The Shroud of the Avatar demo reveals core components of the game, including Minecraft-style crafting, puzzle-based dungeons, and unstructured NPC chatting.
A few months ago, I wrote about how Richard Garriott (AKA Lord Brittish) completed his Kickstarter campaign, doubling the initial goal of his project, Shroud of the Avatar. In the time since, the Portalarium team have been extremely busy getting the game's development underway. Better yet, they've done this with a lot of transparency, allowing the fans (and Kickstarter backers) to follow them along each step of the way as the game has progressed. A mere three months after development began, Garriott and his team have unveiled the first demo of gameplay, which already includes basic crafting, a puzzle and trap filled dungeon, and an interesting role-playing feature, where players can have free-form discussion with NPCs.
The demo begins with a quick tour of a town, where the demo character has a spacious PC house, equipped with several crafting stations. After gathering some wooden logs, Garriott takes the demo character through turning the logs into planks, the planks into dowels, and then combining several of each into a wooden chair, in a style that is highly reminiscent of Minecraft. Garriott mentions in his discussion that players should remember what the formulas are, rather than drawing them out of a spellbook or crafting window.
Lord British - otherwise known as Richard Garriott, the designer of Ultima and Tabula Rasa - returns to his fantasy RPG roots by Kickstarting Shroud of the Avatar, hearkening back to his innovative early work.
After crafting his comfortable wooden chair, the PC takes off to the local tavern, where he then engages with the tavern keeper by opening his chat window and saying "Hello". By simply talking in spatial chat to the bartender, he begins a conversation spanning from introducing himself by name (which the bartender will remember), to discussing the drinks on tap, to hearing local rumors about a local crypt with some skeletons in it, which the PC quickly goes to explore.
The dungeon is largely empty of enemies, and the atmosphere is dark and, well, cryptic. The combat is fairly simple, but Garriott explains during the video that they are still very early in development, and the combat being displayed is only "Version 1", so expect more info to come in the future. The dungeon also contains a somewhat simple but classic dungeon puzzle, and during which Garriott harps on the importance of including these kinds of challenges in the dungeons of Shroud of the Avatar. The PC then quickly dispatches the Lich at the end of the dungeon, and claims the Lich's throne for his own, a mechanic that will hopefully be included in much of the gameplay.
Shroud of the Avatar is still in the early stages of development, but there is already lots of discussion happening between the developers and the community. It's worth watching the whole video below, as Lord Brittish walks through the history of RPGs and his goals for SotA, but if you're interested in just watching the demo, things get good around 22 minutes in. For an extra surprise, make sure to stick around until 44 minutes in.