- 1v1 matchups will have a rock-paper-scissors dynamic, where one class will be superior to another.
- There will be match ups in 1v1s where one class will be superior to another; and that application should be a rock-paper-scissors dynamic. We want there to be counter-play between the different classes... Instead it's going to be a group focused balance, where as long as you have the diversity of classes present, that's going to be an equal level playing field. It's going to be very dependent on skill and strategy. – Steven Sharif
- Alpha-2 testing will begin to focus on balancing once populations and encounters have been put in place and are deep in testing.
- From an engagement or encounter perspective, obviously we do a finger-in-the wind kind of balance pass, but a lot of that stuff from our encounters team doesn't get done until populations are in place and those encounter designs get a little bit more time to bake. – Steven Sharif
- There are four primary groups of augments assigned to each base archetype. Balancing of augments relates to the four augment groups for each of the eight archetypes.
- Even though augments do radically change the way your active skills provide you abilities, there's still a primary focus on the base archetype itself and not the 64 whole classes. – Steven Sharif
- We're not really talking about 64 true classes, we're talking about eight classes with 64 variants... There isn't as much variance between the 64 classes as you might expect. It's not like there are you know 64 different versions of... radically different classes. – Jeffrey Bard
- Certain archetypes are capable of moving the gap between their counterpart per-se. If I am a Tank archetype and a Mage is my counter, I can take a Mage secondary and kind of bridge the divide slightly; and then move my identity that direction ever so slightly. – Steven Sharif
- Although traditional roles are present, players should not feel branded by their primary archetype.
- Skill augments available through the class system allow characters to be personalized outside of their primary role.
- Players can also double down on their archetype choice to strengthen their primary role.
We have our eight base archetypes; and the trinity is a pretty strong influence with regards to the eight base classes. However the area in which we actually begin to play with that line between the trinity is in the secondary classes that you can pick. That's where we begin to blend those spaces and allow people a little bit of influence over their role and whether or not they fit perfectly within a particular category within the trinity. – Steven Sharif
- There is a balance between PvP and PvE in Ashes of Creation.
- All stats relate to a player's combat effectiveness in PvX.
- There won't be separate PvE and PvP servers but some servers may be more PvP focused than others.
- There will not be different PvP and PvE gear types.
- Progression in the game might require PvE elements.
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. – Steven Sharif
The effectiveness of classes, skills and gear is going to depend on the adversary or the encounter. There will be optimal builds for different challenges and difficulty ratings. This design aims to avoid any obvious meta or "cookie-cutter" builds in Ashes of Creation.
- Different challenges are presented dynamically to players based on node progression and destruction. Situations that are based on a rock-paper-scissors design will inspire a horizontal gear chase. These dynamic challenges will change from month to month, causing a shift in demand in the economy as different builds are required by the new content.
- Increasing difficulty ratings inspire more of a traditional vertical power progression that is common in other MMOs.
Oftentimes you just have a very vertical power scale and that determines chase, but when you have a variety of relevance across certain types of adversaries and that variety changes over time because of player activity- and then that affects the economy and the crafter system and who was producing what for what demand- and everything gets shaken up. That's a very kind of fun environment to exist in. It presents a more dynamic situation rather than a quote-unquote cookie-cutter type selection. – Steven Sharif
- People who put more time and effort into it are definitely going to get more out of it but that doesn't mean that person who logs in once a week won't be able to have fun so it's just a matter of the scale of stuff that you're going after... Running a caravan is not gonna be the same thing every time you do it. You might be able to find like a super secret path that nobody knows about... and you exploit it for a while and nobody knows and then eventually somebody sees you and suddenly that route becomes a lot more difficult so you know that's kind of the way we really want that emergent gameplay to kind of come out of those options that we give you guys; and a lot of it is gonna come down to other players making it more or less difficult for you. – Jeffrey Bard
- There's a ton of room for difficulty on whatever scale... In a living world everything becomes much more difficult. – Peter Pilone
My stance on participation trophies is that things should be hard, people should fail, the bitter taste of defeat is what makes success that much more rewarding. Helping other players learn encounter strategy, and fine tuning their play style for high end content is an important part of eliminating participation trophy. Growing together is a good thing, and that include failing together as a means to drive for success together. – Steven Sharif
I think our target demographic, obviously we have a very high graphic fidelity in the game that's attractive to younger players, but at the same time we have a very roleplay game orientation - a kind of a play back to that pen-and-paper Dungeons & Dragons feel that perhaps younger generations may not know but is very near and dear to the hearts of older gamers. So I think we have a broad appeal from a demographic standpoint. – Steven Sharif
A guy who wrote a book on game design, called Bartle, breaks gamers up into different categories. We will often talk about the different categories of gamers and trying to satisfy their needs. – Akil Hooper
The most compelling design argument for how those different sects of gamers interact with each other is dependant from the design standpoint of interdependencies in the systems. So, for example if as a Raider or as a PvPer you're looking for the best gear, you're going to devote your time towards leveling up and going out and participating in the things you enjoy like pvping, perhaps going for caravans or sieging cities and castles and all that type stuff. If you want the best gear, you're going to have to rely on a person who's devoted their time towards crafting potentially; and they may not be a PvPer but they have a place in your wheelhouse because you need their services. And then that crafter is going to need a person who is either a gatherer or plays the economy as a merchant in the nodes with the auction houses that are regionalized. They're going to have to work with a person who specializes in trade that takes caravans with either mercenary groups or other guilds that are PvPers between the nodes to get the resources they need. Building dependencies on different groups or factions of players that exist within a large world like this MMORPG is what kind of solidifies the bonds that allow for them to exist either harmoniously, or at least in a way that they know you need those types of players. – Steven Sharif
Casual vs. hardcore players
- Some progression paths will be more immediately achievable, which are more suited to casual players.
- Triggered events such as cravans and sieges will allow casual players to participate in impactful events without significant time investment.
- Lower level characters will have usefulness in mass combat that does not depend on their level, such as manning siege weapons, helping repair fortifications, bringing proximity-based buffs to key positions, using stealth or scaling walls. These types of things are relevant to the tide of battle and do not require the player to be max-level or have high combat stats.
There are events that are happening in the world in the game that you won't need to be a hardcore player to impact and join. For example, the triggered events from the PvE standpoint against the cities; the trades of the caravans; those natural battlegrounds that exist; the castle sieges you can login for. There is a lot of systems that are at play where a person can simply log in, participate, have fun, be impactful and then log out. – Steven Sharif
- Other progression paths will require a significant time investment, which casual players will take longer to achieve than hardcore players.
- The contribution of a large mass of casual players working together may have a greater impact on node progression than hardcore players. Hardcore players may be able to progress into to late-game content faster than casual players, but may lack the numbers to influence the nodes in those locations as quickly as the larger population of casual players.
Traditionally in MMORPGs you're going to see a larger population of casual players than you do of hardcore players; and that's just the way the cookie crumbles from a population standpoint. And because of that and the way that nodes collect experience and advance as a result of player activity, those casual players will actually have more impact on node progression than the hardcore players will: at least as I predict, because of the sheer quantity disproportionate between the two different groups of people... You may see in Ashes the smaller hardcore group of players progress further into the late-game content, right. But they don't have the numbers to influence the nodes in those locations as quickly as the more casual... larger population has near the outskirts. – Steven Sharif
There will be a mentorship program where upper-level players are able to benefit from partying and/or helping lower level players; and getting them situated in the game.
- Certain node buildings and organizations offer quests that can be initiated by a mentor to assist new players. Rewards are offered to both the mentor and the mentee upon completion.
There will be activities that are present for higher level players to mentor lower level players. Let's say you have a friend who joins later on and you still want to do things with them, there will be things to do. Will he be able to enter a dungeon of your level and participate? No, because we don't want to inflate or deflate characters and manipulate that type of skill or power. We want that to be something that makes sense for them in a progression standpoint. – Steven Sharif
The mentorship program provides individual quests that can be initiated by the mentor based off of what node that they are part of. So these are like quests that are determined by either certain buildings and/or organizations or the mayor; and there are specific ones that are available for mentors to provide mentees; and they can also participate in some of those quest lines as well: Whether that be leading your mentee through a dungeon or providing a location for them to arrive with you at, or escort quests for the NPC caravans. These types of things, when done together with your mentor, will provide benefits both for the mentor and the mentee as well, so you're incentivized to participate with new players. – Steven Sharif
- Alpha-1 castle sieges are located in a separate zone that is accessible via a NPC teleporter.
- Players may choose to respawn at their HQ as long as they are registered.
- Players could potentially intercept stragglers with the guild war or flagging system en route to the siege field.
Lower level characters will have usefulness in mass combat that does not depend on their level, such as manning siege weapons, helping repair fortifications, bringing proximity-based buffs to key positions, using stealth or scaling walls. These types of things are relevant to the tide of battle and do not require the player to be max-level or have high combat stats.
- Livestream, October 30, 2020 (33:26).
- Podcast, April 23, 2018 (59:28).
- Livestream, May 28, 2021 (1:13:05).
- Livestream, December 2, 2022 (1:05:51).
- Interview, October 20, 2018 (2:40:17).
- Podcast, September 29, 2021 (30:04).
- Livestream, June 25, 2021 (1:05:01).
- Interview, July 18, 2020 (1:05:04).
- Livestream, February 9, 2018 (41:56).
- Podcast, April 23, 2018 (1:01:01).
- Podcast, April 11, 2021 (13:30).
- Group dynamics blog.
- Livestream, May 22, 2017 (46:04).
- Interview, October 20, 2018 (2:40:16).
- Video, April 16, 2018 (1:32).
- Podcast, April 11, 2021 (38:31).
- Livestream, May 12, 2017 (24:52).
- Livestream, May 5, 2017 (33:25).
- MMORPG Interview, 2016-12-12.
- Livestream, May 15, 2017 (14:05).
- Livestream, June 1, 2017 (37:39).
- Interview, October 20, 2018 (2:53:52).
- Podcast, April 11, 2021 (54:35).
- Livestream, June 4, 2018 (7:25).
- Podcast, May 11, 2018 (33:09).
- Ashes of Creation Forums - No participation trophy.
- Podcast, May 11, 2018 (33:09).
- Video, April 5, 2018 (44:06).
- Podcast, April 11, 2021 (18:35).
- Video, April 5, 2018 (48:03).
- Interview, July 8, 2020 (1:12:51).
- Interview, June 13, 2021 (24:14).
- Video, April 5, 2018 (40:08).
- Livestream, September 30, 2020 (1:07:22).
- Interview, August 24, 2018 (8:52).
- Livestream, April 30, 2021 (41:18).
- Podcast, April 11, 2021 (49:40).
- Blog: Creative Director's Letter, April 14 2021