While Richard Garriott (also known as Lord British in most circles) may no longer hold the rights to the Ultima series of classic CRPG games or Ultima Online (he sold it, along with Origin over a decade ago) that hasn't stopped him from returning to his roots. Today Garriott announced that his Austin-based studio Portalarium is hard at work on his newest game, Shroud of the Avatar: Forsaken Virtues, a sort-of spiritual sequel of sorts to the Ultima series, but set in a whole new universe. Garriott also announced the launch of a Kickstarter crowd-funding campaign, with the hope of raising $1 million dollars. The tentative release date for the Windows, Mac, and Linux game is late 2014.
"Shroud of the Avatar will include what I think are the keys to an ultimate role-playing experience," says Garriott. "These important tenets include things like a fully interactive virtual world, deep original fiction with ethical parables such that players’ choices are relevant, cultural histories and fully developed alternative languages and text. Also we want our players to have physical game components like cloth maps, fictional manuals and trinkets. These are all things that people came to expect in my earlier works and we plan on bringing them all back to create Shroud of the Avatar."
Shroud of the Avatar is being designed as a solo RPG experience but it will also offer a persistent world where players can meet and share experiences with friends to adventure together or engage in player versus player combat. Part of that persistent world will offer player housing, one of the many perks being offered to those who help to fund the game's early production.
The game will also use a skill system rather than a class system where players can create their own kinds of characters without being locked into one specific role, an over-arching story-driven narrative that doesn't get in the way of exploring and adventuring, a crafting system, objects in the world that are there for a purpose and have some sort of in-game function, and a whole lot more.
You can get a better sense of what Garriott envisions for Shroud of the Avatar in the pitch video to your left or you can visit the game's freshly launched web site. As of this writing the Kickstarter has raised $189,467 of its $1 million goal with 29 more days to go.
We will continue to follow this Kickstarter over the next month and provide you with updates on its progress.