Shroud of the Avatar – News
Over the past few months we’ve seen some big names sell out from their SotA investments, today another decently high level backer in Shroud of the Avatar is leaving; Ravicus Domdred. Ravicus has a RF Duke, F Baron 3, and a Metro POT with overland map access “with all the building bonus’s.”
While not even close(just a puny $20,000 Ravi has in SotA) to someone like Blake Blackstone’s massive $60,000 investment in which he chose to close down, it is still some serious cash Ravicus had invested. I wonder what lead him to this decision? Well, I don’t really, just read this forum. Lack of direction and management have to be at the top of the list. On top of all that, this announcement from Ravicus comes hours after a thread he posted requesting help was deleted by Portalarium on their forum:
Again it seems that the heavy handed deletion of user feedback is a serious problem, in this case the fact that someone had a problem with a community member posted for help, got trolled, then had their thread deleted and probably warned due to it, was probably the straw that broke the Lich’s back.
Once more though, it doesn’t really seem to matter to Portalarium. They don’t change their practices. They don’t need to, they already have Ravi’s money so they don’t really give two shits about his problems or him selling out because that money stays with them. Ravi can only do his best to try and recover as much of his investment as possible. It will however probably end up hurting the PvP community a bit, as there are only a few PvP players out there, and there goes another.
We haven’t always seen eye to eye Ravi, but good luck with it and I hope that you don’t end up losing too much of that hard earned $$$ you gladly gave Portalarium in hopes of an epic game we’ll never see.
Former Shroud of the Avatar forum member and current Shroud Unlimited forum member Nemo Herringwary has created a couple of little video reviews with his ongoing experience into SotA to this point. And when I say little, I lie! These are packed full of logical even handed information and I think are reactions from your average every day gamer, this is probably why voluntarily left the cash heavy SotA forums long ago! Someone like you or me, the 99%, would think the same things Nemo does as he rolls through New Britannia experiencing everything he can’t afford to buy for real cash, lawl. Sorry Nemo, but your videos really do prove that human beings love to watch other human beings suffer 😛
These are a great watch folks, and Nemo is quite entertaining so give them a watch if you’re a SotA newb, pro, or perspective future player!
A link has been added to the blog to his channel also so you can catch future episodes.
A user going by the forum handle Envy has indicated his intent to leave the Shroud of the Avatar Forum due to moderation. We have all either experienced the poor moderation either by being on the wrong side of it or by observation, and if you claim you haven’t actually noticed it go to TED and listen to the talk on Wilful Blindness.
Users exiting the Shroud of the Avatar Forum is not news because many do due to it’s policies and lack of protection against hostile party liners. High level backers leaving SotA Forum isn’t news either really. But from my own opinion, when a high level backer and owner of a whopping seven Player Owned Town whale trolls someone(seemingly forces Devs return $5 paywall due to this also), gets moderated, indicates he is leaving, then an executive Portalarium offers him a relaxed rules subforum? Well that is news we can all believe in 😛
Let us begin. Firstly you should have a look at this backed up thread where Envy proceedes to troll the BMC:
Clearly something has taken place to allow Envy to be bold or aggravated enough to start trolling BMC in their own threads, with apparent alternate accounts to boot. One must wonder how this conflict started. Could Whale Envy have met his match elsewhere in Whale Duke Cooper, leader of the BMC? Hmm, it would seem so but there is more evidence to consider here.
Some time after that post was cleaned up, within 16hrs at least I would say, Envy posted to the Shroud of the Avatar Forum his “Bye Bye” thread. Don’t bother reading it on the SotA forum, it has been moderated and cleaned up, read it here:
I will break some of that thread down for you now because I’m sure it will be a little bit of a case where TL;DR is a major factor for all you cranked up kids out there. The Bye Bye thread is an important one, so slap yourselves in the mouf and pay attention.
Initially Katrina Berserkers called Envy for leaving the forum for the same reason I suggest, trolling BMC and getting slapped for it. However Envy did have this to say about it…
“Actually that had nothing to do with anything… Nobody wants a toxic forum for obvious reasons, equally when a forum is moulded to an extreme in the opposite direction it becomes equally as damaging but for different reasons..unfortunately that is where this forum now current is and that is why I am walking away from it.”
Despite the fact Envy claims not to be bothered by his trolling being removed from BMC’s thread, I don’t think I could fault him with the rest of his sentiment there. I almost believe him, he is such a big Whale I doubt he’d ever get more than a slap on the hand for anything he ever did there. Shroud of the Avatar’s forum has been moulded to a very extreme and opposite view through Portalarium’s heavy handed management and moderator henchmen. I don’t know if Envy is thinking the same thing I am for the same reasons, but I’ll just assume he is.
Next up is where the real beef of this story hits our plates. Dallas, long term friend and employee of Richard Garriott and COO/Co-Founder of Portalarium himself drops in and posts to Envy’s cya wouldn’t wanna be ya thread. Here it is in full:
Envy, I, too, agree that you are an asset to the community. Although your communication style often pushes the limits of the SotA forum policies, that doesn’t alter the fact that your passion for the game, and tireless energy to share your learnings, are of great value to the SotA community in general (as demonstrated by my including your latest Grand Tour Quest video in the weekly Update of the Avatar).
I am one of the primary architects of our current forum policies. It has been my experience that the vast majority of people prefer a safe, healthy, nourishing environment to hang out in. A small minority of human beings have a thick skin and are not offended by aggressive/confrontational/”bear-poking” communication styles. These can often be (but not always) the players that prefer PvP over PvE.
That being said, we are attempting to create a game that satisfies some of the needs of the PvP’rs as well as the PvE’rs. I am intrigued by the notion of experimenting with the same design philosophy within the forums. Having a special sub-forum within the main forums that was more lightly moderated might satisfy the communication needs of those that feel they are being too tightly constrained. If we were to create such a sub-forum, would you be interested in being a volunteer moderator for that area, or have recommendations for others that might be willing to moderate that area (PM me with suggestions if so)? The majority of the SotA Dev Team has expressed discomfort in hanging out in such a lightly moderated forum so they would be officially reprieved from ever having to respond to any posts there. The participants in that sub-forum would have to be accepting of that.
In general, I’m wondering if having such a sub-forum would satisfy the needs of the few without compromising the needs of the majority. I haven’t yet convinced the rest of the management team, but it sounds like a worthy experiment to me.
What can we take away from Dallas’ post?
- Dallas believes that Envy is abrasive.
- Dallas thinks Envy is a community asset anyway and put his videos in Update of the Avatar in place of The Mad Hermit’s videos.
- Dallas is one of the people who developed the forum policies.
- Dallas thinks PvP players are the small minority calling for aggressive and confrontational communication styles.
- Dallas suggests a new sub-forum which is more lightly moderated.
- Dallas offers Envy a volunteer moderation position in the new forum.
- Dallas mentions that Portalarium Staff would not be allowed to post in this new Envy forum.
Ok, what, the, actual, frack? Did that just happen? People have been complaining about moderation for YEARSSSSSS. I can’t count the number of people who have left the forum, the GAME, due to the hypocrisy on those SotA forums. But Envy leaves the forum, he gets offered his very own sub-forum where he is a moderator? Just what the hell is going on at Portalarium?
Dallas went on to say in a reply shortly after that when someone said they hoped that Devs would post in there:
I’m afraid that it would be almost completely Dev free. We have a code of communication conduct at Portalarium that we do not allow members of the team to speak to each other in any way that can be construed as disrespectful. We find that communication styles that can be perceived as disrespectful are corrosive to long-term team cohesiveness and cooperation. Because of this fundamental Portalarium principle, we only attract team members that are in alignment with that principle.
Thus, if any member of the community wished to air their grievances in such a way as to promote Dev Team responses, they would have to do so in the more normally moderated areas of the forum. All this means is they would have to be less confrontational/aggressive/”bear-poking” (or “ass ripping” as Duke Ezekial so colorfully expressed) when airing their grievances.
Oh, that is very rich Dallas. Apparently there is a code of communication at Portalarium that says your employees can’t speak to each other in any way that would be disrespectful. That is great, and of course as it should be. But clearly that same rule doesn’t apply to Portalarium staff members when they are speaking to the community does it. Indeed, we know from past Dev comments that most of them aren’t even comfortable posting in the normal forum so why in hell would they go over to Envy’s “less moderated” sub-forum and risk their asses?
Is there something wrong with me? Could I be the only person in the world, because I am a toxic sledge throwing slimeball of a troll, to think that Envy is being damage controlled here by the COO because he is a serious investor in the game? Nope. I don’t think that I am and Ashlynn, who’s comments I’m usually impressed with, had the following question about the matter:
Hold on a moment. So a high-level backer with what might be described as an abrasive personality gets moderated for trolling some other guild so announces they are leaving. This warrants a personal response from the developers and discussion of the creation of a forum just for such behaviour?
– Ashlynn [Pax]
Ashlynn, your mind to my mind, my mind to your mind, our minds are one. Dallas simply responded, quickly, with that wasn’t the case and this was just the “straw that broke the camel’s back.” But… I don’t know about that. It has been years and innumerable backers have left due to this issue, it takes a Whale to make a wave like this? Such a wave he even gets offered a sub-forum and moderator position? This is unbelievable.
I’m going to try and put all of this aside and not insult Envy here… too much. Why would I insanely do that? Because as you read in that very post, in the SotA forum, on my blog, and in my forum, the moderation there at Shroud of the Avatar Forum is truly terrible. So terrible it too could have finally “bitten the hand” that collects the cash of the totally clueless people who put it and it’s policies together. Envy could actually be a victim of this forum and it’s policies in this case and it would not be a stretch of the imagination at all to understand how!
Just a short time after an event where Envy trolled the BMC guild on the Shroud of the Avatar forum, possibly with a fleet of forum alternate accounts, Portalarium return the paywall to access the Shroud of the Avatar Forum. You have to wonder about that coincidence don’t you?
- June 24, 2015 – Portalarium raise a paywall to post on their forum, claims it is required due to inability to protect users from spam.
- October 14, 2015 – It was noticed that the paywall was down.
- December 23rd, 2015 – paywall returns to SotA forum, 24hrs after Envy trolls BMC.
What’s a lich gotta do to get some truth up in here?
First thing is first. @Dallas. You need to re-think how you do your marketing updates. Keep your marketing updates under 102KB so that popular hosted E-Mail services like Google don’t cut them off. I’ve been missing some news from time to time and I am guessing many others are also. Everyone should look for the following advice at the end of SotA updates so that you don’t miss them. On the other hand, Portalarium you do seem to have a nasty little habbit of hiding the bad news at the end of the messages… #tinfoil
Click: View entire message to read the full marketing flyer for SotA.
Now on with the show; Portalarium have just recently taken easily their best and arguably one of their only customer facing services left and have completely buried it. If you haven’t noticed, Shroud of the Avatar is suffering from an exodus of current community members, even highly noticed and productive members like Blake Blackstone and The Mad Hermit are on their way out. Thanks Envy.
Here is the text from the update:
Account Services Vouchers
For a very long time now, since before our Kickstarter ended, we have endeavored to satisfy, at no charge, each and every one of our backers’ Account Services requests. As time has gone by, the number of requests for Account Services has grown. Most of these requests have not been related to account or purchasing issues, but pledge transfers and converting add-ons into store credits.
To accommodate these requests, we have been spending an ever growing amount of backer money to devote more resources to support these efforts. We do not consider this the best use of backer’s funds, so we will no longer be performing these types of requests without some way to fund these elective account services.
Effective immediately, Account Service requests may require at least one Service Voucher, including, but not limited to, the transfer between accounts, or conversion to Store Credits, of pledges, Add-on items, or Player Owned Towns. The voucher will be considered redeemed and removed from your account upon completion of the Account Services request.
Service Vouchers can be purchased in the Game Services Store with new funds only (not Store Credit). You will be notified if your service request requires more than one Service Voucher.
Please send us an email at email@example.com if you have any questions about whether a Service Voucher is needed for your service request.
I am all for saving “backer dollars,” however this is also a mess they have created all by themselves. This mess has been created through the ineffective customer engagement, the inability for devs to live up to their pledge tier rewards, lack of updates in Dev+, their stranglehold on the information presented on the forum, the RF/F/B account split/melt/merge fiasco, the– I’ll stop, I can go on for a week on all the things they have done to either directly and indirectly cause these issues.
Customer service at Portalarium no longer really exists in my opinion. Standard things you should have done for you, no matter where the money comes from, are the cost of business. If you are spending too much money servicing the sale of your member’s accounts, thanks Blake Blackstone, then you are doing something wrong for your members! Simple as that and pretty easy to grasp I would have thought.
There is one exception to this rule, high-level and Whale backers as illustrated on the image above. Not only do they get one on one personal time with the Shroud of the Avatar Developers via E-Mail, Phone, and Forum messaging, they get it in person. To get good customer service at Portalarium you will be spending around $5,000 at a minimum, and then even so is no guarantee. Just look at Blake’s case where 40-60k got him nothing but a sign on a door that said Don’t Call Us, We’ll Call You. Hmm, wonder why they are all too busy to deal with us plebs huh?
So what will these account service vouchers cost you? $25! Most mobs like Riot, Nexon, and even the Devil itself, Electronic Arts, allow you to do these things with earned account credit from within the game. But not Shroud of the Avatar ladies and gentleman, they are blazing a trail, right through your wallet. You don’t agree, you think I’m over reacting? I’m not done yet! Click the vouchers, dare you, they tell you that they will get in touch with you if your request will take MORE THAN ONE VOUCHER! What a joke.
Cash must be pretty low indeed for them to be doing this to us all. We know they already have dedicated people working on this, for free, so why the change? Again, a complete lack of foresight as most of this stuff should have been automated anyway. Why can’t their store figure out that you just liquidated a $50 dollar yule tree and turn it into store credit? They have someone at a keyboard doing that? Come on!
It probably isn’t even that really, the reports on the forum and reports relayed to me from people who have sold their accounts have indicated an excellent turn around. There seems to be no lag involved in processing these requests. So with that information on hand and my Transparent Aluminium hat I mandate that it is just another dirty fundraising scheme.
Welcome to Shop of the Avatar.
It wasn’t long ago on the 3rd of August this year of 2015 that I wrote an article which roughly outlines details on what the Shroud of the Avatar developers could be doing behind our backs based on information collected.
This very day information presents itself to further shine light onto the continuous and inglorious practices of Portalarium along those very same lines. Pay special attention to this article, especially if you were interested in the permanent ban of Shroud of the Avatar player Caliya based on her accused infraction of sharing some of the Dev Standup(which is now public) information.
I usually don’t write twice in one day because I’m a lazy prick, but this is noteworthy more so after the previous article references the same one this does and kind of proposes that high level backers have circumvented we lowly plebs. Well folks, the Dukes are loose and here is what took place.
Lets step back to October 2015 for a nice little event in Austin, it seems like a few things may have converged at once here. The BMC guild flanked by the NBNN was in town and got to have a nice little tour of the Portalarium offices. The Duke+ tier members were treated to special unreleased content viewings also! Very cool right, only one issue, BMC’s non-Duke+ members were also given access to that very same information.
Everyone! Look under your chairs! I have a special gift for you! You are a duke! You’re a duke! You’re a duke too! You are all dukes!
Wow, professional, you can totally un-ban Caliya now!
That isn’t quite all either as a slew of SotA medals where handed out to BMC, and to top it off everyone at BMC was treated by Richard Garriott, thus Portalarium, to a haunted house visitation at $60 bucks a pop.
What has BMC done though? NBNN gets some obviously very good guests to interview, but since it is basically like Portalarium jerking themselves off with NBNN it doesn’t really count now does it? Have a look at everything Blake Blackstone did with the Tantalus Consortium, The Weeping Seven, Blackstone Bluff, and the SotA community and then what they have received as a result. Now take a look at everything above BMC gets in a single sitting.
Go on, tell me you can’t see something wrong with that picture. You’d be a liar if you did, but that is of course your choice.
Say hello to the “Deutsche Dogge,” SotA man’s best friend. This pet is a reward for a pledge tier added after the kickstarter on April 25th 2013. Here is the announcement:
In celebration of the thirteenth annual Quo Vadis German game conference, Portalarium announces that German will be the first non-English language supported by Shroud of the Avatar!
Richard Garriott is delivering a keynote speech at this year’s Qua Vadis conference, and as a special nod to our German backers, SotA introduces a new pledge tier, the “Edelmann” Housing Pledge Tier, which includes a special German village house, the unique, in-game title of “Edelmann,” a unique Deutsche Dogge pet (or should it be a Dachshund…we’ll let the community decide), and a special ability to brew (and teach) a unique German beer that adheres to the Reinheitsgebot, or “German Beer Purity Law” of 1516. SotA will engage the community to submit and vote on visual images for the German Village house, with the team selecting the most popular image to integrate into the game.
The voting has been conducted and the result is in! Congratulations voters and to the Great Dane pictured above for winning the majority! here is the announcement on March 1st 2014 aprox a year after the first notice:
Benefactor Edelmann Great Dane Pet
Included in the basic rewards of the Edelmann pledge tier is this unique, in-game, Deutsche Dogge (Great Dane) house pet
Nice. Crowdfunding works! Some people paid $550 for the Eldemann pledge tier and got to vote for a pet option, woooooo! Wait a second… What vote? If you’ve got no idea what I’m talking about, well neither did I really before a few days ago. You know who you are.
There was no vote, not in the main forum or even Dev+ which any Eldemann pledge would have had access to(I believe yes) after backing to that tier. If you are wondering how the Deutsche Dogge got voted in, you aren’t the only one:
Where is it? Frack, where is it!
Ahhhhh much better! Let me channel for you what happened. Nothing with you, but some high level backers who probably had drinks with the staff in Austin(#tinfoil) decided the fate of the dogge. They took your poor Dachshund to the vet, unfortunately, nobody will be able to save him in the add-on store. Goodbye 😦