Brad Wardell's site for talking about the customization of Windows.
Published on March 20, 2015 By Frogboy In Ashes Dev Journals

 

Usual caveats: Pre-alpha here.

But you can see the individual gravity channelers on this unit, the Artemis, which allows it to hover.  The Artemis is the mainline Post-Human missile unit.

This is at the start of the game so its secondary weapon, a long-range missile, isn't enabled (the black disabled piece in the middle). Players can upgrade their units via the tech tree (all this is subject to change based on play testing for fun and pacing).

Now, mind you, this is an extreme extreme close up. The artists are going to kill me for zooming this close as these are supposed to be small units (i.e. a big map might include thousands of these guys).  

How you put your groups together matters though. It's not just about cranking out lots of units.

The other thing I wanted to convey here is how much attention we are giving to being true to the lore. We don't simply have units that float. There is a reason for them and a lot of background on the limitations of gravitational channeling.


Comments (Page 1)
on Mar 20, 2015

Being able to extremely zoom in close is great, but will we be able to extremely zoom out?

on Mar 20, 2015

Misaniovent

Being able to extremely zoom in close is great, but will we be able to extremely zoom out?

We plan to allow for zooming out pretty far.  We do not plan to put icons onto the main map.  We're more likely to support dual monitors and allow players to expand the mini map onto that.

on Mar 20, 2015

Just the fact, that we will be able to zooming out, has far has need make my friday day

on Mar 20, 2015

 

zooming out.

on Mar 20, 2015

I really think all that zoom out needs are a few icons so it becomes possible to judge what is what more easily.

If your "minimap" does just that, can I just play on the minimap?

on Mar 20, 2015

Well we dont now yet what is think to that.

But indeed ,we need something to understand  what we are click!

Iff 4k units in field ,how will we  select the different types of units with zoom out...

Watching this just has an ex:

Maybe we dont need icons!

Or maybe we need!

on Mar 20, 2015

Metaunits should at the least have icons

on Mar 20, 2015

Frogboy
zooming out.

I think that's going to draw a couple of issues for some players, yet at the same time your points on realism (and lore) have made me like the game enough to pre-purchase it (sight unseen, or more correctly, gameplay untested).

I see this as a double edged sword and it leads me to ask: will it be possible to enable/disable a HUD for when the zoom gets so far out you enter "tactical"/"satellite" mode (which is more of a game thing than a real world thing, but surely it'd be low-level tech by the lore of the game)?  It may seem like a strange request, but there's some profound joy in watching a series of ant-like units smash at one another from space (rather than always overlaying).  I'd like to think the engine is capable of turning on/off things like that, but I'd also understand if LOD handling involved switching out when we left viable optical range.

on Mar 20, 2015

We don't plan to have icons on the main map.  The mini-map will show a lot of strategic info and allow players to guide things.  But we don't intend for the game to be played with the player zoomed out to the whole map and manipulating icons.  For one thing, Meta units have special abilities and that will require the player to be reaosnably close to the map to make intelligent decisions on what to target.

Total Annihilation is probably a closer comparison for what we're going for. 

on Mar 20, 2015

Frogboy

game to be played with the player zoomed out to the whole map and manipulating icons.  For one thing, Meta units have special abilities and that will require the player to be reaosnably close to the map to make intelligent decisions on what to target.

Total Annihilation is probably a closer comparison

TA's community patch by now has something that gets as close to a strategic zoom as it can get in TA.

http://www.tauniverse.com/forum/showthread.php?t=43735

Basically they managed to make it so you can zoom out on the main view to a large minimap that shows somewhat decent icons and you can zoom in at whatever location you want again.

This kind of feature is really key to getting an overview.

I guess it somewhat comes down to:

How do you want players to navigate around the map?

Scroll at edges?

Using camera hotkeys?

Click the minimap?

Zoom out, get an overview and zoom in somewhere else again?

 

Well I guess if you have a minimap in the game that has icons and stuff and you have a somewhat moddable UI the first thing I will look into is making it work like in the TA community patch.

on Mar 20, 2015

Right now, we navigate with the mini map mainly and we zoom in and out as well.

I like Strategic zoom.   After all, Stardock was the first studio to make a game with it (Galactic Civilizations II) and Sins and the Elemental series have it too.  But Ashes isn't purely a macro game.  It plays a bit more like a combination of Company of Heroes and TA.  There are plateaus and a lot of elevation involved that would result in the player getting massacred if they just zoomed out and tried to put globs of units into a particular area.

The Meta unit concept isn't something we invented, I would give credit to that to Kohan (if you haven't played it, see if you can still buy a copy, great game).  Being able to use these meta units is key to handling the massive scope.

Now, during early access, we will certainly be listening to player feedback.  So I won't say "no way".  I just don't want the game to make the player feel forced to zoom out in order to play most effectively. We'd rather the game encourage them to play mostly zoomed in enough to see their units.

on Mar 20, 2015

One other thing I want to bring up that is a bit of a delicate topic and that is the game industry as a business and how it relates to these games.

Total Annihilation was developed by Cave Dog and published by GT Interactive.  

Supreme Commander 1/2 was developed by GPG and published by THQ and Square respectively.

The point being, in the old publishing model, the studio couldn't really commit to long-term support because the games were funded by a third party and that third party had a lot of say over the design (as seen with SupCom 2 and Square).

Ashes of the Singularity, by contrast, is owned by Stardock and being developed by Stardock Oxide together.  

What this means is that we are already committed to Ashes of the Singularity plus expansions/updates for the next 7 years.  We can do that because we fund our own stuff. We're not reliant on a publisher to keep this up.

So when, we hope, the RTS community that loved TA/SupCom/etc. so much begins to get into Ashes, they'll know that they're not going to be abandoned (and by that I specifically mean that new development will be directed at this game for years to come non-stop).  We are doing a lot of work to make sure modding and community expansion to what we do is not just possible but somewhat approachable.

In short, the game will evolve over the next decade based on the people who actually end up buying the game because, in essence, THEY are the ones funding the future, not a publisher.

on Mar 21, 2015

Thank you for this important explanation.

That makes us admire even more your team work, and understand what is really thought,to sustain the game.

Trust and feel that we will have a successful game,  makes us continue to invest in your company work.

You will feel frustration on our part and also much applause by the magnificent job you are doing.

But this is all part of the game.

All this transparency makes us understand the good team that's there, for now i havent see nothing that i dont like on game .

on Mar 21, 2015

Frogboy

Right now, we navigate with the mini map mainly and we zoom in and out as well.

I like Strategic zoom.   After all, Stardock was the first studio to make a game with it (Galactic Civilizations II) and Sins and the Elemental series have it too.  But Ashes isn't purely a macro game.  It plays a bit more like a combination of Company of Heroes and TA.  There are plateaus and a lot of elevation involved that would result in the player getting massacred if they just zoomed out and tried to put globs of units into a particular area.

The Meta unit concept isn't something we invented, I would give credit to that to Kohan (if you haven't played it, see if you can still buy a copy, great game).  Being able to use these meta units is key to handling the massive scope.

Now, during early access, we will certainly be listening to player feedback.  So I won't say "no way".  I just don't want the game to make the player feel forced to zoom out in order to play most effectively. We'd rather the game encourage them to play mostly zoomed in enough to see their units.

I understand where you are coming from. Nevertheless my current feeling, based on the few infos I have on the game, tells me that people will want the zoom. Yes they will need to zoom in as well, but the main advantage of the zoom is more about navigating the battlefield and getting an overview. In SupCom you usually would zoom in to manage your units as well and people were fine with that.

We'll see in the early access. I would guess that if you are trying to appeal to the TA/SupCom crowd you will hear comments like "we need the full zoom with icons" quite a lot and, assuming your UI is moddable enough, you will probably see me mod it in as well, I like to mod in stuff that is missing from games. Like I added a notifications-minimap to Planetary Annihilation

When I think about issues with terrain features where you cannot see them if you are zoomed out I get the idea into my head "the zoom needs to be better to deal with it", instead of "the zoom cant do this". Let the player zoom out and on the highest level switch to a overlay that shows terrain elevation in colors or the like. Dunno, random idea. I can see that the art department might scream in horror at the idea

 

About stardock paying the game by themselves: That's a nice argument and I hope Ashes will see support for 7 years, though 7 years is quite a long time and based on how stardock is a company that needs to make money as well a certain doubt is hard to get rid of. Too many other games have been shutdown in the past. Yes their business model was different, but ... I mostly blame it on capitalism, which none of us can fix

on Mar 21, 2015

Frogboy

The Meta unit concept isn't something we invented, I would give credit to that to Kohan (if you haven't played it, see if you can still buy a copy, great game).  Being able to use these meta units is key to handling the massive scope.

Kohan's unit groups were more or less the predecessor's to Relic's squads though, weren't they? Unless things changed drastically between the games as I've only had the chance to play the second one.

 

Also, as far as those zoom-in and out pics are concerned, how far does the in game zoom go? Because the unit, Apollo, looks a wee bit too pixelated to have been rendered at that resolution so I think it's safe to assume you've zoomed in on a screenshot of the game at maximum zoom. What was the original pic's resolution? In the same vein, what about the black spaces in the zoomed out pic? Are you going for maps that aren't fully explored at the start of the game as was the standard back in the day?

Lastly, considering the game is territory-based, are you going to draw actual territory lines on the battlefield like most other games using territories do (CoH, EE2, RoN/L) or is the actual territory not that important and hence we'll only see it drawn on the minimap (DoW, AoM, Halo Wars)?

Thanks for the answers and, hopefully, a great game.

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