Welcome to the first installment of Back to Basics. For the next few months we’re going to use this series to help explain some of the features and mechanics in Trials of Ascension. Throughout this series you’ll notice that the mechanics / features we discuss will differ than what some people would consider “normal” in today’s MMORPG market.
For this issue we’re going to take a look at something that I think really sets ToA apart from anything you might have experienced in the past, Dynamic Spawning. When we talk about Dynamic Spawning we don’t specifically mean creatures spawning in unique ways, we mean much, much more than that.
As a game developer, especially in the MMORPG genre, our goal is to have the player enjoying their time and to keep them playing the game for as long as possible. In order to do this developers will add in time sinks, such as dailies, unique quest lines or story arcs, even a gear grind to keep players doing the same content until an item drops. To us, this isn’t fun, our idea of how to keep players engaged in our world can be summed up in one word, immersion.
Now, of course everyone’s immersion levels are different, what gets me immersed in my games might differ from yours and vice versa. However, there is always one thing players will have in common when it comes to immersion, a living world. Immersion is all based on how well you connect with the game world, and a living world will do just that.
Let me explain what I mean by a living world. Games that have been developed over the past few years all have epic storylines, quests that lead you to making potentially world changing options, but only you can see these changes. These changes happen instantly, as soon as you select your option, poof, and the world is now a different place, but is that a living world, or a static world? We see that as a static world, because it is isolated to you, using a phasing technology, because it happens instantly there is no sense of time, anything living experiences time.
Imagine this, the game has been released for some time now, a settlement that was once a booming place to live and trade, was raided a few months back and has become completely abandoned. No one has entered the settlement since then, it’s become a desolate ruin of a place. The jungle that was once being pushed back by all the carpenters cutting down the trees for resource material, is now encroaching on the settlement. Making the city feel more like an ancient Mayan ruin. If that’s not immersive enough, how about after a large rainfall, the water begins to raise, or perhaps there is a drought, and water is now receding and becoming a slight rarity in your biome.
With our dynamic spawning, we have the ability to control how the world evolve around what the players are experiencing. Making the game world feel more like a living breathing world than just a static environment we’re all used to seeing in our games.
Dynamic spawning doesn’t only relate to the flora, it also includes the creatures in the world. If a population of creatures aren’t being controlled, they will become over crowded in their current habitat. If this happens they will start to expand their region and look for additional places to call home, this could mean the farmers who have crops outside the settlement might have to deal with some unwanted guests.
One thing that you don’t feel in a game is a sense of time, except from day/night cycles there really isn’t any representation of time. With our dynamic spawning everywhere you go in TerVarus you’ll see time pass throughout the game. A great example is the trees, as mentioned earlier they will be able to expand on their own territory, but they aren’t just going to spawn new trees. As trees are placed in the world you’ll see them start out as a sapling, and slowly grow into a mature tree.
So, why would we go to such lengths to create a system like this and not go with the “standard” static world? Because in Trials of Ascension we want you to feel as if you’re part of a living world. A world that is always changing, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse, but never the same. ToA is all about choice and how you want to play the game.
It’s no fun if your choice and play options are always the same every time you login. With this system, you won’t always know exactly what you’re going to log into. Perhaps you logged out in the middle of a jungle, but when you logged in next time, that once lush jungle has been harvested and is now nothing but a valley of stumps.
A world that is forever changing, is a world you can lose yourself in, a world that no longer feels static, your actions in the game can make all the difference.
I hope you found this article and the dynamic spawning mechanic to be as exciting as we all do. In future releases of Back to Basics we’re going to discuss a wide range of what you’ll experience in Trials of Ascension from, settlements, crafting, GM Events, Inventory System, Personal Housing and customization, and many more topics.