- People who put more time and effort into it are definitely going to get more out of it but that doesn't mean that person who logs in once a week won't be able to have fun so it's just a matter of the scale of stuff that you're going after... Running a caravan is not gonna be the same thing every time you do it. You might be able to find like a super secret path that nobody knows about... and you exploit it for a while and nobody knows and then eventually somebody sees you and suddenly that route becomes a lot more difficult so you know that's kind of the way we really want that emergent gameplay to kind of come out of those options that we give you guys; and a lot of it is gonna come down to other players making it more or less difficult for you. – Jeffrey Bard
- There's a ton of room for difficulty on whatever scale... In a living world everything becomes much more difficult. – Peter Pilone
- Higher performance in earlier phases will increase the difficulty of subsequent phases of the encounter.
- Bosses and mobs will not auto-scale based on group size, but AI behaviors may dynamically adapt to the number and types of combattants in proximity to the encounter.
- Raid bosses are aware of the number of combatants within an area in proximity to them and that awareness is part of an indicator to which behaviors they're going to utilize as part of their behavior tree. So as it's assessing the types of combatants that are facing it, the number of those combatants, the position of those combatants, the abilities and totals of those combatants, it weighs certain actions in its behavior tree and then it acts on those actions; and in the scenario where you're bringing overwhelming odds to a particular fight, that might weigh heavier the AoE options that the boss has access to, where they're utilizing a lot more AoE abilities during an engagement due to that overage of of players. So in that sense it's a bit adaptive. It's a bit dynamic based on the encounter scenario. – Steven Sharif
- Q: How challenging will raid boss mechanics be given the given that players may need to simultaneously fight other players while also fighting the boss?
- A: It depends. The great thing about our encounter system is that it has a wide scalability from encounters that some might consider easy given their composition to encounters that some might consider impossible until they get their gear level to a certain stage. The level of interaction with other players is really predicated on the encounter itself. We may have some encounters that are in instances although the predominant portion of those will be in the open world, in which case they do have the potential being contested; and these encounters, especially the big ones that might land in contention, are giving some of the best-in-slot gear you can get in the game. So it's important that they are contested because it is a significant victory point; and one of our core pillars is risk versus reward: and the higher that risk the higher that reward should be. So those two things seem fitting and then in addition we do have the concept of winners and losers. Not everybody in Ashes of Creation is going to be a winner; and that sucks if you're not I guess, but there is opportunity for you to continue to excel and become one. But it gives much more meaning to an achievement when not everybody gets the achievement. That's our philosophy. – Steven Sharif
- 1 Level scaling
- 2 Learning curve
- 3 Meta
- 4 Casual vs. hardcore players
- 5 Target demographic
- 6 Player types
- 7 Combat
- 8 Game balance
- 9 Progression
- 10 Game design
- 11 Addons/mods
- 12 See also
- 13 References
There will be a mentorship program where upper-level players are able to benefit from partying and/or helping lower level players; and getting them situated in the game.
- Certain node buildings and organizations offer quests that can be initiated by a mentor to assist new players. Rewards are offered to both the mentor and the mentee upon completion.
There will be activities that are present for higher level players to mentor lower level players. Let's say you have a friend who joins later on and you still want to do things with them, there will be things to do. Will he be able to enter a dungeon of your level and participate? No, because we don't want to inflate or deflate characters and manipulate that type of skill or power. We want that to be something that makes sense for them in a progression standpoint. – Steven Sharif
The mentorship program provides individual quests that can be initiated by the mentor based off of what node that they are part of. So these are like quests that are determined by either certain buildings and/or organizations or the mayor; and there are specific ones that are available for mentors to provide mentees; and they can also participate in some of those quest lines as well: Whether that be leading your mentee through a dungeon or providing a location for them to arrive with you at, or escort quests for the NPC caravans. These types of things, when done together with your mentor, will provide benefits both for the mentor and the mentee as well, so you're incentivized to participate with new players. – Steven Sharif
My stance on participation trophies is that things should be hard, people should fail, the bitter taste of defeat is what makes success that much more rewarding. Helping other players learn encounter strategy, and fine tuning their play style for high end content is an important part of eliminating participation trophy. Growing together is a good thing, and that include failing together as a means to drive for success together. – Steven Sharif
The effectiveness of classes, skills and gear is going to depend on the adversary or the encounter. There will be optimal builds for different challenges and difficulty ratings. This design aims to avoid any obvious meta or "cookie-cutter" builds in Ashes of Creation.
- Different challenges are presented dynamically to players based on node progression and destruction. Situations that are based on a rock-paper-scissors design will inspire a horizontal gear chase. These dynamic challenges will change from month to month, causing a shift in demand in the economy as different builds are required by the new content.
- Increasing difficulty ratings inspire more of a traditional vertical power progression that is common in other MMOs.
Oftentimes you just have a very vertical power scale and that determines chase, but when you have a variety of relevance across certain types of adversaries and that variety changes over time because of player activity- and then that affects the economy and the crafter system and who was producing what for what demand- and everything gets shaken up. That's a very kind of fun environment to exist in. It presents a more dynamic situation rather than a quote-unquote cookie-cutter type selection. – Steven Sharif
Casual vs. hardcore players
- Some progression paths will be more immediately achievable, which are more suited to casual players.
- Triggered events such as cravans and sieges will allow casual players to participate in impactful events without significant time investment.
- Lower level characters will have usefulness in mass combat that does not depend on their level, such as manning siege weapons, helping repair fortifications, bringing proximity-based buffs to key positions, using stealth or scaling walls. These types of things are relevant to the tide of battle and do not require the player to be max-level or have high combat stats.
There are events that are happening in the world in the game that you won't need to be a hardcore player to impact and join. For example, the triggered events from the PvE standpoint against the cities; the trades of the caravans; those natural battlegrounds that exist; the castle sieges you can login for. There is a lot of systems that are at play where a person can simply log in, participate, have fun, be impactful and then log out. – Steven Sharif
- Other progression paths will require a significant time investment, which casual players will take longer to achieve than hardcore players.
- The contribution of a large mass of casual players working together may have a greater impact on node progression than hardcore players. Hardcore players may be able to progress into to late-game content faster than casual players, but may lack the numbers to influence the nodes in those locations as quickly as the larger population of casual players.
Traditionally in MMORPGs you're going to see a larger population of casual players than you do of hardcore players; and that's just the way the cookie crumbles from a population standpoint. And because of that and the way that nodes collect experience and advance as a result of player activity, those casual players will actually have more impact on node progression than the hardcore players will: at least as I predict, because of the sheer quantity disproportionate between the two different groups of people... You may see in Ashes the smaller hardcore group of players progress further into the late-game content, right. But they don't have the numbers to influence the nodes in those locations as quickly as the more casual... larger population has near the outskirts. – Steven Sharif
I think our target demographic, obviously we have a very high graphic fidelity in the game that's attractive to younger players, but at the same time we have a very roleplay game orientation - a kind of a play back to that pen-and-paper Dungeons & Dragons feel that perhaps younger generations may not know but is very near and dear to the hearts of older gamers. So I think we have a broad appeal from a demographic standpoint. – Steven Sharif
A guy who wrote a book on game design, called Bartle, breaks gamers up into different categories. We will often talk about the different categories of gamers and trying to satisfy their needs. – Akil Hooper
The most compelling design argument for how those different sects of gamers interact with each other is dependant from the design standpoint of interdependencies in the systems. So, for example if as a Raider or as a PvPer you're looking for the best gear, you're going to devote your time towards leveling up and going out and participating in the things you enjoy like pvping, perhaps going for caravans or sieging cities and castles and all that type stuff. If you want the best gear, you're going to have to rely on a person who's devoted their time towards crafting potentially; and they may not be a PvPer but they have a place in your wheelhouse because you need their services. And then that crafter is going to need a person who is either a gatherer or plays the economy as a merchant in the nodes with the auction houses that are regionalized. They're going to have to work with a person who specializes in trade that takes caravans with either mercenary groups or other guilds that are PvPers between the nodes to get the resources they need. Building dependencies on different groups or factions of players that exist within a large world like this MMORPG is what kind of solidifies the bonds that allow for them to exist either harmoniously, or at least in a way that they know you need those types of players. – Steven Sharif
- Combat is the most tactile system in the game. It needs to feel responsive, mobile and fluid. It needs to give a feeling of satisfaction.
- We are taking our time when it comes to the quality of this game; and what that means is the additional bells and whistles: the more polished look of animations and visual effects; and as we expand on this idea of combat with class rotations, all this stuff is going to get is going to come together into a very tactile, kinetic style of combat and that's our goal. – Steven Sharif
- Combat is animation-driven to ensure it is impactful and responsive.
- We're building a singular tool that all of the teams can use to build abilities and tweak their sound effects, visual effects, animation design, engineering: All using the same tool grounded in animation to build these abilities. – Keenan Reimer
- Alpha-1 combat was focused on core functionality rather than combat balance.
- Alpha-2 combat will include archetypes, significant ability support, augments, split-body combat, weapon attacks, and many additional items, among other things.
- The developers will be testing whether or not to use global cooldowns GCDs on different types of abilities during Alpha-2.
We will be providing combat data for individual players in their chat window, that players can filter and analyze for themselves. The goal is to mitigate and make the practice less prevalent through the ease that DPS meters provide. Also to place actionable enforcement for players who attempt to circumvent the decision by use of 3rd party programs, for which we will be monitoring. – Steven Sharif
The way that the systems are being designed from a balancing standpoint we're taking into account how we would like the nodes to change per-se how often and we've designed attrition systems for certain cultures that may have more dominance over others. These are things that in Alpha and Beta we will be testing and watching and making sure that our objective is achieved from a gameplay standpoint and if it's not we'll come back and recalculate. – Steven Sharif
- 1v1 matchups will have a rock-paper-scissors dynamic, where one class will be superior to another.
- There will be match ups in 1v1s where one class will be superior to another; and that application should be a rock-paper-scissors dynamic. We want there to be counter-play between the different classes... Instead it's going to be a group focused balance, where as long as you have the diversity of classes present, that's going to be an equal level playing field. It's going to be very dependent on skill and strategy. – Steven Sharif
- Alpha-2 testing will begin to focus on balancing once populations and encounters have been put in place and are deep in testing.
- From an engagement or encounter perspective, obviously we do a finger-in-the wind kind of balance pass, but a lot of that stuff from our encounters team doesn't get done until populations are in place and those encounter designs get a little bit more time to bake. – Steven Sharif
- There are four primary groups of augments assigned to each base archetype. Balancing of augments relates to the four augment groups for each of the eight archetypes.
- Even though augments do radically change the way your active skills provide you abilities, there's still a primary focus on the base archetype itself and not the 64 whole classes. – Steven Sharif
- We're not really talking about 64 true classes, we're talking about eight classes with 64 variants... There isn't as much variance between the 64 classes as you might expect. It's not like there are you know 64 different versions of... radically different classes. – Jeffrey Bard
- Certain archetypes are capable of moving the gap between their counterpart per-se. If I am a Tank archetype and a Mage is my counter, I can take a Mage secondary and kind of bridge the divide slightly; and then move my identity that direction ever so slightly. – Steven Sharif
There are points of balance that we want to incorporate, such as the defense mechanisms that the defenders have, the types of buffs that are acquired through completing killing the bosses, or capturing control points, the stages before a siege when it comes to those node progressions in the preceding weeks: Those are all going to be balanced considering all things being equal between the two sides. But obviously we're not going to control the state of gear acquisition that one side might have as an advantage over the other. There might be a much better geared team over there. There might be a much better coordinated team. There might be a higher number of individuals who are part of the attacking or the defense. Those are components that we aren't necessarily going to put on railroads so-to-speak. But the aspects of design that we can talk about like the hit point health of a particular wall or door, or mercenaries that can be hired; what's their cost, what's their damage output: Those are things yes we're going to balance. But obviously anything that's player dependent or that has player interaction and activity and determination you can't always balance; and you don't want to balance. Those aspects you leave those to the players. – Steven Sharif
- The objective is to provide both vertical and horizontal progression.
- Repetition will not be part of progression in Ashes of Creation.
- Progression pathways in Ashes of Creation are per-character.
The way that Ashes is constructed is there are multiple paths of progression from a from a PvX perspective, a kind of wide net perspective that players have interest in; and you're not going to be able to become the master of everything. So you're going to have to pick and choose, but even picking and choosing that gives you a place within that aspect of the world at a place that's going to be something that you can build up a reputation around. – Steven Sharif
The game hosts a wide array of progression paths, and some of those paths will grant additional paths to augmenting your threat generation. This can be in the form of enchantments and stats ... and even in the form of augments granted from societies and religions. Gear and skills choice are also a big component. – Steven Sharif
Multiple playstyles should be relevant and viable. Additionally, you have a spread between casual players and hard-core players; and most of us exist somewhere on that spectrum. The progression path in a society or religion is more conducive to the time we have to play. Whereas, someone else may be playing several hours a day, and they have a better opportunity for the raid/level progression that might require some more dedication. So we want to have these different progression paths available to accommodate the different times in our lives that we have to play the game. And all of those types of progressions will make us relevant in some way shape or form to the general world. – Steven Sharif
Having the ability to gain power at a sacrifice... That's a way to kind of reach a horizontal type of progression. It may not be entirely, because there could potentially be a meta if balancing isn't done correctly; but the objective there is to make sure we have both vertical and horizontal progression in the game. – Steven Sharif
- Experience (XP) is gained through a variety of vertical and horizontal progression paths, such as PvP, PvE, Exploration, Gathering/Processing/Crafting, Events/Quests, Grinding mobs.
- Some levels may offer more rewards than others.
- I think you can emphasize some levels more than others and that's a great way to do progression. But I think ultimately that you should see a reward for your progress or effort spent. – Steven Sharif
- As part of our ideals as a game we're not going to give boosts away. We're not going to auto-level up a character. You have to spend time acclimating yourself to what this game is, to what the world that you're part of is; and that's an investment- a time investment; and that plays towards our ideas of risk-versus-reward; and I've always said our game's not going to be for everybody and that's okay. – Steven Sharif
- If I have a skill that does a thousand damage to a target of equal level I don't want my skill to do zero damage to a target that's five levels above me. – Steven Sharif
- A player could in theory level to max level at a single node, providing that node was at a high-enough stage, but it would not be the most effective means of leveling.
Part of the whole experience with nodes is that there is no real end-game, in that the world is constantly shifting every day. Month one is going to be really different from month two; and that's for the level 50s and level 1s. – Jeffrey Bard
We want the game to be a living game, which means that all content should be relevant at all times. I’d say that we try to make as little distinction between the leveling up experience and the end game experience as possible. The whole journey is important to us, in order to maximize the fun people have during different stages of the game. – Sarah Flanagan
- On release the developers anticipate max level should be attainable in approximately 45 days if playing 4-6 hours per day.
- Alpha-1 had progression to level 15.
- Alpha-2 expects progression to level 35 (subject to change).
Lower level characters will have usefulness in mass combat (such as Node sieges) that is not directly dependent on their level, such as manning siege weapons, helping repair fortifications, bringing proximity-based buffs to key positions, using stealth or scaling walls. These types of things are relevant to the tide of battle and do not require the player to be max-level or have high combat stats.
The idea is not to be a game where somebody can essentially no life for a week and be max level. The idea is to incorporate some significant chunk of time but still respect the casual player, because you know the way we respect the casual player is not everything is driven in our game through the adventuring progression line. Not everything is driven through your class level per-se. There's a lot of different progression paths that are available and make you relevant within certain systems and mechanics within the game; and some of those paths are more casual friendly and some of those paths are more hardcore friendly. So with regards to the adventuring class, the idea is to make sure that investment needs to be pretty significant and that the reward then is respective of that investment. – Steven Sharif
- There will be no "grindy" quests.
- There will not be repetitive quest lines through a single dungeon to obtain gear.
- The aspiration is to have more things to do in the game than a player has time to do.
- A player chooses their primary archetype at the start of the game.
- Players receive skill points as they level. These can be used to level up skills within their skill tree.
- It will not be possible to max all skills in a skill tree.
- A player may choose a secondary archetype when they reach level 25. The combination of primary and secondary archetypes is referred to as a class.
- The player can then augment their primary skills with effects from their secondary archetype.
- Each skill in the primary tree will have several augment options from the secondary tree. This is an example of horizontal progression.
- Augments to primary skills can fundamentally change the way the ability works - adapting what the ability once did to incorporate the identity of the secondary archetype/class.
If a Fighter were to choose Mage as a secondary archetype, the fighter would become a Spellsword. This combination opens up augments that can be applied to skills in their primary skill tree. Fighters have a Rush skill that allows them to rush towards a target; and upon reaching the target, deal an amount damage with a chance to knock the target down. A blink augment could be applied to the rush skill, which would now teleport the player to the target; thus eliminating the charge time on the skill.
Zones and progression
Dungeons, Raids, World bosses, Mobs, Quests, Events, Resources, Narratives and other content within a node's ZOI will have a diverse level range; but will scale with the advancement of that node and its racial influence.
- Portions of the spawn tables (for mobs and resources) are static and other portions are dynamic and adapt to node development.
- We don’t have a strictly level 25 zone. Instead, that zone might have some level 10 creatures near the road, some level 20 creatures deep in the forest, and some level 30 creatures up the mountain. These ratios will change based on the Nodes that inform them, becoming generally more dangerous as the Node grows. All this civilization attracts the attention of Things-That-Should-Not-Be. This does not mean that wilderness areas are safe, by any means. Some may be safe-er, but all will have dangers that even the most experienced traveler needs to watch out for. – Steven Sharif
When it comes to how MMO’s have been traditionally designed, most gamers are familiar with two distinct types of gameplay loops: the “theme park”, and the “sandbox”. The vast majority of MMO’s we’ve all seen come and go in the gaming industry have been of the theme park variety – these games put the player onto a specific path, guiding them along, with plenty of pretty sights in between the same old quest hubs, very little in divergent paths, virtually no freedom in player progression. Recently the MMO genre has seen some games of the sandbox nature come onto the scene, but despite the ultimate freedom the sandbox affords players, many are left wanting more, as there is by definition no pre built world content, no human touch, just the vastness of the “sand” for lack of a better term. Thus many MMO players often find themselves caught between the repetitive rock of the theme park or the vast dead spaces of the sandbox’s hard place. This chasm between the state of MMO gameplay loops is where we intend to inject Ashes of Creation’s Node system.
In order for sandbox mechanics to mean something, there must be curated content to accompany the player’s choices. Which means, as the developers, we must create that Themebox style content but for every possible path the community may take. – Steven Sharif
In designing Ashes of Creation, we adhere every detail to five main pillars: Engaging and Immersive Story, a Reactive World, Player Interaction, Player Agency, and Risk vs Reward. Even in the environment, everything you as the player do will tie into these pillars, while everything your guild does, everything your server does will ultimately keep the world fresh, ever-changing, and most importantly... exciting.
My decision is not to allow DPS meters nor add-ons. I feel we have adequate measures in place to prevent a majority of potential third party trackers. I know this subject has passionate voices on both sides and I respect the various opinions and positions many of you have expressed. – Steven Sharif
- The developers do not want addons/mods to be necessary to experience the game.
- The design of the game API is still under consideration.
- There will be integrations available for streaming services such as Twitch and a few other services, but it's not something that will be exposed through an API just yet.
- The developers believe that parsers (DPS meters) can have negative effects.
- Livestream, December 2, 2022 (1:05:51).
- Livestream, June 4, 2018 (7:25).
- Interview, July 19, 2020 (14:51).
- Livestream, January 27, 2023 (1:34:06).
- Interview, June 13, 2021 (22:20).
- Interview, July 19, 2020 (17:12).
- Livestream, May 27, 2022 (1:20:35).
- Interview, June 13, 2021 (24:14).
- Video, April 5, 2018 (40:08).
- Livestream, September 30, 2020 (1:07:22).
- Interview, August 24, 2018 (8:52).
- Podcast, May 11, 2018 (33:09).
- Ashes of Creation Forums - No participation trophy.
- Podcast, April 11, 2021 (54:35).
- Podcast, April 11, 2021 (18:35).
- Video, April 5, 2018 (48:03).
- Interview, July 8, 2020 (1:12:51).
- Podcast, May 11, 2018 (33:09).
- Video, April 5, 2018 (44:06).
- Video, May 28, 2021 (25:44).
- Video, September 30, 2022 (23:13).
- Livestream, August 28, 2020 (1:19:24).
- Livestream, May 3, 2017 (17:59).
- Livestream, June 30, 2022 (42:29).
- Video, June 30, 2022 (21:19).
- Livestream, December 2, 2022 (1:06:54).
- Video, June 30, 2022 (23:00).
- Video, June 30, 2022 (24:18).
- Video, February 26, 2021 (6:17).
- Livestream, May 28, 2021 (1:13:05).
- Livestream, May 27, 2022 (1:11:41).
- Livestream, July 29, 2022 (1:05:20).
- Ashes of Creation Forums - No Damage Meter?
- Video, April 5, 2018 (49:36).
- Livestream, October 30, 2020 (33:26).
- Podcast, April 23, 2018 (59:28).
- Interview, October 20, 2018 (2:40:17).
- Podcast, September 29, 2021 (30:04).
- Livestream, June 25, 2021 (1:05:01).
- Interview, July 18, 2020 (1:05:04).
- Livestream, February 9, 2018 (41:56).
- Podcast, April 23, 2018 (1:01:01).
- Livestream, June 25, 2021 (1:10:52).
- Interview, October 20, 2018 (2:53:52).
- Livestream, December 23, 2021 (1:32:10).
- Livestream, May 19, 2017 (51:52).
- Interview, October 20, 2018 (1:55).
- Livestream, May 12, 2017 (42:17).
- Livestream, April 30, 2021 (1:17:40).
- Official Livestream - May 4th @ 3 PM PST - Q&A
- Livestream, 2018-04-8 (PM) (28:38).
- Interview, October 20, 2018 (2:53:53).
- Livestream, July 31, 2020 (1:05:58).
- Livestream, October 14, 2022 (23:15).
- Livestream, May 24, 2017 (46:27).
- Livestream, May 27, 2022 (1:11:10).
- Livestream, July 25, 2020 (1:33:37).
- Livestream, July 29, 2022 (1:24:58).
- Interview, June 13, 2021 (48:27).
- Livestream, September 27, 2018 (52:41).
- Livestream, July 25, 2020 (1:34:55).
- Livestream, April 29, 2022 (1:06:34).
- February 8, 2019 - Questions and Answers.
- Livestream, December 15, 2017 (58:48).
- Interview, July 8, 2020 (1:07:59).
- Livestream, May 24, 2017 (19:25).
- Livestream, April 30, 2021 (41:18).
- Livestream, January 28, 2022 (15:35).
- Livestream, May 15, 2017 (26:13).
- Interview, August 24, 2018 (4:15).
- Interview, July 29, 2020 (54:44).
- Ashes of Creation class list.
- Livestream, July 28, 2017 (19:05).
- Livestream, May 3, 2017 (50:50).
- Livestream, July 18, 2017 (37:43).
- Livestream, July 31, 2020 (1:31:11).
- Interview, July 19, 2020 (19:35).
- Livestream, May 15, 2017 (30:53).
- Blog - Know Your Nodes - The Basics.
- Livestream, August 26, 2022 (1:28:50).
- Interview: Ashes of Creation on Building Their Virtual World, 2017-04-13.
- A reactive world - Nodes.
- MMOGames interview, January 2017
- Ashes of Creation Forums - No Damage Meter?
- Livestream, May 10, 2017 (20:02).
- Interview, October 20, 2018 (6:29).
- Livestream, May 10, 2017 (21:41).
- Interview, May 11, 2018 (49:03).
- Livestream, April 30, 2020 (1:28:19).
- Livestream, May 10, 2017 (43:27).