Shroud of the Avatar releases first test version to backers

Shroud of the Avatar is giving out the first tastes of gameplay, even as the full launch remains a year away. Those who backed Richard Garriott's Kickstarter can now download the "Release 1" client and start fiddling around with a few basic options.

Release 1 lets you create a character, explore the town of Owl's Head, converse with NPCs, try on equipment, and select a house. Owl's Head will have scattered chests of furniture and decorations to pick up, letting you class up the joint. It's single-player only, but developer Portalarium promises future releases will include multiplayer online modes. You can visit the official site for instructions on how to download the client.

"We are pleased with our progress, and we are excited to show our fans what we’ve created in the short amount of time we've been working on the game," Garriott said in the announcement. "It's still very early in development, and this is not your traditional development model. Since the game is crowd funded and crowd sourced, we feel it's important to give our community an early glimpse of the game's progress... earlier than what you'd normally see in traditional game development. But this is important because player feedback at this stage will be utilized in helping us understand any changes we need to make and to possibly reaffirm that we are on the right track."