Innovations by: Forged Chaos


by Forged Chaos

Every time your character uses a skill there is a chance she will receive an innovation. An innovation is the sudden discovery -- available to only your character -- of how to enhance a craftable item, how to create a new item altogether, or a new skill technique.

Imagine your character being the only one in TerVarus that could craft a new style of armor or learned a new engineering technique that made all structures he builds 20% stronger?

What you do with your newly-found secret will be up to you. You can keep it to yourself or share it with others. Be warned - sharing an innovation with even one person means you no longer have control over its propagation as they can share it with others.

Innovations can also be shared involuntarily. A character with the right skills will be able to extract information from an unconscious target, including innovations.


by Forged Chaos

During all my writing over the years describing the ins and outs of ToA -- under both Forged Chaos and Shadowpool Studios -- I've been very careful in not using fancy marketing terms and catch phrases when describing our designs. This is mostly because they are over-used and borderline cliche. I mean, how many times have you seen 'revolutionary' next to a game feature in the last week alone?

That said, I am going to use a term to describe our innovation system I don't think I've ever used before in any capacity. I would never use this term lightly, especially in the public's eye, but in this case its a perfect fit in so very many ways. Plus, it is the one word that speaks the truth to what it can be to MMO gaming...


Think about it. To evolve is to take the next logical step forward and that is exactly what our innovation system is poised to allow. It will evolve the way new content is introduced in a MMO to a system that feels far more natural. It gives the players, the overall game, and even the developers benefits that I hope I can properly portray in this article.

Before we talk about the benefits, lets cover how one goes about getting an innovation. It's as simple as using your skills. As you use your skills, there will be an ever-present chance that you could have a 'moment of clarity' and learn an innovation. The innovation will always be tied to the skill you were practicing and as well as how skilled you are in said skill.

Once an innovation has been learned, it will be turned off and nobody else can learn it via skill use.

A learned innovation is yours to do with what you wish. You can keep it a secret, you can sell its product (assuming its an innovation that produces a product), you can even teach the innovation to others for them to use. It'll be up to you. Just keep in mind that giving your innovation to even one person means you lose control over it as they too can pass it on.

We're hoping this will put both the innovator and those wanting the innovation into moral conflict. Imagine you have innovated a new weapon that could surely help your entire settlement but there is no way you alone can keep up with such crafting demands. Do you pass it along to other crafters so they can help you keep the settlement properly supplied with this advantageous weapon? What if you were a crafter and fellow citizen to this innovator and you knew you could become incredibly wealthy by selling this weapon elsewhere? Would you keep to your moral compass or would you consider taking the innovation from him against his will? The mind swims with all the possible intrigue!

There is a certain amount of danger of involuntarily losing your innovation. Unconsciousness was introduced into ToA's design to give a buffer between life and death. We decided to use this design as a relatively straight-forward way to include interrogation. Someone with interrogation skills can attempt to pry knowledge from your character while he or she is unconscious, including any known innovations. You will still retain the innovation but they too will have it.

The innovation system will allow for actual organic propagation of items. No longer will you log in one day and every smith can suddenly make a new weapon. Instead, you must go find a person that knows how to make the weapon and convince him to teach you ... or try to take it from him forcefully. What gets propagated around TerVarus and what doesn't will be up to the players, not us, meaning each player can heavily influence the worlds direction and story lines.

As developers it gives us the ability to add content in an organic way that just isn't being done in today's MMOs. For example we'll be continuously piping in new innovations so you won't have to wait (or pay for) the next expansion to see new content, thus giving the world a more natural progression as time moves on. It will also allow us to align the release of innovations with ongoing story lines our interactive team will be running.

So ask yourself - what will you do if your character is the lucky one to learn how to make a new stronger metal? What if she discovers a new combat technique that gives her an edge in combat? What if he discovers only one of a set of innovations that will bring about something as grandiose as TerVarus's first ship? Pretty exciting stuff, huh?!


What types of structures can we expect in ToA?

We have a core number of structures planned for initial launch with many more planned (via innovations of course!) post-launch. For launch you can expect to see a few types of houses and shops, various settlement walls, towers, gatehouses, a few large keep options, and various civic buildings such as a town hall, a treasury and barracks.

Source: Official FAQ, 15-09-2012

Will there be siege combat?

Yes. The game will launch with the catapult as the only siege weapon. Innovations are sure to follow that will allow other siege weaponry available.

Source: Official FAQ, 15-09-2012

What is an innovation?

It's a moment of discovery and creation that may come to your character anytime he is using a skill. When an innovation is discovered, you will immediately learn a new way of improving upon an existing craftable item, a new item altogether, a new skill technique, or even a new skill itself! The discovered innovation will always be related to the skill you were using at the time. In other words, don't expect to learn how to make better bread while swinging a sword.

Beyond what it offers you, the player, it will allow us to organically forward the world of TerVarus by introducing items, processes and skills.

Source: Official FAQ, 15-09-2012

Is an innovation limited to the character who discovered it?

Yes and no.

Once an innovation is discovered, it is removed from the list of available innovations other characters could learn. What you do with your innovation is up to you. You can choose to share the innovation with other characters, which allows those characters to use or benefit from the innovation too, but the innovation doesn't automatically appear on everyone's skill list. This allows those who discover an innovation to control its use. Beware though - when you share your innovation (not the product of an innovation but the innovation itself), they can in turn share it with others all they want. Point being, sharing your newly found secret with even just one person means you give up control of its possible propagation.

An innovation can also be involuntarily learned from you through interrogating your character. Information gathering can be done on unconscious characters, including extracting innovations.

Source: Official FAQ, 15-09-2012

What kind of innovations can we expect?

In short, all kinds. Innovations will range from knowing how to add a certain ingredient to make your breads more filling, to discovering a new command to teach pets, to unlocking new types of ships!

Source: Official FAQ, 15-09-2012

Can I discover an innovation even as a new character?

Yes. Innovations will have certain requirements on them, such as minimum/maximum skill level(s), allowed race (once new races are introduced), etc.

Source: Official FAQ, 15-09-2012

Do you intend to put ships back into the game after release?

Yes, ships are something we'll, or rather you the players, will put back in later.

Source: Forums (Varl), 16-09-2012

Will toxins be available, perhaps as a trade skill?

If not at launch, there will always be innovations you can unlock.

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

I, as a player, am uneasy with the idea that there's something literally impossible for me to do within the games' boundaries.

Than you might have a hard time adapting to a game like ToA. I'm not meaning that in a harsh or condescending way. ToA is not at all designed to be an "equal opportunity game". Sometimes you will be in the right place at the right time and have fortune fall in your lap. Other times it will be quite the opposite.

Source: Forums (Brax), 03-11-2012

Will innovations be lost forever when the last person knowing them dies?

As to an innovation disappearing forever -- if we deem a lost innovation is needed in the world we will turn it on again but it will not be the case with every innovation.

Plus, if you think about it, lost innovations are how rares will be organically created.

Source: Forums (Brax), 03-11-2012

It depends on the innovation. Some innovations will be added back to the innovation pool to be discovered by another character, while others are slated to be somewhat wide spread (think technology advancement) where they may be discovered several times by multiple characters who will then have first crack at them. We still have some final details to work out in the system so there may be some changes in the future but for the most part that is how it will work.

Source: Forums (Loestri), 18-01-2013

If an individual with an innovation hasn't given it to anybody or taken if from anybody when he perma dies, is the innovation lost forever?

Lost forever...well, sort of. It is lost for the length of time equal to the computer and the players use of their skills deem it necessary for it to return to the world. So yes, it is conceivable that you could gain an innovation, permadie, and no one would ever know (except for those closest to you that you shouted to that you just got one). Propagation and termination of innovations has an almost infinitesimal chance to be mutually exclusive. One will most likely happen before the other, unless one is phenomenally unlucky on levels I don't wish to ponder.

And yes, the acquisition of an innovation via skill use will stay off for as long as the character is alive, but propagation will nullify the impact of losing an innovation "forever" when a character permadies, because it'll still be in the game. So, the window of true permanent innovation loss to the entire player base is as I said: infinitesimally small.

Source: Forums (Varl), 03-11-2012

If the only person with a certain innovation didn't die, but simply stopped playing without telling anyone the secret, would it be considered lost after a time?

Depends. We will scan infrequently played characters (not just accounts -- characters) for innovations. If they have one that we want made available again and they haven't logged in with that character in X time (X being reasonable of course), we might very well pull it from them.

Source: Forums (Brax), 05-11-2012

What stops me from getting a second account which I teach the innovation to in order to keep it "safe"?

Not a thing other than $$, which we won't mind at all. ;)

Source: Forums (Brax), 06-11-2012

If my main char dies his final death, does the innovation go back into the "Innovation box" while it's been shared with my second account?

No. So long as at least one person has the innovation, it won't be made available to others. However, if your other character is shown to be inactive for long periods of time we might take action.

Source: Forums (Brax), 06-11-2012

Will characters require a certain level of skill to learn particular innovations?

"I interpreted that it would mean that the person who stole the innovation would have the plans and schematics for it (or technique or whatever) written down, but they wouldn't be able to understand/use them until they reached a high enough skill level to use it.

It's like how you could steal the blueprints for a Large Hadron Collider, but you wouldn't know how to build it or how to use it unless you were sufficiently proficient in fields of engineering and physics, respectively."

You're spot on.

Source: Forums (Brax), 07-11-2012

Will it be easy for others to obtain innovations via interrogation?

Interrogation itself is a skill where only the highly skilled can extract such sensitive information.

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

Does this mean that a highly skilled Interrogator is really an information broker and will more than likely not have the skills to use the information they get?

Actually, if you think about it, a highly skilled interrogator is kinda like an in-game hacker. He acquires information that he probably shouldn't be able to get, but can, and uses it however he wishes ("to hack sites or to help fight against hackers", to extend the analogy).

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

If a settlement put all its innovations into a single character, one kidnapping and interrogation would reveal or could reveal all of your technology to an enemy...

Is this a bad thing? Rhetorical question. The answer is no.

You don't get to pick who initially learns an innovation so you can't really "put" your innovations into one character. Plus innovations are going to be so diverse that you'd need a character highly skilled in every skill to be able to execute all those innovations.

Source: Forums (Brax), 25-12-2012

Can we pass on innovations, even if we lack the skill?

No need to be elusive about this. If you have an innovation, you can pass it on, regardless if you have the skill to practice it or not. This may of course change as we continue with development but that's how it stands for now.

Source: Forums (Brax), 26-12-2012

Is it really possible to have a skill that no other player has?

Schrewd: "Yes totally possible, its called Innovations, once you discover it, that innovation will be removed from the list of available innovations other characters could learn. So you'll be the only one who knows that skill. Then its up to you if want to share it with other players or not."

...or, potentially have it taken from your character via Interrogation. The part I like the most is, even the player that takes an innovation away from me via interrogation isn't unique (I still know it), so if I intended to share my innovation with everyone anyway, he merely got it sooner than everyone else. The only drawback is if I intended to never share my innovation with anyone. I just love the idea of it, though; players having all the control over the propagation of an innovation. :D

Source: Forums (Varl), 08-01-2013

How are innovations determined?

Simply, by us. We'll determine every innovation that goes into the game. If it's a grand innovation, a small innovation, a stacked innovation or a series of innovations that will need one another. Then, we'll put them into a pool and as they're drawn out they're drawn out.

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

What do you plan on the in-game technology ceiling being as far as real life technology goes?

First of all, there is not going to be any gunpowder. No black powder, no explosions, no guns. That rule won't change. Outside of that, we haven't really determined how far we're going to go technologically.

This game is based on medieval times and we want to keep it as true to that as we can. At least for the foreseeable timeframe.

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

Will there be methods to store food or prevent it from spoiling too fast?

There will be a wide variety of climates within TerVarus and ice will certainly be prevalent, maybe one will innovate a "cold box"? maybe a "smoker"? "drying rack? Maybe one could store such things in a house or other settlement structure?

Source: Forums (Loestri), 18-01-2013

Will there be combat innovations as well?

Yes, we will be implementing combat innovations.

Source: Forums (Brax), 24-01-2013

On innovations

What we mean by "important innovation" would be something that would be commonly thought of by multiple characters that practice the particular skill in which the innovation was meant for. Let me give you an example.

A cook from settlement A burns their hand every time they grab a hot dish from the oven, taking minor damage. He or she does this enough times that the innovation of "oven mit" is granted to them. Now they decide to hoard this innovation and keep it to themselves. Do you not think that perchance another cook from settlement C could not get the same innovation? Do you suppose that no other character in the world would ever think to protect themselves from burning their hand while taking hot dishes from an oven? Will this negatively affect the balance of the world economy if they are propagated throughout the land?

This is what we are talking about when we say that not all innovations will be given out to a single character. In your discussion about the innovation for a boat, it will most likely be one of many innovations necessary to create that mode of transport. How many main parts does a boat have? How many types of boats will there be? Just something to think about.

Source: Forums (Loestri), 27-03-2013

Will innovations become common knowledge, available to all, at some point?

When an innovation has been propagated to a certain percentage of a server's population, the innovation will move from manual propagation to "common knowledge", in which it will be given to all characters on that server. This shift to common knowledge will be restricted to the server the innovation is on and have no impact on any other servers.

Source: Forums (Brax), 16-05-2013

The End