Whelp I’m back for another round of a game I formerly decided to call AOC. I say formerly because the people spoke and when the people speak the Tim listens. Out of respect for Age of Conan I will abbreviating Ashes of Creation to…(drumroll please)…Ashes! BOOM! Speaking of the people thanks for all the comments under the last column, its much appreciated. Quality MMORPG discussion never gets old.
AOC Ashes appears to be on the road to a Kickstarter. The last thing I want to do is create hype. Hype, especially pre-Kickstarter hype tends to grow into a Balrog of a problem. Once you let it run you it’s only a small drive over to Shillville. It’s a dark path. A guy only has so many shills in him before he becomes one of those people from fake infomercials selling weird products that do things you can already do without them but slightly better. “Have trouble opening a door? Handle too slippery? Introducing the Sloorbop, it slips right over your door knob giving you extra grip to make opening it a please! You’ll be opening doors like a kid again…just don’t leave the door open like a kid! Hahyuk! Limited time offer, buy now get two free for only $19.95!” Terrifying! The Junkions predicted this dark future, the social internet brought it to life.
Where was I…oh yeah, I don’t want to hype this but I do want to understand it. Let’s see if we can break down some of the ideas behind Ashes. One of the main concepts reminds me a bit of Rift. I didn’t play a lot of Rift because I despise instances but when I was finally convinced to give it a try I was impressed with the way that game utilized its rifts – as regional, unique content that impacted the main game in various ways. They became a near limitless creative tool that allowed the developers to try all kinds of interesting stuff without breaking the game’s lore. A multiverse of potential that may have inspired Stranger Things – no I’m not serious, I made that up but the concept is near identical.
I’m talking about Nodes. Similarly, they are unique zones of content that effect areas around it and retain unique developments. Dissimilarly they are all part of the main world and not in an alternate realm like in Rift. Per Intrepid Studios nodes are “Encompassing the entirety of our world’s playable areas are carefully placed points of possible development, which we call Nodes. These Nodes in their undeveloped form will not be visible to the players at first. However, as our intrepid players venture out into the wilderness with a variety of quests and tasks from their starting zones, these nodes will begin to absorb the activity in its radius zone of influence. In practice this will look like a band of friends completing quests or fighting monsters for sweet loot, searching for treasures, or delving into a dungeon.. progressing their characters as all MMO players are familiar with, but critically they will also be progressing the world around them.”
More importantly to this PVPer “Zones can fall under 4 different categories; Military, Divine, Economic or Scientific. The zone type will affect the government type and buildings of the Node, as well as the content generated from that Node’s progression.” Lastly, and just as important to PVP “So when one node may advance and unlock content, it comes at the cost of the content that a neighboring node may have offered.”.
Let’s translate this. Players will go out into the game world and do stuff in a zone. As they do that zone will begin to evolve. Over the course of “many weeks” of players doing stuff that area can go from being wilderness to a Metropolis with several stages in-between. As your area advances your neighbor area loses things. As long as there have been people we have been fighting over things and stuff, especially if there is a regional difference. The PVP table is set.
Remember earlier when I said lastly and more importantly…I lied. This next part is the last and most important part. “Every Node in the game world can be destroyed as a result of player actions, resetting the progress made on that particular Node back to a lower tier of development or even its original starting point.”
Ah, now that is the top shelf stuff. Writer’s note – while it looks like you could avoid PVPing in this game altogether, I get the sense Ashes will be strongly nudging players to engage. Intrepid seems hell bent on making a living changing world with PVP being the agent of that change and nodes being the manifestation of it. I suppose this progression is only natural as PVP in MMORPG’s seems to be scaling up. We used to fight over tiny keeps, now we fight over possession of entire regions!
Sounds fun. I’m looking forward to learning what their technology approach to nodes is. Currently I see a few options based on phasing, instances or regional server tech. It’s a concept that I believe will live or die by implementation both mechanical and physical. If Nodes don’t feel like a natural unified world it could be jarring. If the tech can’t support the PVP it could be game breaking. I shall await further information on nodes with baited breath. (Um, I think it’s bated breath.) I’m a MMORPG PVPer waiting on yet another game asking me for money, my breath will be baited! (eats garlic and onions as he waits) My frogskins don’t come easy! Let me know what you think of nodes in the comments below.