Hobo Gamer: Ashes of Creation

Navigation
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

Player versus Player

While I wouldn’t necessarily characterize Ashes of Creation as a Player versus Player title, it is going to be a game in which PvP will play a major role. I discussed the exact nature of this role in my first interview with Steven:

No player is forced to participate in the PvP events of Ashes. But you are right to say that PvP is important. It is one of the primary catalysts for change in the world. And because change can impact all players, we feel that everyone should have a say in that change. We have incorporated roles for non-pvp oriented players to impact these PvP events. Such as developing the defensive abilities of cities and castles, or enhancing the defenses of our caravans, to creating faster mounts, and advanced weaponry that can be used by the PvPers. To discovering supplies and artifacts through PvE to aid in the battles waged by others. Ashes strives to create an inclusive atmosphere where participation in the direction of the world is not restricted to one particular form of gameplay.

– [Interview: Ashes of Creation Wants to Bring the Virtual World to Life]

If you’re thinking that answer doesn’t make it sound like PvP will be completely avoidable, well, that’s because it isn’t. While PvP isn’t something you’ll have to seek out and participate in to enjoy the game meaningfully, that doesn’t mean that it won’t be able to seek you out – and it’s likely that at some point, it will.

Ashes’ flagging system is still somewhat in development, but as it currently stands, there are three states a player can find themselves in.

  • Non-combatant (Green)
  • Combatant (Purple)
  • Corrupt (Red)

Everyone begins as a non-combatant, but will change to a combatant if they attack another player or enter a PvP zone, which includes things like sieges and caravans. There are no repercussions for killing combatants, and dying as a combatant will result in reduced death penalties. However, if a combatant kills a non-combatant, they begin the path to corruption.

A player’s corruption score grows based on a number of factors, including the level disparity between them and their victim. The score can be worked off through some in game mechanics, but generally, players are expected to lose their score through death.

Corrupt players can be attacked by both combatants and non-combatants without repercussions, and non-combatants won’t be flagged for attacking them. Other mechanics are still being worked on internally, including the ability for citizens of a node to do a quest and gain a bounty hunter title, allowing them to see corrupt players on the map within their own node.

A Non-Combatant who dies suffers normal penalties, which includes experience debt, durability loss, as well as dropping a portion of carried raw materials (which can then be looted). A Combatant who dies suffers these same penalties, but at half the Non-Combatant rate. A character who has a Corruption Score on the other hand, suffers penalties at three times the rate of a Non-Combatant, and has a chance to drop *any* carried/equipped items based on their current Corruption Score.

The idea here is to disincentivizes those who wish to gank or grief others, while rewarding those who engage in consensual PVP. We don’t want Ashes to be a murder box!

– [Interview: Ashes of Creation Wants to Bring the Virtual World to Life]

It’s an interesting system that sounds most reminiscent to me of games like ArcheAge, which I immensely enjoyed during its testing phases before its insidious monetization brought the fun to a grinding halt. But enjoy it as I may, it’s not for everyone; the faintest of heart may want to give pause before they fully board the hype train.

Caravans, Trade, and the Economy

Ashes of Creation’s economy will center on local economies built on a strong crafting backbone. This means the logistics of getting your goods and materials from point A to point B will play a big role in a player or guild’s economic success, particularly when, as mentioned earlier, dropping portions of raw materials on death is one of the penalties in play. And if you need to transport more than you can carry? That’s where caravans come on the scene.

Caravans will have a variety of purposes within Ashes of Creation, extending beyond the obvious benefits of moving economics goods from point A to point B. For example, quests to further a node’s development or construct specific buildings may require players to escort caravans as well.

As indicated earlier, caravans are mobile PvP zones in which all players nearby are flagged as combatants. Defenders will have a bit of an advantage in a fight though, as caravans will be able to hire NPC guards, the number and strength of which will vary with a number of factors like the size of the node it’s leaving from, if the node has a castle, the resources the node’s government has devoted to caravan defense, and if the players running the caravan have purchased additional guards themselves. There will also be a system for players to register for caravan guard duty, preventing them from attacking the caravan and providing them with a reward if the caravan reaches its destination safely.

PvP isn’t the only danger to keep an eye out for either, as PvE threats may appear along the way. Monsters need loot too.

There’s one more element to Ashes of Creation’s economy that I find really notable: their approach to resource spawning. Rather than simply dropping a node into the game to be mined and respawned elsewhere, the team at Intrepid wants their spawns to be both persistent and non-renewable. If you find a particularly rich vein of ore, they want that to be there until it runs out. Meanwhile, the server will work to dynamically replenish these persistent nodes in the background.

This is an extremely interesting take on gathering that’s going to make place a much more important part of the economy than players are probably used to. The only comparison that comes to mind for me was a similar system in Star Wars Galaxies, but this seems a step well beyond even that. Details are still scarce on how this is going to play out, but I find the idea immensely intriguing.

Storytelling

Ashes of Creation is taking a unique approach to storytelling as well, as is almost necessitated by the demands of a potentially ever-changing game world. Just check out this response from my second interview with Steven:

You recently revealed that quest lines in Ashes of Creation will become a part of the world’s lore. Whether or not players succeed at killing a raid boss at the end of quest or wipe and fail was specifically mentioned as something that will go on to become a part of that server’s history. I’ve got so many questions on this one. Are all quests going to be included in the world’s lore like this? If quests are going to be feeding into the world canon, are these types of quests only going to be able to be completed by one player or one group of players?

So keep in mind that when talking about quests, there are three main types – Narratives, Events, and Tasks. We want as many people as possible to experience the main server Narrative. These will branch at different scales, but largely at the personal level. Where things change is at the Node level – different parts of the story will be unlocked based on where and when Nodes grow. Unlocking a part of the story in a certain way locks out progression of the story in a different way – you’ll see different antagonists, different NPCs, and different calls to action depending on what’s happening with the server at that time. There’s more to unpack here, but that’s basically where we’re going with the Narrative part of this.

Events are more what we were referring to with the history statement. These can be local, regional or global, and consist of boons or banes. They’re triggered based on a lot of different variables, and some may be one-off Events that occur once, and never again. If an Event is handled successfully, then something good happens to the local, regional, or global area. If it fails, then something bad befalls the local, regional or global area.  They’ll relate to the overall Narrative, but don’t fall into its overall structure (for the most part). These are the things that will be written into history, and we imagine that as time grows, each server’s history will diverge more and more.

– [Interview: Ashes of Creation on Building Their Virtual World]

There’s a part of me that worries that they may be biting off a bit more than they can chew with this approach, but I suppose it comes down to just how detailed the main server narrative really is. At this point, it could be something as simple as Elite: Dangerous GalNet – that is, glorified flavor text – or something as intricate as Final Fantasy XIV’s Main Story Quest updates. While the answer is almost certainly somewhere in the middle, that still leaves an enormous range in which Ashes of Creation’s narrative could land with a resounding ‘meh’ or blow us all completely away.

It’s a bold plan, and one that will take careful planning to be pulled off well. But that doesn’t mean I think they can’t do it.

Continue to page 4 for seasons, combat, and more…

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4 thoughts on “Hobo Gamer: Ashes of Creation

  1. Pingback: The Dungeon Crawlers Podcast, Ep 008: Send Nodes + Interview w/ Steven Sharif of Ashes of Creation | The Errant Penman

  2. Hi Mate, glad to see you writing again.

    Just some thoughts on the resources question. We know they are finite, we know resource nodes expire and we know all goods decay and break. We cant visualise how to get around this issue as we simply replace old for new now days. BUT….this wasnt always so. We use to spend most of our time repurposing and recycling materials and goods. Thats because materials would be hard to come by or obtain through difficulty or lack of funds. Thats alien to our modern throw away and never reuse society.

    So my impression (which could be way off mark) is that the economy will be based off a predominant recycling system. There is only so much of any material, so if you want to create something, you must destroy something else first. The raw material nodes will be there to contain the initial bank of raw materials to create everything with. But once they are expended, you’ll need to make sacrifices.

    This is where it gets really interesting from the sacrifice and reward aspect. Will you sacrifice all of your peace time tools and equipment, to enable you to create war time weaponry and equipment ? How do you create weapons without manufacturing tools and craft ? This is the kind of conflict of interest that AoC appears to be trying to drive. It is not about easy choices. Its about equally viable options where the choice between on or the other is a very very fine then.

    Anyway. Thats my thinking. Thanks for the post. As always.
    Mick

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  3. Just some further thoughts on the subject.
    Would steven design the game to make gatherers redundant ?
    Because in a recycling economy they become surplus to requirements.
    That would no doubt be epically bad.
    So how can you keep them in the loop…..pardon the pun.

    It occurred to me that stuff can be created or repaired, so why not raw materials.
    Throughout history, sacred lakes have been littered with broken weapons and pottery.
    A votive offering, returning what was borrowed, back to whence it came.
    So it seems fitting to apply that hear as an offering to the gods.
    Which is where we begin to descend down the rabbit hole.

    We know that our incursion into this new world is rather irritating to that world.
    We know that the more we progress the more the world fights back.
    But is it our mere presence that is so offensive…or our theft of its materials ?
    This is when it dawned on me, that what we have here is a closed system battling over resources.
    Its is an equation with those resources in either the possession of the world or the players.
    The more we take, the more the system will fight back, but the more we can make.
    The more we return, the less hostile the world is, but we have nothing to work with.

    Thus those PvE monster incursions, might be the worlds way of plundering the resources in our posession.
    And thus returning them to the world….the world that we plunder.

    Anyway, enough rambling 🙂

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    • I like your thinking! I don’t think that’s really how I imagine it playing out, but it would be really interesting to see a game try a closed loop system like this at some point.

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