Dragonlance Co-Creator Joins Shroud of the Avatar Team

Dragonlance Co-Creator Joins Shroud of the Avatar Team

The man who created the original Ravenloft modules for TSR's AD&D will be Garriott's Lead Story Designer for his Kickstarter MMO project.

Lord British - Richard Garriott, if you'd rather - is just a few thousand dollars short of his $1 million Kickstarter goal for Shroud of the Avatar and, to sweeten the deal, a new Lead Story Designer has been appointed: Tracy Hickman, he of Dragonlance and Ravenloft fame, among many other writing credits.

"Tracy is not only a good friend, but also a master storycrafter whose writing I've greatly admired for over twenty years," says Garriott, adding that "Tracy's talent will add a unique richness and depth to Shroud of the Avatar." It's clearly a match based in mutual respect; in the opening moments of his announcement video, Hickman - "I'm an old Ultima fan," he says - credits Garriott with inspiring his own writing.

Shroud of the Avatar isn't intended as an Ultima game, but hopes to "reinvent the classic fantasy role-playing experience," according to its Kickstarter page. Given that the campaign still has 21 days to run, and is within touching distance of its target number, this MMO is all but certain to get made; if you want to get in on the ground floor, now's the time. October 2014 is the estimated delivery date for this title.

Source: Shroud of the Avatar Kickstarter

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God damn you, Richard.

you absolutely want me to buy this game, dont you?

Hm. Hickman is great with plot, but terrible with characters (in his novels). His often-partner in writing Margarette Weiss is the character half of the team (her plots are usually kinda awful). Together, they have good characters in awesome stories. Apart, they... well, the word "meh" comes to mind.

So the real question is does this game have pregenerated characters with individuals arcs (and if so, who's writing that?) or is it more a game where you create your own character and then take them on an epic adventure?

If the former, seriously, who's on characters? I need a name.

If the later - then you, Lord British, have just picked the best person for the job. Epic story will be awesome.

Oh, and...

Karloff:
The man who created the original Ravenloft modules for TSR's AD&D

... you might want to mention (either in the headline or elsewhere) that he did so WITH Margarette Weiss. He created the awesome stories of Ravenloft - she created the awesome characters. It's how they rolled. Credit where credit is due and all.

Bara_no_Hime:
Hm. Hickman is great with plot, but terrible with characters (in his novels). His often-partner in writing Margarette Weiss is the character half of the team (her plots are usually kinda awful). Together, they have good characters in awesome stories. Apart, they... well, the word "meh" comes to mind.

Is this how it worked? I always figured it was Weis who was the "good" half of the pairing. I base this primarily on Star of the Guardians which, although it had a few glaring flaws (including a pretty weak ending regardless of whether you stop at book 3 or book 4), is almost as good as their best work, the Death Gate cycle. Of course, the strength of both these books are the characters (though the "Starfire" character from SotG was pretty bland no matter how you cut it, and probably the worst part of the entire series), and in the case of the Death Gate cycle, the setting.

In contrast, the only Hickman-only book I started reading I stopped probably about 100 pages in, and I don't remember much of it other than that it had a smith as a main character, and I think maybe some dwarves or something. Something to do with dragons? But it was pretty dull.

I would kinda like to see such a obvious PR and marketing project to fail the Kickstarter goal... or maybe some serious mockery like Bill Gates starting a Kickstarter for his next charity project... that would be awesome as well.

One could almost say this news looms heavily over the game. Or would that be a low blow?

The_Great_Galendo:
Is this how it worked? I always figured it was Weis who was the "good" half of the pairing. I base this primarily on Star of the Guardians which, although it had a few glaring flaws (including a pretty weak ending regardless of whether you stop at book 3 or book 4), is almost as good as their best work, the Death Gate cycle. Of course, the strength of both these books are the characters (though the "Starfire" character from SotG was pretty bland no matter how you cut it, and probably the worst part of the entire series), and in the case of the Death Gate cycle, the setting.

In contrast, the only Hickman-only book I started reading I stopped probably about 100 pages in, and I don't remember much of it other than that it had a smith as a main character, and I think maybe some dwarves or something. Something to do with dragons? But it was pretty dull.

My evidence is mostly on their Dragonlance and Ravenloft related novels. But yes, this appears to be the case.

All of Weiss's solo work is really character driven and in-depth, but the plots themselves tend to be kinda... dull. You don't notice as much, though, because you're invested in the characters.

Hickman's solo work tends to be epic, but... dull, because you aren't invested in the characters. They can be doing awesome stuff, but you never care because the characters are so one-dimensional and archetype driven (and not in a good way). Also, when left alone, the VERY Morman Hickman tends to get a bit... religious themed.

When they work together, Hickman handles the plot and Weiss handles the characters (mostly). It's the reason that the core (read Weiss/Hickman) Dragonlance books and Ravenloft books are amazingly better than anything else in those universes novel wise, but their solo work tends to be less fondly remembered. I mean, the Soulforge novels were good (Weiss) but they didn't really... go anywhere. The plot was pretty much "Rastlin and Carimon do... stuff."

That's my experience, anyway.

I can't even begin to get excited for this game, it looks so much like an old school Ultima it hurts. But the 90s have been over for quite some time now, gaming's moved on, so have I.

Pedro The Hutt:
I can't even begin to get excited for this game, it looks so much like an old school Ultima it hurts. But the 90s have been over for quite some time now, gaming's moved on, so have I.

dont worry, people who played Ultima Online when it was fresh not the watered down care bear factory it is today will feel nostalgia hit them right in the childhood and at least look at it.

Then thats when it traps you.

happens more times that not, after just watching the Ultima retrospect from Spoony, I found myself trying to play some of my old ultima games.

it hurts so bad to realize these were semi-good games back in the 90's.

what's a paladin

Kalezian:

Pedro The Hutt:
I can't even begin to get excited for this game, it looks so much like an old school Ultima it hurts. But the 90s have been over for quite some time now, gaming's moved on, so have I.

dont worry, people who played Ultima Online when it was fresh not the watered down care bear factory it is today will feel nostalgia hit them right in the childhood and at least look at it.

Then thats when it traps you.

happens more times that not, after just watching the Ultima retrospect from Spoony, I found myself trying to play some of my old ultima games.

it hurts so bad to realize these were semi-good games back in the 90's.

what's a paladin

Well as a fan of Ultima, your knowledge of the land will be great.

Bara_no_Hime:

All of Weiss's solo work is really character driven and in-depth, but the plots themselves tend to be kinda... dull.

The most distinct memory I have of Weiss's solo writing was an action scene were the action ground to a halt while Weiss described, in a fair amount of detail, the inner-working of the killing rainbow spell that a wizard was firing at an onrushing monster.

It was around there that I realized that I didn't really like what I was reading.

Kalezian:

what's a paladin

I'm kind of glad I'm not/couldn't have been a person that was into ultima in the nineties. It's like building an entire game with the narrative composure of the last fifteen minutes of ME3.

But was he born with the galloping crazies or was it a lack of appropriate social contact that caused him to descend permanently into an insane fantasy world?

To be honest I don't much care for this news. I have nothing against Tracy Hickman, but to be honest Richard Garriot and his rather interesting personality have been at the core of the success of his games in the past. "Ultima" was pretty much HIS world, populated by his characters, which were based on friends of his in real life. The way how this sounds to me is that Richard is pretty much being used as the "name" to pull together the financing, and maybe do some of the coding and programming, but he's having someone else do the writing and design. To me the big appeal was seeing another "Lord British" game not a game produced and partially coded by "Lord British" but where the lead writer was someone else whose work has to me been a mixed bag.

Tracy Hickman's real talent to me always seemed to be game writing. The fact that he could make something work as a module, or contribute to fiction that was both a good story, but also consistant with an RPG grounding. At the end of the day his best work is known because of how well it straddled that. Ravenloft was nothing but a bunch of old black and white monster movie cliques thrown together into a module, it's famous because it worked at being both amusingly recognizable for what it was, and also extremely gamable. It's more a testament to design than writing, as one of the things we've seen over the years are re-releases of the module with peoplw re-doing a lot of the writing (room descriptions, etc...) to improve on it. Comparing say the RPGA re-release of the module with the original (I have both around somewhere). With Dragonlance it was impressive because someone managed to take the dynamics of a PnP RPG and put them down on paper and write stories based off of them. Never before had you seen an RPG and Novel series that played off of each other so well.

On some levels this would seem to be ideal for doing a video game, but to be honest I don't think PnP talent translates well into game design, and to be fair there have been plenty of people who have done this for video games as well as Tracy did it for PnP.

Don't misunderstand, I actually like the guy and his work. I'm glad he's got a job here, and I'm sure it will be passable. It's just I kind of wanted Lord British himself to be more involved with the world and writing, since his personality and ideas were the driving force behind the games that got me interested in this to begin with. What's more to be honest I still remember getting kind of stoked when I heard RA Salvatore was doing the writing for "Kingdoms Of Amalur" and as much as I loved a lot of his books, his talent just didn't make the transition well from paper to video game, it wasn't the non-stop awesome I was expecting. Tracy could do better, but at the end of the day I'd prefer he wasn't involved because I think the odds are that it's more likely to diminish him than anything.

Well whoopie-freaking-do! The Creator of the most commercialized fast-food D+D setting ever joins Richard "Ultima 9-what's a Paladin" Garriot to make me even less interested in backing his kickstarter. These two are just made for each other and I fully intend to gloat over the trainwreck they create.

Quellist:
Well whoopie-freaking-do! The Creator of the most commercialized fast-food D+D setting ever joins Richard "Ultima 9-what's a Paladin" Garriot to make me even less interested in backing his kickstarter. These two are just made for each other and I fully intend to gloat over the trainwreck they create.

EA did that to Ultima 9.

after Ultima Online came out, 3D was the new thing so they had to scrap a majority of the already made game.

then the executives said to themselves: "well, what if people cant get into the game because they didn't play the last eight?"

answer: "Whats the Codex of Infinite Wisdom?"

EA had to dumb down ultima 9 to hopefully bring in more customers, the end result was the worst game to end a trilogy. ever.

yes, worse than Mass Effect 3.

Worse than Duke Nukem Forever.

Richard didn't intentionally drive Ultima to the grave, EA happened.

Kalezian:

Quellist:
Well whoopie-freaking-do! The Creator of the most commercialized fast-food D+D setting ever joins Richard "Ultima 9-what's a Paladin" Garriot to make me even less interested in backing his kickstarter. These two are just made for each other and I fully intend to gloat over the trainwreck they create.

EA did that to Ultima 9.

after Ultima Online came out, 3D was the new thing so they had to scrap a majority of the already made game.

then the executives said to themselves: "well, what if people cant get into the game because they didn't play the last eight?"

answer: "Whats the Codex of Infinite Wisdom?"

EA had to dumb down ultima 9 to hopefully bring in more customers, the end result was the worst game to end a trilogy. ever.

yes, worse than Mass Effect 3.

Worse than Duke Nukem Forever.

Richard didn't intentionally drive Ultima to the grave, EA happened.

It happened on his watch and I didn't see him apologizing for it. In fact the last I heard him talking about it was when Patch 3 was released and he said words to the effect of: The game is now complete, there will be no more patches. Needless to say the game was still a hideous bug-ridden mess. Garriot is going to be on my shitlist for a long time for that High handed attitude. Also he still has Pagan which took the franchise in the wrong direction long before U9 to Make up for

 

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