Ashes: Extreme zoom

By on March 20, 2015 11:44:00 AM from Ashes of the Singularity Forums Ashes of the Singularity Forums

Frogboy

Join Date 03/2001
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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.

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March 20, 2015 12:05:11 PM from Ashes of the Singularity Forums Ashes of the Singularity Forums

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

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March 20, 2015 1:18:53 PM from Ashes of the Singularity Forums Ashes of the Singularity Forums

Quoting 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.

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March 20, 2015 1:35:20 PM from Ashes of the Singularity Forums Ashes of the Singularity Forums

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

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March 20, 2015 2:10:46 PM from Ashes of the Singularity Forums Ashes of the Singularity Forums

 

zooming out.

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March 20, 2015 3:17:19 PM from Ashes of the Singularity Forums Ashes of the Singularity Forums

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?

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March 20, 2015 3:49:38 PM from Ashes of the Singularity Forums Ashes of the Singularity Forums

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!

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March 20, 2015 4:44:20 PM from Ashes of the Singularity Forums Ashes of the Singularity Forums

Metaunits should at the least have icons

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March 20, 2015 5:48:00 PM from Ashes of the Singularity Forums Ashes of the Singularity Forums

Quoting 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.

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March 20, 2015 10:04:30 PM from Little Tiny Frogs Forums Little Tiny Frogs Forums

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. 

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March 20, 2015 10:17:52 PM from Ashes of the Singularity Forums Ashes of the Singularity Forums

Quoting 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.

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March 20, 2015 10:41:38 PM from Ashes of the Singularity Forums Ashes of the Singularity Forums

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.

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March 20, 2015 10:50:58 PM from Ashes of the Singularity Forums Ashes of the Singularity Forums

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.

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March 21, 2015 6:42:09 AM from Ashes of the Singularity Forums Ashes of the Singularity Forums

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 .

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March 21, 2015 12:20:54 PM from Ashes of the Singularity Forums Ashes of the Singularity Forums

Quoting 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

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March 21, 2015 1:55:14 PM from Ashes of the Singularity Forums Ashes of the Singularity Forums

Quoting 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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March 21, 2015 2:16:32 PM from Ashes of the Singularity Forums Ashes of the Singularity Forums

Great questions and feedback!

Re Supporting our games:

We've been supporting and enhancing our Galactic Civilizations series for 22 years now.  When I say we're supporting Ashes, I don't mean Ashes of the Singularity 1.0. I mean the Ashes series that will evolve over the coming decade.

Re zooming:

The screenshot has me zoomed in way closer than anyone would ever want to zoom in and on a 4K monitor at that (the thumbnail is actually a better representation.

Re Supreme Commander zooming

Like many of you, I played a lot of SupCom.  And I know how it was played. I know how I played it -- almost always zoomed out to icon view.  We absolutely do not want that to be how people play Ashes.  The game design won't encourage it anyway because you will definitely need to make use of the meta unit's special abilities to be effective.  

Total Annihilation is a much closer approximation of how we expect people to play the game except with the Mini map being more sophisticated and players having the ability to zoom really far out if they'd like (but we absolutely don't plan to litter the main map with icons).

TA had no zoom whatsoever and I doubt anyone in the beta will have played TA as many hours as I have.  

 

Re territory

You will be able to see where one territory ends and another starts. It'll work very similarly to CoH.

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March 21, 2015 2:50:12 PM from Ashes of the Singularity Forums Ashes of the Singularity Forums

What about the black spots on the map, Frogboy?

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March 21, 2015 2:54:52 PM from Ashes of the Singularity Forums Ashes of the Singularity Forums

Because of these threads I have started playing CoH as I have had it sitting in Steam for some time without playing it. It is the first one so is a bit old but for me it has actually aged very well and looks pretty good with everything turned up. I am quite enjoying it, I also very much enjoyed SupCom and REALLY enjoyed TA...I so hope Ashes turns out well but I am holding in my excitement as much as possible. PA, though an OK game, fell very short of the TA pedigree which it was hyped with and I would hate to see the same here and have my expectations crushed. Here is hoping for a fantastic, smart, beautiful game (I do like to see the battles too) with great net code

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March 21, 2015 2:58:09 PM from Ashes of the Singularity Forums Ashes of the Singularity Forums

Quoting Frogboy,

TA had no zoom whatsoever and I doubt anyone in the beta will h

Yeah, but the community behind it wanted it so bad they found the magic to add in something that comes pretty close via a community patch

We'll see once the game is in the hands of more players, my bet is something like a zoom will quickly be decided to be really helpful to get an overview.

Not saying that people will do everything zoomed out. But getting an overview on the whole screen is just way better than getting an overview on a minimap.

 

When I played SupCom it usually was a quick in and out, as controlling units was best done from closer zoom. So can't really follow. I think even Starcraft 2 would see players get massively better if they had a strategic zoom in it.

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March 21, 2015 3:13:34 PM from Ashes of the Singularity Forums Ashes of the Singularity Forums

Quoting ColaColin,

We'll see once the game is in the hands of more players, my bet is something like a zoom will quickly be decided to be really helpful to get an overview.

When I played SupCom it usually was a quick in and out, as controlling units was best done from closer zoom. So can't really follow. I think even Starcraft 2 would see players get massively better if they had a strategic zoom in it.

And Frogboy's bet is the game is better without it and people will see that. No need to repeat yourself over and over and over again. 

 

Anyway, if you make for a war-like game where your squads work with some degree of self-sufficiency, and you replace everything with simple symbols and clear overheads, you get closer to something like this:

A great series, but not what people look for in a traditional RTS (which is blowing someone else's shit up after some decent degree of hardships, lest it holds no real value even if it's the prettiest thing in existence).

 

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March 21, 2015 3:55:35 PM from Ashes of the Singularity Forums Ashes of the Singularity Forums

How Long TA community exists ?

Wy RTS evolution on steam?

 

 

Wy since Forged Aliance FAF still exists?

 

Iff a game is good ,have good chances become forever legend.

So i think this game got strong possiblity do the same or even bether.

 

I now we have big disappoints, but wy things cant change that, with a good game like Aots ?

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March 21, 2015 5:07:08 PM from Ashes of the Singularity Forums Ashes of the Singularity Forums

Quoting Frogboy,
Like many of you, I played a lot of SupCom.  And I know how it was played. I know how I played it -- almost always zoomed out to icon view.  We absolutely do not want that to be how people play Ashes.  The game design won't encourage it anyway because you will definitely need to make use of the meta unit's special abilities to be effective.

Coming from a heavily COH-influenced background (though equally dating back to TA, and including obscure things like Enemy Nations), I really do appreciate this (because I really dislike super-zoomed out "not in the game" playstyles).  Even now I'm still playing COH (though not much COH2), and even AOE/ROR and AOK/AOC.  I know there's some zoom in Sins Rebellion (which I still play plenty of), but with reason, and I accept it to be different; my issue is that once the numbers start to stack up it isn't control I'm interested in, just observation.

From the point of realism icons are most certainly a problem, but I'm more interested in something like a fleet position notification (like Sins had), or otherwise letting me know where my command groups are when something big is happening.  If that's as simple as unit highlighting so be it, or if it's something that requires something to be done in-game to unlock, that's fine too -- I guess other games (and the concept of GPS) have broken my notion that groups couldn't be tracked.

I'm not complaining mind you, I much prefer to play zoomed in, I'm just trying to get my head around the totality of what real lore in a game of this scope means (because, as many of us have come to accept over the years, other games don't always tie it in neatly).

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March 21, 2015 7:32:35 PM from Ashes of the Singularity Forums Ashes of the Singularity Forums

Why are we fighting icons here? 

 

what's the problem?

 

just relaaaaaaaaax. Let it happeeeeen... everything's fiiiiiiiine.

 

EDIT: wow Katherine "Tag_UTTER"?? Really???

 

If you're going to use a covert identity, the least you could do is put the minimal amount of effort in not keeping your trademark language faults.

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March 21, 2015 7:50:04 PM from Ashes of the Singularity Forums Ashes of the Singularity Forums

You are  confusing me with someone else but all ok.

First'm a dude, 2- with so many nicks on all places, its perfectly normal the confusion im TAg_Utter because its my name on RTS Evolution,  3 -not know you but welcome to AOTS, 4- sry but....not understand what that ,has to do with what we're all talking, Extreme zoom ?

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March 21, 2015 9:07:31 PM from Ashes of the Singularity Forums Ashes of the Singularity Forums

I'm hoping to get some UI pics up soon. They're still well in the "programmer art" phase.

The left side of the screen has the empire tree.

The bottom right has the mini-map.

The bottom left begins with whatever is selected and all the abilities it and its children have (there's no "tab tab tab" type convention here, if one of the units in your group has EMP, its present in the UI).

The top has income (metal and radioactives) along with logistics (which controls how many units you can have) and power (which determine show many buildings you can have).

For the Post-Humans, logistics comes from the Logistics Arrays and power comes from capturing power generators on the map.  The reason for this is that we most definitely want to discourage the game from devolving into who can crank out the most units the fastest and who managed to build 20 factories to spam them out.

Gameplay is not about APM, it's a bit more like Sins of a Solar Empire in terms of pacing except that you cannot set abilities to autocast.

We're really chomping at the bit to get the game into your hands so that we can get core feedback before early access.  

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