Why Ashes of Creation Will be the Next Big MMO

MMOs or Massive Multiplayer Online games have been around for decades now and originally centered on player experience and community creation, but in a continuous effort for profitability or play time numbers the game models have changed in unfavorable ways that are ultimately driving players away from the genre. Many of you out there have been plodding through game after game, trying to get that lost feeling back. The sense of adventure and wonder you feel when stepping into a fresh MMO. The story, new scenery, friendships, and enemies, but unfortunately the thrills in recent years have been far and few between. The MMO market has slowly lost steam, with games even like leader World of Warcraft losing continuous subs as time marches forward. People ask, is this because the MMO genre is dead? Has it lost its relevance in the era of quick paced games such as battle royals? Far from it. What the MMO industry HAS been lacking, however, is an elite MMO banner for players to rally behind once again. Enter: Ashes Of Creation by Intrepid Studio.

Everyone in MMOs know that community is one of the biggest building blocks in player experience. How does Ashes of Creation address all this? Let’s talk about one of the root problems in modern MMOs: the creators have fallen out of touch with the player base. Anywhere from no longer listening to player feedback, easing gameplay for mass playability, or changing monetary tactics to free to play transactions (which can negatively impact a game in many ways) the big boys of the market just can’t seem to get it right. Ashes of Creation (AoC) will be and is different. Why? The main creators behind the game are veteran players of the MMO Genre. Steve Shariff is not only the CEO of Intrepid Studios and AoC, but he also strives and lives to create a game for the players because he will be one of the players.

Steven has been playing MMOs for almost as long as some of our readers have been alive, 25 years, and in that time he as seen games rise and fall. In his quest to find the perfect MMO Steven became frustrated with what the market has to offer, and instead of continuing down the path of mediocrity he took a leap of faith and AoC was born. But a dream isn’t enough in our capitalistic world, there needs to be financial backing as well. Instead of being chained to a modern triple-A studio AoC has created its own path with Steven founding his own studio, Intrepid Studios and by funding the entire core gaming experience out of his own pocket (an estimated 30 million over the course of production)! That’s right, he really does have a dream and he’s putting his money where is mouth is.

Around him, Steve has rallied a group of like-minded individuals, veterans of the industry in artwork, graphic design and more. It is important to them all to create a competitive project but one that also fulfills the meaning of MMOs. Steve wants to bring back community to MMOs again, let’s talk about some of the ways where AoC will shine over the competition (realize there are many more reasons than the few listed below).

1.No pay to win features:
That's right, AoC will be a $15 dollars a month subscription (or similar to non U.S. countries) model over the ever popular microtransactions. In many games such as Black Desert Online(BDO), Lord of the Rings Online (LOTR), World of Tanks (WoT), there are no costs in playing, but by paying small fees here and there (or large ones) you can drastically alter your quality of life, and in some games pay for items or bonuses that give you advantages over your foes (in world of tanks you can buy stronger ammunition making it easier to kill your enemies). This is a flat NO, not happening, in AoC. The development team has stated many times they prefer a standard monthly payment to cover production and upkeep costs over people paying microtransactions.

Free to play style of payment method may have initially breathed new life into some games (Lord of the Rings Online is an example) but overall it causes strife in communities and imbalances that create a negative experience. Through my own experience in playing games such as Black Desert Online or World of Tanks it has shown me that if you wish to be competitive, whether it's grinding in BDO, or having available gold rounds/grinding out tanks or XP in WoT, you need to spend money regardless. People who pay more will have greater advantages than others, and if you want to create a wholesome community that feels a sense of camaraderie you cannot have “elite” players also known as “wallet warriors”. It is important for players to START on the same level and allow them to naturally progress at different rates. This allows a sense of individual accomplishment as well as creating a standing for each player within the community.


2. Open world or sandbox MMO versus theme park:
AoC plans on being a sandbox MMO. in other words, you can do what you what when you want and it will affect the world around you (more on that later). There will be main storylines, but if you choose you can explore off into the darker parts of the world, find new items and quests that others may not. You will not be roped into the main storyline that everyone has to do in order to complete the game.

In fact, if questing isn’t your jam, there will be plenty of other ways to boost your player XP too such as crafting, gathering, PvP ect. Giving players the options and not forcing them onto a ride they have no control over improves satisfaction. Why? Because part of the journey is how you get there, and each unique experience where the player makes the choice adds to the overall magic.
A perfect example is the long-held titan World of Warcraft. It has always had more of a directed theme park style, but this largely was developed increasingly over each expansion. A rift in the community has developed as more and more individuals feel the pressure of being pushed a direction instead of being able to forge their own path. Even large content streamers have voiced their disapproval. A perfect example is in the current content many players of certain factions have voiced opinions about being forced into competing in scenarios and pushed into doing acts that they consider against their characters moral compass (the druid class burning down and destroying nature as an example).

Largely the reason for this frustration is because theme park MMOs or games typically have stories that attempt to immerse the hero at the stories core (you are our only hope etc.) but by creating so-called player driving story arcs you actually distance many players by forcing them to take one path simply because there is only ONE path to be taken. You feel exalted and epic as you “save the world” only to lose that high when you realize that every other play is the sole savior of the world as well. Instead many long for the rich atmosphere where you change and form the world around you as you play instead of being force-fed content you do not wish to complete but need to in order to continue.

3. Nodes:
Nodes introduce a dynamic player experience sure to keep things interesting by incorporating player choices into world experiences. Let's talk about forging your own path and how it affects the world around you. In AoC each zone has multiple nodes which over time will develop into inhabited cities or places of commerce. As players quest in those areas or provide resources the nodes will develop and grow bigger, but here is the fun part, the race you pick will influence the node. For example, if a large group of dwarf players contribute to a node, a dwarven city will arise. Each race brings special unique features to a city such as architecture, quest options, new enemy spawns etc. Late to the game and worried all the nodes will be set up? Don’t worry, nodes are meant to grow and at times fall (whether in a PvP raid or a PvE encounter such as waking a dragon who attacks the city) and be reborn into another fantastic new node. If you want to learn more details about nodes check it out here.

Node systems are a direct answer to the MMORPG player basing wanting an environment that they are able to shape and mold to their desire. Nothing excites players more than knowing that they are doing has a purpose and will have a cause and effect. I personally am looking forward to exploring and discovered nodes quiet by accident. Another option that will surely draw players is finding individuals with like-minded approaches. Maybe as a human player, you wish to have a large human influence in a certain zone, so naturally, you band together with other humans, maybe even form a guild, and work on providing resources, completing quests and clearing out dangerous monsters, so that one day you will have a thriving human metropolis.

4. Community involvement
I saved this for last because I believe it is the biggest factor in AoC success. From the very beginning, everyone at AoC has been extremely transparent in what they want for the game and also listening to what the community wants. In an era of where games are being fashioned for profitability and ease of design, it is HUGE that the AoC dev team incorporates player wishes and feedback into their design. There are several great examples of this. Firstly, AoC has been in production for a little over a year, and yet they have already been to multiple conventions to allow people to try out their game designs and give them feedback. To put this into perspective most MMO games take 4-6 years to produce and AoC has been around less than a year! It has never been done before, and that is what makes AoC so special, its a community effort directed and created by Intrepid Studios.
In addition, they do monthly game updates, are active on forums, twitter, and their AoC discord with Steven Sharif answering many questions himself. To top it off, AoC has been enlisting the help of the community to test their game as early as last December (individuals who were active and involved on the AoC forums for the Halloween special were awarded Alpha Zero access). Even now, alpha testing is occurring with community members, and they add more people every week. The AoC dev team truly wants a user-built experience, and to prove it to use they back their talk. I have not seen as much passion in the production of a game in recent years as AoC. You can feel it from the staff as they do their updates and tell of exciting new changes. There is a reason that AoC was the highest pledges MMO Kickstarter campaign!

If you are like me and feel that anticipation and excitement rising in your belly, then have no fear! There are already people just like you who have signed up and are looking for friends to build guilds that will be ready for launch. Check out www.Ashesofcreation.com and head over to the forums to find topics about guilds that will be forming for AoC. Some of them already have discords set in place! AoC is a beautiful game in the making, but be warned it will be a dangerous world and having a band of friends will improve your odds of survival, as well as create an easy access to questions and help.

Conclusion:
So does all of this seem too much like a pipe dream? Too ambitious to be pulled off? Many of the community thought so in the beginning, going as far as to say that AoC was a potential scam during the Kickstarter. AoC started with a handful of developers and quickly grew as they fleshed out their and the communities dream. Now they are well over 100 developers and still growing, planning on having over 200 by the end of the year! This is extremely important for people to know about because it shows that the AoC dev team understands their ambitious undertaking and is providing the manpower to fulfill it.

Ashes of Creation is currently undergoing Alpha 1 testing and is under an NDA, although this has been partially lifted for some streamers and will be fully lifted in the near future. Steven Sharif and the development team are happy to announce they are not only on schedule for production but ahead of their expected marks (as they have been through all of the development). Alpha 1 will be in full swing shortly, followed then by Alpha 2 in late 4th quarter and beyond. AoC is expected to release sometime in 2020 as a full game, but if you are interested in AoC go ahead and register on their website where you will be invited to play the game prior to release date (come join the community in creating this amazing new game!) Remember, AoC is about exploring a new bright world with an army of friends and foes, so tell your friends as well!

If you would like to explore more about AoC on your own please check out these great resources below!

https://www.ashesofcreation.com/
https://ashesofcreation.wiki/
https://www.theaocdungeon.com/
 
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Zella

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Well written, @Tiberius ^.^

I think that Ashes is quite ambitious and I always try to stop myself from getting over-hyped since goodness knows we have all been let down by games before. And hype + wild expectations can be a mix for disaster.

But that being said I think it has a really good chance at being successful. At the moment we are all just along for the ride. And if nothing else I have met some awesome people through Ashes so I am already happy with it ✨
 
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Kleinature

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Great summary.

I'm just here to enjoy the ride. I am happy to say it out loud that I am EXTREMELY excited for this game and that I want it to succeed. With all the elements they have pitched for the game, it all comes down to how well they can pull it off. I do at times think that they may have bitten off more than they can chew, but as long as they create a strong foundation of systems/mechanics then we should see some great results.

Seeing the passion of the devs (especially Jeffrey Bard) re-assures me that their intentions and direction for the game is on the right track. Even though they don't make the best decisions at times, as long as they learn from their mistakes it will be successful.

I do think they may be slightly behind in terms of their scheduled roadmap, as originally the Alpha 1 (now known as Alpha 1 Phase 2) was scheduled for December this year, whereas now they have separated it into two phases to give them a few extra months up their sleeves.

I am not fussed with the game being pushed back a few months if they feel it's not ready as they only get one chance to impress the community at launch!
 

Tiberius

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Good news Kleinature, they are actually ahead of the game for testing so far! In fact, they have made all their self-imposed deadlines since announcing the game, and they have always beaten their deadlines. Will this change? Maybe, but so far they have been pretty consistent. In addition, I too feel like sometimes they have created options or promised large ideas that will take a long time to actually produce, but they realize this as well. Hence why the production team has swelled in the recent months to over 100 strong, and they continue to hire. Intrepid Studios has realized, and as Steven has said before, knows that their endeavor is extremely large, they have always wanted it that way. So hopefully with that understanding they continue to approach with the mindset of pedal to the metal :smile:
 

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