The Austin-based studio said it has launched the “first release” of Shroud of the Avatar for backers of the crowdfunded project, which raised more than $2 million via a Kickstarter campaign. The backers can log into their accounts, download the client, create a character, and begin to wander the streets of Owl’s Head, the game’s first town open for business.
The release comes just nine months since the project was announced by Portalarium in early March.
“We are pleased with our progress,” said Garriott, in a statement. “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. It’s still very early in development, and this is not your traditional development model. Since the game is crowdfunded and crowdsourced, we feel it’s important to give our community an early glimpse of the game’s progress.”
Garriott said the release is 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,” he said.
In Release 1, players can converse with non-player characters (NPCs) and try out the game’s dialog system. The game is Garriott’s first fantasy role-playing game in 15 years.
Players will be able to equip avatars with clothing, armor, and weapons. And they can select a house and furnish it with decorations. The game is single-player online only for now.
“These early systems are ready for players to try out and test for us,” said executive producer Starr Long. “We hope the community understands how critical they are to helping us make Shroud of the Avatar the game that we all want it to be. Throughout 2014, we’ll be rolling out even more features and systems on a monthly basis for players to try out including crafting, combat, questing, multiplayer and of course many other towns, dungeons and lands to explore.”