Ashes: Global Zoom is coming

Published on Saturday, May 28, 2016 By Frogboy In Ashes of the Singularity

Ok, so internally we've been playing on huge maps and another type of map size called massive.

Huge maps are (I believe) 4X larger than Large.  Massive maps are 16X larger than the large maps.  We won't support Massive in Ashes 1 (you have to have 4GB of video memory to run them and at least 6 CPU cores).

However, even on huge, yes, we are going to need a way to zoom out and see a strategic view of the map.  

We aren't going to turn every individual unit into an icon or something (we internally have that and it's a mess) but we have to do something that lets you look at things in a very different way than we do now.

For instance, on our massive map, we modeled a square area from London England to Margate England south to Brighton.  And understand, we expect eventually to support maps that are 64X larger than large eventually with 255 players. The game mechanics of Ashes will evolve during this time to lend itself more to this scale than it is today.

So those of you wanting a SupCom style strategic view are still out of luck because that won't work here as it's not, well strategic enough.

With that in mind, we would like to send the call out to all strategy gamers on how you would want to represent such a map.

Here are the specifications:

Zoom level 1: What we have in Ashes of the Singularity:

 

 

Zoom level 2: Strategic view (forces, regions, resources are displayed as a sort of wire frame for maximum clarity):

 

 

Zoom level 3: Global view:

 

 

We ran into this problem with Sins of a Solar Empire which was solved like this:

 

 

 

zoomed out:

 

 

which is zoome dout to here:

 

And eventually:

So when we (Ironclad and Stardock) made Sins of a Solar Empire, we had to solve this issue up front because the game allowed you to control individual ships in fleets and zoom out to see multiple star systems in a single fluid zoom.

On a land based system, this gets a lot trickier because land is..untidy.  But you get an idea of what we are going to have to solve long-term.

Please post your ideas below:

 

 

 

On Game engines and sneak previews

Published on Thursday, May 26, 2016 By Frogboy In Ashes Dev Journals

A few topics I wanted to address based on forum feedback.

 

Re lore:  This is something that matters a lot to us.   Hopefully some of you check out Dawn of the Singularity. It is really really good.  http://amzn.to/1OQkvpZ

David Simpson, who is arguably the master of the singularity genre with his Post-Human series spent 2 years on this.  It's where Mac and Haalee and everyone else came from.

Re Deluxe campaign:  This will internally be done before the end of this Month and release early next month.  The voice overs and the new dialog system is now done. It does make it a lot better and having more missions and cut scenes to flesh things out further helps too.

Campaign 2, which won't come out until the end of the Summer, will shed a lot more light on the Substrate's motivations. 

Right now, there's only like a hundred Post-Humans.  There's still billions of regular old humans on Earth and the Substrate's position is basically that the there won't be enough "sentience" to escape the Milky Way if it's spread across billions of humans rather than a handful (or ideally single, super-intelligence).   Haalee's well on the way to figuring out how to leave the galaxy, she's worrying about how to leave our local group (a set of galaxies that are gravitationally bound while every other cluster is expanding away form each other).

Example dialog: http://draginol.stardock.net/files/Flowers.mp3

 

Re balance, SupCom, and progression

The key feature, imo, that Ashes needs to pick up is progression.  That is a feature SupCom added that was not really in TA.  For example, we should allow Quantum Relays to be upgradeable to Super Quantum Relays that do 4X (and cost 4X). Same on defenses.

Re the long long future

imageI don't think the answer to Ashes is to have "tons" of units.  Right now, Ashes has about 15 units per faction.  I think it will end up being around 25 units (not counting future naval).

Some of this will be when future version of Ashes have diplomacy and trade features (ala Sins: Rebellion) as well as more specialized units (e.g. transports, spies, etc.).

However, I expect many of the units you have now to go away as time goes on.  They will still exist in the campaigns and scenarios of course.  But this is a war and each side will be upgrading their armies.

Anyway, that's all for now.

Ashes: Introduce yourself!

Published on Thursday, May 26, 2016 By Frogboy In Ashes Community

Hi everyone!

Welcome to the Ashes of the Singularity community. Please introduce yourself.

I'll start:

I'm Brad Wardell. I'm the founder of Stardock.  I started the company back in 1991 (25 years ago) while a college student to pay for my EE degree.  Over the past couple decades I've written and/or produced a lot of software and games.

Ashes of the Singularity is a game I've been wanting to see us make for many many years but we lacked the technology to do it.  

We're so glad you're here!

Over the coming years, you'll see Ashes of the Singularity continue to evolve based on your feedback and I look forward to talking about ways we can build up the community.

 

Ashes 5.19.2016 micro update

Published on Thursday, May 19, 2016 By Frogboy In Ashes of the Singularity

* PHC Falcon AA armor increased from 8 to 16
* Substrate Nexus shield regen rate increased from 0.5 to 1
* Substrate Rengeerator shields increased from 760 to 800
* Substrate Regenerator cost reduced from 360 metal to 180 metal
* Substrate Drone Hive shields vision decreased from 600m to 500m
* Substrate Drone Hive metal cost increased from 210 to 310
* Substrate Mauler metal cost increased from 355 to 380
* Substrate Punisher max shields reduced from 900 to 800
* Substrate Punisher radioactive cost reduced from 350 to 330
* Call Avatar cost increased from 35 to 50 quanta but quanta increase reduced from 20% to 15%
* Substrate Avatar logistics cost increased from 12 to 20
* Substrate Avatar shield regen rate increased from 6 to 8

Dawn of the Singularity released

Published on Wednesday, May 18, 2016 By Frogboy In Games

Stardock is pleased to announce that the book that helped shape the lore for the recently released Ashes of the Singularity is now available.

From Award-winning and best-selling Science Fiction author David Simpson comes Dawn of the Singularity. 

 Dawn of the Singularity - Book Cover  

The Singularity - the point in human history when we begin to enhance our own intelligence with intelligent technology.

As humanity merges with machines, will we forget what it's like to be human?

From Fearless Publishing comes the first novel in The Singularity Saga, a set of stories set in the future where humanity begins to reach the technological singularity. Follow the story of the first sentient AI being, Haalee, whose task is to aid humanity into this brave new world.

Set in the same universe as the recently released game Ashes of the Singularity, the book takes place in our near future and follows the creation of prerequisite technologies that will lead humanity to a future that we can scarcely imagine.

About the Author: David Simpson has written nine novels, including the award-winning Post Human series.

Dawn of the Singularity is now available! Purchase a digital or hard copy on Amazon today.

 

ASHES: WEEK 7 DEV Status

Published on Monday, May 16, 2016 By Frogboy In Ashes Dev Journals

 

Greetings!

Another week has passed and thus another update.

 

image

NEW UNIT: PHC Athena

The new PHC Athena will be going out shortly.  This won’t be DLC but rather an update to the base game. 

Backstory:

The PHC Athena was designed by Haalee, one of the architects of the PHC.  To build it, she created a new entity called Athena to specialize in militarized constructs. 

As some of you know, the PHC did not originally have armed constructs.  They were a necessity because of claim jumpers – Post-Humans who would take a planet that had been assigned to someone else.  

The Athena AI was decommissioned by Haalee at the demand of members of the PHC council who opposed the idea of an AI (such as Haalee) creating additional AIs and the design shelved.

Strengths and weaknesses

At the start of the war with the Substrate, the PHC lacked any direct counter to the Substrate Mauler or the Substrate Drone Hive.  It is important to understand that the Substrate designed its units knowing who its enemy was and thus started the way with a significant advantage. 

The Athena is the first new PHC unit to be produced since the start of the Ascension Wars.  It is very strong against Cruisers though relatively (very) weak against smaller units due to the relatively slow firing nature of its weapons array.

The Athena should be released later this Spring.

Next week we’ll be discussing the Substrate’s answer to the Artemis.

Reviews

As always, we ask that you review Ashes of the Singularity on Steam. A game’s review score determines its discoverability on Steam. Even if it’s a negative review, better to have reviews written by people who know the game than reviews written by people who spent only a few minutes playing the game.

Balance Update

We expect to release a balance update.  The main changes are that the Drone Hive will cost more metal and have reduced vision (it won’t be able to see far enough to target Archers generally) along with the Call Avatar cost increased from 35 to 50.  The Mauler has also gotten its cost increased somewhat.

Multiplayer: Season 1 standings

imageThis week marks the midway point of the first Season.

  1. DanailLazov (Substrate)
  2. DasUnding (PHC)
  3. Ailes (Substrate)
  4. LoveIsAll (Substrate)
  5. Shutdown (Substrate)

The Substrate dominance of Season 1 along with our own simulations is why we’ve been making the balance changes to Substrate these last couple of updates.

Once observer mode is in, we plan to hold a tournament at the end of the season to determine 1st, 2nd, and 3rd.  With prizes for the top 3.

At the end of the season, the maps in from Season 1 will be made into a DLC available and given to everyone who has the game at that point and made as inexpensive DLC for everyone else. 

Season 2 maps will be a substantially different style than Season 1.

Single Player: Deluxe Campaign

Today the voice overs for the updated campaign are being recorded.  We have some new characters who will be in this campaign to handle the 3 new cut scenes going in that will help flesh out the story further. Moreover, the dialog part of the game no longer takes input focus. The Deluxe campaign will be a free update to the base game. Once the Deluxe campaign is done, we’ll be moving to Episode 2 which we expect to release mid Summer.

 

More to come soon! Stay tuned

Ashes experiments with the future Episode 1

Published on Saturday, May 07, 2016 By Frogboy In Ashes Dev Journals

 

So here we are with this amazing new, 4th-generation RTS engine. 

If you’re an RTS fan, when was the last RTS engine made before Ashes.  Not RTS game. I mean engine.  I’m trying to think how many years it’s been.  Each iteration becomes more expensive to make.  There is little patience for a new game to implement the niceties that mature engines have developed.

So let’s look at the Pros and cons of the Ashes of the Singularity (technologically):

Pros:

  1. Natively 64-bit
  2. Core neutral (the more CPU cores you have, the faster it gets)
  3. GPU core neutral (it will max your video card, no video card yet has even come close to maxing what Ashes can do, we’re still gimping what we can do)
  4. Brand-new engine, easy to extend and enhance with new features
  5. Object space lighting – allows for vastly superior visuals
  6. Unlimited light sources – only limited by your GPU perf.  Not hard-coded to 2, 4, or 8 (below I have a screenshot with thousands of light sources).

Cons:

  1. Requires 2GB of video memory and that’s just barely enough.
  2. Relatively few art assets (polished visuals need this).
  3. Brand-new engine also means relatively little maturation in RTS feature refinement
  4. Relatively new toolset (Getting art in is expensive)

Screenshots of some stuff

image

The Artemis is getting a specific building destroying weapon.

 

image

Some fun with the visuals of the Artemis

image

Playing around with maps.  Multi-tier terrain will be one of the things we want to explore (right now we have 4, we look to have this be unlimited someday).

image

Mini map resources displayed based on the amount of resources the region provides. Also, Huge maps – 4X larger than huge (though we are probably going to have to limit these to those with monsters systems as the unit counts are obscene). Though just remember, today’s monster system is tomorrow’s mainstream consumer system.

Ashes of the Singularity: v1.11 Released!

Published on Saturday, May 07, 2016 By Frogboy In Ashes of the Singularity News

Ashes of the Singularity v1.11 was released today.  The update is a lot bigger than its 0.01 version change might indicate.

 

Highlights:

  • Lots of campaign balance updates
  • Mini map region icons now scale based on their output
  • Unit and weapon balance updates
  • Lots of small usability improvements

 

Change Log

 

  • m04 (caletheon) unlock amplify, amplifier, power regulator, energy projector, weapons lab, carving turret, intensive care, scan projector
  • OVERLORD DLC: update Assault map preview & lobby overlay
  • Fix sentry weapon tooltip (also it now has its own weapon module)
  • Mission3b (yorkshire): added victory string. cascading victory conditions, and support for victory speech
  • Mission3b (Yorkshire) unlock apollo
  • Mission4 (caletheon) unlock apollo
  • Mission6 (artorius) unlock apollo
  • Fix module text for martyr bolts
  • Updated tooltips for difficulty settings
  • Turn off normal creeps
  • Add weak neutral guardians to early regions
  • Removed difficulty option from tutorial
  • Starting locations for Fast and Furious made clearer
  • Balance update to Cerius, Cygnus and Kralon maps
  • Memory reduction
  • Starting locations now dynamtically handled
  • Sortable map lists
  • Putting shield bars on the building HP bars (same as the units already have)
  • Matchmaking rank as a mouseover in the lobby setup screen
  • Camera's cached follow unit rigid body ID may be mismatched as the rigid bodies are recreated on load, so if the camera was locked on a unit during save, it might be locked on something different (and not a unit at all) on load. Per Marc, clearing the camera's follow flags on load.
  • Translate benchmark names; this is to deal with German localization
  • Scaling minimap icons for Metal and Radioactives
  • Fix bug with mega map ignoring spacebar if it was opened by clicking the button.
  • Fix rank offsets when player indices are sparse
  • Dynamically add weapon properties to weapon module tool tips including:
    • Armor Piercing
    • Area Damage
    • Target Radar Contacts
    • Long Recharge
    • Requires Energy
  • Clear Player.m_uiSeedConstructionModule on startup. Fixes missing rally point from seed on game reentrance
  • Switch Difficulty pulldown to go upward if resolution is too low.
  • Fix for drawing paths for selected enemy units
  • Dialog Sequencer streaming audio hookup
  • correction to streaming audio closed flag in DialogSequencer.
  • Fix for bad HideDifficulty flag after exiting missions
  • Fix for camera following unit as it dies
  • Fix to make substrate units not show shields while under construction
  • Remove test audio from Tutorial dialog
  • Keep camera Theta bounded to 0-2PI
  • Data drive for Unit Panel buttons (modder love)
  • New sized Region icons 26x26
  • Mini Map icons in 3 sizes
  • Updated the Info Icon atlas to include the newest Skirmish unit. Did the same for the Empire Tree icon atlas.
  • Made the accent color on the Skirmish icon red. Also added the Skirmish icon to the build menu grid.
  • Updated the metaunit icon grid to include the new skirmish unit.
  • Added the new F3 key functionality.
  • Added 2 new mission images.
  • Added 3rd mission image.
  • Updated the image.
  • Pathfinding improvements
  • Army formation improvements
  • AI more aggressively responds to being attacked
  • Various improvements to formations
  • Cruisers can be built at factory after Shift clicking
  • allow air units to be attached to t1 based armies
  • [breaks saves] AI was using Carving Turret as a counter to Drone Swarm
  • F3 selects all of your unattached air on screen (needs keymap picture updated)
  • AI Improvements
  • Wingtip trail fixup
  • Reduce likelihood of AI wasting a cast on a probing force
  • Don't continously go into Building Placement mode when holding down a key
  • Gateway build time incresed from 30 to 40 seconds
  • Gateway metal cost increased from 180 to 240
  • Gateway rad cost increasdd from 150 to 200
  • UI Support Huge sized maps
  • Camera can get closer
  • Polish pass on campaign maps
  • Slow & Steady VP increased to 2500
  • Single Player now made the first option
  • Formation improvements
  • MRVs improve their targeting
  • Damaging a unit will cause it to look for its assailant
  • Path finding smoothing
  • AI improvements to build order
  • Artemis gains building destroying weapon that does 400 damage per hit
  • Artemis normal weapons no longer can target buildings
  • Mauler primary weapon damage reduced from 101 to 82
  • Caleaathon normal level and below changed such that non-adjcancent regions gain smarty defenses and other early warning abilities.
  • Skirmish renamed to Single Player
 

 

Cheers!


Stardock Roadmap Update: Spring 2016

Published on Thursday, May 05, 2016 By Frogboy In PC Gaming

image

 

Impulse to GameStop

Back in 2011 Stardock sold its digital distribution platform, Impulse, to GameStop and began migrating its titles to Steam, GOG, Green Man Gaming, Gamersgate, and other sites.

Stardock Strategic Investment Fund

In 2013, we announced the formation of a strategic investment fund in which we invested in two types of studios: Ones that we directly founded and helped manage (see above) as well as helping fund promising new game studios (Mothership, BonusXP).

The First wave

The Stardock studios and Mohawk and Oxide are directly managed by Stardock.  To be clear: Mohawk and Oxide are both independent studios.  In their cases, Stardock handles the day to day business management freeing the teams to pursue innovative new games and technologies.

With the exception of Star Control, which is fairly far in development but won’t be released until next year, the first wave of titles from this endeavor has arrived. Galactic Civilizations III, Ashes of the Singularity and Offworld Trading Company all appear very successful.

What was the goal?

Our specific goal wasn’t simply to fund new game projects (though we have been doing that as well).  More specifically our goal was:

#1 Get a 4th generation engine that we can standardize on

#2 Concentrate experience game industry talent in one place so that the quality of all our titles increases

#3 Create an employment system such that when one project at one studio ends, the employees can be seamlessly put on a project in one of the other studios rather than doing the traditional mass lay offs that have hurt our industry so much.

So how has this worked out so far?

Goal 1 has been accomplished and then some.  The Nitrous engine allowed us to create a really good new RTS at a fraction of the normal cost to build a game in this genre which allows us to continue to build it up over the next several years.

What makes Nitrous unique is that it shouldn’t become obsolete any time soon:

  • 64-bit (Our older, 32-bit engines are stuck at 2GB of memory. This has hurt us in updating Sins of a Solar Empire for instance, we literally can’t add more units into the game at this stage without a major effort)
  • Core Neutral.  This means that the engine will automatically use as many CPU cores as your system has.  In 8 years when we all have 16 core systems, the engine will use it.  It means the games built on it today can still be updated and enhanced without engine changes. 
  • GPU Neutral.  This means that every core will try to talk to the GPU.  In most games, either the “main thread” or a dedicated thread will talk to the GPU.  In Nitrous, every core will talk to it.  So again, as time goes on, the advantage will only grow.
  • Object Space Rendering.  This is a complicated way of saying that the engine renders things like CGI in movies rather than how games do it (games usually use Deferred rendering, forward rendering or forward+ rendering, that’s why games never look like movies no matter how much hardware you throw at it, it’s the way a scene is put together).

Those 4 things are huge and mean Star Control (which uses Nitrous) and Ashes of the Singularity and other games we’re developing with it will be future proofed.  There’s other little things in there such as the engine being resolution independent (you could pop Ashes onto an 8K display and it would look gorgeous. UI scales and the graphics simply get more detailed due to the way lighting is done).

Goal 2 has definitely been achieved.  Offworld Trading Company is a great example of what happens when you bring talented people together. Same with Ashes of the Singularity and as people have seen since GalCiv III’s launch, getting help and feedback from the people who made Civ III, Civ IV and Civ V has made a huge difference that will be a big deal in next year’s efforts.

Goal 3 Is probably the goal that means the most to me personally.  With Offworld Trading Company released, many of the artists and engineers are now on to boosting the Star Control team even though, technically, Stardock and Mohawk are separate entities.  Similarly, many Stardock artists, having finished their part on an unannounced title for now, have been moved onto Ashes of the Singularity for its expansions even though Oxide is a separate company.

What’s next?

As the chart shows above, there are a lot of unannounced games in development still. Not to mention, there will be expansions and DLC of the existing titles.

But so far, so good.

Week 5 micro update

Published on Wednesday, May 04, 2016 By Frogboy In Ashes of the Singularity
Greetings!
 
This week's micro update is now live.  
 
We like to do these little updates whenever there's an opening in QA for something small that is data only.  
  • Avatar speed reduced from 250 m/s to 200
  • Nemesis logistics increased from 3 to 4
  • Zeus logisitcs increased from 3 to 4
  • Fury logistics incresed from 4 to 8
  • Hades HP increased from 1200 to 1250
  • Avenger rad cost increased from 24 to 39
  • Avenger logistics increased from 3 to 4
  • Dronehive metal cost recuded from 340 to 210
  • Dronehive radioactive cost increased from 38 to 60
  • Dronehive time to build increased from 44 to 45 seconds
  • Dronehive logistics increassed from 5 to 8
  • Mauler rad cost increased from 30 to 40
  • Mauler logistics increased from 3 to 4
  • Dominator rad cost increased from 170 to 220
  • Dominator logistics cost increased from 4 to 8
  • Avatar shield regen decresed from 10 to 6 per sec
  • Avatar now costs logistics (12).
  • Noctus map victory point condition increased from 500 to 1500
  • Fast and Furious and Dread Vallely added to ranked MP list
  • Yorkshire map preview added
  • Gateway build time incresed from 30 to 40 seconds
  • Gateway metal cost increased from 180 to 240
  • Gateway rad cost increasdd from 150 to 200

 

Let us know what you think.


Cheers,

b

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