I’ve been neglecting my Hobo Gamer series for awhile. Of all the content I create, these sprawling, exhaustive game overviews take by far the most time and effort to research and create. Add on top that they’re not monetized in any way, and what you get is an incredibly potent recipe for apathy. It’s been over a year since my last one, but a game has finally come along to snap me in back into gear: Ashes of Creation.
Set on a fallen world untouched by civilization for thousands of years, our players will: Rebuild. Repopulate. Rediscover. Cities will rise and fall, their fates determined through force of will and power. This is something you’ve never experienced before – a completely unique world that never stops changing.
– [Official Site]
There’s a fairly good chance you’ve already heard a bit about the upcoming sandbox MMORPG. The team behind it has put forward a fairly bold vision of how they plan to bring their virtual world to life, and it’s been garnering a lot of attention in the usual MMORPG communities. Plus, if you follow my work, I’ve already introduced you to the game and its Creative Director Steven Sharif with two separate interviews.
Well, it’s time to move past introductions and do what Hobo Gamer does best. Here comes everything you need to know about Ashes of Creation.
Last updated 05/10/2017.
Ashes of Creation got its start when long time MMO gamer Steven Sharif finally had enough, as the game’s FAQ puts it, of “settling for lesser MMOs”. It’s a situation I think a lot of us have become far too familiar with over the past years, but unlike us, Steven had the resources to do something about it. He put his money where his mouth was, and Intrepid Studios was born.
The team is comprised of industry veterans from a number of games MMOers will find familiar, with a great many coming from the development of SOE titles like Star Wars Galaxies, EQ1, 2, and Next, and more.
As we get more into the features, those backgrounds are going to start to make a whole lot of sense. Intrepid’s vision of the game in a lot of ways sounds similar to the one presented for EQ:Next – albeit one that sounds more grounded and less dependent on promises of unexplained tech to work. ArcheAge – without the pervasive awfulness – is another frequently raised comparison, one that seems non-coincidental when you consider that Steven was a notable player in that game as the leader of The White Order.
At its core, Ashes of Creation seems a product of the light and the dark moments in its developers’ histories, informed by both their expertise in prior games and a determination to overcome the missteps that have brought MMOs of the past down in flames – flames that ultimately gave birth to Ashes of Creation.
So what exactly is Ashes of Creation? At a very high level, it’s the next MMO promising to bring virtual worlds back to life. At the beginning, players will find themselves in a long abandoned world, where their actions will determine where cities are built, the nature of those cities, and the fate of the world they now inhabit. In Ashes of Creation, no server will develop the same way, and each will have its own story seamlessly written by a blend of PvE and PvP activity.
Ashes of Creation is also shaping up as a stunningly beautiful MMO, resultant of its being built using the Unreal 4 engine. Now UE4 hasn’t traditionally been used for MMOs, so the move has raised a few eyebrows with folks who worry the engine won’t be able to handle a massively multiplayer title. However, Intrepid Studios has acknowledged they’ve done a lot of custom work on the engine to adapt it to a massively multiplayer title, and that the payoff in graphical fidelity and ease of use in other areas of development should make that investment worthwhile.
Honestly, I am hesitant to call Ashes a Sandbox. Not because of what Sandbox is supposed to mean, but rather because of how studios have developed “Sandboxes” over the past decade. You see, many developers have used the sandbox concept as an excuse to cut a lot of curated content, in exchange for gimmicky mechanics that allow for player-generated content. In Ashes, we have the opposite approach in development. In order for sandbox mechanics to mean something, there must be curated content to accompany the player’s choices. Which means, as the developers, we must create that Themebox style content but for every possible path the community may take. I like to compare our design philosophy, to that of a “Choose your own adventure” book. Our story is Epic, and you have the ability to be an integral part of that story. Dictating the outcome, in a meaningful way.
Ashes of Creation is making big promises. For some, they sound all too familiar from the big disappointments of the not-so-recent past. It’s hard not to think of Everquest: Next and its ill fated development – particularly when some of its veterans are now working on Ashes. It’s a bitter memory – at least for me – but it’s one that persists only because of how much I wanted those games to actually work out.
The good news is, Ashes of Creation’s plans feel a lot more concrete than the ephemeral promises of never-before-seen AI that were needed to power Everquest: Next. While the world they want to build is quite similar, the technological framework behind Ashes is a lot easier to imagine working in a real world environment. And thankfully, the team has been mercifully forthcoming about how it’s all going to work in the full release.