First look at PvP castle sieges in Ashes of Creation!

The Intrepid team is working hard to bring us Alpha 1 later this year, which will focus on some large PvP elements such as castle sieges. So to our big surprise, Steven just finished a playtest in Alpha 0 during the first part of the stream (so the playtest was why the stream was delayed 1 hour). While Steven was busy having fun with the play-testers, Bacon, Jeffrey and Peter guided us through the traditional questions and answers section.
What I personally found to be the most interesting questions and answers, I have marked in purple and moved up. You can read these further down on the page. Credit for the write-up of the Q&A section goes to AoC Wiki.

But first, the highlight of the stream:
Guild castle siege sneak-peak with Steven!

guildcastle.jpg
Right into the action!

We got the see one of the castles in the Alpha 0 build. Steven did, repeatedly, emphasize that this is very, very, very early build. From animations, effects, skills, UI, everything. First passes, for testing only. While Steven is whacking opponents in the castle, he says how important it is for an MMO to test a lot and listen to your community. This is great to hear, and we all hope that Ashes will have a good launch!

You can see them fighting over a checkpoint. The whole siege weapon part where you need to bring down the door isn't implemented yet I'd assume, which is why that was skipped. We know from before that castle sieges will require you to gain control of certain checkpoints, which will increase the respawn timer of the defenders, while decreasing your respawn timer. As a counter play to this, the defenders can attack the siege HQ, which will gain the opposite effect. Steven also mentioned in a previous interview that there will be legendary NPCs, as commanders of a mini-raid. Killing these will give certain battle benefits in the siege.

Eventually, the win condition is for the defenders to live out until the timer expires (90 minutes currently), and for the attackers to reach the inner keep, in which the GM or a chosen officer can cast a long (3-5 minutes) spell that can secure the castle.
The castles, at launch, will be occupied by an NPC opponent.

Sidebar: This is the 1 year anniversary for Kickstarter. *wohoo*! Congrats to everyone :)

guildcastle2.jpg
Steven contemplating if he should turn on GM hacks!


New combat animations and such is not present in this play-through. They will be ready in about 1-2 months. They are now focusing on the tab target-able systems, while testing focus will be shifted more towards action oriented stuff. Finding the correct blend between these experiences is key.
Steven did also mention that they are working on a tech for the new UI, and that they recently brought on the team a new UI specialist, as well as outsourcing some UI related tasks. That will be ready to show off too in about 1-2 months.

guildcastle3.jpg
RIP Steven.


They also talk a bit about how far they have come in the last year. Bringing back memories from last year when they got some flak for showing off that video, which Steven ended up making private. Transparent development, is once again, mentioned as a double-edged sword. You want to be open and show your progress, but too much (unfinished footage) could also hurt your project. Finding the balance is key, which might be why the NDA lift was postponed. They did have a laugh about the thought of marking that video as public again, just to show how far they have come since then. To be honest, that would be really cool!

There were about 40 people total playing in this test, with server side FPS staying above 60 FPS, which is great.

New art
They also released some new cool art! Images from a "secret" area, featuring some cool lava scenery. New dungeon perhaps? Also some nice armor concept art.










Questions and Answers

So onto the Q&A section.

Q: Besides death, how can one get rid of corruption?
A: The only alternate way we’ve talked about so far is doing quests to get rid of it. Religious focused quests can send you through ways of getting rid of that corruption and becoming part of the world again and getting rid of that corruption. It’s looked at as a time sink so it won’t be easy or quick. It is probably going to be the only alternative way of getting rid of corruption.

Q: Are there going to be completely unique Legendary quests or bosses that drop unique items skills or titles?
A: That is something we definitely want to do. I think the idea of legendaries, there is one thing, one momentous event that happens once. It makes those things more special. Maybe we spend a lot of time on it, and everyone gets to experience it only once, but the memories that last from that are maybe a bit cooler. Like “The Sleeper” event in Everquest. That was a huge thing that only happened once on a server. The whole dungeon changed. It was kind of that idea of hey things change in the world and the world reacts to what your doing. Doing more of that is really exciting. Doing it in a way where it’s not just killing a boss. It might be finding a unique mount, a legendary recipe, etc.

Q:High Level Crafting: Will it be inspired by complexity like Star Wars Galaxies?
A: SWG had a GREAT crafting system. They nailed resource gathering and crafting as a whole was beyond it’s time. They did a lot of cool things that I think a lot of people were surprised by and unfortunately it hasn’t been used in a big way since but it is the direction we want to go. Choices made in the crafting system change what you end up with. It’s not just about doing x recipie to get y item, there’s thought involved with it, and there’s a market to be captured based on those decisions.

Q: What plans do you have for a thorough anti-cheat system, especially with the economy being so ingrained into system?
A:
Jeffrey: We agree that this is critical for the game to survive launch. The nature of the game being so in the hands of players is something we take VERY seriously. All of us come from a background of MMOs. We’ve seen economies rise and fall. We’ve seen bad player behavior and we’ve learned how to deal with it. That’s one of the things we have implemented from the very beginning, these systems are ALREADY in the game right now. We don’t want to say exactly what they are, because we don’t want them to be defeated. Part of it is watching the behavior of players in the game and finding errant behavior and having those things surface to us in a way that is automated and have a way to allow us to address those things as it’s happening. That can take the form of automatic bans, a review process, that information is there and we can see that information in real time. As soon as something gets weird, as soon as someone starts showing bot behavior, we can zone in on it in a matter of minutes. People are not going to have an opportunity to get away with too much.

Peter: Since the beginning we’ve talked about being data driven, and being able to figure out why things are happening the way they are. Not just for people who cheat, but for figuring out how the systems are used by players. It’s invaluable information to know what players are actually using from the systems we make, to how they’re using it. How much input is going there, and how much output is going there. All of that goes into not just cheating but how players are using the game in a legal way. It’s super important to be data driven and how much that helps development.

Jeffrey: It’s one of those things, if you as a designer think this quest is going to be awesome, And you don’t know that everyone's not taking this quest, and you know there’s a really awesome reward, but your looking at the data and see none is taking the quest, and you have to dig into why they are not taking it. It might be it’s too hard, it might be the reward you thought was awesome really isn’t that awesome. It might be the quest giver is broken and they can’t take it. All of those things we can see and it’s pretty cool.

Q: Are public transport systems planned such as being able to be driven town to town while AFK?
A: Yes we will have those. One type of node will have airships and some harbors may have ships. We may actually allow players to transport others with a taxi system where you load up and drive them somewhere while they’re afk.


Q: Can you go over details of your official mobile app that is attached to the game?
A: Yes we will implement that.
Features: Node notifications, crops need rotating, castle is about to fall, city siege is happening, etc. Think of a DnD campaign where you play the game live, then in between sessions you have downtime conversations between GM and players. That is what we hope the mobile app is, the “in-between” sessions … non-active mechanics in downtime


To read the rest of the questions and answers, check out the spoiler tag:
Are you at your bigger studio building yet? Could we get a tour?
  • No, obviously (to those watching stream) we are still at the old studio but we are bursting at the seams. We do need a new space very Soon™, but we haven't gotten there yet.

When can we hear about new lore?
  • We will start doing Lore Blogs. We are really focused on the next milestone which is why you haven't seen too much on the blog side. It’s really a matter of putting people in the best places to get stuff done. I know people are still waiting on Nodes Part 3. After we get past this milestone we will get a lot more regular in what we expose to the public and lore is part of that.
What is your favorite feature of AoC, both already implemented and in the future?
  • Bacon: NOW - Environments (biased?) - FUTURE: Baby Bear Backpacks
  • Jeffrey: So, Michael, tell me about the Baby Bear Backpacks what was the idea behind them.
  • Bacon: You can kill a baby bear, pull out their stuff, and wear it like a pack. I think that would be awesome.
  • Peter: and you pack it with other baby bears.
  • Jeffrey: I shouldn’t open my mouth, I should have just let it lie.
  • Peter: FUTURE: Economy when we go from 100 players to thousands and thousands (scale) that’s when it becomes super fun - NOW: Dungeons and Raids
  • Jeffrey: NOW: Ability system & Darkness spell to “blind” people, it removes the ability for people to actually see in the game, fun to see people react to it. - FUTURE: Narrative system
How hard is the game?
  • Jeffrey: We want the game to be “accessible” content for every player. Difficulty depends on what your going after. There is difficulty in running a guild, fighting creatures, finding the resources to make an epic weapon, and there are greater and lesser versions of all of those things. It’s not hard core for all people all the time, but people who put in more time and effort will get more out of it. That doesn’t mean a person who logs in once a week won’t be able to have fun. It’s a matter of the scale of the stuff you’re going after.
  • Peter: and what avenue your trying to talk about. If you think about the idea of interaction, not just peer to peer, but with the server itself. There’s a ton of room for difficulty on whatever scale we’re talking about. Fighting other guilds for resources or caravan routes won’t make it easy. If it was in a vacuum it might be easy, but the living world everything becomes more difficult.
  • Jeffrey: Running a caravan is not going to be the same thing every time you do it. You might be able to find a secret path that others don’t know about, exploit it for a while, but then somebody sees you doing it and that path becomes more difficult.
Do we need blueprints for crafting freeholds?
  • NO for your freehold … YES for buildings that go onto your freehold
  • Steven Clarification: Freeholds will require a certificate from the parenting stage 3 or above node in order to place the plot. Buildings will require blueprints and materials.
Can you run your own pub using an NPC as your tavern keeper/host?
  • Yes, Inns and taverns are part of the idea of the RPG space. We give the players reason to be in social spaces and be part of them. A tavern is a building you can put on your freehold. Put thought into where you will place this to maximize traffic. Having an npc bartender who can distribute the drinks you’ve made is all part of what we want to do with that system. People can play cards there, hangout, chat, etc.
How will the tank class be balanced? Typically mobs are made to where they can be easily defeated so anyone can solo them without a tank or too difficult where you need a tank for basic level grinding. How does Intrepid plan on striking the balance for everything and then never needing a tank overland?
  • Jeffrey: We expect Tanks to be used in party situations. That may or may not be used in overland situations. You may or may not need a tank depending on the situation, possibly more in certain situations, like a dungeon, I don’t picture us creating encounters that wouldn’t need that sort of control. We’re not focused on just agro in terms of control and managing mobs. There’s lots of other ways Tanks can do that. One of that is by modifying the battlefield itself. That’s sort of the direction we’re going. It’s not just about mitigating damage, but that’s part of the calculus, but it’s about making sure the mobs do what you want them to do. There’s a micro scale and a macro scale, and tanks will be important at the macro scale.
  • Peter: From the way we’ve talked about it, Tanks sets up victory conditions for the party. They’re able to do things on the battlefield, to the creatures, to setup the path for their party to really hammer it home in more ways than just having agro on a creature.
Will there be teleportation magic and/or magic barriers?
  • Teleportation magic will not exist on a macro scale, perhaps just in scientific Metropolis nodes for that region. For the individual we certainly will have teleportation magic. That is a basic skill for the Mage right now, we will have blinks. Magical shields and barriers will also be in game. That won’t necessarily be mage, it will probably be Tanky.
With two weapon slots, will the graphics show for the one not used?
  • That will depend on what slots those weapons take. We want to show weapons on characters and give players the options to toggle them on and off. We don’t want to show all of those at the same time because It can can get goofy with trying to show bows/swords/axes/daggers/capes all at the same time. You will be able to say which things on your character you want to show, and there will be a priority system behind that to determine what to display. Does it show the bow if the great-sword is unequipped, or does it show the polearm if the greatsword is unequipped.
  • Steven Clarification: Back and belt slots will have priority of appearance chosen by the player ie weapon/cape/shield and potion/pouch/scroll etc. [1]
Will there be dual-wield shields?
  • Jeffrey: Ummmm… No. Peter has been pushing it really hard throughout the design process, to do the goofy style two shields, but that is not going to be in the cards.
  • Peter: So sad
  • Jeffrey: We have talked about it a lot
Will gear be enhanceable, for example, Magic stones to slot in your weapons to enhance attack power?
  • Jeffrey: Yes, That is definitely a part of equipment progression. We are very likely going to have a rune-system, and likely have the ability to enchant weapons outside of that too.
  • Peter: Especially with the focus on crafting. More things that let you seperate yourself from another person. It’s one of the main things that we think about with our systems.
  • Jeffrey: That’s not always going to be vertical progression. Some of it’s going to be giving up something to get something else. So maybe I do less physical damage to do more magical damage. That kind of thing.
When you talk about the world changing based on player actions, how much of that is coded into the game to react and how much of that is based on developer actions. Will there be a GM in game who will be able to modify events or will the game design handle all systems?
  • A lot of this is sort of designer prescribed. These are events that we’ve setup in the world that react to other events. So you can get a whole chain of things going on based on how certain events were dealt with in that progression. That’s the main way. We’ve talked about doing GM run events here and there. Our focus is really making the systems so that they can live on their own. They’re not dependant on someone being there to hand hold it. I do think GM run events are really fantastic and they add a bit of spice you really wouldn’t get otherwise. That’s something we need to talk about later on. A nice thing is the way the event system works right now we could do that pretty easily with a GM. Our tools support that. It’s more we’re trying to make it a living, breathing thing, not as much changing a switch and more so the player changes the switch and we’ve just made the switches and it’s up to you to kind of figure out which switches to flip and how that changes the world.
Crouch / prone systems?
  • We will definitely have crouching. We have discussed how that will interact with the stealth system. Prone is being discussed and we could add that but it would require another level of animation. It’s something that’s on the radar but we haven't made a hard decision on that.
Steven Clarification: Crouch and Prone will probably not be in the game [1]

Will there be a glamour system? Transmog
  • Jeffrey: It’s not going to be glamour in like I cast a spell or apply a temporary buff on myself to change appearance, but it will be in the form of cosmetic equipment slots. If I want to change the appearance of my equiped helm I put another helmet in that slot and it overrides the appearance of it. We’ve talked a bit about how that applies to PvP threat assessment. We haven't come to a decision on that yet. We want to give enough tools to players to determine that he’s wearing plate even though he looks like he’s wearing robes.
  • Peter: We love having players look the way they want to look, and we’ve enjoyed it in other games.
How much does mobility affect combat?
  • Jeffrey: Mobility is VERY important. Seeing how the opposing player is doing something and reacting to that fast enough to get out of the way of it. Rangers are highly mobile in internal builds and it is noticeable how effective the ranger can be with just mobility skills we didn’t load the ranger up with a lot of dps skills, but the mobility made up for it.
  • Peter: During the PAX run once people had played the pvp scenario a couple of times as the ranger, they got good at going in and out of combat, acting as good skirmishers.
  • Jeffrey: Which is what we wanted.
Will there be a title system (or anything else) to incentivize open-world PvP?
  • Jeffrey: You get their resources of off someone that you kill, an economic reason. We aren’t really all that big on arenas outside of a competitive atmosphere. In the open world, we want there to be a reason to fight over something. Fight over resource spawns, a caravan, a node you don’t want it, economic reasons to engage in PvP outside of the competitive aspect of it. If you engage it should be because you want something, if you run away it’s because you might lose something. Titles and stuff like that are great motivators and it’s in our development document.
Will NPCs have eyes and ears to see or hear us?
  • We are talking about and have it ingame as a system right now, but we haven't really taken advantage of it yet, but it does exist as a system. Different perception modes for different NPCs. Another game had Scent/Sight/Magic/etc that all needed to be protected against to keep mobs from ‘seeing’ you to maintain your ability to sneak past them. It made those monsters unique and gave them character outside of just how much damage they did. We will have many different perception modes, and just going invisible won’t necessarily make you immune to being seen by everyone. Rangers will have an anti-invisibility counter.
Any chance at a Giga-Stuffertons World Boss?
  • Bacon: Yeah why not? How big of a world boss? Like Stay-Puff Marshmallow man big?
  • Peter: Lore Leak: The world actually exists inside of Stuffertons
Will Gods/Lords have any control over world events and battles?
  • Peter: Players will have a lever about whether they do something or not that may cause or solve problems. Player agency everywhere to affect the world.
  • Jeffrey: It won’t be where just a handful of guilds control what happens on a server, unless everyone on the server is a member of those guilds, which I don’t think will happen. There will be chaos that can happen due to the actions of one individual. Being in a guild won’t necessarily help win in a militaristic node. Whoever is the best player in that moment in time will be the biggest factor at that moment in time to rise up and change things.
How will you make questing interesting? Traditionally MMOs have been kill x mobs or collect y items
  • Jeffrey: MMOs live and breath by their content and having goals at every level. The way I look at it the go kill 5 wolves quest is really a filler. The idea is to take those and turn them into goal oriented tasks that have no narrative associated with them, you aren’t going to save the world by going to kill the wolves, but you might have some effect on the node to take care of that. That’s something you're going to see throughout the world. You’ll be in the wild and you’ll get tasks and these tasks will just let you know an interesting thing is happening nearby and you might want to take care of it. That’s where we put those kinds of quests, in the task system, really low narrative, we just give some context, and then a goal, and then you can go handle it or not. Narratives will be focused on telling the story. They will be multi-part. There will be no killing of 5 wolves. There will be trying to accomplish something.
  • Bacon: Compound quests can be interesting, you start with one thing and it turns into something else, multistage development as you go through it and the story unfolds as you go through it and at the end it’s awesome
  • Jeffrey: Creating the ability to not rely on tasks to tell the story, but to tell the story is the goal of the system. If you went to PAX and you played through the narrative, that’s what you can expect from our narrative quests. Your not just going out to do one simple thing and come back and do it over and over, it’s about going out doing something and changing the world in a large or small way.
What % of the game will be PvP vs PvE?
  • Peter: I think personally the answer is it depends on the type of player you are. We’re trying to give as much as we can to everyone on the server. Typically my MMO experience in whatever allows me to is level to max level in PvE, and then PvP for the rest of my career. Other players might only PvE ever 100% of the time. I’m thinking in our game it’s about the split of the players personality and what their goals are.
Jeffrey: We could see a situation where I start the game as a crafter and it’s what I want to do and I don’t engage in PvP at all if I don’t want to. There could be opportunities for me to engage in PvP. If my node gets attacked I could break out the sword and start participating and helping out, or I could just go somewhere else. The goal in building the game is to have them be equal. PvE builds things up, PvP brings things down in order to create the opportunity for new things to be created. From our perspective, philosophically, we look at them as equal things, but we certainly don’t want all players to experience 50% PvP and 50% PvE.

Do you have solutions for a smaller population than anticipated either at launch or on down the road?
  • Jeffrey: For the economy it depends on having things that NPCs buy and sell scale based on the economic activity that exists on the server. As inflation rises, prices rise, and things end up being equal even though there might be a couple of extra 0’s. It can go up and down, as a population leaves, things become less expensive and players don’t have to do as much to earn that. On the other side of things the node system is setup in a really flexible way that can scale the amount of experience needed to level the node and the attrition that delevels a node on activity to. It’s just a matter of adjusting a couple of constants and that goes up and down and the server watches it and can change things on the fly as it needs to.
  • Peter: We have target numbers for these types of things, target times, and we see if those targets are met, if we’ve overestimated or underestimated, it’s the same thing with the economy, as long as you have target numbers and are able to dial that in further or back, usually you are able to handle that if your on top of it.
  • Jeffrey: It’s about having those systems in place early so that you don’t have to deal with that problem later.
Will there be a secret cow level?
  • There will be secrets but they may not be cows
Will be there be any hidden or unlockable classes?
  • Probably not hidden classes, in terms of like Jedi from SWG. We want everyone to have a sort of equal playing field on that side of things, but when it comes to “augments” that can be a different story. We have different guilds/organizations/religions/science/etc. All of those things have the opportunity to offer augments to skills and and if some of those happen to be hidden, and some happen to be secret and you end up with a tank with a skill that no one else has, that’s totally within the realm of possibility.
How will weapons progress?
  • Consider a weapon it’s own “class”… own skill tree, own equipment augments and enchants, own special effects, own ancillary effects, etc … AoC wants many progression paths in all systems.
Steven re-enters (We finished play test - warning the castles are not fully designed)
Loading that now, and we have art to show

Steven: We did just finish two straight weeks of Alpha 0 testing servers up full time One year Anniversary of KS, and we are proud that we are at that spot in time Faster than MMOs do it

Jeffrey: We focused on fundamentals, server backbone

Steven: Get something in players hands, not shut n dark for 5 years We iterate based on player feedback 7 new team hires, will announce their names at end of June June will have some “business” things happening

Full stream:
 
Last edited:
Frode

Ashone1

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I found the statement by Steven at approximately 1:38.34 ish about "The business side of things" that we will be "hearing about" during the month of June to be VERY interesting.
 

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