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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 😦
There is a thread. It is an interesting one…
Since I well expect this to be modified once I point it out, I have vaulted a copy of the thread here: VAULT
I would just like to point out what is surprisingly allowed on the SotA forums these days.
“We open the examples with none other than Small Cock Sillyvan himself to kick us off:
I will sell you my daughter for 3 cows and 10000 gold. “
High Baron O`Sullivan
Really hope you don’t have kids, big guy.
Followed by a less than creative example by this guy who just drops a zero, but adds a sick little quib:
“I will sell you @High Baron O`Sullivan’s daughter for 3 cows and 1000 gold.
slightly used. like new. upgraded skillset. been told, twice.”
Slightly used? Like new? Skillset? You’re a fucking pig.
Another jab at woman kind here by this winner:
“She’s got huuuuuuuuuge….. …. … tracts of land”
And finally, probably the worst one:
“I’ll see his offer, and ill trade you a @margaritte for just one extra cow… and possibly a bucket of fish. “
That is pretty disgusting…
That last one is interesting. Since a user by the name of wrathphoenix just joined the Shroud Unlimited community forums. Maybe you’ll care to come over and have a chat with us at some point?
So yeah, there was at least one voice of reason here so far:
“Stop trading OR joking about woman being traded as livestock and/or for livestock… “
I couldn’t agree more. This was also liked by Kara Brae at the time of the backup copy was taken.
People have literally been banned for far less than these comments. Posts and entire threads fucking wiped out, yet here you have this one with a bunch of dudes going on and on about women in this manner. A post about feminism was quickly wiped off the forum, but this stands.
I am not even going to try and guess what failings of Portalarium and unprofessional bias bullshit goes through moderators minds in an effort to explain how this shit gets left up so long. I don’t generally like to tell people to stay away from something and try to encourage people to get all the information around facts and decide for themselves… The constant influx in that SotA forum run by Portalarium of mindless prejudice really does make me think twice about that!
So think about the comments above when you engage that community, what kind of people they really are.
The Shroud of the Avatar community was rocked to it’s very foundation this week, go hyperbole, when none other than the great housing mogul Blake Blackstone announced his departure (Shroud Unlimited Forum Post) from it. I won’t try and speak for Blake as I am sure this is much more complex than we’ll ever know, but I can have some educated opinions on the matter based on the Ghost of Portalarium Past.
Although Blake didn’t really seem to carry the same stigma attached to the definition, there is no doubt he was a Shroud of the Avatar Whale. Blake was into Shroud of the Avatar from anywhere between $40,000 and $60,000! If that isn’t a Whale, you can call me Ahab. Blake created quite a decent looking website and theme behind his Player Owned Town Blackstone Bluff, and despite his status as a SotA Whale he always seemed like a person who was pretty logical and reasonable about what he said and asked for to me.
Jumping into the croundfunding of Shroud of the Avatar for 60k large must have earned Blake a lot of lunar cred with Portalarium, right? Well, what do we know? We know that Portalarium, most notably Richard Gariott and Starr Long, are into the idea of a “Land Rush” and were headed towards it balls to the wall.
“We want people to feel value and attachment, we want to create a thriving economy. Players want their home and businesses to be in high-traffic locations.”
– Starr Long
This statement by Starr does seem to echo the early vision in which Richard had during the Kickstarter campaign for Shroud of the Avatar. I’ll admit even I was interested in this due to being able to place a vendor on the property stuffed full of all the chairs and clock parts I steal from dead crafters, so I jumped in at Citizen which included a tax free lot.
Blake Blackstone must have been interested in this also, after all he did have a large number of high value properties and Player Owned Towns. Ah, yes, Player Owned Towns. Humbug! I don’t want to dwell on this all that much as it isn’t the main subject of this post so I’ll just say this; everything Player Owned Towns are and stand for are a slap in the face to every early backer who bought into this “Land Rush.” It was a poorly executed bait and switch, we went from valued player homes in game towns straight to unlimited and valueless lots in both instanced and non-instanced Player Owned Towns. So much for the westward expansion, we’ve just entered the black hole of the unlimited housing multiverse. Which makes this next statement pretty special.
“There won’t be any more left. That’s when we think the secondary market between players will really pick up, when people will want to sell real estate between players.”
– Starr Long
That would have been interesting, it really is too bad that Richard’s vision of having something special will never come to be. I bring this up because Blake’s announcement comes just two around two weeks after this announcement. This could be pure coincidence but it is a rather large paradigm shift, it goes against everything they’ve always said about Player Owned Towns and housing lots being limited and of value.
“We absolutely believe people will group themselves not just on individual pieces of land but in adjacent land as well. Over time certain villages and towns will start to define themselves with certain characteristics. Some of those groupings will be influenced by the nature of the game world, proximity to resources being the biggest factor, but sometimes the groupings will just be based on common play patterns like adventuring, gardening or commerce…”
– Starr Long
Well what can I say, it seems that they’ve put all their efforts indeed into Player Owned Housing. Everything that has been said about this matter will now need to be reset and we’ll have to start the Housing Clock at 12:01AM.
Blake came into SotA after Player Owned Towns were available, but still limited. He went to work and produced Blackstone Bluff and worked with/in Tantalus Consortium, of which Blackstone Bluff was the Capitol, as well as the leader of The Weeping Seven. This isn’t someone like me packing up and leaving, Blake’s departure is going to be noticed and by people who were involved with him I would guess quite sorely missed. Why did Blake leave!
If you wish to know beyond all doubt I would encourage you to speak with Blake on the matter so he can dispel any rumours, some of which I’m about to spin myself. Since Blake got in on the action a little bit later than some of the other Whales I can immediately see that there would be a problem as an, outlander, of course. Both by players and developers a like, Blake was probably treated like a second class citizen even despite his seemingly massive buy-in to Shroud of the Avatar. We’ve seen it all before, if you aren’t hand picked by a developer then it seems as if you’re just someone insignificant to their little niche game. This attitude is rampant in members of the community and has been this way for years now. It even looks to have permeated into Portalarium itself, if not fostered as an indirect result of how Portalarium has actually been dealing with the community. You decide…
There is a long list of things being handled by friends of the developers, whether or not the person doing it is actually qualified to do so which is the real shame here. The initial commitment from the team to leverage the backers for crowdfunded assets and resources was admirable, but it was clearly shot in the face some time ago. Even as they were pushing the now failed marketing for limited valued housing in Shroud of the Avatar, Portalarium had been handing out preferential things to people severely under-qualified as best as one can tell(part 1, part 2, part 3).
Yes, there is a long and noted history of Portalarium handing these things out without justification or qualification what so ever who are seemingly nothing more than friends to them. With so many talented and qualified people out there that is only going to hurt them in the long run, as quite easily demonstrated by Blake Blackstone’s departure from Shroud of the Avatar.
What is the message in all of this? Learn from Blake. Blake went into SotA at a massive level, tens of thousands of dollars, yet seemingly at every turn I can see him running into roadblock after roadblock trying to simply follow up on the simple rewards in which his pledge and Player Own Town afforded him. So much so he must have felt he would have been accomplishing nothing. Even worse we’ve also seen before how the Portalarium can just change things whenever they wish, so Blake could just have easily fell victim to many other bait and switch tactics through his dealings with them.
The message is Blake started outside the Portalarium’s inner circle and was never going to be a part of it. Neither are you. Know your place.
Well this is an interesting one. The Dev Stand Up Corner has been made public. The Dev Stand Up Corner is a pretty simple and lightweight concept; the Devs get together once a day in a scrum and pop out what they are working on. That is all it is, just a line next to a name. Example: Richard Garriott – Story
So it isn’t overly detailed, yet it was still locked behind a 50$+ pay-wall to get access to it. Unfortunatly it doesn’t really give anyone any detail on how much time is spent on each item or any idea at all about the cost of the item in development time. It kind of leaves us to believe that in the example above Richard spent the entire eight hour working day on the Story, but see if this were the case there would be a lot more going on in the game. Unless it is all true then take a look back and see all of the things drawing the Devs away from the Core game, anything that says “POT” or “Player Town” next to it.
Why did this come to pass? Well you have to read this steam review:
Yeah that is quite correct my friends, someone left a negative review and a Portalarium Staff member got all pissy with them and said they should read the Stand Up Corner notes. The very same notes that cost 20 bucks more than the Steam buy-in. Lawl.
So they are going to unban Caliya now right?
Just a quick update. I am not sure when this happened, but at some point in the past it appears that Portalarium had the time to update their Forum and protect against the exploits responsible for the SPAM issues they had. I say this because it appears that the one hit PvP wonders have returned to the forum:
hi pvp pls k thx bai