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.