Brad Wardell's site for talking about the customization of Windows.

 

Radioactive Extractor

 

In Total Annihilation there’s a map called Caldera’s rim.  It’s a huge naval map with bits of islands in it.  That’s where I want us to eventually get in terms of battlefield flexibility.

Check these screenshot from a mod of Total Annihilation:

image

 

Let’s break things down into bite sized chunks to understand what we have today.

 

We want Ashes to become the ultimate RTS game

There are a lot of things we have to do to get from where we are today to where we want to be. But we’ve already done the hard stuff first. We have the engine.

Step 1: You need the engine

Making an RTS engine is hard.  That’s why until Ashes of the Singularity, it had been many years since someone has made a new one.  And it is non-trivial.

I wrote about this earlier this year for IGN. If you’re interested in the technical breakdown. go here.

Broadly speaking, a next-generation RTS that wants to compete with Ashes will have to develop an engine to do it.  The Nitrous engine.

PC World investigated this claim earlier this year. You can see their results here.  The short version is that having a core neutral GPU engine is very hard to develop and Nitrous is the first and so far only one we know of that has shipped a game that does it (though Frostbite might be there).

So we have the engine.

Step 2: You need the gameplay

The original release of Ashes was an impressive, albeit limited RTS.  With a fraction of the budget of Planetary Annihilation and around 1/17th the budget of Supreme Commander, it’s a tough haul to compete.  But our plan is long-term.  The ugly fact is, the RTS market is small and you can’t spend a huge amount on an RTS up front if it’s new IP.

Escalation was a big step in the right direction for serious RTS players and lets us move the base game into being an introduction to the genre.  But we still need a lot of core RTS features:

  1. Replays
  2. A Solid Modding Suite
  3. Lots of UI customization
  4. Lots of power user interactive features

None of that will come quickly.  Replays is just about done. Steamworks sharing is almost done.  But we’ll talk about the modding in the next section.

Step 3: You need the content

And this is the biggest challenge for us.  Content is expensive and we live in an age where someone can just buy Supreme Commander: Forged Alliance for $5 on a Steam sale which has years of added content.

From here to there

First, we have to decide what the ultimate Ashes RTS needs to have.  No one will agree on this so I’ll just give you what I think it will have and as always, my opinion is subject to change based on persuasive arguments from players and this is all just my opinion obviously:

image

(click to enlarge)

First, yes, it’s totally inappropriate for me to even engage in a public comparison like this.

Second, yes, it’s even dumber to argue that competing games are objectively better than your own game.

Third, many of the weaknesses of a given game are either design choices or budget choices.  The relative budgets of each game translate into more green wins.

But I’m still going to do it since I’ve worked closely with the developers of the other games over the years (Stardock was GPG’s publisher, Blizzard’s contracted expansion pack maker for StarCraft: Retribution, and we’re friends with the UberE team).

Let’s break these down into the areas that are on our radar:

Differentiated T3s

As part of a future tech tree update, we will want to let players do a lot of interesting things with the different T3s.  We may eventually change the way T3s upgrade where you don’t pick their upgrade when they level up but rather they get a general bonus with their specific coolness chosen at the macro level as techs.

We also have two new T3s per race in development.  I’d like to see these out in the Spring time.

The new T3s will be available as a free DLC to existing players.

Differentiated T4s

Ashes currently has no T4s.  This will come in the form of Juggernauts with 3 per race.   They’re a very late game unit.

Differentiated T5s

We have none of these in development but think “doomsday weapons”

Multiple Paths to victory

Right now we have two.  But we would also like to have a turtle based victory path as well where they can build something that slowly spreads across the land. 

Interesting secondary terrain

So this would be ocean.

Good modding support

This is where we need to work with modders.

With Sins of a Solar Empire, we have the Galaxy Forge.  For Ashes, we’ll need to create a new Forge tool.  You can see http://forums.sinsofasolarempire.com/forum/443 to see what Sins modders do and http://www.moddb.com/games/sins-of-a-solar-empire-rebellion/mods to see some of the great Sins mods.

SWRequiem254-ISD_Brightness_Exam-1

Sins: Star Wars

image

Sins: Star Trek

So let’s break that down:

image

Here are things we have to make:

image

Easy way to manage mods in game (we have to mess with the directories on the disk ourselves)

 

image

Some sort of particle editor (we do this by hand and C++ right now)

 

image

A tool that converts FBX files into OXModels (we have a special build of the game that converts them for us)

 

image

A UI editor (we currently modify this by hand)

 

image

Support for Substance Painter (we currently modify our materials by hand)

 

image

A way for designers to modify terrain easily (we currently have to edit files by hand)

 

All of this is doable. It will just take time and money. So we have to carefully pick what we do first.

Great single player replayability

Ours is good but not exception.  Here is what I think we need to do:

 

image

Current Ascendancy wars

image

Future Ascendancy Wars

I think the current Ascendancy Wars button should get renamed to Campaign and Ascendancy Wars call up a map of the galaxy (or at least the Orion sector) with thousands of worlds on it with you versus several AI factions.

Different worlds would give you wealth and you could use that wealth to buy more Quantum Bandwidth that would let you basically set up defenses on worlds so that they are harder to take.  Some worlds would unlock skins and other special goodies that would get added to your account.

Great Multiplayer community

Our community is great (the people). There just aren’t enough of them.

One thing we’re going to do in the next couple weeks is release an external tool that will make it easy to see when the queue is busy and let you chat with people from outside the game.

image

External Singularity Community app

That’s the near-term boost we can do.

The longer-term version will require some more thought.

Replays

These are just about done.  We have them internally now though.

Good Economic / Strategic Depth

I think this will require 1 or 2 more resources along with corresponding units along with a tech tree.

Good base building

See above

Interesting technology choices

see above

Long-term replayability overall

That will require a third and 4th race along with additional locomotion units (crawling units, tracked units, etc.).

BTW, gravity channeling units cannot go on water any more than a Star Wars landspeeder could go on water. It would sink.

 

How you can help

The speed in which we can do all of the above is largely based on how many engineers and artists I can assign to it.

Broadly speaking, I’d love to see us hire 2 full time engineers and then assign 2 of our existing full-time artists just to implement the above.

That’s a $40k per month burn rate.  The sales will support this.  However, where we need help is in evangelism.  Making sure people know about this game and how it’s evolving.

Participating on the forums and telling us what you want to see will help us prioritize.

Just your presence in the community helps.  We’re in this for the long-haul (at least until 2022 anyway, then we’ll see where things stand).

 

 

Concept Art

pod3_doodle renders_2_14 PHC_Pod_mk1_DuelAutocannon

All_Posthuman_Units2_greyPaintedAdjusted_Tom Ship_brainstorming_021914_01 Ship_brainstorming_030314_01


Comments (Page 2)
on Dec 19, 2016

 

How you can help

That’s a $40k per month burn rate. The sales will support this. However, where we need help is in evangelism. Making sure people know about this game and how it’s evolving.

Participating on the forums and telling us what you want to see will help us prioritize.

Just your presence in the community helps. We’re in this for the long-haul (at least until 2022 anyway, then we’ll see where things stand).


That's great. Can I also suggest that you are more vocal about what concerns/bugs you have recorded yourselves and what you picked up from the community. There are some silly bugs present, even those that have persisted from launch. It would be helpful to know if you are aware of these thing or they are just not a priority for you. I'm sure you aware that even non game breaking bugs can frustrate players and turn them away. Just an example: the whole orbital panel being switched off when units you have selected start dying.

 

All in all, I like what I have read and will be supporting you and your team as you continue to improve Ashes for the many years to come. Now if I could just identify what I really like in an RTS, I'm sure I could be of some help in providing helpful suggestions.

 

 

Sorry for the multiple posts.  But, hey.  At least I didn't break the board again

on Dec 19, 2016

The problem with ashes how I see it is after the campagin what shoulf I do next? Mp? Single player? The mp is great when you can win, I remember how I got recked before I finally understood what to do... It was not the funniest experience before I understood how to win. Skirmish? The ai is great just one problem, it's not the funniest thing to do for everyone over time. First pri is getting the new expancion out, since you have to choose what to focus on? What gives you most money and benifitt the players aswell that should be your pri 1. So what gives most money, a staying player who buys expansions or something else like short term? If you want them to play and stick to the game, they need to get something that makes them stay. A single player in a galaxy against the ai is something that might do the job and probly boost sales if pr is used... Also the reward system that can be made like skins and that stuff would be great to have, hope you guys decide to go for this,  I hope the community supports that. Think someone said 95%+ only play single player so making it better in single player makes sense, glad you guys have so fahr listned to the community, the game is only getting better then

on Dec 20, 2016

I wanted Sins to be the ultimate RTS.  

 

backs out of the room slowly...  

on Dec 20, 2016

Luxlupus

The problem with ashes how I see it is after the campagin what shoulf I do next? Mp? Single player?

To be fair though, every RTS suffers that issue. I know for me, the answer has always been mods, and/or doing ridiculous stacked matches. And so far, it looks like Stardock is doing everything they can to keep the content pipeline going, so I wouldn't panic over replay value.

RedDwarf999

I wanted Sins to be the ultimate RTS.  

 

backs out of the room slowly...  

*Grabs flamethrower*

All joking aside, I only got in to SoaSE late (Rebellion), but I couldn't be more happy with my decision. Unique 4X gameplay, decent mod selection, fun core game... If Ashes follows a similar path I'll be elated.

on Dec 20, 2016

Wonderful read!  I am along for the ride.  I myself am more of a defender than aggressively striking out.  Ive found that certain maps in most games allow my gameplay style.  

 

Being a long time Sins of a Solar empire player, starcraft, eve online and mostly space games.  Ive found that my taste has refined into more of a mix between Stellaris's loadout and Soase.  Everything about ashes is good but I think what it lacks is diversity in the fleet.  In eve you have hundreds of players using doctrines of different ships in different roles.  In stellaris they made a ship designer that allows you to fit modules and guns onto the ship and you can build multiple types of that same ship.  I feel that that is what sins lacks and that's something Ashes is lacking that I crave.  It comes with the ability to choose one of two upgrades but what if I want to build an armor tanking fleet and ships that only rep shield doesnt help that fleet.  Or if I want to use one weapon type over another.

 

I would also like to see the battlefield overhauled.  The graphics in my opinion on the ground are nothing special and to new players the lines look silly, is what I gather from reading the same comments over and over.

 

Direct control.  This was always my most missed item was putting me onto the ground in First person view.  Look at GTA 1,2 and then the success of 3.  Sins allows you to zoom all the way to the ship and move around so you can somewhat do it, but not that taking direct control in a battle.  If this was implemented it should be easy to jump in and out of ships on the ground and still build.  But the ultimate RTS would give you that ground view.  Jumping into your baddest dread as two or three faction face off and all out assault each other and watch the carnage from the ground!  Seeing hundreds of drones coming in and out of explosion plumes and smoke as chaos is unleashed on the battlefield.

on Dec 21, 2016

I've played a lot of Stellaris.  I have really tried to like it.  They are trying to fix the mid-game.  The latest DLC are fixing problems but are boring.  The mods are coming and are probably the only thing that will give that product legs in the future.  It's a beautiful game (so are Endless Space (that interface damn) and the latest Master of Orion) but they are not fun.  F U N.  They are not fun.  It's like biting a chocolate Easter Bunny only to find out it's hollow.  They don't have a soul.

Does Singularity have a soul?  Is there a there there?  I spent 48 hours playing it the week it came out.  I have not played it since.  I didn't find what I was looking for. 

Every time I hear the original (vanilla) Sins background music my heart swells.  All the hours spent in that universe condensed into the sweet nectar of love I drown my real life in.

How many of us have started playing at 6 PM after dinner, pausing only long enough to put the kids to bed, only to realize the sun is coming up and you have to get the kids off to school and yourself to work?

That's a game worth loving, supporting and playing.  Because you give the precious hours of your life to it.  You will NEVER get them back.  The games you play had better damn well be worth playing.

My god the rising crescendo of (affectionately) Vanilla, Entrenchment, Diplomacy and now Rebellion.  We may never see the likes of it again but we should expect nothing less.

 

backs out of room slowly...  

on Dec 21, 2016

@dwarf sins is great, i still think even now its great. there is a spiritual successor out in EA atm.

mikefacciola
I would also like to see the battlefield overhauled.  The graphics in my opinion on the ground are nothing special and to new players the lines look silly

this would be nice to have improved. i also dont like having to go to strategic view to see where the next linked zone is. since the lines sometimes are not very easy to see in normal view (like they are too transparent or something)

a grand campaign or whatever its called with the various systems to conquer would be cool, those are by far my favourite types of campaigns. any campaign where each mission effects the next is great. and i would think it should be quite easy to play with both races, meaning the campaign would have even more replayability. but i can understand it might be a lot of work. COH:ardennes has it, Plannetary Annihilation has it, DOW had it, rise of nations had it, and many other games and it was always my favourite type of campaign.

for me longevity lies in MP. there is only so much u can replay in a SP game, otherwise it means tons of man hrs making new scenarios, campaigns, missions, changes etc. but i do know thats not where the greater amount of players are interested.

but like with most games i think it all comes down to the player base, the more players the more diverse the ranked matches (so no stacking or wipes by OP players vs noobs), wider variety of custom matches, new player made content etc, so i agree the best way we can help is to grow the community, which will actually help us in the long run. we need to give in order to receive. but thats probably the hardest thing to get right..

im not trying to sound like a saint or anything, but in my effort to grow the game, even if im winning, i will even surrender a match to another player if i feel like they gave a good effort, just to try to encourage players that MP isnt as rough as it seems... and i refuse to rush/run highly aggressive tactics just so i can get a quick win, and rob the opponent of any joy in playing

on Dec 22, 2016

Quesocito

@dwarf sins is great, i still think even now its great. there is a spiritual successor out in EA atm.

Please provide the name of it, please, because that sounds like something I'd love to pick up!

Quesocito

a grand campaign or whatever its called with the various systems to conquer would be cool, those are by far my favourite types of campaigns. any campaign where each mission effects the next is great. and i would think it should be quite easy to play with both races, meaning the campaign would have even more replayability. but i can understand it might be a lot of work. COH:ardennes has it, Plannetary Annihilation has it, DOW had it, rise of nations had it, and many other games and it was always my favourite type of campaign.

Agreed so much. Grand campaigns provide so much more gameplay than a tailored campaign. I've played through Starcraft II's campaigns twice each (Haven't got LotV yet though). I've played through Dawn of War's... Gosh, dozens at least. A grand campaign just has so many moving parts that it inherently has replay value even without fancy videos and custom mission effects.

Quesocito

for me longevity lies in MP. there is only so much u can replay in a SP game, otherwise it means tons of man hrs making new scenarios, campaigns, missions, changes etc. but i do know thats not where the greater amount of players are interested.

but like with most games i think it all comes down to the player base, the more players the more diverse the ranked matches (so no stacking or wipes by OP players vs noobs), wider variety of custom matches, new player made content etc, so i agree the best way we can help is to grow the community, which will actually help us in the long run. we need to give in order to receive. but thats probably the hardest thing to get right..

im not trying to sound like a saint or anything, but in my effort to grow the game, even if im winning, i will even surrender a match to another player if i feel like they gave a good effort, just to try to encourage players that MP isnt as rough as it seems... and i refuse to rush/run highly aggressive tactics just so i can get a quick win, and rob the opponent of any joy in playing

See, I'm not especially in agreement here. Longevity most certainly can be influenced by a successful Multiplayer, but is very rarely kept going by one. Dawn of War II had way more multiplayer guys than the first one ever did, yet the first one continues to be played these days. Most of that is due to mod support, but point being, multiplayer is super, super dangerous basket to put your eggs in, especially with a game that has 4% the playerbase of Dawn of War II, and less than 2% that of Starcraft II.

Personal taste, but I think they have the perfect pipeline to keep players interested in playing: Mod support, followed by more races, followed by the trickle-down kind of stuff that helps out the competitive side.

on Dec 22, 2016

RomeoReject

Please provide the name of it, please, because that sounds like something I'd love to pick up!

Agreed so much. Grand campaigns provide so much more gameplay than a tailored campaign. I've played through Starcraft II's campaigns twice each (Haven't got LotV yet though). I've played through Dawn of War's... Gosh, dozens at least. A grand campaign just has so many moving parts that it inherently has replay value even without fancy videos and custom mission effects.

See, I'm not especially in agreement here. Longevity most certainly can be influenced by a successful Multiplayer, but is very rarely kept going by one. Dawn of War II had way more multiplayer guys than the first one ever did, yet the first one continues to be played these days. Most of that is due to mod support, but point being, multiplayer is super, super dangerous basket to put your eggs in, especially with a game that has 4% the playerbase of Dawn of War II, and less than 2% that of Starcraft II.

Personal taste, but I think they have the perfect pipeline to keep players interested in playing: Mod support, followed by more races, followed by the trickle-down kind of stuff that helps out the competitive side.

Dawn of Andromeda.

I agree most players go for SP. And thats why i mentioned it. But would u get 1000 hours out of any campaign? How much work would have been needed to go into a game to let a player get 1000 hrs out of SP? Or what about 4000 hrs? Or 8000? Yes ive seen players with over 8000 hrs in game. Thats what i mean, i know most players play for SP, but there is only so much game time u can get out of a game, for the amount of work put in. True longevity comes from MP. Yeah mods and stuff are cool, and do definitely add to the experience and draw new players. But ultimately I think mods come from MP(how many people that make mods play them or expose them to SP only?). Same goes for SC. I know its a lazy example but look at DOTA for warcraft

Don't get me wrong, I do still think the most effort should be put into SP (although it has the smallest return per man hour per player, it effects the most players)

I also still play the DoW 2 campaigns. And just last week i was playing the DoW Soulstorm campaign. So i know how it goes I also never bought LotV, as cool as it looks it just took too long for its release.

I agree they currently have a great pipeline, we just need to get more clients into the pipe

on Dec 23, 2016

Quesocito

Dawn of Andromeda.


I agree most players go for SP. And thats why i mentioned it. But would u get 1000 hours out of any campaign? How much work would have been needed to go into a game to let a player get 1000 hrs out of SP? Or what about 4000 hrs? Or 8000? Yes ive seen players with over 8000 hrs in game. Thats what i mean, i know most players play for SP, but there is only so much game time u can get out of a game, for the amount of work put in. True longevity comes from MP. Yeah mods and stuff are cool, and do definitely add to the experience and draw new players. But ultimately I think mods come from MP(how many people that make mods play them or expose them to SP only?). Same goes for SC. I know its a lazy example but look at DOTA for warcraft

Don't get me wrong, I do still think the most effort should be put into SP (although it has the smallest return per man hour per player, it effects the most players)

I also still play the DoW 2 campaigns. And just last week i was playing the DoW Soulstorm campaign. So i know how it goes I also never bought LotV, as cool as it looks it just took too long for its release.

I agree they currently have a great pipeline, we just need to get more clients into the pipe

Neat, I missed that. Thanks!

I would argue singleplayer sees more mods than multiplayer (Look at the Elder Scrolls series, or Fallout), but that's a fair opinion.

Agree so much on LotV. The could've had my money at full price. Now I'll only pick it up if I see it drop to $5, I've kinda moved on from SCII.

Yes, I really, really hope more people get in to Ashes of the Singularity. I think part of the reason they don't is ironically because of how hyped up its requirements were. Everyone was so stoked that this game was too much for consoles to handle, so I wonder how many people with mid-range hardware stayed away just out of caution.

on Dec 26, 2016

Quesocito said:

"Thats what i mean, i know most players play for SP, but there is only so much game time u can get out of a game, for the amount of work put in. True longevity comes from MP. Yeah mods and stuff are cool, and do definitely add to the experience and draw new players. But ultimately I think mods come from MP(how many people that make mods play them or expose them to SP only?). Same goes for SC. I know its a lazy example but look at DOTA for warcraft  "

 

You have made some valid points but the replayability I have experienced is the combo of mods and a random map generator in a single player mode.  You don't need an infinite number of scenarios shipped with the game if they can be manufactured as needed.

Also if a game you love becomes a little stale you walk away from it for awhile and come back when it feels like an old friend you have mistreated with your absence.  You can also put artificial restrictions on yourself like I won't rush the AI or I won't build "unit X" because it is OP in an AI game.  

 

backs out of the room slowly...  

 

on Dec 28, 2016

RedDwarf999
You have made some valid points but the replayability I have experienced is the combo of mods and a random map generator in a single player mode.  You don't need an infinite number of scenarios shipped with the game if they can be manufactured as needed.

Also if a game you love becomes a little stale you walk away from it for awhile and come back when it feels like an old friend you have mistreated with your absence.  You can also put artificial restrictions on yourself like I won't rush the AI or I won't build "unit X" because it is OP in an AI game. 
backs out of the room slowly...  

Yeah thats true, it makes sense. Both of u guys are right. I think it comes pretty close though, since for example Skyrim has 35 000 players online currently.. compared to *drum roll please* 750 000 for DOTA.. So it seems both have their merits..

Its becoming harder to find ranked games lately (thought it would become easier due to the holidays??) so seems like im going to have to resort to playing SP, and applying "aritificial restrictions"

RedDwarf u dont always have to run away from the room..

on Dec 28, 2016

Personally, I never have much of a wait for MP. Maybe I'm lucky.

... or maybe just not legendary yet (ended Season 2 at something like #50).

My queue times are usually <8 mins...

Which isn't SCII or OW, but definitely not horrible for a growing game.

 

 

 

on Dec 28, 2016

Quesocito
RedDwarf u dont always have to run away from the room..

He's a red dwarf, he's not actually running, he's just trying to keep pace.   

on Dec 28, 2016

fantstc1

Personally, I never have much of a wait for MP. Maybe I'm lucky.

... or maybe just not legendary yet (ended Season 2 at something like #50).

My queue times are usually <8 mins...

Which isn't SCII or OW, but definitely not horrible for a growing game.

i think ur queue time is irrespective of ur rank? since i think it matches u with the 1st player it finds.

before last week i used to wait max 4 minutes. now its max 8 min (not a train smash) just slower than i expected (due to holidays)

RomeoReject
He's a red dwarf, he's not actually running, he's just trying to keep pace.   

hahahaha makes sense

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