'Shroud of the Avatar' Role-Playing Game Out Now

In a return to his fantasy gaming roots, video game guru Richard Garriott and his Austin-based studio Portalarium have released "Shroud of the Avatar: Forsaken Virtues," a fantasy role-playing game that recalls Garriott's hugely successful "Ultima" game series.

"Shroud of the Avatar" will be a PC product available by digital download, with additional content available later for a charge, Portalarium said. The game looks to be Garriott's most high-profile game since "Tabula Rasa," and the studio says it will be similar to the classic, fantasy role-playing genre that Garriott helped pioneer.

"This will not be a Facebook or casual game," Garriott said in a news release. "We think it will appeal to a multitude of audiences, but we are planning on making a game that will harken back to the same design principles that you can find in my earlier games.

The game will include "a fully interactive virtual world, deep original fiction with ethical parables such that players' choices are relevant, cultural histories and fully developed alternative languages and text," Garriott said. "Also we want our players to have physical game components like cloth maps, fictional manuals and trinkets. These are all things that people came to expect in my earlier works and we plan on bringing them all back to create Shroud of the Avatar."

"Shroud of the Avatar" is being funded in part by a campaign on the crowd-funding website Kickstarter, which as of Friday afternoon had more than $235,000 pledged toward the campaign's $1 million goal.

Garriott is one of the godfathers of the Austin video game industry, having co-founded Origin Systems in the 1980s. Origin was sold to Electronic Arts in 1992.

Garriott founded Destination Games in 2000, and later became CEO of NCsoft Austin. While at NCSoft, he oversaw development of "Tabula Rasa," a high-profile game that was not a commercial success. Garriott left NCSoft in 2008, and helped found Portalarium in 2009.

Garriott is also known for being one of the few private citizens to go into space, as he flew aboard a Russian Soyuz craft to the International Space Station in 2008.

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