It seems people are quite keen to play a new RPG from Richard Garriott, creator of the hallowed Ultima series. As Shroud of the Avatar races towards its crowdfunding goal of $1 million, his studio has dropped more information on the various multiplayer options it'll offer. They range from barely online, just seeing other players' effect on the persistent world, to essentially an MMO. Or hey, just play offline.
A proper offline mode was added following fan requests, tech director Chris Spears explained in a video accompanything the latest update post. "We were thinking that everybody would be fine with just Single Player Online," he said. Oh dear oh dear. But no, Portalarium has looked into it and as it won't take "a ton of work," Shroud of the Avatar will offer offline. Those characters won't ever be able to go online, though.
Single Player Online is the most basic level of online play, sticking you wholly by yourself, but filling the world with other players' houses and items for sale in the market. It'll benefit from live world updates and online character storage too.
Stepping up to Friends Play Online, your friends will appear in the world too. Simple enough. Spears sees serious role-playing groups using this option to enforce their fun.
Then, the most multiplayer of multiplayer options is Open Play Online, which can show you bags of people. It's not everyone who's online, but a fair number, "in the dozens, probably not to the hundreds." It uses a form of matchmaking, showing you people who the server believes you'll find interesting. Likely sorts include friends, guildmates, people you've grouped with, and people you've interacted with or perhaps bought from.
Online players can switch between the modes in any safe place but offline characters will always be offline, lest hacked saves run amok and spoil everyone's fun.
With 19 days left to run on its Kickstarter campaign, Shroud of the Avatar is sitting oh so very close to the pledge goal of $1 million. Gosh, it may hit it. Gosh, maybe even today!
Portalarium also announced that fantasy author and Dragonlance co-creator Tracy Hickman has signed up as lead story designer.