Intrepid Studios, the developers behind the reactive world massively multiplayer online role-playing game, Ashes of Creation, has posted their first developer blog. In this first post, they tackled the problem of themepark and sandbox MMOGs and explained their solution to it.
Ashes of Creation is considered by many as a sandbox MMORPG. However, the developers see their game as a “reactive world”, thanks to what they call the Node System.
Problem with sandbox & themepark MMOGs
When it comes to how MMO’s have been traditionally designed, most gamers are familiar with two distinct types of gameplay loops: the “theme park”, and the “sandbox”. The vast majority of MMO’s we’ve all seen come and go in the gaming industry have been of the theme park variety – these games put the player onto a specific path, guiding them along, with plenty of pretty sights in between the same old quest hubs, very little in divergent paths, virtually no freedom in player progression. Recently the MMO genre has seen some games of the sandbox nature come onto the scene, but despite the ultimate freedom the sandbox affords players, many are left wanting more, as there is by definition no pre built world content, no human touch, just the vastness of the “sand” for lack of a better term. Thus many MMO players often find themselves caught between the repetitive rock of the theme park or the vast dead spaces of the sandbox’s hard place. This chasm between the state of MMO gameplay loops is where we intend to inject Ashes of Creation’s Node system.
The solution: Node System
So what exactly are Nodes then? Players in Ashes of Creation will find themselves thrust into the forefront of an inhospitable world filled with bountiful undiscovered treasure and ancient evils lurking just over the horizon. The very first pioneers into Ashes of Creation will find the wilderness a bleak reality, but even the harshest environments can be tamed. This is where Nodes come into play. 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.
Simply, a “reactive world” is a game where the environment constantly changes based on the actions and choices of the players — we can say that this is the sandbox aspect of the game. As the world develops, it offers quests, items, and even NPCs, based on the Node’s current development and all the other Nodes around it.
Nodes can also be destroyed, by players. For example, a massive node siege. Once destroyed, the other Nodes in the area will have a change to move on to the next stage of its node development, since there is “new land”. A different node will offer a different set of quests, items, NPCs, and other features, for example, player housing within a node.
No two nodes are the same
It does not end there. Nodes are located in certain “regions” which will define what Marketplace it is a part of, what Warehouse cluster it belongs to, what crafting Tier exists in. Different zones also fall under 4 categories: Military, Divine, Economic, or Scientific.
Every step of the way, every action of the players around it, a node develops. Ideally, with what was so far revealed and explained, each node is unique.
As I’m sure you can see, the Node system is the backbone of many of the game’s systems. It is also important to note, that after a node has advanced to the next stage, it is no longer possible to develop its neighboring nodes unless the node is sieged and destroyed. After every advancement to the next stage of that node’s development, the ring of disabled neighboring nodes grow, stopping the neighboring nodes from progressing to the next stage. Each node has it’s own unique content, that is only accessible after being developed. So when one node may advance and unlock content, it comes at the cost of the content that a neighboring node may have offered.
Learn more about Ashes of Creation here.
Source: A Reactive World – Nodes
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