Monthly Archives: July 2017

Shroud of the Avatar Announces Publishing Deal with Travian

Portalarium®, an Austin, Texas based game developer, and Travian Games, a Munich, Germany based publisher and developer, are pleased to announce today a formal partnership to bring Shroud of the Avatar™, the much-anticipated fantasy role-playing game from legendary game designer Richard “Lord British” Garriott to Europe, South America, Central America, the Middle East and North Africa. Travian Games will be coming on board as a partner immediately as Shroud is moving closer to the game’s commercial launch later this year.

“We were looking to for the best upcoming MMORPGs in our industry as well as a strong cultural fit, so we are truly excited about the opportunity to work with Richard and the Shroud of the Avatar team on bringing another great game to our community,” notes Lars Janssen, CEO of Travian Games. “Portalarium’s vision is very similar to ours and we believe this is the start of a long-term relationship between our two teams.”

“Europe has always been a strong market for the Ultima games so we wanted to be sure we found the very best partner who could who truly understands what we wanted to accomplish with Shroud,” explains Richard Garriott. “Travian Games is that partner because they really understand community and development which has allowed them to build a huge base of millions of players.”

Shroud of the Avatar Oracle Colossus Screenshot

To date, backers of Shroud have logged more than three-million hours of game testing, and the latest update, Release 44, now permits backers to complete the entire Episode 1 story, from beginning to end.

Shroud of the Avatar, the spiritual successor to Garriott’s Ultima series of fantasy role-playing games, is a “selectively multiplayer” game, and includes a deep story crafted by Garriott and New York Times bestselling author, Tracy Hickman (Dragonlance series). The game combines a detailed sandbox style Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game (MMORPG) with a single player narrative mode. With Release 44, players can now complete the paths of Truth, Love and Courage and ultimately discover the secrets of the Shroud of the Avatar.

“The story craft is not at an end,” said Garriott. “More side quests and revisions to improve quality, will continue to be added to the game month after month, yet this is the first time the full plot has been playable, and is among the last major milestones needed for a commercial launch later in the year.”

The remainder of the game is already in what would traditionally be considered a beta state. There are some skill trees and recipes still needing to be completed, and plenty of balance and debugging remains, but Portalarium is now shifting its team and company into the stance of a publisher as the commercial release approaches.

“This marks the 44th monthly release for Shroud of the Avatar,” exclaimed Garriott. “And these updates have occurred on the last Thursday of the month on time, and the servers have had nearly four years of continuous software stability. In Release 45, players actively testing the game will receive the ability to ‘reset’ their story status, and thus be able to get a fresh run through the now completed main quests, without having to start a new character.”

Press Release


New Content for Citadel: Forged With Fire

Citadel: Forged with Fire News

Blue Isle Studios has conjured up the first of many planned updates for its wizardly world of Citadel: Forged With Fire which recently launched on Steam’s Early Access. The game’s very first update includes Iron Armor, ‘The Bear Claw Gauntlet’ and five crafting recipes. Here are the specifics for the game update, which goes live Wednesday:

  • Five New Crafting Recipes: Featured in the early levels of the game, supporting players who are just finding their way through Ignus allowing for more options to enhance your experience.
  • Iron Armor: The first addition to your armor wardrobe is Iron. Unlock the Iron set in the knowledge tree and repurpose the natural iron deposits of Ignus into robust and protective garb!
  • Bear Claw Gauntlet: A more barbaric weapon is great for hunting, created by hunting and killing the savage bears of Ignus and using their pelts and bones to create this daunting weapon, the Bear Claw Gauntlet is a great early-game choice for casting devastating damage-over-time spells that the gauntlet is known for.

Retro Review: Dragon Warrior 1

Or, “How Enix Stole my Soul”
by Jason Parker [Ragachak]

Retro Review: Dragon Warrior 1 - 1

This is where it all began for me. Few games since challenged me quite like this one did. Nintendo Power did something revolutionary [a lot of things to be honest] in giving away Dragon Warrior 1 with Nintendo Power. In fact, every subscriber back then received a copy. Why would they do such a thing? Could that devalue the game, make it so people would not want to buy it if they could just get it with a subscription to a gaming magazine? Well for one, it really made a lot of customers happy, and two, Video Game RPGs were not exactly common place back then. This was a big gamble for Enix; this to me is playing the long game. Get them hooked on the challenge and charm now, so they’ll buy future installments. Spoiler Warning: It worked. Were there RPGs for the NES in the early days, not to mention the Personal Computers? Of course, there were! Final Fantasy from Squaresoft came out in 1987. Dragon Warrior came out in Japan as Dragon Quest before that, but we wouldn’t receive it until 1989. Sure, Hydelide, Legend of Zelda and others existed, this was an RPG unlike any we had ever played before. It was my first and the first for many others in my generation. As an avid reader, it felt like an epic story was playing out before my eyes. Even if the story was pretty simple, it was in the exploration, the journey.

Retro Review - Dragon Warrior 1 - 2

Back in the days before the Internet, this game was insanely hard. The only tips we had were from other people who owned it, or from Nintendo Power. The only friends I had who owned the game gave me their copies [yes, copies], and I did not meet anyone who knew anything about it until Middle School that had any interest in Roleplaying games. This was a game about exploration, talking to everyone, and especially back in those days, talking to every NPC was important. This is good until you realize that the translations of these early RPGs were incredibly poor and some of the tips may not be useful, or even relevant. What’s fascinating about this game, in particular, is that you can see the final dungeon/castle from the moment you leave Tantegel Castle. The home of the Dragonlord, Castle Charlock can be seen right across the water. Could you get there now? No, of course not. You’d die! But you know your final goal is right over there.

Retro Review - Dragon Warrior 1 - 3

The goal in Dragon Warrior 1 is pretty simple: The Dragonlord stole the Orb of Light, and now Alefgard is in peril. You are the descendant of the Legendary Hero, Erdrick [Roto in the Japanese version] and it’s your goal to find his weapons and armor, prepare yourself for battle, and to ultimately defeat the Dragon Lord. This is easily one of the longest games in the early days of Nintendo, clocking in at least 20 hours. That’s what the average probably is. It took way longer for me, because that game is so incredibly difficult, especially in Elementary School in the late 80s. You start off with your little bamboo pole, slapping the life out of Slimes, Red Slimes, Drakees and such, until you get to the end, having found Erdrick’s Sword and Armor, spent hours farming gold for the Silver Shield, the Token of Erdrick [proof you are his descendant], the Tablet of Erdrick [the tale of the hero, the journey ahead for you] and far more. There are so many important items you need, and if you don’t figure out how to get all of them, you won’t get far. Nothing is useless in Dragon Warrior. Even the Cursed Items are useful: They sell for money! The cursed belt is kind of crap, but if you can find the rare and insanely valuable Cursed Necklace, you can practically buy your Silver Shield with it.

Retro Review - Dragon Warrior 1 - 4

Dragon Warrior was revolutionary, and each subsequent game pushed the envelope of what you could do in a video game, but Dragon Warrior got to it first. Sure, Final Fantasy had a party of generic heroes that you commanded, but in Dragon Warrior, it’s just you. One lone, badass hero to save the world. You did similar things though: Fight bad guys, gain exp [level cap 30], buy new weapons, armor, find important items, and travel through dungeons. There aren’t many bosses though because this world is far more open than the mega-linear Final Fantasy. You still have a linear goal in Dragon Warrior, but you can do a lot of it in different orders if you’re brave/foolhardy enough. In Final Fantasy 1, you had a host of bosses: Lich, Kary, Kraken, Tiamat, Garland, Chaos, hidden boss Warmech, Astos the Dark Elf, Vampire. Your bosses in Dragon Warrior:


  • Green Dragon: You fight it to save the Princess. Fun fact: You can actually beat the game without saving her, but the Gwaelin’s Love item is invaluable. There are other Dragons though.
  • Golem: He guards Cantlin, and is ferociously powerful. That is, unless you have the Fairy Flute, which puts the rock monster to sleep. Then you can just smash it to pieces and get into the Cursed City of Cantlin. Another pretty simple encounter if you are smart about what you do.
  • Dragonlord: The King of Charlock Castle, surrounded by the most powerful fiends in this world. The strongest, the bravest of the AxeKnights. There are no tricks or secrets to besting him. Have the best armor and weapons, be level capped, have plenty of items, and even then he could still destroy you with a lucky blast of flame.

Retro Review - Dragon Warrior 1 - 5


This is where the game kind of falls off for a lot of players though. Not having any idea where to go, having bosses you could completely miss in the darkness of a cave, or not being strong enough can be a huge turn-off. Unless you literally talk to everyone, you will miss so much. Trying to figure out where to buy keys, or how to make the Rainbow Drop, learning which treasure chests respawn, how to heal smart instead of just throwing herbs around. Final Fantasy is easy: You go to the next area, for the most part. It has mysteries and such, but Dragon Warrior 1 is a mystery for the first time. If you don’t have a strategy guide, FAQ, or someone around who knew it like the back of their hand, you’re out of luck. But that’s half the fun to me, exploring and learning that every bridge you cross has stronger enemies, certain overworld types have stronger enemies/higher encounter rates. Not to mention You. Have. To. Grind. Forever. You always need the newest weapons and armor every time you get to a new town, and the exp/gold totals in this game are absurd until much later on. If you aren’t stronger than all of the encounters in this game, you’re in for a bad time. There are hints of useful items, but they’re pretty vague. The hint for the Fairy Flute? “In legends, it is said that fairies know how to put Golem to sleep.”


“Art Thou the Descendant of Erdrick? Hast Thou Any Proof?” 4/5 [Holds Up]

Retro Review - Dragon Warrior 1 - 6

I truly began to hate that dialogue. More than you could ever know. This is a hardcore game for only the bravest. Most of my friends at the time made sure I knew that it was impossibly difficult, and “stupid” for that reason. I didn’t feel the same. There was a “Dragon Warrior Strategy Guide” from Nintendo Power, but I did not have it. I had to just explore, and hope I could find someone who also knew something about the game. But Dragon Warrior taught me a lot about perseverance and fostered an eternal love of Roleplaying Games. It wasn’t going to hold my hand, make anything easy on me [ever] and told an honestly, pretty simple story. There’s a bad guy on the Isle of Dragons, magical items can get you there, so go do that thing. It’s also the first RPG I played with an alternate ending. It’s the first game just in general I could recall that had multiple endings. When you get to the Dragonlord, he asks you to join him, which I did mention in at least one previous editorial. If you say yes, the game freezes because you sell your soul to the Dragonlord and while you control half the world now, that isn’t very long-lasting. I love that Dragon Quest Builders comes back to this. Does this games challenge hold up in 2017? I’d like to think so. Sure you know where everything is now, or can. But knowing what lies in Brecconary, Kol, or Cantlin will not make the game any easier. It’s simple, but it’s fascinating how much of it lives on to this day. The entire cast of enemies, that artwork is still used in modern Dragon Quest titles. Dragon Warrior/Quest had an all-star cast at Enix, created much-needed competition [until their merger, anyway] with Squaresoft. Dragon Warrior 1 showed there’s more than one way to create an epic RPG, and would be an alternative to the Final Fantasy franchise even to this day.

Dragon Quest News: DQ XI Localization Confirmed

Yuji Horii recently announced something I already knew would happen: Dragon Quest XI’s localization is confirmed. But what I didn’t know/should have suspected, is that it won’t arrive on Western Shores until 2018. The 3DS/PS4 versions are already live in Japan, and the Nintendo Switch version is still in development. That means it will be in America probably early next year. Is this good news? Of course it’s good news! Why wouldn’t it be? But this makes me direly wish they’d release a version down in SEA/South-East Asia with English Subtitles/Menus would be available. I’m more than willing to import it/beg their PR team for a version like that. Knowing that I have friends that can already play it easily and I have to wait another year is soul-crushing. However, the localization will be in five languages, with English being among them. This is definitely good news, and I’m going to be looking into it. Just as soon as I have a release date, you guys will be the first to know. Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age will be here before you know it. I’m fortunate to have Yuji Horii, Koichi Sugiyama, and Akira Toriyama still creating my first RPG after all these years. Dragon Quest has had a place in my home and heart since 1989, and I’ll never forget what they did for a child who had almost no friends and desperately needed a world to explore. Below is the official announcement.