Recently I had the great pleasure of a little back-and-forth with the lovely people behind Trials of Ascension. What follows is just a snapshot of their upcoming redesigned MMO, as well as information on their imminent Kickstarter campaign.
LJ: How about a little ToA history lesson. What was it before, and what do you hope this new incarnation will be?
ToA: We designed and developed a prototype of ToA under the Shadowpool Studios banner. That was a time of growth and learning for us. It turned out the design was too ambitious. We received funding offers and were willing to cut back on the scope of the design, but to secure the money we were being asked to compromise our core features, the very features that made ToA stand out from the other MMOs. We're not sellouts, especially for something we spent years on, so we did the hardest thing we've ever done and closed shop.
A few years later one of the other co-founders, Barry Smith, brings Kickstarter to my attention. I was floored. Crowdfunding was perfect for the differences that ToA can bring to the MMO table! MMO gamers are always saying they want something different and here was a place where they could walk the walk.
So we went back to the design table and ripped ToA to shreds. I was adamant that we remember every lesson learned during our Shadowpool days. We knew we were too ambitious last time, so we scaled everything back. We cut races, mounts, ships, religion, structure types, and loads more. What we didn't cut was our core features. The innovation system, dynamic spawning, a harsh death penalty, cooperative crafting and more. All of those systems were overhauled for efficiency and to better work off one another.
Once we were satisfied with the new ToA, we formed Forged Chaos LLC and nervously launched the website. We were very much on edge wondering how people would think of a company attempting a project for the second time. The response was incredible! We were receiving so much praise and acknowledgement that I stayed up all night that first night answering questions and talking to people.
LJ: What are some of the major differences between the old ToA and this shiny new model?
ToA: Beyond the tighter design scope and better overall continuity, I would have to say it feels much more like a sandbox than the old version did.
We are taking a "less is more" approach and keeping many of the mechanics of the game away from the players. We're also purposely not putting in features that are considered conveniences that erode so much possibility in a RPG. For example, we're not going to show you stats of every item in the game. We're also not implementing a mini-map. This allows for knowledge of local areas to finally mean something! We're not going to have global chat. When you are out in the desert all alone, you should feel all alone! Not to mention global chat is notorious for eating huge volumes of server resources, so some savings will be had there that we can put elsewhere. No quick travel. Nothing destroys the size of a world like quick travel. Why go through all the effort of building beautiful areas filled with dangerous obstacles to traverse if you're just going to allow them bypass it all?
LJ: Have some of the devs really gotten lost in the game world?
ToA: Yes! In fact all of us have.
This touches on the less is more approach. I think we've all gotten so used to having a mini-map and coordinate system that getting lost is near impossible. Take that away and it is a real eye-opener how fast you can get turned around. An area that may seem small when you have a bird’s eye view suddenly becomes much larger when you don't.
LJ: When does the Kickstarter begin?
ToA: We've set October 21st as the Kickstarter date, barring any issues that are out of our hands like project approval time by Kickstarter or possible requested changes of the project to meet approval.
Woo! Sounds fantastic, and time’s a’wastin’! Take a trip on over to the Trials of Ascension website for a look at the new (and improved) game. Then, be sure to head on over to Kickstarter to either cheer on, or be an important part of, ToA’s progress.
Be sure and come back here and leave a comment or two on the forums. Let us know what you think!