Take My Money! : How Two Kickstarter Projects Took Me on a Nostalgic Trip Back in Time, Part 1
It has been awhile since I’ve written a blog but two recent Kickstarter projects launched by Richard ‘Lord British’ Garriott and Mark Jacobs, formerly of Mythic entertainment, have gotten me very excited. It kills me that both of these project are a year to three years away, but both developers have been very influential to me as a gamer, and in some ways as a person.
I credit PC RPG pioneer Richard Garriott’s Ultima series for getting me into PC gaming way back in the 80s with Exodus: Ultima III. I loved the series until it’s end, even though the last couple of games were severely flawed. Garriott to this day believes that players should be able to progress in a role playing game in any manner they like. If you want to be a blacksmith who never raises a weapon he has forged against another in game, so be it. As a player you may run into situations which makes this extremely tough, but Garriott tries his best to give the player choices. These choices are often based on Virtues, which became prevalent in Ultima IV. It’s the idea of putting virtues and player choice back into PC RPGs that has brought Garriott back with his Kickstarter project Shroud of the Avatar: Forsaken Virtues.
I remember stepping into Ultima Online for the first time. A generous player caught me soon after my baby feet started to explore outside the city and outfit me with a nice sword and light chain armor. I naively set out down the road out of town. Somehow I made my way down the road unseen by the brigands and thieves which watched for the solo player, and came across a party of ten or so players in battle with a wyvern. Excited, I ran up and, not caring if I died, put a whack or two in. As the wyvern fell I made the terribly immoral choice of looting the corpse prior to the party that had done most of the work. Obviously not remembering the virtues that Garriott had taught me in earlier Ultima games, I set back down the road to town to bank my spoils before someone figured out what was going on and set out for revenge.
The loot I had stolen (yes, stolen, I must be one of the original ninja looters) was actually quite valuable. I wish I had screenshots or stats but the wyvern dropped an excellent sword and some gems or something else that I had no business having on Day One of my life. Ecstatic and minutes from town I could barely contain my glee.
However, karma is a bitch. Just a few screen lengths from walking back into town a roguey player came out of the tree line and chased me down. Not long after I lay dead on the road, stripped of my ill begotten riches, my player made gear and sword, everything gone.
At that point what should have happened in game is the appearance of a huge ‘Welcome to Ultima Online!” banner over corpse. From that day on I was hooked on the MMORPG genre, never to look back.
For this reason I am very excited about Richard Garriott’s return to fantasy RPGs. Garriott and his new company Portalarium have set out to create a hybrid solo/co-op role playing game in the spirit of the classic Ultima games, with a little (or alot, I’m not quite sure yet) of Ultima Online thrown in. While Garriott is somewhat of a controversial figure in gaming these days (see the ‘best developer EVAR!’ flack he took after this interview aired http://www.pcgamer.com/2013/03/19/richard-garriott-game-designers-suck/ ) his ideas about the state of RPGs intrigue me and I have to agree with his old school philosophies regarding such.
For example, Garriott very much dislikes the WoW model of questing that has become prevalent not only in MMORPGs but many genres of PC gaming. He feels that the yellow exclamation over the head of NPC quest givers and the Quest journal hand holding of players to their destination have killed the true sense of discovery and exploration which used to exist in RPGs. With Shroud of the Avatar Richard Garriott is looking to both pay homage to the old school RPGs many of us grew up with and loved, as well as reinvent the genre.
As of this writing Garriott’s Kickstarter is nearing $1,300,000.00 with approximately 17500 backers. The Kickstarter is in it’s home stretch with six days to go. With fantasy writer Tracy Hickman now taking on writing duties for Shroud of the Avatar, Garriott has a good team in place to bring back the spirit of the Ultima games as well as provide a subscription free co-op online aspect for fans looking for a modern Ultima Online. The more interviews I watch with Garriott, the more convinced I am that he can pull it off.
If you grew up with the Ultima series, or were looking for something different in the PC RPG genre, please consider backing Richard ‘Lord British’ Garriot’s Kickstarter here: http://kck.st/WahMzs
Shroud of the Avatar Kickstarter ends Sunday April 7th, 2013.
On Tuesday April 2nd, Mark Jacobs of Mythic fame will be Kickstarting a pure RvR MMORPG tentatively titled Camelot Unchained. Mythic is most famous for publishing Dark Age of Camelot (DAoC). One of the most riveting aspects of DAoC was the PvP centric Realm Vs Realm (RvR) combat. Many people also experienced RvR in EA Mythic’s Warhammer Online. Jacob’s project will be the topic of my next blog post. Stay tuned!
-Pagan- (aka Maric)