A long rambling series on Ashes of the Singularity

By on January 2, 2016 7:41:43 PM from Ashes of the Singularity Forums Ashes of the Singularity Forums

Frogboy

Join Date 03/2001
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Greetings!

First of all, Happy New Years!

This is going to be rambling.  So please bear with me.

ashes-scale2This Winter I plan to do a series of articles for The Escapist on Ashes of the Singularity.  We have a unique opportunity to talk about some of the things that makes this game unique.  I’m going to touch on a few of those topics here.  I’m no writer so please bear with me through this.

As Gamers, you’re getting ripped off

To a certain degree, gamers have always been getting ripped off.  However, in the old days, the company making the game still owned the game. 

Why does that matter?

Let’s use Supreme Commander as an example.   Supreme Commander 1 was developed by Gas Powered Games. It was published by THQ.  Back in those days, that was the business model.  The publisher would front tens of millions of dollars and the studio would make thee game for a royalty (that was never fully recouped from the advances).   The problem with that system is that sooner or later, it killed the game studio.

Supreme Commander 2 was bought by Square Enix but still developed by Gas Powered Games.   This was one of the first games of the “new” model (the shitty model imo).  That is,  Square Enix would put millions of dollars into GPG to develop it but at the end of the day Square Enix, not the developer, owned the game. 

And that, my friends, is how most games are made these days.

Think about that for a moment.  Think of your favorite big games.  Who “owns” them?

So no new Supreme Commander.  Total Annihilation was bought by Wargaming.net (the World of Tanks guys) from Atari.  They also bought GPG so there’s hope that they might be making a new Total Annihilation some day.  On the other hand, they might just shop it around as a WFH.

Bottom line: As a gamer, you want the people making the game to own the game.  As a greedy bastard business person, I want to own everything I can. In fact, you reading this means I own your eyes which I can then sell to a third world black market organ dealer. But I am getting ahead of myself.

Digital Distribution and the new model

So there’s been some good news lately.   Digital Distribution + Kickstarter + etc. has opened the door for developers to also own the game they’re making. Again: This is what you, as a gamer, want.

Things like Rocket League, Kerbal and Undertale better than any cure for depression that an old guy like me can get.

Why you should care?

Because games owned by the ones funding it mean that the game can evolve forever.  For those of you who are Supreme Commander fans, you know that if GPG still owned it and was still independent that we’d be on SupCom 4 by now.  Just kills my heart just thinking about that.

Bottom line: When the one paying the bills is also the developer you can keep evolving the game for years. 

What do you have to have to do this?

I’ve come up with 3 arbitrary but I think relevant pre-requisites for a game to continue to evolve:

  1. Capital. Obviously you have to have money to keep making it.
  2. Engine. You have to have a code-base that can still be extended.  That’s why we had to make GalCiv III instead of continuing to expand on GalCiv II.  The engine was ancient. 
  3. Community.  Games that evolve have to have a community of people who want the game to evolve.  A built in audience who will want to buy future versions.

Pretty obvious right? And yet, how often do all 3 come together? Very rarely.

So let’s talk about Ashes of the Singularity and why (I hope) you should care a lot about it

Every developer wants people to care about their game. Some developers are arrogant enough to think their game is special…cough.

Anywhoo…

Hopefully I can lay out the case why you should care.  But feel free to tell me how terribly wrong I am in the comments.

I can’t really start this without talking about Galactic Civilizations III and the nature of game engines.  I’m going to be talking about this a lot because if anything scares me about our industry it is that we’ve largely given up on making our own tech which reduces the types of games we can make.

Today, pretty much everything is made with either:

  1. Unity
  2. Unreal
  3. er need third bullet point here.

Rocket League uses Unreal.  Kerbal uses Unity. and Undertale uses GameMaker.

Their insane, and arguably illegal levels of awesomeness (I am quite certain that Undertale’s awesomeness may be affecting our local galaxy cluster’s space-time gravitational constant, if you don’t have that game quit reading my crap and go get it) show that you don’t need to make your own engine to make a great game.

But engines do create the box around new types of games can be made in.  

For example, we couldn’t have made Galactic Civilizations III with Unity or Unreal.  Not that there’s anything wrong with those engines. We use Unity for Offworld Trading Company and use Unreal for other projects. We like them.   And to be fair: We could have made GalCiv III as it shipped with either one.  I am particularly in love with Unity because of their tools and a general love of C# but that’s personal preference.

The GalCiv III engine

imageThis gets back to the importance of combining engine + capital + community.  GalCiv is the oldest continuously updated space 4X series.  It has a big community.  After Stardock sold Impulse® to GameStop back some years ago, it had all the money it would ever need.  As some of you know, Stardock is over 20 years old and has one founder: Me.  I haven’t bothered to take a real salary from Stardock since 2009.  I’m here literally for you guys. My income comes from my stock portfolios. 

The reason I mention this stuff is because it means we can think really really long term.

GalCiv III is a really good game.  But it’s nothing compared to what it’ll eventually be (this is why marketing wishes I didn’t post). 

Consider this: GalCiv III is a native 64-bit, multi-core game engine.  That means, eventually, with mods and expansions and such you’ll be able to finally stream the Star Trek galaxy vs. the Star Wars galaxy live with every unit and detail made by fans.

64-bit matters because you have, effectively unlimited (for the next decade anyway) memory to work with.  That 32-bit game you want to play has to stay with 2GB.   2GB is about what an iPhone has in it now.  It’s nothing. In 5 years, it’ll be tragic. 

The Ashes engine

Nitrous, the engine used for Ashes of the Singularity, Star Control and…other games I can’t yet talk about is, frankly, sick.  For you developers out there, it is a core-neutral (meaning the more cores you add, the faster it gets), GPU neutral (similarly,  can jam 4 video cards in there? Go for it, it just gets faster), 64-bit, REAL-TIME engine.  Nitrous is basically Pixar’s renderman in realtime.

And now… the mechanics of the game

As I’ll be going into detail in upcoming articles, Ashes is 1/3 brand-new 1/3 taken from existing genres and 1/3 expansion on existing concepts. 

 

Something borrowed

 

image

Baby-daddy #1: Total Annihilation

 

image

Baby-daddy #2: Company of Heroes

image

Baby-daddy #3: Sins of a Solar Empire

 

image

This will be presented during deposition no doubt

Something new

Having thousands of units sounds exciting but it could also be a total mess.  Thus the concept of a META unit (join army in game) was born and is central to the game design of Ashes of the Singularity

 

image

From way up here, they all look like little tiny ants

You could argue that Kohan introduced the concept of a Meta unit.  Here’s the basic premise (it’s pretty obvious):

You select a bunch of units and form an army with them.  That army becomes a single unit that works together.  This can be tough to get used to because you’re allowing the AI to make some decisions that you might not always agree with (for people who really want to micro 7,305 units they can still do that…) but the the army then tries to accomplish your objective as if each sub-unit is an individual unit or arm or whatever of a single unit. 

Programmatically it’s not even that complicated.  For you coders out there:

You create a vector of units that you spin through and look at what the meta unit has been ordered to do. You then go through the tree and see if the medic should go and help someone being attacked or if the artillery u nit should back off or whether the melee unit should run out in front and defend.

The idea is easy.  So why don’t games do this? 

The answer: Multi-Core.  If you want your precious 60 frames per second it means the draw calls have to respond in…wait for it…1000ms in a second. I want 60 frames in that time.  In other words, the AI has to do everything in less than 20ms which is basically not possible unless you can spread it across multiple cores.  That’s why Ashes requires a minimum of 4 cores.

How good will this be at release? Meh. Decent.  Engine power does not equal strategic skill.   Every time I play I find a new tweak I want to do to improve the meta unit.  CPU power isn’t magic.  Time is magic. Or something.

Only many many games of us playing you online and entering secret hidden cheat codes to beat you will allow us to learn the strategies necessary to incorporate into the game.   Sure, you might think “Hey, that’s bullshit that he somehow spawned a dreadnought in my base when I was about to win.” but I can assure you, on my mother’s non-existing grave, that this was necessary from a research point of view…

This is just another example of why the evolution of these games matter.  For a lot of things, there’s no substitute for time.

Anyway, that’s my example of the something new. There’s tons of other stuff but they’re a little too dry and technical. Let’s go to the things enhanced on…

Something Improved

One of my favorite aspects of Ashes is the concept of Orbitals.    It’s the one thing I wish Total Annihilation had.   In TA, many end games boiled down to endless nuke races (or worse, Big Bertha races).  SupCom has a similar thing where one side is trying to get nukes or shields faster than the other side.

What we wanted was the idea that we could have an endless (well not endless but however much we can cram into our UI) number of buildings that you can build that require you to sacrifice short-term gain for long-term benefit by giving you global abilities.

 

image

In Ashes of the Singularity, every single shot is a light source. As in, not 3 light sources ala DirectX 9 games but rather one for each shot (as in thousands). Even if you don’t consciously notice this, your brain does.

When I play Starcraft, I often feel like my oldness in being able to get to the ghost or the now horrendously nerfed Raven’s special abilities were just too slow.  Which one is the unit? What hot key is it? Is he in this group?  I don’t like key clicks being what determines victory or not.

Company of Heroes had global abilities.  Ashes has something similar but you can build up an economy just to use them (they’re not tied to what regions you own, they’re the energy equivalent in SupCom).

image

Example of some of the oribtals/abilities we’re working on

The Future

To have a game like Ashes succeed you need the engine (Which we have) plus the capital (which we have) but we also have to have a good community.  So far, it’s pretty good.  It’s a delicate balance at times. I get pretty annoyed with SupCom super fans who literally want Ashes to be SupCom 3.  But overall, it’s gone well.

Modding will become a big deal over time as we find ways to let people create their own units and maps and UI improvements to the game.  The AI is already very moddable (I’ve made it my business to wreck it many times…for science).

One of the key things about being an independent developer that self-funds is that you can keep people on a given project.  The GalCiv III project continues development as if it were never released.  Ashes will be the same way. 

Right now, as I type this, we have 4 game teams.  One is on GalCiv III, one is on Ashes, one is on Star Control and another is on a brand-new unannounced game (and won’t be for another year).  It’s not like the old days where games were released and the teams went on to the next thing provided that the 3 criteria area met (funds, engine, community). 

So that’s all for now.

Post your thoughts below.

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Moomo
January 2, 2016 8:20:05 PM from Ashes of the Singularity Forums Ashes of the Singularity Forums

Hi Frogboy! I'd love to understand more about the implementation of army behavior. It's one of the coolest parts of this game for me. I know some parameters like relative unit positions and leash are defined in CSV files. Obviously the high level mechanics like getting into formation and evaluating the context for different behaviors are in code.

- How would you rate the overall flexibility of the current army behavior system on a scale from 1 to 10 (i.e. How easy is it for you to add new behaviors or change existing ones)?

- Do you expect to make any high-level enhancements to the army behavior system prior to release (Not just tweaking numbers, but adding new APIs like stances and new formations for different situations/orders)?

- What kind of things do you think modders will be able to do regarding army behavior by release time?

- Long term, is some kind of scriptable interface for unit and army behavior (e.g. LUA) something that is a realistic possibility?

Thanks!

P.S. Any chance we can get a hint about the genre of the game you cannot mention?

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January 2, 2016 8:56:07 PM from Ashes of the Singularity Forums Ashes of the Singularity Forums

Thanks for the post.  I'm excited to see where AOTS is in 6 months, 2 years, 5 years etc.  I think it has the possibility of being one of those long lived games with a great passionate fanbase (see TA/TAuniverse).  The moddability is key here as it is what allows us to always have fresh new ideas injected by the community which really helps player retention.  Even the biggest dev team can't compete with the sheer modding manpower of the community and they can help build things and test things which may not necessarily be in the roadmap for the game.

I feel you on the SupCom fan thing, I know that I personally am guilty of drawing many comparisons and I am trying hard to alter my perspective and view Ashes as its own thing in which some ideas that worked in supcom won't work here and some ideas that work here wouldn't have worked there.  It is just hard sometimes because there are so few succesful large scale RTS games (sins, TA, supcom, PA (don't even get me started ) to compare Ashes to. 

Anyways keep up the good work!

Thanks,

Sarg

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January 2, 2016 9:19:54 PM from Ashes of the Singularity Forums Ashes of the Singularity Forums

Brad, it's still an RTS and I can't play those. Nevertheless, I appreciate your points and agree with them. If I had eyes, I'd be jazzed for AotS.

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January 3, 2016 4:25:21 AM from Ashes of the Singularity Forums Ashes of the Singularity Forums

Thanks for the long post on the game development process behind AOTS. As a long time strategy gamer, it's always interesting to see how developers build out games in this genre. And I'm cautiously optimistic about what you mention about independent funding/smaller studios leading a new renaissance in strategy games. This genre has been sadly rather quiet over the last few years.

On AOTS and the new engine, it's good to hear about the long term development plans for the game. After playing the AOTS alpha for the last few weeks, I can definitely see the game turning out to be a good RTS game even if it were released in its current form. Taking it from a good RTS game to a great one though will require some of those long term add-ons/improvements you mentioned. And given that the first game being released on the nitrous engine is already so good, I can only imagine how later games released on this engine over the next few years will be! 

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January 3, 2016 6:18:48 AM from Ashes of the Singularity Forums Ashes of the Singularity Forums

"I get pretty annoyed with SupCom super fans who literally want Ashes to be SupCom 3"

I am a SupCom fanboy, and I would have loved it if you were making SupCom 3 instead, or had made SupCom 2. Sorry, but I cannot turn off those feelings. I have purchased several copies of SupCom: FA as gifts for friends and have always tried to get others to give it a go. I still play Forged Alliance regularly. But it was very clear even at release that the game would not age well. It would start to slow to a crawl in large battles without maxing out the CPU, GPU or RAM due to the engines architecture limitations. I still have hope that some day it will get a true sequel (SupCom 2 was insulting, and should be stripped of its title).

When I first heard about AotS, it was from a RPS post "Spiritual Supreme Commander Sequel Ashes Of The Singularity". The title may have drawn in the fanboys and given some the wrong impression of AotS. Supreme Commander was advertised as a spiritual successor to Total Annihilation, and in many ways it truly captured the essence of that game, and expanded on it very well.

I would prefer to see AotS find its own space and give us something new. I would prefer to see features that I have not seen in other games, rather than getting a nostalgic feeling of games that have been copied to death. The Nitrous engine is very exciting, and I look forward to watching this game grow, and also look forward to see what other games will be made on this very promising engine as well.

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January 3, 2016 6:30:09 AM from Ashes of the Singularity Forums Ashes of the Singularity Forums

I really liked the Supreme Commander series, but I don't want Ashes of the Singularity to become Supreme Commander 3. It would be just wrong. 

I mean Supreme Commander matches usually had one of the following patterns:

  • You get caught with your pants down and get steamrolled.
  • After a long battle, one player's base gets overrun.

  • Once it turns out that normal attacks won't win the match, the game becomes a weird race of building as many nukes/artilleries as possible while your opponent tries to do the same, hoping to blow you off the map before you get the chance to blow him off the map.  
  • And don't get me even started with Supreme Commander 2, that one was just plain weird. One would think it would be the result of an affair between Supreme Commander and some other strategy game.

 

Ashes of the Singularity should stay as it is and take its unique spot in the RTS genre. 

It unites the strong points of several strategy games, there is no point in favoring one of those games too much. 

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January 3, 2016 5:48:03 PM from Ashes of the Singularity Forums Ashes of the Singularity Forums

While I agree it was a rant, it was not without quality content.

Everyone who was round for the good old days remembers the first time we played legendary games like Total Annihilation or Command and Conquer. We all knew when EA bought Westwood they would eventually ruin the game. The last good thing they released in the C&C universe was Generals and Zero Hour. Total Annihilation unfortunately has been acquired by people - who I don't think - care a great deal about its history or what it stood for.

Ashes however is a reboot of a game type for which Supreme Commander and Supreme Commander Forged Alliance are the gold standard of modern times. It really was the TA of the 2000's. It had everything a strategy game needed except the scalability of the engine. I appreciate that Brad does find SupCom super fans a bit irritating in that they will have a very clear direction they would prefer the game to go in. But, to counter that, I have to say that SupCom got a lot of things right. Almost more than any other strategy game since TA.

Strategic zoom was a wow moment akin to playing your first 3D game. Ashes being demonstrated on some crazy multi-core CPU and a high end GPU with thousands of units battling and gorgeous DX12 graphics is another watershed wow moment.

Its reassuring to know the game has a long development timeframe. The benefits of self-publishing allow for this, Stardock carry all of the risk but ultimately should reap the rewards. Supreme Commander had an immensely active community, they kept the GPG net client going after it was open sourced so that people could still play the game. They even modded, patched and updated the game beyond its end of life.

I would happily pay more to support any game studio that was being as ambitious as what Stardock currently are with Ashes. I'm also equally happy to contribute intellectually with ideas, concepts and critique on the game. As it stands it is very much my go to strategy game. I love the thing and that is quite scary because when I've finished a skirmish I realise how much more could come into the game before release. I imagine it being a little more perfect and that fills me with joy.

I never thought I would see the successor to such a ground-breaking game as TA/SupCom but finally, we have it, and it looks even better than I could have imagined.

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January 3, 2016 5:56:12 PM from Ashes of the Singularity Forums Ashes of the Singularity Forums


After Stardock sold Impulse® to GameStop back some years ago, it had all the money it would ever need.  As some of you know, Stardock is over 20 years old and has one founder: Me.  I haven’t bothered to take a real salary from Stardock since 2009.  I’m here literally for you guys. My income comes from my stock portfolios. 

That is pretty cool. Is there anywhere we can read the story of how you started Stardock, created and developed Impulse and then sold it? There is an interesting business case study or two in there for sure  

I wish I was rich to the point I didn't even need to make a profit on an expensive game (Though you couldn't tell anybody that!). Put $20m+ into the biggest and most beautiful large scale RTS game aimed at high-end systems. And if not everyone can run it, then who cares, you don't need to maximize sales and really you are making it for yourself and your friends

Forget yachts and big houses...cutting edge games and making very high level animated film* from book series I like is where it would be at.

(*e.g. Warcraft film should have been animated)

Sorry for day dreaming out loud. But was serious about the origins of the company.

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January 3, 2016 11:50:48 PM from Ashes of the Singularity Forums Ashes of the Singularity Forums

Thanks for posting this. I think Ashes is moving in an interesting direction. I admit the real juicy news was the "unannounced title." Is Ironclad done with Sins of a Dark Age? Sins of a Solar Empire II is what I am really looking forward to.

Anyway, Ashes is a cool game in its own right...especially some of the stuff I hear is planned.

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January 4, 2016 7:04:05 AM from Ashes of the Singularity Forums Ashes of the Singularity Forums

Well, just imagine what Ashes of the Singularity would be like if EA was the publisher

 

  1. If you want to play as Substrate, pay 10$ extra for limited edition, or wait 1 month for "15$ Substrate DLC"
     
  2. You get less than 5 maps to play on- the rest gets included in DLCs for 15$ each. Season pass gives you shiny unit skins and a 2$ discount on each DLC included.
     
  3.  You look for opponents in Battlelog (or something similar)
     
  4.  Unlock system: You can't build dreads on day 1 at all- you need to collect "experience" to unlock them on your tech tree so you can use them in battle. 
     
  5. "Shortcut packs" where you pay with real money to skip the XP grind
     
  6. A huge marketing campaign with a whole bunch of promises and hype
     
  7. See what the game is like right now (pre- Alpha state)?  
    Good. That's the release version. You can get a day1 patch as a band aid. Might leave a few bugs. Or all of them. 
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January 4, 2016 10:37:48 AM from Ashes of the Singularity Forums Ashes of the Singularity Forums

Quoting Harbinger91,

Well, just imagine what Ashes of the Singularity would be like if EA was the publisher

 

 

    1. If you want to play as Substrate, pay 10$ extra for limited edition, or wait 1 month for "15$ Substrate DLC"
       

 

    1. You get less than 5 maps to play on- the rest gets included in DLCs for 15$ each. Season pass gives you shiny unit skins and a 2$ discount on each DLC included.
       

 

    1.  You look for opponents in Battlelog (or something similar)
       

 

    1.  Unlock system: You can't build dreads on day 1 at all- you need to collect "experience" to unlock them on your tech tree so you can use them in battle. 
       

 

    1. "Shortcut packs" where you pay with real money to skip the XP grind
       

 

    1. A huge marketing campaign with a whole bunch of promises and hype
       

 

    1. See what the game is like right now (pre- Alpha state)?  
      Good. That's the release version. You can get a day1 patch as a band aid. Might leave a few bugs. Or all of them. 

 


I like your ideas and would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

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January 4, 2016 11:10:34 AM from Ashes of the Singularity Forums Ashes of the Singularity Forums

Yeah, I thought the post was funny and showed well the ridiculousness of it all by EA, but also risky going by the Business Man aspect of Frogboy revealed in the original post. It seems my fears were well founded! 

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January 4, 2016 12:14:37 PM from Ashes of the Singularity Forums Ashes of the Singularity Forums

May that unannounced game be Sins of a Solar Empire 2!

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January 5, 2016 6:11:40 PM from Ashes of the Singularity Forums Ashes of the Singularity Forums

BRAD!

Great article and thanks for writing it.

Just thinking, maybe you could make your abilities/quanta panel like the one World In Conflict uses for its abilties? Have it readily available rather than having to delve into another panel on the main interface?

 

Just a thought!

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January 5, 2016 7:27:50 PM from Ashes of the Singularity Forums Ashes of the Singularity Forums

Quoting Ticktoc,
Put $20m+ into the biggest and most beautiful large scale RTS game aimed at high-end systems.

$20m is not enough to topple SupCom. To make a step forward from it, one need to move from whole object simulation to matter simulation. This way, you either stick with voxels and the fact that everything looks as ugly as Minecraft (not an option for dream game), or spend $200+m on computational physics research to optimize wide-scale particle simulation for real-time. In exchange you'll have an RTS where every player can build his own army with unique units and weapons, change everything on the map during the game or even destroy the map itself. This, however, is not going to ever happen in a real world - such a game cannot even return investments because its development cost exceeds target market, and even very rich people cannot just throw $200m out of the window.

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January 5, 2016 8:39:25 PM from Ashes of the Singularity Forums Ashes of the Singularity Forums

If I had an unlimited budget I'd make a game where players could design their own units.

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January 6, 2016 9:56:09 AM from Ashes of the Singularity Forums Ashes of the Singularity Forums

It's not THAT hard to do to have ppl customize their units:

Each unit has a so-called "class chassis", which basically determines its basic role. 

The player would then be able to choose from a number of different modules for propulsion, armor, power and weapons:

  • Each component would have a certain mass value, which determines its metal cost. Also, more mass automatically slows the unit down. The mass also has a maximum value
  • The functional components would also require energy to function, which encourages players to specialize their units
  • Each "class chassis" would have its own set of modules. Furthermore, modders can create their own custom unit module skins they can publish on the steam workshop (this is appearance only)

 

In addition to the usual "strategiy" part, players need to plan ahead when building their units to make them suit their playstyle.

The game's environment can be rendered fully destructible. Artillery shots (especially missed ones) form craters, which slow down small unit movement speed, buildings and bridges can be destroyed and units would make use of cover if available.

To compensate for that, the game would be on a smaller scale. Like Starcraft or Command & Conquer.

 

This would give players a unique "tactical" rts.

Furthermore, the technology used in Ashes of the Singularity can be used to some extent for that game as well. The method used to command armies of different units is not just limited to Ashes of the Singularity- it can be used in other strategy games as well. Using multiple CPU cores to determine each unit's behaviour would make things like "automatic use of cover if available" possible 

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January 6, 2016 10:00:34 AM from Ashes of the Singularity Forums Ashes of the Singularity Forums

Harbinger you should check out Servo.

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January 6, 2016 12:28:28 PM from Ashes of the Singularity Forums Ashes of the Singularity Forums

Great Article Brad! you should pin it!, so everyone can read it first

It gives a lot of info about AOTS and where your taking it.

The only sad part is the Budget, if the Budget was bigger what will you have done? well anyway AOTS will get better and better each month for the next 5+ years.

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January 6, 2016 1:12:23 PM from Ashes of the Singularity Forums Ashes of the Singularity Forums

I learned that I have been doing my opening all wrong.  I watched the AI last night again.  It looks like the AI builds a factory first then builds 4 mass extractors.  Then it goes and start to capture other points, after about 3 captures it builds another factor and then has two engineers that goes out and starts building mass extractors.  Somewhere along the line it builds a cruiser factor, but it is kind of early on.  I have modified my build process to not build the extractors as fast and it seems to work better.

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January 6, 2016 2:06:20 PM from Ashes of the Singularity Forums Ashes of the Singularity Forums

Yeah, the game has its shares of so-called "newbie traps".

THE most deciding phase of a battle is actually the "capturing phase" at the beginning. Of course you will easily win against beginner and easy AI, even if you take your time. That opponent is pretty much a punching bag. Unless you are afk most of the time, you won't lose.

But starting with normal, you will have to hurry the heck up with capping or you will have a very hard battle before you. 

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January 6, 2016 5:33:18 PM from Ashes of the Singularity Forums Ashes of the Singularity Forums

Quoting Harbinger91,
The player would then be able to choose from a number of different modules for propulsion, armor, power and weapons

That was done many times before, for example in Earth 21xx series, and is totally not what I meant. By designing objects I meant drawing everything bottom-up from raw materials that exhibit particular physical properties, creating in-game technologies pretty much the same way as in the real world. For a simple 2D sandbox example you can try a game called The Powder Toy: despite the fact that it works as a rectangular-grid cellular automaton, not free-moving particles, its capabilities are impressive. In a sense, using such model any game logic exists only on UI level, and scene itself is a physics simulator that knows nothing of units, armies or players, and operates only on particles. Some particles are sensitive to external signals sent by UI, and by so link simulated objects to unit AI that controls them. This way, any player, using kerosene, oxygen, steel and a lot of explosives, can make missiles even if they weren't put in the game by developers or modders - i.e. anyone can invent new, never-before-seen things directly in the game. That, however, put immense weight on the developers - they need to engineer a believable, sufficiently complex artificial world using very limited resources, and do so by fair physical calculation only, restraining from any tricks like scripting in the game core. Sounds not that hard, but actually it's like creating a working universe using only wrench and a couple of bricks - your resources are inappropriate and tools are completely useless. And to make things even worse, devs need to tweak physics model in a way which will let users to avoid complex math in order to build a working tech, and build super advanced design UI that beats modern 3D CAD/CAE software to a pulp in terms of usability. Result is pretty much worth the effort, however - the game built like this enjoys all of the real world's flexibility and enormous amount of chaotic emergent behaviors.

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January 7, 2016 10:25:20 AM from Brad Wardell's Little Tiny Frogs Brad Wardell's Little Tiny Frogs

Great read!

Btw speak9ng of budgets, iirc ashes has a shockingly low one of around 3M. That probably dodsnt take into account the infrastructural investment put into Nitrous and mr. Luff.

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January 8, 2016 9:45:42 PM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

After Stardock sold Impulse® to GameStop back some years ago, it had all the money it would ever need.  As some of you know, Stardock is over 20 years old and has one founder: Me.  I haven’t bothered to take a real salary from Stardock since 2009.  I’m here literally for you guys. My income comes from my stock portfolios. 


We are painfully aware that only the size of the wallet matters, that you have a helipad on your home, have a 100 young maids eagerly cleaning your home in swimsuits, that on weekends you can go to Ukraine or Japan or Dubai and have a Wild party with girls, and to pickup coffee you drive a Ferrari or Bugatti. Regardless, we are happy for you. 


 I’m here literally for you guys. I get pretty annoyed with SupCom super fans who literally want Ashes to be SupCom 3.


Then either join the dark side, or reject it, be like walmart, the customer is always right, or not.  You are a result of the fans, we were and are the ladder that took you to no salary state.  Love it or Hate it, Supcom FA + mods is the Golden Rule, plus other titles, Total Warhammer Soulstorm, Metal Fatigue, Machines, Earth 2140 game series, MechCommander, Flying Gundams in TA spring engine, Total War.  There is plenty to examine and incorporate in your title, if you stand true to being there for us, after all your wallet is fat enough. While TA is a good start point, many expect it to at least either be equal or superior to FA, and unique.  More races, unique races units, more diversity of units, more weapon system, units gain XP, units evolve with XP, bigger maps, planetary or system wide systems, a hot babe as kerrigan as a story, just to name a few.  Offer more, be a gamer dream, or not.  In the end, you either get a broader fan base, or not.  While you cannot make all of us happy, maybe you can grant a smile to some poor souls.


Right now is not bad, but it can be epic, just draw lessons from what is around.  As I told you in the past, go watch some Anime, make it a must for the Team, and from there, evolve.  Thankfully already the chinese and koreans are busy trying to mod it, so in a couple of years we will get a gundam mod, as they did to Homeworld, and Sins.

About Galciv 3, you are right in many aspects.

The start point should have been SCFA, with the mods Experimental wars, X'treme wars, the 4th Dimension, Total Mayhem, Wyvern battle pack, Orbital Wars, add the planetary system of battle selection of Warhammer Soulstorm, alongside region bonuses, and race diversity, plus Metal fatigue tech reverse engineering, earth 2140 series modular design. Blend that and you have a epic game, and for the follow up marry it with SINS Rebellion, but add moving turrets on ships, and that be the title for other to follow and best for years to come. 


Be well Frogboy, I already own it, so if you and the team can step up to the challenge and be extraordinary, cheers, if you keep the current state, well I hope the Koreans and Chinese do what they have done before.

So happy 2016, from those of us with very thin wallets.  May we hit the powerball and get a Fat wallet lifestyle.

 



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