March 8th Stream Recap - New castle siege footage!

Main Highlights:
  • New castle siege footage released.
  • Alpha 1 pushed back, it is no longer planned for Q2. No new date given at this time.
  • They are no longer expecting the game to be released before 2020.
  • All previously announced dates (Q2 for Alpha 1, Q3 for Alpha 2, release before 2020 etc) have been erased.
  • Vastly improved communication and development/content updates. Monthly streams, detailed articles focusing on game systems (such as nodes), dev-diaries, competitions etc.
    • For March the topic is nodes, so expect a lot of interesting details about the node system!
  • Lots of interesting questions, especially regarding how guild halls will function in the game.
New Castle Sieges Footage:

  • Various siege weapons displayed. Destruction of walls.
  • Shows the relic of the castle, they key objective.
  • Also showcases a objective torch. Changes color depending on who holds it. (attackers or defenders).
  • Castle sieges in APOC mirrors pretty well those you will see in the MMORPG. The MMORPG will have some further elements, but it does give you an early look on the dynamics of the siege between the attackers and defenders.
  • 100% gameplay, recorded with the in-game tools. (similar to other Unreal engine games).
  • The siege was done during night time and with weather effects (rain).
A few images from the footage:
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Studio Updates:

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  • Steady growth in Intrepid Studios. 15 new people hired this year. Customer support, community management, marketing, web development etc.
  • Still looking for new and valuable personell for the studio, working with head hunters to find the right people for the team. A key point is MMORPG experience and their love and passion for the genre.
  • New studio under construction, and they will be moving there soon. Will include a brand new stream room.
State of the game:

Apocalypse and gathering/processing the data from it:
  • Key points for us moving forward is that we can take all the valuable data and experience we gained from December and January tests, and use them to improve our back-end systems before Alpha 1 of the MMORPG. This is necessary to facilitate the large amount of players we expect during Alpha 1.
  • A lot of the experience they gained during APOC, was fundamental in order to understand what changes needed to be done moving forward. It mostly had to do with the population we wanted to obtain within a single area, large battles in small spaces. The goal is to have 500 players on the battlefield at the same time. There is a lot of technology that goes into replicating each player to another player, to making sure the server is able to handle the load of the information that is coming in. It requires a lot of efficiency in how that back-end works between the client, the server etc. Example of this: Replication graph was implemented, segmenting the population into a certain area. Server doesn't have to replicate all actions from a single player, whom might be 300 meters away from another player, or behind a mountain or a wall. These systems will help achieve the necessary performance for Alpha 1.
  • Currently able to do 250 players at the same time (from previously only 100). Then analyzing the data from the 200 player tests, adding code and back-end customization and pushing the limits even higher. There is a lot of data to process to get this done properly. Having live players is crucial for the development of the game in this phase.
  • They see every single shot a player makes (and if they hit or missed), every ability used, how much damage, and all that data can be worked into creating heat-maps. Most used weapons, most active locations etc. Taking all that and comparing it to their core principles, "is this weapon acting how we want it to?".
TLDR: It is crucial that Intrepid finds the optimal path in terms of back-end efficiency, to ensure that player experience will be good during large scale combats in later test phases of the MMORPG.

Combat system:

  • APOC was pushed out to collect specific data on action combat, and how you could use that into making the hybrid combat system, which will consist of tab-target and action.
  • You can go 50% hybrid and 50% action if you desire, and they want that to be a viable path.
  • Making it possible to blend them together well, as they have a very different pace. We gather the necessary data, and then utilizes that to test various prototypes of this combat system, choosing which 2 or 3 options that feels the best, and moving forward with that through a player testing period (such as Alpha 1).
Alpha 1 and the development:
  • Alpha 1 originally planned for Q2, but as outlined above regarding further back-end/performance optimizations being required, they needed to postpone Alpha 1. It will be arriving in months, not years. We won't get a new date until they are confident in that they will be able to meet that goal.
  • Steven then outlines his ideals for the game:
    • Create a unbelievable experience for a MMORPG.
    • No Pay-To-Win.
    • Undermine the economy in the game by introducing elements that throw into chaos what players have worked for months to achieve.
    • Emphasize risk vs reward.
    • AAA quality MMORPG that encompasses a wide range of desires and gameplay desires that MMORPG players want.
Website, commerce and forum:
  • In December they began implementing a new website, moving away from the Wordpress solution, which was not suitable for the traffic we expected. Unfortunately some back-end systems didn't withhold the traffic during December (3rd week of December had 2 million visitors on the website). Because of that, new members had to be brought on board our website team, and did a successful migration a couple of weeks ago to AWS (Amazon Web Services). Check the developer letter recap for more info.
  • Commerce changes, Stripe and Paypal will be implemented.
  • Website back-end/front-end improvements, website re-design, more blogs etc.
  • Forum is coming along nicely, they will provide a FAQ soon. We will be provided a weeks notice before the forum go live.
Content road-map:
  • When someone finishes a asset, completes a recording etc, they will send it to Margaret, making it possible for her to provide us with much more up-to-date information behind the scenes.
  • For March, the topic is nodes. We will be provided some detailed articles highlighting the node system, as well as some assets to go alongside it.
  • Dev-diary series focusing on getting to know the team. This month it will be showcasing behind the scenes core technology for the node system. (NOT nodes part 3 though!). The video series will cover all kinds of topics, world building, level design etc. A new video for each month is the target.
  • The developers are all working hard on the game (and taking them away from that to work on community stuff ends up hurting the development progress), so when Margaret and Sarah were added to the team, that enabled the studio to communicate with the fans on a whole new level, dedicating their time to show progress of the development.
  • Live-stream last Fridays every month, at 20.00 CET.
  • Fan-art competition, and other contests (that are not fan art) are coming. Sarah is working on this.
  • They won't be going to PAX East, but will be sending a small team to GDC. Check the developer letter recap for more info.
  • For future events, you will be notified in due time on what events they will be attending.
FAQ:

With the delay for Alpha 1, what does that mean for the phases beyond Alpha 1? Is the MMO coming before 2020?

Steven: It is very likely that this will push us beyond 2020. We are no longer expecting to release the MMO before 2020. There will be some opportunities for them to catch up some speed (which they will take advantage of), and we will be updated on the status. As mentioned earlier, when we are given any dates beyond this point, it will only be when the team is 100% sure of reaching that goal.
Jeff: When you get your hands on Alpha 1.. It will be much easier for the players to see the progress that has been made, and where the game is now, and how much we have to go.
Margaret: We are wiping the field now, all previously announced dates are no longer accurate.
Steven: To be clear. Our goal has always been, that we will be releasing a game that is up to the expectations that both you and I have. Along that development path there are things that will happen, that will need us to adjust. That is acceptable to us, because at the end of the day, we are looking to fulfilling the promises and expectations that we have made for Ashes of Creation.
Jeff: We are working on bleeding-edge stuff, we are not just taking stuff from the shelf. We are inventing them as we go.
Margaret: This is going to be a living, breathing, persistent world. The node system it itself is so in-depth.
Steven: And one other thing. As a player, we have been there at the launch of a game, that we were excited for. We knew, when we first logged in, that the game was rushed. It should not have been released in that state, and it needed additional work. We are not going to be one of those games.
Jeff: A MMORPG usually only get to launch once, and that will determine its future going forward. The life of it.

When are we going to start seeing actual in-game content (and not just concept art)?
Margaret: Obviously we are going to share concept art, it is usually the first things we get. It depends on the content, if we share only concept art or the full package with in-game stuff.
Steven: It is part of the content road-map, to provide looks at animations, finished models, in-game tech behind node system etc.
Margaret: Steven doesn't leak it all all laughs.
Steven: To be fair, I only leaked the concept art!
Margaret: No, you leaked the GIF!
Steven: See, now I'm in trouble! laughs.
Margaret: Even if Steven leaks anything, we will release it in a official manner as well. Because I don't think I can stop him!

What is the status of siege and horde mode?
Margaret: We showed you some of the development of siege already.
Steven: As we experienced some fundamental problems that needed to be fixed, that pushed back siege and horde mode. Work is still being done to prepare these modes, but it has taken a back-seat compared to fixing the previously mentioned back-end and performance issues. It doesn't mean that art or design stopped their work, but we have to focus on the back-end tech first to make those modes available.
Jeff: The goal is to get siege mode done first, and then horde mode.

What is the status of the forum?
Margaret: No solid date yet, but we'll let you know in advance when we have some information to share. We will have a FAQ with lots of relevant information about it.

Why did you not provide any specific dates on the letter?
Steven: Moving forward, we are going to readjust how we give you dates. Once we have those things actually ready and in QA, that is when we will share it with you guys. So that when we say a date, that's the date. It is important to note, that we want quality. We want the game that we all signed up for. If the development requires extra time to meet those expectations, so be it. Our focus is on quality.

Will we continue to see cosmetics at a monthly basis, and if so, are they only going to be only concept art?
Steven: Yes, new cosmetics every month. They take very little resource time to show you through the concept art. Moving forward, is introducing that pipeline into the character creation team, so you can see models of the actual cosmetics, so moving away from concept art into models.

Questions from the audience:

We know from previous info that name reservation will happen during Alpha 1 and per server/per account. Does this mean that we need to pick a server as early as Alpha 1 and stick with it if we want to keep our reserved name? Or can we chose a server after release?

Steven: We will release the initial server names for launch, and upon the release of that information, is when we will provide the option to reserve names on specific servers. For Alpha 1? No, not necessarily, because those are test servers. So months ahead of launch, you will be able to reserve the name.

Why is the currency called Embers?
Steven: Comes down to the core concept and idea behind who the goddess of creation is, and how embers and ashes correlate to the rebirth and death of a phoenix. Utilizing the soul of that phoenix.
Jeff: The whole thing is themed. We want the whole thing to feel in-character/in-lore, including currency, so that you feel you are always touching a phoenix at some rate.

Will epics be EPIC? Unlike other MMOs in the market?
Jeff: We haven't really named our tiers yet. We do know there will be legendary items (one off items), and those will be seriously epic. In terms of power scale on other kind of items, we want crafters to be responsible for some of these awesome items. How those items are crafted, will determine if they are epic or not.
Steven: A key element in our game, is that our items are sellable (not soul bound) on the market. Very few items will be soul bound.
Margaret: The economy in this game is going to be crazy. Some players spend their entire time selling and crafting.
Jeff: I really appreciate the mind-set that these crafters bring to the game. It fills out the world. Though there are very few games where I liked crafting. Feels like a chore. A few games have changed my mind about that though, Archeage in alpha was one of them.
Steven: I loved Archeage crafting. One thing I didn't like was the high amount of RNG, as well as the tiered dependencies. The dependencies really played towards their monetization model.

Will we have role-play tools for chat in game, like custom text emojis or dance etc?
Jeff: Our system is built around the idea of role-players being able to role-play. We will be doing emotes. /roll will definitely make it in. There will be plenty of in-character stuff to do in the game.

How important will crowd control and group mechanics be? For example tanking multiple mobs, stunning, interrupts etc.
Steven: CC is important. It is often a difficult time to balance the diminishing returns for CCs, especially when trying to balance it between PvE and PvP. It is a fine line. But it won't be a "I win button", endless stun-locks. They need to be used properly.

In siege mode, will there be captains?
Steven: There will be group leaders, with the ability to set waypoint commands, map locations etc. In the MMO, you will be able to have custom raid formations, and each group captain will be able to have in-game VOIP. They can talk to their party, or to the raid leader. In APOC you won't be able to talk to the raid itself (just your party).

Will there be RNG when we upgrade our gear?
Steven: There will be some RNG, we don't want it to be completely static. It will be more focused on gathering the resources, preparations of the recipe etc. But we do want to have a element of chance, to keep things interesting.
Jeff: But a lot of that RNG you see in other games, is intended to game money from players. It won't be built around that type of exploitable system, and we do not rely on that for our revenue.
Steven: Often it is RNG focused, it is a gold sink. They want these resources to be wasted. But we won't have a heavy focus on the RNG.

Are we going to see more heavy styled/medieval armor for melee classes?
Steven: Absolutely, yes.
Jeff: You saw some of that in Alpha 0.
Steven: Alpha 0 was the representation of after fall civilization, whereas in apocalypse you see before the fall. Even before the fall you are going to see those type of heavy armor items, but I think what you have seen in apocalypse has been more representation of non-heavy items. There will be wide variety of armor types, because we have many cultures. 9 different cultures and different classes.

Will gear matter in PvP?
Steven: Yes. Gear is a vertical progression. Gear is a good chunk of that damage output, but it won't be a end-all-be-all situation.
Jeff: Having a action-based skillset changes that equation quite a bit. Also balance is based on group balance, not 1v1 duels.

How does the guild halls work? It is a separate freehold you can build and customize, or another system completely?
Steven: There will be two type of guild halls. A static guild hall that will exist within a node, and a guild halls that can exist on a freehold. One of the ideas is that a guild of a certain level, can get a guild specific guild plot. The guild will have to progress to that stage, and the leader will own the ability to place that freehold. You will then be able to build infrastructure that is specific for the guild, which enables the guild to purchase things by using guild progression points. Schematics to a certain hall that benefit the players, potentially produce guild armor or guild items that can be used in battles etc. The guild can level that up. The freeholds can only be placed within the zone of influence (ZOI) of a stage 3, or higher, node. The guild hall plot may be raised to a stage 4 or 5 requirement, but we need to test this first.

How do you protect the city when the players are offline? (sieges etc)
Steven: There is a period of declaration, from when you can declare a siege and when it actually starts. The time between that will depend on the level of the node, typically a day per level. But you'll get plenty of time to prepare. Additionally, the time window when a siege can be declared, depends on the server time zone. (so you won't have sieges during night time in EU etc).

You talked about the apocalypse lobby can be a house, to invite friends over and customize?
Steven: It is something that we need to reassess. It is part of our roadmap to discuss, as it was outside of the scope of the MMORPG. We'll let you know.
Jeff: It isn't a core mechanic, as it was mostly cosmetic. So if we were in a situation where we needed to cut time, that might be cut.

Will the old referral system (with the link) still work?
Steven: The old link referrals will be moved to the new system, and you will receive a new code that you can use to put into the registration for new accounts. Currently referrals only show for those with new accounts. But the data will eventually be synced into the new database, so they won't be lost.

Full stream video

 
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Tex

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Awsome recap of the stream easy to navigate aswell 👌
 
  • Amazing!
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