Sources & References

Interviews/Articles  from December 2016 - May 2017

TheLazyPeon | May 9, 2017 | Video Link - Q&A w/ Steven Sharif (See below for Q&A transcript)PC Gamer | May 2, 2017 | MMO Ashes of Creation goes to Kickstarter
MMOGames | April 13, 2017 | Ashes of Creation on Building Their Virtual World
PCgamer | March 30, 2017 | Nodes Help Expand its Reactive MMO World
MassivelyOP | February 9, 2017 | Won’t Sacrifice Aesthetics For Performance


Q&A - TheLazyPeon 5/9/17

  1. [01:07] What drove you as developers to create AoC, why an MMO, and are there specific MMOs that you are “drawing” from to help create AoC?

    1. That is a big question, last 25 years being a gamer, the genre that always interested him was the MMORPG genre, massive community, don’t really experience that elsewhere.  Lots of interactions with people he would never get the chance to interact with otherwise.
    2. First MMO was NWN (1992), $6 by the hour to play.  Basically played every MMO under the sun, always loved the community aspect.
    3. Over the past several years, he was upset in the direction the industry was going.  Super pay2win, very cash grabby, didn’t feel that there was any real love going into the genre anymore, wanted to change that, wanted to bring the passion back.
    4. Enjoys some RP stuff, references his Independence Day speech from AA.

  1. [04:12] As your are probably aware, combat is a core aspect to any MMO and in the past we’ve seen it can really make or break a game. Can you tell us about the combat system in AoC and your design principles behind it?

    1. Huge part of the design philosophy, how to find the blend of character skill and player skill that results in the best game.  Want to create a healthy balance of what players are capable of that includes strategy, skill, progression.  Epic gear shouldn’t just shit on everyone else, if they aren’t skilled enough,
      1. Flat power curve.
    2. Hybrid action/tab targeting system.  Positioning, dodge skills, i-frames, other action combat systems combined with tab targeting systems.
      1. Both systems have their faults, want to include the best of both systems.
    3. Not class based, all classes include this balance.

  1. [06:50] Your Kickstarter page mentions “Enhanced Naval Content and Exploration”, can you give us more insight as to what this means? Will we be able to find underwater treasure and what would the benefits of participating in ocean content be?

    1. Personally, his most recent experience was ArcheAge, one of the big appeals was the naval experience. Not for everyone, but cool aspect of the game that he wants to include in AoC.
    2. Expanded content will be expanded classes of ships, will move caravan system into the oceans.
    3. Underwater Content
      1. Dungeons
      2. Treasure finding
      3. Aquatic monsters
      4. Mounts.
      5. Really want to take land design and start applying it to watery environments
    4. Islands confirmed.

  1. [08:20] Would you describe AoC as a skill based or gear based game? If player A has average gear and can play their class perfectly, will they be able to take on player B who has the best gear but little skill?

    1. Already touched on it. Developers want progression to matter, but also skill to matter.  They are looking to find a healthy balance between the two. Emphasis both to a degree.

  1. [08:40] Ashes seems to be very player focused, so the game will require a high player count to function properly.  Are you worried by this, and do you have any plans on actions taken should a server fail to hit a functioning population?

    1. Not afraid of it being player focused, they want high player numbers, lots of their systems rely on that fact.  The first ‘M’ in MMORPG stands for Massively, and that’s extremely important. When designing AoC they want to cater to that fact.
    2. If ever in the future a server should suffer population decline, they have considered their reaction.  Server merges something they have considered, don’t want to do, but considered.

  1. [09:55] As AoC is a sandbox MMORPG, how do you plan on expanding the game’s content after release without making old content irrelevant?

    1. The expansion content that they would include would be new areas, new races, expanding the avenues of content from node development, additional node quests, bosses, more lore and story arcs. Additional battlegrounds.
    2. Being a subscription model means they have to continually develop, they have regularly planned expansions and chapters going into the future, not stale and stagnant, always fresh.
  2. [11:10] We already know AoC is gonna be subscription based MMO with a cosmetic cash shop and no box cost, what made you decide to go with the subscription model in a time when most new MMOs are going F2P?

    1. Probably the most important aspect is that Steven does not want any way, shape or form for there to be Pay2Win, or even Pay2Convenicne, or any kind of cash grab.
    2. F2P come to market, push player advancement behind a paywall, highly incentivized item shop Pay2Win mechanics.  Makes Steven so mad, very grumpy.
    3. These shift the ability for community progression because one whale can just come in and ruin it.
    4. Subscription is a constant source of unbiased income, allows them to develop continually, allows them to ignore Pay2Win cash grab mechanics.
    5. Doesn’t mean to shit on games, but recognises that gamers don’t want these Pay2Win mechanics.
    6. Security perspective; much higher wall to scale for gold sellers/botters if they have to sub into the game.
      1. High barrier of entry.  Better player experience.
  3. [14:20] Can you tell us a little bit about the character customisation in Ashes? How will I be able to make my character look different from everybody else?

    1. Want to definitely make sure that AoC allows people to make a character that stands out.  JoeSword1 and JoeSword2 shouldn’t look the same.  Want to have a lot of CC, extremely versatile, lots of ways for people to customise.
      1. Costumes, tattoos, hairstyles, broches, pins, jewelry, different armour skins, transmogs, lots of custom stuff that crafters can change the appearance of unique to themselves.  Great technology available, not your MMORPG from 10/15 years ago.
      2. UE4 allows a lot of really deep CC tools.
        1. Plan to be the best.
      3. 8 distinct armour pieces that are visible.
  4. [16:10] Can you give us a rough idea of what the system requirements will be, and do you plan on adding any optimisation modes for people that have mid to low end rigs?

    1. Difficult question, so early in development, 2 years away from live launch.  System requirements will change over time.  Something that has been build in the last 4-6 years should be able to run the game.
    2. UE4 gives a lot of graphic options to the client.  Players should have the ability to scale things all the way up, or all the way down and performance orientated.  UE4 should give them a lot of options in this regard.
  5. [17:20] What made you choose UE4?

    1. UE4 allows access to the source code.  Developers can use the front end to build up the world, while also allowing them to rip out the backend and build their own to support their large scale conflict, 100 of player fights.  Hasn’t been done with UE4 from an MMORPG perspective.
    2. They aren’t using UE4 backend, building their own, they have two amazing engineers, Kevin and Jason Crawford who have spent 15 years specifically building MMORPGs backends.  EQ1, EQ2, Vanguard, SWG.  Know what they are doing.  All of their backend engineering code will facilitate these design theories.
  6. [18:35] How much of a role will RNG play in Ashes?

    1. As a gamer, dealing with RNG makes Steven go crazy.  Coupled with Pay2Win, doesn’t name a game (ArcheAge), talks about rare drops from loot crates, spent $300 to get a cosmetic bear drop, very upset, got the bear, literally next week the bear dropped on the cash shop for $5, ready to throw computer away.
    2. RNG is not going to play a role in AoC.  There will be some systems that have RNG built in, MAYBE, over enchanting for example.  
    3. Crafting, items in game, cosmetics will not have RNG.  
    4. Some RNG with drop tables of monsters, other than that minimal RNG.  
    5. Crafting will be set recipes.
  7. [20:30] We already know that Ashes will have different weather, seasons and terrain. Is this aesthetic?

    1. It will affect gameplay.  Seasons are kind of non-static, kind of static, but also non-static.  Nodes will go through seasons, with crop cycles associated with seasons, some mountain passes will only be available during summer, blocked during winter.  Water will freeze during winter.
    2. Events bring weather.  
      1. Winter dragon might appear because node has developed to stage 4, might bring eternal winter until killed.  
    3. Will affect different game play stuff.  Environment should be immersive and change gameplay.
  8. [22:05] Will this game be IP Blocked? What server regions will the game have, such as EU, NA, OCE?

    1. Planning to launch with:
      1. NA
      2. EU
      3. OCE
    2. No planned IP Blocks.
      1. Self publishing means they probably won’t need to restrict things.
  9. [22:45] If you had to reveal one concern about the game, what would it be?

    1. Tough question.  Actually, not tough.  Concern with how the company is developing, and how they are marketing things.  They built a referral system that hasn’t been done, something similar has happened for a long time, but not quite this blatantly.  
      1. People had similar deals previously, but in backrooms, not available to everyone.  
      2. Steven thought this was unfair.  Wanted to democratise marketing of the game, so everyone can participate.
    2. Doesn’t expect the majority of people to have a huge referral base, but the social aspects of MMORPGs mean this is happening anyway, and lots of marketing is done by word of mouth anyway.  Why shouldn’t people have the option to play the game for free if they advertise the game fully?
      1. If you refer 7 people you can play for free*
    3. Steven has been saddened that there have been a few loud voices shitting on this system, lying about it, spreading misinformation.
    4. Developers want players to have the option to benefit from their ability to spread the news, something they already do anyway.
    5. Might not work for FPSs, MOBAs, RTSs, but works here because of the social aspect of MMORPGs.
  10. [26:10] What races do you plan to release, and will there be any benefits to picking one race other another?

    1. Eight total subraces, part of four races.
    2. Lore is that long ago the world suffered great calamity (oh no), nobody knows why, people of the planet ran away as four great races.  Over time those races split to become eight.  Now they are all coming home (hurrah) as the great divine portals have opened.
    3. Races play an important part in the game.
      1. Stat orientated gameplay, races have different stat values for different stats.
      2. Some races might be a meta race for a certain class, but nothing is race locked for classes.
    4. Wanted players to experience the game as the class they wanted to, with the race they wanted.
    5. Races will offer racial augments to primary skills.
    6. There is a versatility in the class system, different kinds of tanks, some tanks might be really good against magic, others might be really good against physical. Evasion tanks, straight damage mitigation, damage reflecting tanks, aggro tanks.
    7. Classes can play specific roles, but this should mean that different races should be able to find a meta niche within each class.
  11. [29:00] To what extent will there be offline/idle progression in the game? Such as hiring an NPC to work for the player.

    1. Good question, they are definitely experimenting with the freehold system to have it so that if a node progresses to a certain amount and the player run government takes it in a certain direction, a freehold might allow passive income and bonuses to characters.
      1. Tavern/Inn
    2. Discussing offline mechanics, having NPCs that manage crop rotations, sell food.
    3. Might have an interface for mobile that allows players to manage those NPCs.  What crops are being planted, what shops are selling, etc.
    4. Definitely things that can be done for the player while offline.  Will be seen mostly through the economy systems.
  12. [30:50] What forms of transportation will AoC have? Will there be teleportation?

    1. Sticking to the removal of fast travel as much as possible.  Don’t want fast travel in the game.  
      1. Potential for fast travel in T6 scientific nodes, would take months, specific only to the region.  
      2. Other than that, no fast travel.
    2. Distance should mean something, players should travel the world because of the dynamic nature of the world.
      1. What was there yesterday might not be there tomorrow.
  13. [32:05] Will you have some form of group finder/dungeon finder menu?

    1. Not planning on including on a group finder option.  
      1. There will be centres in cities where people can go and potentially put a listing up and express intent, look at player advertisements.
    2. Guild recruitment posters.
    3. No straight dungeon finder.
  14. [33:07] When a node is destroyed or de-levelled how will that affect its zone of influence in terms of difficulty and available content?

    1. With each stage of development for a node, new content becomes available.
    2. Can relate to overarching narrative of the game or individual narratives, processing of materials, goods, etc.  
    3. Same is true if a node gets de-leveled, only with regression.
    4. The progression of nodes lock out the progression of nodes adjacent to them
      1. Content relates specifically to which node gets developed
        1. Coast instead of land, more underwater things rather than land centered, etc.
  15. [34:40] You’ve mentioned a lot about Ashes having a lot of PvP and PvE content, what can we expect about the raiding in Ashes?

    1. In order to have a good blend, making the game from a PvE perspective really diverse and engaging.  Need to have a strong PvE game if you’re going to make PvP matter
    2. Large focus on epic raids, 40 main raid groups taking out epic world bosses
    3. Having problem solving play a role, not just zerging content
    4. Need to have very specific/strategic gameplay for these raids/dungeons
    5. Will be very in-depth and community centric, content for different group sizes.

  1. [36:15] Would you describe raiding as something you would do at “end game” or is there going to be large group based content as you are leveling up?
    1. There will be large, group based content, at every stage of the game.  Yes.

  1. [36:32] Will Ashes use the holy trinity of Tank, Healer, Dps or perhaps something else?
    1. We definitely have influences from the holy trinity
    2. Kind of more than just that though, there is so much customization available to the player.
    3. Class Structure:
      1. Primary class comes with active abilities
        1. 4 Martial
        2. 4 Arcane
      2. Secondary class doesn’t come with new actives, instead it comes with augments.
        1. You can double down on your archetype and make yourself better at that specific role
        2. Or you can choose Fighter/Rogue and add a stealth augment to your rush skill.
          1. Normal fighter might charge in and do damage with a knockdown
          2. Fighter/Rogue when you activate the rush, you go stealth and you reappear when you reach the target.
        3. Subtle change to your primary class that reflects your secondary
      3. If you choose Fighter/Tank you would be a tanky fighter
      4. If you went Tank/Cleric you could have augments that let you sustain yourself in combat, Paladin class.
        1. Can’t heal party, can heal self

  1. [39:41] The MMORPG community has been burned so many times in recent years by games that promise a lot but fail to deliver, is there anything you’d like to say to the people that are sceptical about Ashes of Creation?
    1. Great question, hit the nail on the head.  This is partially what drove me to come out and DO Ashes of Creation.
    2. Fact of the matter is that I have been there and I have been upset when things didn’t get delivered.  
    3. What’s different about Ashes of Creation and Intrepid Studios, is that is being run by someone who has been jaded from recent development.  The forefront of what we do is keep promises, delivery dates, keeping the community in the center, and being very transparent.  Takes time, but I want to make sure when I’m laying in bed with my phone that I am talking to the community.
    4. There’s nothing more frustrating than being someone who devotes time, money, etc and getting the hand from the people you supported.  It’s 100% in the forefront of their minds at Intrepid Studios.

  1. [42:40] Briefly, why should we play Ashes over games like World Of Warcraft for example? What makes your game so different?

    1. Ashes of Creation intends to turn this industry upside down.  Both from the perspective of you the player and how you can interact with the world and have the world react to your decisions.
    2. We’re using technology in a different way, that includes a choose your adventure/impact the world around you type of way.
    3. I want people on servers to interact and share stories across them
    4. Theme Park kind of create rides for you to experience curated content, obviously we have curated content but it’s locked behind a decision.  Players have to choose to open that door and experience that content.
    5. Better reflects what Steven thinks the MMORPG genre should be.

Transcript Source: Organic's Notes Google Docs

Another video reference by: TheLazyPeon


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