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Our Immersive World – Environments

 

Ever since I could remember, I’ve had an over-active imagination.  My childhood was filled with books and movies that transported me to another world, a different universe.  The limits of what I thought were possible changed before my eyes.  I could fly, travel through space, or cast spells and slay the greatest dragon.  I suddenly became enamored with experiencing the inexperience-able.  It was only a short time before this thirst for a world beyond reality, translated into a love for the MMORPG.

My first ever MMORPG was back in 1992.  I was 7 years old, and every day that I got home from school, I would sit down at our family computer and play Neverwinter Nights™ on AOL™.  Nobody in my family was a gamer.  Video gamers barely existed back in the ancient times of 1992.  Sure there were console games, but Neverwinter Nights was the first Graphical MMORPG.  I had no real understanding of money at the time, being 7 years old, and I would spend hours playing that game.  Little to my knowledge, at the end of a bingeworthy first month, my mother got her AOL bill. That game cost $6 per hour to play.  Let’s just say it wasn’t a very fun summer for me that year.

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The game itself opened an entirely new world to me.  I was actually able to participate in a real way, with worlds I had only read about or imagined… Later in life, I was exposed to the joys of pen & paper RPG’s such as D&D.  But there was something about video games that stuck with me.  It wasn’t until I grew older and began to experience different MMOs, that I found out what it was that set the virtual world of gaming aside from the imaginative worlds in the books I had read.

 

Immersive – im·mer·sive

iˈmərsiv/

adjective

adjective: immersive

  • noting or relating to digital technology or images that actively engage one’s senses and may create an altered mental state

 

 

Over the past 30 years, developers have constantly tried to enhance the immersive nature of MMORPGs.  We have come a far way in technology since 1991, and the possibilities today are extraordinary.  There are endless components to making an MMO immersive, to name a few;

Story

Music

Sound

Mechanics

Player Agency

Physics

Risk/Reward

Environment

 

That last one, Environment, is what I want to share here.

In Ashes of Creation, the development of Nodes causes the world around you to change. But what if the world changes independent of those Nodes? We talk a lot in the office about the environment needing its own character. How can we give it character outside of just stellar art direction? We give it life, and we give it meaning. Not just with a few visual effects, but with actual mechanics that reflect that life. I want to see the world affect the player’s actions. To influence a decision that you may or may not make. And I am not just talking about weather here.  I am talking about zones that follow a cycle of seasons. Perhaps seasons that persist or change based on community activity in the world.

Let me explain…

In Ashes of Creation the world will change on a regular basis.  Zones will progress in a seasonal cycle, which will alter the very nature of the environment around you. Snow may block pathways that are accessible in warmer months, spring may encourage creatures otherwise unseen to come to the surface, and fall might be the only time that certain crops thrive.  This cycle can then take in the state of the world’s Nodes and shift depending on their progression. What happens if there’s an unexpectedly long summer and a far too short autumn? We’re not entirely sure ourselves, but we do know there will be plenty of stories that begin with “I remember when…” I want these cycles to affect a wide array of mechanics, including; NPC generation, boss content, dungeons, drop tables, Node progression, combat, skill use, gatherables, trade routes, NPC appearances, and weather. How you approach the world will depend on the world’s mood at that time. Certainly you might re-consider your approach to that dungeon if it’s fall rather than spring.

Most importantly, I want you to “feel” the difference in the world around you.  I want Ashes to immerse you in the sights and sounds of the forest you are moving through and the ridges of that canyon you desperately cling to. If it’s winter, I want you to feel its icy fingers. Summer should bring that sticky-hot sensation that makes you just want to take it slow. The world must have a palpable texture to it, and we’re going to do that not just visually, but through music, sound, and story which together will complete that sensory tapestry. Those details are imperative if we want to illicit an emotional response that feels real.

The secret to immersion, ironically for a fantasy game, is to create the illusion of reality.

That is what I intend to do.

 

Author Steven
Published
Categories Blog
Views 3952

Comments (22)

  • Sarumonin
    January 24, 2017 at 12:52 am Reply
    Yas! YAAAAAAAAAAAAS!!!! Let the hype train flow through you. Thank you for this post, it really is amazing to see a company devoted to its community. <3
    • Kalien
      February 15, 2017 at 6:31 am Reply
      You're everywhere arn't you Saru haha
  • Plinious
    January 24, 2017 at 2:48 am Reply
    Hi there! I'm Plinious, chief editor of MMO.it, an Italian website about MMOs and multiplayer games. I have always been passionate about virtual worlds and this blog post greatly inspires me. I'm truly amazed by your video too. I think seasonal changes can really make the difference in terms of immersion in the game world. Congrats and keep up the good work for Ashes!
  • Shivato
    January 24, 2017 at 3:45 am Reply
    Word smith Mr Sorc. Great read sir! I, for one, am so looking forward to getting into it. Heck I would even volenteer to GM. Legacy's are most appreciated in witness. I am looking forward to watching yours unfold. Looks fabulous.
  • Grexsis
    January 24, 2017 at 6:29 am Reply
    Thanks @Steven for sharing with us that delightful back-story, And I cannot wait to see more! ^.^ I too, Hope to become lost in the immersive world of Ashes of Creation. Keep up the great work, To you and everyone on the staff team behind AOC! Best regards ~ Raider
  • Reinhardt
    January 24, 2017 at 12:57 pm Reply
    God, this is beautiful
  • Royalis
    January 28, 2017 at 11:40 am Reply
    Thanks for the update! Can't wait to see how the nodes and the immersion of the environment will look like in its final stage. Keep up the great work.
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    February 1, 2017 at 11:55 am Reply
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  • MrCicer
    February 3, 2017 at 3:44 pm Reply
    I'm brazilian and I'm excited with this game. Maybe it will be my new mmo, where I'll immerse too many hours. I really hope to play this game without lag on my country.
  • Cpt.Jak
    February 4, 2017 at 10:24 am Reply
    I have been waiting for a long time for a developer to grasp these things firmly! My one litmus test for quality is the story of how you get to this place and the open admission that you want to build a game you have always wanted to play..well done good sir!
  • Ausmaw
    February 4, 2017 at 11:38 am Reply
    The environment already looks so beautiful. I've it's start to come alive with NPCs, monsters, and wildlife, well it should be a sure to be seen. Hopefully you can take a break there, fish and watch the world...
  • Kalien
    February 15, 2017 at 6:34 am Reply
    Whilst I admit to having just glanced over the backstory.. And to having honestly not expected to really watch the video except for but a moment to see how the game looks.. Whilst watching I couldn't help but end up wanting to explore those places. It looked so beautiful, and the fact that the seasons change would make me want to play every season and explore everywhere just to see how mind blowing it changes each time
  • Tapex
    March 3, 2017 at 4:01 am Reply
    I can't w8 to play this, too feel this graphics, :D
  • Aedonis
    March 5, 2017 at 6:37 pm Reply
    Like it so far :) Excited to see more.
  • DVALITY
    March 15, 2017 at 8:53 am Reply
    Yes please!! Sounds great. Immersion is huge for me also. Anything to take me away from the pressures, stresses and trials this life brings and into a new world that I can lose myself in, I'm there. This sounds like the place to be!
  • 2naos2
    April 3, 2017 at 8:20 am Reply
    I'm glad you have Music high on your list for immersion. There MUST be uniqueness in music in different areas. Nothing provides more nostalgia for me that listening to old Everquest MIDI's (Kelethin).
  • Marijan
    April 3, 2017 at 2:32 pm Reply
    Me! this world.. better then mine.. wake me when game start.. i want to run run run like rabbit.. in this world. Time time is slow.. hurry up.. and let me play :)
  • Timot
    April 6, 2017 at 7:45 am Reply
    Beautiful environments, compelling music and a vibrant, dynamic world are really what draws a player in --and causes them to stay. I think a living, breathing world is one of the most important aspects of an MMO that has largely been missing from recent games. I don't want to feel like I'm merely playing a game, but rather engaging in a living world that makes me forget that I'm sitting at my computer. Couple this immersive element with a great social experience, and you have the foundation of a truly captivating and successful game.
  • Choma
    April 8, 2017 at 3:54 pm Reply
    I watched both videos and I am very impressed. I am curious if the world will have full interaction or come to as close to the interactivity that is currently in plan and available for star citizen.
  • Twist
    April 13, 2017 at 7:13 pm Reply
    Steven good sir a question or 3 if I may? Will there be weather extremes ? Tornados in a thunderstorm? ice storms, hail flash floods in the desert after a rain storm? Just curious is all Thanks, Twist
  • Crazydog330
    April 14, 2017 at 8:34 pm Reply
    Sounds like some great ideas, especially the seasons. This would certainly add a dynamic feel to the world through the seasonal changes bringing concepts that many of us are unfamiliar with such harvest and seeding for fields, or certain things only being available at certain times, requiring a guild who unearthed a certain artifact, and finally translating it only to find that it can only be activated during the winter solstice. This drives them to have to hold onto the artifact until they can activate it, as a villain npc could grant a player quest to search out the artifact and bring it to him, resulting in bounty hunter players seeking out the guild members in the open world.
  • Wilbo
    April 16, 2017 at 6:44 am Reply
    Sounds amazing! I really can't wait to try this game. Giz a beta key plz geeza.. lolz!

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