Ashes HQ

Development Update: Dec 23, 2022

Discussion & Outline Summary

This dev update was meant to be a recap of all of the things that have happened this year with interviews from the development team.

Community & Reminders    

  • They are spotlighting 1 Youtube comment per development update.
    • The comment led Bryan to explain that there is work going into tracking data and game logs to drive them forward. Steven went on to explain that the developers designed tools to gather data on active community engagement not just the actions in game.  This is meant to avoid decisions being made just from data points, but also from outreach and engagement.
  • Cosmetics swapping over on January 11th 2022, at 11AM PST.

Interview with the Engineering Team

  • Present: Clayton Stamper, Mitch Evans, Zachery Mallet
  • The transition of Unreal Engine 4 to Unreal Engine 5 entailed a lot.
  • The version control required for the additional features that the team has designed internally made the process longer and more intricate.
  • The engineering benefits of UE5 include the finer control of the map, in order to separate objects, increase the client in densely populated area (with objects), the feasibility of large-scale dungeons improved, files can be saved as individual actors giving multiple people the ability to work on the same level simultaneously.
  • On the asset side, nanite and lumen have created fundamental changes for how the game runs under the hood. Lumen makes global illumination possible, at a per pixel level.
  • The move over to UE5.1 should be a smooth process and should come with performance increases. This will be very critical to NPC decision trees
  • Artist are exited for UE5.1 because there are more reliant versions with additional maturity.
  • The Character Creator has been about freedom of creation, ensuring players are able to create their own character with their own specific wants and desires.
  • The Character Creator has a high degree of control within constraints that always give positive results
  • The initial Character Creator involved a lot of R&D around feasibility because there were so many demands that were novel to Ashes. Ensuring that a completely customized character can be functional in an MMO world was a very difficult task.
  • The team is still working on bringing the Character Creator to the dev team for Monsters and NPC and animal husbandry to create a full diverse world.
  • The engineering team is excited for the hair customization to go to a direct customization instead of only sliders.
  • The character creator will integrate with the gameplay in real time. Character progression will also influence the character creator, like reputation-based tattoos or scars. Being able to go into a Dünir Node to get a Dünir Tattoo. Having the ability to inspect player scars which identify the source of the scare (such as a specific dragon).

Interview with the Environment/Audio Team

  • Present: Trystan Snodgrass, Bryan Gans, Cat Neri
  • The Season showcase required almost every aspect of UE to be touched in order to capture the fullness of a seasonal change.
  • There was a lot of different harmonization work required to ensuring that the changes won’t be too abrupt. So instead of 4 seasons there are 8 variations of seasons.
  • Filling biomes starts with real world examples, followed by concept artist fantasizing versions of those real examples.
  • The desert biome from a seasonal perspective gave the team a lot of creativity, such as including super blooms.
  • Converting Environmental Art to a functional object in an MMORPG world requires a lot of layering that the team creates in order to bring the feature to life.
  • The boss design for the desert biome will have a whirlwind sandstone, that players can get inside.
  • Birds will be assigned to specific trees, so chopping certain tree types down may get rid of the audio of specific trees.
  • The team is most exited to create the Red Wood forest biome.

Interview with the Combat Team

  • Present: Jim Sanders, Tradd Thompons, Keenan Reimer
  • The process of making an archetype always starts on paper with a design document. Establishing the class fantasy, its identity, and role within the party.  Once that’s done, the abilities and class mechanics are idealized, filtered, and redesigned.
  • Rapid prototyping is important because it allows you fail (and maybe succeed) early in order to improve on it iteratively.
  • The teams greatest challenge is making someone who is playing feel like they are the character they are playing.
  • The continuity of effects in order to be able to identify class archetypes from the class’s spell visual affect is at the forefront of a lot of the thought when defining the style guide.
  • Players will be able to tune what it’s like playing as a single player vs when playing with a large party to avoid “visual soup” when too much is happening in a particular area.
  • The team is most exited to see what the summoner and bard will become in Ashes, because they always seem to fall short in other games.
  • Next month’s dev update will be the Tank. In a few months the Cyclops Raid boss will be shown.
  • Within the ideation phase, scaling is always important to take into consideration, from single play to MMO massive raids. Unreal Engine 5 has given the team the ability to control so many aspects of the effects in order to allow for the effects to be present in the open world.

Interview with the Gathering/Crafting Team

  • Present: Hal Anderson, Alex Khudoliy, Kory Rice
  • The design of felling trees required a lot of cross departmental work.
  • The variety of life in the world is critical, ensuring that there are different stages of growth, different types of growth, different positioning.
  • The more time you spend in gathering the better you should become. Surveying is a path of the progression within your gathering, it gives players tools to find what they are looking for and increase their productivity.
  • Land management is hoped to create interesting entrances into play cycles, not limit any play style.

The team is trying to put together a diegetic experience for making weapons, incorporating skills and techniques, and so how you do in the making of the weapon is going to influence the weapon stats.

Outline Contributors: Skylarck The Botanist, Simurgh

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