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The goal: Create the biggest scale real-time strategy game ever

imageAshes of the Singularity is a real-time strategy game set in the not-so-distant future where a single person can control thousands of constructs (the distant descendants of today’s drones) in order to conquer an entire world. 

The world is broken up into regions with each region containing various resources that players capture and can then build up defenses, exploit the resources within and use as a staging area to conquer more of the world.

Little tiny ants

On the one hand, we want players to get a sense of the epic scale of these maps and see vast armies battling it out without turning them all into icons.  On the other hand, we want players to be engaged with the world so we’ve resisted getting too abstract with how we display everything.  Every unit in Ashes is unique with a specific role whose differences can be subtle. Hence, if we got too abstract, it becomes impossible to recognize the interplay between different unit mixes. One of the strengths of using Oxide’s Nitrous engine is that we can zoom way way out without hiding or abstracting units.  The downside is, of course, you zoom out enough and everything looks like “little tiny ants”

 

 

Hardware requirements

PHC_Indirect_LayerssThe other big challenge has been hardware requirements: Ashes of the Singularity v1.0 requires a video card with 2GB of video memory and a 4-core CPU with a display of 1920x1080 and 4GB of video memory.

According to the Steam hardware survey these requirements have consequences for us.

  1. The 4-core CPU requirement costs us 51% of the Steam user base right off the bat.
  2. The 2GB video memory eliminates 59% of the user base
  3. And the display resolution cuts out 53% of the user base.

It is safe to say that at least 70% of the Steam user base cannot currently run Ashes of the Singularity due to low hardware requirements.    Despite that, during the month of July Ashes of the Singularity past the 100,000 units sold mark.

We knew, long ago, that our hardware requirements would ensure that Ashes was a niche title on release.  It’s done substantially better than projected (in fact, it has done far better than it has any business doing given the hardware requirements and the genre). 

To put it in perspective, Ashes sales are at the top of the RTS charts for new 2016 releases despite not having a well known IP and costing $39.99.

Still, a goal of ours is to reduce the hardware requirements. That’s where version 1.3 comes in.

Version 1.3

image

On August 4 Ashes 1.3 was released and we are on the edge of being able to reduce the hardware requirements to  1GB of memory and a 2-core CPU.  We’re not there yet but we’re getting pretty close.  The one area we really need to work on is the minimum display resolution which is tricky given how generous we were in our UI design (generous to ourselves that is).

Some highlights of 1.3 include:

  • New unit physics system so that units can now turn on a dime and are exceptionally responsive.
  • New army organization system that breaks armies into companies if they are split up so that they don’t always have to be together in a single giant group
  • Updated pathfinding so that units don’t glomb up on each other
  • Updated UI across the board
  • 5 new (free) maps
  • Map ping for multiplayer
  • Various bug fixes and balance updates

It’s a pretty meaty update, particularly under the hood.  Someone who bought Ashes of the Singularity in May who hasn’t played it since and downloaded version 1.3 would discover that Ashes is a lot faster, a lot smarter, a lot prettier and has a much better campaign.  Too late for reviews but important for rewarding early adopters and fans.

 

Multiplayer: Season 2 begins

Season 1 is over and the winners are:

image

 

The ranked multiplayer in Ashes is similar to that of Hearthstone which probably isn’t surprising since it was designed by Adrian Luff who joined us after having been an architect of Battle.net for twenty years. Of the top 10 players, 6 players were Substrate and 4 were PHC. 

You can explore the Metaverse by going here: http://www.ashesofthesingularity.com/metaverse. This site also includes the DirectX 11/12 hardware performance results.

 

 

Single Player: What’s coming

Engineer_Web_LayersDespite Ashes having a pretty lively multiplayer community, over 95% of the player base only plays single player.  As in, they have never attempted to play multiplayer.  This is important for fans to understand because we often see people wanting us to spend more time on multiplayer features (something we tend to want to do because we play multiplayer). 

So often we have to make tough decisions on whether to put engineering time into features to help multiplayer or engineering time to support modding (we think a lot of people would love to make their own units or just share scenarios and maps with one another via Steamworks). 

For that reason, modding and sharing mods will make up a lot of our upcoming engineering time.  We want people to be able to make maps, units, scenarios, UI changes, buildings, terrain, etc. and share it easily withy one another.

 

 

Expansion News

PHC_Battery_Web_LayersThe first expansion for Ashes of the Singularity will be coming out this Fall.  It will be a stand-alone expansion (i.e. you won’t need to buy the base game).  This is the same thing we did with Sins of a Solar Empire and Fallen Enchantress and it worked well.  A new player would just buy the expandalone and get the base game and the expansion integrated.  DLC from the base game will migrate to the expansion (i.e. players won’t have to buy it again).

We also plan to allow people with the base game and the expansion (despite being different products) to be able to play together in multiplayer.  We don’t want to split the community and it gives us an opportunity, over time, to make the base game of Ashes of the Singularity a good introduction.

We’ll be announcing the expansion soon but in the meantime, here are some general details:

  • Will have three episodes (one of which is Imminent Crisis from the base game)
  • Lots of new defense buildings
  • New global abilities
  • Bigger map size
  • More players per map
  • Roughly a dozen new units
  • Game setup options
  • New types of worlds
  • Global view (similar to Strategic Zoom in GalCiv, SupCom, Sins)

There are a ton of other features as well but those features will be added to the base game as well for free.

The base price for the expandalone will be $39.99.  For a limited time, the upgrade price for existing players will be $14.99.

 

More soon!


Comments (Page 1)
on Aug 08, 2016

This whole entry reads like a love-letter to the quiet majority of us. Not neglecting single-player? Awesome. Helping those of us who can't afford the best hardware? Great. Mod support? I'll be buying a gift copy for my brother. Expansion? I'll be happily giving you more money when it's released.

 

Thanks for all you do!

on Aug 08, 2016

Yep.

This kind of dedication is what is cruelly missing to the RTS market, and this market is pretty risky nowadays, we have to admit that. You keep believing in your product, you enhance it for the majority of people, you plan new improvements and features over a good period of time, and maybe the most important : you keep continuously your community in the loop. The game has made good steps forward since the release and your expansion price policy regarding early owners seems fair.

Sure, there are plenty of things to improve (range of engagements, concave effects, clearer frontlines, FX or SFX, construction grid...) plenty of things to implement (new faction in the tubes maybe?), but your efforts are really appreciated.

Keep up the good work

 

 

 

 

on Aug 08, 2016

Despite Ashes having a pretty lively multiplayer community, over 95% of the player base only plays single player.

 

This is totally bizarre to me. I don't know where to begin.  I don't know why I expect people to make sensible use of their leisure time. 

To the devs I will say that you might be creating a self-fulfilling prophecy by focusing on this stat: when you pumped last second time/personnel/ and resources into single player, you must have done this at the expense of multiplayer, right? 

I think no matter what way time and resources are allocated, single player will get more play time, to be sure, but I'd like to think that the longevity of the game, and its continued sales may be tied more to multiplayer than that 5% may lead you to believe. 

on Aug 08, 2016

Very much looking forward to this. The features and pricing and implementation model are all very thoughtfully done. Day 1 purchase for sure.

on Aug 08, 2016

Sonar_Taxlaw

This is totally bizarre to me. I don't know where to begin.  I don't know why I expect people to make sensible use of their leisure time. 

To the devs I will say that you might be creating a self-fulfilling prophecy by focusing on this stat: when you pumped last second time/personnel/ and resources into single player, you must have done this at the expense of multiplayer, right? 

I think no matter what way time and resources are allocated, single player will get more play time, to be sure, but I'd like to think that the longevity of the game, and its continued sales may be tied more to multiplayer than that 5% may lead you to believe. 

We're definitely doing a lot for multiplayer too.  But yes, it does mean we've been budgeting engineering time on features that will benefit both.  For example, the expansion is set to allow 16 players to play, even in multiplayer (though we still have to stress test this).  So that's cool for MP players still but also for single player gamers who want to have a massive 4X game like experience.  However, that engineering time came at the expense of the replay feature which got pushed back.

 

on Aug 09, 2016

Frogboy


 However, that engineering time came at the expense of the replay feature which got pushed back.


 

 

Does that mean no replays in september ?

on Aug 09, 2016

No Replays.

Big -1 on that decision.

that's how you learn where you went wrong in multiplayer.

Sadness.

 

on Aug 09, 2016

Supreeme commander was released, and then comes Forged Alliance stand alone expansion, same as Ashes is doing and is the right decision .


I do not see the interest of optimizing the game for low-cost systems like something good, a DX12 game that faces the future with the latest technology thinking in systems with 8 years old will alow lag games on multiplyer, its the fact we have to understant.

 

In faf to many New Players have old systems,making players with good systems baned them from multiplayers games because they just kill all the fun.

No one buy GTA 5 or Tomb raider 2016  or Project Cars or any other latest game this last 3 years if they dont have a decent PC configuration  and honestly  any actual gamer must have at least I5 and a graphic card  that alowed run the last 2 years games with medium settings.

I understand the wy , but its not worth the engineers time ,when they can work in multiplayer performance like:

  • Background Applications and Running Processes.
  • Server Latency.
  • Optimize Router Settings and Environment.
  • Client Rate setting to see how many packets the game server sends to your machine to keep it synchronized

 

All the rest i see Ashes has the best RTS to be to play and work , this game its just daam good, when you start understand all the process is done and will be done .


No one here will see any other team doing, what Ashes team is doing in a RTS game.


 

on Aug 09, 2016

TAG_Utter

Supreeme commander was released, and then comes Forged Alliance stand alone expansion, same as Ashes is doing and is the right decision .


I do not see the interest of optimizing the game for low-cost systems like something good, a DX12 game that faces the future with the latest technology thinking in systems with 8 years old will alow lag games on multiplyer, its the fact we have to understant.

 

In faf to many New Players have old systems,making players with good systems baned them from multiplayers games because they just kill all the fun.

No one buy GTA 5 or Tomb raider 2016  or Project Cars or any other latest game this last 3 years if they dont have a decent PC configuration  and honestly  any actual gamer must have at least I5 and a graphic card  that alowed run the last 2 years games with medium settings.

I understand the wy , but its not worth the engineers time ,when they can work in multiplayer performance like:

 

    • Background Applications and Running Processes.

 

    • Server Latency.

 

    • Optimize Router Settings and Environment.

 


    • Client Rate setting to see how many packets the game server sends to your machine to keep it synchronized

 


 

All the rest i see Ashes has the best RTS to be to play and work , this game its just daam good, when you start understand all the process is done and will be done .




No one here will see any other team doing, what Ashes team is doing in a RTS game.




 

Let's be honest, Ashes already has the high-end nailed, so why wouldn't they look lower? As it stands, I have a pair of massively overclocked R9 280Xs (1300core/1850mem) yet the game rarely hits 30FPS with any kind of settings at 1080p. Now, I'm not overly concerned, game doesn't have to look amazing for me to enjoy it, but it also means there's literally no point in me buying this for my younger brother, as he'll be playing a slideshow. I also generally don't see the derision to people with lower-end hardware, the FAF community is awesome.

Assuming everyone should be rocking GT1080s or Fury Xs is exactly why most people have no interest in joining the PC community. If someone with lower-end hardware wants to enjoy the same game as me, that's a good thing, I want them to.

Sonar_Taxlaw


Quoting ,


Despite Ashes having a pretty lively multiplayer community, over 95% of the player base only plays single player.



 

This is totally bizarre to me. I don't know where to begin.  I don't know why I expect people to make sensible use of their leisure time. 

To the devs I will say that you might be creating a self-fulfilling prophecy by focusing on this stat: when you pumped last second time/personnel/ and resources into single player, you must have done this at the expense of multiplayer, right? 

I think no matter what way time and resources are allocated, single player will get more play time, to be sure, but I'd like to think that the longevity of the game, and its continued sales may be tied more to multiplayer than that 5% may lead you to believe.  

Wow, so that's pretty belligerent. I won't speak for everyone, but I dislike playing with others, most of them are whiners, cheaters, rude, disruptive or some combination thereof. So you're not going to get someone like me on to multiplayer, period. I'm enjoying the hell out of Ashes though. But I guess it's not a sensible use of my leisure time. If only I'd been playing multiplayer, then it would've been meaningful!


Yes, obviously they only have so much manpower, but I'd say most of the previous updates to the game have been for the multiplayer community, so it's not like they've been neglected. In fact, I can really only think of the one change for singleplayer so far (The difficulty adjustments for the campaign). The rest have all been balance, ladders, matchmaking and the like.

I'm also not sure why you'd think that a minority group would be the primary thing spurring sales. Yes, you will get the occasional person who will either buy for a friend or convince them to buy so they can play mutliplayer, but they're not enough to drive things forward, and likely account for far less than the normal 95% who are simply haven't got around to buying the game.

on Aug 09, 2016

fantstc1

No Replays.

Big -1 on that decision.

that's how you learn where you went wrong in multiplayer.

Sadness.

 

 

I suspect more customers will pick more than doubling the number of players per map than having a replay option first.  The engineers had to pick which to work on first. 

I should also point out that Supreme Commander and FA were not financially successful. Focusing on improving performance is what let us increase the player count which has the side effect of reducing the hardware requirements.

For instance, decreasing memory use lets us have bigger maps but also means that smaller maps can be played on lower end systems.  We're not spending engineering resources lowering hardware requirements for the sake of hardware requirements. Instead, we're focusing on adding more features without increasing the hardware requirements which, as a side-effect, lowers the hardware requirements for those who aren't using those features.

 

 

on Aug 09, 2016

RomeoReject

As it stands, I have a pair of massively overclocked R9 280Xs (1300core/1850mem) yet the game rarely hits 30FPS with any kind of settings at 1080p.

My brother has a single 7970 and plays on High settings at around 40FPS I believe, looks good and is very playable.

RomeoReject
I won't speak for everyone, but I dislike playing with others, most of them are whiners, cheaters, rude, disruptive or some combination thereof.

Total rubbish. I am pretty active in Ashes MP and haven't come cross anyone who could be labeled with those terms. What you say may be true of some MP communities but it is not true of Ashes. Nothing wrong with only playing SP but smearing what you don't know is not helpful to anyone.


I am not entirely sure all the low end optimizing is worth it, though I am not against it. I agree the supported screen resolution could be expanded. Quad core CPUs have been out for 10 years. I know some have played Ashes on i3s and didn't have a problem, though I don't know the scale of their gaming. I guess this can have a positive knock on effect as if it can work on two cores then it should then work even better on 4 cores which will be important when you have up to 16 players on huge maps. Going for less than 2 Gig of VRAM, again I guess it ultimately may benefit everyone up the chain but 2GB is the new minimum now and 2GB GPU cards go back quite a few years now. Perhaps you're are going for a more global market where people play the game on older equipment...my advice on that is get more languages supported! Russian first I'd say, then Spanish and Chinese etc. And probably best use actors, the German guy sounds bad.

I kinda think the devs want to turn this game into Sins, which would be odd as Sins already exists and they have essentially said the sequel is in the making but is some years off.

Anyway, very much looking forward to the expansion and will be day 1 buy from me. I think replay is coming then right? I kind of take the comment above that the replay feature was delayed until the expansion because of chasing those optimisations goals rather than it coming even later still.

Edit. Wrote this before seeing Frogboys replay above. Looks like replays now not coming with 1.5

on Aug 09, 2016

My english is fuzzy, I'm confused. Did the the replays got delayed until the expansion or are they delayed to an undetermined time?

on Aug 09, 2016

Gatokatcha

My english is fuzzy, I'm confused. Did the the replays got delayed until the expansion or are they delayed to an undetermined time?

Looks like the latter, I think.

on Aug 09, 2016

Ok that dissappointing. The roadmap on the steam forum needs to be updated. It's still listing the replays for september and the expansion is priced at $9.99 for the owners at the time of release when it is for all owners.

on Aug 09, 2016

Looking forward to the new defensive buildings!  Since, we have lightning weapons.. hopefully we can get lightning towers like in C&C

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