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General by: Forged Chaos
 

Introduction

by Forged Chaos

Trials of Ascension is a MMORPG project that beats to a different drum. For souls brave enough to try something outside the traditional MMO box, ToA will deliver a gaming experience like no other. We mean it. Seriously.

Where else can you find combat with perma-death, an open-ended skill system without classes, innovations that are unique to the discoverer, dynamic spawning of fauna, flora and dungeons, player-made settlements and structures, a cooperative crafting system and a magic system that will feel as mysterious as magic itself?

See, we told you its different. The question is: are you brave enough to try it?

Less is more

by Forged Chaos

Contrary to the heavy hitters of the industry, we have taken a 'less is more' approach with our feature set. Yes, it's partly to keep the financial requirements to a minimum, but there is .. more to it (pun intended) than just the money. Lots more.

First, it allows us to give greater focus on each feature, making it as polished and bug free as possible. As a developer for some time now, I can attest to what happens when you get spread too thin across too many features or projects. It's quality or quantity. We are firmly on the side of quality.

In addition to the above, many features are in today's game for the sake of convenience. What most people may not realize is the cost of these conveniences in the way of development and processing power. Take global chat. Did you know that global chat can consume a huge amount of your server and bandwidth budgets? I've seen cases where it has consumed up to 1/3 of the resources. With that in mind, wouldn't you rather have those processing cycles and bandwidth dedicated to something more core to the game like AI, rendering, combat calculations, and so on? If you're curious, we didn't decide to nix global chat for resource reasons but we're happy to have the extra horse power due to its absence!

Also, a lot of companies will pack their features with options. This is usually in an attempt to reach a wide spectrum of market segements as possible. How many times have we seen a game tout that their designs are just as friendly to PvP as it is PvE? Or how the design allows a casual gamer to keep pace with a hard-core gamer? When you want to cater to all these audiences, you have to code accordingly. You'll need to make PvP areas, PvE only areas, dueling systems and give the users options on who/how they wish to duel. You need to buff this area a bit more with stronger creatures because it is a PvE only area. You'll need to create PvP dungeons as well as PvE only dungeons. The list goes on and on...

Finally, it allows us to deliver a base set of features that we're very transparent about in a timely manner and let the game grow organically from there based on input of the ones playing it.

FAQ

Will you be able to get enough budget via Kickstarter? And what will set ToA apart?

We have a KickStarter goal in mind that will make it feasible for us to launch the game. We've never been after the mass market of gamers and could sustain ourselves and even thrive off what most people would consider a sliver of the market.

ToA won't have a multi-million dollar marketing budget, bleeding edge graphics with bloom effects that blur out your screen, or all the other traps that other companies use to draw you in. What we will have is good solid game-play backed by features that set us apart.

Source: Forums (Brax), 14-09-2012

Will ToA be free to play or pay to play?

It'll be pay to play. This was decided because of perma-death. We need to level the playing field as much as possible when character's lives are on the line and a 'pay for perks' system flies squarely in the face of that and would cause player animosity on an epic scale.

Source: Forums (Brax), 14-09-2012

What is Trials of Ascension?

Trials of Ascension (ToA) is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game set in the fantasy world of TerVarus.

Source: Official FAQ, 15-09-2012

How much will ToA cost? Will you be charging monthly fees?

We are evaluating our options and will reveal our pricing model closer to our Kickstarter campaign.

Source: Official FAQ, 15-09-2012

How many characters can I play?

You'll be able to create multiple characters per account. We haven't decided on the final number.

Source: Official FAQ, 15-09-2012

Is there one big realm or several smaller ones?

There will be multiple realms, based on the number of subscribers we receive.

Source: Official FAQ, 15-09-2012

Will there be a limitation on who can play on what realms?

Not at this time although that may change once testing latency and other factors reveal possible issues.

Source: Official FAQ, 15-09-2012

Many features were cut from the old design. Do you intend to still implement those later on?

The business side of FC knows what had the most draw of potential players in the old design and that has not been forgotten. ;)

Source: Forums (Brax), 15-09-2012

Can you guys pull it off?

Thanks for asking the tough question -- can we actually pull this off if we get the money? Of course any answer I give could be perceived as bias since I am one of the owners of the company but I'll take a jab at it anyway.

I can tell you that we had a working prototype last time around. It was far from feature-complete mind you but we were well on our way. We were logging in to the server with a a small bit of the world built, beta island as we called it. We had the human and arrwic models on the island (although no animations on them yet) and we were all flying around as pixies amongst the embedded SpeedTrees. We had libraries of concept art, orthos, models, renders, textures, animations, music, etc. I'm sure there's more I'm forgetting...

This was from owners that started off knowing just about zero of how to design and develop a game. We poured a LOT of our own money into the development, assembling a team of talented artists and coders and slugged our way through the monstrosity that was our original (and far too ambitious) design document.

We learned a massive amount of design and development along the way, most of which was reflected on the website over the years.

In the end, no, we didn't make it, but I can promise you it wasn't from lack of dedication or know-how. Every single person on the team was dedicated to levels that sometimes bordered on insanity. They just needed to pay their bills and the design was bigger than our wallets. Simply put, what stopped us last time wasn't talent, dedication or vision. It was just the lack of money.

Our new design has been trimmed back to an achievable scope. We've had independent sources review our design for development time and risks. From that we've come up with an amount of money we'll need to not only develop the game but to cover various unforeseen hurdles we may come up against.

In closing, regardless of anything I can say or how I say it, you will each have to decide for yourselves if you believe enough in the design -- and us -- to be confident in knowing we'll deliver on what we're promising. If it turns out to not be enough and we don't meet our goal, nobody will be out anything and we'll know ToA wasn't meant to be.

Varl in reply: "Well said, boss. That pretty much sums up the last 12 years of our lives, and as all of you can imagine, we certainly don't plan on having 12 years of our lives be for nothing should we reach our needed funding requirements. I just wish we could show you the demo we had up and running. Man, that was so cool to know our team made a live, working demo with flying! I was so pumped to be able to fly a pixie around. Our programmers and artists were some of the best to work solely on the hope, and we fully intend to find similar people should we reach our KS needs and pay them this time! lol"

Source: Forums (Brax), 18-09-2012

I'd be very curious to hear you guys describe what you see as an ideal ToA player, an imaginary person that the game would be just about perfect for?

Considering the sheer magnitude of possibilities this question provides, I'll start with myself. Okay, so I'm not imaginary (at least, I don't think I am), but I think the ideal TOA player would be me. Why? I'm a hunter/gatherer/explorer by nature, I've always loved that role, and TOA will offer plenty of that. Seeing how I'm not much of a risk-taker, adrenalin junkie or PvPer, but seeing how I've decided anyway to place myself in this world of uncompromising and non-consentual combat, I'll stick to the trees and underbrush, thank you very much.

I can see myself being quite the resource hound and tradesman type of player, if I live long enough. And when I do end up feeling a bit frisky (yes, it does happen, when I'm tired of being killed by players and monsters alike), I'll jump into my Raknar and go slaughter as many of you as I can find that made my lowly miner/smith's life hell. It's all part of the wheel, you know? A little bit comes in, and then a little goes out.

I don't foresee myself being too much of a politician or settlement ruler at first, but I do see characters of mine being firmly ensconced in the settlements I choose to call home.

From a generalist viewpoint, the perfect TOA player will be the player that enjoys all kinds of combat (pvp and pve), learning a mysterious magic system, exploring the myriad of idiosyncrasies each playable race will provide, owning real estate, discovering your first innovation (!) and having to decide on whether to keep it or share it with the world, the cooperative nature of some of our skill systems where players have to work together to create or overcome things (imagine that!), exploration, and the building of communities of players. Basically, the things you've always wanted in an MMO are the things we want too. That's our TOA player.

Source: Forums (Varl), 02-10-2012

With the way new content will be organically introduced, I imagine we'll have a monthly fee with free content updates?

Exactly. To charge a person a monthly fee AND charge them for content updates *cough*expansions*cough* is unnecessary.

Source: Forums (Brax), 04-10-2012

Will ToA have commercial expansion packs?

We won't have commercial expansions.

Source: Forums (Brax), 11-10-2012

Are there any plans to make a Mac or Linux client?

Right now plans are for PC only, including Windows 8. If we can raise enough funds, we'd love to make ToA Mac friendly.

Source: Forums (Brax), 31-10-2012

As is planned right now, no. I would say look for that as one of the stretch goals. We do recognise there are a lot more mac users out there than there used to be, and we want to be able to allow as many people as possible to play. That said, a lot of the macs can have Bootcamp of virtual machines installed, with which you can run either Mac OS X or Windows. And I don't see why ToA wouldn't work in the Windows boot-up.

Source: Podcast (Brax), 14-01-2013

Is your pricing model going to be affordable?

We're talking about how to construct our pricing model to generate the revenue we'd need to keep the lights on while still making the barrier to entry to the game as low as possible.

Source: Forums (Brax), 10-11-2012

I've seen some old ToA trailers on YouTube, are they yours?

Just to be official about the unofficial trailers -- we had nothing to do with the creation of them.

Source: Forums (Brax), 16-11-2012

Is ToA for everyone?

We'll be the first to admit ToA won't be for everyone. We're happy to share the MMO market with others. We are developing ToA to be different yet still very fun for those that think like we do.

Source: MMORPG.com (Brax), 23-11-2012

Won't restrictions in the game force players to play the game a certain way?

We hear what you're saying and are not naive to the ways of an MMO player. Even we co-founders have dramatically different play styles and don't plan on pigeon-holing people into playing ToA a certain way. That would be a fool's errand at best.

We continuously walk a fine line between allowing the freedoms our designs push for and injecting hard-coded restrictions to keep things from getting out of control. At the end of it all ToA may or may not be your cup of tea and that is perfectly ok with us either way. All were asking you to do is read everything you can about our design and make up your own mind if you believe in it enough to back us. If not, that's cool too.

Source: Forums (Brax), 30-11-2012

Wouldn't you prefer a single realm over multiple realms?

We would love a single realm universe but unless the tech changes dramatically between now and our launch, we won't be able to support everyone on one realm. Not to be a thread killer but it really is as simple as that. And to anyone that brings up the "EVE is doing it so why can't you?" argument, you'll be countered with "Joe just pledged $10,000, so why can't you?" ;)

Source: Forums (Brax), 01-12-2012

About having multiple realms/servers

Imagine if WoW's 250+ servers all allowed each one's individual player base to form their own unique stories, events and player-driven content on the levels we know ToA will allow. Would you still want the Lich King, Deathwing and Pandaria as core storylines behind each and every one of those 250+ realms? Would you care if the Lich King was permakilled on Realm 1, yet rose to such power on Realm 2 that he and his minions devastate the player population on a daily basis? I'm curious, because that's similar to what I have in mind for what could happen across the various realms of TerVarus.

Basically, I'm asking whether you prefer permanent, recurring NPCs as part of the backstory of an MMO, and then wondering how you might care if those same NPCs permadied, dominated or any other number of possible outcomes for any particular server.

Source: Forums (Varl), 01-12-2012

Is there going to be good PvE centered around a story or is it going to be primarily focused on PvP?

We'll have lore, yes. As for PvP vs. PvE, it could be a healthy mix of both, I imagine. I think it really all depends on all of you how much PvP is experienced cross server. PvE will always be there as it is in most games. The fun exploratory nature of people demands it. I think it's impossible to stop one particular type of play though, even PvP, because there will always be people out there interested in being the thief, mugger, killer and highwayman. Could it be severely curtailed on any particular server? I suppose it could, IF the vast majority of players on that server agree to form a hivemind and decide to try and make it happen on a world level (again, for the most part; you won't be able to convince everyone...).

Could we have total war zone servers where anarchy reins and murder/war is commonplace? Of course. Those of you that truly enjoy the blood and mayhem that results from carnage and destruction can also try and sway the server in that particular direction. I imagine only the truly thick-skinned will be back for more on those types of worlds.

We'll see. :D

Source: Forums (Varl), 01-01-2013

Will the power given to GM's be restricted and/or controlled?

I can tell you that we will have a strict in-house policy in place, sort of like the Prime Directive, that says employees had better not abuse the power we're giving ourselves (that sounds really weird) or they'll quickly find they've lost possibly the best job they could have ever dreamed of getting. It's one thing to be heading up an FC sanctioned event, but entirely something else if an employee gets a wild hair and abuses his responsibilities.

Source: Forums (Varl), 07-01-2013

Trials of Ascension is much older than Sword Art Online, but have you drawn any inspiration from the series or are the similarities merely a coincidence?

Considering we've never heard of it, no. We didn't hear about it until we started to get the members influx through their videos. But it's certainly an interesting series and I can see some relation, but no, there was no influence there.

Source: Podcast (Brax), 14-01-2013

How is ToA pronounced?

It is pronounced tee-oh-a, not "Toa". "Toa" sounds kind of cool, but yes, use the acronym.

Source: Podcast (Brax), 14-01-2013

Can you tell us a bit about what happened between 2007-2012? What's the story behind the change in name from Shadowpool to Forged Chaos?

That could be a whole podcast in itself. During our Shadowpool days we got pretty far with our prototype. Unfortunately, WoW came out and everybody wanted to be a clone. They wanted to clone their success, which I completely understand, but all the investors and publishers that we talked to, that's what they were looking for and they didn't like how we were so different. Well, it's not that they didn't like it, but rather we were too big of a risk because we weren't mainstream enough. We weren't following in the industries footsteps.

And I guess now, in retrospect, I take that as a badge of honour. Because we're actually coming into our own now, now that the industry has been saturated with those types of design. And that's not to say that we didn't get offers from publishers. We did get offers, but they just weren't something that we could agree to.

So I guess let this be a lesson to anybody who thinks that we put money before our designs -- we don't. We feel very strongly about our desings. That's why, when Varl brought the idea of Kickstarter up to us, at first, honestly I blew the idea off. But then I started looking at the power of Kickstarter. Kickstarter is nothing but a vehicle that allows people like you guys to fund people like us. So after a lot of conversations, we said why not, let's give it a shot, and we went to work streamlining our design.

Loestri: Yes, we had to work on it because it was just too large. We couldn't secure funding for something that large. It would have cost more than anyone would probably pay for an MMO today. Too many features, too much bloat. So we ended up streamlining the design down to its core elements and that's what we're trying to release today.

That's also why instead of offering expansions, we will slowly be putting back the features that we were not able to get into the game at launch at later dates. Eventually, we hope to get ToA to the glory that it should be, to the dream that we all had it to be.

Varl: And the streamlines that we've implemented through Forged Chaos with this iteration of ToA are so much better than what we conceived of during Shadowpool. I think the simplicity of the systems themselves are just incredible. Not just because I'm on the team, but some of the brainstorms that we've had, some of the ideas and systems we've come up with, to me are just amazing.

Brax: We've really taken the less is more approach. That's pretty obvious by our design; no mini map, that sort of thing.

To address why a different company name; for legal reasons and a number of other reasons. We still had ties to things as far as licensing goes.

Another topic, let it be known that we have sank a tremendous about of money and an incredible amount of time, both into Shadowpool and now into Forged Chaos. And over those years, I've told these guys before, I feel kind of blessed that we had the time off, because it slowed us down, we got to do our own thing. We still hung out, we still played games together and everything else, but it let our designs from Shadowpool kind of marinate if you will. From that, we pulled the much more streamlined, easier to implement systems. But don't let that fool you, those easier to implement systems are just as robust and fun to play as the old ways. We just came up with much better ways of doing it. We've learned from our old ways, we have experience.

Anyway, I found the name Forged Chaos, and we thought it kind of fit, because I'm a big PvP'er and we like to forge chaos no matter where we go :)

Varl: I'm not a big PvP'er, so we kind of yin-yang each other here. I'm more of a crafter. Brax calls me a carebear… whatever.

Brax: Well, let it be known that Varl has beat me in PvP in other games before so… he's too humble ;)

Source: Podcast (Brax), 14-01-2013

What are you proudest of so far?

Well, where we're at. When we jumped into Shadowpool, we knew just about nothing about game design and development. Nobody can dispute that we took our lumps(?). We launched too early, we launched the website too early, we started with 36 races… It's just insane, what we were thinking of back then.

We were trying to get everything under the sun into the design. But now, we've grown, we've learned, we've experienced. We know there is a fine balance  between a perfect design and feasibility. Within a matter of months, we're a very long ways compared to three or four months of Shadowpool.

Varl: Conceptually, we are vastly further along that what we were with Shadowpool, because of the streamlining of the systems that we've implemented. There's really no comparison.

And I'm also proud of how we've been re-accepted. I was very nervous. I can't speak for Varl and Loestri, but I was very nervous on how we were going to be perceived; you know, like "Oh, this is a failed company coming back again". But, you guys believe in the design. And we want you to believe in us.

Varl: I think we all agree that we're going to be much more open this time around too, with the fans, which helps.

Loestri: And our willingness not to let the dream die, I think that's a big part of our character. We see something in the game we all want to play, and we think the public is ready for the change. There's so much stagnation in the MMO world today, that we need to have Trials of Ascension. We need to have a game that we can have more fun in. To experience new things, to try out new ideas, to be surprised… And fear, the fear factor in ToA is going to be incredible compared to other MMO's.

Varl: There is no fear in other MMO's for the most part, other than maybe fear of minor setbacks. With that fear comes fun. Pulse racing.

Brax: Exactly. I know we're getting way off topic here, but what the hell. My first MMO was just a month after UO had launched, and my hands used to shake when I would get into fights. Almost so bad that I couldn't control the mouse. And I thought, what in the hell is wrong with me. But it was the adrenaline, it was the rush, and no game, no game, not even the game right after that, Everquest, matched it, because everybody started being cared for on a level that was unacceptable to me. You can't have a winner without a loser, that's the bottom line. Not that we want people to be losers, but that's just a cold hard fact.

We were making an analogy a number of months ago when the olympics were happening. Imagine if the olympics were a lot of the MMO's of today; everybody would get a medal. What fun would that be to watch? It's just not right. And that's where we're at. That's what we want players that follow ToA to get back to. That feeling of winning really means something, and losing really means something.

Source: Podcast (Brax), 14-01-2013

What is the planned business model for the game?

Subscription With An Unlimited Time Trial

It is as straight-forward as it sounds. We want you to subscribe but we want everyone to be able to experience the spirit of the game for as long as they wish. The key phrase there is "the spirit of the game". Trial accounts will be in the same world as the subscribers, experiencing much of the same game as subscribers, but they are on TRIAL (<-- keyword) accounts and will be limited in certain capacities compared to their subscriber counterparts. This removes any barrier to entry for those that wish to try out ToA and lets those that are OK with the restrictions to keep playing forever AT NO COST to them.

To be clear, we are not billing this as a Free-To-Play model where everyone gets the exact same game, because, well, they don't. It's free to TRY (<-- keyword again) ... in a limited capacity ... for an unlimited amount of time.

So, what are the differences between a trial account and subscription?

Trial accounts have access to the human race, with no skill cap, normal rate of skill gain, 2 character slots and all the crafting to come with the human race. However trial accounts cannot be a king or lady cannot own land and cannot discover innovations, although trial accounts may still trade or interrogate innovations.

Subscription accounts gain 8 character slots, increased exp, increased treasury storage and login priority, along with the loyalty program!

Source: Podcast (Brax), 14-01-2013

We're leaning heavily towards a subscription model at this point. If we stick with that model, we will NOT be charging you for the game. In fact, we'll probably offer a free trial so as to knock the barrier to entry down to nothing, allowing people to try it out before committing any money. Kind of a F2PFN (Free To Play For Now).

Source: Forums (Brax), 09-02-2013

We've made the decision that ToA will be using a subscription model. It's the fairest way to handle a game such as this. It will be free to download and comes with a trial period so there is no risk for anyone willing to give it a try.

Source: Forums (Brax), 13-03-2013

Will there be an open beta?

We certainly plan on having a closed beta. Whether we have an open one or not, we're still not sure at this point. If we need to, we certainly will. And we'll give preference to forum members before the general public.

Source: Podcast (Brax), 14-01-2013

Do you intend to do server wipes/resets at some point?

I don't see us doing a server wipe unless the game fails financially and we have no choice but to shut it down. If that days come do not fret. I will be sure to take out all of my frustrations from the failure on each of you equally.

Source: Forums (Brax), 29-01-2013

Massive scale catastrophes in various regions of a server could be a possibility, but I can't see global apocalypses (i.e. server wipes and reboots disguised in the form of some global apocalyptic in-game event) as being viable.

Personally, in all the games I've played, both tabletop RPGs and computer games, even the mention of a RSE (Realms Shattering Event) always makes me think someone (the DM or the Lead Designer, as it were...) screwed up and didn't do something right, and needs some kind of apocalyptic event to "start over" or fix a problem he can't work around. I think one can still have severe local catastrophes occur in gaming, but without them turning everything into salt. Just my 2c.

Source: Forums (Varl), 29-01-2013

Trials of Ascension has a very strong grass roots history. Can you give us some background on the game?

The roots of Trials of Ascension's design are ancient in game years.  In fact they go back to the heyday of Ultima Online.  As other MMOs such as Everquest, Asheron's Call, and Dark Age of Camelot came onto the scene and even as UO matured, we started noticing a trend where it seemed designs were being changed so as to remove any challenges and losses for the player. It somehow became OK to let everyone win. Also, they removed consequences for negative actions and replaced them with artificial barriers in the way of consensual PvP toggles and the like. As a result, the games started to feel less immersive to us. We felt the MMO genre, a genre we fell in love with, was headed in the wrong direction and we took it upon ourselves to do something about it.

We formed Shadowpool Studios (our former company), and designed ToA.  We designed it to be exactly what we wanted to play. Turns out we were designing what people would call a sandbox MMO today, but we were just focused on making the most fun game we could imagine.  We found some talent and put together a prototype on nothing more than a shoestring budget and the team's sheer tenacity.

Throughout this time we managed to attract a rabid following of thousands, all without spending a penny on advertising, and before social networking was as big of a thing as it is now. We let the design speak for itself and made no apologies for our design choices.

We pitched our design and prototype to countless investors and publishers and got a few offers but nothing we could bring ourselves to accept. We were consistently told that while they believed in our ability to bring ToA to market, our designs didn't mirror the other MMOs that were meeting with success. ToA wasn't "mainstream" enough.  Our little kid wasn't cool enough.

We never considered compromising our design, so once the funding options dried up, we closed shop.  That was a very hard time for us all.  We poured everything into ToA.  We lost a lot - time with our families, friendships, money, the list goes on.

Even though we didn’t make it to launch, we achieved more than many others who have tried and we did it at a fraction of the cost. We learned what it took to take an idea of a game from concept to design, to development, to prototype. We learned what works and what doesn't: always avoid scope creep or reach a zero-sum solution if creep can't be avoided, iterate often, develop on agile philosophies, never forget to pay tribute to the developer gods, etc.

Years later - and still receiving emails on a weekly basis asking when we were going to try it again - we learned of Kickstarter and thought ’let’s give it a shot'  ToA fans were consistently saying they would do anything to make sure ToA sees the light of day and now we're holding them to that.  We dusted off the old design, trimmed it back to a much more realistic scope and have started limited development. In the near future we will post our Kickstarter campaign and if the world deems us worthy, we'll move into full development.

Source: MMORPG.com (Brax), 27-02-2013

What are some of the game mechanics you have in mind for players? Is there something you feel is very strongly needed in Trials that is lacking in other MMOs?

The list is long and varied but here are some of the big ones:

Innovations.

Anytime you're using a skill (ToA is skill based - no classes) there is a chance that you could have a moment of discovery and learn a new way of doing or making something that only you will be able to know how to do or make.  Imagine being the only one on the server that can craft a particular item!

Combat.

Combat in ToA will be non-consensual, meaning you will be able to attack anyone without them needing to be flagged for PvP. Be careful though because we are taking away the ability to 'con' a target.  Is that lady in the tattered robes an easy kill or a trained killer?  We’ve also got a death system that will make you think twice about picking fights all willy-nilly.

Magic.

While ToA is a low-magic game, those who conquer the arcane will have incredible power at their fingertips.  The drawback is the journey.  Most who will try their hand at the arcane arts will never see their first spell cast.  It's a tough life. Don't say we didn't warn you.

Crafting.

Crafting items will not use the tired old 'combine, click, create' method. Nearly every item will require a multi-step process, each of which may offer the crafter options to enhance the item based on the techniques he has learned.  Collaboration between skilled specialists will be key to creating items of the highest quality.  We just did a podcast that goes into detail about this.

Perma-Death.

This isn't the "one kill and that's it!" type of perma-death.  In ToA you will get 100 lives. Perma-death is a cornerstone of our design and it's not being implemented because we have some sort of twisted pleasure in seeing you lose a character.  Its benefits are truly incredible once you can move beyond the initial 'no thanks!' reaction some people have. It forces players to think about the consequences of their actions in-game, and adds a level of intensity and meaning to things like siege and exploration. It also creates an ever-changing flow of powerful characters meaning nobody can stay on top forever.
We wrote an entire article on the benefits of perma-death.  I highly encourage everyone to read it, whether you think you agree with the concept of perma-death or not.

Housing and Settlements.

Houses and settlements will be built by you.  When we say built, we mean it.  You will have to build each house and section of your keep's wall by having the resources and crafters with the right skills.  There are no NPCs to help you build.

Source: MMORPG.com (Brax), 27-02-2013

Are you considering to split ToA into two worlds, for carebear and hardcore?

We're not building a split carebear/hardcore world. I have no interest in building nor maintaining duel worlds/systems like that. ToA is what it is, like it or not.

Source: Forums (Brax), 12-03-2013

How will player population on the servers be controlled?

This is not EVE. We're not going for one large world with tens of thousands of people all on one single world. We will scale the number of realms along with subscriber count. In other words, if we hit a threshold of accounts, we'll fire up a second server cluster. Hit the next threshold, another server cluster will be brought online.

Source: Forums (Brax), 21-03-2013

What limitations will trial accounts have?

Right now the only limitations trial accounts will have are:

1) They cannot own a settlement.
2) They cannot be an heir.
3) They cannot own property.
4) They cannot have any access what-so-ever to innovations.

Beyond that, they will be identical to normal accounts.

EDIT: It's not set in stone at this point but we'll probably limit the amount of trial accounts from an IP.

Source: Forums (Brax), 12-04-2013

How do you plan to avoid trial account abuse?

I doubt we'll tack the trial onto a paid sub. Instead we might ask for a credit card with the trial and each credit card can only be used on one trial. Honestly, we haven't decided how we're going to handle this yet but the goal is to create the lowest barrier to entry into the game while keeping possible abuse of the trial accounts to a minimum.

Source: Forums (Brax), 12-04-2013

Will trial accounts be separated from the general population?

[No], trial accounts won't be segregated from the general population.

Source: Forums (Brax), 18-04-2013

What is your policy regarding GM's and how they interact with players they know?

We had a discussion about this not but a few days ago. I walked away from it thinking no matter what we do, the players will think what they will want to think, and there is only so much we can do about that. For example, if a troll stomps a character into the dirt and that player thinks the troll was controlled by a GM, he's gonna cry foul, even if the troll was AI.

One thing I am adamantly against is taking sides when two player parties/groups/settlements/whatever are having it out. The example we used during our discussion was if one settlement was sieging another. We would NEVER intentionally cause either side harm enough to influence the outcome between the two parties. IOW we wouldn't spawn a group of orcs and start tearing apart the attacker's siege engines.

What we would do though, in this example, is have a few giants meander between the town walls and the attacking siege engines with their freshly killed moose, plop down and start eating it. They aren't affecting either side and each side has a decision to make. Either cease fire while these mammoths eat their lunch, attack them, or maybe even try to talk to them. The point is, the GMs are there but they aren't affecting anyone and will react according to what the players do or don't do.

And as I've said before, any GM caught helping friends will be fired on the spot, no second chances, no opportunity to explain themselves, nothing. Not to mention our plan is to have extensive log files on all actions taken by a GM; what they spawn, when they spawned it, who's inventory they looked in, etc. And no they will not be able to edit or even see their log files.

Source: Forums (Brax), 13-08-2013

The End