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Zone of influence

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Nodes are pre-set locations, wrapped in a zone of influence (ZOI).[1]

Every Node is given purview over a predefined geographic area called a Zone of Influence (ZoI). No matter where you go in the world, whether you’re questing, gathering, or raiding, you’ll be helping determine which nodes will develop, and what Zones of Influence will expand. Any area that a Node controls is considered its Zone of Influence, including Vassal Nodes, and all Vassal Nodes exist within the Zone of Influence of their Parent Node.[2]Margaret Krohn

Every node is given purview over a predefined geographic area called a Zone of influence (ZOI). Player activity within the ZOI is weighted and counted toward a particular node’s advancement.[1]

The main thing that differentiates us from other MMOs is that we have a living, breathing, reactive world... Our world is separated into zones, which are then separated into what we call nodes. Nodes are sort of invisible zones of influence that listen to everything that a player does; so as players gain experience from killing things, gain experience from doing quests, gain experience through crafting things, the node is also gaining that experience. Once a node gains enough experience it levels up and then starts to attract NPCs to it .[3]Jeffrey Bard

Each Node can form into towns, but are limited by their neighbors. The Nodes have different levels of advancement. There can only be so many of each level. Think of this as advanced settlements needing more elbow room. Nodes encompass more land as they grow and will require more effort to be sustained. This system is a main driver for change in the world because it creates scarcity. As Nodes advance in stages of growth they will lock out neighboring Nodes from progressing, and will absorb their zones of influence.[1]

There is not a space where you will move in to do something and no node will get that experience.[5]Steven Sharif

Node stages

Illustration of node advancement from Wilderness (stage 0) to Metropolis (stage 6).

Nodes advance by collecting experience from the actions of players nearby. As players complete content inside of a Node’s Zone of Influence (the area around the node), they contribute that experience toward the Node’s development. The experience given to the Node may then be modified based on certain Events and Accomplishments. When a Node reaches the experience required, it undergoes the process of advancing to the next stage. There are a few exceptions where a Node cannot advance even though it has the required experience - most commonly, a Node can not advance if a Node is a Vassal of another Node and would advance to the same stage as its Parent Node.[10]Margaret Krohn

Nodes have seven (7) stages of advancement, with experience thresholds for each stage. When a Node reaches the experience required for its current stage, it advances to the next stage.[2]

Node stage.[11] Symbol Alternate name.[12] Timeframe to advance.[11] Player housing.[13]
0. Wilderness -
1. Expedition Expedition symbol.png Crossroads Few hours -
2. Encampment Encampment symbol.png Camp Many hours -
3. Village Village symbol.png - Few days Small houses
4. Town - Many days Medium houses
5. City - Few weeks Large houses
6. Metropolis Metro Many weeks Mansions

Node advancement

Conceptual illustration. Nodes that are in the ZOI of more advanced nodes have their progression capped by the more advanced node.[14] ZOIs will likely be irregular shapes in the game, the circles depicted here are just for the purposes of illustration.

Beginning at Node Stage 3, when a Node advances, it enslaves nearby Nodes and makes them into its Vassals. Vassal Nodes are owned by a Parent Node and must always be at least one Node Stage below the Parent Node. This means that the Vassal Node cannot grow until the Parent Node advances in stage. Vassal Nodes give excess experience to their Parent Node, and are able to have their own Vassals, as long as they fit within the Parent Node’s Zone of Influence. They are subject to the government, alliances, wars, taxes, and trade of their Parent Node, and are able to receive federal aid from them. A Vassal Node cannot declare war on their Parent Node or any of its Vassals. Citizens of Vassals are bound by the diplomatic states of the Parent Node.[2]Margaret Krohn

Citizen and non-citizen player activity (questing, gathering, raiding, etc.) within a node's ZOI counts toward that particular node's advancement (progression) to a higher node stage.[10][11]

The Development Area of a Node is where civilization will appear as the Node advances. As the Node Stage increases, different buildings, NPCs, and services will become available in the Development Area. The higher the Node Stage, the more complex and populated the Development Area becomes. Development Areas will also vary depending on the Node Type - Economic, Military, Scientific, or Divine; we’ll go into further details on each of those Node Types in future posts in this series.[10]Margaret Krohn

The advancement of a node unlocks its unique content, which comes at the cost of locking out an increasing ring of neighboring nodes from progressing to the next stage.[15]

  • Nodes advance to the first stage quickly. This enables NPC services such as vending or banking items.[16]
  • The more advanced the node is, the larger its ZOI becomes.[17]
  • Less advanced nodes (referred to as vassal nodes) that fall within a more advanced node's ZOI can still gain XP, but must remain at a lower advancement stage than the dominant node.[14]
  • The territory expansion algorithm takes into account the nearest coast, neighboring nodes, and the heatmap of players in surrounding areas over the last weeks or month.[20]
    • Due to the way the progression algorithm calculates territorial (ZOI) expansion during node advancement, there is a small possibility that two nodes of the same stage end up being close to each other.[21]

The way that the algorithm expands the territories takes into account a few things: One it takes into account the coast like where's the closest coast. Two it takes into account the neighboring nodes so it can take over and essentially vassal state those nodes, but what's more important is essentially the initial population based on like how players choose their races. Because we have nine different races and four different starting points that branch out, each server's population density is going to dictate essentially the first few nodes that are highly populated and then that initial seed is what's going to determine the node structure as it moves inland into the into the world essentially; and based on the performance and successes of different sieges will determine which nodes that got locked out from the previous the initial advancements what nodes can now be available to advance further. So I really think that with so many variables that are present in the equation of how nodes advance and stay existing with the more variables you have, the higher likelihood there is for there to be a significant diversion in world progression.[20]Steven Sharif

Normally the algorithm that's applied to the node territorial expansion will prevent significant nodes from being in close proximity to each other... There could be a perfect storm where all of the algorithmic progression of territory leads to having these nodes very close to each other because there's certain requirements that should that need to be available to satisfy node vassal takeovers; and it's possible that two nodes would never take each other over as vassals and end up kind of close together and spanning their territories in kind of opposite directions: The Tale of Two Cities kind of thing.[21]Steven Sharif

  • A node does not receive XP from the nodes within its ZOI until these nodes have reached their cap.[14]
  • Players are moved to safety if they intersect with newly spawned assets during node advancement.[22]
  • Citizens of one node can contribute to the advancement of other nodes.[23]

Node experience gain opportunities will be equitable across the four node types.[24]

  • The exact percentage of advancement from obtaining items or killing monsters is not going to be explicitly known to avoid "gaming" the system.[25]

Different people have different resources invested in nodes progressing and it would be a little "gamey" if you could know exactly what was necessary at that point because that would disincentivize people from participating.[25]Steven Sharif

Adjacent/Neighboring nodes

Adjacent nodes (Neighboring nodes) starting from Expedition (stage 1) will block (lockout) the growth of their immediate neighbors.[18][19]

Vassal nodes

Village (stage 3) or higher nodes enslave nearby nodes, converting them into vassal nodes.[2][19]

  • Vassal nodes must remain at least one node stage below their parent node.[2]
  • Vassal nodes give excess experience to their parent node and may have their own vassals; so long as they fall within the parent node’s zone of influence.[2]
    • If a node is capped and is both a vassal and has its own vassals, any experience earned from itself or its Vassals is first applied to its own deficit. Experience beyond that is then sent to its parent node.[10]
  • Vassals are subject to the government, alliances, wars, taxes, and trade of their parent node, and are able to receive federal aid from them.[2]
  • Vassal nodes cannot declare war on their parent node or any of their vassals.[2]
  • Citizens of vassals are bound by the diplomatic states of the parent node.[2]

If a Node is a Vassal Node and is capped from advancing further, it first applies any experience earned to its own deficit (see Node Atrophy section), and then applies excess experience earned to its Parent Node. If the Parent Node advances and the Vassal is able to grow, it becomes uncapped. If a Node is capped and is both a Vassal and has its own Vassals, any experience earned from itself or its Vassals is first applied to their own deficit. Any experience beyond that is then sent to its Parent Node.[10]Margaret Krohn

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.[26][27][2]

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.[28]Steven Sharif

World manager

The World manager is an algorithm in Ashes of Creation that controls dynamic world elements. It acts as both a throttle and an incentive system for various activities to ensure certain parameters are within acceptable thresholds.[29]

For example if you know iron is being used as a raw resource for a specific crafting path that might drive up the price of mithril or silver; and that will incentivize the market to course correct a little bit. The idea is to provide soft incentives that help to alleviate the demand and also to prop up the supply that might not be present from the economic systems.[30]Steven Sharif

Underrealm nodes

Underrealm nodes and nodes directly above them are considered adjacent but do not exist in the same ZOI.[6][7][8]

  • There will be "bleed over" between underrealm nodes and surface nodes in terms of influence and interaction.[7]
    • There may be visual queues above ground that indicate influence from underrealm nodes in that area.[7]

That might be a little bit of a departure from our design in the past. I know originally you know like two-plus years ago we were discussing how those would be independent of each other, but I think as we further defined the layout of the world map itself you know it made more sense for those to have some interaction and influence that's combined.[7]Steven Sharif

Castle regions

Castles have direct power over the Nodes that belong to it, but also have soft power across the entire region it belongs to. All Nodes belonging to that region pay fealty to the Castle in the form of taxes paid directly to the Castle. The Monarch sets the rate, and can use those proceeds to upgrade defenses, maintain the Castle’s direct Nodes, or provide buffs and benefits to the citizens of that region, as the magnanimous ruler that you are.[34]

Guild castles influence a castle region around them.[35]

Guild castles impose a tax on all revenue for the nodes within its region.[40][41]

Castles have the ability to allocate taxes collected from nodes under them toward certain benefits that go back to the node. Or they can be more selfishly governed that treasury more towards the guild that owns it and that obviously is going to have some political implications, because it could- if you're not using it for the benefit of the people in the region they might rise up and help take you out from that that position of owning that castle.[40]Steven Sharif

Node simulation

Simulation of node interactions.[48]

This representation does show 111 nodes as part of this particular simulation. I'm not sure what the tick frequency is on this video. It might be something on the magnitude of like every second is probably 12 to 24 hours. So over time you start seeing these larger node systems building up to eventually where you might see Cities and Metropolises after some period of time; and what this allows the design team to do from a tools perspective, as they simulate this idea of how the world is going to progress, is it gives an opportunity to kind of see strange happenings or something that we couldn't necessarily predict but was a possible outcome based on the variables present.[48]Steven Sharif

The developers have created a simulation of node interactions in preparation for Alpha-2 deployment of the node system.[48]

You can show the initial territories on the Verran map of what these particular nodes have governance over, or their Zones of Influence as we like to call them... As the simulation of this begins to advance and nodes begin to expand their territory and they begin to take over nearby nodes as a result of their of their growth, you start to see these power level ratings that are applied here on specific nodes that determines what type of takeover power it has and and what it pushes back against for other nodes that are looking to take over new territory as they advance.[48]Steven Sharif

  • It also simulates events, such as NPCs attacking and disabling certain node buildings and services. Failure to successfully respond to these will reduce the node's "health ticker", which will slow down the XP gains from the node.[48]

It also simulates events: So each of these nodes will have a health ticker: when that health ticker is impacted it'll stop gaining power or gaining or slow down in its gaining of experience; and that's because certain events can affect a node by disabling certain services, disabling buildings. Players don't respond to that horde of zombies that have come out of the nearby ravine then those zombies can attack stables, they can attack service buildings, and prevent particular types of quests or activities and services from happening until it's repaired.[48]Steven Sharif

  • Node sieges are simulated, with successful sieges destroying the nodes, and where unsuccessful sieges won't destroy the node but may result in disabled buildings or services, similar to events.[48]

It simulates the sieges if a particular node has a certain frequency that's set where we want to see randomization of how nodes get affected by sieges. Sometimes they'll be destroyed in the simulation. Sometimes they'll have disabled services again, similar to an event, because they didn't succeed necessarily at sieging the node but they did succeed at disabling some of the buildings as part of that siege.[48]Steven Sharif

  • It simulates what outcomes may happen in the live game as a result of player activity, such as splitting up a particular ZOI across a waterway, or having territories expand out to islands or across continents.[48]

It simulates what players could potentially do as well when the game goes live; and that might include things like splitting up a particular Zone of Influence across a waterway, having your territory expand out to an island, or across continents. These are these are the types of things that we want to see players do eventually obviously but this tool provides the design team the opportunity to see it repetitively and over a fast period of time so they see these different types of outcomes.[48]Steven Sharif

World size

480 km2 (square kilometers) is the approximate world size at launch.[49] This includes water and land content.[50]

  • Water area is considered playable area, but the exact area of land versus water is not known at this time.[51]

I don't know the exact the exact amount that is land versus water but the water is playable area as well and it's gonna have content...[51]Steven Sharif

480 square kilometers; which is pretty large comparatively to other MMORPGs out there. Now that does not include the lapped spaces: So that is the Underrealm and the portion of the world that it encompasses, which could probably easily take up an additional hundredish square kilometers I would imagine.[52]Steven Sharif

  • It is anticipated that a mounted player can traverse the entire map in a matter of hours.[53]

The Alpha One map will be many islands and mainland area, roughly 100sqkm.[58]Steven Sharif

See also

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Node series part I
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 Blog - Know Your Nodes - The Basics.
  3. Interview, 20 April 2018 (7:22).
  4. Ashes of Creation FAQ.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Livestream, 9 July 2018 (39:32).
  6. 6.0 6.1 Livestream, 29 March 2019 (58:14).
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 Livestream, 29 March 2019 (29:17).
  8. 8.0 8.1 Livestream, 5 May 2017 (37:52).
  9. Interview, 11 May 2018 (55:16).
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 10.5 Blog - Know Your Nodes - Advance and Destroy.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 A reactive world - Nodes.
  12. Livestream, 12 December 2018 (14:48).
  13. Interview, 20 July 2020 (3:45).
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 Livestream, 16 October 2017 (50:20).
  15. Video, 20 April 2017 (0:02).
  16. Npc vending.jpg
  17. Node series part II – the Metropolis.
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 18.3 steven-quote-neighboring-nodes.png
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 19.3 19.4 jahlon-steven-vassal-nodes-quote.png
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 Interview, 18 July 2020 (10:04).
  21. 21.0 21.1 21.2 Interview, 8 July 2020 (1:00:15).
  22. Livestream, 17 November 2017 (55:27).
  23. node xp.png
  24. Livestream, 24 September 2021 (1:21:23).
  25. 25.0 25.1 Livestream, 26 May 2017 (28:16).
  26. Interview, 19 July 2020 (19:35).
  27. Livestream, 15 May 2017 (30:53).
  28. Interview: Ashes of Creation on Building Their Virtual World, 13 April 2017.
  29. Interview, 19 July 2020 (1:10:55).
  30. 30.0 30.1 30.2 30.3 Interview, 19 July 2020 (1:08:22).
  31. Livestream, 26 May 2017 (31:44).
  32. Livestream, 26 May 2017 (42:45).
  33. Livestream, 24 May 2017 (31:39).
  34. Blog: 10 facts about castle sieges in the MMORPG.
  35. castle-influence.png
  36. castle-taxes2.png
  37. 37.0 37.1 castle-region.png
  38. region-overlap.png
  39. castle-metro.png
  40. 40.0 40.1 40.2 40.3 Livestream, 30 April 2021 (1:01:10).
  41. castle-taxes.png
  42. Livestream, 28 August 2020 (1:39:02).
  43. castle-power.png
  44. castle-resources.png
  45. castle-taxes3.png
  46. castle-taxes4.png
  47. castle-taxes5.png
  48. 48.00 48.01 48.02 48.03 48.04 48.05 48.06 48.07 48.08 48.09 48.10 Livestream, 24 September 2021 (30:26).
  49. world size.png
  50. waterlandsize.png
  51. 51.0 51.1 Livestream, 30 January 2020 (1:18:12).
  52. 52.0 52.1 Interview, 17 August 2018 (10:43).
  53. February 8, 2019 - Questions and Answers.
  54. Livestream, 31 October 2017 (24:00).
  55. Livestream, 27 September 2018 (9:08).
  56. Forest of Erinthia.png
  57. Livestream, 30 November 2020 (22:43).
  58. 58.0 58.1 alpha-1-map-size.png
  59. steven-a1-map.png
  60. Livestream, 30 November 2020 (25:45).