Q&A - Podcast 5/13/17

Podcast interview by special guest Chris [GameOn]

Guest Q&A

  1. [02:10] Give us the elevator pitch, what is Ashes of Creation?

    1. Ashes is kind of a different take on the MMORPG genre, something that Steven has always wanted being a gamer himself
    2. Emphasizes the “massive” aspect of an MMO and the community, getting back to what an MMORPG is really supposed to be about
    3. Focusing on and giving a player the ability to direct the course of events on a server
      1. Mainly through the node system
        1. Lets them develop the world around them
        2. Rewards/Consequences associated with that

  1. [03:00] Where would Ashes of Creation fall as game world? (Referencing Virtual World [Everquest] and Game World [WoW/LotRO])

    1. WoW/LotRO are more like “themepark” MMOs where curated content has players move from “ride to ride”
      1. No real agency for players to decide what “rides” they experience
    2. Ashes aims to be more of a blank canvas laid in front of you
      1. A lot of different paths that the designers create
      2. Takes “you” choosing to open the door and take that path
      3. If you don’t like what you see you can also “close that door”
      4. Node system facilitates this
      5. When you “open a door” the world reacts to it
        1. Events will occur in reaction to development choices
    3. Wanted to move away from the “themepark” design
      1. References choosing to get on the “kiddy” rollercoaster rather than going on the full blown ride
    4. Wants players to be able to feel the results of their decisions and even greater agency with the economy/politics/etc.

  1. [06:00] How are you going to make nodes happen?  What are nodes?

    1. Nodes are a central point that exists all throughout the maps, underlying.
      1. Relate to the overarching narrative and regional narrative
    2. These nodes are tied to different Zones of Influence or “ZOIs”
      1. All the same size starting out at level 0
      2. As you move out and adventure/do quests the node will “level up” in tandem with the experience that is collected by all players within that ZOI
    3. When a node advances to the next stage you will see assets appear in real-time
      1. NPCs may appear
      2. Quests
      3. Buildings
      4. Eventually unlock Housing/Freeholds
    4. Depending on which node advances, it will shut off its neighboring nodes
      1. Each cycle it advances will shut off another adjacent node
      2. Expands it’s ZOI so that it can further player activity and advance itself
    5. Players can own a tavern or an inn where other players can go and receive buffs
    6. Will have specific quest lines that appear because a node was leveled as opposed to it’s neighbor
    7. Provides a catalyst for change through PvP activities
      1. Sieges
      2. Deleveling
      3. “Removing them from the game?”

  1. [10:10] Is the game server based?

    1. Yes it is server based

  1. [10:20] Steven extrapolates on tech/design

    1. It “sounds” like it’s gonna be the most difficult thing possible to do
      1. The bottom line is that the technology for this already exists and actually has been utilized in previous games
        1. Just not in this design
      2. Not reinventing the wheel
    2. Taking the curated content that may exist in a “themepark” and putting it behind development barriers
      1. Barriers that rely on the choices of the players
      2. Not an idea that has really been seen before in an MMORPG, especially to the degree by which this pertains to the overall world architecture
    3. Something that is 100% doable, just packaging it in a different way that respects player agency

  1. [11:30] I imagine that the different servers are probably going to vary a bit?

    1. *Laughs* They are going to be VERY different
    2. As players enter the world a few things are going to depend on the server population that you are a part of
    3. The community determines the servers direction, both in narrative and development
    4. Depending on how the race populations may vary from server to server
      1. A different development “pace”
      2. Different development node locations
        1. These bring with them unique epic bosses, narrative/storyline, quest lines, antagonists/protagonists
    5. Player driven economics/politics brings “some” varying degree of differences across servers, but this is compounded with the environment being different on a server
      1. Steven thinks this makes for a really compelling experience for players
      2. The real novelty of Ashes of Creation

  1. [13:16] What is your philosophy on participation in the different things that are in the game? (Equality, everyone getting to do everything)

    1. Steven thinks a lot of games lose their “identity” when they try to appeal to everyone
    2. A road that you’ll never find an end to
    3. They understand that they aren’t going to appeal to everyone and that is a part of their design philosophy
    4. Want to be very clear with what AoC intends to be
      1. Which is why Steven is so passionate about communication and transparency
    5. Will emphasize a system of Risk v. Reward
      1. When something is at stake it makes the reward that much more satisfying
    6. Some people don’t like “risk”
      1. Not trying to appeal to that crowd

  1. [16:00] What are players risking, what is at stake? (In reference to Risk v. Reward)

    1. Takes time and effort to develop a node
      1. If players want to group and attempt to destroy a node there should be a degree of effort required that is equal to what you are trying to change
      2. Should be pitched battles over nodes/castles
    2. Always going to be someone who wants to destroy what you’ve done
      1. Important to make these fights a balanced one
      2. Does not want to favor zergs or griefers
    3. The economy is regionalized
      1. Thinks EvE has done a really good job with its economy
      2. The transit of goods is dependent on the caravan system
        1. Player initiated, moves with a static pvp zone around it
        2. Will have to defend against people who may be out there to take your stuff
        3. There is no fast travel so intel/politics will be a component

  1. [19:32] Some people may be afraid of the idea of “full loot” PvP, what's your thought on that?

    1. There is no full loot PvP in AoC*
    2. You have different types of inventory
      1. Only form of inventory that is “lootable” will be inventory that is in your person in the form of gatherables or resources
      2. Your equipment/gold will not be lootable
      3. Only drop a portion of those gatherables, not all of it
    3. There is a flagging system to deter outright murdering someone
      1. If you fight someone and you die you won’t drop those resources
      2. Want to incentivize combat and disincentive the gank boxing aspect

  1. [21:25] Can you explain the flagging system?

    1. Outside of systems for PvP that exist (Sieges, Caravans, Guild Wars, Arenas, etc) there is the open world
    2. “Non-combatant”
      1. Everyone in the world starts as a “non-combatant”
    3. “Combatant”
      1. If a player walks up to another and attacks they become a “combatant”
      2. They can fight back, becoming a combatant themselves
        1. Mitigates some of their death penalties
    4. “Corrupt”
      1. If a player kills another, without them fighting back, they become “corrupt” and gain a certain corruption score
        1. More corruption depending on things like level disparity
      2. Players gain a drop % on each item they are currently wearing as well as in their inventory
        1. Higher % with a higher corruption score
        2. Include gear, weapons
      3. A players ability to function in battle is decreased as they gain more and more corruption
        1. Skill/Stat dampening
        2. Will eventually become ineffective
      4. Only way to remove corruption is to die
        1. Players may need to die multiple times to get rid of that corruption

  1. [23:45] What role does crafting play?  Durability? Quest/raid gear vs. crafted gear?

    1. Top crafted gear will be on par with epic world boss drops
    2. Taken the trinity approach to classes and applied it to crafting (Artisan Class)
      1. Gathering
      2. Processing
      3. Item Creation (Crafting)
      4. Need to focus a specific tree to become a “master”
        1. Though you have the option to be a “jack of all trades”
      5. There are dependencies between the three crafting “paths” requiring coordination between players on the server
    3. There is durability in the game
      1. Won’t be a trivial durability
      2. Potential to destroy gear
      3. Ability to “reforge” gear using materials
    4. Three kinds of “Item Sinks”
      1. You can gain (the ability to create?) craftable items by deconstructing completed items
      2. Item decay exists
      3. If you want to “over-enchant” an item there is a chance to destroy it as well

  1. [27:18] What was your inspiration to do this (AoC)?

    1. Steven started playing MMORPGs back in 1992 when he was seven years old playing Neverwinter Nights.
      1. His first experience in gaming
    2. Played many games after that but came back to MMORPGs when was about 15
    3. Been completely upset with the way the industry has gone in the past several years
    4. Was essentially “retired” for the past 3 years and got fed up with these P2W, cash grab type games and their effect on this genre
      1. Decided that he was just going to have to fix it himself
    5. This is really a passion project for Steven
      1. Wants to be able to take what he has loved and put it into a game
    6. Tells the “bear” story

  1. [33:35] What do you consider successful for an MMO?

    1. Steven’s personal opinion is that if you go into the project specifically trying to see success through revenue/numbers that you are probably going into it for the wrong reasons
    2. Creating the game is more of an “art,” want the product to be successful
      1. “If you build it, they will come”
    3. The goal is to focus on created a project that adheres to the ideals that are respectful of the genre

  1. [34:50] What’s the atmosphere like at your office?

    1. People are ecstatic
    2. Everyone Steven has brought on board is an MMORPG gamer at heart
      1. First question, when brought on board, was “what is your favorite MMORPG and how long have you been playing it?”
    3. To see the reception in the community has been so awe inspiring for everybody
      1. Taken the hype levels in the office and blown them through the roof
    4. Likes to see that their ideals are resonating with the community
    5. Are very grateful for all of the support they’ve gotten so far

  1. [40:05] Tell me about what we can do at sea?

    1. Steven loves the naval aspect of a previous game he has played (Archeage)
    2. Underwater content
      1. Monsters
      2. Dungeons
      3. Treasures you can find
    3. Different class of ships that you can have on the sea
      1. Trade routes between water caravans
    4. Adds a whole new element to the game

  1. [41:20] How are you going to fund this thing? (Had only asked for 750k on the Kickstarter)

    1. Steven is personally funding the project
    2. Kickstarter was never intended to fund the game, it’s there to allow them to expand into things that weren’t originally budgeted for
    3. Kickstarter gives the community the ability to participate in helping fund the project and receive backer rewards
    4. Steven understands the stigma surrounding Kickstarter and wanted to make sure that people knew that there’s a refund here
      1. Not something that’s going to be the “Star Citizen” case
      2. There’s already a firm solid timeline on this
      3. Kickstarter isn’t going to add years to the development
    5. Consumer base can “speak with their pocketbook” by supporting games that have no P2W like AoC, away from F2P (cash grab) games
      1. Healthy for the genre

  1. [46:00] Are we past the point of AAA being what they used to be?  Is it an indie space?

    1. With the advance of technology and crowdsourcing, Steven thinks that a window has opened for indie developers to move into a [large] space
      1. AAA has shot themselves in the foot by allowing for indie developers to move into their space
      2. Indie developers can hold true to philosophies that a board of directors may not care about
      3. Great time to be an indie developer

  1. [47:45] Will stuff like the season system sell as well as a loot box?

    1. Steven thinks that the immersive experience a player gets to have is a major part of delivering an MMORPG
      1. Zones that never change/static are less immersive/engaging
      2. Seasons are designed to be an added element of immersion
        1. These changes create new experiences (ice blocking a road/dungeon, crop rotations, etc)
    2. As an MMORPG developer you are creating your own world/universe
      1. The closer to home that world becomes, the more immersed you can be in that world
      2. Seasons are a way to communicate another realm of immersion to people

  1. [50:30] In theme parks, one of things people are just tired of is the fact that they are static

    1. Speaks to the new development of the genre
    2. New technology/etc brings the ability for AoC to do these things/have these mechanics, part of the appeal

  1. [52:15] When can we get this thing for ourselves? (Founders packs)

    1. Access to alphas through the kickstarter
      1. Aiming for first buyable alpha to be middle of next year (2018)
        1. Kickstarter says December, could be earlier
    2. “First” alpha in October 2017, can’t buy into that
      1. Invitation only
      2. Can win a key through weekly drawing

  1. [53:00] When is the game set to be complete/ready to launch?

    1. Probably be completed in the middle of 2019
    2. Officially it’s “before 2020”

      Transcript Source: Pkfyre: Google Docs


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