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DEV DIARY: Campaign Overview

Published on Tuesday, November 15, 2016 By Zultar327 In Offworld Dev Journals

Recently the “The Patron and the Patriot” DLC was released for Offworld Trading Company. This DLC focuses on revamping the OTC campaign, specifically aiming to add story elements and new game mechanics focused on increasing replayability.

But before we get into the DLC we need to discuss what the campaign actually is, so that’s what we’ll be doing today.

 

Offworld was designed for quick, competitive games. Companies rise and fall in a matter of minutes, and most matches finish within half an hour. While this certainly is in line with the modern fast-paced RTS experience many players crave, it often does not match up well with those who want to spend time developing their company carefully and thoughtfully over time.

Enter the OTC campaign. In this mode players are able to select one of seven CEOs, each with unique specializations and abilities. You can play as a respected scientist, a robot seeking world domination, or a simple capitalist who want to turn one dollar into one hundred.

Reni Campaign Splash

No matter who you select you’ll be facing a grueling seven week challenge. Each week players will compete with two to three other CEOs, all of them trying to make a profit while aiding in the development of local government sponsored colonies. Whoever proves themselves the most valuable (most profitable) is awarded lucrative contracts, while everyone else is left with lesser subsidies relative to their performance in the region.

Campaign Mission Review

As the weeks go on and players turn their profit they are given opportunities to reinvest in the business, acquiring additional engineers for their production, specialists to handle advanced buildings, or unique abilities such as patents. They can even visit the black market and store a few nasty surprises for the competition in the coming weeks.

Campaign Hire

After a few growth come the elimination rounds, where CEOs who have not been able prove their worth through either victory or steady, strong performance will start being removed from the competition. Once the competition has been whittled down to four the final round begins, and colony growth is no longer the goal. Instead players compete in one last skirmish-style match, aiming to buyout their opponents directly. Whoever succeeds here will have proven themselves the dominant force on Mars, and will be rewarded a well-earned monopoly.

 

Despite the strength of the campaign Mohawk saw more that could be added to it, and we’ll start talking about those changes and why they were made next week.

Get ready for a lot of bitching

Published on Monday, November 14, 2016 By Frogboy In GalCiv III Dev Journals

Last month, CariElf, the lead developer of GalCiv I and II rejoined us.

Later this month, I rejoin the GalCiv III team.  In effect, it'll be a reunion of the GalCiv II team as we take the game to the next level.

But before we begin the series of GalCiv III updates that leads into the big expansion, let me offer you the same advice I've tried to give others here:

If you want to succeed, you must slay the three F's: Friends, Family, Faith.  

And in the spirit of that credo, my journals are going to take on a much darker tone.

Now, I know many (most) of you like Galactic Civilizations III.  It is very polished and it plays really well and has a good user experience..most of the time.

But I'm not joining the team for those reasons.  I don't care about any of those things.

When I wrote the original GalCiv for OS/2, I wanted to make an AI game.  I only let people play the game because I needed your money for my AI work.  Frankly, the game would be a lot better if there were no humans at all.  You're just too...slow.

I have a lot of complaints.  I don't like the late game experience of GalCiv III.  I don't like the AI's war fighting "strategy" (if you can call it that).  I find the game too slow late game.  Anyway, my point is, I'm old and I'm back on GalCiv which is where I like to be.

But I'm not going to sugar coat my work.  If you want to read marketing fluff, you'll want to avoid my journal entries.  

I still think GalCiv III is the best space 4X game currently on the market.  But that's mainly because I'm not happy with any of them right now.  If I could combine the presentation of ES 2 with the features of Stellaris with the rest of GalCiv III it would still be...ok.  But let me tell you what is wrong with these 4X games (looking at you Civ VI):

  1. AI. It aggravates me that no one cares about AI anymore.  You can get a 90 review score without decent AI.  
  2. Statistics show that most people play these games as Simcity style games. Well, they're not.  I'm happy to make a space Simcity game but STRATEGY games should be about strategy.
  3. I hate the economic systems of these games.  All of them.
  4. I'm annoyed with the new MOO game.  You know the secret sauce that a new MOO game could have had (did you know I bid $2 million to get the MOO IP?): It's not the battles, it's the fact that they put a lot of effort into having different species mixed together.  Simtex got this back in 1996. GalCiv should steal this.  We won't be for the time being but good grief, what a great game mechanic.
  5. Espionage.  Won't make it until the expansion. But gotta have that.
  6. Politics.  I am probably alone on this but it's a big bugaboo with me that we don't have more politics in these games.  Did you know the original OS/2 version of GalCiv back in 1993 had political parties, elections, etc? And I wrote that by myself. That's how big a deal I considered that game mechanic when trying to run an intergalactic society.
  7. Food.  Seriously. ARRGH.  This should be a global resource.  The idea that planets need to be self-sustaining in food is absurd.

That's just off the top of my head.

Like I said, GalCiv III is the best of the 4X space games on the market right now imo.  But without significant work, it's ripe to be knocked over and it'll deserve it.

So sit back and avoid my journal entries. It's going to be quite a ride.

 

Customize Your Game (Part 2): Map Options

Published on Friday, November 11, 2016 By Tatiora In Ashes Dev Journals

The thing I've been enjoying the most about Escalation is the ability to arrange a custom game to cater to what I'd like to do at that particular moment. Some people (and believe me when I say I am not one of them) are so good at the game that they want the opportunity to practice specific skills or challenge themselves in more unconventional ways.

In Escalation, we've focused on two really important core features: AI and Map Options. If you'd like to know more about the AI options in Ashes, check out part one of this article here. In part two, we're going to take a look at all of the new map options and see how they can be used to create a custom and unique experience for individual players.

Map Options

Crust Metal Density and Core Radioactivity
So, here's the thing about me and Ashes since the beginning: my economical management sucks. And every time I think I'm producing enough resources to turn myself loose and start amping up my army building, I feel my blood pressure start to spike when I hear Haalee whispering (yelling) in my ear: "You need more metal," or "You need more radioactives."

The mature response would be to quietly and begrudgingly set about fixing my economy. Please note: I am not mature. I do cut back my spending and cancel some of those incredible Dreadnoughts in my build queue, but not without uttering a few expletives first.

Sometimes, I have days where I just want to run amok and blow some things up. The "Crust Metal" and "Core Radioactivity" map options allow me to determine how much metal or radioactives I'm able to draw from each region and how quickly. There are five settings (including the default), and when I'm feeling like I just want to build lots of units and crush a computer, I can set it to "very high" and worry just a little bit less about whether or not I'll have enough resources as I start to build up my base and my armies more.

Or, if you enjoy a challenge, you can run either of the options down to the "very low" setting and practice managing your economy that way. I don't need to tell you which one of us will be more prepared for our next multiplayer game if you decide to go this route.

Quantum Coherence
In the beginning, when I was still a n00b (ok, you can stop laughing now, I know I'm stilla n00b), I seldom ever had any issues with logistics. I would normally have more than enough to keep up with my "growing" army and didn't have to listen to Haalee yell at me about needing more logistics.

That was a peaceful time, a time well before I knew that it was a good idea to build more than just one base factory or assembly early on. After being overwhelmed and caught off-guard on several different occasions, I sought some advice from some of my friends who were "experts." They all told me the same thing.

"Build more stuff."

...lack of specifics aside, I definitely saw their point. When I started upping the production of my units early on, I found I had an easier time capturing more regions quickly and defending my base against rush attacks. All the while, there was this tiny (loud) voice in my head, reminding me of one critical thing:

"You need more logistics."

...Thanks, Haalee. You're a real pal. Upping the Quantum Coherence option all the way to "very high" has allowed me to get around my logistical issues while also having enough Quanta available for upgrades to the weapons and health  of my units as well.

Of course, I have to remember that by setting these options for myself, I am giving my opponent the same advantage, but it still makes for an exciting game by allowing for tons of units to be produced quickly. Alternatively, some people like to be a little more leisurely about the way they play, so taking down the Quantum Coherence to low or very low will both elongate the game and make it more difficult for you to rush (or be rushed!) early on.


Es blog 2


Mantle Thickness and Neutral Defenders
Mantle Thickness determines how quickly your units are able to capture a region. For me, this affects me at two particular points in the game: in the beginning when I send out my Engineer to go capture a region before the defenders spawn, and later-game when I am trying to snag regions before my opponents discover me.

The higher the mantle thickness, the longer it takes for your units to claim an area. If you want to be able to take regions quickly and then move along to conquer more, setting the mantle thickness to low will speed up the process! But, remember -- whatever good this does for you, it also does for your opponent.

Neutral Defenders also have their own setting now, too. Before, you only had the choice of "on" or "off", but now you can add a little bit of variety to the game by setting the defenders to light, heavy, or random. I have enjoyed the "random" setting in particular because it forces me to be prepared no matter what region I am attempting to conquer. Sometimes I'm pleasantly surprised because there isn't a single one to be found, and other times I'm actually glad I sent a small army because they have a pretty solid little force built up.


Atmosphere and Orbital Coverage
There are three words I fear when playing RTS games, and it's usually what I would hear screamed across my voice IP channel of choice when playing Starcraft with my buddies:

 
"DEATH FROM ABOVE!"
 
In the case of Ashes, it comes in two forms: orbitals and air units. As I've played, I have gotten a lot better about building up a counter to both of these things at my main base (since an embarrassing all-orbital defeat at the hands of Brad a few months back, I now always remember to build orbital nullifiers).
 
These two new options now allow you to adjust the atmosphere of the map to either allow or ban aircraft from being built for the duration of a game, as well as enable or disable orbitals. I know that when I play, orbitals are just one more thing in a mountain of things to remember to do, so it's nice to be able to turn them off and focus on getting better at my army management when I'm practicing during single player.
 
I personally tend to leave aircraft on, but that's just because I like to use them. I still get pretty salty when my opponent sends over an early bombing squad I'm not ready for, though.


Nanobot Productivity
This option is a dangerous one (for me), because it's really easy to crash your economy by increasing the rate at which everything is built. Granted, you can better control your economy by decreasing the rate, but as one who hates waiting for construction (we have two seasons here in Michigan, Winter and Road Construction), I just won’t do it.
 
The benefit to being able to change the rate of how quickly your nanobots work is being able to set the pace for your game. If nothing else, it has taught me something about managing my economy, since building things rapidly means running out of resources and having to listen to Haalee judge me.

Escalation Base

Entrenchment Bonus
This one is brand new! Admittedly, I haven't played with this setting very much yet. The Entrenchment option allows you to give your units a defensive advantage when fighting in territories that belong to you. This sounds great... until you remember that your opponents get the bonus on their home turf, too.

Either way, I found that I more often that defending against my enemies is more difficult than attacking them. To that end, setting the Entrenchment Bonus to Low (90% normal damage) or High (60% normal damage) has allowed me to gain a bit of an edge when I’m being attacked by more than one opponent at the same time.

The best thing about the new map options in Escalation are that you can set the pace and tone of your game any way you like. By allowing for adjustment of more than just the levels of difficulty, Escalation is a game that veteran RTS players can really sink their teeth into.

Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation adds units, larger worlds, new campaigns, new defenses, strategic zoom and more!

Published on Thursday, November 10, 2016 By Island Dog In Press Releases (Ashes of the Singularity)

Plymouth, MI. – November 10, 2016 - Stardock released Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation today. After listening to player feedback, the stand-alone expansion dramatically expands on the features and content of the base game.

"With Ashes of the Singularity, our goal was to create a new real-time strategy game that was approachable for new players, but also fun for veteran RTS players," said Brad Wardell, CEO of Stardock.  "With Escalation, we're targeting experienced RTS players by increasing the game’s depth and sophistication."

To that end, Escalation doubles the largest map size and the maximum number of players, introduces strategic zoom, adds many new units and defenses that can be upgraded, an additional campaign, new world environments, and much more.

"Our roadmap for Ashes of the Singularity will be to continue focusing on improving the user experience and game performance, as well as provide more content while keeping the game easy to learn and accessible to PC gamers," said Wardell. "By contrast, Escalation will we continue to evolve to be much more sophisticated."

The game, set in a post-technological singularity future, puts the player in command of machines that can be ordered to build structures and units, capture and harvest resources, or destroy enemies.  Powered by the 64-bit multicore Nitrous engine, the game's computer AI is exceptionally strong.  Along with the ability to easily manage tens of thousands of units across an entire world, Ashes of the Singularity has also become a popular game for demonstrating the power of DirectX 12.

While Ashes of the Singularity has many strong multiplayer features, Stardock expects that most people will play the game exclusively on single-player mode.  To that end, Escalation adds two new campaigns that provide players a host of new custom challenges in addition to the already excellent single-player sandbox game.

Ashes of the Singularity is priced at $24.99 and Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation is $39.99.  Players who own the base game can get Escalation for $19.99, with early adopters of the base game also eligible to receive a free season pass to Escalation DLC.

For more information, visit www.ashesgame.com, like it on Facebook or follow it on Twitter.

 

Screenshots
Screenshot 1  |  Screenshot 2  |  Screenshot 3  |  Screenshot 4  |  Screenshot 5  |  Screenshot 6

Gameplay
Video 

 # # #

Please contact press@stardock.com for all media inquiries.

About Stardock: Stardock is a developer and publisher of PC games and desktop software founded in 1991 by nationally recognized technology expert Brad Wardell. Located in Plymouth, Michigan, Stardock is a powerful leader in the video gaming and software development world.  Its PC games include Sins of a Solar Empire, the critically acclaimed Galactic Civilizations series, and Ashes of the Singularity. Stardock puts the user experience first through software that enriches the Windows experience for everyone from casual computer users to highly technical professionals. Products offered by Stardock include Start8, Start10, Fences, WindowBlinds, Multiplicity, and more at www.stardock.com.

About Oxide Games: Oxide Games is an independent digital entertainment studio focused on delivering revolutionary leaps in PC and console gaming. Its groundbreaking Nitrous engine provides industry-leading visuals and powers its first game, Ashes of the Singularity. Oxide Games is based in Timonium, Maryland. Learn more atwww.oxidegames.com.


Ashes: Escalation - New Unit Showcase (Part 1)

Published on Wednesday, November 9, 2016 By rrfarmer2000 In Ashes Dev Journals

Hello and today we are bringing you previews of 4 new units!

Harvester

Harvester - Substrate

This unit is attached to a given region (any region) and sends a portion of that region’s output to that player. Also the Substrate now have an infinite resource storage! Spend that quanta on extra logistics caps!

Strategic Bomber

Strategic Bomber - PHC

Drops a single devastating bomb on structures (and only structures). Very useful for surgical strikes that must take out a specific building.

Brute Mark II

Brute Mark II - PHC

The next generation Brute has arrived in time for the war. It only comes out as single unit but it is much tougher and more deadly than the previous Brute. It is a short-ranged lightly armored unit designed to protect the more important units behind it.

Saboteur

Saboteur - Substrate

This new unit is called down via an orbital ability to wreak havoc on unprotected areas of the map. They come in groups of 8 and will punish those who just try to quickly expand. They’re not tough. They're not good against defenses or other units. But they are deadly against structures and for capturing lightly defended regions.

November Ashes Mega Diary

Published on Thursday, November 3, 2016 By Draginol In Ashes Dev Journals

Greetings!
Sorry I haven't been as active lately. It's been Ashes of the Singularity 24/7 here at Stardock.

image

 

So let's do this:

## Escalation ##
We had to push the release date of Escalation from November 3 to November 10. This is my fault as I just wasn't comfortable with the balance in the campaign. It was a bit too hard on the default setting and we needed to adjust it.


Obviously, you can change the difficulty level (side note: In hindsight, it's pretty insane that the original game shipped without a campaign difficulty slider) but the default does matter a lot.

Escalation also has added more units to the mix to the point that our review guide is a bit out of date.

For example, the Charon cruiser is awesome. Any army it is apart of is able to teleport reinforcements to it instantly. But it will probably have a lot of threads about it because there's a unit that is very tough to balance. On a huge map with 20 factories going, a Charon is a roving nightmare unless you kill it quickly. So it has to be handled very carefully.

Back when I was a Total Annihilation nut playing in the PGL, I used all kinds of cheese tactics like com napping, jamming a flash into other people's factories (the destroyed hulk would block units from leaving the factory), giving metal generators (consume energy to give metal) and then gifting them to my opponent so that I could assassinate my opponent's commander without worrying about his Dgun. I'm not proud.

I bring up the above because as I play and balance Escalation, it's an endless challenge to find that right balance between what is fun and what is exploitable. Escalation includes a number of really interesting new units that are likely to create some new ways of playing the game that we can't imagine yet. So we'll have to pay very close attention to that.

## Flocking ##
Some of the negative Steam reviews talk about path finding problems in Ashes. But the problem they are experiencing isn't path finding, it's flocking. The units know how to get where they're going just fine. The challenge is what to do when you have hundreds of them trying to get past each other in the most efficient way possible. That requires a really sophisticated flocking algorithm and it's something we've been spending a lot of time on these past couple of months as it is a non-trivial programmatic challenge.

We think we have a suitable solution that should be ready to be made public next week. There are opt-ins that are starting to get pushed out that will test this and hopefully will make positioning armies much more enjoyable.

## Tournament Edition ##
Early next year we are going to create a Tournament Edition of the game. This version will initially be only available to Ashes players to share with 4 friends for free. Ashes of the Singularity: Tournament will be a multiplayer only version of the game to help encourage a bigger multiplayer community.

We still expect 90% of the player base to play the game exclusively single player but we do want to make sure there is a really strong multiplayer community as well.

## Vulkan ##
We have this most of the way completed and have test apps of it ready. The remaining issue is HLSL to Vulkan. One of our partners is working on an HLSL shader converter. Once we have that, we should be able to release a Vulkan version soon after.
Once there's a Vulkan version, we can take a look at SteamOS (Linux) support.

## Roadmap for Escalation vs. Ashes ##
It is important to remember that for us, there is ONLY Ashes of the Singularity. Escalation is an expansion to Ashes of the Singularity. When we are working on Escalation, we are also working on Ashes.


image

Ashes of the Singularity user interface

vs.

image

Escalation UI

 

Going forward, we will be differentiating Ashes and Escalation more distinctly and some of that means that certain elements of Escalation will come into the base game or be made available as DLC.

For example, here are some DLCs we are thinking of making available to Ashes players in the future that come with Escalation:

1. Crystaline worlds
2. Volcanic worlds
3. Maps with more players on them

There are also features that are probably going to back into Ashes (for free) that will debut in Escalation such as:

1. The UI update
2. The Substrate economy change
3. Upgrading the Smarty to a Barrager
4. Upgrading a Annihilator to a Deadly Annihilator
5. Adding a low level anti-air defense for the PHC and Substrate that upgrades to a better one.

But over time, you will see the distinction between the two grow.

## Philosphy on RTS game design ##
As some of our Founders can tell you, the design for Ashes of the Singularity was NOT to be like Supreme Commander. I once even posted on our forums that if you were hoping that Ashes would replace SupCom that you would be very disappointed.

So for example, I opposed, in Ashes, to have things like strategic zoom or more than 15 units per faction or lots of defensive buildings. I still am not sure having upgradeable buildings in the base game is a good idea but I feel like I've promised that to the community.

But why? The answer is that Ashes of the Singularity, at its heart, is supposed to be a next-generation RTS to introduce people to the RTS genre.

I read people saying that people should just buy "Supreme Commander: FA" or some other classic RTS. I'm obviously a big fan of Total Annihilation, SupCom, FAF, etc. but are you sure that's the game you really want to use to introduce someone to the genre?

The fact is, a lot of these great games do not work well (or at all) on modern hardware. The mouse cursor might not work or they crash if you're running at too high a resolution or they are no longer compatible with certain video cards and so on.

## Where Ashes will go and where Escalation will go ##
At a recent LAN party for core PC gamers who were NOT RTS players, I had to pick a game to introduce the RTS to them and that game was Company of Heroes. Not CoH 2 (or Ashes) but the original Company of Heroes (this is why marketing hates when I post, I'm recommending Company of Heroes as the best intro RTS game on the market <g>).

The only reason I didn't push Ashes was the hardware requirements. The 2GB video memory requirement was too much for a couple of them. If we could fix memory requirement that then Ashes would be a no-brainer. Alternatively, we can just wait until 2GB video cards are the norm.

If you take a fresh look at Ashes of the Singularity, not as a veteran RTS player but as someone looking to recommend an RTS to someone interested in the genre you'll (hopefully) note these things:

  1. It's pretty bullet proof. You install it on a new gaming PC and it just works.
  2. The game mechanics are straight forward. You capture regions and get their resources. You can then build up those regions and get more resources which lets you build more stuff.
  3. There is some action in the first few minutes (In TA or SupCom, it can be several minutes before you even get to see any boom boom boom).
  4. It's visually gorgeous (on a modern PC anyway).
  5. Losing isn't particularly frustrating. Losing due to a Turnium build up is not generally anger producing. Having someone finally beat you back to your base can actually be fun. By contrast, losing because someone nuked your commander or did a Reaper rush into your base or put barbed wire all over the map or having your entire army melt because you couldn't find your little unit with the right counter to activate its special EMP power and select the enemy unit that would be casting the melt army spell can be extremely frustrating to a new player.

That isn't to say Ashes is perfect. We should have had a mobile orbital nullifier unit in the game when it shipped. We didn't think of it at the time. But we will add that. But overall, Ashes is a really really good introduction to the genre.


By contrast...

Escalation is designed with RTS veterans in mind. We listened to the feedback and realized that Ashes couldn't be a one-size-fits all game.

I spend a lot of time reading RTS communities and the Ashes one is the best i've been apart of. You guys are amazing and your feedback has been extremely helpful. But we couldn't put those ideas and features into Ashes, the base game, even as DLC at any price because at that point, it's not Ashes of the Singularity anymore, it's a hard-core RTS game.

That's where Escalation came in. With Escalation, I am comfortable having strategic zoom (and in fact, it's layered strategic zoom like we did in Sins of a Solar Empire). I'm okay with having a lot more units and defenses.

Esc_SS2

Strategic Zoom in Escalation

That doesn't mean Ashes, the base game, won't eventually get naval units and more factions of course. None of our plans have changed with regards to the base game. We just want to be able to have a game that targets ALL PC gamers (Ashes) and a game that focuses on veteran RTS players (Escalation).


## How did Escalation get so much stuff so fast? ##
As the Founders know, our sales projection for Ashes of the Singularity were modest. As I posted in our Founders forum last year, our objective was to sell 50,000 units of Ashes of the Singularity before the end of 2016 (not counting OEM sales).

It's not that we didn't have confidence in our game. It's that the demographics are the demographics. 4 core CPUs + 2GB video memory as a base requirement cuts out most PC gamers. It's just that simple. Not many people can play Ashes of the Singularity.

When it became clear Ashes of the Singularity was going to more than double the projections, we beefed up the team. A lot.

  • Ashes of the Singularity = Oxide Games
  • Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation = Oxide Games + Stardock

 

So once we had a design down for Escalation we had a lot more people available to do stuff.
Anyway, I have more to say but can save it until later. This is already really long. Let me know if you have any questions.


-brad

Customize Your Game (Part 1): AI Options

Published on Tuesday, November 1, 2016 By Tatiora In Ashes Dev Journals

If you're like me, you're not a guru at real time strategy games.

If you're not like me, then I'm jealous.

I am the kind of person who needs a lot of practice in order to even resemble some level of competency in a game as massive as Ashes. With so much going on at once, it can be hard to understand where my weaknesses are - as well as my strengths - and what I can do to compensate for or take advantage of them.
 
Fortunately for me (and for anyone else new to RTS), the new Escalation expansion makes it easier to learn and practice thanks to the newly added map options and already existing AI options, which I'd like to highlight here. There is quite a lot to talk about, so part one will focus on the AI.
 
One of the advantages I don't have as a fairly new RTS player is being able to identify my enemy's strategies and build in order to defeat them. Admittedly, my first several playthroughs of Ashes were nothing more than clicking on a few of the same familiar units, hitting "repeat queue" and going about my merry way as I tried to collect enough resources to avoid crashing my entire economy.
 
Spoiler Alert: that didn't work for very long.

 Escalation 1

At any rate, the AI options for Escalation allow for a level of very specific practice. Instead of just the default AI and various difficulty levels, I can select "personalities" for my opponents that change the way they play against me.
 
While I'm not quite there yet, this has been helping me to gain a better understanding of how to counter certain types of tactics. By being able to focus on practicing against a certain "type" of player, I am also getting better at identifying what types of things signal my opponent’s strategic intent.
 
Let's take a look at the options:
 
Skirmisher
An AI that loves cheap units, lasers, and getting into battle.
The Skirmisher AI plays closest to what my personal strategy usually is - build lots of "little" units quickly, group them up, and conquer regions systematically. The problem is, I tend to bunch them all together and send them out in a single conglomerate mass, which usually leaves me wide open to attack when I’ve got nothing at my base save for a few defense turrets and a couple of overworked nanobots.
 
Playing against a Skirmisher AI has shown me how much stronger I can be with the smaller and cheaper units by building extra factories, splitting up into multiple, well-rounded armies, and scouting ahead before over committing.
 
Defender
An AI that believes a good offense starts with a good defense.
I have the hardest time with turtlers. They are much better at building up their bases than I am and they are so quick with their defensive systems that by the time I get an army of my smaller units there, they shred me to pieces when I finally arrive. I used to love turtles, and I suppose I still do in the cute little animal type context, but certainly not in Ashes.
 
To combat this, I have gotten better at managing my resources so that I can build bigger guns more quickly. While they're far from indestructible, a dreadnought hitting the battlefield is enough to rattle even the most bunkered down turtle-types. I have also found a particular affinity for taking to some air combat - sometimes, I get lucky, and my opponent has neglected to build up their anti-air defenses.

Bomber
An AI that prefers to use artillery bombardment. 
I still have some trouble with this one. While I am getting better at building heavy-hitters, I am still learning how best to defend against them. Sometimes, lots of small and cheap units early on can stave off this kind of problem for me, but that’s not always reliable.

I am learning to remember to use my orbitals and to build up as many turrets around my base and my newly conquered regions as I can. Oftentimes, I forget to leave anything to protect regions that are more valuable (I am always struggling to have enough radioactives to build the things that I want), so this has taught me to "leave my mark" as I divide and conquer.

 Escalation 2

Cruiser
An AI that targets enemy Nexuses early and often.
This hurts, no way around it. In fact, I remember my first game against a one Adam Biessener where I thought I was doing just dandy, only to discover that I had absolutely no defense against his "hit 'em hard and hit 'em early" strategy. Once I'd recovered from my embarrassment, I went into future games knowing full well that building some early game anti-air was imperative.
 
The Crusher type is really aggressive, and I haven't had too much practice against it yet. One of my major handicaps is my speed. While speed isn't the primary skill necessary for playing Ashes well, a level of familiarity with what units you want to build, what each unit does, and how best to combat the strategy of your opponent is critical for being able to make quick decisions and commit to your own plans. Playing more frequently against an aggressive AI like this has made me better at avoiding critical time-losing mistakes.
 
Drone Hiver
An AI that favors using drones in battle.
To be honest, until I started playing against the AI on this setting, I hadn't had too many encounters with people who used a lot of drones, including myself. I have, however, played enough Starcraft over the years to know what it's like to be "zerged" to death - let me tell you, those little alien buggers ain't got nothing on these drones!
 
I sometimes have a hard time focusing when a lot of things are going on at once, which is why RTS games can be difficult for me to keep pace in. When someone attacks you with drone swarms, there is a lot happening at once. Practicing against this AI mode has helped me learn to see the important things when under massive attacks (i.e.: the source of the drones) and stay calm under fire so that I am able to win more often.
 

In the next article, we'll cover the new map options in Escalation and how to use those to either help yourself practice, play a more relaxing game, or play something that will really challenge you.


Offworld Trading Company Update 6

Published on Thursday, October 27, 2016 By Island Dog In Offworld News

***RELEASED 10/27/16***
 

Features

  • Campaigns no longer auto-saved on defeat
  • HQs are auto-selected after founding
  • Added Include Ceres Location option for the campaign


Balance

  • On Ceres, Chem Labs now give an adjacency bonus to Nuke Plants
  • On Ceres, Glass Kilns get a 50% bonus on Salts


Fixes

  • Fixed items causing tutorial progress to be blocked.
  • Fix for joining a Ceres lobby without owning the DLC
  • Fix for popup buttons being oversized


AI

  • AI better handles Ceres maps in the campaign


UI

  • Menu UI updated to be more consistent
  • Featured Items show on the start screen
  • News ticker added to main menu for information and updates

Offworld Trading Company: The Patron and the Patriot released

Published on Thursday, October 27, 2016 By Island Dog In Press Releases (Offworld Trading)

Plymouth, MI. – October 27, 2016 - Stardock released The Patron and the Patriot (P&P) DLC for Offworld Trading Company today.

Developed by Mohawk Games, P&P adds colony classes, new campaign content, new characters, and six interactive stories that convey life on a newly colonized Mars.  

Designer Bob Thomas worked closely with Soren Johnson to bring greater immersion to the popular economic real-time strategy game. Features include:

  • Colony Class - Each colony now specializes in one area of the economy, altering local market conditions in a variety of ways.

  • Campaign Length - The campaign tournament can now last for 4, 7, or 10 games. Each length comes with its own balance tweaks and gameplay subtleties.

  • Wholesale Orders game mode - Not all colonies want you to build habitats and work modules for them. Now, some want your company to supply a variety of wholesale goods instead.

  • Two New Characters - New CEOs with new gameplay perks.

  • Story-Driven Campaigns - Six interactive short stories about life on Mars, available to experience through playing the new characters on each different length of campaign.

  • New Staffing Perks and Achievements

"Offworld Trading Company puts the player in the position of CEO of a company on Mars," said Soren Johnson, CEO of Mohawk Games. "Your opponents are other companies and your weapons are resources and market forces.  With The Patron and the Patriot, we wanted to further develop the immersion of the game's setting on Mars."

To that end, P&P's included short-stories flesh out what life on Mars means for colonists, workers, and corporate titans alike. These interactive stories are driven by the player's choices in the game.  This interactivity ties into the 17 new colony classes which impact local market conditions for players to deal with.  

Combined with the already compelling game mechanics of Offworld Trading Company, The Patron and the Patriot DLC fleshes out the setting and brings a new level of replayability to one of the most innovative strategy games released in recent years.

The Patron and the Patriot is only $4.99. For more information on Offworld Trading Company, visit www.offworldgame.com.

 

Screenshots:
Screenshot 1 | Screenshot 2 | Screenshot 3

 
 

# # #

 

Please contact press@stardock.com for all media inquiries.

About Stardock: Stardock is a developer and publisher of PC games and desktop software founded in 1991 by nationally recognized technology expert Brad Wardell. Located in Plymouth, Michigan, Stardock is a powerful leader in the video gaming and software development world.  Its PC games include Sins of a Solar Empire, the critically acclaimed Galactic Civilizations series, and Ashes of the Singularity. Stardock puts the user experience first through software that enriches the Windows experience for everyone from casual computer users to highly technical professionals. Products offered by Stardock include Start8, Start10, Fences, WindowBlinds, Multiplicity, and more at www.stardock.com.
 

About Mohawk Games:  Founded by acclaimed game designer Soren Johnson and developer Brad Wardell in 2013, Mohawk Games is built on the principles of iterative design, deep gameplay, and community involvement. Mohawk’s first title, Offworld Trading Company, is an economic war game set in the inner solar system. Learn more at www.mohawkgames.com.


Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation - Strategic Zoom

Published on Thursday, October 27, 2016 By rrfarmer2000 In Ashes Dev Journals

In this video we reveal the added larger maps, more players in a match, more gameplay options and the new "Strategic Zoom."

Players of “Sins of a Solar Empire” will feel right at home viewing the map at this long distance. Being able to set waypoints and queue up orders from farther out makes commanding much easier!

New game options will allow customization of exactly what type of rushes or limits you want on the game. Do you want to take regions with overwhelming force or have massive defenses? Try the new Entrenchment options! Don't want to worry about those sneaky Quanta abilities? Turn off Orbital Coverage altogether!

A few of the new map setup options:

  • Atmosphere: Turn off to disable air units.

  • Orbital Coverage: To disable Orbital Abilities

  • Nanobot Productivity: How fast buildings and units build.

  • Neutral Defenders: Random, light to heavy or completely off.

Stay tuned, we look forward to showing you many other improvements and new additions!

Order Ashes: Escalation today!

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