First Chapter of Siege of Avalon Released

The first "chapter" in the episodic game, Siege of Avalon, has been released to the gaming hordes. This is a free download, so I suggest everyone get on down to and give it a look-see. Be warned, however: weighing in at a hefty 89 megs, it's a tubby download.

For those not in the know, Siege of Avalon is a new RPG for the PC developed by Digital Tome. Billed as a "traditional" episodic RPG, the game will be available over time in "chapters." Think of it like an interactive novel. Each chapter will be a complete adventure in itself that will build upon the overall story of the game. A new chapter will be available about once every month through the release of the sixth chapter, the finale. In terms of price, again, the first chapter is free. After that, it's $9.95 for each additional chapter. Digital Tome does say, however, that it is not necessary to buy all of the remaining five chapters in the game in order to experience the plot. Chapters one, two, and six are known as "key" chapters and are essential to the plot. Chapters three, four, and five are called expansion chapters and are unnecessary to the plot, although they help. Chapter one is a freebie so you only have to buy two and six in order to enjoy the game as-is.

The story follows the adventure of a young man who arrives at the city of Avalon, a Citadel formed as a fortress by seven kingdoms to defend against the Sha'ahoul, raiders from distant steppes. Avalon had been locked in a war against the Sha'ahoul for twelve years and this is the point at which our young hero enters the picture. In short, the Citadel has been recently devastated by the disappearance of General Ovun, the commander of the Citadel's field forces, and a third of the Citadel's men. With the Citadel so vulnerable, an attack by the Sha'ahoul is inevitable. Enter the hero.

The game is billed as a "traditional" medieval-fantasy RPG. Utilizing an isometric perspective, the players view in a similar fashion as Diablo or Baldur's Gate. The player will be able to determine their character's skills and decide how they evolve over time instead of choosing a race or class from the beginning and being restricted by that choice. Siege is a single-player game with no multiplayer capabilities. Players will be able to have NPCs join their party and can have up to five NPCs in the party at a time. NPCs can be added or dropped at will and players can issue prioritized orders to them. This is a 2D game, although it will support dynamic shadow casting, flickering lighting, X-Ray vision through walls, true point-to-point projectiles and spells, and something called "real-time CharacterLAB rendering" of sprites. To be brief, CharacterLAB stands for "Character Layered Animation Building," which is a techie way of saying that Siege can support several hundred characters. There are 140 supporting characters and hundreds of unique "extras" that make up the cast.

Again, the first chapter of Siege of Avalon is available right now for download at the game's website. Subsequent chapters will be approximately 20 megs in size. Each chapter should pack around twenty hours of gameplay. The current schedule for the remaining chapters go as follows:

August 4, 2000 - a free "special features" pack.
August 11, 2000, Chapter 2 - a key chapter.
September 1, 2000, Chapter 3 - an expansion chapter.
September 21, 2000, Chapter 4 - another expansion chapter.
October 12, 2000, Chapter 5 - the final expansion.
November 2, 2000, Chapter 6 - the grand finale, also a key chapter.

Digital Tome assures that players will be able to download the desired chapters for a quite some time after their initial release. In addition, Siege is apparently just a prelude of things to come. Following the release of the sixth chapter, Digital Tome plans to release a 25-chapter game-novel entitled Pillars of Avalon. More information on subsequent chapters of Siege and plot details on Pillars are sure to surface so keep your browsers tuned to RPGamer for developing news.

by Christopher Koeppel    
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