Shroud of the Avatar: Forsaken Virtues Interviews

A couple of new interviews regarding Richard Garriott's new Shroud of the Avatar: Forsaken Virtues Kickstarter project have reached the web, with the first being a shortened version of a video chat with David "Iolo" Watson of Ultima fame. Hopefully the longer version is available soon, because this brings back some great memories:

And the second is this article-style interview with Richard himself on
"This is a chance to go back to my roots and do an Ultima-like game, as well as bring in some modern sensibilities to it," said Garriott. "Both in what I think is good storytelling technique that we didn't have in those days, and as well as literal technology that we have now that we didn't have back in those days. And to rectify a few of the errors that have crept into roleplaying games, or at least some of the things that are way too over-trodden in the last few years."

One of the most important choices Garriott has made is the decision to create a game that's neither a pure single-player experience nor a full massively multiplayer game. "The player base was saying, we really just want a solo player game. It's fine to play multiplayer, but we really were hoping you'd go build a game with a deep story in it that we couldn't get in the best of MMOs," Garriott said. "I'm itching to do that too, but their motivation is from another angle. It's good to know their angle, because that really changes some of the detail as to how I'll both pitch it and how I'll execute on some of it."

Garriott has chosen to create what he calls 'personalized multiplayer.' "Even though it's a story-driven, solo player experience - you can even play it offline if you wish - if you ever connect online there are persistent things about the world that will be uploaded to you," Garriott explained. "There are no shards of reality; there is one copy of the metagame of the story. Everyone's in the same world. If you log on just once a month, you'll have downloaded the current state of affairs of ownership and the current blueprint of people's houses. Everyone that has a shop that sells things, whatever it is that has been built up in the world you'll get to see. Your world will advance because of the contributions of other players."

The decision to keep away from a classic MMO structure with multiple servers was made both for technical and for game design reasons. "There is no server where everyone that is connected that happens to walk onto the same map will all see each other," Garriott said. "If you do that it's terribly complicated and it's largely a waste of time for you. If you're walking on the streets of New York you don't really care about most of the people going by the other way. The only people you care about are the people you've met before or you are likely meet again in the future. We can determine that by whatever information you're willing to give us, and if you're not willing to give us information we'll use a heuristic to pull people into your current play space. It's much cheaper, for you and for us, and much more likely to be relevant to you."