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Ashes of Creation - Game Design - Thoughts from a Gamer

Hello Game Devs and Ashes community,

The latest update for Ashes of Creation was awesome to hear about. The world size increase and added content. UE5 is a beast of an engine and I am amazed at a lot of the fantastic implementations the Ashes team has done to streamline the Game designing Art processes as well as environmental process. This is a definite win in my books as I love UE5 and its capabilities.

I recently commented in the YouTube channel and received a message to comment on here in the forums. So I will re-post what I said from the Youtube comment on here. The post was expressing some thoughts about environmental interaction and game design elements that most might not ask.

Player character weight: Not the weight that they can carry, but the weight that you feel when your character moves through --the game. A good example of this is a Monster Hunter character moving through terrain with a slight heft in the animation due to their weapon and gear. Animation and sound play a huge part in how a character moves through an environment. Will we see this depth for players while moving through the world? or are we gonna get the "floaty" fast paced movement system that WoW uses?

Caravan limitations/Situations: Where can caravans travel? are they road only? Can caravans travel on boats? Can caravans be used as shields from combat or are they going to be brittle? With that question are they going to have weak spots and strong points and upgradable defences? Will caravans have interactive seating or standing points for defensible positions? Where do caravans go when they reach their destination? Are they visible to everyone when they are not being interacted with? or are they invisible to everyone else but the player? What interactive situations do caravans become at risk and what situations are they safe from pirating/bandit? (Personal vs World questing)

Sound Design: I have noticed that game sound design can be a daunting task and has been limited in past games. With UE5's fantastic sound design implementations, will we "see" a more diverse sound environment for each area in respect to player interactivity? (ex.Will we have a more subtle UI with less noisy notification systems and less immersive breaking UI sound elements to distract form the current environment the player is within?) (Maybe limiting the UI sound cue notification until you reach a city as if receiving the latest news while in town rather than out in the wild.) Will there be sound dampening effects through terrain? (ex. Hearing a waterfall through trees as being muffled or hearing the waterfall but the volume is just lowered. These can be very different)

Villain: The greatest heroes are compelled by an even greater Villain. With previous MMORPG's, we have witnessed poor representation of villains, due to a lack of creativity in both story and world player interactivity. In most MMORPG's we are witness to past events that have already had the creation of a villain that "will rise again." Or we experience a villain that is territorial in nature, making them specific destinations rather than a threat. the idea of Dungeon bosses has almost become the staple for "villains" where as I feel they make little to no sense when it pertains to the hero's journey and advancement as a character in the world. Why does the villain make us want to hate them? What history do we, as players, have with the villain in question? How can we, as the players, be influenced by the actions of the villain? and what threat can they pose currently in the world that has to be fought and won with implications on the line. In the MMORPG, Guild Wars 2, the "scarlet witch scenario" the players' home base is destroyed by her villainous actions in the season. Some of the villains actions influenced the terrain and altered the creatures you encounter. This was so influential in the game that it is one of the most memorable villains I can remember in an MMORPG. Her presence was seen in the open world and not just in scenario based events. Will there be a prevalent story for players to invest in? To keep them morally involved as well as personally involved in fighting the villain. In New World, regrettably, they failed at this task because they focused on open world mechanics over story. The whole story was told to me through the commercials and not in the game. In fact, I had no investment in the story because I knew the plot from the commercials. The gameplay was super fun, the world is beautiful, but because there was no story to invest in I felt like I was doing nothing to advance my character in this new world. A good story is 90% about the villain. The protagonist is the other 10%. We discover our characters position in the world only to better enhance why we need to know about the villains story. Giving us, the players, something we become attached to and then having the villain take it away is the connection. Have your end game content about how to re-take or avenge or even have revenge for what has been done to us. What I would like to know is obviously this is something you have been discussing and im sure have been thinking about for a while with your world, but will we have a sense of who we are fighting as a villain that is a threat to us directly or will we be more likely experiencing the world as a plethora of scenario based villains?

Purchased Packages: My only big concern is the cost of your packages. If I am subscribing to the game. (15$ a month) why are these packages over $100 for these cosmetics? Do these have unique perks? will they have advantages from a design perspective? Do the mounts and caravans come with tactical defences? why am I paying $350 for a package if on day 1 of your release you will have 4million+ subscribers paying $15 each month. the math is overwhelmingly in your favour for cost. So why sell these at such high prices? If these are purely aesthetic and possibly achievable in the future, why have such a huge cost for these items? if you sold these for $40 and gave everyone the opportunity to purchase the full package at this cost. You are not losing money, in fact, you are getting more money because everyone is able to purchase these unique monthly packages. Thats 4mill subscribers who just spent $40 plus the sub.. and you have now made even more than the potential 1000 whales who decided to buy the $350 package for that month. The value of your subscribers should always be put first. They are your long term investors. Get rid of the superficial cost and let it be more available. Provide your subs with what they need to enjoy the games mechanics. Reward your subs for being a part of the team for length amounts of time. (1 year, 2 year, 3 year, etc..) Provide those seasonal outfits and event rewards in-game for subs. Give us the option to acquire the gear in game that is better than anything we could spend actual money on. This is also why you shouldn't have expensive packages, you make all in game aesthetics less valued by purchasing the aesthetic that looks better than the in game gear.

Nodes Advancement/Destruction: What can cause a node to be attacked? World events? Enemy types that attack in hordes? Players attacking the cities? are they instanced events that are scheduled (like in New World) or open world and run by spontaneous player scheduling? Does player negligence for running node upkeep cause nodes to diminish? What separates player and system responsibility for Node advancement and destruction? (ex. player base is reduced for a certain amount of time in 1 node area, due to events, and node loses a town or city because of this. Or players consistently passing through a node area due to missions but not settling there but sees growth of town due to "traffic.") Will Neglected node areas have increased enemy influence? (a reason for players to eventually go there) Can Nodes suffer from afflictions? what sort of upkeep do Nodes require to stay sustainable? Can players choose to not have a metropolis or will the system auto create it? Will players lose their house and house progress if node is destroyed? Will villains affect nodes? Can there be evil influenced player cities and Nodes?

Faction/Guilds: What sort of influence can guilds have on a node? Does having the largest guild mean you have to be the mayor of a node? Do factions have certain perks based on faction missions? is there a focus for advantage that factions can choose to pursue? or is it just dependant on the players to choose individual benefits within a faction? Do factions have a limit to how many can join? Do factions own houses? (FFXIV style?) Will housing areas be instanced or open world?

That was the end of the post and I made some edits as everyone usually does when they see mistakes and possible brain jargon. lol

Some new topics and thoughts:

Enemy NPC culture: Where do enemies come from? When we think of where an enemy will come from, whether it is environmental habitat, a country, and/or a planet. We want to know their purpose and why they are compelled to attack us. Normal animals in reality have migration and territorial habits. Most fictional "Monsters" have similar traits but are usually smaller in numbers due to their violent nature. People or societal creatures tend to rely on their purpose when making interactions. When they are considered enemies, we have to think about why they would attack the player. Most animals are shy and rely on survival means depending on their size and eating habits. Monsters we can say interact with players to actively hun them. People and Societal Creatures will interact with players through specific means. these means are likely orders, trade, scarcity, survival, curiosity. A hostile person is desperate and/or narcissistic to the point of having a faulty moral compass. (ie. The FarCry series has memorable people because they have emotional intent and a sense of habitat that influences their actions towards the protagonist. It's never blind attacking that has no provocation.) Will this game rely on circumstantial NPC involvement or will it be auto attacking mobs? What makes your NPC experience different from the usual fetch quest scenarios? Will there be moral dilemma circumstances that affect quest outcomes when dealing with NPC's?

Crafting and Crafting the Best: In a previous community update you talked about Crafting benefits. The intent in which to have the crafted items/weapons be more applicable (powerful) than weapons that could be farmed. (If I am remembering that right.) With that in mind, I have wondered about crafting recipes, crafting quests, selling of craftable items, materials, and unique or one of a kind cartable items. As many people are about the "Meta" when it comes to DPS and the best gear. What sort of crafting recipes are we looking at that will keep the different classes equal in terms of their damage and possible abilities that doesn't sway everyone from playing just one class? Will there be unique, one of a kind, weapons that can only be crafted once? Is there a chance for cursed items when crafting? Are there failed attempts? will there be "gate locked" materials for the best crating recipes? Will crafted items be market tradable? Will only certain crafted items be market tradable? Are only weapons made through materials be the only thing to craft? or are there weapons obtainable that can be upgradable with "advance" recipes. (ie. Ultima weapons in FFXIV) What sort of tier system will crafting have, if at all? Will crafting have levelling to achieve recipes or levelling to achieve quality of product? (ie. my level determines the quality of the crafted blade rather than my level gives me access to that recipe. Allowing anyone to obtain any recipe but not able to create the best quality without levelling up their crating skill). Will there be a limit to what crafting class you can be? (this question has always been a struggle for me. As diversity and purpose are huge when I think of my characters purpose within the game vs the "meta" build or being a sponge to all scenarios by having all my classes levelled up. Both have merit but I find I lose a lot of time feeling like I have to become the other classes to "catch up" to everyone else. ) Will there be crafting legends? Quest-able crafting lore that can be discovered or has to be discovered by unlocking the initial knowledge of it (reading a book in a library) (ie. Skyrim unique item quests) Will there be random recipes that can be made without knowledge of a written recipe being present within the games world? (ie. cooking recipes in Tower of Fantasy) Will there be hundreds of recipes for each crafting class or thousands? Will there be multiple iterations and possible outcomes for each crafting recipe depending on experimentation/level of class? can recipe's be shared rather than obtained? Can recipes be sold even after used? Can one of a kind recipes be created? Can cursed crafted items be sold without knowledge of it being cursed? (so evil) Will crafting play a role in story line events? Will materials rarity affect the outcome of a recipe regardless of the recipes original material suggestion? Will there be shortages of materials depending on the Node placement? Will there be Materials you can only get when a Node reaches a certain level? Will there be redundant refining for higher quality materials or will it be straightforward? (ie. having to harvest 30million iron ore, obtain 20,000 ice shards and 1 giga sliver to make 1 of 12 ingots for a harvester sword of doom. Giga sliver being gate locked by a node/etc. kill me now because it just doesnt make sense logically or practically. OR, will it be more journey based (traveling being the only time consuming factor) type of gathering (tool dependant on quality of harvest) and then simple refining (facilities provided or obtained) to achieve the crafted item that could be a potentially better version depending on your level and material quality.)

Mounts: are carts pulled by your mounts? How are mounts summoned? is the mount summoning immersive or does it break immersion? (ie. poof it appears or running from out of the camera view toward the player) Will mounts be upgradable? (ie. saddlebags, armour, attachable weapons) or will mounts have set specs and upgrades per mount? Does mount biology reflect their purpose in the games environment? (ie. Guild wars 2 mounts) Can mounts go everywhere or will they have to disappear in cities? you mentioned only Node owners will own flying mounts. How will that affect lore in the game? Is this a recognizable feat for doing something more than anyone else for a specific reason or is it just obtained by a guild leader who happens to have the most followers? Can this be achieved by solo players? Do mounts have levels? Will animal husbandry greatly affect mounts abilities/performance in the open world? Does husbandry play a big role in the story of Ashes of Creation? Will mounts evolve over time? Will mounts and husbandry have egg incubation times/pregnancy times that players have to monitor? (ie. ARK dinosaur breeding) I mentioned about the weight players would have in their environment at the beginning. Will mounts portray an even greater weight of presence depending on their size? (ie. ground shake or heft in sound upon surfaces, cracking sounds from trees or shrubs they walk over or near enough)

Solo vs multiplayer: Can solo players still experience end game content? Is there solo dungeons or equivalent quests that can make soloing beneficial and stand out from multiplayer quests or dungeons? (ie. Grandmaster dungeons in Destiny 2)

Secrets/mysteries of the world: You might have gathered from previous questions that i might enjoy hidden things. I tend to focus on exploration of the world to a dizzying degree. (100% map completion in Guild wars 2 as an example) What I would like to know is if there are hidden things in the world that will be very hard to find but not impossible? Clues that aren't real world but in game lore related? (Sometimes adding in real world clues can be tiresome if not everyone has that experience.) Are there going to be secrets that aren't UI targeted? Are there secrets within the books? Are there secrets in stone walls in dungeons? Are there secrets only certain classes can obtain? Are there secrets that can only be obtained by one player per server? Are there secrets that are tied to events? Are there secrets so secret that data mining won't ruin it for everyone? Are there mysteries that can be solved by listening to NPC's and not just looking at the destination marker on your map? Are there things we should not do for the sake of this world? things we shouldn't look for because it could cause a pandemic within the game community? (ie. WoW npc disease incident) That could affect a Node and make your character evil.. cough cough. Are there secrets only magic can uncover? are there secrets only brute strength can reveal? (ie. max lvl barbarian/tank finds a boulder with a (non-UI related notifier) to let them know they can attempt to push said boulder.) Are there secret creatures that can only be seen during a certain time of the year? Are there secret bosses that can be summoned by finding the right items when specific nodes reach their greatest potential? Are there dungeons that can only be opened by the chosen one? (ie. player ranking events/community involved voting) Are there secret endings to defeating bosses in unique ways? Are there villains we don't know making things happen in non-occupied nodes?

Keeping it in the game: I often wonder why people make off-shoots to content through different mediums that are crucial for story development. (ie. kingdom hearts..sigh)

Content Creation - in the game: how can you involve the community even more? by letting them create what they can within the game they love. Customizable quest creation. Thats what I would like to call it. It allows players to use points of interest that they have acquired, creatures they have defeated, materials they have harvested, items they have obtained and out them in the parameters. They can then use it for detailing a quest outline. The community can then vote on from submitted quests. The best quest submitted can be chosen for either weekly, monthly, or seasonal rewards. If the player who created these quests is chosen they get a reward for their submission and a title. The people who complete these quests are given rewards for participation and whatever drops come from the parameters set. This allows for unique multi-boss battles and/or harder instances of the same content. It could even have a level up where the more people like your challenges the harder scenarios you can unlock as a creator.

Thats pretty much all in have for my thoughts on game design for Ashes of creation at the moment. I hope you guys have had fun checking this out and maybe I put an idea in your heads that you could use in the game.

let me know your thoughts and what you have taken away from these questions. I don't expect every question to be answered of coarse but it would be good to hear your thoughts on some questions you find intriguing.



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    Much passion! :)
    September 12. 2022: Being naked can also be used to bring a skilled artisan to different freeholds... Don't summon family!
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    KolDraco wrote: »
    Solo vs multiplayer: Can solo players still experience end game content? Is there solo dungeons or equivalent quests that can make soloing beneficial and stand out from multiplayer quests or dungeons? (ie. Grandmaster dungeons in Destiny 2)

    I want to play Valheim alone. But in MMOs I prefer to interact with players, to help each other.
    September 12. 2022: Being naked can also be used to bring a skilled artisan to different freeholds... Don't summon family!
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