Game concepts don't just happen overnight. Well, sure, an idea might hit you hard when you're not expecting it (of course, never when you ARE expecting it!), but it takes time to develop and hone that idea so that it becomes something coherent and interesting.
One of the things that excites me most about games, personally, is the lore behind them. I'm a story oriented gamer, so a game can have all the nifty mechanics in the world, but if there’s nothing deeper behind that, it won't retain my interest as strongly.
Apparently, our newest game, Ashes of the Singularity, has been in concept for far longer than I realized. The idea behind the lore started over 15 years ago in the year 2000 and has changed, developed, and evolved since then. I had the pleasure of speaking to our President and CEO, Brad Wardell, about the game and where everything started. Below are his answers to a few of my questions.
Q: How long have you been working on the entire concept of Ashes? When and how did it start?
"A very long time. Back in 2000 we were working with GT Interactive to try to license the Total Annihilation engine so that we could create this game. Unfortunately, TA was sold to Atari and that was the end of those discussions.
The lore for Ashes grew at around the same time. Ray Kurweil wrote a book called "The Age of Spiritual Machines" which talks about what will happen when computing power exceeds human intelligence.
The idea isn't that humans would be replaced by machines, but rather that we would utilize technology more and more to augment our own knowledge and intelligence to the point where, someday, most of what makes us "us" exists in "the cloud" rather than via biology. That concept, combined with an engine that could display massive battles of machines across an entire world, were the seeds for Ashes of the Singularity."
Q: Are there any tidbits of lore we haven't shared with our general audience that you'd like to mention or share now?
"Sure. A lot of time has been spent trying to envision how dark energy, quantum entanglement, and spooky manipulation at a distance can be made into game mechanics. For example, there are no spaceships in Ashes of the Singularity. The Post-Humans are so powerful that they don't need them."
Q: Right now, players can only access the Post-Human Coalition (PHC). Can you tell us a little about what we might expect or enjoy when the Substrate becomes playable?
"The Substrate are "the other side". There are a lot of people here who think of the Substrate as the good guys and the PHC as the bad guys. The Substrate are descended from sentient strong-AI developed by humans. They see humanity as a plague that's been unleashed on the galaxy and see it as their role to stop them."
Q: Which side are you on -- PHC or the Substrate?
"I'm a Post-Human advocate. Not just because of their ideology of free, unmitigated expansion but also their units. The PHC units don't have shields or other fancy gadgets but they're tough and I really like how railguns look in the game."
During our early access period, there is no campaign mode currently available, which means that a lot of these story elements aren’t going to be seen just yet. But the lore is something that has helped to develop the core of this game, so we here at Stardock are looking forward to sharing Ashes of the Singularity with you! Don't forget that Early Access is coming this Thursday, October 22.