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Achieving the Sublime

NerrorNerror Member, Alpha One, Adventurer
edited June 2021 in General Discussion
Inspired by this thread, I want to talk about achieving the Sublime in Ashes. First, to understand what that means, you need to see the video from that thread. (The other thread seems to focus more on the philosophy of the races, which is why I made this one).
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wzj4h0R_ryQ

My takeaway from the video (which was nice) is that I want to see both the mathematical and dynamic sublime/erhabenheit/ophøjethed in Ashes.


Have the volcano erupt once in a while
That nice volcano on the current alpha island? Make it violently erupt once in a while, covering the sky in clouds and temporarily affecting the environment. Make a loud boom that can be heard in all corners of Verra and have the ground shake.

They don't need to do more, but they could tie an event to it I guess. Like, perhaps add some lavamonsters, where players have to dodge the lava flows and flying chunks of lava to fight them to get rare crafting materials or some such. Make it hard for the risk vs. reward gameplay. Or something even better! Or no monster event at all and just let players enjoy the show.


Giant Underrealm caverns
I would like to see at least one really massive cavern in the underrealm. Where you stand next to a big glowy mushroom at the entrance, and all the way across and into the far distance you can see them get smaller and smaller until they are only a pixel, knowing that if you get there, they are the same size as the one by the entrance. You should be able to fit a metropolis in there in a corner, without it dominating the view. Think Mines of Moria, but bigger.


Corrupted Mother Kraken
I would like to see an unkillable corrupted Mother Kraken in the ocean. Or at least unkillable in the first few expansions. Something of Lovecraftian proportions, where mere mortals can only hope to get out of the way or die horribly.

Tie it into a server storyline perhaps, where players have to work together for a few expansions to research the technology in the different metropolises to even hurt it. Make it require 500+ players on warships with special weapons to take it down, or even more if the servers can handle it. Preferably I don't want it killed, just hurt enough to withdraw into the depths for a while. Actually killing it removes some of sublime and sense of awe. She can still drop phat lewt from being hurt.

Come with more example of the Sublime you want to see :smile:

Comments

  • AzheraeAzherae Member, Alpha One, Adventurer
    I'll throw in my feelings on this as the Devil's Advocate. Expect me to argue against everything, not because I genuinely dislike these ideas, but because I may have a unique perspective that allows me to help others refine some aspects of this, maybe even into something that might be easier to implement.

    Basic Philosophical Error of Kant
    It's pointed out in the video already, that understanding, and math, allows us to surpass a lot of the related feelings of this. The video then goes into a discussion that humans cannot understand certain things because they are too large, but this isn't true. The building blocks of consciousness allow some, in fact, many, to take items of what seem to be near infinite complexity, and reduce them down with astonishing rapidity.

    Chess is the basic example. Chess itself has so many variations as to be a true game still rather than a solved game, but a chess master does not look at any naturally or even contrived scenario in a chess game and feel this. They can rapidly 'reverse engineer' how it came into being.

    Basic Design Philosophy Error of Game Grandeur: Scale and Scope
    In short, a player only experiences these things once. Even in games that can generate random vistas like Minecraft, you quickly 'get used to it'. The size and scale are not representative to all or even most players, because we as players experience these things as abstractions, due to a number of factors. To make anything bigger or more 'impactful' only works once. In fact, in games, grandeur is better applied in the opposite direction. To make the tiny things.

    Basic Design Philosophy Error of Game Dynamism: Reactive Modeling
    Reactively modeled systems, where A leads to B, and the viewer is able to intuit the event, can be very immersive if the one experiencing the situation has to not only intuit A, but also find and verify A. This leads to the feeling of exploration found in earlier science, in the realm of Newton and so on, and at the current cutting edge of physics and astrophysics. Unfortunately, in games, 'wonder' is harder to maintain in this case because of the simplicity required to give the player the appreciation. In order for it to be found, or understood, by enough players for them to enjoy it, it must generally, by nature, be easy enough that it soon becomes a known, and therefore the gate is time.

    So I posit, from this, that the suggestions given, fall into all these traps, and could be improved significantly with more attention paid to the 'errors'. (again, Devil's Advocate, I love the ideas themselves).

    Scale, Scope and Reactive Models are fun, immersive, breathtaking.

    But they're Awesome/Beautiful, not Erhabenheit.

    For that in games, you need something else (let me know if to just say what the Advocate's stance on what that 'something else' is).

    This thread is interesting, but I don't want to derail it, so @Nerror, let me know if this isn't the path you want to entertain and I'll get out of the way.
    Sorry, my native language is Erlang.
    
  • I really like this idea of how this epicness just overwhelms u, and u just cant do anything, only admire it.
    Azherae wrote: »
    In short, a player only experiences these things once. Even in games that can generate random vistas like Minecraft, you quickly 'get used to it'. The size and scale are not representative to all or even most players, because we as players experience these things as abstractions, due to a number of factors. To make anything bigger or more 'impactful' only works once.

    I think this is a good point. The repetitiveness is killing the sublime. This is why i cant see the volcano work more then once. Fst time its cool, but after that its known and can get annoying. +part of the magic of the volcano is how its changing the surroundings, and thats kind of a 1 timer

    But i really like the other ideas. Some thoughts to them.

    For me the key is the rarity, and the "beyond me" feeling. It has to be rare, and random, u cant just go to XY coordinates and find the kraken there. And the "beyond me" is, it has to be massive, and no events, loot or anything. I cant kill it, it has to feel "real" (i can see name, hp, its moving etc), max the kraken can kill me but even getting his attention is hard. I can just observe and pray to tell the tale.
    For the caverns. I can see it work if its hard to approach and it has to be not just massive but beautiful too. If its not on the everyday path, it gets some exclusivity. But because its not random it needs to be beautiful too (like a church). Ye, i can imagine it with crystals and lights, water, stone, and some living stuff, would be epic xD. I would say i dont want a city in it, just maybe some not so important, rarely used ingredients, so there is a little reason to go there.
  • VhaeyneVhaeyne Member, Alpha One, Adventurer
    Hey @Nerror,

    I have to say, the feeling you get when you stand on the edge of the Grand Canyon or Swim in the ocean miles offshore is quite humbling. I have seen similar sights in video games, but I have never experienced the intense emotions triggered by real-world scenery in video games.

    I think the closest I have gotten is Elite Dangerous. The first time you Warp near a star, it is always awe-inspiring. Especially in VR. It is even good when you see it for the first time after stepping a way from the game for a while. It becomes mundane quickly, but the size and power of these massive objects has triggered a sense of dread and wonder for me.

    From what we have seen of Ashes world design. Unless that volcano is way crazier when you are on it. I am not sure the landscape can trigger these emotions for me. The world looks great in Ashes, but MMO worlds are still small compared to reality. I can comprehend the size of most game worlds, and that holds me back from losing myself in them the way I do in the real world.

    I would think that Ashes is going to have to rely on architecture to trigger that sense of sublime for me. In the video, there was talk of using many small supports in a massive structure. That makes sense to me. I can see myself being lost in a massive dungeon or underground cavern that makes me feel insignificant.
    TVMenSP.png
    If I had more time, I would write a shorter post.
  • NerrorNerror Member, Alpha One, Adventurer
    Azherae wrote: »
    Basic Design Philosophy Error of Game Grandeur: Scale and Scope
    In short, a player only experiences these things once. Even in games that can generate random vistas like Minecraft, you quickly 'get used to it'. The size and scale are not representative to all or even most players, because we as players experience these things as abstractions, due to a number of factors. To make anything bigger or more 'impactful' only works once. In fact, in games, grandeur is better applied in the opposite direction. To make the tiny things.

    Overall interesting points! As for the big impactful things only working once per player, I think that's enough and still a perfectly good reason to include them. It really doesn't take many "Awesome!" experiences for players to make a lasting positive impression of the game. Assuming the rest of the game doesn't suck obviously.

    I'll read the rest more thoroughly when I have more time :smile:
    Azherae wrote: »
    This thread is interesting, but I don't want to derail it, so @Nerror, let me know if this isn't the path you want to entertain and I'll get out of the way.

    No no, by all means, bring your points. They are interesting. It's not much of a discussion if we only narrowly agree with the OP and only talk about that. :wink:
  • AzheraeAzherae Member, Alpha One, Adventurer
    Single big impactful things are examples of Spectacle rather than Sublime. Games should have them. They're good. They're also expensive, usually single shot, and when they're not, it's too easy to see 'the reused function'.

    Sublime is achieved by creating something uncontrollable, obfuscated enough to appear random, and for some, at least at the beginning, Kant's correct concept, 'distance'.

    Rather than the volcano erupting being the important part, 'the Elder Dragon of Fire appearing to fly out of it and go land on top of difficult-to-access terrain, nearby, looking down at us'. Make this happen under some set of conditions and people build theories, but they can control neither the dragon nor the appearance of the dragon (not to say you shouldn't be able to go fight it, but the terrain should give the Dragon a big advantage compared to its normal appearances).
    For those who test the Alpha, a similar effect could be achieved just by having the Elder Dragon of Frost land on the beach north of Drythorne and walk around. For spectacle you could have it freeze some of the ocean and walk on it. It does this 'randomly' and sometimes leaves before anyone can gather enough strong players to fight it.

    Any sufficiently complex independent series of values multiplied together can substitute for randomness while hinting, and still cause the feeling.

    Size isn't the real point either, but 'scope' relative to some expectation. If you have a 'Termite nest' dungeon, and the termites sometimes swarm out of it and appear in the countryside near a node, you could set their spawn radius based on:

    Current Weather * Current Season * Number of Freeholds * Number of days since someone killed the Queen Termite boss
    This creates a shifting spawn radius for the beetles with just 'random numbers that were already going to be in the game' with known values. And sets up a situation where the game can set an event where if the value reaches a certain high number, the termites swarm all the way to the Node and are everywhere and are too high level and all the low level players have to stay inside. For them, it's 'an overwhelming force' but you could make it so that they don't attack the actual Node.

    If that number isn't locked so that 'this can't happen while the Queen was defeated the day before', players can't control it. There would be just some value of Freeholds around node + Middle of Autumn + Windy/Hot weather that causes the swarm to happen even when the Queen has only been defeated a day ago, confusing players and leaving them with that feeling of 'I can't control this, we have to watch out for it'.

    You could leave the Queen alone, wait for the weather to change, and defeat the ones near town. You could push into the dungeon and hope that killing the Queen will push them back (you might get unlucky and some other factor make them hyperaggressive). But you don't know what will be enough. Two more players adding Freeholds, and the weather only changing a little, might mean you log in 12 hours later and find that the swarm is still there and you 'don't know why'.

    This sort of thing is what Advocate will put forth as the true Digital Sublime, where the algorithms create a Spectacle for you, but your lack of understanding of how to control it, and relative powerlessness to prevent or end the event itself, leaves you with this feeling. In this case, 'dread' is not necessarily everyone's experience, but unpredictability can still leave you with it.

    "If we kill a lot of these, will it maybe trigger an attack on the Node itself?"

    MMOs are uniquely positioned to give these experiences because they can have so many moving parts, beyond the control or understanding of the players, and some aggregate parts that you can understand but not control. In games, we don't need the feeling of 'I have no power here', it technically isn't a positive for most players. Only the feeling of 'this is beyond my control, all I can do is respond with my limited knowledge and ability to this overwhelming event'.

    I used creatures like the Termites here because they're often cheaper to code than 'world shaking events', in my experience.

    The key to the Sublime in games is 'Why?', not 'Wow!' The latter helps, but I advocate that it is just a component, and that therefore, Kant is mostly wrong, 'because science', and any suggestions as to adding a Spectacle that is either completely random, or controlled by only one or two factors, will result in much less longevity to the feeling, across the playerbase.
    Sorry, my native language is Erlang.
    
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