Massively OP reader ichi_san has a burning question about the state of the industry.
“Lots of people seem to be looking for an MMO they can get into – consider the rush into Bless as an example. Lots of games are being released, but most (or even all) have some glaring issues, like pay-to-win, lockboxes, ganking, poor optimization, heavy cash shop, horrible gameplay, and so on. There’s the WoW model and other semi-successful formulas, and a lot of unexplored territory. The market seems hungry, and there is a bunch of history to build on and new territory to explore, but either gaming companies don’t understand their customers or greed/laziness/expediency get in the way, such that we see release after release that fails to scratch the itch. Am I missing something – are there fun MMOs with good graphics and fair monetization that I’m missing? Or is there a gaping hole in the MMO scene, and if so, why isn’t someone filling it?”
I’ve posed his question to the writers for their consideration in Overthinking this week. We’re long past bubble-bursting here when all of the still-major MMORPGs are four years older. What exactly are we looking at? Why is the obvious demand for MMOs not being met?
Information and reveals from Intrepid Studios about Ashes of Creation continues to be sporadic — but fortunately not absent entirely. The studio recently sent out a short newsletter to its backers informing them that testing and work continues as the MMO undergoes Alpha Zero and prepares for the first phase of Alpha One.
“We just completed two straight weeks of testing in Alpha Zero with over 2,000 participant,” Intrepid said. “We know how hard it can be for an MMO to have a smooth launch, and the experience on our team of veterans who have launched some of the largest MMOs in the past, combined with the endless testing we have planned and a community hungry to help, we can be certain that Ashes will launch with a quality to make you proud.”
To help in this endeavor, Intrepid has hired seven new team members who will be introduced to the community some time later this month. The studio’s also going to be talking to fans on Twitch tonight at 6:00 p.m. EDT, so don’t miss that if you’re interested in finding out more about this game.
If Kickstarter truly kickstarted the gaming public’s interest in Ashes of Creation, then the team is not complaining. In fact, Intrepid Studios sent out a letter to fans in which it reflected on the past 12 months and how much has happened between May 2017 and now.
It’s probably one of those letters you just want to read yourself, so here you go:
Can you believe it has already been one year since the start of our Kickstarter? We cannot either honestly. It feels like only yesterday that we were in the midst of one of the craziest days of our lives! Ashes of Creation has come a long way since May 1st, 2017, and we are proud to report that the project is on schedule and making remarkable progress.
The past couple of weeks has been wild as we dispatched writers to GDC in San Francisco and PAX East in Boston to gather up and bring back everything they could on the MMORPGs large and small on the spring convention circuit. In fact, as I type this, we’ve got Brendan in Reykjavik for EVE Fanfest too! So for this week’s Overthinking, we’re rounding up our coverage and then reflecting on the best and worst as we pick out what most excites, surprises, and disappoints us: First the roundups, then our thoughts. Read on!
If the only thing you want to take away from the latest bit of Ashes of Creation newsletter is information you may not have had before today, here it is: Alpha One is due for fourth quarter 2018, and there will be no NDA in place. You can freely talk with anyone and everyone about what you see in the game. That may sound more like a beta to our definition-minded readers, but let’s not quibble.
If, on the other hand, you’d like to see how the game managed things on the show floor of PAX East 2018, you can check out the video just below that cuts together a 10-minute highlight reel of what took place on the show floor. (It might also give you a decent idea of just how crowded said show floor actually is if you’ve never been.) You could also check out our own hands-on piece from the convention, if you haven’t already.
This year’s PAX East featured a lot of games early in their testing phase, but Ashes of Creation was one that had splurged for a very large booth toward the center of the show floor. And let’s be fair here; the game sure looked like it was ready for prime time. Between the animations on display and the general look of playing the game for onlookers, this is the sort of game that, at a glance, certainly did not look like something in pre-alpha. All of its graphical polish was being shown off to great effect.
Of course, looking good is one thing. The real question was how it played. But that was why the game also had demo stations set up, so that players could see what the game looked like in its current state of development and get a feel for the game from the PvE side and the PvP side.
I took a tour of a brief PvE dungeon with a GM assisting our party and three other people, which served as my chance to get a handle on what the game was offering. Of course, this was also a very early test build, so there’s no doubt a lot that’s going to be changing over time. But it did, at least, feel like a good fundamental base for combat.
Ashes of Creation will hit alpha one by the end of the year, Intrepid Studios announced today during its panel at PAX East. The game slipped into a phase it’s calling “alpha zero” back in December.
“The first phase of this public test for all Alpha One level backers will focus primarily on combat, hosting large amounts of players for our siege and warfare systems,” says the studio. “Leading up until the start of Alpha 1, we will still be inviting more players into the Alpha Zero Friends & Family tests.”
Massively OP is at PAX East this week and slated to meet with Intrepid tomorrow, so stay tuned for more coverage, and check out the new PAX video below!
Good news, Ashes of Creation fans, you can now give the development team more money! The team has rolled out new pre-order packages for players who want to get in to early testing and also want to unlock new cosmetic items. The trick? The packages are time-limited, rotating on a monthly basis to a new set of cosmetic options. Miss out on one package? You miss out on the cosmetics.
These packages also run from $500 on the high end to $75 on the low end, so if you want all of the various cosmetics you’d better be prepared for some major financial outlays. Fortunately for those who had already pre-ordered, there is an option to buy the monthly cosmetics for a smaller sum, but it’s still going to be a rotating offering of stuff you just can’t get any other way. Or it will be that stuff, since none of it is in the game yet. You understand.
Source: Intrepid Studios press release; thanks to Siphaed for the tip!
On this week’s show, Bree and Justin dive into deep mysteries, get ready for a slice of RIFT Prime, and once again try to figure out just what the heck Daybreak is doing with its H1Z1 franchise. Also, BREE SINGS. It’s as amazing as you always imagined.
It’s the Massively OP Podcast, an action-packed hour of news, tales, opinions, and gamer emails! And remember, if you’d like to send in your own letter to the show, use the “Tips” button in the top-right corner of the site to do so.
Listen to the show right now:
Ashes of Creation has a new video out swooping through the halls of the dungeon Dünheim, apparently playable in the game’s current alpha zero phase. The accompanying lore diary describes a Dwarven city within a mountain, in decline thanks to supernatural forces (and/or comets?).
“The road into Dünheim was a long tunnel that begins at the Great Gates of the mountain. Several miles in length, it was the only entrance into the mountain. Normally, this passage was filled with traders and travelers from across Verra. But in the recent years, the world had changed, and with it so had the lifeline into Dünheim.”
What’s left behind to torment our characters is a dark, dank, and cavernous hall that’s surely going to remind you of Tolkien’s Moria. Try not to fall off the walkways because these Dwarves apparently hated railings too. Enjoy!
Out with the old and in with the new… website, that is. Intrepid Studios wasn’t content with the previous version of Ashes of Creation’s studio web presence, electing to overhaul the site with a brand-new version that is now live.
In the studio’s press release, Intrepid mentioned that it was hiring for at least six additional position including a senior game designer and a senior producer. The studio also said that it’s working on a pair of secret, in-universe projects as well as the fantasy MMORPG.
“Intrepid is also currently planning two unannounced projects within the Ashes of Creation universe,” the studio said. “Information on both projects will be revealed at a later date.” Creative Director Steven Sharif underscored this by hinting at “big plans” that will be revealed later this year.
Source: Press release
Open world dungeons, node tending, and other pre-alpha adventures were all part and parcel of Ashes of Creation’s developer livestream last week. The team showed off 52 minutes of uninterrupted gameplay that included exploration, various features, and a ton of action combat.
The team answered many community questions on the livestream, including how the current build was tailored specifically for testers: “We wanted people who were coming in to test to actually be able to kind of do stuff solo. So, it’s not what it was really built for. All the group content right now is just in our dungeons. And that’s totally going to change when we go live.”
Other topics discussed was Ashes of Creation’s stealth system, account-bound player housing, caravans, diminishing returns on crowd control, animal husbandry (woo), and cosmetics. Check it out below!
Don’t look now, but PvP is coming — and it’s coming to almost every new MMO in development. It only recently hit me just how many upcoming games are being centered around PvP as a core mechanic. Camelot Unchained, Crowfall, Ashes of Creation, Wild West Online, Worlds Adrift, Dual Universe, Chronicles of Elyria, every survival sandbox you could name… all PvP, pretty much all of the time.
I don’t outright resent PvP from being in MMOs, but as a primarily PvE player, it concerns me to see a flood of this washing over titles that I would otherwise have no reservations about playing. Many of the worlds and mechanics of these games have appeal, but not at the expense of having some jerk ambush me and kill me in 1.5 seconds flat at any moment.
Heck, even Sea of Thieves’ piracy gameplay loop has triggered alarms in my head that captains will be looking to swarm the title with griefing tactics once they’re done playing the “proper” way.
Maybe I’m overreacting. How do you feel about the increased focus on PvP in upcoming MMOs? Why do you think we are seeing a rise of such games?