Creative Director’s LetterFriday, January 8, 2021
Glorious Ashes Community,
2020 is finally in the rear-view mirror. What a year that was… Yikes. And 2021 is shaping up to be a contender, but here at Intrepid Studios we continue to move forward, come hell or high water. This last year we did just that. Incredible progress was made on Ashes of Creation that culminated in a successful first Alpha test in the world of Verra for thousands of players. In this letter, I’d like to take a look back with you, and then turn our eyes to the future.
A Look back
As we all know, COVID-19 was an unexpected hurdle that all of us had to deal with across the globe. At Intrepid Studios, this prompted us pretty early on to adopt a work from home policy in March. It was important to John and I that our staff did not have to suffer any additional stress with childcare logistics, or concerns about contracting the virus at the studio and spreading it to family or friends. Remote work has its benefits and its downsides. However, the team did an outstanding job of maintaining our production schedule, and making the best of an unusual circumstance. Creatively speaking, there is always something lost when you cannot meet in person.
Compounding this issue, I had initially been hesitant to onboard new personnel while working remotely. This hesitancy did not last long as our internal hiring schedule demanded I act on initiating our next hiring round. While it was odd at first to meet new team members virtually, it has worked out quite well, and over the last six months we’ve onboarded 27 additional glorious Intrepid team members!
We also decided to expand Intrepid Studios’ publishing operations to include the EU and CIS regions, and have recently announced the opening of an office later this year in Amsterdam along with several positions we are hiring for the region.
2020 contained a significant milestone reached for the project, leading up to our first Alpha One pretest. For many months, the team (from our designers to our artists, coders, community, quality assurance, production, and beyond) worked their hearts out to deliver a 4-day preview of the Alpha One experience in December to our Glorious Alpha One testers. I am incredibly proud of their hard work and dedication.
We saw thousands of players join 5 separate servers during our testing period. More importantly, we captured a significant amount of information that will lead to improved server performance and squashed bugs. It was extremely rewarding for our team to watch as players first stepped foot into Verra and got to explore a world rich with mystery and adventure.
It was also quite the experience for our development team, particularly our engineers, who were up late into the evening addressing bugs and critical crashes. We executed well on stabilizing the servers throughout the weekend test, and were glad to see with each patch released that the experience improved. All in all, the test was a resounding success. Our appreciation cannot be overstated for the thousands of testers that participated!
As we set out into the new year, we have several internal milestones which remain unannounced that I am hopeful will represent significant leaps for the project and company as a whole. Additionally, we have 3 remaining Alpha One testing dates that will be coming up very soon. We released some footage of the last test in December, and we will be continually providing more gameplay footage of the Alpha as we move forward.
Previously, I had offered to update our community on the potential of allowing Alpha One sales to resume, and will be providing an update on this sometime in February. This decision is largely dependent on the ability to sustain higher concurrencies and to push the limits of our server architectures and deployments. I had previously suspended Alpha One sales in 2018, and with the most recent testing done in December, I am hopeful that we will once again offer an opportunity for newer community members to join Alpha One. As a warning, however, our Alpha One is a true developmental alpha. This means our testers experience a very buggy and incomplete game. While it gives a unique opportunity to be part of the history that is the making of Ashes of Creation, it is not for the faint of heart and should not be purchased if you are looking for a “finished game.”
Additionally, around the end of February, you can expect the launch of our new website for Ashes of Creation. I can tell you that it is looking rather top-notch! Our current website was in need of some dire help. After the rollout of the new website, we will be continually updating it with new features that will be enumerated in a future post next month.
Our amazingly awesome community team continues to post Dev Discussions and we have some fun ones coming up this year. In addition, you can expect to see some more of the Alpha One archetype videos coming out. I cannot say how incredibly helpful it is to read your comments and feedback across all of our social platforms, including Discord and our forums. These help us guide the proverbial ship through our community’s input and insight.
Last year was quite the year, but it really put things into perspective for me personally. We saw a huge influx of new community members due to some summertime madness with several awesome content creators. I’ve always enjoyed interacting with my fellow gamers and sharing stories of our collective experiences, but I’ve missed being able to do that a lot over the past year due to the sheer size of work that this project commands of all of us.
You… are the reason each of us is committed to making Ashes of Creation a reality. It is the excitement we saw last month as players first logged into the game and experienced an endless opportunity for discovery all around them. It is the countless friendships being formed already in the Discord, and on the forums. It is the sheer passion that guilds have in striving to be the best or be the first to down a boss. Experiences are what make our interactions with each other meaningful - they create lasting memories that we all can look back on with fondness and want to relive once more.
Every day, as we work to bring you Ashes of Creation, our overarching goal is to provide not just a game to make you proud, but to give you experiences that you can look fondly upon with your friends and enjoy for years to come. We cannot thank you enough for your trust in us, and your support for Ashes of Creation!
Stay safe and keep healthy.
Your faithful Creative Director,