After having announced his Kickstarter campaign and being nearly funded in just ten days, Richard Garriot’s team has revealed some new information about his game. Tech Director Chris Spears explains how the team will be handling the multiplayer of the game.

Shroud of the Avatar will have four ways of playing the game – single player offline, single player online, friends play online and open play online. The single player offline mode is a DRM free completely offline version of the game. The player’s character is stored on the computer and can not be used in any of the online modes.

Single player online lets you connect to the server, receive content updates and can see the long term changes others are having on the world. This isn’t multiplayer, however, as you aren’t visible on anyone else’s screen, nor can you group up with others. You can, however, switch from single player online to friends play online or open play online whenever you like as long as you’re in a city or the overland map. Some parts of the main story quests may force players into single player online mode temporarily.

In friends play online, you only see people in your game that you have flagged as friends, and likewise, only they can see you. This is a server side filter and the game mode is primarily designed for those who only prefer playing online games with friends. Like single player online, you can switch to the other online modes when you’re in a city or the overland map.

Shroud of the Avatar is employing a rather unique and ambitious approach to multiplayer

Shroud of the Avatar is employing a rather unique and ambitious approach to multiplayer

Open play online lets you see everyone that the server thinks you should be able to see. This doesn’t necessarily mean everyone in an area, but the game will have some algorithms to determine who is important enough to be visible to you. This game mode will basically feel like an MMORPG. It will have lots of options for social interaction with other players. The system being employed here has the data flow through players instead of a server. The company believes that this is better for the players and the service, but the major drawback is that the upper limit of players on one map may be restricted.

According to the official description of the game, “Using state-of-the-art tools and technology, the game will focus on what made his seminal Ultima Series great. Once players are introduced to the game, they will discover their own story woven into the immersive world and lore surrounding them. Players may choose to follow the life of the adventurer or, if they prefer, focus on exploration and discovery. Players may even choose the life of a homesteader; either nestled within the safety of the settled lands, or on the dangerous but potentially lucrative frontier.”

The psychological profiling to decide a character's starting equipment that was used in the Ultima games will be making a comeback. This basically asks you what you would do in certain scenarios and assigns you a class depending on your answers. According to the description, players will be free to choose their paths as well, but must then live with the consequences of their actions.

Garriot has outlined some guidelines for the RPG. These include a fully interactive world where if something looks usable, it should do something, original fiction that deals with cultural histories, alternate language text and ethical parables, physical game components including a cloth map, fictional manuals and trinkets, and the ability to play the game either solo or in multiplayer.

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