Mithical Jeffery Bard Interview 2017-09-05

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Jeffery Bard PAX West Interview with Mithical Entertainment - 9/5/2017 - Q&A [1]

  • Mithrandiel and Archmage

1. [0:02] Q: Mithrandiel and Archmage (of Mithical Entertainment) here at PAX west 2017 at the wonderful Ashes of Creation Booth. Who am I joined with today?

A: I am Jeffrey Bard. I am the lead designer of Ashes of creation.

2. [0:14] Q: Tell us a little about Ashes of creation for those who might not be familiar with this game or why you might have such a huge presence at Pax this year.

A: We are making an MMO Ashes of Creation is intended to bring the massive back to massively multiplayer. We are a community focused game. We kind of broke down what makes MMOs good. Why are people attracted to MMOs and what do they do differently than other types of games? We all have single player experiences. We all have 64 man death-matches, but MMOs are really a different kind of beast. We wanted to really look at what makes an MMO an MMO and figure out what we can do to enhance the massiveness of it. What we did is we examined what brings people together and what causes conflict, because those are the two things that drive a community. You have in-groups and out-groups and we wanted to make those things more fluid. We didn’t want to tell people hey your side A and your side B. We wanted people to be able to make their own side B decide who their friends and enemies are and figure out where to go from there. At its core, AoC is built on the node system. That’s kind of the thing that really makes us different. It gives us tools to keep the world changing and moving and not static. Our goal is to have day 1 be different from day 2 from day 3. We want someone who walks in 2 years down the road to not experience exactly the same game that the people at launch experienced. Without that living changing breathing world things get old. When we think of what the MMO promised, we could see a living world that changes with our actions, something that makes our choices meaningful. That’s where the node system comes in. When you first arrive on the planet of Verra, you’ll find a small starting area that will get you used to how the game plays. Beyond that there’s nothing but wilderness, points of interest, and old ruins; there is no civilization. It’s up to the players to create that civilization.

3. [2:29] Q: You're not wandering Azeroth wandering from one metropolitan area to the next?

A: Right you're not going from the level 1 to 2 to level 3 zone. It’s kind of open season at that point. Our whole world is built in zones like any normal MMO. Those zones are broken down into nodes. There is no space on this world that (isn’t under a nodes ZOI). What the world does is it’s always listening to the player activity that’s happening inside of it. If I’m killing monsters or harvesting resources, or completing quests, any experience that I get is also given to the node. Once a node reaches the first level, the camp level, it grows and npcs realize “hey there's a lot of player activity here, we’re going to set up shop and maybe we can take advantage of the player activity”. That’s where the camp comes in. A couple of merchants come in, some quest npcs show up, and now the activity in that zone changes. It can grow from a camp into a village from a village into a city from a city into a metropolis. Every time the node grows the nodes zone of interest gets bigger. It gobbles up the other nodes around it that haven't leveled and prevents them from leveling up. A city might grow, and that means that none of the other nodes that are around it can grow into a city at that point. They’re locked out. That node that leveled into a city has specific content associated with it. It has certain types of dungeons associated with it. The world is going to change based on player activity. How players approach the story is going to change based on where they’re approaching from. Whatever grows and is built can also be destroyed. This is where change comes in. Because a city has such a fixed influence on what’s going on there, players might not always want that. Citizens of that node get certain benefits that citizens outside of that node don’t get. There’s going to be incentive for players that are outside that to be like “Hey this is not cool. We don’t want the world to go on this way. We want to change it. We’re going to siege the city, destroy the city, and level up a node somewhere else” Once that happens you can see that there is a lot of reason for people to defend their territory. There’s a lot of reason for people to destroy that territory. We’ve got this engine of change that’s going to start going and continue to keep that world moving and changing and feeling like it breathes.

Q: [5:04] That’s a lot to unpack right there A: really that’s the shortest way I can explain it

4. Q: [5:16] that all sounds extremely fascinating - a couple of things - as these nodes expand and change how does it affect the world map? Because mmos one of the big things is the map is how someone orients themselves within that world. How they know where to go next and things like that. As nodes expand into cities and metropolis, etc. will the map affect that dynamically?

A: Yes, it will, once a city comes into being that city has a name associated with it. It’ll show up on the map. People will know ‘hey there’s a city there I’m going to take advantage of its markets/resources that ‘Elsin’ might provide.

5. [5:46] Q: As these cities get built up and as you mentioned their broken down, how does the history of this world get preserved? Is there an element where there’s a historian or how does the lore get integrated into all of this? That’s something based on the trailers I’ve seen that Ashes is alluding to as well.

A: That’s relatively difficult to explain concisely, but basically we log all of the events that are happening in the game. We keep a running history of what’s going on. Say two years down the line, you're a new player to the game, and you need to choose a server and figure out what’s going on you can look at the server and see the servers history to see what kind of community it has based on events they’ve unlocked and how they’ve progressed their own particular story

6. [6:44] Q: The world the map and the nodes all sound very fascinating and unique for an MMO. What about the character classes? What about the people that we’re playing as. What makes AoC unique in the combat and things like that?

A: As far as combat goes we’re going for a hybrid action oriented tab targeting system. We want players to play the game. We don’t want people to rely on their rotation. I think rotation is an old vestigial part of the MMO, it’s how it started, but it never changed. We want players to play the game like it’s a game. We want them to react to what’s happening. We want them to have different tactics based on different situations. We’ve gotten rid of the auto attack and replaced it with a combo system. That combo system will generate focus as you succeed in your combos and that focus allows you to use ultimate abilities that change pretty drastically how an encounter goes. The combo system is based on whatever your weapon is. A greatsword will have a different set of combo abilities than a staff, will have a different set of combo abilities than a book. Crafters are going to be able to increase the number of combos that are available to a weapon or change out the combos associated with the weapon. You might have a longsword that is equipped with the first two combo abilities are control abilities and the last three are damaging abilities. Crafters can help you tailor your experience based on what's going on. You also have some class based combo abilities you can slot into your weapon. We really want customization and building your character to feel like you have options. Not everyone follows a cookie cutter build. You’re building to do something specific in the game.

7. [8:39] Q: When it comes to gameplay a big element of MMOs is the dungeon and raid mechanics later on in the endgame content. What’s AoC philosophy regarding end game content. Because it kind of runs the gambit, you’ve got people who are like only hardcore gamers should deserve the best gear that the game has to offer etc. whereas other people would argue you’ve got a broader base, how do you appeal to the broader base unless you make those things more accessible. Where does AoC fall in that mindset?

A: I really don’t like the term endgame content. I really believe that your game should be fun from level 1-50. The game should start at level 1. We do that by making the content dynamic. Things change every day so there’s always something for you to do. You can set your own goals when you log in. Those goals don’t necessarily have to be I’m going to go do this raid, because that raid may never have been unlocked on your server. It might have been a different raid that was unlocked on your server. You might have a node that has a world boss that’s coming down to attack it and you need multiple raids to deal with it. We want things to be changing every time that you login so that you have something that’s meaningful to do. It’s not just I’m chasing my gear, it’s I’m chasing the experience. That’s what we want people to do.

8. [10:05] Q: I saw some red hats with white letters out there that said Make MMOs great again. Classic people remember Vanilla WoW and things like that, the times that you spent in the early levels where an exciting time and where fun. Now as you say it does seem more like it’s working for the weekend so to speak working towards that end game content where it really gets “fun” whereas AoC it sounds like wants to bring the fun back to the leveling experience and the game itself.

A: Right, we want the person who first logs in, if there's a city under attack we want them to be able to help defend it. We want them to be able to have a role in that, just because their level 1 and weaker, doesn’t mean they can’t participate in the world as a whole. We are going to have raids, world bosses, open world dungeons that players can compete to try to race towards bosses which will cause interesting pvp interactions amongst people during that time, we’ll have small and large group dungeons, we’ll have some spontaneous procedural dungeons that we’re going to talk about in the next couple of months.

9. [11:17] Q: With the servers you have will there be strictly PvE and strictly PvP servers?

A: Our world is really dependent on PvP for driving change. Without that we can’t have that engine, it just doesn’t work. Unless we were to script a whole bunch of creatures to take the players space, unfortunately we don’t have the time and development resources to do that. All servers are PvE/PvP. We use a flagging system similar to Lineage 2 or Star Wars Galaxies that disincentivizes griefing. We don’t want players to murder each other. We want players to fight over things. We want players to fight over resources, cities, castles. We don’t want them to just kill each other.

10. [12:08] Q: Are the servers going to be region based? Like NA/EU

A: The plan is to have them region based. We’re working with various data centers to work out deals. I know we’re planning on having NA/EU/OCE servers we’re looking at where else we can expand and what makes sense for us.

11. [12:30] Q: Is AoC going to have a housing system can you give a brief overview?

A: Our housing system is called the freehold system. Everyone will get a plot of land of a specific size. It’s up to players to decide what they want to do with that land. We’ve got a really cool system for that. Again it might take a little to explain. The idea is basically you have a grid of squares you can place things down in. Those buildings and structures relate to one another. I could just put down a house, small medium or big, the big house would fill the entire freehold, or I could have a small house and maybe some farms, a barn to raise animals, and all of those things relate to each other. The farm producing wheat helps the barn to grow the animals, which helps your animal husbandry skill. All of the different plots of land fit together like a Tetris space. They have a synergy to them so different combinations will result in better results. We’re also talking about, but this is not confirmed, using the environment with that. If you're a farming focused person you might want to lay down your plot of land near a river or lake, in order to make sure that you have enough water, that will make your plants grow, so that you’ll have a better yield than someone who builds in the middle of a desert.

12. [14:12] Q: Archmage has a question: For these plots of lands you’ll be creating for players to use, I assume you’ve considered guilds and alliances as well?

A: yes

12.b Q: Will there be bigger guild halls that will allow people to congregate/customize. With that town destruction mechanic you mentioned earlier fight each other with a pvp aspect?

A: We definitely have plans for guildhalls. We think that’s a really important thing for guilds to create their identity with. Guildhalls are going to be more integrated into the node itself. Freeholds tend to happen outside the boundaries of the city, more in their region of interest than the actual node itself. They will be more a part of the wheelings and dealings of any individual node. You’ll be able to decorate them and kit them out how you want to.

13. [15:13] Q: Last question: What is the timeline looking like for AOC - what phase are we in now? When can the excited players expect it to come out?

A: We’re in our pre-alpha stage right now. We’re still working on a lot of backend systems right now and finalizing those so we can bring them to the players. We want to go into our first alpha 0 in Dec. of this year. We’ll progress into our other alphas as we go as we fix and solve issues and progress our game we’ll open up our alphas, and once those are solid we’ll open up the betas. Hoping to go into it somewhere in the end of Dec 2018. We’ll launch sometime after that.



All of the flora, fauna (creatures), structures, sounds, and weather define the environment players will explore.