Gameplay

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We like to really refer to ourselves as a PvX game, because in those systems of PvP, PvE, crafting they're all intertwined: They're interdependent on each other... Our system of development really requires some interdependence there between those things. You're going to need a crafter to give you the best items. You're going to need PvPers to secure cities and castles. You're gonna need PvErs to take down those world bosses for those materials to craft.[1]Steven Sharif

Ashes is a comprehensive game. It is not a PvP focused or a PvE focused, it is a comprehensive PvX game and as a result these systems are all interconnected and have to coexist with one another with certain types of mechanisms that can provide that give and take, that push and shove.[2]Steven Sharif

Ashes of Creation is a PvX game. Players will naturally encounter both PvP and PvE elements.[2][3][4] It is unlikely that a player could purely focus on just PvP or just PvE.[4]

We're very clear with our objective and philosophy on the game and we understand that they may not appeal to everybody. But you know it is an important reciprocal relationship between the content that's related to PvE and the content that's related to PvP and they feed off of each other. They're catalysts for change: Their progression, their development. It's things that people can value when they see something earned and they see something lost. That elicits an emotional response from the player: That they've invested time in to either succeed or fail; and PvP allows for that element to be introduced into gameplay. And we're very clear that is our objective: That risk versus reward relationship, that achievement-based mentality. Not everybody's going to be a winner and that's okay.[8]Steven Sharif

PvP

Alpha-1 open world caravan PvP.[10]

Player combat in Ashes of Creation is both vast and intimate. It spans many aspects of the game itself. From great political battles held on the fields of massive castles, to open world conflicts fought for the pride of Guild Leaders. A player can choose to participate in the fate of the world by swaying the tide of battle with his or her combat prowess. Our PvP mechanics follow a flagging system, as well as static PvP zones at certain points of interest; fight for control over cities, castles, caravans, or hunting grounds. Our PvP is designed to offer the players a well-balanced and fair world to shape through the pen, or sword should they choose.[11]

PvP (Player versus player combat) is the catalyst for change in Ashes of Creation.[12] Player combat is intended to be meaningful, ranging from Caravan battles to vast open world conflicts fought for the pride of Kings and Queens.[13]

Because players are motivated by different things, because they want something from the game that other players don't want, that's going to cause people to butt heads. Different players are going to want different experiences and the conflict between the two of them will create a bigger and better thing. Out of strife comes rebirth and that's a core symbol, it's a core theme that occurs throughout the game.[14]Jeffrey Bard
Just because our flagging system gives corruption to PKers, doesn't mean PvP won't happen. There is plenty of reason for PvP to occur open-world.[19]Steven Sharif
Q: Have you considered a high-stakes loot drop PvP zone/area in Verra?
A: We have not; and the reason for that is our current PvP systems already allow for material risk essentially that's either through the flagging system or through other event-based pvp opt-in systems as well.[28]Steven Sharif

Caravan PvP

Caravan PvP in Alpha-1.[30]

You won't be able to see inside specifically but as part of the caravan structure itself there will be little hints as to what the the cargo is. So for example if you've seen some of our recent footage with caravans you kind of see sitting on top of the caravan there's some gold or some silver or some iron.[31]Steven Sharif

Caravans create an open PvP zone that flags players for combat (purple).[32]

  • Players will not be able to see the exact contents of a caravan before they decide to attack or defend, however there will be some visual hints to the cargo of the caravan, such as gold, silver, or iron visible on top of the caravan.[31]
  • Players will be able to state their intentions to attack, defend or ignore via a user interface window.[33][34][35]
    • The proximity that the UI window appears is determined by the player's performance as either a defender or an attacker in previous raids.[33]
  • A group will be required to successfully attack a caravan.[36][37]
  • A caravan will persist in the world for a period of 5 to 10 minutes from the time its owner logs out or is disconnected from the server.[38]
  • Each caravan is its own bespoke event. Players can't participate in more than one caravan event at a time, but running decoy caravans is a valid tactic.[39]
It's still intended from a design standpoint to be a window that is presented to the player based on proximity; and that proximity it can be greater depending on your performance as either a defender or an attacker in previous raids.[33]Steven Sharif

There will be incentives and risks for both caravan attackers and defenders.[24][25] These will be tested and refined during the alpha and beta testing phases.[40]

There is a level of risk that comes with the attacker. We have progression paths that exist for bandits and that exists for defenders; and if you choose to opt into a caravan attack- you sign up for that attack and you fail that attack- it is detrimental to your path of progression down the bandit area. That's one thing: Two is of course you have gear decay. You have degradation that can be suffered if you die. That is a cost. And then you also have a reputation; and if your reputation precedes you when you want to transit goods across the world; and you see somebody who's doing it and you want to participate as a defender or a participant, they might say hey screw you, you were just murdering my people last week and I saw that you're like on the top of the bandit list for killing caravans. So it has repercussions in the sense that it locks you out of certain player groups. It provides decay to your armor. It has deleterious effects on your progression, and the attacking- and the bandit progression of caravan attacks or defense.[24]Steven Sharif
  • A quest system will track a player's successful or failed defenses and attacks. This will provide rewards that scale up over time based on the player's history.[24][25][40]
  • Other incentives and risks are social and are created (informally) between players.[24][40]
The caravan defender role is going to have its own progression questing and rewards associated with it that are going to attract a certain subset of players and then you know vice-versa wise we're going to have incentives that appeal to the more highway brigand type players; and you know you might not always be on one side or the other: that might change depending on what your interests are in the at the time. But obviously you know those types of systems need to have robust you know consequential type rewards and benefits associated with them in order to compel the player; and that's something obviously we're going to test in alphas and betas and see how performant it is in actually attracting players to participate and make sure it's not just one-sided so-to-speak.[40]Steven Sharif

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Castle sieges

Alpha-1 castle siege gameplay.[9]

Throughout Ashes of Creation, the player has an opportunity to participate in massively multiplayer siege warfare. Since castles are likely the world’s most limited resource, it will be a task to secure and hold them. Involving hundreds of players on a single battlefield, our sieges will employ many moving parts and intricate design features. Because of the difficult nature of taking and keeping a castle there are great rewards available to the players for their efforts. Castles will allow players to exert control over nearby lands and allow for the development of unique buildings in the nearby towns.[11]

Guilds participate in Castle sieges in an effort to capture and occupy one of the five guild castles in Ashes of Creation.[42]

  • The minimum goal is for 250x250 players to be on a single battlefield. It is hoped that this can be increased to 500x500 over time.[46]
  • There will be systems that mimic some of the mechanics of sieges, but there won't be practice sieges.[47]
  • There may be instanced locations within otherwise open-world castle and node sieges, where specific groups can participate in small, short duration objective-based battles that will affect the overall outcome of the siege.[48]

A guild that captures a castle will own that castle for a month before it is sieged again.[52][53]

Each week leading up to the siege week... is a week that's dedicated to one of the three castle dedicated nodes. So around the castle there are three nodes. They represent week, one, two, and three; and then the fourth week is the siege against the castle. Those can only be elevated up to stage three. We've discussed this in the past and there's definitely information out there on the community ran wiki.[52]Steven Sharif
  • In the first three weeks that a guild occupies a castle they will need to level up each of their castle nodes to Village stage through questing.[52][53]
    • Each of the three castle nodes have a siege against it at the end of each of these three weeks.[53][54]
  • The fourth week is declaration week, where other guilds have the opportunity to lay down their declaration flag or to sign up as a defender of the castle.[52][53]
  • Depending on how well the guild defends their castle nodes results in better defenses for the castle.[53][54]
  • Different siege weaponry will grant the attackers the ability to destroy walls, doors and sections of the castle in order to gain access to the inner keep area.[55]
  • When castles change hands (following a siege), some taxes stay with the castle and some stay with the guild.[56]
There will be benefits to attracting people... even if they're not in your guild or alliance – kind of a feudal like system, where you can attract other players who are just independent of this whole politic. They will have things to do there - benefits to receive - and there will be a reciprocal relationship between who you can attract, what they do for you; and how that benefits you and them.[53]Steven Sharif

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Alpha-1 castle sieges

Trebuchets in the Alpha-1 preview castle siege attackers headquarter camp.[58]

Alpha-1 castle sieges are based on Ashes of Creation Apocalypse castle sieges.[60][51]

  • Players will be able to join guilds. These guilds can register for the siege events.[58]
  • Castle siege events will be 100v100 battles that occur daily and will last for three hours.[58]
  • Attackers will start on the opposite end of the map (from the defenders).[58]
  • Attackers will be able to use trebuchets to drive to and assault the castle.[58]
    • Trebuchets have a single primary fire that does a small amount of damage to players and heavy damage to buildings.[58]
    • Trebuchets will be fully physical when they are being driven.[58]
  • When the attackers have breached the castle they will be able to channel a cast on the relic in the throne room to try to capture the castle from the defenders.[58]
  • The victors of castle sieges will receive benefits, such as cloaks, flying mounts for guild leaders and potentially also for guild officers.[58]
  • Alpha-1 castle sieges are in a separate zone that is accessible via a NPC teleporter.[49][50][20]
    Currently the siege zone is actually in the open world, but separated by mountains and off in the sea a bit. There is actually no instancing in A1, although the siege zone will only be accessible in A1 through a registration NPC teleporter.[49]Steven Sharif
  • The opposing team is notified when these raid bosses are being attacked.[60]
  • Teams who get the last hit on these bosses will receive buffs that will help them in the siege battle.[60]

Last year, I spoke of attempting to incorporate sieges into the Alpha One experience. This has obviously been a goal of mine because it provides considerable data and a consistent event within the world that players can participate in to help stress test the deployment. Well, I am happy to say that it is appearing more and more likely by the day! Initial implementation of the Apocalypse siege code has been migrated into the Alpha One client, and we should begin internal testing next month. I will caveat this expectation with the fact that we are cutting it a bit close from an internal QA standpoint, but I have some confidence that the system will be online and capable of inclusion for the Alpha One test in the month of June. The siege component will obviously not be representative of what the siege system will be at launch, or even in Alpha Two.[51]Steven Sharif

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Node sieges

Node sieges (Pre-alpha footage).[62]

As some areas in the world grow, others will fall. This is the foundation of the living, breathing world that is Ashes of Creation, where players will have the ability to make important decisions that matter in the longevity of an area becoming a city, or whether to siege a rival town. Rise above the ashes, create the world around you, and be a part of the story that unfolds because of your actions and decisions.[63]Margaret Krohn

Node sieges enable players to destroy nodes.[63] This paves the way for new development and access to the locked content in surrounding nodes. Due to this dynamic, political strife and intrigue play an important role in the structure of the world.[64]

  • Sieging nodes will not be an easy task for the attackers. Cities and metropolises will have a considerable defensive advantage.[64]
  • There will be systems that mimic some of the mechanics of sieges, but there won't be practice sieges.[47]
If you own a home in a node and you don't want to see that home destroyed, you need to defend that city![14]Steven Sharif

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Guild wars

Guild war features are currently still in the design stage, but the overall goal is for guild wars to be objective-based with great risk for each side.[65]

  • Guild war objectives are designed to be more fluid than castle siege objectives.[66]
  • Guild wars can be declared at any time, but the objectives will only spawn during server prime-time.[67]
    • Players can kill each other at any time during the war (not only during server prime-time).[67]
  • Guild wars will not be permanent. Definitive victory conditions exist that are based on the level of the warring guilds and the assets that those guilds have.[68]
I can't really define exactly what those features are yet because that design stage is still up in the air from a discussion standpoint. There's a lot of different ideas that relates to how those two can come into play, but I will say that in every MMO I've ever played guild wars are very binary. They're very like 'Okay you've declared, you have a number of kills to deaths and the guild war's over, thank you...' My objective to kind of change that dynamic is to include greater risk for the sides to initiate the war and also to make it more objective-based than just a binary kill death ratio; and the fortresses and guild halls come into that type of facilitating that change.[65]Steven Sharif

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Hunting grounds

You are on the prowl, and notice an unsuspecting player chopping trees. What would you do?[69]

Hunting grounds are open-world PvP corruption-enabled areas that encompass most of the map.[70]

One of the interesting components of Ashes of Creation and our flagging system is that it presents the potential for two conflicting parties to have open conflict in the open world over pretty much anything that they may want or disagree with; and if that pertains to a hunting ground, not just the caravan or the castles or the nodes or whatever, it can exist in that area.[73]Steven Sharif

Outside of PvP for certain things like caravans, sieges of nodes and/or castles is that you're going to have those open-world hunting ground fights that may occur. You're going to have resources fights that may occur. You're going to have political fights that may occur between members of guilds; and we're taking the guild politics to a whole new direction in regards to playing those conflicts out.[72]Steven Sharif

Our PvP mechanics follow a flagging system, as well as static PvP zones at certain points of interest; fight for control over cities, castles, caravans, or hunting grounds. Our PvP is designed to offer the players a well-balanced and fair world to shape through the pen, or sword should they choose.[74]

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Naval PvP

Operators of a ship's weapons platform can initiate naval PvP against another ship in the following three cases.[23]

Another important change that has occurred is the open seas is now an automatic flagged location. So when you move off of land we have a flagging system that protects and the open seas are international waters where you need to be careful; and there is a lot of opportunity at Sea; and because there's a lot of opportunity that's unique to that content- that's unique to that sea: that's treasure finding; that's NPCs; that's a lot of different stuff there needs to be risk associated with opportunity.[22]Steven Sharif
  • When the ships move into an open sea (open waters/deep ocean) area. This will automatically flag players as Combatants (purple).[16][22][23]
    • Players entering an open seas area will be notified by the UI ahead of time.[75]
    • Open sea zones have better resources in more abundance to compensate for the added level of risk.[15]
We have a very intuitive UI that that as you approach the border between open sea and coastal area you are notified of that. You are warned ahead of time. There's a countdown when approaching. We interpolate the distance travel and speed you're moving and you get to see "I'm entering open waters"; and when you do you have this big trophy call out on screen that says "You have entered the open sea. Territory fraught."[75]Steven Sharif

Arenas

Arenas are instanced PvP scenarios and are not part of open world PvP.[77][78]

The arena system as we've spoken about before is going to have ladder systems where people can progress within certain seasons based on their win/loss ratios. The importance of arenas are obviously that players have an opportunity to participate [and] practice out certain builds from a PvP perspective and can compete with one another within the system.[77]Steven Sharif

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PvE

Alpha-1 Elder Dragon of the Tundra raid boss.[87]

The environment in Ashes of Creation is a visually stunning realm, with fantastical beasts and creations designed to both inspire awe and instill fear. The world is harsh and unforgiving, presenting a clear and present danger to the players. Dungeons, demons and dragons, oh MY! Our unique and adaptive AI means that an encounter with similar creatures will yield a completely different experience to adapt to as a player. Keeping you on your toes for constantly changing responses from your adversary. The world awaits its heroes.[11]

Elder Dragon of the Wood raid boss gameplay.[88]

Whenever you have a player versus environment setting you don't want a stagnant kind of overly repetitive because its lackluster. It does not have that a component that engages.[89]Steven Sharif

The Node system facilitates the generation of new PvE content such as Quests, Dungeons, Raids and Monster coins.[13]

There is going to be a lot of PvE content for all portions of the playerbase... Part of that risk versus reward: Your risk is your time you're putting in to having a chance at getting the reward and successfully completing; and that should feel good based on how much time you devote. Now I know that there's a spectrum of casual and hard-core players in the time there, what we can do, but that's why we have many different content paths that play towards how you affect the world around you.[90]Steven Sharif

PvE content adapts to the development of the world to avoid repetition.[89]

Alpha-1 PvE content

PvE content in Alpha-1:

There's over 200 quests in the game right now. There's a bunch of dungeons. We've retooled all of the boss fights. Those dragons that you see in the siege are also in the world- part of the open-world too. There will be a slightly different- there are some extra mechanics in the siege versions versus the ones that are in the world, but there's plenty of cool things to get on both of them, so make sure you check them out and hunt them down.[50]Jeffrey Bard

Quests

Alpha-1 early quest user interface.[96]

Questing in our world combines the best elements of traditional MMO’s as well as the introduction of our unique player driven experiences. Ashes of Creation offers area quests, public quests, and quest chains that change dynamically and in real time based on the player’s experiences and choices. Players will have the ability to directly alter world events and change the landscape through their actions, as an individual and as a community. Server quests will allow political rivals to compete for the fate of the world.[11]

Placeholder quest log. Alpha-1 screenshot. Image credit: Guild:Overlord

Quests in Ashes of Creation are divided into three categories: Events, Tasks and Narrative quests.[97][98][99]

We’re going to be breaking up what is traditionally called ‘questing’ into three different categories: Narratives, Events, and Tasks. We want to avoid going down the path of trying to force narrative into gameplay where it doesn’t really fit (ie: filler stuff that doesn’t really relate to what’s happening in the world).[99]

Questing will be placeholder until Alpha-2.[91][92]

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Dungeons

Dungeons in Ashes of Creation will range in size and will be mostly open-world.[104][105]

There are going to be smaller, simpler, linear dungeons. There's going to be bigger, more complex, nonlinear dungeons. So, It's a little bit of both. We want the environment to be a character. In order for the environment to be a character, these places need to be interesting and there needs to be a dynamicism to them.[104]Jeffrey Bard

Half the problem won't just be solving the dungeon, it will be solving other players too.[106]Jeffrey Bard

Dungeon difficulty will increase the further a player ventures into the dungeon.[109]

  • Mobs and mob mechanics will become more difficult.[109]
  • Terrain and environmental dangers will increase.[109]

Deeper darker types of interactions will be found deeper in the dungeon.[109]Steven Sharif

There are approximately 6 or 7 dungeons in Alpha-1.[95]

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Raids

Raids will either be based on triggered events or more traditional systems. Traditional world bosses will change based on node development.[112]

We want things to be more fluid and one of the ways that we make them more fluid is through our triggered event system. That is one of the methods by which we make these more spontaneous. We make them more accessible to a wider audience. You can be just in the city and not normally be a part of a raid team, but now get to participate in this organic event that's kind of popped up around the city and if you are not participating then buildings are gonna get destroyed and NPCs are going to die... It's not just how fast can we do it, how will we get it done in its schedule, but oh my god this thing popped up if we don't kill it we're not going to access to our stables this week and we can't get our animal husbandry certificates... It's that risk versus reward that gives you a sense of adrenaline.[113]Steven Sharif

There is one true 40 person raid boss and an almost raid-level dungeon in Alpha-1.[95]

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World bosses

There will be ancillary effects that happen as a result of downing certain world bosses.[115]

When a server downs a legendary boss, I want it to cost time, resources, dedication; and when you do that I want everyone to benefit from it.[116]Steven Sharif

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Gameplay videos

Gameplay screenshots

See also

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  114. Video, May 31, 2020 (17:20).
  115. Livestream, November 19, 2021 (55:31).
  116. Livestream, 2018-04-8 (PM) (1:09:37).