Story arcs

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Alpha-2 early preview of the story arc UI.[1]

Story arcs are like a pre-packaged tabletop campaign. They contain all of the NPCs and quests and monsters- all the things you need to make a cool fantasy story. They're not procedurally generated... We write all the dialogue and we construct all the narrative beats and everything like that, but they will enter the world dynamically depending on the state that the world is currently in; how players have built up specific nodes, what races control various nodes. We have plans to include lots of different things on top of that, but we don't have any quest hubs or anything like that in this game, because players build up all the cities. So we had to get a system that looks at what players are doing and can inject content into the world that makes sense for what they're doing.[2]Skott B

The Blood Still Due story arc unlocking at The Tower of Carphin.[3]

When story arcs come online, they change a lot the environment. They update what monsters are in the world. They create quest NPCs... and then new Pathways can open up through the environment.[4]Skott B

Story arcs are unlocked by multiple types of player activity within each server.[5][3][2][6]

Every stage a node develops it's unlocking narratives, storylines, it's changing the spawn population of the area around it, changing what bosses exist, it's triggering events where you may have legendary dragons attack the city. It's basically writing the story of the server based on the actions and determination of the players. So, you may experience a dungeon one month earlier and have a completely different story that relates to this location the next month, because something has changed either geopolitically or from the node standpoint.[6]Steven Sharif
Even player driven mechanics will still have story components. There will be a reason why the player driven mechanic is available or required of the player; so you know every system that's created touches a story.[14]Steven Sharif
  • If there are too many other major arcs happening at the same time in the same zone, a story arc may need to wait its turn, even if conditions are right for it to be unlocked.[5]
  • Story arcs can branch into different stories with multiple possible endings depending on the quest objectives that players complete during each chapter.[16][17]
    • The developers with try to ensure that story arcs in future expansions flow on from existing story arcs, regardless of the different possible outcomes.[16]
  • There will be a variety of different types of story arc content at different scales, with different cooldowns to suit different types of players in the game.[18]
We must provide enough of this content at varying scales such that it isn't worthwhile or economical to control every single story arc in the world. Some will be smaller in scale and production value, and thus, will move faster and have shorter cooldowns before they're reintroduced.[18]Skott B
info-orange.pngSome of the following information has not been recently confirmed by the developers and may not be on the current development roadmap.

Certain story arcs can be unlocked through the bulletin board system. Certain requirements would need to be met in order to access story arc quests.[19]

Story arc chapters

Quest journal showing story arc chapters.[20]

Within the context of these story arcs, there are specific points that they can pivot to tell a different story. That different story can be based on predicates that are in the world: from a player decision standpoint, from a cultural representation standpoint, from situational to which node gets developed. There's a lot of different components that interact with the way the dialogue and narratives play out on a particular server; and what that means is- and I've said this from the beginning many sandbox MMORPGS, they do not create as much curated content as theme-park MMORPGS; and their excuse for doing that is because they incorporate player-driven mechanics. But that's a bit of a cop-out and it's the opposite approach that we've taken with Ashes of Creation; and the reason for that is, if you give the player a door and there's nothing behind that door then opening the door is meaningless. So what we have to do is we have to create a very functional story arc system that provides content in many different ways, but is behind a door of world progress or world development that is then executed by the player population. And that's how we construct our narrative systems.[8]Steven Sharif

Each chapter (phase) in a story arc can cause changes across the entire server, such as environments, monsters, NPCs, Quests, and pathways.[21][4][7][8][9]

  • Players can progress within the timeframe that each chapter is active.[21]
    • Phase timers are shown (in the quest UI) to indicate how much real-world time is available to complete the quests in each phase.[17]
    • If the player completes all quests in a particular chapter, they will need to wait until the next chapter to obtain further quests.[22]
You can't really farm the quests in any meaningful way, because once you've done the quests in a chapter, that's it until the next chapter. Whether 1000 people participate or 10, the chapters will stay active for the same length of time, and as long as you participate in the clearly-marked time frame in your quest journal, you're good. The only thing that a concentrated effort can help with is influencing the narrative paths through the arcs.[22]Skott B
  • Story arcs can branch into different stories with multiple possible endings depending on the quest objectives that players complete during each chapter.[16][17]
It's not just a matter of completing the laundry list of things that the NPC has you do, but you pick from a whole bunch of objectives, many of them optional. Some of them, if not most of them, hidden when you first undertake the quest. So go dig up a guide, or blaze your own trail, or whatever; but depending on which objectives you complete, those are the things that help the server aggregate what is going to happen in later phases of the story arc. And that's across all of the players participating during that time frame: what objectives they decide to complete.[17]Skott B
  • Story arcs can last for days, which reduces pressure to log in daily to remain competitive.[23]
Story arcs normally progress according to the passage of real-time, which is clearly indicated in your quest journals. Even if a zerg guild throws all their resources at a story arc, they can't lock anyone out of participating by doing all the participation on their own. You'll have the time indicated in your quest journal to finish the content available in that chapter.[18]Skott B
  • Most story arcs will repeat with a cooldown, but major story arcs will only occur one-time: These can be replayed, but in a non-interactive way where any choices made do not impact the world.[23][24]
The cooldowns between arcs repeating will also be quite long- proportional to the length of the chapters, but we're still in pursuit of the right numbers there. You can't do the individual quests again until the entire arc restarts.[22]Skott B
  • Some events will only be available while story arcs are in certain chapters.[22]

Story arc rewards

Story arc rewards are designed to provide an engaging and balanced way to experience the player-driven story of Ashes of Creation.[18]

  • Rewards will be balanced over multiple story arc branches to avoid a "meta", where certain branches provide universally better loot than others.[18]
We, as much as humanly possible, want to have balanced rewards whenever there are branches and avoid having one branch in a story arc have rewards that are universally better than the other rewards in other branches. Like quests in most other MMOs, story arcs will never provide best-in-slot loot, as that is the purview of other game systems (look to crafters, raids, etc for that). I'd consider the system functioning well if players are more concerned with the state of the world or PoI they're working around than the explicit loot rewards.[18]Skott B
These systems are story- and lore-first. They interface with other systems for sure, but they aren't the best way to gain experience, gold or character power. If we accidentally lock something extremely valuable behind a single branch of a single storyline, then that'll be a mistake on our part. The cursed spiritbloom that we talked about in the livestream is available throughout the duration of the story arc regardless of the branches players take, for example.[18]Skott B

List of story arcs

Storyline quests

Storyline quests can have multiple stages. These quest stages can actually be failed.[25]

There will be many different quests that actually have stages of the storyline; and these stages can actually be failed. You can actually fail a storyline; which sucks when you think about it, but at the same time that risk makes your investment that much more important.[25]Steven Sharif

Racial quests

Quests may be based on a character's race.[28]

Different quests may relate to who the primary cultural contributor is to a node. This won't lock out content, but will add flavor to the quests.[28]

There might even be different directories of the quest that exist for specific races, and even though you're sharing a quest to kill a boss, if you're human and I'm an elf, I will have a different arc potentially that leads in a different direction than you, even though we took the same quest; and this can relate to who the primary cultural contributor is to a node unlocking different arcs for cultures that share the primary culture of a node - not that locks out content but it gives a flavor in a different direction so that not everything is so cookie cutter.[28]Steven Sharif

Race matters because narratives have paths that also are influenced based on the primary contributing culture to the node... If you're a Niküa and you have you're in a Niküa node that's predominantly Niküa, you're going to have certain services and/or abilities as a member of the Niküa race that other races may not have access to... They may have alternative quest lines, but they won't have specific ones. Now those specific Niküa quests will then relate to the meta-narrative that's present in the world and they'll start to direct some of that meta-narrative; and that'll be beneficial for your kind because it will unlock certain content for your race that other races haven't unlocked yet. So there is an incentive there to see progression along that line now in order to curb the progress of a dominant race.[29]Steven Sharif

Quests that are race specific, title specific, or guild specific will likely be less than 10% of the total number of quests. 90% of quests should be able to be shared by everybody.[30]

Player driven narrative

One of the major goals I feel like we have is to allow player decisions to have consequences and to have meaningful results from the decisions that they make, so it seems like people can really create their own stories.[31]Aimi Watanabe

The world of Verra will be the same on each server, but Nodes will develop differently. Different servers will have different narratives. Things that happen on one server may not happen on another.[32]

We want as many people as possible to experience the main server Narrative. These will branch at different scales, but largely at the personal level. Where things change is at the Node level – different parts of the story will be unlocked based on where and when Nodes grow. Unlocking a part of the story in a certain way locks out progression of the story in a different way. You’ll see different antagonists, different NPCs, and different calls to action depending on what’s happening with the server at that time.[34]

It kind of redefines what the players will experience in an MMORPG to come into a wilderness that is devoid of really any structure outside of what the community creates themselves; and then what can be created can be changed, if they want to experience a storyline that's been seen on another server, but you know you're fighting a dragon because you're near a mountain and the other server's fighting a Kraken because they're near the coast and you want to fight that Kraken because of its drop table. If you want to meta it or because you just want that under your belt: to be the server first to take out that Kraken and you have yet to develop the node there, you know it's incumbent upon you to manifest that in the game.[35]Steven Sharif

Narrative events

Narrative Events help shape the story of Verra based on the choices that players make during key questlines. While narrative story arcs take time to develop across a server, Narrative Events will show players that their choices play a bigger part in shaping the world around them through individual actions.[36]Peter Bisulca

Narrative events allow players to shape the story arcs that unfold on their server through the choices they make in key questlines.[36]

Server history

The history of each server will be tracked and visible to players in a node's library.[39][40]

We're gonna keep track of the history of the world so that we can tell people the story up to the current day. A player who's brand new, who's come in at the six-month mark can take a look at each server, what each server has done, how each server has tackled the storyline; and they can decide for themselves what community they want to join; what version of the world that they want to take part in.[40]Jeffrey Bard
info-orange.pngSome of the following information has not been recently confirmed by the developers and may not be on the current development roadmap.
  • Scribes may be able to collect and record information about the events of the world as they see it from their point of view.[41]

Libraries

At Village (stage 3) the scientific node's unique building is the Library. Players can use the Library to access information, including (but not limited to) the following:[39]

Reports of information to the library may expire after a period of time (say one week). After which new reports will be required to update the existing information.[42]

You'll get that shroud of war functionality for the week after a report but if it doesn't receive a follow-up report after that expiration period then it will not be updating real time.[42]Steven Sharif

Visuals

See also

References

  1. Video, March 31, 2023 (14:14).
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Video, March 31, 2023 (3:32).
  3. 3.0 3.1 Video, March 31, 2023 (1:22).
  4. 4.0 4.1 Video, March 31, 2023 (6:30).
  5. 5.0 5.1 skotty-story-arc-2.png
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Video, April 5, 2018 (35:01).
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 Livestream, April 29, 2022 (1:05:37).
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 Livestream, March 31, 2022 (1:15:29).
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 Livestream, January 18, 2018 (39:08).
  10. Livestream, April 7, 2023 (55:22).
  11. Livestream, March 31, 2023 (1:00:16).
  12. Livestream, October 28, 2022 (32:52).
  13. Livestream, June 1, 2017 (37:39).
  14. 14.0 14.1 Livestream, May 30, 2019 (1:18:16).
  15. Livestream, May 26, 2017 (15:37).
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 Livestream, April 7, 2023 (58:39).
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 17.3 Video, March 31, 2023 (14:20).
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 18.3 18.4 18.5 18.6 18.7 18.8 skotty-story-arc-1.png
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 19.3 Livestream, October 31, 2017 (29:50).
  20. Video, January 27, 2023 (9:43).
  21. 21.0 21.1 Video, March 31, 2023 (12:47).
  22. 22.0 22.1 22.2 22.3 skotty-story-arc-3.png
  23. 23.0 23.1 Livestream, March 31, 2023 (49:32).
  24. Video, March 31, 2023 (25:20).
  25. 25.0 25.1 25.2 Interview, October 20, 2018 (2:36:25).
  26. Livestream, July 25, 2020 (1:50:20).
  27. Livestream, March 26, 2021 (1:12:51).
  28. 28.0 28.1 28.2 Podcast, April 23, 2018 (29:56).
  29. Interview, May 11, 2018 (1:00:19).
  30. Livestream, July 26, 2019 (1:13:23).
  31. Video, March 31, 2023 (28:11).
  32. Livestream, May 19, 2017 (37:03).
  33. Livestream, December 17, 2019 (1:10:30).
  34. Interview: Ashes of Creation on Building Their Virtual World, 2017-04-13.
  35. Livestream, May 22, 2017 (28:02).
  36. 36.0 36.1 Types of Events on Verra.
  37. Livestream, May 26, 2017 (15:37).
  38. Kickstarter packages.
  39. 39.0 39.1 39.2 39.3 39.4 39.5 39.6 39.7 Blog: Know Your Nodes - Scientific Node Type
  40. 40.0 40.1 Interview, April 20, 2018 (9:20).
  41. Livestream, May 26, 2017 (51:37).
  42. 42.0 42.1 42.2 Podcast, April 11, 2021 (27:34).