Ashes of Creation’s latest newsletter has a few bits of interest for those watching the game from afar. For starters, Intrepid says it’s now “officially passed 100 developers on the project” and plans to announce an addition 21 new hires in August.
And what are they working on? Alpha, of course. The studio says it counts “over 8500” folks testing alpha one; that’ll close once it hits 10,000. Moreover, the rest of alpha is being sorted out into different phases.
“Phase One of Alpha One, which will be accessible next month, will be focusing on the action side of combat, and will include modes of; Open World Battlegrounds, Castle Sieges and City Defense Horde Mode. This phase is designed to test the mechanics of our action side of combat, as well as, our castle siege systems, and adaptive AI mechanics in the Horde mode.”
The communities for MMORPGs are what keep these games vibrant and awesome, and today we want to shine a spotlight on various projects and activities that players are running this week.
The MMO Bookclub has decided that it will be gathering its community together to play World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth during the month of August. Well, the second half of the month, at least.
Over at Secret World Legends, the community is putting on a benefit fashion show on August 4th to raise money for Lupus awareness. It’s a good excuse as any to spend hours pouring over cosmetic options! (Thanks, Hikari!)
In dealing with the ArenaNet fallout over the last couple of weeks, I started giving serious thought to the Reddit problem in gaming, and I’m not just talking about the overt hate groups allowed to fester there. You know how one of the rules of thumb for MMORPG communities for the longest time was never go to the official forums because you’d come away feeling depressed and dejected, believing the game community was a hot mess and your class was most assuredly the most broken? Reddit is like that, only nobody there cares enough about fixing it to see it through, and so we’ve got a tragedy of the commons problem playing out in cyberspace.
When game companies owned their own discussion spaces, most of them at least made some modicum of effort to keep them respectable. Oh, sure, some took that way too far and deleted criticism, but most, barring the very biggest, tamped down on toxicity because that space reflected on them. They cared. This is how I feel about our own comment section, incidentally, because our team owns this site and cares about the conversations we have here, unlike many other sites owned by corporate groups that don’t even care if comments exist at all.
Concern and alarm has been raised among the Ashes of Creation community this past week as four members of Intrepid Studios, including CEO Steven Sharif, were granted moderation privileges for the AoC subreddit.
While not unheard of for a studio to be in control of a community subreddit, the potential conflict of interest usually prevents devs from moderating their own game’s community sites. What is far more usual, and what the Ashes of Creation community is now calling for, is that the developers be given special “flair” or tags on the subreddit but stripped of their moderation privileges. With the devs in charge, there is worry that censorship and shameless self-promotion will run rampant.
Steven Sharif addressed the situation with this post: “Yesterday, the owner of this sub Julius messaged me on Discord and offered to return the sub to our control in the hopes of giving the sub to a mod team that had the time to dedicate the tender love and care the sub deserved. I accepted, and will be including the volunteer mod team from the Ashes Discord in the moderation of this sub. With that, I will also become more active on the sub from a discussion standpoint and perhaps schedule an AMA as well.”
With a rapidly expanding studio and Alpha One coming later this year, Ashes of Creation is shaping up to be one of the great hopes of the MMORPG industry these days. PCGamesN has a piece on the technical development of Ashes of Creation, in which the team talks about using Unreal Engine 4 to create the persistent massively multiplayer environment. Currently in Alpha Zero, 2,500 players are romping around in a 16×16 kilometer zone that offers limited progression. This is due to expand, however.
The team also discussed how Ashes will be similar to EVE Online in terms of its economy: “A similar aspect with regards to our economy is that we don’t have a global auction house. We don’t have a global warehouse for resources, so while you may be able to put your staff or your sword in your warehouse and grab it somewhere else, you can’t put iron ore [in there] and grab it somewhere else.”
The dev team recently posted a new video showing off some of the environments that future lucky Alpha One testers will enjoy. Might as well tantalize yourself by viewing it after the jump!
Ashes of Creation claims it’s “now among the largest MMOs in production” thanks to the addition of a large crew of new hires and more on the way. Intrepid Studios posted today that it’s picked up a number of new senior hires – artists, engineers, designers, and so forth – with pedigrees from Disney, Daybreak, SOE, Sigil, EA, and Travian.
“In the coming weeks, a new hiring round for the San Diego studio will begin with 21 new positions as the MMO continues to speed along in production,” writes the studio. “In addition, developers have been spun up in France and Malaysia to bring the total size of the Ashes team to now over 100 of the most talented people in games.”
The studio also noted today that July is the last month players can buy into the alpha 1 package. The first phase of alpha 1 (as opposed to alpha zero, which began at the end of last year) is expected by the end of 2018. Over 8000 gamers have reportedly purchased alpha access so far; Intrepid says it “wants to keep that number below 10,000 for testing purposes in the Alpha 1 stage.”
Source: Press release
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!