This past Saturday, Ten Ton Hammer got to hang out with the Forged Chaos development team as they showed off a new system in Trials of Ascension. What we had a chance to see was how buildings (such as houses and even castles) will be built in game, and how this can turn into a communal effort that will let players come together to erect player-run cities and towns within the game. This includes everything, even the harvesting. Before we began building, we first started harvesting wood, which goes faster with more people working on the same tree. Then, something happened that was a pretty neat social observation: without any prior coordination from us, we broke down into groups on our own. While we did do some prep beforehand, we did not assign roles to ourselves as to who would do what. In the video, you'll see some of us sticking to only harvesting trees for wood, some of us taking these planks over to the building we were putting together, and then some people working on the actual construction of it. I'm not big into games that require building (I'm more of an EQ2 decorator personally), but I really liked the social aspect here and had fun pitching in.
Once again, I'd like to extend a huge thank you to everyone who helped make this AMA such a success! Thank you to my partner in crime, Kevin, for the idea in the first place, as well as being there every step of the way. Thanks to Reuben and John for letting us run with the idea and just see what happens when two people have a good idea. Super extra enormous thanks to the Forged Chaos team, especially Teddy and Michael. The biggest of thanks I have, though, is for everyone who participated in the AMA. Thanks for making a fun pet project two people worked on mostly in their spare time be such a success. I appreciate everyone who came out, regardless of whether or not you were asking questions. Speaking of questions, we had some really great ones (thanks Bowen for digging up questions from the ToA forums!) and they all ended up getting asked later on in the AMA. This means that we did not get to everyone's questions, but don't worry! We will get answers for you. The team said they would be more than happy to answer them, so after I finish going through what was answered already here, I'll round up the unanswered questions. There were some really good ones in that bunch and I know I'd like to hear the answer for them! But, before I can ask them the unanswered questions, let's have a look at for what was answered and what we learned. This is not a literal transcription; some questions have been answered loosely for the gist or to edit down on words. Some questions were answered verbatim.
In the AMA, the two main concepts that we saw was how the modular builds work for housing, as well as the day and night cycle. Building is a modular system, which is put together by selecting blueprints that you have and “snapping” the pieces together. (This snapping is what the game does by auto-fitting different modules together.) Not all of the resources for creating buildings are in the game yet – remember, Trials of Ascension currently exists as a technical demo and should be considered very early alpha – but we did get a taste of what harvesting resources will be like from harvesting trees for wood.
Will you need permits to build these? Will tax collectors just show up? No, no permits. No taxes, nothing like that. You will only be able to build on your own plot of land that you'll buy from the settlements. In that sense, yeah, it's a tax...kind of. Does that mean that we won't have wild buildings? No, we will. You'll just have to build it on your plot of land that you put out in the wild. There will be a limit on how many plots you can own per account, that way we don't have an overpopulation of houses. Most building will be within the city, and then outside of the city there will be a certain range that you have to build within. This range is considered a “wild” house and you will be able to build these out there. These wild houses will have an invisible radius around them that will keep other houses from being built around them. [Side: I look forward to being a crazy hermit hillfolk in the middle of nowhere; someone mothers in the village below will use as a scare tactic to keep their children in line.]
How do you plan for players to obtain stone? Is that going to be a difficult thing where you have to go all the way down to the quarry and then bring it back up here? Yeah, pretty much. Essentially, you'll have to start a mine. Much like how a real mine works, in order to get to your minerals, you'll have to remove all of the dirt and stone first, which you can then move to your build site. Then, stone masons will have to chisel it into workable blocks that you can then place. So basically, if you want to build a castle, you're going to need to pay a lot of money to all of the people involved? You're going to need a lot of money, a lot of time, and a lot of people, absolutely. We're building a relatively small house and it's still taking us a decent amount of time. [Side: At this point, we were about 15 minutes into the build and still had areas missing floorboards and not all of the walls were built yet, with 8 people working on the house.] And there's stages that haven't even been added in yet, like turning the lumber into actual usable logs. Right now, we're just spitting out boards from the trees, but there will be more processes there. For things like masonry, you'll have to have a certain set of skills. [Side: You won't want to go into building alone, since so much of it will require the skills of others. Also, the construction that we saw during the AMA was sped up faster than what the progress will be like when the game goes live. Right now, we can build at a distance, but players should expect that when the game is live that they will need to build scaffolding to build their roofs.]
When you're crafting up pieces, certain things will have stages (earlier, it was stated some are passive). Different stages will have a quality check and success chances. This goes beyond just house building, but extends to all areas of crafting in the game. For example, leatherworking will require tanning and stretching the leather before it can be used. Due to the way that crafting is set up in game, you'll see master crafters, but you'll also see these masters have apprentices. As people work their way up the ranks for a particular craft, they can find themselves doing simpler jobs for the master crafters. When the crafting escalates to a quality check stage, however, you would want the master crafter to take over. This means there is a higher chance of success for the tougher stages of crafting. This master crafter would be able to make the best leather. There are different tiers of leather. In order to craft legendary items, you will need the best tiered materials for that.
This sets up a cooperative crafting community system where people don't have to be the best at everything and not everything has to be crafted by the best crafters. You can also just hire lackeys to do the menial jobs for you, if you don't have the people in your community who would be satisfied with skill increases alone. Rather than levels, everything in Trials of Ascension will have tiers, and these tiers will take time to progress through them. This is because Forged Chaos are creating a game with long-term play in mind.
We briefly saw what the dynamic lighting will be like around dusk or dawn, but the highlight here is night. Teddy quotes Brax with, “Night is night.” What that means is, night time, at least for humans, is pitch black. Torches are required, if you want to see, but this comes with a double-edged sword. While the aid of a torch at night will let you see, this also means that other players, as well as some creatures, can now see you, making you a target. This introduces the large risk of doing anything at night. For some, this might be annoying, but for others, the thrill of hide and seek adds on a new layer of enjoying the game. “We believe very firmly that you should be scared of the dark,” says Brax. The day and night cycle will happen automatically, but for the stream, it was set to a manual toggle.
How would you choose to proceed? Would you stick to the roads at night, so you had an idea of where you're heading, but don't use a torch? Since the game will have moon cycles, would you choose to only venture out at night when you could rely on the light of the moon? Would you only go out when you had a group to go with you? Would you leave the night to the Raknar, bandits and other creatures of the night while you stay safe in your bed?
If you do use a torch at night, you will be theoretically painting a target on your back. While this is definitely a risk that you have to decide on whether or not you'll take, it will not be the only time in Trials of Ascension that you're faced with making a choice that will result in a consequence for your actions.
Onto the AMA Portion
The Twitch recap can be found here.
Will we be able to adjust the height/width of our walls. If so, will they retain proportions or will we have tall, skinny walls that have a higher chance to collapse? No. While they have set proportions, you can “stack” walls, which is how you can build multiple story houses. These set proportions are necessary to allow the pieces to snap together. While there are some technical limitations behind this, there are aesthetic ones, as well. Having set proportions will make it so people don't end up with patchwork houses.
What options will a hatchling dragon have to acquire nuggets or other treasure for a hoard so they can molt to the next age level? Right now, if you want to play a hatchling, you're going to have to learn how to be a scavenger. That's probably going to be your biggest way of getting those nuggets.
Can you give us an example of some of the mentally taxing puzzles aspiring mages will need to complete to learn a spell? No specific examples, but these will be put on a timer, and that timer will be based on your character's intelligence. The more intelligent your character is, the longer you'll have to solve that puzzle.
If you obtain enough wealth, will you have to physically transport it? Absolutely. In other games, when you see gold, it's in your inventory as a separate entity. It always stays with you, even through death. If you die [in ToA], you lose everything. The gold just falls on the floor. Gold can't be insta-mailed through the mail, because there is no mail system. The “mail” system is someone's back. If you're trying to buy something, then you need to bring that gold to them. Ahh, so there'll be a niche for people who want to offer mail services? Yeah, absolutely. Caravan leaders, or something like that. That will be part of the contract system. Money changers will be a good profession, as well, where you exchange different metal nuggets. So you go to the bank and you're like, “I have all of this copper. Could I get some gold, please?” Exactly.
Do you guys have plans for rounded pieces in construction? For example, a rounded wall, like a half moon or quarter moon. Yep. Already in, with the castle. What you saw here was pretty square, with a bunch of angles. We're not on a voxel system, because we're trying to get away from that. I feel that voxel systems have been kind of overdone. This doesn't mean that you can't have weird angles. You'll be able to branch off at 120 degree angles, rather than always 180 or 90. The system allows for connection points between anywhere and anything. It's pretty unlimited with what we can do with it. Also, within the system is the Innovation system. This means that while you could be building just a rustic house, you could suddenly be able to create a special piece that only you can build. The Innovation system will allow for the game to grow organically based on what the players want to do with it.
Can you mix pieces of different, but similar, blueprints? No. For example, here we have the rustic house. It's a wooden house blueprint. You won't be able to take a piece from a stone castle or a palladium house and mix them together. We want to give the players as much of absolutely freedom as possible, but yet I feel very strongly that we have to keep to our aesthetic look. The pieces in a blueprint are what you are limited to. Just say no to Frankenstein Houses. However, this isn't to say that you won't have wooden pieces in a stone design, if they fit. Like a castle, for example, you could have wooden struts that go through the gate. Innovations will allow for flexibility, where designs can be added onto.
How easy will it be for a dragon to rip apart the house that we were building? The hardest part will be surviving [as a dragon] to the point where you can do that. If you do get to Ancient Dragon status, your damage becomes siege type damage. [Later on, it's pointed out that Ancient Dragons can basically become open world raid bosses.]
About how big is the game world? [While Scott asks “is” I added in that he might ask “will be” beyond the current demo stage.] Yeah, right now, we just have a small area we call Demo Island, but I don't have exact measurements for ya. [I mention the large number of zones posted to the geography page.] We want to give players as much room as possible to spread out. That same radius imposed on wild houses will be in settlements, so you can't have settlements right next to each other, or a whole chain of them. Demo Island was a good learning curve, which will result in players having as much room as Forged Chaos can afford to them. The world will have to be big enough to support all of the fauna that is going to be in and the space that they'll need to be able to exist.
What type of fauna can we expect to encounter at night? Besides the fearful Mawktopus [best name ever], and the Raknar, are there other unique monsters planned? There will be nocturnal animals and typical things you would expect at night. There's going to be as much diversity as we can manage in order to give you the experience you want. We want to, at least once a week, give you something you haven't seen yet – and that's even after you've been playing awhile.
Will there be stars at night? Yeah, we'll definitely have stars at night. I would like to get us on a cycle, where some nights are darker than others. Like phases of the moon? Yeah, exactly.
About this time in the stream, Kevin starts talking about how terrified he is of falling and asks if there's a chance that he could fall down and get turned around, and eventually lost. While he's asking this, you'll see him running around on the stream. While he doesn't fall down, he does get completely lost. It's kind of perfect. In the questions section, Nazriel asked what Kevin's chance of survival would be when he got lost in the woods. All of it was a pretty good example of just how dangerous (and thrilling) night time can be in this game. Kevin had this to say about running around at night, while lost:
Everyone, I just wanted to let you know there was definitely a psychological effect after running around in the night for so long. At first it was no big deal, but after a while I became lost, confused, frustrated, and eventually desperate. That's without wildlife trying to kill me. People will think twice before heading out at night, and bandits and thieves will surely have many opportunities for coin and blood.
Speaking of thieves, my favorite thing about bandits and such in this game, is how you won't know anyone' level or ability. I feel like players will naturally attempt to ROB you instead of killing you and looting your corpse. Both players will have no idea how powerful each other are, and with only limited number of lives, I feel like they'd rather avoid combat....
"Should I fight this bandit and potentially lose my enchanted sword I worked so hard to get? Or should I give him 50 gold and just get out of here? Maybe if I get back to town I can find someone to help me hunt him down and get my money back."
"...what if the guy I hire knows how powerful i am because we're working together, so he helps me kill the rogue, then when I'm busy looting my stuff, stabs me in the back and takes my enchanted sword?!"
Will doors have permissions to enter or will a key be needed to enter? How will this work? Can people break into other people's houses? People will be able to break in, but, there will be locks in the game. The locks won't require keys, since they'll be three digit combination locks. You'll want to make sure you give your code out to people you trust, but if you need to get a new combination, you can get a new lock from a locksmith. There are also permission rulesets inside of houses, as well, so you can grant different people different access per room. For more information about permissions, take a look at the permissions page.
Will there be roads in the game? Will they be player built or a component of the game? This isn't something they've made a final decision on yet, because there are a ton of what ifs to address still. There will be roads, but they want to come up with a way to let players make some of the roads, but there will need to be restrictions, so there are not just roads all over the place.
How serious will fall damage be? Will it be a short distance before damage or longer? We want to give you some leeway. You need to be able to jump off some stuff, but at a certain point, it's going to be fatal.
I mention that Bowen added in questions from the forums into the Disqus comments for us, to which the folks from Forged Chaos give a shout out to Bowen for being a generally awesome community member. Thanks, Bowen!
Is there an ETA on the completion of the technical demo? Short answer: yes. Dates are tricky for companies to throw out there. If you announce any sort of date and don't live up to it, people will rain down hellfire upon you, but at the same time, the longer you go without giving a date, the more people will ask you for it. Rather than a date, Forged Chaos let us know that we can expect to see their Kickstarter soon. They said soon, and that it's not that far off, while also suggesting a look at the roadmap to see what they have accomplished so far.
Will I be able to have guard dogs for my farm? [insert excitement over the idea here] Yeah, definitely, because they'll be pets. The pet system will allow for commands, so you can go out, find some wild dogs, trap them, domesticate/tame them, teach them commands, and then you'll be able to tell them what to guard.
How common or uncommon will the Mawktopus be? [insert manly giggles here] Brax says that it depends on how pissed off he is that day ;) In all seriousness, though, the best named monster ever will be a pretty rare sight, because they will be devastating to parties.
Will armor affect your travel speed? Yes, because it will have encumbrance to it. The weight system – which is nearly done – will give pretty much everything in the game different weight values, including armor. This means that there will be a maximum to what you can hold.
Will there be bridges in the game, and if so, how will they be implemented? Yes, and they will be on the same system that everything else that's built is. Right now, FC is working on determining whether they'll be private or civic – the two different types of built objects within the system. This goes back to the eternal debate over how roads will function, as well.
Speaking of roads...mounts. Are there mounts planned to make travel faster? When can we expect to see them in the game? Will there be other types of quick or quicker travel? Mounts will serve two purposes: to allow you to travel faster or to allow you to carry extra weight. They are currently slated as one of the Kickstarter stretch goals, but they are also a high priority. As for quick travel, unless you're a high level mage, no dice. However, even these magi will face consequences. The spell could screw up, resulting in death.
Is there a traditional PvE endgame planned? No. Why no? Because you can begin the “endgame” at the beginning of the game, due to dynamic spawning. “Because of Varl and his GMs.” [insert happy goat] Maybe not always, but there will constantly be new opportunities to find new dungeons (yes, they can spawn) and such. There will be points when GMs can come in and spawn baddies or maybe embody some orcs for a settlement raid. Since this game has pretty open PvP, if you and your buddies come across an Ancient Dragon, now you have a raid boss to fight.
We're trying to get away from the grind, grind, grind...get to the endgame where the fun is. The fun needs to start the moment you start playing your character. It's not going to be endgame stuff. It's going to be game stuff.
Will there be unique items, where there's just one of them in the whole world, and if you want it, you have to go out and kill whoever has it? Oh yeah. [insert Macho Man] And some that would kill you by equipping it.
Will there be plenty to do for people who don't want to be involved in danger? Yes and no. We're still undecided with the limitations of the Monolith [safe zone]. We don't want people to use it as a kind of get out of jail free thing, like with crafting and such. We might implement it so you can't gain any skills within it. The better answer is: if you want to be safe, become part of a settlement. A settlement doesn't mean a guild; it's a settlement, just like your real-life town. Guilds are a separate entity. Settlements will be like any other community, where you won't necessarily know everyone, but you can pull together when it's needed. There will be a reputation system within settlements, meaning that players can break the laws at their own risk. You can hit certain thresholds that will make you kill on site within a settlement. This will force you out into the wilds, which will be a dangerous place. Settlements overall will be fairly safe places, but there will still be an element of risk from thieves and invaders.
A question asked and answered in the comments: What determines if a wall will have a window in it or not? There is a UI window that you can pull up to see all of the design elements you have available to you within a blueprint. You can select what to build, which will require a certain amount of materials.
Once again, I'd sincerely like to thank every person who was a part of this. It was a great experience and I'm beyond happy to have had a hand in it! Thanks to all of you who helped make it a success. Now, to get those unanswered questions emailed off!
To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our Trials of Ascension Game Page.