February is here and there is a ton of stuff to talk about.
## VULKAN ##
We have been working diligently on Vulkan support and I am pleased to tell you that we have it...mostly working. We are tentatively scheduled to release Escalation v2.1 (Ashes 1.51) on February 16. Unfortunately, Vulkan won't make it in there as it needs a little more time to bake.
## REPLAYS ##
We have this. It's not super stable though so we're still working out the kinks. We expect to have an opt-in build available within the next couple weeks so people can play around with it. We've been working with General's Gentlemen on the design of this feature so that it will appeal not just to those who want to see a replay of their game but also for casters who want to cast games.
## MODDING ##
I have an Ashes modding Skype channel where we're bouncing ideas around. There is a fine line between "modding" and "end user customization". As someone who started out as a modder, I tend to take a bit of a dim view on modders who think they have to have commercial grade tools in order to make changes.
Making front ends to XML and CSV files is not super high on my priority list. I expect modders to be able to do this sort of thing.
What I don't expect modders to have to do is: Reverse engineer the .OXModel format or hack the EXE to change game rules.
So on our end these are the tools that are in development:
Mod Manager. This will let you create your own mod in \documents\my games\ashes..\mods where you will have a file a .ashesmod file (i.e.bradsbalancemod.ashesmod).
This file is a manifest for your mod tells the game where to look for your other files.
There are FOUR files I mod all the time for personal use:
You can mod those files right now and drastically change the way Ashes plays.
Anyway, you can create your own versions of these files, put them in your mod folder and then have your .ashesmod point to them. When the game sees a duplicate Internal ID, it'll replace the one in game with yours.
If you're into modding, you can practice this now by modifying one or more of the files there locally and see what crazy things happen.
## LOCALIZATION ##
Ashes is coming to a lot of new languages. This will start with the big 2.1 (1.51) update.
## MERGING CODE BASES ##
For easier maintenance, Ashes of the Singularity and Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation are going to have their code-bases merged.
Thus, the base game will pick up a lot of the enhancements that are in Escalation (visual updates, engine update, UI update, etc.).
Escalation will have everything Ashes has plus:
- Strategic Zoom
- The New units
- Volcanic Maps (These will be made available as DLC for Ashes players)
- Crystaline maps (This will be made available as DLC for Ashes players)
- Escalation Campaign
- Upgradeable Defenses
The goal is that we want Ashes of the Singularity to be the "mainstream" game and Escalation be the hard-core game. This frees us to continue to evolve Escalation in ways that would likely be unappealing to mainstream RTS fans (more resource types, more unit types, deeper economic features, etc.).
And just to drive home the point how serious we are on this: We plan to give everyone who was part of the early access program a free license of Escalation (that's about 100,000 free licenses).
Anyone who has upgraded to Escalation already or does so before we do this will get a lifetime pass Escalation DLC. And those who were part of our Lifetime Ashes Founder's program will be truly getting a lifetime pass to Ashes such as sequels.
So if you were part of early access and haven't upgraded to Escalation, you'll want to do that before we do this.
As many of you know, the base game sold a lot more than we had anticipated. Remember: RTS games are supposedly "dead" and only MOBAs have a market. Combined with our hardware requirements, we presumed about 50,000 units in the first year.
Thus, putting Escalation and the base game on equal footing, we can see which game has more players. Ashes or Escalation. I know you hard-core RTS players are convinced that Escalation will win. Don't be so sure. I love them both but it's Ashes, not Escalation, that my friends tend to prefer for LAN parties due to the relative simplicity.
In short: If you were part of the Ashes early access program (or likely bought soon after it came out) you will soon have an Escalation key too. Play whichever one you prefer. The market will decide which path the RTS community wants us to follow.
## JUGGERNAUTS ##
In the "not a promise" category, Episode 3 is well into development. While Episode 3 will be DLC, Juggernauts will be a free unit added to the game. Each side will get one and they'll appear in Episode 3. The base game, btw, will be getting Juggernauts too as they make a satisfying doomsday weapon.
Right now, I have early Spring as the release date for this.
## BEYOND JUGGERNAUTS ##
Where Escalation focused on making the game...well bigger, the next major area of focus is going to be water and naval. That doesn't mean it's the next thing on the list as we have a long list of things we want in this game first ranging from wrecks to more types of units to more single player and multiplayer replayability features (I'll be talking more about this in the near future).
The one thing that we are excited about the most and that we hope we can persuade you to be excited about is that this game is still at the start of its life. Go look at every other RTS on the market. Go. I'll wait.
Are you back?
Ok, I will keep nagging about this but it is non-trivial to make a major RTS. Even Microsoft struggles with it (Halo Wars for instance). It is tough. And here we are (you guys and us) with a fresh engine designed specifically for RTS games that supports DirectX 12, Vulkan and as many CPU cores as you can throw at it. Right now, that's all really just potential. But as any SupCom player can tell you, the tech does matter because it determines the long-term evolution of the game.
So that's all for this month.