|1. Origins / Overview|
|2. Nodes / World Events / Politics and Housing / Sieges|
|3. Player versus Player / Caravans, Trade, and the Economy / Storytelling|
|4. Seasons and Weather / Combat / Characters and Classes|
|5. Monetization / Referral Program / Funding and Kickstarter / Closing Thoughts|
The secret to Ashes of Creation’s living world is arguably its signature feature: the node. Nodes answer the question of how to power a dynamic and changing world with an elegant simplicity that defuses a lot of the natural skepticism that follows the quintessentially over-promised and under-delivered feature.
The video above provides a great overview, but in short, nodes exist around the world surrounded by zones of influence. Any activity performed by players within the zone will grant experience to the node, eventually causing it to level up. At this point, NPC settlers arrive and a hub will begin to form. Further experience will progress the node from an encampment to a town, to a city, to a sprawling metropolis.
But no node is an island, and advancements by players in one node will directly inhibit or restrict advancement in another as their growing node’s zone of influence expands. There exists a limit on the number of nodes that can be developed, and different content will become available depending on which nodes happen to be progressed. This can lead to conflict between the nodes, as players seeking to progress one find their efforts blocked or hindered by players in another. We’ll get to more on that later.
Node progression plays an enormous role in determining exactly what content players will experience during their stay in Ashes of Creation’s virtual world. A dungeon within a node’s zone of influence may or may not be unlocked depending on the progression of the node, and what exactly inhabits it will vary depending on the story of the node’s history.
And there’s a lot that can happen along the way. Describing nodes as developing settlements with little XP bars would be selling them short; they exist as a focal point for a number of events that will write a unique shared history for each individual server’s players. As a node progresses, its growth will spur on all kinds of events, from weeks long, global campaigns that only happen once, to short, recurrent content more in line with a public quest (note that growth isn’t the only potential trigger for these events). Some will provide a boon to the inhabitants of a node, while others, like Smaug’s descent unto the riches of the Lonely Mountain, will prove a bane.
Politics and Housing
While the actual building of nodes is largely by handled by NPCs, players will have some level of agency over its growth by way of the game’s political framework, which is explained at a high level in the Nodes Part Two video above.
To take part in a node’s governance, players must first acquire citizenship in that node, which requires that they own property somewhere within its zone of influence. At first, this will only be available as NPC-built properties within the main settlement of the node, but as the node progresses, player built “freeholds” in the wild will eventually become available (though there will be limits on how many can be placed). The largest cities will also host some form of instanced apartment housing, so there should be availability for everyone.
Little is known about the actual act of governance at this point, and part of that stems from the variety of options that are going to exist. A metropolis can develop into four different types of city (presumably as decided by its citizenry), each with different functions and styles of government. A scientific node is democratic. A divine node allocates leaders based on service oriented quests. An economic node is run by an elite oligarchy with positions that can be bought and sold by players. And militaristic type nodes, well, those are led by the fiercest and strongest, and can only be removed via combat.
In my first interview with Steven, I raised the concern that node government might end up leaving solo players and smaller guilds out in the cold, but it seems Intrepid has already thought of a solution:
Guilds also hold separate roles in the direction of the node than the roles held by private citizens, and only a certain number of guilds may participate in these roles. Separate guild roles are reserved for small size guilds, medium size guilds and large size guilds.
With that little bit of forethought and planning, a node’s political management should be something players of all stripes have a chance to participate in, if they choose to pursue it. And if politics don’t get you what you want, well, there are other ways.
I mean, of course the game has sieges. What good is letting players grow and rule a city if you don’t let other players come and tear it all down? However, sieges in Ashes of Creation are going to turn out quite a bit different than they did in your favorite RvR title.
In Ashes of Creation, what is built can be destroyed, and metropolises are no different. But we feel that the effort to destroy something must be equitable with the effort to build something. Because of this, the higher level a node is, the more difficult and challenging the task of initiating a siege becomes. That means that sieging a metropolis will be an act of epic and world shattering proportions. The success or failure of that siege will be written into the history books, and likely impact every person on that server.
It’s going to take players weeks of dedicated play to level up a node, and that kind of thing can’t just be wiped out over night – much the less multiple times a day. While we don’t know much about sieges at this time, we do know that they’re going to take some serious effort to even initiate, and aren’t going to be over in the case of a half hour. Sieging a metropolis is going to be an immense effort on the behalf of the attackers, requiring a tremendous investment of time and resources to even initiate. The siege of a metropolis is going to be a rare event, and one that will likely take days or weeks to play out.