Please let me know of any inaccuracies or mistakes.
Brax: Today we're going to talk about survival and necessities and then we're going to move on to you questions.
We're going to give you some hints and tricks and tips on our design that will hopefully allow you to last at least a couple days. First of all, what a lot of you are probably going to want to do is hunt. With hunting you are going to be doing a lot of tracking, and tracking is an actual skill in the game. And tracking is going to be a mechanic where, when you use your tracking skill, you will get an interface showing what type of creatures there are and in which direction, and an indicator of how far away they are, or how old the tracks are, if you will. The better you are at it, the more refined the information will be.
Varl: Are we going to show them specific types of animal tracks?
Brax: Yeah, to a point. We're going to group them into humanoid, creature, small game, large game.
Loestri: Maybe we should point out that when we are talking about the environment in ToA, we're talking about, as the lore has it, you've all read about it, we've talked about it a bit, the incursion of the Raknar against the humans. And the Humans eventually begin to be able to put them down, and seal off their nest in several places in the world. And because of the war, food is a little on the scarcity side. This is why we're saying that it is going to be a little difficult, that you are going to need to know some skills; whether they're gathering skills, for fruits and vegetables, farming, that kind of stuff to raise your own. Or to do your tracking and hunting for not only meat, but also hides and leathers. It's important to be able to be self-sufficient in ToA, especially in the early going, because there won't be a lot of extra items for sale in the settlements. The sooner you become self-sufficient in your own right, the easier you'll have it. We don't want to panic anybody, but I think it is important to emphasize that is the reasoning behind todays featured discussion on sustainability.
Brax: Yeah, and I think what Loestri is saying there is that, in regards to survivability, no one character can be completely self-sustainable. But when it comes to survival, you should certainly should consider all aspects, be it hunting and tracking, which we were just getting into, or farming, grow your own food. You will certainly be able to do that. If it plays out the way we have it designed, it will be very interactive. You will actually grow the food, it won't be insta-food, if you will. You'll plant the seed and you'll have to wait a number of days before you can harvest. Meanwhile, obviously you have to keep your harvest from becoming poisoned, or ovegrown/overtaken by weeds, or even stolen by other players.
Varl: Or eaten by pests.
Loestri: Or drought, you need to make sure to water the crop.
Brax: The next aspect of survival and sustainability is hunting. I touched on it a little earlier, but, you are going to take your weapon out, and you are going to try to find game. Probably through tracking, because our creatures are not to be everywhere and anywhere, just waiting for you to come out and throttle them.
Loestri: You mean there won't be a whole field of deer running around aimlessly?
Brax: Not in ToA, no. Not even close. And I've seen on other forums, of games that have tried something similar to this, a lot of complaints. And I think that they're just not used to a game, such as this, and the bigger picture where you shouldn't find game every 5 feet. You should have to earn it through hunting, and through tracking, and through true-shot with your bow. Chances are quite good that you are not going to be a successful hunter with a sword. The game in ToA are not going to let you come up to it. Even if you have an apple or something. You will have to sneak up on them. We don't have magic stealth, where you turn invisible. But, game will certainly be aware of the fact of how much noise you are making. A lot of the noise you make is based on the armor you wear, and how fast you move. How many are in the area at the time. A lot of other indicators like that. You'll have to use some cunning, some patience, just to find the game. Let alone sneak up on it without it running away. And many game that will run away from you will outrun you by far. You will not be able to catch up with that deer if it alerts to you and runs. It will be gone.
Loestri: Maybe the best thing as a hunter is to take note of what foods a certain game are eating. For instance, if you are going to hunt bears, bears tend to eat fish, so you may want to try around rivers or lakes, or also around berries. Berries and fruits. A lot of game animals like farmland, if it's remote enough; like wild crops. You have to be a little more intelligent, and not just expect to find animals to lounge anywhere, you have to go where they eat.
Varl: Well it's common sense. It's what you come to expect form game animals: they run if they sense you. They'll react as they should react. It's the way I've always envisioned this type of system. You should be able to encounter wildlife and have it behave as you would expect it would. Not be able to walk right up to it, get paces from it, and it doesn't even react to you. I just don't understand that.
Brax: Well, there are technical limitations to all this stuff and we certainly understand that. We probably won't spend a lot of CPU cycles on how much a bear likes honey or fish, or things like that. But to you the player, it's going to look as organic as we can possibly make it.
Loestri: And don't be expect these game animals to be dropping things like swords, or backpacks, shields, or pieces of armor. I mean come on, when's the last time you saw a deer in full plate? So look for things they will normally have on them. Maybe antlers, leather, meat, bone, teeth, hearts, and that kind of stuff.
Brax: And just to put it to rest, we are not going to have cannibalism. You will be able to kill other people, and probably even cut their body parts up. But no, you're not going to be able to eat them. We're not going to allow you to eat poor Fred's leg or arm.
Loestri: Or turn his back skin into a piece of leather.
Varl: I know Occam's Chainsaw was looking forward to something like that. Sorry pal. I just think it's a good idea to emphasis how the animals will react, and they'll react naturally. And if you are wondering where to find something, a particular type of animal, you have to think of where they will be found.
Brax: And you know what, Varl brings up a very good point here. Hunting and survival of ToA is no different than the overall aspect of ToA. A lot of it is common sense.
Loestri: And it's designed to be challenging. It's not going to be an easy task to do, but it shouldn't be impossible either.
Brax: It's about re-education. It's pretty obvious to anyone listening to this podcast that we are really moving away from mainstream MMO design philosophies. That's certainly on purpose, and we're very proud of that. And we think that it's a recipe for success, Obviously. We wouldn't be trying this otherwise. Even when it comes to the animals, you need to think differently. You can't go out there and look for 30 seconds for a squirrel, not find one, and get upset. You're going to have to think: I have to be quiet, maybe I have to stand still for a while, maybe a squirrel will show up. Just things like that. So, approach your survivability in ToA just like you're approaching the overall philosophy of ToA, a change in your mindset.
Another aspect to give thought to is the idea of leveling and hunting. Hunting itself is not a skill. I just want to make that very clear. But some of you will be wondering about, well, what do we hunt first? Well, what do you want to hunt first? Squirrel? Deer? Bear? Birds? Go for it! That's the answer. There is no leveling. You don't go to area "A", to hunt squirrels, then to area "B" to hunt bear. You go out there, and you find what you can find. Kill it if you can kill it, and hope it doesn't kill you in return.
Loestri: but while you're out there doing your hunting, don't forget, you could be hunted. Take advantage of what you know. Be prepared to pick some apples off of some trees, pick some berries, you know, there's other kinds of food aside from the meat that you are after. So, if it takes you several game days to find some reasonable meat to eat, you're going to get hungry in the mean time, so don't forget the most common sense type stuff like that. There's going to be lots of food available in ToA, you just need to be aware of it, and keep your eyes open.
Brax: And also, when you do bring something down something big like a deer, it's big. It's not like you're going to kill a deer and it'll feed you for a couple minutes. You could live off that deer, potentially for real time, well I don't know the numbers yet because we haven't plugged them in, but real time days or weeks. You could feed a number of people for a number of days off of a full deer. I mean it is a whole deer after all. So give that some thought as well.
Varl: One thing I was going to bring up too is the idea of the alternatives to hunting for game animals, is going out and finding these fruits and vegetables out in the wild, like berries.
Loestri: Depending on what environment you are in, you could find mushrooms, you could find cactus, you could find pinecones, i don't know, whatever, seeds. Other different foods besides the game that you're looking for. You just need to be cognizant of where you are at, and what would grow in that environment.
Brax: You could be just as much a gatherer as you can be a hunter. So, my tip of the day is that if you're going to pick fruit and vegetables off trees, just make sure those trees are not on private property, because then you're stealing, and you're going to take a reputation hit for it.
Ok, I think that wraps it up for us talking about survivability. I just want to say good luck when you out there. It's not going to be an easy world, but it's certainly going to be challenging and rewarding. We'll make sure of that.
And we're going to move on to questions now. We had a TON of questions from you guys, like 6 pages. An incredible amount. We're narrowing down the list of questions to one per person, with a few exceptions, where we want to address an issue. So, if you asked a lot of questions, and we only get to one or two of yours, my apologies before hand, but we don't want this to turn into a 12-hour marathon podcast. And remember, if we don't get to your question this time around, we going to have more Q&A podcasts, we're going to try to fit Q&A's in every podcast we do. No guarantee though. So, if we don't get to your question this time around, feel free to repost it when we ask for the next round of questions.
Just so you know, a few disclaimers. One, we've paraphrased some of the questions just so they're easier to read and understand. And two, these things can change. If we say yes tonight, that might mean it's a no tomorrow, but what you are hearing tonight will probably, more than likely, make it into the final product. But again, as lead designer, I feel that I have to give you that disclaimer. So with that, we're going to start the questions.
Loestri: I don't think we're going to have anything in game as far as coding is concerned on spying or information trading. I think whatever you are intelligent enough to come up with in game is probably what you are going to have.
Brax: Yeah, that doesn't mean you can't stop from being close enough when people when they're talking, or whispering, to gather some information. We have talked about certain skills, although it's not in the current design, we have talked about certain skills that would allow you to eavesdrop, or lipread, see what people are saying, or typing from a very far distance away, but it's not in the design at this time.
Loestri: But what is in the design are writeable books. So, you can jot that information down, and sell the book.
Varl: That was the second part of this question, if there's a way to make information a tangible product that can be bought, sold or stolen.
Brax: Well, you know, let's not forget about interrogation. You will be able to gather information. But what you do with that information is up to you. It's not given to you in a mechanical manner like a book or a scroll or anything like that, that you could pass on to somebody as 100% accurate. You would have to say, "Hey, I went and beat up this guy, got some information from him, and here is what he has to say. He's lives in this settlement, he owns this innovation, etc."
Brax: Yes and yes.
Brax: Once you have gained a spell, you'll be given a button to hotlink, an icon, that you can map to a key.
Loestri: But you have to have the components that are required.
Varl: It takes all the prerequisites, to get there. Assuming you get the icon. You go through all the hard part to get the spell. Then once you get the spell, you get the icon.
Loestri: Yes, but you still have to have the components upon your person if you are going to cast it. Just because you have the icon, doesn't mean it's going to be successful.
Brax: Yes, we have disguise as a skill. The opposition to the disguise skill is other player's perception attribute. So, you can think that you are bluffing somebody, but you won't know. Well, unless it's a guard, and you are on the kill-on-sight list, then you'll certainly know that your disguise didn't work.
Loestri: But it's basically your disguise skill check versus his perception check.
Brax: We are not 100% percent sure yet, but as of today, there is no sleeping in ToA. You'll be able to sit and rest, and even lay down and rest. and you'll regain certain variables quicker than others.
Brax: First of all, I'd like to make it very clear that we're not going to have any Forged Chaos owned merchants or venders. Every merchant that you come across will be owned by a player. What they have in their inventory to sell is based what the player has put on that merchant and priced to sell. What they can buy is also dictated by their player owner.
Loestri: So, in other words, you'll only be able to have access to an NPC merchant if you own a shop. So, as part of your shop menu of options, you can hire an NPC merchant to sell things for you, so you don't have to stay at your shop. But it is your responsibility as a player to load your merchant with the items that you need to sell. That does not necessarily limit you to what you make, however. So if you decide that you're are going to sell all kinds of weapons, but you only specialize in two or three, you can certainly add all of those to your merchant and assign a price to them. Also, you can assign the merchant to purchase certain items. So, if you only wanted to take in scrap metal for example, you could instruct your merchant to only buy broken items, broken weapons, shields, armor, things you could smelt down to remake new weapons out of. There are not going to be WoW merchants, where they're going to have unlimited amounts of cash and they'll buy anything under the stars. It's not that way, it's totally player controlled.
Brax: You will be able to break many of the items back down into their raw resource, although some amounts will be lost in the process.
Brax: Right now we are looking at two-thirds of a day will be daylight, one-third will be night. There's been a lot of conversation about that. Should we make it half and half, or whatever? But night is going to be night. As in dark. So, we want it to be dark, we want it to be challenging, but we want more daylight than nighttime. It's as simple as that. We are not going to have seasons, not initially. That may change post-launch, but making seasonal changes to areas are too resource intensive right now.
Brax: Sorry to disappoint, but there's no wagons or carts scheduled for initial launch. I think there's a misunderstanding on the forums right now that they are going to be there, but they're not. Again, it's a resource issue. We're minimizing our design so we can get it into your hands, so we can then grow it. Trust me, we want carts and wagons and mounts as much as you guys do, but we've got to be realistic.
Loestri: I would look for those as one of the first innovation, probably.
Varl: Yes, we want to put those in your guys' hands. So the people who get those innovations initially, will be very popular, wouldn't you say?
Brax: We will monitor every single innovation in the game. If we deem an innovation needs to be in the game, we will reactivate it. We'll essentially put it back in the pool of innovations to be found. Some we will let go dormant, if need be. It's really on a case by case basis for what we think is best for the world.
Loestri: Now, when they are put back in the pool, they are randomly assigned, are they not? Based on the skills? All skills will have their own innovation pool, there is not just one general pool. So you are not going to get a combat innovation if you are crafting leather goods.
Brax: Or if there is one general pool, each innovation would have filters or requirements on what your character has to be doing and have. And when I say have, I mean in the way of skills. Some innovations will be available to lower skilled characters and others only to higher skilled characters.
Brax: Well that's a mixed question, with a yes and no answer. We're not going to have mounts, so horses are pretty much out, but we are giving you the minimum amount of creatures that you can farm: cows, chickens, that sort of thing. So you can have pets technically, and you could sell them, but not mounts. We have dog and cat slated in the creature list right now, and there is animal taming.
Brax: This comes down to what everything is going to look like in the world once it is populated. As you probably know, TerVarus is a low magic world. So, we don't want arcane creatures popping in to fight mages in the middle of town. That would kind of look bad, whether the arcane creature could hurt other people or not. So right now, we lean more towards throwing the mage into an instance, although their body is left where they were, completely defenseless. That's the way we lean right now.
Loestri: So to your companions, you just look like you are in a trance. You would be mentally battling this arcane creature.
Varl: So bring friends to protect yourself.
Brax: Well to protect your body. It's your fight between you and the arcane creature. it is strictly between you two. Nobody can buff you, nobody can heal you, nobody can help you. Same for the creature. And the creature won't bother anybody else.
Brax: Only if you have logged off in the middle of combat or if you have been flagged in a certain way where we're not going to allow you to escape like that. Beyond that, yes your character will log out. I'm assuming that you're talking about in the old design where you could elect to have your body persist so it could be moved around by transport, like through a wagon or ship. Right now, since we don't even have those, it's not really an issue. But we'll certainly be bringing that topic back up when we do have mass transit in place.
Brax: First, miners will not mine coins. They will mine flakes and nuggets. There's going to be so many flakes to a nugget. It's really as simple as that.
Brax: The players determine the price right from the start. We're going to have as little impact on your economy as possible.
Brax: So, like a crest, the settlement crest? Yes. You will pick and design your settlement crest upon settlement creation.
Brax: When you conquer or claim a settleable area, it's borders are hard coded. It is defined for you. How you put your buildings within is completely up to you. So long as you stay within certain restrictions like terrain slope. You obviously can't put a building in water, that sort of thing. But beyond that, you can put your plots wherever you want, and therefore your building within those plots. And the are no roads in TerVarus. That is on purpose.
Loestri: Not even game trails, so keep that in mind when you are hunting.
Brax: Absolutely. This is one of the anti-lord-griefing countermeasures that we are putting in palce. Just because your settlement gets taken over doesn't mean that you lose your land. You are suddenly a citizen under a different kingdom and a different ruler now. But you get to keep your plot.
Brax: In a word, yes. We want you to be part of as much of the lore and history as you earn a right to be.
Brax: We are going to come up with our own names for the months. We're not doing seasons right now, as I said earlier. But for the months, yeah, we're coming up with our own names for them and we'll send them out to you as they're finalized.
Loestri: That would be determined by the players who own the merchants.
Brax: And we're not going to tell you how to be one of those lucky players just yet.
Brax: Everything about our dungeons makes them different. They're not persistent. They may be for a day, a week, a month. They might feel like they are always there, but eventually they will go away and new ones will pop up from place to place. Within dungeons, you're not going to do your typical dungeon runs where you try to slaughter everything and get to the boss. The boss might not even be the main achievement of the dungeon. There might not even be an achievement in the dungeon. Imagine that. Some dungeons will be, once you enter, you cannot exit out the same whole, the same way. So you got to find your own exit. And our dungeons will be, I hope as you suspect, very, very, dark. Unless there is an actual light source, I sure hope you bring a lot of light sources.
Varl: Think black. Lots of black.
Loestri: So if you plan on doing dungeon-crawls, then you better come prepared with lots of torches.
Varl: And our creatures, some of them I imagine, will be able to see in the dark when you can't. So, have fun out there!
Brax: There are going to be dedicated throwing weapons.
Brax: The first part of the question, mounts could very well make it in as a stretch goal. We just want to get to our goal first. Then we'll reveal all our stretch goals. Types of mounts, probably the basic at first: your horse. We'll start from there and work up to the more exotic mounts. As far as quadrupedal player races, absolutely. When they do come into the game, they will be able to act as mounts for other players. They will have total control over if they want to be somebody's mount or not. You can't just come up to your Centaur and say…
Varl: "Cummon Jonny! Lets go!" "What the hell? Get the hell off of me! Do I look like a horse to you?" "Well, you're a Centaur." "Oh, ok!"
Brax: And if you are on a mount that is another player, they have total control of the movement, not you.
Brax: In short, yeah. Absolutely. It would have to be a massive amount of damage, but it's possible. I'm sure some of our creatures are going to be able to pull it off.
Varl: How tough do you think that's going to be with normal weaponry?
Brax: Maybe a head-shot. But you will have to be very lucky.
Brax: We're going to have some magic items in the game. We've hinted at that in our lore. Very, very rare. Very unique. Every magic item will have a history to it. Whether you can dig that up or not is up to you. Maybe you have to do that in order to activate the item. Who knows.
Brax: This is not WoW. No levels. No hunter class where your pet levels up with you. Your pet can gain in skills, certain skills mind you. But they will do it at their own speed.
Brax: Back when we were ShadowPool, we were adamant against showing you the map prior to launch. That will probably change. Because of what we have shown in the navigation article that we posted, the map is only going to give you a high-level view of the world. It's going with the assumption you have grown up in TerVarus and you kinda get an idea which directions certain things are. Certain landmarks or regions of the world. So, there's really not going to be any harm in showing you the map prior to launch. When we have something put together we may throw it out there.
Brax: The goal is to allow you as much customization as possible. I was just thinking about this the other day. I would like nothing better than for you to build the exterior of the building, and then the interior is essentially a skeleton where you can place wall panels, like four feet wide by floor to ceiling. So you can essentially block-out your own rooms. Even have some of those panels be secret panels or secret doors. We'll give you a tool to place things on walls. To put things onto the floor, and move them around. That's the goal. I'm not going to promise anything at this point, but I put a lot of importance on house customization because it is a pretty big deal to me. So if it is not in at launch, then it will be soon after.
Brax: I think you guys will get a kick out of this one. We're not going to have a mail system. Well, that's not true. You will be our mail system. We're going to have a contract system in place where you can contract with other players to take your items and deliver them to another place by a certain time. You pay a deposit, that sort of thing. If you want to be a courier, we've just opened up an entire industry.
Brax: This is something I've been pondering, I don't know if I've even covered it with Varl and Loestri, but, I think a great thing is, once you are permadead, to reveal all these stats to you. Kind of like, "here's your final score!" And I use the word 'score' very, very loosely. or "Here is your final Lore!" Hopefully in a very organic way. Not just a bunch of statistics. But definitely, I think that could be a very good thing to look back on your character and say, "Wow! I can't believe I killed two hundred bunnies!"
Loestri: So if they have a significant contribution to the world at this point, is there a chance that we could determine whether or not they were significant enough to get their name into the Monolith?
Brax: Absolutely! Worst case, we'll review from time to time all the 'death records,' if you will, and those that we see that stand out, we will put their names into the monolith. Also, if these stats get implemented, they will be available to the public. That's my goal is so you can look at other players who have since permadied and see how many bunnies they have killed.
Varl: A hall of records, of a sort.
Brax: Yes, there will be trap-setting for containers and doors and what-not.
Brax: No, pets won't die just because you die. They don't have that much empathy for you. They will live until they themselves are killed.
Brax: Sure, you can attack other people with bare hands. You can duke it out with other people. Unarmed combat. Skill and innovations with that? …you'll have to see.
Brax: Probably not armor and weapons, but definitely clothing.
Brax: It'll be multi-shard. I don't know if the technology is there with our engine to support a single server. And I would rather err on the side of caution and split it into multiple shards.
Brax: There are certain spells that can damage structures. I'm going to leave it at that for the time being.
Brax: If the NPC bandit likes what you got on your corpse, then he'll take it. Otherwise he'll leave it.
Varl: So they will search you?
Brax: Sure. They killed you, they want the loot.
Brax: The characters start with zero money. But we are going to provide you with, I'd assume, a pretty ample amount of food and water to start you off. So you should be good to go for quite a while.
Varl: Yeah, you won't starve to death on day one. We're not that mean.
Brax: Well, unless you get all your food taken away from you, stolen or something.
Brax: What they won was…………………………………………………………………………