Ashes HQ

Development Update: June 30, 2022

Discussion & Outline Summary

Community & Reminders

  • They are spotlighting 1 Youtube comment per development update. 
    • The comment led Steven to explain that the length of the season is still in testing and may be extended past 1 week, this, among many other things, will be looked at during Alpha 2 testing
  • Cosmetics swapping over on July 13th, 2022 at 11 AM PST.
  • Dev Discussion on Gear Color Customization is still on the forum for feedback.

Studio Update

  • There were 400 applications last month, and 14 of them were accepted. 

Combat Update

The basic weapon attack update from this month is just a small chunk of the combat changes made since Alpha 1. This is meant to focus on the directional movement functionality, root motion vs split body, the ancillary components of combat such as animations and (visual) effects (including floating numbers), and the audio at a base weapon level. This update is focused on the feeling of that basic weapon combo attack. Future updates will unveil additional aspects of combat including, ability systems, class rotations, visual effects pipelines, ranged attacks, etc.

  • Combat development has always been an iterative process. 
  • The exercise of understanding the specific combat requirements for Ashes meant approaching combat from the ground up answering individual questions about hypotheses of what they believe to be good. 
  • One of the pillars of combat is weight impact. The other side of weight impact is agency: to what extent does the weapon respect your decisions.
  • During Alpha 1 there was more of a root motion approach to the basic weapon attacks but ultimately decided to implement a split body approach mid-Alpha for feedback. The feedback was positive because players wanted that agency over the weightiness, however, they did not like the floaty feeling of not having the weighted approach. 
  • The team worked on building impact and weight on top of player agency in order to make attacks feel satisfying and make it feel as if the inertia of your weapons is physically accurate. This was accomplished by identifying each individual aspect of modern action games in order to incorporate them into the classic MMO base. 
  • It was important that the team did not look at it in a binary way: root motion vs split body, rather looking at everything as modular pieces in order to make something that is high in player agency while still feeling physical. 
  • The timing of the click register was also improved, previously the game detected what the input was at the beginning of the attack, thus if you change your mind mid-attack, the movement was already queued. However, now the game is constantly looking at your inputs and adjusting. 
  • Initially, the investigation started with the light weapons in order to blend the weight of an attack and player agency. Due to the speed of the attacks and not the weight of the weapon like a big sword. From there they added small bits of root motion to get the ‘dashy’ feeling when attacking, playing into inertia. 
  • In order to figure out timings that feel good, the teams use frame timing diagrams and are specific about how they want to be able to move during different frames of the animation. 
  • Because of the weight of the daggers, they will never slow you down, although both sword and daggers respect your direction, the sword will slow you down at certain times, such as leading into the strike; your split body is blending down towards 0, then after the strike is blended back up to 1. Daggers do not have any blending.
  • The combat system is animation based, it was important that everyone was iterating. They started with chopping up animations that they believed felt good, then would pass that off to animation to finalize them by chopping up those abilities and making animations that felt good, then bringing everyone back together.
  • The animation team created different three-part weapon attack animations for each direction that can be moved in, while simultaneously being able to weave between any directional at any given time. 
  • The damage floating texts that are being dealt to you, floats towards your left side, whereas damage that you are dealing with floats to your right side. These floating texts provide the players customization options, including adjusting the size of the floating text, the color composition of the text, including/excluding damage icons to indicate the ability that is used for those floating texts and calling out crits differently than regular damage. 
  • Players can also assign different colors /sizes/bolding for cumulative damage values
  • Another component of combat is the visual effects sides, including weapon trails, the intensity of the weapon trails, how they scale based on the weapon, the level of weapon you have, also the ground decals from each different type of strike. 
  • On a technical side, they wanted to build the combat to be as physical as possible, so everything is handled based on a reference of animation as opposed to nebulous timings, allowing it to feel responsible and meaningful. 
  • There has also been a lot of work with respect to the audio of combat.  The IS team is building a singular tool that all of the teams can use to build/change abilities. Sound effects, visual effects, animation, design, and engineering will all be using the same tool grounded in animations to build these abilities. 
  • The camera control is vital to impact and weight since it is through that lens that players feel the game. There are a few effects such as camera shake, and radial blur, in order to maximize the weight of the attacks. How your peripherals interpret the weight of the attack greatly influences the feelings of the attacks. 
  • Whenever something is added, the team tries to make them as modular as possible in order to explore it better and combine it with other pieces of the system.

Basic Weapon Attack Q&A

  • Can you clarify the upper range of agency vs weight?
    • There is a balance between player agency and weapon weightiness. The heavier the weapon is the more restriction you as a player will have, the range we are seeing (daggers vs long sword) is the spectrum in which the combat system will live within. 
  • Can the color of the texts be customized?
    • When it comes to UI, the whole team agrees player customization option is paramount. It is a very subjective thing, so instead of forcing things on players, they are developing options that the players can influence themselves This includes color optimization, it includes text size, boldness, which information is displayed, and location.
  • How much will moving the camera/targeter affect hitboxes?
    • There is a balance in the game design between your movement speed on attack and the movement speed of your opponent. Because the game is PVE-centric as well as PVP-centric, combat needs to be blended for both approaches. If you are hampering too much on movement then that will greatly influence the PVP proportion of the game, so they are trying to keep it more freeform.
  • Will there be some avoidable attack? (animation canceling) 
    • There are intended doges and gap closers and increased mitigation effects for incoming damage that is situationally reactively relevant. It is a combination of what your rotation is and also what reaction abilities you have saved and are ready to go for certain situations. 
  • How far will we be able to zoom out with the camera? 
    • As a raid leader, Steven wants max zoom out, but that will be up to each player within their own settings. 
  • Will different races have different animations for combat? 
    • From an animation perspective, there will not be unique combat animation, however, there will be unique non-combat animations, such as idle, walk, and run cycle, things that combat attacks do not need to blend back into. 
  • It was previously stated that any class combination could use any weapon, are there problems foreseen because of this?
    • There is a lot of flexibility built into the crafters of the game, they can define the stat block of particle gear, and that stat block can be relevant to any particle class or archetype combination. In that sense no, there shouldn’t be anything that dissuades any class choice. 

Character Art Update

  • Py’rai Male was seen in-game for the first time.
  • The Dread Crawler – A Desert Boss in Alpha 2
    • Lore: A living weapon used by the ancients in order to defeat certain cities in the world. He did so by both burrowing below cities and coming up from the ground from within while outside sources attacked the perimeter, or he could be used as a war machine to just demolish the walls to allow for legions to make their way in. 
  • The Mantle of Radiant Grove (November 2020 – December 2020)
  • The Cursed Charger (Summer Crowdfunding) 
  • Touched Up Py’rai


  • Are there any plans to have the wind in sailing?
    • Yes, there is wind. It is an important component of the open sea. Based on the composition of the wind in the open sea, will influence the speed, and direction that a boat is traveling in. That can be an important strategic component when talking about timing for trade runs, or location with respect to target at sea. This creates a more fluid and dynamic decision-making process when you are sea. 
  • What are/were your plans so far for color and dye systems?
    • IS wants to be able to give players the ability to change the appearance of their armor sets, the way they have approached it is a 2 channel dye system. The first channel is a lower-grade dye that has the influence of 10-20% of your armor appearance. The second channel is a higher-tier dye that you have to acquire that you can then influence the remaining 30% of your armor. They are not allowing individual dyes to be used on individual gear components but instead, they keep a cohesion across the set you are wearing. 
  • Do you expect most players that want a freehold to get one?
    • If a player wants to achieve a freehold, they can. However, the amount of effort, resources, and time that is required to acquire that freehold is a large amount. It is something that is a monumental achievement for you to achieve that freehold. This is because freeholds tie in very heavily into the artisan system, some processing can be done in nodes, but the best processing is done on freeholds, and they want to make sure there is a throttle/gate on the amount of effort that is necessary to achieve over the processing market. 
  • Will there be flooding caused by heavy rains, snow melting, or storms with rivers rising and rougher water on the ocean, or the opposite with droughts? 
    • There has not been any work done on that yet, but the team has talked about the potential of including flooding. Having certain submergible areas that flex between underwater environments and non-water environments for dungeons, wouldn’t be present in Alpha 2 but it may be something we want to explore. 
  • Will dense foliage be baseline in the game, or will people turn them off in the settings to minimize PvP efficiency?
    • No, players will not be able to adjust foliage in the world. It is meant to be part of the world for certain purposes, such as hiding, however, there will be collisions, such as being able to see a shrub move indicating something is inside. 
  • Will equipping different weapons change your skillset?
    • No. Skill kits are class focused. 
  • Is the team open to server rollback in the event of an unforeseen bug or the introduction of an economy-breaking dup? 
    • Server rollbacks are only for emergency scenarios only. The team is prepared to take emergency action if necessary, however, that would only be a last-ditch option. 
  • Caravan attackers have only the reward of steaming the goods without risk currently planned, since the game is about risk vs reward, what is the risk for caravan attackers?
    • There is a level of risk when it comes to the attacker, there is a progression path for bandits as well as paths for defenders. If you choose to opt-in to attack, and you fail that attack it is detrimental to your progression down your bandit path. There is also gear decay and degradation if you die. Finally, there is your reputation in the world, if you want to move goods across the world with caravans others may not allow it because you’re a known bandit. 
  • If looting rights are based on a blended tag and damage done system, will there be any mechanics in place to ensure tanks and healers have an equal shot, even if they have not dealt as much damage? 
    • That is the reason for the blended approach, it is in order to give additional benefits to those classes which are not as DPS-oriented. 
  • Will gear for artisans be strong enough to defend against an equal-level player who is combat gear?
    • The gear for artisans is going to live alongside your adventuring gear. You will have artisan-oriented gear, that you are wearing similar to undergarments, that you can activate during artisan activities. For Alpha 2 there will be a few sets, but this is still a hot topic at the studio.  

Outline Contributors: Skylarck The Botanist, Simurgh

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