Yesterday, creative director Steven Sharif joined with the MMORPG subreddit’s community rep Protobear to answer several fan questions about Ashes of Creation, which ran the usual broad-reaching gamut of inquiries about various systems and matters related to the developing MMORPG. As ever, Sharif had a lot to say, so strap yourselves in.
Sharif first fielded a question related to the game’s hybrid combat model, talking how skill trees have a combination of tab-target abilities and more active abilities that register hitscan or projectiles. Ultimately, the devs will continue to iterate on combat and collect data from users as testing presses on.
Sharif also fielded a couple of questions about the game’s classes, namely the Bard and Summoner, explaining that the Bard will offer support but will primarily be a jack-of-all-trades sort of class and that Summoners can allocate skill points to better flesh out what sort of role their pets will take on (DPS, healer, or tank). Incidentally, Protobear asked why the devs went with a holy trinity class makeup; Sharif answered by explaining that most MMORPG gamers are used to the trinity and that there are “certain systems that don’t need to be reinvented.”
Another question asked about whether there will be more challenging content, which prompted Sharif to elaborate on how certain bosses or other monsters have a variety of skill trees they can tap into depending on how an encounter is going, such as additional adds, enrages, recovery effects, or buffs.
Sharif answered a question about stopping massive guilds from controlling huge swaths of territory in the form of camping world bosses or open world dungeon areas, explaining that the size of the game’s world would likely make it difficult for larger guilds to hoard all the hot spots. He also talked about how player politics will effectively solve the problem, as well as the frequency that nodes in AOC will change, which will make control more challenging.
Another question in that same vein asked how open world PvP won’t make AOC unplayable for small guilds or individuals. In that regard, Sharif leans on the latent flagging system and the crutch of the game’s corruption system as deterrents since corrupted players take sterner death penalties, accrue more XP debt, see their skill effectiveness deteriorate, and become visible to bounty hunters. That said, Sharif stressed how economic gameplay “needs to have an element of risk to it,” pointing to things like caravans as one such form of risk vs. reward.
Shortly after that, a question about PvE-focused gameplay came up, prompting Sharif to point to things like dungeons, raid events, and crafting and resource gathering, while also having an open world that encourages social interaction and not only territory control. “What’s gonna probably happen is you’re going to meet people you never knew before,” said Sharif. “The idea behind the open world isn’t to create contestable areas. It’s to put you in an environment with other people — with a massive amount of other people — because that’s what makes MMOs MMOs.”
On the subject of expansions making older content obsolete, Sharif once more pointed to AOC’s node system as a solution; new areas of the map or new points of interest are still going to require players to build up nodes, which in turn makes existing player activities stay relevant, whether that’s crafting or gathering or adventuring. Incidentally, the node system is explained as a way of keeping starting areas populated, since they don’t go away unless they’re destroyed and will draw players that are citizens or have houses in that node back to the area.
Finally, Sharif talked about different metropolis-sized node “superpowers,” starting off by saying that things are very likely going to change but also talking about features like divine nodes having massive “Ironman mode-type” dungeon catacombs that connect to vassal nodes. Once again, though, that’s subject to change, and Sharif begs fans to not hold him to that statement as a guaranteed feature.
If you’ve got about an hour to yourself, you can watch the complete stream below.