Saturday, January 25, 2014

Thoughts on Shroud of the Avatar - Release 2

The second Alpha-release of Richard Garriot's Shroud of the Avatar went live this weekend, offering a look at more features of the eventual game release.  So what amazing options did this release unveil?  First, a whole host of new character creation options!

Yes, no longer are you limited to playing a clean-cut Ben Affleck look-alike.  Now you can change your face, hair-style, add facial hair and even be slightly overweight!

A fat guy with dreadlocks and a goatee - just like my graduation picture!

There are a few more items laying around that you can play with and wield.  There's rugs and tapestries and other decorations for your home, but nothing world-breaking and certainly nothing as exciting as running around wearing the Cloak of Lord British while wielding the Hoe of Prosperity.

Truly, there is no better way to go into battle.

This brings us to the second innovation added with this release - jumping!

Since you can't buy things in the marketplace yet, I spent a lot of time jumping over cows.

The third and final add-on with this release is the addition of a crafting system. There is a crafting shop in the heart of Owl's Head, free for all to use with a plentiful collection of tools and resources for you to use.

Unfortunately, the crafting system is not as intuitive as it first seems.  Items are created by placing them upon a crafting station and - once you have the materials needed to craft something - hitting the CRAFT button once it lights up.  The problem is that you have to have the amounts to craft something precisely right and I had to hunt for the instructions on how to reduce the pile of 20 pieces of coal  to just one piece so I could use one piece of coal and one iron nugget to forge an iron bar... assuming you have the right smelting tools selected.

This makes crafting into an incredibly involved and - in my opinion - tedious process.  There is no option for quickly mass producing items such as Iron Ingots once you learn the recipe.  You have to keep placing EVERY individual item on the table.  This means that it can take 10 minutes for you to craft an iron longsword, even if you know what you are doing, as you have to smelt the ingots used to forge the iron bars needed to mix with a sword blank to smelt a blade.  Then you have to use the smithing station to forge a hilt.  Then you have to forge the whole thing into one sword...

This may be fun for people who enjoy crafting in games but its definitely not my cup of tea.  Still, it seems like a good system for those who enjoy that sort of thing.  More, an in-game recipe book keeps track of your discoveries, so even if you must follow every step again and again repeatedly, at least you don't have to keep notes outside of the game.  

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