AUSTIN, Texas, July 5, 2013 — The last time Starr Long and Richard Garriott teamed up to create a fantasy role playing game (RPG) was 1997. That game, Ultima Online, quickly became the first commercially successful massively multiplayer online role playing game (MMORPG) and many credit the duo with reinventing the RPG with that ground breaking product. Now Richard Garriott and Starr Long are preparing for yet another collaboration to reinvent the genre, this time on Portalarium’s™ Shroud of the Avatar™ PC based game. Starr was announced today as the project’s executive producer.

The announcement was made during RTX 2013, currently taking place at the Austin Convention Center. Garriott is a guest speaker at this year’s event. He is showing a demo of Shroud of the Avatar during a special presentation at 4:30 pm CDT, Saturday, July 6, in room 19 of the convention center. The entire presentation will be live streamed on RTX Live.  Additionally, Garriott will be formally introducing Starr during his talk.

Starr is a 20-year veteran of the gaming industry. He started his career at Austin’s legendary Origin Systems studio where he worked directly with Garriott to produce and create Ultima Online, which continues its position today as the longest running massively multiplayer online game ever. In 2010, Ultima Online was inducted into the Online Game Developers Conference Hall of Fame, becoming the first MMO to be so honored. Starr later helped co-found Destination Games with Richard and Robert Garriott (the company was soon acquired by NCsoft) and as producer he again collaborated with Richard Garriott on the futuristic MMO game, Tabula Rasa. In 2008 Beckett’s Massive Online Gamer magazine named Starr Long as one of the Top 20 Most Influential People in the massively multiplayer online industry.

Starr’s move to Portalarium comes after spending the last four years as executive producer at The Walt Disney Company where he oversaw the Disney Interactive studio responsible for Pirates of the Caribbean OnlinePixie Hollow and Toontown. While there he was the executive producer of the Disney Parent App on Facebook, eight learning mini games in Club Penguin (including Pufflescape, the second most popular mini-game in that virtual world),Club Penguin mobile, five Disney Connected Learning games on iOS (ranked in the top 5 educational games) and the Disney Connected Learning platform.

“I am thrilled to be moving back to Austin to partner with Richard on his next fantasy role playing game,” said Starr. “Richard’s ideas for remaking the genre are well aligned with where the industry is today in terms of technology and design. It is really exciting to know that we are creating Shroud of the Avatar with the idea of bringing back the concepts and principles that Richard used successfully in making his Ultima series. With all of that said, what I most look forward to is working directly with the community to make the product they want, which is the real power of crowd funding.”

“If people enjoyed the leadership that was in place when we were creating Ultima Online, they’ll be very happy with the team we’ve put in place for Shroud of the Avatar,” said Garriott. “Starr Long is a longtime colleague of mine, and he is absolutely one of the visionaries in this space and his track record shows it. I know he’s ready to roll up his sleeves and jump right in to help us make the next epic RPG. This news sends a clear signal to our fans that the game they’ve been waiting 15 years to play is that much closer to reality.”

Shroud of the Avatar is a multiplayer fantasy RPG for the PC that is the spiritual successor to Richard Garriott’s previous works in the genre. It is expected to launch in Q4 2014. It is a crowd sourced game that has raised more than $2.3 million from backers to date. For more information on the game and to become a backer of the project, go to www.ShroudoftheAvatar.com.

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Jerry Paxton

A long-time fan and reveler of all things Geek, I am also the Editor-in-Chief and Founder of GamingShogun.com