July 25th Reddit AMA Transcript
– Steven hops onto Reddit for an AMA with the community to discuss development progress.
Q: When discussing the breakdown of rogue archetypes, you said only rogues will excel at delving the deepest dungeons, what else can you tell us?
A: Yes – We have what we call utility skills. Most MMORPG’s only focus on active combat skills. The way we’re implementing utility skills specifically to rogues is their ability to discover hidden doors, traps, additional loot- they will be able to discover these within a dungeon. The way we ensure its not the same locations each time is because these locations randomly spawn at different times of the day. (This is in particular to the rogues)
Q: How will EXP be affected by grouping for killing/farming?
A: If you are in a group and kill a monster or raid boss, EXP will be divisible by the number of party members. Additionally, there is a multiplier applied based on how many additional party members you have in your party. This way it balances itself out because at its height its a 1.3 or 1.4x multiplier. On the questing side, the quests will maintain their EXP values to the individuals. Even for farming, it’s the same.
Q: Considering the number of nodes, how many world bosses and dungeons will there be? 1 dungeon per node?
A: Considering the number of nodes, the initial ZOI is relatively small. So dungeons have a region that is shared with numerous nodes. Eventually the highest parent node influences the dungeon. As for world/raid bosses, initially there are going to be 12-15 world/raid bosses, not including the dungeon and regional bosses. The differences between these are the drop tables and the number of players needed to kill it. So legendary equipment drops from legendary world bosses. Legendary world bosses are static, regional bosses change based on nodes and their types.
Q: Why is multi-boxing be allowed in AoC as it might be considered a p2w picture?
A: I see both sides of the coin. I do want to clarify that there will be absolutely no p2w in ashes of creation purchasable. I’ve been burned in the past when playing MMORPG’s where there are game mechanic influencing items. For example very early on in a game I played, there was a resource that was farmed in farms/illegal farms where the resource could be struck by lightning and become a rare resource. This particular resource was a gateway to tractors and other special items. So this item had a high value due to its rarity. The game creators then added an item in the pay shop which was a seedling with a higher chance of proccing, so it completely destabilized the market, flooding it, destroying the economical balance. This is one example. I also consider Pay to Convenience like inventory items or slot spaces an advantage. With regards to multiple accounts and multi-boxing, it could be considered as pay to win since you can progress on 2 characters and gift the progress to another one. Multiboxing will be allowed in AoC, but there are some restrictions, for example the freehold system is tied to an account, its not like other games where each character can have multiple properties. Additionally its very difficult to enforce restrictions on multiboxing, like IP restrictions, but there’s families and roommates that play together.
Q: There are concerns that costumes from the cash shop will let you hide your gear to appear weaker
A: You will be able to target a player and see a buff on the character to see the type of gear they are wearing (Plate/Leather/Cloth). Next you will also see a border on the buff to see the tier of their gear. So this lets you quickly assess the threat of the enemy. With regards to turning off cosmetics, previously I mentioned there would be a default player appearance- Now the primary reason for this is to help the player client render multiple targets in siege or high group content scenarios. We are going to enable that scenario when there is a certain number of render clients in range or at specific events. The reason for that is that cosmetics are an important part of the game.
Q: Have you decided what happens to a caravan if a player has to log off midway? Can I go halfway, log out and then log in the next day and continue?
A: There will be a 5-10 minute time delay if you log off during a caravan run. So if you disconnect or log off, the caravan will persist and exist in the world.
Q: What are the benefits of the religion system and can you change religion?
A: You may only choose 1 religion to follow. Religions have unique religion quests for that religion’s followers. Based on your progression within the religion, you will advance in rank, giving you access to unique titles or ranks. You can change your religion, but you will lose your progression. The top tier access of religion is to obtain unique augments that stack upon your secondary class augments.
Q: Will base class clerics be the only ones with direct healing for other players?
A: Cleric and Bard classes can directly heal others. Bards will be much much less and they will be proximity based as opposed to cleric’s direct target heals. The base cleric will indeed be the predominant healing class. With more proc based healing for the bard role. Through the secondary class augments you can grant yourselves or mitigated healing for your party members by augmenting your primary skills.
Also we tested this in our castle siege test with PI where we had action based skills where you could fire off heals in a direction and they would home in on allies to heal them. We have not yet decided on whether we will implement this though.
Q: How will food consumption work in AoC, will they be longterm buffs?
A: The higher quality the food based on cooking profession, the greater potential for the buffs duration. You can increase the buff that food gives through the furniture system placed in homes. So if you have a completed dish and you process that dish in an oven placed in your home, you can increase its stats. So if a player constructs a tavern or freehold, they can offer food through that tavern, so players who are visiting the area, eat food if available, they will receive a greater buff, that is proximity based where if they hunt around that building they get a buff. The building (Tavern) when upgraded increases its proximity buff area.
Q: Will players be required to play through the starting zone or they can branch out immediately?
A: There is no theme park rail road. You can create your own destiny, you don’t have to participate in the questline or partake in events. There could be a meta around min-maxing and doing that but you can branch out and do whatever you want. Since we have so many progression paths, your objective is determined by your goals. If you want to go with your guild and establish an area far away, do that. If you want to upgrade your adventuring class asap, do so. If you want to focus on crafting and gatherables, go ahead.
Q: What is the team perspective on limited gatherables and their scarcity? Will they be one-time-gatherables?
A: Yes there will be some one-time-gatherables that have a spawn table. However there are also large vein gatherables. So you may have multiple gathering points where it attracts lots of players to basically gather at a large mine or a horde of large animals to collect fur from. On the scarcity side there will obviously be higher tiers requiring higher end tools.
Q: Large guilds suffer from server lockouts at times, where a server is locked by devs forcing the guilds to split up. While we understand the server load at launch, will you guys plan ahead and will server transfers be available?
A: I was the guild leader of a very very large guild which was built up over around 15 years. We had around 14,000 members on our mailing list at one point. To clarify I did step down before I started Intrepid – But 100% I do understand the absolute travesty that happens at new launches. One of the things I would like to introduce probably during the beta phases is to allow server reservations. This will allow players part of large guilds to reserve their spots on the servers. It’s almost impossible to really stop overpopulation at launch. Locking the server temporarily is really the only solution, however we can mitigate that issue by allowing character slot reservations. This is mostly to be used by guilds instead of solo players, solo players may have friends can obviously still use the system, but fresh players probably won’t want to do it. But I do want to state that its why the testing phases and feedback is so important to us. I’m not talking about pre-ordering the game since I’m personally funding the project to completion, but its about having people engaged and constantly providing feedback to help us progress. It’s important to me to understand the community sentiment, so much so that sometimes scrolling through the discord/forums reading on my mobile and I fall asleep, letting my mobile fall on my face.
Q: I heard that the character creation is planned to be close to Black Desert.
A: I loved BDO’s character creation, I thought it was cool and provided a lot of customization to players. However as a developer I do believe in providing a little more confines to it due to different races. Yes there will be a specific type of slider. The goal is to have a character creator on par or much better than what BDO provided. I would love to give out the character creator early to let players spend time to make and save the profile so they are ready to go on day 1 so you can jump into the game quickly. I can’t tell you how many times my guild and I would just be waiting for the server to go live, people trolling saying its live when its not, so I know the goal to get in asap, so having the character creator out early is important.
Q: How limited will inventory space be and cant we just stuff materials into people and run them over?
A: Initial capacity will be limited, so the node system progress and different quest lines will allow you to upgrade your inventory. Your inventory will have a separate section for quest items which will not interfere with your regular item capacity, I hate it when games do that. So the capacity that a player can have of raw gatherables or processed materials can also be upgraded. You can get a mule to summon it to carry extra stuff. So Caravans have multiple applications besides just transferring stuff. You could move stuff with just friends, but you would need a LOT of friends to match a single caravan. There are quest systems related to completing trade routes, there are NPC caravans used to establish trade relations requiring escorting. There’s also bonus returns for specific node caravan runs. So there’s plenty of unique benefits besides just the carrying capacity.
Q: As we come closer to Alpha 1 and eventually Alpha 2, will see more about the archetypes and classes?
A: Absolutely. We want to vett a lot of the design ideas behind player feedback and on the flip side we also want to do it in a structured manner. Its important not to ruin the discovery feeling that happens with a new MMORPG. As I’ve said in the past, transparency is a double edged sword. By doing so much testing, we ruin the testing experience. One of the former Blizzard designers reviewed Peon’s video and said he was very excited for AoC and I almost dont want to watch the development progress anymore to not ruin the experience. While on one side we want to vett our ideas, we dont want to ruin the player’s experience. Since we are not putting NDA’s behind the Alpha/Beta phases, it speaks to the confidence in the product. Seeing our philosophies resonate with the community is very encouraging. We are not revealing any of the lore during the alpha phases, so in the alphas stuff will be placeholders.
Q: Is there a chance the monthly fee will be adjusted for regions? I’m from brazil
A: Price harmonization is pretty standard in the industry where in foreigen territories, the price is adjusted. We will indeed be doing it for Ashes of Creation. However keep in mind that this will occur only on servers for that region, so a brazillian player would be paying the reduced price for the brazillian servers.
Q: Would it be harder to assault dunir vs nikua cities?
A: No. That would be an unbalanced feature that would create a population imbalance. So no, standardised siege process that is determined by the direction that citizens take with their mayor to direct resources towards defences. So the community has to direct resources towards defences, but you will end up sacrificing on growth. So if you elect to grow your city more, you will likely lack defences. The reliquary is a status symbol for the achievement of which some can be utilized for player buffs in sieges.
Q: Who gets the drop from world bosses?
A: When a raid is formed, the raid leader sets the loot distribution settings. This is determined by a wide variety of options, specifically loot master etc. But if you have two competing raids, it will come down to tag vs DPS system. So tagging provides a slight benefit over DPS for looting rights. So for example if you tag the target, you only need to do 40% of the damage done for looting rights. If you dont tag the target, you need to do 60% of the damage for looting rights. We definitely want more feedback on this from the community.
Q: Any time I look up the combat, I end up looking at apocalypse battle royale footage
A: To provide some clarity, let me explain the reason for the direction of the battle royale. We’re trying to create a hybrid system between tab and action, obviously they have two very different tempos. Early early on in 2017, we got a lot of feedback from the community, rightfully so, its what you must get right, it must be good, fluid and mobile. Its a very important component which is incredibly iterative. The feedback early on was the combat is not fluid and does not feel good. So we needed to really test how to implement action combat to get data on projectile data, hitsan data, area of effect data and vetting the backend systems like matchmaking, concurrency, culling and rendering algorithms, optimization of environment and terrain- all of these were needed to vett early on.
Now a battle royale is a very easy mode to implement design wise. We went down the road to test things and luckily we found a lot of things that needed to be reworked, it would have been far more difficult if we hit alpha and had to go back and redo things. So the combat in Apocalypse was purely the action system which is NOT going to be representative of the hybrid combat in the MMORPG. Alpha 1 will contain a very barebones type of the hybrid combat, we will be watching the metrics and consistently adjust it. Game development is very difficult, especially for an MMORPG and especially difficult for an MMORPG that is trying to be as ambitious as AoC. We are not going to go down the path of scope creep. We have a very clear vision and a game design document for the game, we are not prolonging development, we are incredibly aware of scope creep.
Q: Thanks for the recent interviews, will the enemy player level be a mystery to me? What power difference can we expect between 2-4 levels in PvP?
A: I had no idea the interviews were going to happen, I just reached out and said if they were interested, I would love to hop on. I enjoyed the interviews thoroughly. No, levels will not be a mystery. You will see it immediately. Unless you are in a party you will not be able to see the health pool of a target unless in a party/raid with them. So the enemy player will have a nameplate which will slowly deteriorate as you damage them, but you wont get granular data. I think that’s a very important component as I think it makes things more interesting and will be a fun component for PvP. I would say that the power difference would be somewhat same in gear and levels. I cannot stand when MMO’s apply dampers to abilities if a target is outside level range in PvE or PvP. So if I do 1000 damage, I dont want to do 0 damage to something 5 levels above me. I like batting out of my weight class and to see what I can do.
Q: Wont family summon ruin the no-fast travel mentality?
A: There’s a cooldown period between leaving and joining a family (its in days). The summon system is contained within the family unit. So if I have 8-man family limit and I want to summon one of them, I cant summon someone from the guild part of another family. Limiting fast travel limits the zerg mentality. It becomes very difficult for players to avoid zergs, because if they get wind of something, they can very quickly open a portal and stop your fun. That’s not to say political information wont play a role, I could have a spy in an enemy guild, know the time place and numbers, I could set up a trap. We want it to take some time, we dont zergs to quickly group up. The family summon lets you go with your party to group up, but limits mobility for large groups of people. Tear apart my systems, I enjoy reading that stuff.
Q: Because of the cooldown after a successful siege defence, false flagging could become a viable strategy.
A: Anyone can participate in a node siege, the idea behind a false flag is to undertake the quest progress (which is substantial), then you want to obtain the siege scroll with the intent of organizing a group of people. Let’s say there were a group of people who DID want to siege, you can’t exclude them, they can still participate. Now if there was not an interested party, then it’s not really a false flag. So yeah, doing so just opens the door for others.
Q: Love necromancy and raising fellow players as undeads, does the philosophy behind necro match zombies/skeletons etc?
A: The way summoning works is, players have active abilities to summon summons. The types of summons you can summon will be split into Tank/Healer/DPS summons. So you gotta choose which ones you want to use for which encounter. As you apply the cleric secondary class and activate life or death, you radically adjust the types of summons and they take on the sub-type of undead, zombies, skeletons. Are the summons permanent? When you make a summon it will not time out, it will exist until you log out or it dies. Your abilities as a summon can be through augmenting and buffing or healing your summon or you will have more complimentary type active skills to cast and synergize with summons. Your decision as a summoner to allocate skill points will be your choice.
Q: The augment system is a key component for character progression, though some examples have been given, many players are confused. Could you clarify the impact of the secondary archetype?
A: Lets take the fighter as an example. If you were able to take the teleportation augment and apply it to the rush skill. Normally the skill would take X time to travel X distance, upon reaching deal X damage. So the initial rush skill might only require 10 skill points, so you can continue to invest skillpoints to increase damage done or travel speed. So if you apply teleport, instead of travelling, you teleport to the end point and do the damage. So this is not just flavour, but also changes the core of the skill. When you are charging you could be interrupted by CC, target could teleport away, you could be led into enemies if the target runs away. But if you apply the teleport, you have completely removed all those potential downsides during the charge since you instantly teleport to the target. That’s a significant vertical power increase on the skill. The ability to radically change the core components of the ability is what the augment system is.
Q: I’d like to know a little more about questing, will there be cross node quests?
A: Yes! These cross node quests will come online as relationships are developed between nodes. Questlines are gated by the advancement of the node from a stage standpoint and also by the types of buildings that are constructed by the players in the nodes. On the society and organization side, within organizations, there will be unique questlines. Let me give you an example, lets say a node constructs a temple and the highest title in that temple is bishop or cardinal. The first person who gains that title, there can only be one person who can hold this title, so yes there would be quests restricted to them. Certain titles like bishop have special abilities in sieges, so they would have a secondary hotbar in these sieges that come online, you may have additional hit points or damage mitigation.
Q: What is the philosophy behind the cash shop and how will it not destroy visual progression?
A: When it comes to monetization and business model, I believe the quality of the product should speak for itself. Its also why the game will have no box price. So a box cost is a high barrier for entry, sometimes too high and in some cases too greedy, so I dont want a box cost. Population is important for MMORPG’s, especially when there’s different demographics of players PvP/Social/RP/etc. So you want a large influx of players. So a sub cost provides a barrier of entry to mitigate some gold selling/bots/etc. And its not too high that it gets on the greedy side. It lets people try the game and if the game is good, they will continue to sub. This ensures it can support the developers and can continue to support the game.
I like BDO, it does great things, but you look like trash unless you spend money in the cosmetic shops. Take that feedback with a grain of salt. In AoC there will be legendary cosmetics that can be earned and achieved through the game via in-game systems but it will require a significant amount of effort. These will be on par with those on the marketplace. There are casuals and hardcore players. The MMORPG community is an aging group of people. People love collecting cool lookin cosmetics and may not have the time to invest into that progression. The key is to provide both the in-game means to look fabulous as well as a cosmetic shop for it. This funds the developers additionally that bridges the gap that not having a box cost has. Many developers say they wont have p2w and then boom they add p2w. In the kickstarter and pre orders, we did not provide any p2w, we talk the talk and walk the walk.
Q: Will ship building be available for coastal freeholds?
A: No, not for freeholds. This will be housed within development of nodes and these crafting stations come online as the node progresses. The node may not be on the coast but near the coast and it will have hooks where harbor station hooks come online where shipbuilders can use blueprints to construct different classes of ships. The higher the node becomes the players can then craft higher types or classes of ships. To be clear you dont need to be a shipbuilder profession to craft the ship, but the shipbuilder profession lets you craft components that affect speed, mobility etc. to sell to other players.
Q: Considering other AAA games have a content drop at end game that devs take months to add which gets cleared in a few weeks, how is AoC going to handle this? Even wow does not have enough.
A: The ways the nodes are constructed, multiple nodes will advance at different rates. Nodes lock each other out when they develop. Nodes change spawn tables and loot tables, open access to certain content. All of this is curated content of course, we’ll get to player driven content later. We are not creating 103 different zones, but we are creating modular systems that affect the world built by players and the catalyst for change is the PvP systems that destroy existing nodes to build new nodes to experience different content that did not exist before. The Sandbox element of MMORPG’s has often been used as an excuse to not add curated content or cut down on production time necessary for MMORPG’s and to lay the responsibility on the player driven mechanics for end-game content and this gets boring quickly. My favourite books as a kid were the choose your own adventure books. The nodes involve you in the story where as a community you build the world. In order for a sandbox to work it must have equitable or more content than a theme park style game. That does make a huge responsibility on the developer side of things- Which we are pretty confident we can achieve in a content regard.
I know we as an MMO community have been hurt a lot over the years and I understand the skepticism that comes with new games. But we are dedicated to building a quality experience built on quality feedback. We want to answer the call that the MMORPG community has made over the decade and it’s high time it happened. Don’t tell people to buy into the game, but spread the word of the game, tell them to join the discord and be a part of the development, make AoC a reality that takes into account the feedback which we need. It’s important that consumers use their voice and this is done by engaging. I’m incredibly passionate and I want us to succeed to make you all proud.