Zones and progression
Dungeons, Raids, World bosses, Mobs, Quests, Events, Resources, Narratives and other content within a node's ZOI will have a diverse level range; but will scale with the advancement of that node and its racial influence.
We don’t have a strictly level 25 zone. Instead, that zone might have some level 10 creatures near the road, some level 20 creatures deep in the forest, and some level 30 creatures up the mountain. These ratios will change based on the Nodes that inform them, becoming generally more dangerous as the Node grows. All this civilization attracts the attention of Things-That-Should-Not-Be. This does not mean that wilderness areas are safe, by any means. Some may be safe-er, but all will have dangers that even the most experienced traveler needs to watch out for. – Steven Sharif
As part of our ideals as a game we're not going to give boosts away. We're not going to auto-level up a character. You have to spend time acclimating yourself to what this game is, to what the world that you're part of is; and that's an investment- a time investment; and that plays towards our ideas of risk-versus-reward; and I've always said our game's not going to be for everybody and that's okay. – Steven Sharif
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. – 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. – Sarah Flanagan
- The developers anticipate max level should be attainable in approximately 45 days if you play roughly 4-6 hours per day.
- Alpha-1 has progression to level 15.
Lower level characters will have usefulness in mass combat (such as Node sieges) that is not directly dependent 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.
The idea is not to be a game where somebody can essentially no life for a week and be max level. The idea is to incorporate some significant chunk of time but still respect the casual player, because you know the way we respect the casual player is not everything is driven in our game through the adventuring progression line. Not everything is driven through your class level per-se. There's a lot of different progression paths that are available and make you relevant within certain systems and mechanics within the game; and some of those paths are more casual friendly and some of those paths are more hardcore friendly. So with regards to the adventuring class, the idea is to make sure that investment needs to be pretty significant and that the reward then is respective of that investment. – Steven Sharif
- A player chooses their primary archetype at the start of the game.
- Players receive skill points as they level. These can be used to level up skills within their skill tree.
- It will not be possible to max all skills in a skill tree.
- A player may choose a secondary archetype when they reach level 25. The combination of primary and secondary archetypes is referred to as a class.
- The player can then augment their primary skills with effects from their secondary archetype.
- Each skill in the primary tree will have several augment options from the secondary tree. This is an example of horizontal progression.
- Augments to primary skills can fundamentally change the way the ability works - adapting what the ability once did to incorporate the identity of the secondary archetype/class.
If a Fighter were to choose Mage as a secondary archetype, the fighter would become a Spellsword. This combination opens up augments that can be applied to skills in their primary skill tree. Fighters have a Rush skill that allows them to rush towards a target; and upon reaching the target, deal an amount damage with a chance to knock the target down. A Mage's escape augment could be applied to the rush skill, which would now teleport the player to the target; thus eliminating the charge time on the skill.
Zone of Influence
The main thing that differentiates us from other MMOs is that we have a living, breathing, reactive world... Our world is separated into zones, which are then separated into what we call nodes. Nodes are sort of invisible zones of influence that listen to everything that a player does; so as players gain experience from killing things, gain experience from doing quests, gain experience through crafting things, the node is also gaining that experience. Once a node gains enough experience it levels up and then starts to attract NPCs to it . – Jeffrey Bard
- By undertaking familiar activities, such as questing, gathering and raiding, players have agency in determining which nodes in the world will develop.
Each Node can form into towns, but are limited by their neighbors. The Nodes have different levels of advancement. There can only be so many of each level. Think of this as advanced settlements needing more elbow room. Nodes encompass more land as they grow and will require more effort to be sustained. This system is a main driver for change in the world because it creates scarcity. As Nodes advance in stages of growth they will lock out neighboring Nodes from progressing, and will absorb their zones of influence.
- Underrealm nodes and nodes directly above them are considered adjacent but do not exist in the same ZOI.
- Up to one fifth of the world will be encompassed within the ZOI of a Metropolis. The many vassal nodes within a ZOI's "border" could end up looking like a country or nation.
The Development Area of a Node is where civilization will appear as the Node advances. As the Node Stage increases, different buildings, NPCs, and services will become available in the Development Area. The higher the Node Stage, the more complex and populated the Development Area becomes. Development Areas will also vary depending on the Node Type - Economic, Military, Scientific, or Divine; we’ll go into further details on each of those Node Types in future posts in this series. – Margaret Krohn
- Nodes advance to the first stage quickly. This enables NPC services such as vending or banking items.
- The more advanced the node is, the larger its ZOI becomes.
- Less advanced nodes (referred to as vassal nodes) that fall within a more advanced node's ZOI can still gain XP, but must remain at a lower advancement stage than the dominant node.
- The territory expansion algorithm takes into account the nearest coast, neighboring nodes, and the heatmap of players in surrounding areas over the last weeks or month.
The way that the algorithm expands the territories takes into account a few things: One it takes into account the coast like where's the closest coast. Two it takes into account the neighboring nodes so it can take over and essentially vassal state those nodes, but what's more important is essentially the initial population based on like how players choose their races. Because we have nine different races and four different starting points that branch out, each server's population density is going to dictate essentially the first few nodes that are highly populated and then that initial seed is what's going to determine the node structure as it moves inland into the into the world essentially; and based on the performance and successes of different sieges will determine which nodes that got locked out from the previous the initial advancements what nodes can now be available to advance further. So I really think that with so many variables that are present in the equation of how nodes advance and stay existing with the more variables you have, the higher likelihood there is for there to be a significant diversion in world progression. – Steven Sharif
Normally the algorithm that's applied to the node territorial expansion will prevent significant nodes from being in close proximity to each other... There could be a perfect storm where all of the algorithmic progression of territory leads to having these nodes very close to each other because there's certain requirements that should that need to be available to satisfy node vassal takeovers; and it's possible that two nodes would never take each other over as vassals and end up kind of close together and spanning their territories in kind of opposite directions: The Tale of Two Cities kind of thing. – Steven Sharif
- A node does not receive XP from the nodes within its ZOI until these nodes have reached their cap.
- Players are moved to safety if they intersect with newly spawned assets during node advancement.
- Citizens of one node can contribute to the advancement of other nodes.
- The exact percentage of advancement from obtaining items or killing monsters is not going to be explicitly known to avoid "gaming" the system.
Different people have different resources invested in nodes progressing and it would be a little "gamey" if you could know exactly what was necessary at that point because that would disincentivize people from participating. – Steven Sharif
- Vassal nodes must remain at least one node stage below their parent node.
- Neighboring/Adjacent nodes from Expedition (stage 1) upward block the growth of their immediate neighbors. This is intended to be tested in Alpha-1.
- Vassal nodes first apply any experience earned to their own deficit (see Node atrophy). It then applies excess experience earned to its parent node.
- If the parent node advances, the vassal is once again able to advance.
- Vassal nodes give excess experience to their parent node and may have their own vassals; so long as they fall within the parent node’s zone of influence.
- If a node is capped and is both a vassal and has its own vassals, any experience earned from itself or its Vassals is first applied to its own deficit. Experience beyond that is then sent to its parent node.
- Vassals are subject to the government, alliances, wars, taxes, and trade of their parent node, and are able to receive federal aid from them.
- Vassal nodes cannot declare war on their parent node or any of their vassals.
- Citizens of vassals are bound by the diplomatic states of the parent node.
If a Node is a Vassal Node and is capped from advancing further, it first applies any experience earned to its own deficit (see Node Atrophy section), and then applies excess experience earned to its Parent Node. If the Parent Node advances and the Vassal is able to grow, it becomes uncapped. If a Node is capped and is both a Vassal and has its own Vassals, any experience earned from itself or its Vassals is first applied to their own deficit. Any experience beyond that is then sent to its Parent Node. – Margaret Krohn
- Interview, 19 July 2020 (19:35).
- Livestream, 15 May 2017 (30:53).
- Blog - Know Your Nodes - The Basics.
- Interview: Ashes of Creation on Building Their Virtual World, 13 April 2017.
- Livestream, 31 July 2020 (1:05:58).
- Livestream, 24 May 2017 (46:27).
- Livestream, 25 July 2020 (1:33:37).
- Interview, 13 June 2021 (48:27).
- Livestream, 25 July 2020 (1:34:55).
- Video, 5 April 2018 (40:08).
- February 8, 2019 - Questions and Answers.
- Livestream, 15 December 2017 (58:48).
- Interview, 8 July 2020 (1:07:59).
- Livestream, 24 May 2017 (19:25).
- Livestream, 30 April 2021 (41:18).
- Interview, 8 July 2020 (1:12:51).
- Interview, 18 July 2020 (1:05:04).
- Interview, 29 July 2020 (54:44).
- Ashes of Creation class list.
- Livestream, 28 July 2017 (19:05).
- Livestream, 3 May 2017 (50:50).
- Livestream, 18 July 2017 (37:43).
- Livestream, 31 July 2020 (1:31:11).
- Podcast, 11 April 2021 (54:35).
- Node series part I
- Interview, 20 April 2018 (7:22).
- Ashes of Creation FAQ.
- Livestream, 9 July 2018 (39:32).
- Livestream, 29 March 2019 (58:14).
- Livestream, 29 March 2019 (29:17).
- Livestream, 5 May 2017 (37:52).
- Interview, 11 May 2018 (55:16).
- Livestream, 16 October 2017 (50:20).
- Blog - Know Your Nodes - Advance and Destroy.
- A reactive world - Nodes.
- Video, 20 April 2017 (0:02).
- Node series part II – the Metropolis.
- Interview, 18 July 2020 (10:04).
- Interview, 8 July 2020 (1:00:15).
- Livestream, 17 November 2017 (55:27).
- Livestream, 26 May 2017 (28:16).