Ashes of Creation Q&A 2017-01-11

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Notes [1]


  • [1:14]

How does the game flow if Intrepid doesn’t include factions?

  • Matt Reynolds: A lot of western players are kind of alienated to the fact that if there are no predefined sides for them, they don’t really know what their motivations are.
  • Steven: I’ve played a lot of MMOs. I’ve always felt restricted whenever I was part of a game that assigned me to a faction. I felt I am missing out on half the community that was involved in the game. A lot of the aspect of massively multiplayer game like MMOs are being able to choose your path, who you want to play with, forging alliances, the politics, the intrigue that’s involved with playing the game with so many other people. It felt kind of limited, but I like that in AoC we’re really focusing on allowing the community to drive their own path in those factions, with players making guilds.
  • Jeffrey: It’s not like we’re going to be leaving players to decide when they walk into the game who their side is. We’re going to be putting things in to help people create their own identities. One of those things is our node system. People are going to set up cities, and those cities will be their own faction of a sort. We want to get away from the word faction, but people have a way to say this is my identity and that’s the other side, and that might change over time. Your city might get destroyed, you might go to another city somewhere else, you create new friends/alliances and things will constantly be shifting, which I think will be cool for the long-term health of the game.
  • Steven: I think there's another aspect of a non-faction based game that's intriguing, that there’s a possibility for change. If you're playing a game that’s faction based, you're set there in that faction and there’s no movement.
  • Jeffrey: How meaningful is that faction anyway? It turns into this thing of Blue players vs. Red players and there’s not really a lot of identity there. There’s no, okay I’m with the elves, what does that mean? There are not really mechanisms there to help you interact with that. You’ll have a battle leader, a guy who is rallying the troops. It’s not going to be some NPC whose dialogue doesn’t get updated for years, and it will stay relevant throughout the course of the game.
  • Peter: Factions seem like a very broken choice. I think our focus is abrupt choice. I think our focus in general is giving a more fluid choice, because choosing who you play with and where you play is much more nuanced than like Red vs Blue.
  • Steven: It is kind of coinciding with the whole overarching message that Ashes is trying to convey which is that player choice should be paramount when your involving this many players. There shouldn’t be restrictions in that regard.
  • Matt: Philosophically, we want to stay far away from us telling you what to do as far as letting you decide what you want to do.
  • Jeffrey: but also giving you mechanics that you can play with. Structure there that’s loose enough to make those choices, but structured enough to give you gameplay opportunities.
  • [4:48]

If the world is built from the ground up by players, does that mean it’s empty, that there’s nothing there? Will there be things in the world? Will there be points of interest?

  • Jeffrey: Absolutely, When we say the world is going to be tabula rasa, it’s going to be a place for people to go out and plant their flag and start to grow a civilization, it doesn’t mean nothing existed before the players arrive. There is a big backlog of lore that we have of what happened on this planet before the players come here. Those are going to be part of the POI system, the quest system, and places that should be interesting and exciting for people to discover. There is a history to this world, and part of the game is going to be discovering that history. There’s going to be plenty of interesting things out there in the world.
  • Steven: I think it’s less of a fact that there’s a blank canvas, and more of a fact that you have a lot of paint to work with in creating your own picture. When players move out into the world, they’re not moving into emptiness; they’re moving into wilderness that has these storylines you can uncover, these items that you can find, treasures you come across, that you can build upon when you reach that area. Blank Canvas not so much, more along the lines of there are many different paths that a community can choose from and move down that path.
  • Jeffery: It’s civilization that’s not there. It doesn’t mean that there’s not a world out there to explore. We give you that first layer and there’s a lot of stuff to do in that layer, but then as players develop the world more and more layers get added and more and more gameplay opportunities get created because of the push/pull between players in addition to the feedback we’re giving to you in the world itself.
  • Peter: I think the words player development; the players are developing the world, but it doesn’t mean it’s blank. It’s more that there are going to be dungeons in the world or POI, things like wizard towers, mines, or woods to run through that are going to attract people, and maybe become homes for these people, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s completely blank.
  • Jeffrey: We’ve got a job to do to it, and we’re going to do it.
  • [7:39]

What do large guilds have access to? What do those player organizations that spring up, ground roots, and people get themselves organized, what are they going to go out there and do? What will they fill their gametime with?

  • Steven: I think that it’s been pretty common in MMOs that a lot of content for gameplay focuses around large guilds. I think that what we’re trying to do is make sure there is content that focuses both on small guilds, medium guilds and large guilds. We show that through a lot of the mechanics that are available to this guildplay, whether it be leveling up the guild for certain skills or taking castles, or participating in founding these nodes and towns. There is really a lot of focus on creating content for groups of players, whether it be small or large to participate in as a community, both as a broad community of the game and the local community of their guild.
  • Jeffrey: That’s something you’ll probably hear over and over again. The local gameplay vs the global gameplay. The micro gameplay of the individual player vs the group gameplay of guilds and the rest of the world. Guilds will fight guilds. Guilds will recruit other guilds to help them fight other guilds. There are a lot of layers to it. There’s going to be plenty of content for guilds, a lot of really exciting content. You mentioned taking castles. Castles are going to be huge and influential. I think it’s going to be a pretty big trip to watch people fight over them and find ways of taking advantage of them.
  • Steven: I know me personally, when we used to play Lineage 2, those castle sieges were like the epitome of the 2-4 week period where you would see hundreds or even sometimes thousands of players on the battlefield. If your machine could struggle through it. Being able just to see that type of participation in an event is really something that only guilds can organize to an extent.
  • Jeffrey: Just because a guild organizes it, doesn’t mean that other people who are not a part of that guild can’t participate.
  • Peter: I think that’s one thing we try to get away from. The castle sieges of old seem to be these huge massive events only, and we try to make a lot of mechanics that are scalable, so you can have an individual player participating in an event that are just as influential and fun as large guilds participating in these huge world events. It could be a band of 10 guilds participating in one event instead of maybe these two massive server guilds that sometimes happen.
  • Steven: Guilds will have a lot of activity driven mechanics in the game that focus on changing the world and impacting the world around them. It’s not going to just be restricted to the large guilds. It’ll be at a scalable level. Including castles.
  • Jeffrey: and nodes. At its core, a guild is just an organization of people. As your guild levels up you’ll get perks, but there are things that are extra-guild that are similar to that. The node provides - I guess we should just focus on talking about what guilds can do. Guilds will have levels, skills, the guilds participation in events in the world will help to level the guild up. Guilds will be able to have Guild Halls within nodes.
  • Steven: A guild's housing; they’ll be able to dedicate time spent on developing nodes, to have guild specific buildings and guild specific quests within the nodes.
  • Peter: Participating in the government of the node through the Guild Hall. The castle system is big for guilds.
  • Steven: There will be guild specific nodes that will be associated with the castle that people can build up in order to enhance the defense of their areas. Guilds will exert influence over zones if they own castles for those regions. Being able to dedicate support potentially to the economic or military or divine or scientific growth. Guilds will play a large portion, because ultimately guilds focus on community. They’re a micro community of players within a larger community. Those guilds are capable of achieving more specific tasks in a specific manner than the broader community.
  • [12:28]

What can players build in the world?

  • Matt: A lot of people are interested in what they can build in the world. That open world, static housing, claiming this little slice of heaven for myself. We have a lot of things in the works that we’re excited to unveil in the coming months.
  • Steven: As it pertains to housing, I think we have three primary focuses. First, housing that’s build able by the players in the open world itself. As long as certain parameters are met, with the development of local nodes, you’ll be able to lay down your claim to a piece of land out in the world and on that land you’ll have space to build a home, you’ll have space to build farms you can grow crops in, you’ll have space to build different crafting stations and workshops on your piece of land that you can then use towards your proficiency towards different skill sets, such as weapon/armor crafting, animal husbandry, etc. Housing plays a pivotal role in your characters advancement in creating goods for the world around you. We understand how important that role is. Outside of that player housing being built on your own on land you choose, we also have housing that is static within nodes, that you can participate in at an early phase of the nodes construction and then reap the benefits should that node progress to the later stages, having your static home grow with it, and those are a finite number of homes per node.
  • Jeffrey: We expect those to be strongly fought over, and it will cause some conflict and that’s kind of what we’re looking for in that, they will be a rare resource, these houses. They’ll look really cool. You come to a node, and it starts off at a village and you grab that one housing slot, as it grows through the city and metropolis level, that homes going to grow too, so by the end of the nodes progression, you might have a really cool mansion. Again, those are going to be rare and hard to get, and people might want to raise your node because they want some housing.
  • Peter: We’re also trying to make the housing more modular, because we know that no two players are the same, making houses just completely static outside of a node, wouldn’t necessarily fit the philosophy that we want players to be able to do what they want to do and build the house they want to build. Making it a farm, or making it a stable for animals, or making it just a home that they want to furnish and look great, that’s up to them.
  • [15:02]
  • Steven: Then aside from the static housing and the player built housing and the land, we’re also including instanced housing, in certain nodes when they reach a development stage. Players will be able to own an apartment, maybe in a city, that they would then be able to claim citizenship in order to partake in the government and that kind of stuff.
  • Jeffery: Just because you missed out on grabbing a house, doesn’t mean you can’t live in that node. There will be plenty of opportunities to decorate those; it just won’t have the same kind of cachet that an actual house might have. I like housing.
  • Matt: Everyone wants a home.

We wanted to touch on the referral system. We're pretty excited about it. We think it's going to be a pretty big hit when people grasp what we're trying to do here. We should just clear up any misconceptions.

  • [15:40]
  • Steven: I in my experiences first starting to play MMOs, when I was seven years old, back in 1992, playing Neverwinter on AOL there was $6 by the hour.
  • Peter: Dating yourself...
  • Jeffrey: Yeah, my mom was not happy about that part.
  • Steven: My experiences early on in MMOs, it's all about the community and the people that you play with. It didn't become so much the game that I was playing, more the friends who I had made online. They were playing those games too, and I always found that as we moved from MMO to MMO, We moved with our group and we the players built that MMO. Without the players the MMO doesn't exist. For the players taking on that responsibility in bringing the community with them to a game, they should be compensated in some way, shape, form or rewarded for that, and I think that our referral system goes to reward our players for helping us organically grow this game into something that can be a very large, massive multiplayer community. Our referral system focuses on whom you bring to the game, which is something you do naturally regardless. By bringing people to the game, you're getting rewarded with 15% of anything that those players spend on the game, whether it be through the cosmetic shop, or through their subscription, or through anything that the players do in the game. You're getting 15% that you can then apply towards your subscription. You can get cash back from it or you can use it in the cosmetic shop as credits as well.
  • Jeffrey: You are bringing value to our game, and we want to make sure we thank you for it. It goes beyond, here's a cool looking thing in the game, now you can actually have something that's usable, that helps your subscription, and that brings that free-to-play aspect to our game, without actually having to follow that kind of economic model.
  • Steven: Or go down the dreadful pay to win model in the marketplace.
  • Jeffrey: That's something we don't want to do. I think this is a good thing for us to do.
  • Steven: It's a good balance between offering the player something that mitigates the cost of a subscription model, which is something that players are normally adverse to, but at the same time, we don't want that pay to win that's been ruining MMOs for the past ten years in this whole free-to-play model and it makes sense. I understand why companies have to go down the pay to win route, because they need to attract those microtransactions in the marketplace.
  • Jeffrey: In order to keep their game healthy
  • Steven: and that's totally understandable, but at the same time if we want to get back to what made MMOs great... we have to find a reciprocal relationship with giving the community something back for helping grow our community and then at the same time making sure that pay2win aspect never enters our game.
  • Peter: Just looking at the models, and then saying, ‘Well we want to create a new path of the least resistance’. We think that a referral system, which is common in games, we're just taking it a step further for people to build the community that they want to build and have an investment in it. Companies, AAA Studios, that go down the route of a model that forces them to spend a lot of money on advertising, that's money that can't be spent on developing the game. This system helps our community grow in a more organic way that doesn't require us to spend millions of dollars in advertising, because our community is growing via our community.
  • Jeffrey: There's incentive to do it.
  • Matt: It all boils down to, we are simply inviting you to play a game about your friends by the game if you guys like it you stay and play and you get rewarded for it.

Why the name Ashes of Creation?

  • [20:26]
  • Jeffrey: That was a long discussion that we had. The name basically comes from... the Phoenix is a huge symbol for us. We have some gods; one of those gods' symbol is the Phoenix; they may have or may not have created the world, and he may or may not have died.
  • Peter: Next question.
  • Steven: Answer: Ambiguity!
  • Jeffrey: As with all Phoenix's, they rise from the ashes. Players will be apart of the rejuvenation of this world that has been abandoned for so long.
  • Steven: Another point there, in correlation between the name Ashes of Creation you first have to understand the nature of the world. The world is constantly creating, then there's mechanics for change, and from that change comes new creation. Let's take for example the node system; you develop a metropolis after months of work on the server and then some great battle is fought and that metropolis falls into the ashes, and out of it again rises more creation. There's a correlation between the name and then just the general philosophy of the game mechanics.

This is pretty simple, but do you plan on having traditional style raids and dungeons for our players to partake in?

  • [21:55]
  • Steven: Yes, Absolutely!
  • Jeffrey: I don't know how much we actually want to say about this, but we're going to have a bunch of different types of dungeons. Dungeons for small groups, dungeons for big groups, some things will only be able to be tackled by a large number of people. Again, we want to put the massive back in massively. We want people to participate together and create memories together. They're important parts of our design.
  • Steven: Generally, our dungeons are going to be, for the most part, open-world dungeons. We will have some instanced dungeons as well, but again it falls back to player choice. Those dungeons and their content are going to be influenced by the decisions that the players have made to move their civilization and in the world. Those decisions will impact what content you experience in those dungeons.
  • Jeffrey: It's totally possible, at least on our whiteboard, that one server may unlock a dungeon and another server might not, and one server might be getting loot from one dungeon and another server might be getting different loot. There's a lot of branching that we're going to be putting into this game.
  • Peter: We definitely want to keep them scalable, flexible, for ranges of player quantity and quality level wise. We know it’s something players want.

Are we considering a server specifically in their region?

  • [23:29]
  • Steven: Yes.
  • Jeffrey: Yeah, we're going to have regional servers, and we plan on going after where our player base is. We don't want to have people tell netting in all the way from across the ocean.
  • Peter: We'll be very aware of latency issues. That's definitely something on our minds.