PAX West 2017: Ashes of Creation’s combat, crowdfunding, characters, and the infamous hat

You don’t have to be a massive MMO studio to have a big showing at PAX West – Intrepid Studios proved that. The indie studio developing Ashes of Creation had a large booth with a giant TV broadcasting videos, hands-on demos for players to see what the game is about, a merchandise counter (which appeared to be doing good business), plenty of devs on hand to answer questions, and a full panel to discuss the game’s progress and plans to a large audience. And Founder and Creative Director Steven Sharif was on hand the whole time to talk about his game with everyone who came by. As he told me, “That’s our job here today, to expose more people to [AoC’s] potential.” He wants players to know that it isn’t about promises without delivery

Between a demo and a couple of interviews, I had the opportunity to chat with Sharif about the game a few different times. We talked about classes, crowdfunding, and character customization. I also got to team up with a group and run through a short PvE adventure narrated by a dev, testing out skills and exploring a few features. Then I delved into a PvP match. And yes, we also discussed the red hat controversy.

About that red hat

Let’s go ahead and get this discussion out of the way right up front. The infamous red cap with the slogan “Make MMOs Great Again” definitely caused a stir, especially on Twitter. I can completely understand the concern of using such a polarizing statement to represent a game. Is it a show of support, or is it humor, or is it something else? In light of how problematic some can find the slogan, I asked Sharif to explain the reasoning behind the use of it. Arguing that memes are a pretty popular part of internet culture, he explained it was meant as a wearable meme.

“As a matter of satire,” he said, “we’re taking a divisive element in our culture and we’re using it for a genre that promotes community building.” Indeed, Sharif emphasized that it’s about bringing people together. “You need to understand the context: It’s intended to be satire; it’s intended to be a meme. And here at a gaming convention, memes are going to abound.”

How has the reception been at the convention? Sharif noted that he’s seen many double takes, but most folks have laughed once they saw the actual message on the hat. Will it work, though? Repurposing a particularly provocative slogan or a symbol seems risky. Time will tell how it ultimately affects Ashes of Creation.

The three Cs

I mentioned that we talked about classes, crowdfunding, and character customization. On classes, Sharif expressed that the super generic names on the base classes is on purpose. In fact, those aren’t really the classes of the game; those generic names are on the archetypes, and combining them can make 64 different classes. It is the combining of two archetypes that will make the player’s class. One archetype will be primary and the other secondary. The archetypes are so generic so the skills involved area easily identifiable. Speaking of skills, the fact that each class has a special skill that helps with the environment (the cleric can dissipate a poison cloud, my mage dispelled an illusion hiding a hidden pathway, etc.) is really neat. I can’t wait to see how that affects gameplay.

I’d also asked Sharif about the second crowdfunding initiative on the site: How successful was it? he explained that this was not meant to be a big push of crowdfunding, which is why it wasn’t really pushed or advertised. All it was was a way for those who had no means to participate in the actual Kickstarter. Sharif explained that there was a block of players from overseas who wanted to help but could not because of the payment restrictions on the Kickstarter platform. This, then, was just a way for those folks to be able to back the game as well. No, it didn’t reach the levels of Kickstarter, but it was never meant to.

Relating that some folks have been complaining about the character models, I asked Sharif if any work was still slated for them. He emphasized that what folks saw on the videos and at the demo was “a super first pass.”

“We haven’t even compiled our shaders yet, for skin, for clothes, for materials,” he told me. “[The demo] was more about getting a general idea about the environment, of the skills and how they work, and just letting people see the progress we are making. As we move forward, I have some extremely talented artists, super talented artists, and the time that we’re going to spend on that character creation suite and the character models themselves is going to be very extensive.” He then revealed that one of his goals is to release the character suite early so that players have the chance to play around with it and then save their characters that they may want to use to upload upon launch. This will help me immensely!

A taste of PvP

I’ll admit that didn’t find anything particularly remarkable about the PvP combat when I played a match. But in all fairness, this was only a tiny taste, and this particular setting isn’t necessarily anything that will be kept in game; it was constructed specifically for PAX.

The PvP was a small arena where we played 4v4; there were objectives to get as well as opponents to hit. Our team ended up winning not because we earning more kills but because our ranger was running around swiping all the objectives while the other team focused on killing us.

In discussing the PvP with devs, it was noted that the team was looking into making arenas where players could engage in 3v3, 5v5, and 7v7 matches. This is only a possibility now, though, not a promise. I’ll reserve any judgement on the fun factor of PvP until I can play a more finalized version – and play more than one match.

Massively Overpowered is on the ground in Seattle for PAX West 2017, bringing you expert MMO coverage on Ashes of Creation, Ship of Heroes, Dual Universe, and everything else on display at the latest Penny Arcade Expo!
SHARE THIS ARTICLE
Code of Conduct | Edit Your Profile | Commenting FAQ | Badge Reclamation | Badge Key

LEAVE A COMMENT

35 Comments on "PAX West 2017: Ashes of Creation’s combat, crowdfunding, characters, and the infamous hat"

Subscribe to:
Sort by:   newest | oldest | most liked
Reader
Malcolm Swoboda

That hat ruins all good vibes.

Reader
Joe Seabreeze

I wish I could give these guys all of Star Citizen’s crowd funding. This is pretty much the only mmo I’ve cared about in many years. I really REALLY want to see this game released with the features they’re talking about. From what I’ve heard/seen, this is the only game that falls under the mmorpg 3.0 umbrella at this time. The stagnant genre needs to move foward and this game could help it.

Reader
Oleg Chebeneev

Thats like taking away all of Elon Mask’s money and giving it away to Church of Scientology

Reader
Joe Seabreeze

You’re comparing Elon Musk’s companies and success with Chris Robert’s Cloud Imperium? Umm, I think you’re a bit off there lol

Reader
Oleg Chebeneev

Why not? Both of them became very succesful and drag alot of attention and hope. Both aiming to make breakthrough in their own field. Both arent quite there yet.

Reader
Charl Merwe

What is MMORPG 3.0 ?

Reader
Jeff

What’s with all the unhinged Trump derangement syndrome…it was obviously a joke.

Any chance to virtue signal I guess…. :-/

Solaris
Reader
Solaris

That meme was around during Kickstarter. Then I think it was mentioned very jokingly in one of the Ashes community podcasts and people ran with it. I very much despise the original subject matter but find no issue with the meme.

Reader
dinwitt

The way it is written sounds like there will be 64 archetypes. The actual numbers are 8 archetypes (Tank, Fighter, Ranger, Rogue, Mage, Cleric, Summoner, Bard) and 64 classes.

Reader
Sorenthaz

Anyone who actually gets triggered or offended by a “Make X Great Again” joke probably needs to evaluate their priorities in life.

Reader
silverlock

Heck it’s not even a little bit creative, Stellaris did the exact same thing with their “Make Space Great Again” red hats. No one seemed to get worked up over that one.

Reader
Sorenthaz

Well Ashes of Creation is taking the whole “every other MMO sucks these days, we’re going to be the one that brings people back to redefine what MMOs are really about” schtick which always draws the cynics out.

Reader
Oleg Chebeneev

I find it funny that they chose this Trump’s slogan for their MMO. Since I believe they will do as much for MMOs as Trump does for America

Reader
BDJ

It has to be a sad existence to have nothing else better to but hate on games just for the fact that you are a hater.

Reader
Oleg Chebeneev

Looks like youre very angry and need a hug. Here, take my upvote.

Reader
Mikka Hansen

MLM guy using trump iconology? Woah, shocking…not. crooks of a feather flock together

Reader
Malcolm Swoboda

Exactly.

Reader
Loyal Patron
Patreon Donor
Kickstarter Donor
Archebius

Someone I work with in IT, who opposes Trump (and especially Pence) for a wide variety of reasons, created a “Make Availability Great Again” poster to encourage application uptime.

Just gotta have fun with things.

Reader
Melissa McDonald

Can’t imagine why that red hat would be a big “problem”. I think it’s topical and timely. Good marketing.

Reader
wratts

Is there still a lifetime sub option for Creation? Looks interesting, but there’s no way I’m backing another sub-only game. Don’t mind over-contributing as a one-time, but like to know I’ve locked in my account. Near as I can tell, the only offerings on the site don’t include a lifetime sub

Reader
Sorenthaz

I have no clue if there is a similar option for non-KS backers now, because I only see the KS backer upgrades that I can still purchase higher tiers of if I want, but the lifetime option was included in the $500+ packages.

It looks like now you can only buy the PAX packages which don’t include much beyond some PAX extras and the ability to buy into 2nd alpha or 2nd closed beta phases.

Reader
life_isnt_just_dank_memes

They had a real limited run of these on kickstarter from what i remember. The money for the sub doesnt bother me as much as what you’re saying: I want to be able to access my account whenever and however long I want. Maybe I just want to return to see the game for a few days instead of paying for a game for a month but I only want to spend a few hours in it that month. The sub model really limits that and isn’t optimal anymore. Games like ESO, GW2, BDO and others have proved that.

I’d buy a lifetime sup as well though. All about being able to access the account when I want. I’d spend that money in a b2p game in the cash shop over the course of a few years anyways. Those game have a better model though and I can play them whenever and however long per month I want sans sub fee.

Reader
wratts

Exactly. I bought the TSW lifetime sub, and even though it was never really my “main” MMO, I never regretted it for a second. Now, with SWL picking that up I’ve been back in game playing a bit again even if it’s still my “alt” MMO. Even the games like ESO I wish would have a lifetime option, just because the subscriber benefits are almost too rich to do without (hello, crafter’s bag. where can I buy you as a one-off?)

Reader
Armsbend

Are you saying you SUPPORT President Trump????

who gives a fuck?

Reader
Charl Merwe

if you read the article then you should google the word ‘satire’ if you don’t understand it.

astald
Reader
astald

“The infamous red cap with the slogan “Make MMOs Great Again” definitely caused a stir”
Really shouldn’t have, just a variation on a campaign slogan. Not any different than all of the variations of President Obama’s Hope propaganda.

Reader
KryptonianGL

Ugh!!! And that’s exactly what pisses me off about a lot of liberals. They are sooo frickin’ biased and one-sided that they cannot think objectively or for themselves!

I had to put up with 8 years of Obama’s bullshit, while he sold out America. However, I didn’t get on social media and cry about it to everyone, in outlets that have absolutely nothing to do with politics. And, I also didn’t cry when Obama won 2 elections either! Yet, Trump can do nothing right with many liberals and many liberal whiners feel the need to bring his name (and politics) into every conversation they touch, whenever they get the slightest opportunity to do so!

I think it’s an absolute joke that those people constantly criticize Trump while praising either Obama or the Clintons, like either of them give AF about anybody but themselves. Both the Clintons and Obama used politics to amass a fortune…and most of it was at the detriment to American citizens.

Furthermore, I didn’t see the Obamas or Clintons donating any of their millions to the Hurricane Harvey relief effort, yet Trump did.

Obama and the Clintons were both owned by Soros, the Rockefellers, the Rothchilds and the other few rich families that own the world banking system. The same families that continue to manipulate America and its people while the American people get poorer, they get richer and laugh at the stupidy of most Americans and their lack knowledge of what’s really going on around them.

The real problem isn’t Trump either, it’s Main-Stream-Media (owned by the rich) spreading fear-porn, fake news and downright lies so that they can complete their own political agendas and amass even more wealth.

But I digress…after all, that’s not the real point.

The point is that Ashes of Creation merely jumped on a marketing opportunity with the slogan “Make MMOs Great Again”. That’s all! Nothing more!

Matter of fact, if you really pay attention to the AoC live feeds/interviews you can easily tell that Jeffrey Bard is not a fan of Trump and almost cringes everytime he hears the slogan mentioned. However, even if he hates Trump, as another human being, I have zero ill-will toward him or do I let it affect how I feel about AoC. I couldn’t care less about them using the slogan, one way or the other. And I certainly DO NOT think AoC has any sort of political agenda in the very least!

/end rant

Reader
Raimo Kangasniemi

I’m no liberal, but if you didn’t, a gazillion of people on the right did bring Obama to everything – remember the SWTOR Sith on Korriban that people claimed was based on Obama?

Gaming is heavily political, and actually game publishers and developers censor themselves greatly so as not to step on any sensitive toes. It’s not just today’s political issues, but those past ones still considered sensitive.

A random example: The Vietnam war. Try to find a non-strategy, non- flight simulator game where it has been possible to play Vietcong guerilla or North Korean soldier.

The idea that you could play a character killing US soldiers outside WWI and WWII games is a taboo – not only in ‘War on Terror’ games, but in those about Vietnam etc.

One could claim that fantasy is so popular in online games because it’s considered largely politically neutral genre – although most fantasy games, based in feudal or semi-feudal fictional universes as they are, tend to be based on what is old-fashioned conservative ideology.

Ideology that in the setting will go uncontested by players who take it for granted, because it comes with the fantasy genre. A critical reading of typical fantasy MMO would reveal highly conservative, hierarchical worldview – reflected in the agenda put on the player’s character by the game, whether themepark or sandbox.

A basic MMO story in both themeparks and sandboxes is advancement of the player’s character in a rigid hierarchy and the restoration and protection of that hierarchy and its symbols – or its creation and protection in sandboxes.

The economies in MMOs are basically a brand of protectionist free market. Free trade over factions is barred or limited, but the economies inside factions in almost all MMOs share same basic assumptions that are taken granted by developers and players alike.

Reader
Sorenthaz

Yeah it’s pretty dang hilarious how hypocritical things have been since Trump won. Basically everything that happened from the right side of things when Obama won is like… magnified out of proportion on the left side. Probably because every major American news organization outside of Fox News (which ofc was ridiculed like crazy during Obama’s years) are slanted to the left by varying degrees.

I really hope people wake up and realize with the 2016 more than ever that the media pretty much created a self-fulfilling prophecy with Trump winning. They immediately started pushing stories and discussions out about him when he first mentioned going for president back in the 2012 elections, and then like… 2014? Immediately started building up this narrative that made it sound like Trump was already guaranteed to be the Republican party representative; Why? Because Trump seemed like the least likely candidate to win against Hillary (or Bernie, though Bernie Sanders was only really pushed heavily by Internet communities due to memes and the heavy progressive indoctrination of college/high school students and young adults).

They used this exact same tactic to build up Mitt Romney in the 2012 elections because Mitt was easily one of the worst candidates to go up against Obama, but this time it backfired horribly with Trump because the majority of America made it clear that there’s no way in hell they’d trust Hillary running the country.

Reader
Ket Viliano

Or the “Keep Calm” memes.

It is entirely normal for gamers to repurpose political propaganda for their own ends.

wpDiscuz