Open development

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Intrepid Studios has embraced an open (transparent) development approach, rather than sharing information through carefully curated press releases and announcements.[1]

I don't answer to a board. I don't answer to a publisher. We answer to our players; and we try to be as transparent as possible with showing our progress; and showing it in a timely manner.[2]Steven Sharif

I think that we live in an age where it's easy to be transparent if you're not trying to hide something. The downside is if you're showing something that's not a completed or finished product, it is incumbent upon the viewer to understand that fact.[1]Steven Sharif

There are obviously going to be some aspects of the development that we will not reveal, like lore and some system mechanics in order not to spoil the game for release.[3][4]Steven Sharif

Design

When it comes to how MMO’s have been traditionally designed, most gamers are familiar with two distinct types of gameplay loops: the “theme park”, and the “sandbox”. The vast majority of MMO’s we’ve all seen come and go in the gaming industry have been of the theme park variety – these games put the player onto a specific path, guiding them along, with plenty of pretty sights in between the same old quest hubs, very little in divergent paths, virtually no freedom in player progression. Recently the MMO genre has seen some games of the sandbox nature come onto the scene, but despite the ultimate freedom the sandbox affords players, many are left wanting more, as there is by definition no pre built world content, no human touch, just the vastness of the “sand” for lack of a better term. Thus many MMO players often find themselves caught between the repetitive rock of the theme park or the vast dead spaces of the sandbox’s hard place. This chasm between the state of MMO gameplay loops is where we intend to inject Ashes of Creation’s Node system.[5]

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.[6]Steven Sharif

Design pillars

The design of Ashes of Creation adheres to five main pillars.[7]

  1. Engaging and immersive story
  2. Reactive world
  3. Player interaction
  4. Player agency
  5. Risk vs reward

In designing Ashes of Creation, we adhere every detail to five main pillars: Engaging and Immersive Story, a Reactive World, Player Interaction, Player Agency, and Risk vs Reward. Even in the environment, everything you as the player do will tie into these pillars, while everything your guild does, everything your server does will ultimately keep the world fresh, ever-changing, and most importantly... exciting.[7]

Inspiration

Ashes of Creation has taken inspiration from various other MMORPG titles.[8]

A lot of the systems in Lineage 2 were based around a concept that got lost today in mmorpgs, and that's risk versus reward. You know this idea that the more you risk the greater potential reward should be present is a complete paradigm shift away from everyone's a winner, everybody gets a participation reward, and here you go, congratulations you're a player in this game; and that's boring. It gives nothing for a person to aspire to achieve something, or to feel the bite of loss when you fail. Those are the driving forces of why people want to play games and it's a reason why new games when they come out have such a short lifespan, because they are always competing with WOW. You don't have to compete with WOW. You don't have to be a WOW killer. You can focus on something that is different from a philosophical design standpoint; and I think that's just what a lot of studios today don't want to take the risk on.[9]Steven Sharif

In terms of what came before, we're trying to figure out who did what best and take inspiration from that: Move the genre forward; keep things updated and bring it into the 21st century.[8]Jeffrey Bard

End-game

There is not going to be a typical end-game in Ashes of Creation.[10]

Part of the whole experience with nodes is that there is no real end-game, in that the world is constantly shifting every day. Month one is going to be really different from month two; and that's for the level 50s and level 1s.[10]Jeffrey Bard

We want the game to be a living game, which means that all content should be relevant at all times. I’d say that we try to make as little distinction between the leveling up experience and the end game experience as possible. The whole journey is important to us, in order to maximize the fun people have during different stages of the game.[11]Sarah Flanagan

Scope creep

I have a very very very clear vision of all of the systems designs mechanics that are present within the game and we're sticking to that vision and we're not adding additional features and prolonging the development due to that scope creep.[12]Steven Sharif

Pay to win

Ashes of Creation will not be pay to win.[13][14][15]

Ashes of Creation will not be pay to win, that is our pledge to the community. One of the core principles we set forth with Ashes of Creation is a very strong desire to maintain the game's even playing field.[15]

A lot of developers and companies have come along in the past- and I've been hit by this too- and they've said we're not going to have pay-to-win and then boom they roll out some pay-to-win. We have consistently said we won't be pay-to-win and in the pre-orders that we provide and even in the Kickstarter there were absolutely zero pay-to-win components whatsoever. So not only will we talk the talk but we will walk the walk as well.[14]Steven Sharif

Because we are a non-box purchase game, meaning there is no box price to play Ashes of Creation, it is only a subscription; and that's beneficial because it reduces the barrier of entry and we want a high population obviously; but at the same time one of the ways we augment the revenue flows to sustain constant updates and new chapter releases and additional content within the game is through a cosmetic-only marketplace; and that means absolutely no pay-to-win whatsoever; and that will be adhered to forever.[13]Steven Sharif

Inventory slots, RNG loot boxes and XP potions are considered pay-to-win.[16][17][18][19]

We will not use a loot box system for cosmetics either. We currently have a cosmetic store that offers limited time, limited quantity items to help sustain game development. These items are purely decorative and do not offer any in-game benefits.[16]

My definition of pay-to-win is really anything that affects the in-game economy, the in-game action pool, your abilities and/or skills... In my opinion the inventory slots and the XP potions would be considered pay-to-win.[18]Steven Sharif

Q: Will there be RNG boxes?
A: I dislike RNG. Archeage made me loath rng monetization gimmicks.[19]Steven Sharif

Publishers

Intrepid Studios will self-publish Ashes of Creation in the NA (North American), OCE (Oceanic) and SEA (Southeast Asia) regions.[23][24]

We have learned a lot from our partnership with MY.GAMES, and we wish our friends there all the best as we have mutually decided to part ways. Looking ahead, we’re excited to announce that Intrepid Studios will be opening European offices in Amsterdam to help support our publishing operations in the EU/CIS regions. We have recently posted open positions for our new EU offices, and look forward to hiring the best and brightest in true Intrepid fashion.[25]Steven Sharif

The Ashes of Creation MMORPG will not be published on the Steam platform.[26]

Localization/Translation

Ashes of Creation will be initially available in English, French, German, and Russian.[28][29]

  • Italian, Polish and Spanish localization will then be added.[29]
    • Spanish will be added in the near future.[30]
  • Other languages are being considered.[28]

Servers won't be language locked.[31]

  • There may be separate servers in the EU region based on language type.[29]

There's localization that will be present in the German and French Russian languages to start; and then we intend to also localize in Italian, Polish and Spanish. So servers will be allocated within the region as being one of those language type servers. So it's not going to be per country per se as it might be per language.[29]Steven Sharif

Efforts will be made to translate Ashes of Creation into multiple languages.[31][32]

Platforms

Ashes of Creation will be released on the Windows PC platform.[34]

Performance

Here you see that the FPS in the top right corner is like seven or eight on average, so not too good from a rendering perspective... So by merging now you can see that the same thousand players who are wearing the same armors as previously are actually having a 300 percent increase- 300 to 400 increase- in the performance of the of the FPS. So it went from 7 to about 21 on average and that is a significant optimization point that obviously this is just the beginning of the optimization efforts.[36]Steven Sharif

Ashes of Creation was running at 50-60 FPS on a 1080 Ti during early Alpha-1 testing.[38]

The game will be highly customizable from a settings standpoint. If you don't quite have the rig necessary to run it, you can dial the game settings down.[39]

  • Highly scalable options to adjust rendering and particle effects will be offered.[40]
  • Motion blur will be togglable on and off.[41]

A "default player appearance" may be automatically applied during sieges or other large scale battles to improve client-side performance.[42][43][39]

Alpha system requirements

Alpha-1 stress testing, March 17, 2021.[44]

Funny story; So yesterday as we are stress/density testing with our NDA testers, I accidentally summoned 5k bears around our few hundred players. But hey, it didn’t crash! Can you spot Lt. Toast here?[44]Steven Sharif

These are fully operational NPCs. They have behavior trees, they have AI blackboards; you know they are functioning as an NPC would; and to my surprise, to everyone's surprise actually, the server handled it quite well: 5000 entities all within a very dense area.[45]Steven Sharif

Ashes of Creation alpha testing minimum system specification.[46]

  • Operating System: Windows 10 64-Bit
  • Processor: Intel Core i3-2125 3.3GHz / AMD Phenom II X4 3.3GHz
  • Graphics Card: Nvidia GeForce GTX 460 or AMD Radeon 6870 HD with 1GB and DirectX 12
  • Memory: 6 GB RAM
  • Network: Broadband Internet connection
  • Storage: 35 GB of available space
  • Sound Card: DirectX Compatible Sound Card

Recommended specification.[46]

  • Operating System: Windows 10 64-Bit
  • Processor: Intel Core i7-6700K 4.0GHz / AMD FX-9590 4.7GHz
  • Graphics Card: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 or AMD Radeon R9 Fury with 4GB and DirectX 12
  • Memory: 16 GB RAM
  • Network: Broadband Internet connection
  • Storage: 35 GB of available space
  • Sound Card: DirectX Compatible Sound Card

Unreal Engine 4

unreal-engine-logo.png

Unreal Engine 4 is the graphical engine for Ashes of Creation.[47]

Unreal engine makes it really fast to iterate... Compared to other gaming engines, I can do something in a hour that would take eight hours to do in another engine.[52]Jeffrey Bard

We're ripping out most of the network code that Unreal has and putting in our own just so that it works with our game and so everything is as efficient as possible. We're not going to have any replication problems because we're building it ourselves.[53]Jeffrey Bard

One of the most important things about Epic Games as the creators of Unreal Engine is the way they've allowed developers to have access to the source code. To be able to do that makes the engine very versatile.[53]Steven Sharif

Servers

The world will be the same on each server, but Nodes will develop differently. Different servers will have different narratives. Things that happen on one server may not happen on another.[54]

There will be a multitude of servers located throughout the various regions of the world.[56]

  • Post launch, users will be able to select their server by the ping or the region that's notated next to the server.[56]
  • Ashes of Creation Apocalypse server selection is driven by the party leader. Whatever region they have selected will apply to their friends and squad.[56]

We'll have a multitude of servers located throughout to the various regions of the world; and those servers will be good connection points for- and will be driven by- I mean there's two types of servers I'm sorry: For the alpha-1 arena those will be driven by the party leader right; and wherever whatever region they have selected if they invite friends to their squad or whatever, they'll be able to play on that region. With regards to live launch when the server's go live, you'll be selecting a server to play on; and that will be your character's home; and that server you'll be aware of where that server is located usually by either a ping or a region that's notated on next to the server.[56]Steven Sharif

The developers may occasionally release stats relating to server populations and archetype/class makeup, but there isn't going to be an official page that surfaces this information.[57]

Regions

Ashes of Creation will launch with the following server regions:[58][59]

At this stage we do not have numbers on how many different servers will exist for different regions. We've said in the past 8-10,000 concurrent users per server is what we'd like to aim for. Obviously, the number of servers that exist in a region are going to be dependent on the population that's playing.[66]Steven Sharif

Other server regions will be considered based on interest.[60][59]

  • South America is under consideration due to traffic from that region.[67]

Once we get closer to launch we'll update this information, which may include additional regions.[60]

Certain regions will have "harmonized" subscription prices that better reflect their local economies. These regions will be segregated from other regions.[68]

  • Players will be able to make characters on any server they wish. There will be no region locking (outside of harmonized regions).[69]

Folks have always been able to make characters on any server they wish. We are not region locking anyone.[69]Margaret Krohn

Server types

Addons/mods

My decision is not to allow DPS meters nor add-ons. I feel we have adequate measures in place to prevent a majority of potential third party trackers. I know this subject has passionate voices on both sides and I respect the various opinions and positions many of you have expressed.[72]Steven Sharif

Addons and DPS meters will not be allowed.[72][73]

  • The developers don't want addons/mods to be necessary to experience the game.[74]
  • The design of the game API is still under consideration.[75]
  • There will be integrations available for streaming services such as Twitch and a few other services, but it's not something that will be exposed through an API just yet.[76]
  • The developers believe that parsers (DPS meters) can have negative effects.[77][73]

The idea is to make a one-stop-shop from the company when it comes to in-game systems... We don't really want to have addons in my opinion.[74]Steven Sharif

There will be leader boards.[78]

Combat logs

There are combat logs in Ashes of Creation.[79]

We will be providing combat data for individual players in their chat window, that players can filter and analyze for themselves. The goal is to mitigate and make the practice less prevalent through the ease that DPS meters provide. Also to place actionable enforcement for players who attempt to circumvent the decision by use of 3rd party programs, for which we will be monitoring.[80]Steven Sharif

Milestones

December 2015 First team members were hired.[81]
February 2016 Ashes of Creation design documentation and prototyping.[82][81]
December 10, 2016 Official website was launched and project announced.[81]
January 18, 2017 Official discord was launched.[83]
May 2, 2017 Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign launched with $750,000 funding goal.[84]
June 3, 2017 Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign completed with 19,576 backers raising $3,271,809.[85]
June 2017 Game production began with a team size of 15-20.[82]
June 21, 2017 Summer crowdfunding campaign launched.[86]
July 22, 2017 Summer crowdfunding campaign completed with 2,485 backers.[87]
September 1, 2017 PAX West 2017.[88][89]
November 4, 2017 Raised $16,500 for Extra Life children's hospitals.[90]
December 15, 2017 Alpha-0 released on schedule.[91]
March 19-23, 2018 Game Developers Conference (GDC) 2018.[92]
April 5, 2018 PAX East 2018.[93]
August 15, 2018 Last day for purchases of Alpha-1 through Intrepid pre-order packs.[94]
August 20, 2018 At Gamescom with My.com.[95]
August 27, 2018 100 developers working on Ashes of Creation.[96]
September 1, 2018 PAX West 2018 panel.[97]
October 19, 2018 Ashes of Creation Apocalypse battle royale (previously called Alpha-1 phase 1 battlegrounds).[98]
November 4, 2018 Raised $20,518 for Rady Children's hospital with Extra Life.[99]
April 15, 2019 60 developers working on Ashes of Creation at San Diego offices (following disengagement with Malaysian art team).[100]
November 3, 2019 Raised $20,901 for Rady Children's hospital with Extra Life.[101]
August 21, 2020 Announced a mutual parting of ways with publisher My.games.[25]
October 17, 2020 Almost 3,000,000 registered accounts for Ashes of Creation.[102]
October 17, 2020 ~87 developers working on Ashes of Creation.[103]
November 8, 2020 Raised $88,546 for Rady Children's hospital with Extra Life.[104]
February 26, 2021 Official ashesofcreation.com website redesign.[105]
May 5, 2021 Alpha-1 sales resumed with the announcement of the Adventurer pre-order pack.[106]
May 17, 2021 Verbal NDA was lifted from Alpha-1 testing.[107]
July 9, 2021 Alpha-1 no-NDA preview weekend began on schedule.[108]
July 11, 2021 Alpha-1 no-NDA preview weekend completed on schedule.[109]
July 14, 2021 Alpha-1 no-NDA month long test began on schedule.[110][111]
August 15, 2021 Alpha-1 no-NDA month long test completed on schedule.[112]
November 7, 2021 Raised $31,301 for Rady Children's hospital with Extra Life.[113]

Accomplishments

  • Kickstarter's most funded MMORPG.[114]
  • Kickstarter's #7 most funded video game.[115]
  • Most anticipated MMO – MMORPG.com's Best of 2017 Awards.[116]
  • Most anticipated early access hands-on MMORPG – MMOs World.[117]
  • Gamescom 2018: Best Independent game.[118]
  • Gamescom 2018: Best Online game.[118]
  • Best indie MMO of 2020 – massivelyop.com reader's poll.[119]
  • Most anticipated MMO of 2021 and beyond – massivelyop.com reader's poll.[120]
  • Forbes: Top 10 Best Upcoming New MMORPGs For 2021 And Beyond.[121]

See also

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 A chat with Ashes of Creation's Steven Sharif, 7 June 2017.
  2. Interview, 20 October 2018 (3:43:52).
  3. transparency.png
  4. Livestream, 4 May 2018 (39:41).
  5. A reactive world - Nodes.
  6. MMOGames interview, January 2017
  7. 7.0 7.1 design pillars.png
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 Interview, 24 August 2018 (8:35).
  9. 9.0 9.1 Interview, 29 July 2020 (9:02).
  10. 10.0 10.1 Video, 5 April 2018 (40:08).
  11. February 8, 2019 - Questions and Answers.
  12. Livestream, 25 July 2020 (1:31:44).
  13. 13.0 13.1 Livestream, 30 November 2020 (56:02).
  14. 14.0 14.1 Livestream, 25 July 2020 (1:53:46).
  15. 15.0 15.1 kickstarter p2w.png
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 loot-boxes.png
  17. 17.0 17.1 Livestream, 25 July 2020 (48:28).
  18. 18.0 18.1 Podcast, 4 August 2018 (1:57:56).
  19. 19.0 19.1 RNG boxes.png
  20. Interview, 13 June 2021 (48:27).
  21. steven-multi-boxing-3.png
  22. steven-multiple-accounts.png
  23. steven-publishing-oce-sea.png
  24. Interview, 21 August 2018 (11:20).
  25. 25.0 25.1 25.2 Blog: New Adventure Awaits.
  26. ashes-steam.png
  27. apoc-offline.png
  28. 28.0 28.1 What languages will Ashes of Creation be in?
  29. 29.0 29.1 29.2 29.3 Interview, 24 August 2018 (2:35).
  30. spanish.png
  31. 31.0 31.1 31.2 Livestream, 17 May 2017 (1:09:22).
  32. 32.0 32.1 Livestream, 24 May 2017 (45:49).
  33. Interview, 24 August 2018 (3:19).
  34. Livestream, 26 May 2017 (38:30).
  35. Livestream, 24 May 2017 (23:50).
  36. Livestream, 24 September 2021 (52:48).
  37. Livestream, 17 December 2019 (51:20).
  38. alpha-1-fps.png
  39. 39.0 39.1 Livestream, 17 August 2018 (1:07:51).
  40. game system.jpg
  41. Livestream, 4 May 2018 (43:35).
  42. Livestream, 25 July 2020 (54:10).
  43. Livestream, November 22 2019 (1:08:05).
  44. 44.0 44.1 steven-a1-stress-test.png
  45. Livestream, 26 March 2021 (12:34).
  46. 46.0 46.1 What are the minimum requirements for Alpha?
  47. unreal.jpg
  48. Livestream, 3 May 2017 (26:50).
  49. steven-networking.png
  50. Livestream, 26 March 2021 (10:11).
  51. Livestream, 29 May 2020 (1:07:14).
  52. Livestream, 15 December 2017 (39:23).
  53. 53.0 53.1 Livestream, 24 May 2017 (54:54).
  54. Livestream, 19 May 2017 (37:03).
  55. Official Livestream - May 4th @ 3 PM PST - Q&A
  56. 56.0 56.1 56.2 56.3 Livestream, 27 September 2018 (48:13).
  57. 57.0 57.1 Livestream, 19 November 2021 (52:35).
  58. Interview, 8 May 2017 (22:06).
  59. 59.0 59.1 Livestream, 24 May 2017 (40:50).
  60. 60.0 60.1 60.2 60.3 60.4 60.5 server-locations.png
  61. 61.0 61.1 na and eu servers.jpg
  62. 62.0 62.1 62.2 62.3 Ashes of Creation FAQ: Where will your servers be?
  63. 63.0 63.1 servers SEA OCE.png
  64. steven-oce-servers.png
  65. Reddit Q&A, 8 January 2019.
  66. Livestream, 8 April 2018 (AM) (26:41).
  67. Livestream, 9 July 2018 (47:54).
  68. Livestream, 25 July 2020 (1:21:03).
  69. 69.0 69.1 margaret-region-locking.png
  70. Livestream, 5 May 2017 (35:27).
  71. MMORPG Interview, 12 December 2016.
  72. 72.0 72.1 Ashes of Creation Forums - No Damage Meter?
  73. 73.0 73.1 Livestream, 5 May 2017 (20:02).
  74. 74.0 74.1 Interview, 20 October 2018 (6:29).
  75. Livestream, 5 May 2017 (21:41).
  76. Interview, 11 May 2018 (49:03).
  77. Livestream, 30 April 2020 (1:28:19).
  78. Livestream, 5 May 2017 (43:27).
  79. Ashes of Creation Forums - No Damage Meter?
  80. Ashes of Creation Forums - No participation trophy.
  81. 81.0 81.1 81.2 MASSIVELY OP interview: Ashes of Creation on a new way to MMO.
  82. 82.0 82.1 steven-milestones.png
  83. Ashes Discord.png
  84. Ashes of Creation Kickstarter campaign
  85. Ashes of Creation Kickstarter.
  86. Summer Crowdfunding.png
  87. summerended.png
  88. PAX West 2017 Schedule.
  89. PAX West 2017 Map.
  90. Intrepid Studios Dev Team.
  91. Livestream, 18 January 2018 (2:48).
  92. GDC.png
  93. PAX East.png
  94. Newsletter, 7 August 2018
  95. gamescom.png
  96. Ashes of Creation Gamescom 2018 Interview: Responding to Criticism.
  97. Newsletter, 7 August 2018
  98. alpha1-phase-1-update.png
  99. Intrepid Studios Extra Life 2018 (@MediaAoC).
  100. Interview, 15 April 2019 (5:09).
  101. extralife2019.png
  102. Interview, 17 October 2020 (18:36).
  103. Interview, 17 October 2020 (56:55).
  104. extralife2020.png
  105. Livestream, 26 February 2021 (9:51).
  106. Ashes of Creation Store: May cosmetics.
  107. steven-a1-verbal-nda.png
  108. Ashes of Creation Twitter - Alpha-1 Preview Weekend Begins
  109. steven-a1preview-end.png
  110. toast-a1-launch.png
  111. Guide to Alpha One.
  112. alpha-1-end.png
  113. extralife2021.png
  114. kickstarter most funded MMORPG.png
  115. kickstarter most funded video game.png
  116. MMORPG.com's Best of 2017 Awards.
  117. Most Anticipated MMORPGs For 2018.
  118. 118.0 118.1 DualShockers’ Gamescom 2018 Awards
  119. MassivelyOP 2020 awards reader's poll.
  120. MassivelyOP reader's poll.
  121. Forbes: Top 10 Best Upcoming New MMORPGs For 2021 And Beyond