Interview with Steven Sharif - From The Ashes | Episode 42: Steven Returns [Dungeon Crawler Network]

Yesterday Dungeon Crawler Network shared their recent interview with Intrepid Creative Director Steven Sharif. If you haven't seen the "From The Ashes" podcasts by DCN, you should definitely check them out. In addition to Steven Sharif, we also have the podcast hosts Aggelos, Alpha Soul and Stormzlord. In this article you will find most questions and topics that they talked about, and if you want to check out the whole video there is a link at the bottom.

fromtheashes.jpg
The podcast panel during yesterdays episode of From The Ashes

PAX and Alpha 0

Steven mentioned that they received a lot of feedback after PAX, and of course some of it related to the combat mechanics. Steven and his team believes in transparency during the development process and wants the community to be a part of the process. The game is still in a pre-alpha state, they really haven't spent any time on combat. The next milestone will be the Alpha 1 phase, with a big focus on combat and PvP mechanics.

Aggelos then asked about how the work has been going with their backend during the Alpha 0 phase. Steven mentioned a story from the early Alpha 0 days, where they had a large number of testers stuck at the login screen (due to some port connectivity issues). The login screen was a windmill at the volcano, which then turned into a funny meme as the hardest AoC boss to kill! An artist even drew a monster onto the volcano, as you can see on the image below.

loading.jpg
Alpha 0 "boss".

Eventually that was fixed, and they saw over 100 people connected on a single zone, along with 4000 NPCs, and they were able to stay above 60 FPS on the server side, stating that anything above 30 FPS was considered optimal. Impressive! So they are happy with the performance of the backend, which is promising for the next phases.

Steven Sharif said:
You cannot show an MMORPG in 10 minutes
Steven then talked a bit about the progress that was made from PAX West to PAX East. He heard some mentioning that it looked very similar, which to that Steven had to clarify that their targeted approach to PAX or any other game shows, is that they cannot show an MMORPG in 10 minutes. There is a lot more than you can show at a game show. Showing the node system and how that develops and collects experience, that takes a lot more time. So instead they want to give the players an immersion into the word, have a GM guide them and explain them the systems and ideas that sets Ashes apart from other MMORPGs. Also allowing them to take part in the story, which is something the players can become invested in. PAX East also had a lot of new elements such as character progression, experience gains, drops, certain skill mechanics and more.

Nodes 3 and summer backers upgrades

Then of course, this had to be asked, nodes part 3? Steven laughs, and explains that they want to show the progress from the last nodes video to this one, and again the answer to this is still soonTM. The node series is naturally very popular, as it is Ashes most identifying feature and sets them apart from most other MMORPGs. Steven believes that this is the system that will keep players invested in the game for a long period of time. He is absolute right there, the node system is looking amazing and we all can't wait to find out more about it!

Steven Sharif said:
Nodes part 3 is coming soonTM
Another question from the panel was when the summer backers get upgrade rights. Steven was quick to respond that they can actually upgrade, a feature that was implemented last week on their website. As long as you are logged in on their website, when you visit the store you will be presented with the upgrade paths. He also mentioned that Kickstarter backers can view and buy summer backer content as addons, which is pretty nice.

Castle sieges

How are castle sieges going to work? Will they be easier to take than for example a huge metropolis node? Steven said that castles will be on a monthly castle siege cycle. Any guild can sign up to defend the castle, and the castle GM can approve or reject the request. As for the attackers, their guild has to be of a certain level, and undergo a certain crafting process that utilizes each of the crafting types, in order to create a deceleration flag. Right before the siege, 1 week out, you may declare with that flag your intention to siege the castle. So they defenders will have 1 week to help gather defenders and prepare. Castle sieges come with 3 dedicated nodes, and are outside of the other node system. These nodes can only be up to the village node level. By using caravans and completing quests to level up those nodes, they will acquire certain services which are helpful to the leaders of the guild. But most importantly, they will boost the defenses of the guild, which is why it will be vital for the attackers to intercept these caravans. If the guild doesn't have any of these quests done on the 3 dedicated nodes, they will be severely weakened during the siege.

Attackers will get access to siege weapons to bring down walls and doors. If you are attacking, you will need 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. He also mentioned legendary NPCs, as commanders of a mini-raid. Killing these will give certain battle benefits in the siege.

Trebuchet.png
Get your siege weapons ready!

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. Also the 3 dedicated nodes, will have to be rebuilt when a new owner takes over. They won't be static. You will have 1 week to rebuild node A, and the next week node B and so on.

Raiding, taverns and the MMORPG genre

They get into the topic of raiding, in which Steven mentions that it often gets extremely repetitive. They want things to be more fluid, and through that their triggered event system. For example a boss being awoken and attacking the city. So making them more spontaneous and also more accessible. Just being in the city you can suddenly help out in the raid, before the boss destroys lots of necessary buildings in the city.

When Steven talked about how they are going to be open and communicative towards the community, he said that they are self-publishing in North America. Good to hear as they will maintain control themselves. Also expect more community interaction post-launch, as Steven will have more time to focus on that. Free time is naturally very limited during the hectic development process.

Could a player run a bank, as sort of their own business? What tools could help people to make businesses of their own? Steven specified that not specifically a bank per-se, but different types of businesses indeed such as tavern or auction house. Using tavern as an example, you can own it within the city or in a freehold. What can be done here is up to you, there is a UI that you can select options from. Building upon that, you can provide certain types of food, and the longer your business exists the higher level it will become, giving you access to further recipes. For example a type of food which is needed for the cooking profession, which can only be found in a player owned business in a certain area. Granting players meaningful existence and rewards them for their persistence and survivability.

They then fare into the discussion regarding how little innovation there has been recently in the MMORPGs genre, and that more and more are taking out the RPG element of the MMOs. Steven and Aggelos brings up valid concerns as a lot of people don't want to invest the time needed to build a character and the whole RPG element of a game. They want fast in, fast out, type of games. As for companies, it is a massive risk undertaking the task of making a MMORPG. Steven accepts and acknowledges that an MMORPG as Ashes won't interest everyone, and that is okay. When you hear Steven talking about his vision, it is then you know that this is going to be amazing.

Tex said:
Steven accepts and acknowledges that an MMORPG as Ashes won't interest everyone, and that is okay. When you hear Steven talking about his vision, it is then you know that this is going to be amazing.
Griefing and game balance

Steven got a question about if the game will have de-leveling, regarding griefing. Steven explains that there will not be any de-leveling, but there will be experience debt. (experience bankruptcy anyone? xD) And of course the corruption system, which we know a fair bit about. Anyone killing a non-combatant (anyone not fighting back), will be corrupt and risk losing your own items. Another huge deal is that if you for example go out and kill 20 players, gaining a massive amount of corruption, you will eventually deal no damage to other players. You would then have to work off your corruption to get back to normal. He did not specify which ways you can remove the corruption however.

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PvP as it should be, with both players fighting. Killing anyone not fighting back will gain you corruption and several nasty side-effects.

Steven also shared a story of what he considered the most fun and memorable experience from any MMO, back in his Linage II days. He was among one of the 3 alliances on the server. There was a fight that had erupted between Steven's party and the leader of another alliance and his party. Steven called in the 3rd alliance as their ally, which ended up in a MASSIVE 8 hour long fight. In that game, you could de-level, and with it being a big korean grind fest, getting the level 71-72 level takes several days. Steven was level 72, but after that long fight he had dropped down to level 64!

Stormzlord brings up the topic of balancing with focus on group balance (1v1 PvP or group balance for example)? Do you balance for PvP or PvE?
Steven, as he has said before, is focused on each class providing something useful to the party. There will be situations where 1v1, one class is better vs another class. This is going from the rock, paper and scissor system. Each class will have counters, but you will have certain mach ups where you have an advantage. This will also be useful for raids, where someone for example just fills the party with 1 class. Steven wants to have diversity, and all classes having useful roles and purposes (countering X class for example). But there will be a focus on group balance.
Also, do note that you do have the secondary class system, where you can try to close the gap towards your counters. Say you are a tank archetype with mage as your counter, then you can take mage as secondary to close the gap.

Alpha "0.5" and Alpha 1

NDA during Alpha 1? Steven: No. But, there will be a kickstarter alpha (Alpha 0.5?) for Brawer of Worlds Kickstarter backers, prior to Alpha 1. But it will be of a pretty short period. It will work as a testing phase before rolling out Alpha 1. Alpha of the alpha 1 phase, I like it!

This was a great interview, so a huge thanks to both DCN and Steven!

Update about self-publishing comment

To clarify the "we are self-publishing in North America" statement he did in this interview, and those worrying about EU etc:

EU.png EU2.png

If you want to watch the whole podcast, check it out here:
 
Last edited:
Frode Hanøy

Comments

Shunex

Phoenix Supporter Group
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Great interview love the peep's at DCN <3, did raise a fair bit of concern with the publishing in international region's though hopefully they will be able to follow through with self publishing in those region's.
 
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BrainZ#5952
Great Interview. i hope they selfpublish in eu aswell.
 

Shunex

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Great Interview. i hope they selfpublish in eu aswell.
Steven think's that they will, they just gotta work out some legal BS first :)
 
Joined
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Zainox#0755
I still got to watch the video, but just flicking through the notes, I noticed the Alpha 0.5 for Braver of Worlds backers. That is very nice to see!
 
Thread starter Staff #8

Tex

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Great interview and nicely captured guys!
Thank you :)

I still got to watch the video, but just flicking through the notes, I noticed the Alpha 0.5 for Braver of Worlds backers. That is very nice to see!
Yeah for sure. It was a nice gesture for BoW backers that does not have Alpha 0 access.
 
Joined
10 February 2018
Thanks for the concise summary Tex. The castle siege process sounds fantastic. I can't wait to test it out in alpha 1!
 
Thread starter Staff #10

Tex

Just some guy
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Thanks for the concise summary Tex. The castle siege process sounds fantastic. I can't wait to test it out in alpha 1!
Thank you <3

I agree, the castle sieges sounds like a lot of fun. We really need that Alpha 1 test.... :)
 

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