Ashes of Creation Community Podcast 024 steven interview

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Transcript brought to you by The AoC Dungeon at https://www.theaocdungeon.com/threads/interview-with-steven-sharif-ashes-of-creation-community-podcast-024-bcg.105/

Editors Note: Check out the original Transcript for some nice formatting work


BCG: Why do you prefer MMORPGs to other game genres?

  • Steven: MMOs is a unique genre, providing the same ability to connect with people all across the world. With my previous guild, which I started in 2002, we had thousands of members. It was such a unique ability to turn on vent/TS and chat together with people across the world and bonding with them. Just the experience to fight with them, engaging in server wars, grafting and gathering the best gear.. You know, it is such a unique experience and that's why it is so near to my heart.

BCG: Why do you think that Ashes of Creation was so well received? The whole concept of the node system and the changing world is something a lot of people are interested in.

  • Steven: The reason why Ashes as a project, was so well received, is that for a long time people have been seeking a company/game that knew what to focus on. Not towards the bottom line and turning a profit. Rather being able to innovate and taking risks.
  • We were able to take big risks by innovating, with the node system. Additionally, our stance with not interfering with the in-game economy and not adding pay to win elements through the cash shop. Of course the experience and passion of the team really helped. So all those things combined really showed the way forward to die-hard fans of this genre, that there are many things we players have been asking for a long time, that really were not employed in projects we have been experiencing lately.

BCG: What would be a good way to sell me Ashes of Creation?

  • Steven: The important thing when discussing something you are excited about, is conveying your passion and feelings on it. Talking about the aspects of the game that excite you the most, is probably the best way to introduce people to Ashes of Creation. Also, obviously showing them some of the content creator material etc. is good from an informational standpoint. But the most important thing is focusing on WHY you are excited about the game.

Truth Eternal: So meaningful conflict is something you have talked about a lot, being a corner-stone is Ashes. So in what ways, and in what other institutions, will social organizations most commonly conflict?

  • Steven: Social organizations will have quest lines, which players participate in, and some will include sabotage, intrigue etc. It is not necessarily PvP in a combat sense, but it is PvP in pitting these communities in these organizations against each other in a competitive atmosphere. Only some things can be accomplished by certain communities, and not everybody can succeed at a particular task. So I think that's a unique way to involve meaningful conflict, that doesn't have to relate to PvP. Of course we have other PvP combat systems, but we need other ways of progressions with these quest lines and tasks, that will pit organizations against each other.

Truth Eternal: We got a glimpse of the potion launcher. Can we expect other surprises in terms of weaponry?

  • Steven: Obviously fantasy as a genre, has been done many times, and we love many things about it. Catering to the staples of it, but we need to think outside the box as well. So yes, there could be some more surprises.

Truth Eternal: One or two pieces of functionality that makes the alliance system unique in the MMO space?

  • Steven: In previous games I've played.. There are different ways. You can make a nation and invite guilds to it, sharing a tag and chat. However what I haven't seen is content that revolves specifically around alliances, and progression within the development of that alliance. Sharing some common services between guilds in that alliance. Additionally being able to toggle certain relationships with nodes, as an interaction. That will provide a interesting dynamic for players who are either a member of the node or members of the alliance. Obviously building systems is about creating the channels in which these players can form bonds, and the more layers you have around those, the more sustainable that relationship will be.
  • Steven: However what I haven't seen is content that revolves specifically around alliances, and progression within the development of that alliance.

Greypelt: Is there anything you can tell us about the new developers on the team?

  • Steven: Uhm, yes and no. Growth is obviously difficult in any industry, to maintain the culture that is established, as well as making sure the talent behind it is up to what you require. The individuals are established veterans, 3 engineers that has worked in the MMO genre for 20 years. We have designers, that has created content for f.ex Everquest. It is scaling up, and will end up around the 200 mark. There will come more in the coming weeks.

Greypelt: Does Intrepid have any plans to have AI perform tasks, other than NPC behavior?

  • Steven: Yes there are some additional parameters. AIs with regard to development of the node borders and stock market in the economy. Some AI systems are pretty innovate in the MMO genre, and that will be announced later. It will make the triggered event system very interesting, ex. node development and how the system reacts to that, with for example a raid boss spawning from the mountain. I think there is a lot of opportunities.

Okies: The core identities, if we could get some more examples of it from the other classes, so we know the rough way the archetypes will work.

  • Steven: From a identity standpoint, we are fairly similar to the holy trinity of class identity. The primary archetype and secondary archetype, the combination of that, the goal is to blur the lines between these standard trinity that is present. We want to have the rock-paper-scissors type of interaction, and balance them around the group v group dynamics. By utilizing the augments, allows for players to take skills outside just of their realm of their ability and to another area.

Okies: With professions being skill based (eg. a mini game), could we see a difference between crafting and maybe a skill system to improve them?

  • Steven: Early on the design we talked about it, where the skill of the crafter would grant a greater window of skill based type crafting. The higher master level you have of crafting a certain item, the greater your potential to impact the quality of the item, for the better. The concern about this type of system, is that we don't want such a mini-game to become repetitive and boring. When we start to flush out the crafting system, we take a look at that interaction and the actual activity of making something. There is room for different iterations of that, and we may see something that will be skill based. It would require a lot of testing however.

Okies: I thought more about the fishing.

  • Steven: Fishing, we have some fun designs there, and will include the community during alphas to play with that. Possibly the community would help, by popularity, by voting on which system they like the best.

Question from chat: How easy will the learning curve be, for people that have never played this game before? What is the target age range?

  • Steven: With regards to learning curve. I think that it is going to be a standard MMO control system, and easy to pick that up. Of course there will be a lot of intricate systems, and there the learning curve will be easy to understand, but hard to master. The age group we are targeting is both younger players (fortnite, PUBG etc.) and to old-school gamers of Lineage etc. We have a broad appeal in terms of demographics.

Question from chat: Will there be any pop culture references in the game?

  • Steven: From an immersion standpoint, there really is not current pop culture reference. So no. The immersion of the game will be centered around the lore of the game. Memes are fun, but does not fit in Ashes.

BCG: DPS meters. There are a lot of people who used to raid in WoW. In a highly competitive environment, aggro meters and dps meters are must haves to stay competitive. You talked about open world raids and open world bosses. What kind of goal can people like myself, competitive raiders, look forward too?

  • Steven: The sheer nature of our PvP systems and how we emphasize a legendary item/economy in Ashes, is all but going to demand certain performances from the competitive player base. I think where there is opportunity to excel and succeed past the performance of your competitors, it is when it becomes competitive. I don't believe the DPS meters are necessary. It might require more investigation to gather the information, but it won't be as wide spread as DPS meters and such tools. The key is to form bonds of community cooperation, and we don't want to import tools that hinder that.

BCG: Instanced raiding. Can we expect long, hard and complex instanced raids?

  • Steven: Yes. PvE systems need to be dynamic and challenging. No cookie-cutter type of experience, becoming this boring duty. We want node changes to affect the PvE systems (raids) to keep them fresh and challenging. It needs to be hard. There needs to be a dynamic nature to those type of events, to keep it appealing.

BCG: Best answer so far!

  • Steven: haha yes. Nobody wants to breeze through it.. If I play Civ 2, there was an option to turn on cheats. If I was losing to an AI, I would always look at that button. Why would anyone want to touch that? It takes out the challenge of it.. The satisfaction comes from the effort that was necessary to achieve it.

BCG: I was one of those guys that raided for eight hours each day for a whole week, just to get a server-first kill. Lately the PvE aspect has become boring in recent MMOs, and not wanting raids to be hard. I do not agree to that, raids are supposed to be extremely hard and having to really put effort into it.

  • Steven: For those playing Lineage II.. It was a grind-fest. The great part, everyone in that raid, we spent 4 hours trying to kill that boss, losing 10 levels while doing so. It was horrible, but SO much fun. As a memory, of something that was grueling, but so satisfying to finally kill it.

BCG: The class list. The mage subclass, the warlock, what is going to be the major difference between f.ex mage-mage and mage-warlock? Stats? A warlock mostly plays with demons, curses etc, while mages do arcane and elemental magic. What can we expect in that regard?

  • Steven: The primary class is going to be the source of your active skills. You are going to augment the active skills with the choice of your secondary class. If you are a mage as primary, and your secondary was a warlock, you are going to share a lot of the interactions of your primary skills. Mage-mage It is going to be highly focused in this DPS, elemental damage, high mobility, CC capabilities. The ability for you to empower your spells, that is beneficial for certain types of encounter. If you are mage-summoner, you are going to be able to pull from that summoner. Being able to temporarily put a servant on the battlefield, a fire elemental instead of doing a fireball. It could deal damage over time, slow their attack speed etc.

Community question: Will buildings on freeholds have a leveling system, that allows for unlocking recipes or upgrades that provides bonuses for artisan activities.

  • Steven: Absolutely. Freeholds will level up, and have progression. Just surviving is a feat, and will provide new bonuses and abilities.

Community question: Summoners can summon a big summon. What can for example eight mages in one group do?

  • Steven: Primary archetypes that band together, for example summoners being able to spawn massive summons.. The same is true for other archetypes. A group of eight archetypes, it will have certain combined effects together. Eight tanks, they could summon a wall, and if they all do it together, it would be a massive wall that could divide two raids in a moment. We want the archetypes to being able to summon great effects that is based on the identity of the archetype.

Community question: Will there be lore based around respawn points?

  • Steven: We obviously have a story line around why and how the players respawn. Also the location in which they respawn.

Community question: Will there be rewards for arena PvP?

  • Steven: Rewards based on PvP accomplishments. Titles and ladders specifically for arena though. Also military nodes that are tied to the arena, for being a major. Points to buy gear from arena? Not planned at this point. The down-side of the arena is that it draws people out of the "real world".
  • Steven: Points to buy gear from arena? Not planned at this point.

Community question: The combo bar. I kind of liked it. Can you share anything about the new system you are working on?

  • Steven: Well we have several systems. The combo system, it is intended to replace the auto attack feature from other games. We don't want a mindless combat. Providing another way of progression around your weapon. My mistake early on was not understanding the double edged nature of transparency. It was not done during PAX West, and not everyone understood that.. The combat system was simply not ready. What we implement now is something that doesn't draw your attention away from the center of the screen. Visual Que or audio Que. The objective of the combat system is to take weapon progression, and fuel a second energy type that is focused, that players can spec into focus oriented skills. Taking that, we are going to implement ways to get it better received.

Community question: Can we expect this new combat system to be ready for Alpha 1?

  • Steven: Depends on the phase. Phase 1 focuses on combat such as arena and sieges. It will give us the tool to test these combat systems where players can spec into more action oriented or tap-targeted skills. Part of that might include some of that new combat system.

Okies: Will be able to test crafting, gathering etc soon?

  • Steven: During Alpha 1 Phase 2.

Greypelt: Will gatherables have uses for crafting in high level items if they are low level?

  • Steven: Depends, some gatherables will have a tiered progression into higher level crafting. For example if I'm gathering leaves of a flower, to craft a pigment that is going to be used in a tunic at level 1. I might need to that craft a greater pigment. It is going to be tiered progression so that materials have relevancy throughout the different ties of crafting. That is important from an economical standpoint, having layered demand. Players that are interested in collecting and gathering those materials, still are relevant when later items are crafted.

Truth Eternal: Will there be a limit of combinations of pets, mount and breeding options? A certain number cap? Some that won't be compatible with others?

  • Steven: There is a compendium of acceptable parameters for breeding. But that won't be known until players discover it. Yes there will be a cap as well. That discovery is going to be necessary for the player to explore. Certain quests for example filling out the compendium. Some odd combos will occur though.

BCG: When can we expect to see 3D models for other races, such as tulnar, orcs and dwarves?

  • Steven: Those might not be available for after phase 1 of Alpha 1.

Congratulations to the anniversary of the podcast! And thank you Steven for answering even more questions :)