and a bug or ten is to be expected! Saying that the purpose of this is to not just grow the community and get them involved early on but to help shape the game according to player feedback and to support the development team in identifying and resolving the issues. On that note the I’d like to finish up with my Top 5 areas for “improvement”:
- Lag: This could be dismissed as performance optimizations are still being made and live updates may be taking place during game-play however it has certainly been my experience on a medium to high end PC with super fast broadband that the game can be somewhat ‘laggy’.
- Collision Detection: As you may have observed from the screenshot above collision detection needs some work; it is not in fact possible to play a two headed character in the game. Characters and equipped items can pass through each other and often through fixed items in the world such as buildings.
- Fluidity of Movement: Simply put character movement still doesn’t feel quite right. Running and jumping have been implemented and adjusted based on feedback however some character movement is noticeably unnatural. A female friend at Stratics also observed the gait of the female player characters at present to be undignified!
- Menu System: The in-game menu system is not intuitive at this stage in the development process and a personal bugbear of mine is the game minimizing and launching a browser session when seeking to access the ‘Help’ or ‘Report a Bug’ menus. I can understand how allowing players to report a bug in-game may encourage misuse or insufficient information to address said bug however I also believe if implemented properly it would encourage greater participation and have seen similar done in other Alphas / Betas.
- Peculiarities: While some such ‘peculiarities’ have certainly been the talk of the community and the woman and her sheep suspended 100 feet in the air made me chuckle, there are some very strange things going on with the in-game physics still. I also noticed in R3 that levitation had become a popular pastime for players.
In summary I am very impressed with progress to date, am excited to see new features and content become available in each successive release and to be part of the game and the passionate community. So I would love to hear your feedback on R3, this article or anything else you have to share on our SotA Stratics Forums.