Intrepid Studios has sent over the first pre-alpha gameplay footage of their upcoming MMO, Ashes of Creation, and there it is, right above this sentence.
It's a classic, though slick, look for an MMO—a mage dealing with a hotbar and damage numbers and a horrible spider-man—though it should be noted that the UI is currently a placeholder. Like a few MMOs I've seen recently, one of Ashes of Creation's aspirations is permanent change.
"As the world’s NPC structure is established in real time, players will have the ability to destroy what they’ve created, paving the way for new development, new populations, and real change," reads the latest press release. "Political strife and intrigue will play a very real role in the structure of your world. Gone are the days of static worlds, change is here to stay."
I mention leaves in the headline because another of Ashes' touted features is seasons, which can shift based on what players are up to. The hope is that unusual cycles—a long summer, for instance—will generate unique stories, affecting "NPC generation, boss content, dungeons, drop tables, Node progression, combat, skill use, gatherables, trade routes, NPC appearances, and weather." It reminds me a little of the fictional game described in novel 'The Three-Body Problem,' in which players must navigate chaotic seasons of extreme heat or cold guided by an unknown force.
Another system involves caravans. Players will be able to profit by sending caravans full of goods between cities, but will have to defend their loot in the PvP zone that forms around the procession. Any time there are real stakes to PvP battling—rather than, 'hey, I'm just feeling aggro right now'—my interest is piqued at least a little.