Ashes of Creation Combat

I was looking around for something to write about today and stumbled on this MassivelyOP post about Ashes of Creation combat. I clicked on the video and started watching with no real interest until this one combat mechanic caught my attention.

But first, I don’t know who that Ziz guy is, but if he’s not a paid content creator for Ashes of Creation, I’ll eat my hat. He’s way too excited about this game not to be getting paid. It’s a huge turn-off.

The “combat” shown in the video is only combat by the thinnest of definitions: It’s the blonde woman in red we’ve seen before–apparently the only character model they’ve made to date–blasting a statue. While Ziz raves about how it’s the smoothest combat animations he’s ever seen, I’m thinking, “I guess it’s not bad but it’s hard to tell since there’s only like two animations.” Is it the greatest I’ve ever seen? No. Am I ready to throw my money at this game yet? Hell no. The fact that they got someone like Ziz to rave about completely ordinary features is a huge red flag to stay away, to be honest.

What really drew my attention was the casting bar at the bottom of the screen during combat.

Instead of a standard casting bar that fills in, it was more of an interactive minigame. There’s a section of the bar colored in red, and it was very obvious that the player was trying to hit their ability key when a moving mark got to the red section. (The red section moved with every cast.)

I thought, “Surely that’s just an experiment and they’ll patch that out before anyone actually plays this game.” Just as I completed that thought, Ziz starts raving about this “combo” mechanic as if it’s the greatest combat feature of Ashes of Creation! Apparently they are doing this on purpose. Apparently if you hit your ability with the right timing (inside that red zone), it activates an additional combo or something.

Now obviously I haven’t experienced this feature first-hand, but I just can’t see this as anything but a train wreck for combat and game repellent for casual MMORPG players. Can you imagine if you have to dodge ground AoEs and watch that stupid casting bar at the same time? What happens if you miss the timing? Does the spell fizzle? Or does it simply do less damage? What’s the difference in damage between hitting the combo and missing the combo? How is this going to work for melee classes? Or tanks? Or healers? What about lag? Bots? My brain just explodes with potential problems here. How are they not thinking of these things?

Anyway, I’ll be very surprised if that particular feature survives contact with large numbers of players and makes it through to launch day.

Ashes of Creation – Mandatory Post

Blatantly stolen from their web site.

I feel like I should write something about Ashes of Creation’s successful Kickstarter campaign, although to be honest I don’t have much to say about this game yet. Wilhelm’s post on it is actually a great summary of my thoughts, and I should probably just link there and call it a day.

I’m not on the hype train by a long shot. Not that I see anything particularly wrong with the game, it’s just way, way too early to even think about commenting on it. I’m glad they got their funding, but this game is still years away from being playable. I would be amazed if they have anything but a barely functional alpha by the end of 2018.

I’m not glad and actually just a tiny bit offended at their disregard for the history of the genre in choosing the name Ashes of Creation. I mean, what’s next? Windmills of Wonder? Enduring Quasars?

Yes, it irritates me that they have chosen a name that is abbreviated AoC.

Anyone who has been around this genre even a little bit knows that “AoC” means Age of Conan. What, are we just supposed to forget about that? Is Ashes of Creation going to be so good that it will erase the real AoC from our memory?

I mean, it’s such a simple thing to fix. How about Embers of Creation? Same number of syllables, and not that much different in meaning. Surely at this stage of development they can’t be married to “ashes” in their lore. I don’t see any volcanoes in any of their screenshots or concept art. At least two other MMORPGs–Albion Online and Shards Online–have changed their names during the development process, so it’s not even unprecedented.

It really makes me worry about what else they don’t know about the MMORPG genre. Are they aware, as Syl quite rightly pointed out recently, that we players have grown to loathe tedious inventory systems? The inventory system, and indeed the entire UI, seems to be one of the last, least-thought-about things to go into any RPG. “Just throw a generic drag-and-drop window system from the 1980s in there and it’ll be fine,” seems to be the thinking process. (Notice how there are no images of inventory management in any of the concept art or screenshots or videos.) If somebody wants to reinvent and evolve the genre, how about starting there?

The only inventive thing I’ve seen about Ashes is the “Node” system. I am interested in seeing it, but I’ve seen too many MMORPGs promise we’ll be able to change the game world to fall for it again. I’m not sure they’ve thought through all the potential pitfalls of how players might exploit and ruin it. Letting players change things often has unintended (ie. bad) outcomes. I have a feeling it’s going to change a lot between now and the launch date once they find out that yes, the rumors are true: Some players are jerks.

Remember when we all got excited about Crowfall’s debut some two years ago when they did their Kickstarter? That was cool, but then they kept talking about it like it was a real game, except it’s still not a real game two years later, we still can’t play it, yet they keep talking about game updates like it’s a thing that actually exists. And I know it does exist for certain people, but not for the average Joe Gamer, and I’m kind of sick of hearing about it and I wish they would go away until they are ready to launch the game. There is such a thing as too much transparency when it comes to game development.

I’m not interested in repeating that experience for Ashes of Creation. And yet, I just know that’s what they’re going to do.

So in summary, I’m glad they’re making this game, but it’s hard to get excited about a handful of mocked up videos and screenshots that frankly show very little except the fact that they have successfully installed the Unreal engine SDK and imported some prefabs. It’s too soon to pin all of our hopes and dreams on it.