Ashes HQ

Development Update: Aug 26, 2022

Discussion & Outline Summary

Community & Reminders

  • They are spotlighting 1 Youtube comment per development update.
    • The comment led Steven to explain that foliages should sway in the environmental wind. The development team has been working on how the wind blows through trees in order to accommodate strong gusts naturally. 
  • Cosmetics swapping over on September 7th, 2022 at 11AM PST.
  • Dev Discussion on Tank Participation is still open on the forum for feedback.

Studio Update

  • The second milestone was reached this week and was celebrated with a big town hall at the studio.
  • The studio hired 40 people this year.

Environment Update

  • Alpha 2 is going to have a significant cross-section of different biomes, the two primary ones will be forest, Riverlands, and desert, with badlands mixed in. 
  • A video displaying the Riverland and desert flora was displayed, this did not include any gatherable resources.
  • In many other games, deserts are the least interesting biome types, in Alpha 2 players will see how the desert also adheres to seasons and has weather, and giant dust storms and clouds within which there are interesting creatures that might not be normally present unless for that particular weather.   
  • The main point that Steven wanted to make was that Graphics don’t make a game fun, systems make a game fun, but graphics make those systems far more enjoyable.  This perspective is carried throughout the entire game. A great game can have very little immersive qualities and finality made art, but if you have a game that has great systems and lives alongside an incredibly immersive atmosphere and zones form which you can play, it is the best of both worlds, which is their objectives.
  • The arts do not have bounds within which their creativity needs to be held, they run the show when it comes to visuals, and that is something that is going to be wholly unique in Ashes of Creation.
  • Art is constantly getting barraged with requests, whether it be itemization requests for gear or creatures requests for content or environment requests for points of interest, dungeons and biomes, ability animations, create attack animations, which all stem from the designs desires of the world, or designs desires about systems. 
  • A concept photo for the minotaur, which will be shown in action next month combating a ranger.
  • A concept photo for a mounted minotaur riding a hog was also shown (Khan). He has stages (during combat, either health-wise or mechanic) where he will dismount and take combat to foot. 
  • A concept photo of another minotaur (Lord) was displayed, it has trophies hanging from its neck of Dünir skulls, which still have beards, indicating that the beard is attached to the skull itself. The lore behind this is that Dünir is born with beards from the start, but it takes time for them to grow out of their skin. 
  • Another concept photo of a minotaur was shown (Tank class) 
  • A snake creature model was shown in a T-pose. There will be a variance in this type of snake that will be based on different species, such as a black mamba version, a cobra version, and a rattlesnake version. These are the inhabitants of a particular dungeon. 
  • A cyclops world boss was shown. This is one of the first bosses that will be encountered and will require a raid. Something that is unique about this cyclops is that he roams the Riverlands, he is not in one specific area, so you may see the silhouette of a giant figure behind the trees in the distance while hearing his stomping ambient walking sounds. 
  • Showcased the Jade Sigil (September 2021 – October 2021)
  • Showcased the Trawlers Guise (August 2020 – September 2020) 
  • Showcased the Guardian (March 2022 – April 2022)
  • Showcased the Crested Sunplum (July 2021 – August 2021)   
  • Showcased the Rootling (March 2022 – April 2022)

Character Art Update

  • The female Empyrean model was shown updated from the concept art displayed earlier this year.
  • The concept art for the Male Niküan was updated and shown. They are islander/Polynesian influenced. 
  • The Vaelune updated concept art for both the female and male. The Vaelune had Djinn ancestry which begins to show and display once they pass through the portal. 
  • A beetle combat animation was shown.

Design Art Update

  • The world map changes were rooted in a few things
    • During the preparation for Alpha 2, they have realized that with large points of interest, zones of influences, freeholds, roads, and everything else that exists within a zone and the world that the spacing is a bit of concern.  As such, the plan had to change once they began to feel them out, the level design team has been defining the content density for the world, and it required the world map to be a bit bigger. 
    • The purpose of it becoming bigger is to make sure that the density is not overwhelming, so that there is not something at every single turn, not giving the opportunity to see areas of the world that are expansive and are wanderlust adventure feeling. Because a large portion of the game is sandbox element (coupled with curated content). 
    • There was the incorporation of 2 new islands in order to facilitate the navel play.
    • It is now 1200km2 in size.
    • The orientation of each landmass (islands and continents) facilitates specific types of intercontinental trade gameplay. They support the relevance of caravans moving across the landmass to locations that incorporate harbor areas (not yet identified). 
    • When speaking about the surface area of the land compared to the ocean, The ocean and lakes are ~750 km2, 450km2 of land play. There has been very little added to the landmass, as there has mostly been a greater separation between the continents a reorientation of those continents, additional bays have been included, as well as 2 additional islands (which are a throwback to what happened in the story of the Ashes of Creation Pathfinder campaign). 
    • The underrealms are intended to be formed as bespoke segments of underrealm territory that are available around areas of choke points in the world map that are above ground which are provided for caravan transit around the world. So as the caravans are approaching these choke points on land they will have alternate path options to go down into the underrealm to attempt to traverse that space as opposed to the choke point. 
    • The underrealm map will be revealed later as far as where they are located within the world.
    • In order to move across a maximum size node (Stage 6- Metropolis), it takes ~2 minutes and 50 seconds to run from one end to the other. If you are mounted, it will take ~1 minute and 30 seconds. 
    • If you are trying to move from node to node, this does not mean a built node to a built node, but rather a direct neighboring node (which may be locked out from advancing due to its neighbors’ stage), without a mount is 5 minutes from center to center, while it would only take 3 minutes and 30 seconds to get form edge to edge.
    • If you were to travel the entire longitudinal distance of the map (North to South or vice versa) that would take you about 50 minutes on a flying mount, and 75 minutes on foot. This is not taking into consideration any obstacles that could get in the way.
    • However, the world changes as the node states progress, so when a scientific node reaches a metropolis level, the vassal network of that metropolis will then incorporate teleportation as an option. And so you may feel travel time very different from the start of a server to the same server 4 months down the line. This is meant to accompany the advancement of the average player population. 
    • Travel is so important because it forces players to plan and prepare for events. It makes travel meaningful, instead of thinking only about what you are doing once you arrive at a location, you can now think about what should you be doing along the way, is it really beneficial for you to go to that area? This is in association with the fact that you are a citizen of a specific node, and that node needs your assistance within its vicinity, and thus a good reason should be required. 
    • There are many such good reasons: trade, treasure hunting, points of interest that you may want to visit, drop tables you want to have access to, and resources material you can go and bring back. These are all essential elements of regionalizing these locations and making transit between these locations relevant. 
    • What is very important however is that the transit does not feel meaningless or tedious, there should be activities and anxiety about moving that get your heart moving.
    • The world will still not have world wrap. 
    • There are target numbers for static housing, apartment housing, and freehold space in areas and those values are not going to change based on the concurrency of the server population (8,000 – 10,000). These versions of housing live in different competitive markets, those markets are going to set an average player value between player-player transactions, which of course will grow as wealth is introduced into the economy over time. But there will be an equitable amount that is necessary to create scarcity and meaning. 
  • The open seas are now an automatically flagged location.
    • When you are on land there is a flagging system that protects you, once you move off of land you enter ‘international waters’ where you need to be careful. 
    • There is a lot of opportunity at sea, and because there are a lot of opportunities that are unique to that content (treasure hunting, NPCs), there needs to be risk associated with it. They have always said risk and reward way out actions in Verra. 
    • You will be notified when you approach the border between the open sea and coastal area and will have a count down when approaching by interpolating the speed you are traveling and the distance you are to the border. There will be a big trophy call out that reads “You have entered the open sea – Territory fraught” (or something of the sort)
    • PvP is not the only thing you need to worry about. There is also very scary content.
  • There have been some significant node changes as well.
    • Being in a vassal network is a good thing, it brings many benefits, from the sovereign node down to the vassal node. 
    • It allows a vassal node to live outside of its normal mechanics, it gets to adopt the benefits of the node type of the sovereign even if it is a different node type.
    • There will now be 85 nodes instead of 103 nodes. This was done for many reasons:
      • When they were doing calculations for Alpha 2 as far as how they wanted the vassal structure to exist, they had more nodes than what felt meaningful. 
      • They wanted to condense the curated story arks and hooks around the areas to be more bountiful at a lessor node value. 
      • The concurrent server population is still remaining 8,000 – 10,000, although the networking team has been doing an amazing job at network solutions with respect to performance. 
      • The new vassal node structure was displayed.  
      • The above vassal node structures explain what a sovereign at a level 6 metropolis stage can control at a maximum vassel network is 2 level 5 nodes of which a level 5 node can control 1 level 4 and 1 level 3 as direct vassals and then the 4 can control a single 3 and every 3 can control a level 1 or a level 2. If a level 3 vassal node gets removed by a siege, the level 1 or level 2 direct vassal node is also removed.
      • Because there are now 85 nodes in the world, there is a buffer zone of ~20 nodes that live in a max server state. If there was a maximum of 5 metropolises formed in the world, you will have a number of about 20 nodes that will live along sides those vassal networks and when/if a metropolis falls, that extra cushion of nodes around the metropolis structure allows for the map to be redistricted in a way that is unique. It does not mean one of the 5 is going to pick up where the other one left off and form the exact same metropolis structure from a territory point of view, it has ancillary nodes to play with and expand towards that redistricts the map so that if a metropolis falls there is a significant difference in the layout of the world/nation territories.
      • There are of course benefits for the sovereign of a vassal network. That includes taxation. It is important to note that taxes are a 100% sink, they do not get to go into the hands of a player. The mayor does not have access to it, and guilds don’t have access to it, what happens the nodes themselves get the taxation and someone manages the node, usually the mayor, but if a node needs to start a construction project, hire defensive mercenaries, improve the equipment of the guard, activate commissions/buy orders, stand up social organizations, that all comes out of the treasury and therefore the maintenance and generation of the resources that the node has access to. Nobody can take that gold.
      • When a vassal node reaches its cap, it overflows its experience up to the parent node. So it can be very good early on for parents to get vassal nodes that are very productive and get a lot of traffic in order to capitalize on that. 
    • Node Policies
      • There has been a lot of work as of late put into happiness and policies 
      • These are some of the things that citizens get to vote on that are proposed by the mayor. 
      • Nodes have a number of slots that they get to employ as government policies that are enacted and chosen by the mayor and voted on by the people. Certain policies get unlocked based on the happiness of certain factions within the node. 
      • Happiness is predicated on certain achievements that can happen in the world, story arks that get finished, bosses that get killed, new buildings that get construction, number of citizens, number of citizens leaving, number of houses that have foreclosed, and lots of other things. 
      • When that happiness is met at a certain point (and even without that happiness (the policy choice is just affected in some way) you may choose policies that do certain things for the node, this is a big strategic decision that the node needs to agree on. When a policy is deployed, it confers benefits to the citizen/area/buildings/mayor. Some policies are reflected by the cultures influence of its citizens, or from a specific building that was built in the node (for example a building that attracts NPCs that are weapon smiths), some are social organization/temple dependent. All of these are chosen by the citizens in order to best align with their progression within the game and their game style. 
      • As a vassal node, you can receive access to policies of your sovereign node that your node may not normally have access to. It is also possible to unlock an additional policy slot, based on certain conditions that the sovereign node has access to in their reliquary or in their achievement systems, or in policies that they have elected. 
      • Some policies can occupy multiple slots. 
      • Mayors have emergency actions they can take, depending on certain predicates that get met. If an emergency action occurs, they may be able to spend their influence, as mayor, to set up a policy to vote within only an hour, in that way they may be able to sneak it through.
      • Happiness serves as the door opener or closer for certain policies to be allowed to be selected by the mayor for a vote by the citizens. 
      • If happiness is so low, the mayor may enact policies similar to martial law which may be helpful for prepping for the siege, such as gaining the ability to increase the number of conscripted mercenaries or be able to go into debt in the treasury for the purpose of upgrading walls/gates/barricades.
      • Example of policies:
        • Great Harvest: Increased gathering speed within the nodes ZOI by 5%
        • Kaelar Industry: Node construction and upgrade speed is 10% faster
        • Asylum: Instant citizenship for refugees of a fallen node
        • Ren’Kai Honorbound: All node-to-node reputation changes are increased by 5%
    • Caravans have also had a rework.
      • Players create components that live on the caravans, which changes stat values for the caravan itself, which can include, turning radius, turning speed, movement speed, armor, health, and damage mitigation. This is all done at a caravansary.
      • In order to construct a caravan at the caravansary of the node, you go to the caravansary and give the items that you have and will use those components to assign stats. Once that caravan is constructed, it will be hosted at that caravansary. If you want to launch a caravan, you will select the caravan you have available at the caravansary and then you will be provided with a UI screen that shows you the compartments available for storage that the caravan has, then you will assign those compartments to members of a party or named interests, you will then apply insurance to any pieces of those storage (which can go in escrow). If that caravan gets destroyed that escrow will go to that named player. The caravan will then be in a launch-ready state. When you decide to launch the caravan, your perspective will lead to a world map perspective that sits above the node and you will have a 360 line that lives outside of the node area at a good distance (~100-150 meters from the node) and you will spawn the caravan there. It will take 2-5 minutes (depending on the level of the caravansary) for that caravan to spawn at that location outside of the node. During that time, you can teleport to that launch location from the node itself so that people can not follow you. You can also port your group with you to the launch location. Once the caravan construction site is finished, your caravan is ready to mount, and you are ready to move along to its destination.
      • As you approach cities, caravanserais will confer a radius around the node. That radius will be visual to you in the world as you approach another node, when you cross that line, you reach a ‘safety zone’ the event surrounding the caravan and the ability to attack that caravan stops, and it gets auto-moved into the caravansary.
      • You then reach a pit stop. This can either be your final destination or you can relaunch it again. You do not need to stop at nodes along the way, if you want to keep going you can keep going. But if you are in trouble and are being attacked you have the option of going to a node with a caravansary you can direct your caravan to that node.


  • Will players be able to deliver straight from the naval caravan as a ship in a dock area dedicated for deliveries or will they need to transition to a land caravan before the city and drive inside the city walls?
    • It depends on the type of transport you are using. If you have launched a land based caravan it can only be received at caravansaries. However, from a naval perspective, harbors that are located in specific areas around the world around the coast, are points of interest that get adopted by a node when they reach certain levels in proximity to that harbors, or if the node gets vassaled by a sovereign node in relation to their vassal owning that harbor, you can launch merchant ships. Merchant ships interact with a harbor in a very similar fashion that caravans interact with caravansaries, but they have a much larger capacity. They can stop at other harbors in the same way that caravans can stop at caravansaries. Harbors have a disembarkation zone that lives near the harbor. If you make your merchant ship to that threshold it will be guided into the harbor and will be safe. But when you launch your ship from a harbor it is much like a caravan with the difference that merchant ships can not become land caravans they must stay as merchant ships. 
  • What is going to make nodes that aren’t centralized popular? Will nodes close to the edge of the map have better/more unique aspects to them?
    • It depends on what they mean by centralized. It is important to note that the population of the world is both dynamic and static. There are portions of the spawn table of each node that will advance based on the advancement of nodes, so there really is no ‘centralized’ aspect in that sense. There are strategically placed nodes that might be more important based on the type of gameplay you are targeting. If you are a merchant ship captain and need a harbor, then it’s likely you will target a node with access to a harbor. But if you are a land caravan person and you don’t care about the harbor, and you want something that is situated close to a choke point so that, after that choke point, you can have the lay of the land to move the caravan around, that may be more important to you. From a content perspective, the content advances with the world and that is something that removes the centralization. Materials will all have relevancy to end game play, and they’re spread out and situated, so it is more situational than it is static relevant. The way that content is separated, the way that materials be separated, the way that the zones are regionalized, and the way that transit matters, ensures that regions will have important nodes not 1 node for the whole world.
  • Some MMOs are not directly pay to win, but rather indirectly pay to win because they do not take harsh enough action against gold buying. Will you be harsher on these players than other MMOs to maintain the integrity of Ashes (aka will you permanently ban players who buy gold from third party websites)?
    • There is a sanctity that must be protected within the game. In games that Steven has played, where the company/publisher does not enforce rules, it becomes the standard that you buy gold (if you want to be competitive), and that is a very bad feeling to have. In order for that not to be the case, it is the responsibility of the publisher/developers to make sure that they have stringent practices from a customer services perspective to enforce their rules and to make sure that players are aware if they participate in that there is a huge risk in doing so. It will not be a slap on the hand with a strike system. They must ensure that it is feared to do such things, Ashes will have active GMs, active customer services, and an active community team. Even prior to the game launching, there is a focus on community engagement, that does not stop at the ship, there will be more once launched. That will be something that is intrinsic as a definition between Ashes and other games we have all played. It is a distinct point and as such from an enforcement and policy perspective they need to be punctual when it comes to botting or RMTing (Real Money Transfer) because of the sanctity of player achievement within the game when valuing risk vs reward, those things need to accompany or it else it is meaningless. 
  •  An AMA is planned for October

Outline Contributors: Skylarck The Botanist, Simurgh

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