Brad Wardell's views about technology, politics, religion, world affairs, and all sorts of politically incorrect topics.
Published on September 26, 2016 By Draginol In Ashes Dev Journals

MS8_DESKTOP

Engineers are terrible at marketing.  We really are. 

If you’re playing Ashes of the Singularity, you may have noticed we updated the game last week. A minor update with some major changes.  Under the covers, Nitrous got a pretty big boost.  But because it doesn’t add features, it didn’t get a lot of attention.  But performance wise, it was the result of months of optimization.

Making the largest scale RTS of all time is a big challenge in 2016.  My friend, Chris Taylor, arguably still holds the record with Supreme Commander: Forged Alliance.  Our friends at Uber did something pretty neat with Planetary Annihilation but they had a few things working against them not the least being timing: The audience was on the cusp of changing from single core GPU engines to multi-core.  I would argue that Ashes is just barely at the right time because its hardware requirements have meant that only the very top end PC hardware enthusiasts who just so happen to like RTS games are going to buy Ashes of the Singularity.

The most obvious challenge in the past few years has been the dramatic diminishment of budget.  Supreme Commander 1 had a budget of around $20 million or so.  It’s hard to even fathom that kind of budget today.  2007 was a different world.  THQ could get Supreme Commander onto store shelves and most stores had fewer than 40 SCUs (40 different games).

Do you remember?

Do you remember when you had only a couple dozen choices for buying a game?  That was the world of PC gaming back in 2007.  And so PC games had much larger budgets than we have today.

By contrast, today, a new game has to compete with everything that has come before.  Why should you buy Ashes of the Singularity when you can buy Supreme Commander: Forged Alliance for $14.99? A fully realized game.  Sure, it was released in 2007 but it holds up well.  

Today, we work on smaller budgets.  Much, much smaller budgets.  But what we lack in budget we can make up with perseverance. At least, theoretically.  If people don’t buy the game, for whatever reason, we’d have to assign those developers and artists to a different game (if you haven’t reviewed Ashes please feel free to do so.  But we have the advantage of both professional developers and artists on hand and a state or the art engine and a passion to work on the game.

When I see someone say “You shouldn’t buy this, go play Supreme Commander: FA” I groan a little since, as anyone reading this knows, there will never be another Supreme Commander game. Ever. Whereas, every cent we get we put back into Ashes.  We didn’t have $20 million, we had less than $3 million. And with that, we’ve made something pretty amazing. 

Escalation

So the first expansion pack is due for Ashes.  If I had a time machine, I’d do it as a DLC since people seem to be confused about stand-alone expansions nowadays.  But for us, it’s just an expansion pack to Ashes that we are integrating with the base game for simplicity (i.e. buy X and get the best thing we have).  It’s a pretty big undertaking but we think it will help make Ashes the modern RTS to beat.  It’s just so…good.  We’ll be doing videos soon.

Rambling

Sorry to ramble.  Just a busy Monday night over here in Plymouth Michigan.  Tomorrow, I fly over to Towson Maryland to check out how things are going with Star Control


Comments (Page 1)
on Sep 26, 2016

Yeah, as I want to see the game do well for continued support I worry about the whole standalone thing. Potentially too many people with thoughtless knee jerk reaction...sadly hardly a rare thing on the internet.

And I do remember the gaming scene in the 90s and 00s. Having such a vast choice of games now, from so many new ones every year, to the ever growing back catalogue...such a tough industry to stand out in. Don't forget the iffy main stream media and the foibles of the netizens of the world too  

Looking forward to more info about Escalation.

 

Regarding the development of Ashes may I suggest that when you add further language support, which I think is really needed, that you don't add audio for all the languages like you did with German, and just provide subtitles, menus and UI with the different languages. This way you save money, have better quality control on voice actors as it's all in English, and finally if you want to edit the mission dialogues you can do so more easily as you will only need to re-translate some texts instead of bringing in the voice actors again. I realise you probably leave the voice actors till the end when everything is meant to be nailed down, but skipping this part could make final development logistics easier. A lot of big games with bigger budgets only offer subtitles and menus in the different languages and not the audio. I just feel this way you may be able to speed up the language work, as I think it would help get the game into more peoples hands, which is win-win for all of us.

 

Final thought. I did notice the performance boost on my 970. I was looking for it because the patch notes did mention the shader optimisations. I can now hit high 50s and 60FPS on Extreme settings at 1200p, so those are new highs for my system with a significant increase, good stuff!

on Sep 26, 2016

For what it's worth, while I've been pretty hard on the game lately (as near as I can tell, I'm about the closest thing to a consistent *!#$-poster who's stuck around the Steam forums for any length of time), I only do it because this is one of a small handful of games out since roughly April that I've had any kind of lasting interest in and feel has an actual chance of getting better. If I thought it were beyond help like Grey Goo, Homeworld Remastered, or Act of Aggression, I would have just uninstalled and left the forums entirely like I did with them.  I'm still here specifically because Stardock has a proven history of persevering with these things, giving an ear to community feedback, and regularly communicating their intentions.

I do remember the times you're talking about.  The 'Stand-alone' label used to be a positive selling-point for an expansion and having lurked through the whole PA kerfuffle, I'm still not sure why it suddenly fell out of favor beyond a general sentiment that "PA is bad, Uber is bad, and everything they did is also bad" (a sentiment so ubiquitous that people who didn't even buy or play the game are parroting it without being able to explain why when pressed.  Politics in a nutshell, basically). Yes, the good old days when some exciting new title was always around the corner and the golden years shortly afterward when Steam seemed like it had some measure of quality control and wasn't the dumping ground for an endless tide of 'indie' dross and anime storybooks that it is now.  Games with any kind of staying power outside of the F2P wallet-siphons are becoming a rarity now and given the spending habits of consumers these days, it's pretty easy to see why.

Anyway, all that to say that despite my pointed complaints, this customer appreciates what you're trying to do with this game.  Hopefully, Escalation takes some bite away from the 'lacks content' talking point and if your team can figure out how to make units consistently do what they're told (having to wrestle with the controls is a kiss of death for just about any game, especially an RTS), I think you'll have a product that people will be much more likely to stick around for.  Sure, I'll still hate the nukes and continue wishing for those pre-game options (or a more sensible delivery system) but... you know... one thing at a time.

 

on Sep 27, 2016

I was the same as you a few months ago and shelved the game for a month and a half due to the dreadnaught selection issue (might be a small issue to some but for me it was a showstopper) and I was very critical (in a constructive manner) I'm a strong believer that if people show respect then they should receive it back (referring to the devs). But anyway, I was particularly hard on the game and devs and posted quite a few times because I honestly feel this game has so much potential but I also took into account the budget the devs are working with, the size of their development team so I waited it out. I'm glad i did, they fixed the dreadnaught issue and I'm happier with the game because of it. 

I still think the base game still needs work, it's not quite mature enough and I know it could be so much more, though I do realise they are working on a budget so I don't post too much. This is what many people will not see and sympathise with or to the point, refuse to acknowledge. 

 

Escalation gives you more imo (or on paper it seems to) so I had no problem in pre-ordering and even purchased the DLC's even though I didn't need them. I still feel the best is yet to come from ashes whether it's under the hood changes/improvements (that many won't appreciate) to more content and features (which I think the base game still needs). But I am patient and then devs have met the roadmap milestones so I don't think I can regret purchasing. Infact, I'm glad I did and for the amount of hours I've played the game vs money spent it's been real good value. 

 

I think how far the game has come from early this year to now, the developers have done an excellent job  and it's evolved for the better. Anyway, sometimes people will complain just for the sake of complaining. Keep up the excellent work and i can say for this customer you're efforts are very much appreciated.  

 

*coughs* more info and screenshots of escalation *coughs* 

on Sep 27, 2016

The problem with expandalones just from a customer point of view is that we honestly don't see why you can't just buy a game and that's it, from now on you get all dlc for free, because it's not dlc or expansion just updating the original game.  Why can't the simple addition of new free content at regular intervals be enough to get customers buying a game.  Game developers have almost talked them selves into justifying the charge for dlc packs And expansions because that's the trend or another game is doing it and it's working for them.   The truth is most games nowadays come out half finished and customers are just so disillusioned with the whole state of the current games for sale that I don't trust anything that i read on the blurb sale page on steam for any game, then they charge for updates and content which probably shouldn't be a charge for and this happens so often that some games are getting viscous backlash on there forums if they make the wrong choices.  A recent one that springs to mind would be arc survival evolved which is a game in early access which had just released a expansion dlc which is costs money.  I mean the game is early access haha shouldnt that content be simply moving the game a step closer to release What is there reasoning behind that ? Development costs ? Why is it always the existing customers which pay the price.  What ever happened to not spending cash until you made a sale.  

I mean what is the pricing model for games in the future ? You buy the base game with 1 character and no weapons or bad guys then you dlc every other feature in the game.  That way a games entire development process can be costed and passed on to the customer As they build it.

What ever happened to just making a game because it's a great idea and it would be a great game, why does every game need to be designed to make a profit. 

Another disaster is no mans sky, taken on its own merits a perfectly ok Game / space exploration simiulator but the interviews and advertising lead everyone to believe that it was so much more, everyone brought it at full price 39.99 and it literally had nothing inside it to do.  the company that made it hasnt spoken in a month about it, and people rightly are raging.  How can you release a game which is basically empty and people are predicting that the next update will of course be chargeable.. So full price 39.99 + then more to fix the game which has nothing to do.  I mean this company has got so much backlash the company might even fold.  Simply because no one would probably buy any future game they make again.

If money really is that much of an issue, there's plenty of games on Kickstarter that have raised way more money than 3 million for a lot less of an idea than the biggest and best rts of all time.  

#rantthread

on Sep 27, 2016

I think most confusion its most from players.

Like you Draginol i have pass all electronic games since slot machines where play and insert coins in games like out run was more then enouth to ower pleasure after school.

That was the time i start on MS-dos just for the fun instal a cassete game with something i done, i have ask my father to buy me a ms-dos book to learn that i still have it today , in that time just make a simple square hit something was so good

 

Pass some years playing on megadrive or sega saturn make us have good times alone and with ower friends , because like you say the few couple dozen choices where easy to choose what game to buy.

I have Mame32 instal just for some times remember all that games.

Todays games are diferent , has a oldschool gamer like you personaly i see so mush worry about grafic quality and less contact with complex ideas to the games .

The best exemple i have its the 1 tomb raider , doom, Dune, red alert, TA, Sould ripper and later a game that no one will ever do something like that not many players now it ( Prey ) a game that was made in 10 years and i never have play nothing like that game comes from future.

What i mean is some ideas to make the players feel to be in the game have been lost, and i feel that Dev have a bit afraid use old ideas that always have work.

I dont think also its dev fault because many new players dont know what they really like, i saw some fantastic games been crush by bad critics that make me wonder what kind games they like.

For me todays PCs are winning Consoles by far , but there was a time that pcs were dying but finaly now all want have the real pleasure play in a pc like a real player.

If we think well me like most here pass all technology history that make me proud, i start see tv black and white with some square buttons , in my town when we knew some one receive a coulor tv we where about 30 kids try to see how it was ,until this time that we worry about if Dx11 have bether performance then Dx12.

 

For me Aots its a fresh game like no other and has a modder  i find in ashes so many ideas that can be work that its impossible count.

But not all like me and most dont even care about all the work a team have to make a game, i hate WoW but wy is or was the most playble game....Make me think what the players real like this days.

 

Then comes you and your team that i so mush respect, it cant be easy make games for todays players no matter the decisions you think its the right ones.

Will be always a % that will hate but you guys live from this and we showld help you and most dev team and try to understand teams like Stardock that real care about the players.

You know im crasy about FAF because  i play it all days since 2007 1/2 games like i play and use Aots since the 1 beta day, but lately i see that ashes its becoming bether and bether then FA, from the units response to quality from units , just a pleasure saw all that obvius always something that miss to complet the player experience but thats with time.

 

Stardock in 2016 you all rock in this hard game industry just keep it that you become the next genaration cya on Escalation and pls dont forget my tools

 

READY

> 10 print " All buy the Escalation because will be fantastic and share the game information has mush you can"

> 20 goto 10

> run



on Sep 28, 2016

There is only one thing that I would like to say: Keep up the good work!  Cant wait for Escalation!

on Sep 29, 2016

I actually do remember times when our local game shop had like 20 games available and it was considered one of the biggest ones. 

I also do remember that when you bought a game you actually get a full game with all of intended content.

I also do remember that when a expansions came, they were expandind the universe of the game not adressing issues in core games desing. Btw those expansions costed somewhat 30-50% of the core game value. 

What we have nowadays? Early access, that is considered somewhat an alpha or beta test, but you pay money for it (full price). Then game goes on release but it has like 1/2 of the intended functionality and content, and you pay money for it (full price if you havent bought EA). Then DLCs start spawning like zerglings with some fixes and missing content/functionality added (you pay some more money for it). Then another DLC.... another DLC.... so 3-6 dlcs later an expansion is announced, and guess what you either have to buy expac for the same price as core game is (with much less content then in core game), or expandalone which raises the question - what did i payed for while i backed this studio in EA, core game release, dlcs. 

So instead of getting a full product for a fixed price, you get almost perma drained for more money to ofc support the developer. 

The problem with this model is that i as a buyer actually feel cheated. 

For example ive bought cossacks 3 last week, which is actually a remaster of 15 year old game for 28 eur. And you know what? It does actually feel like a complete game. The replayability is colosal, mechanics are deep. Sure there were some bugs and balance problems, but they actually fix them asap. And that 28 eur deal came with a year of dlcs for free. Is it a good deal? i think so. 

As for ashes... Brad, in every post and topic i see only one well advertised argument from your side - the ashes game engine. Im no engineer, i cant tell a difference between various engines. I am a gamer, a player, a customer, and what a gamer wants to see is interesting game full of content and well FUN. Maybe you are correct and that engine is masterpiece, but all i can see and rate is gameplay, story, design, sounds, visuals. 

As for steam reviews, you might actually think that im one of these people that puts a negative review to a game when he disagrees with game development, but tbh i didnt actually rated ashes and i am not going to, because i cant put a positive review because of games currents state. Putting a negative review may hurt game development and still wouldnt change a thing, so my "blank" possition i think is quite reasonable as i can see. If ashes somehow would actually get better i promise i would put a good positive review. 

on Sep 29, 2016

Orachin

Then DLCs start spawning like zerglings with some fixes and missing content/functionality added (you pay some more money for it). Then another DLC.... another DLC.... so 3-6 dlcs later an expansion is announced, and guess what you either have to buy expac for the same price as core game is (with much less content then in core game), or expandalone which raises the question - what did i payed for while i backed this studio in EA, core game release, dlcs. 

This whole paragraph seems like a side swipe at Ashes. But IF it is then it is quite inaccurate. The DLC does not add any missing content or functionality. They are only maps and scenarios, both of which you can make yourself and there is even a guide telling you how to do it. It is completely optional and if they are not your thing you lose nothing by not having them. The standalone is half price for owners of Ashes so it comes inline with normal expansion prices. I also bought the game early but think a standalone is fine as it gets new players up to scratch a lot quicker. 

 

I am really surprised you brought up Cossacks 3 as a good counter argument to current trends. It is a slight revamp of a good old game. If it is good then it is because the original was good. But it is still broken in some regards, you can take on a whole bunch of the toughest AI if you stick it on a water/island map. Doing a re-make is SO much easier than creating a game from scratch, it really isn't comparable. Especially as it is an established franchise.

Generally I agree with the broad idea that we do get less for our money in some ways. But what people do forget is that costs of making games has gone up massively yet the prices for games has not kept up with inflation. Yes there are more gamers now but also there are thousands more games too, so to stick out long enough to make a profit is incredibly hard. That is one reason why even a huge brand like GTA 5 spent hundreds of millions on PR work, more than the cost of the game itself. A lot of kiddies (and I don't mean you) cry "greed!" when companies do DLC and expansion packs etc. and there are cases when it is true, but for a lot of studios they need money to both pay for support of the current game and to make enough to work on a new game.

Anyway, though I enjoy Ashes I do wish Ashes had launched with more content, better UI and less bugs. They saved time/money in the short term but it did put some people off and sometimes it is hard to recover from initial impressions. But as it is a niche genre I can see their thinking. Feel the ground before you invest loads of money into something which might not sell. Goo was a big budget RTS and I expect they made losses, Act of Aggression is another one, and I think PA broke the back of Uberent. The new Homeworld RTS sold very well I'm sure, being part of a very well liked franchise, but the MP and AI side was weak/broken so it now has less players playing than Ashes. The way Ashes is more slowly built up can keep them in the black while they add more content and features, some for free and some paid. Not everyone likes this approach and so yes, they can and should wait. Others can enjoy what is there and also look forward to new content.

And agreed, EA is probably best avoided.

on Sep 30, 2016

Ticktoc

This whole paragraph seems like a side swipe at Ashes.

Its not to be honest. There are a few things that can be "thrown" at ashes, but not the whole paragraph. 

Ticktoc

I am really surprised you brought up Cossacks 3 as a good counter argument to current trends.
Ticktoc

Doing a re-make is SO much easier than creating a game from scratch, it really isn't comparable. Especially as it is an established franchise.

I do agree that making a remake is easier, but the point here is that its actually fun to play, considering that many of steam reviewers consider that game not worth it price. For me as a customer there are a few criteria that i always think of when deciding on buying a game. Fun/price coeficent. If i get a lot of fun content for a lot of money, im ok with that. If i get a lot of content for medium price (like witcher 3) i am so happy. If i get small ammount of content for a small price its fine too. But i certanly do not feel ok when i have small content for high price, and thats where the game industry is going atm. 

Ticktoc

Generally I agree with the broad idea that we do get less for our money in some ways.

Thats the point. 

Ticktoc

A lot of kiddies (and I don't mean you) cry "greed!" when companies do DLC and expansion packs etc. and there are cases when it is true, but for a lot of studios they need money to both pay for support of the current game and to make enough to work on a new game.

Dont get me wrong, i am willing to pay for content. I think that hard work should be paid for. I am happy when a decent DLC or expansion arrives in games i own. 90% of games i own i eventually get all the expacks or dlcs or i get them at first sight (depends on the game ofc). But i do want to pay for a good quality content, not just some maps (hi ashes). You may know a game called Age of Wonders 3. They had 2 dlc/expansions come out, that actually expanded the universe and added a lot of content to a TBS game (which is kinda on par with RTS). Im ok with that kind of expacks or dlcs and i would always buy that sort of content. 

Ticktoc

Anyway, though I enjoy Ashes I do wish Ashes had launched with more content, better UI and less bugs.

Fully agree.

 

Another problem i see is that stardocks invested too much money and effort towards that new engine they made. From what i see its like 3/4 of the whole budget, and the other 1/4 of budget made the gameplay/content of ashes. But hey, im not a specialist here, thats how i see it, and i may be wrong. 

As for the escalation expack, i think ill wait some time before considering on buying it or not, maybe after its released ill watch some youtube vids

on Sep 30, 2016

The devs have made pretty clear the investment in the engine was necessary to take Ashes (and future games) to the next level.  A contrast is Paradox which has under-invested and has Stellaris which really could use a better engine (and more content).

Personally, Ashes is the most strategic game I've ever played on PC.  A good contrast is Starcraft which is far more polished, has a better narrative and is more complex.  But Ashes forces strategic thinking on a level above Starcraft for those same reasons IMO. And not having micro is one of my favorite parts.  It's frustrating in "strategy" games when you can out-maneuver your opponent and lose because they out-clicked you.

on Sep 30, 2016

Orachin

I actually do remember times when our local game shop had like 20 games available and it was considered one of the biggest ones. 

I also do remember that when you bought a game you actually get a full game with all of intended content.

I also do remember that when a expansions came, they were expandind the universe of the game not adressing issues in core games desing. Btw those expansions costed somewhat 30-50% of the core game value. 

What we have nowadays? Early access, that is considered somewhat an alpha or beta test, but you pay money for it (full price). Then game goes on release but it has like 1/2 of the intended functionality and content, and you pay money for it (full price if you havent bought EA). Then DLCs start spawning like zerglings with some fixes and missing content/functionality added (you pay some more money for it). Then another DLC.... another DLC.... so 3-6 dlcs later an expansion is announced, and guess what you either have to buy expac for the same price as core game is (with much less content then in core game), or expandalone which raises the question - what did i payed for while i backed this studio in EA, core game release, dlcs. 

So instead of getting a full product for a fixed price, you get almost perma drained for more money to ofc support the developer. 

The problem with this model is that i as a buyer actually feel cheated. 

For example ive bought cossacks 3 last week, which is actually a remaster of 15 year old game for 28 eur. And you know what? It does actually feel like a complete game. The replayability is colosal, mechanics are deep. Sure there were some bugs and balance problems, but they actually fix them asap. And that 28 eur deal came with a year of dlcs for free. Is it a good deal? i think so. 

As for ashes... Brad, in every post and topic i see only one well advertised argument from your side - the ashes game engine. Im no engineer, i cant tell a difference between various engines. I am a gamer, a player, a customer, and what a gamer wants to see is interesting game full of content and well FUN. Maybe you are correct and that engine is masterpiece, but all i can see and rate is gameplay, story, design, sounds, visuals. 

As for steam reviews, you might actually think that im one of these people that puts a negative review to a game when he disagrees with game development, but tbh i didnt actually rated ashes and i am not going to, because i cant put a positive review because of games currents state. Putting a negative review may hurt game development and still wouldnt change a thing, so my "blank" possition i think is quite reasonable as i can see. If ashes somehow would actually get better i promise i would put a good positive review. 

There's a lot of rose colored glasses in this post imo.

I'll try to address the points here:

Re "I remember when you got the full game..."

What you remember is that games were released and abandoned.  You also paid a lot more for them.  That was the retail model.

Re "I remember when expansions 30% to 50% and expanded the universe.."

The typical price for an expansion for many years was $29.99. This was in 1990s and that price held for years.  The base game's price was typically $49.99 or $59.99.

The model today is vastly better for gamers.  The games cost a lot less, the expansions cost less.  

Re "I feel cheated"

Your example of a good deal is paying for a remaster of a 15 year old game.  That's a bit of an edge case imo.

I can't help how you feel.  No one has gotten rich making RTS games.  Those of us making them are doing them because we love making them and the communities.

I can tell you that the seemingly endless complaining from what is, after all, a relatively small community, can discourage developers from supporting the genre. I know of at least two RTS developers that have given up on the genre because of what they feel are unreasonable expectations of the RTS community.

Few people enjoy being called scammers or crooks or what have you.  I know the folks at Uber have taken a lot of abuse and while someone might think they deserve it, I can assure you, no one at Uber got rich making Planetary Annihilation.  Supreme Commander basically ruined GPG.  StarCraft survives because people are willing to pay $40 for new campaigns for StarCraft 2.  

In other words, developers aren't feeling the love from RTS players and are moving on to genres where they can make a fun game at a relatively modest budget and get praised.

Re "Ashes is mostly known for its new engine"

That is because that is what the press chose to cover.  It was the first DirectX 12 game. The first gen 4 RTS. So it's natural that's going to get coverage.  But the game will live and die based on how good of a game it is. 

Re Steam reviews

That's fair enough.  I am working on an article for Gamasutra that basically says "Are gamers entitled? Yes. And why shouldn't they be?"  It is very hard for a 2016 game to compete against every game that has ever been released.

A 2016 game with a $3 million budget is still going to have a hard time competing against a 2007 game with a $28 million budget.  There is no way around that because while tech and engines and such have come a long way. There is no substitute for time and content.

But here's the thing: That 2007 game won't be getting updated.  If you like games of a certain genre and want new work in those areas, you have to vote with your wallet (one way or the other).

I'm perfectly happy making games for other genres.  Genres where $3 million can make something pretty amazing for that genre.   But we wanted to make an land-based RTS and $3 million doesn't get you far.  Planetary Annihilation cost something like $11 million (not counting Titans).   

After Escalation, if the sales aren't there and, more importantly, the player reviews aren't there then fair enough.  We'll just focus our attention on more popular genres where our budget is more than enough to compete with what's already there.

The only way the RTS market is worthwhile for new IP is either if you can invest $10+ million OR if the RTS community is willing to support a long-term commitment to development to get the content and niceties in there.  

Ultimately, the market will decide.  

on Oct 01, 2016

Im not sure you can really blame the players here, im pretty sure everyone posting here has already paid you for ashes and the fact that they are visting this games forum says they are passionate about ashes.  Me personally I paid twice the normal price as a lifetime member to get ashes brought to life as I believed in the idea early on and wanted to get it going.   I have already done my part.    either as a company you believe in ashes or you don't, you can't really be posting in the ashes forum complaining that you only have 3 million because you have to budget for all your other games that you want to make.   If you think the concept is a winner then you see it through, the longer you take to get there the more time it's left in limbo for people to complain.  star citizen has 200 million in budget and it's no closer to being finished, how much money does it take in 2016 to get a finished game. 

 

on Oct 01, 2016

Frogboy

...  community is willing to support a long-term commitment to development to get the content and niceties in there.  

 

I'm in. Keep working.

 

 

 

on Oct 01, 2016

Richy_Young

Im not sure you can really blame the players here, im pretty sure everyone posting here has already paid you for ashes and the fact that they are visting this games forum says they are passionate about ashes.  Me personally I paid twice the normal price as a lifetime member to get ashes brought to life as I believed in the idea early on and wanted to get it going.   I have already done my part.    either as a company you believe in ashes or you don't, you can't really be posting in the ashes forum complaining that you only have 3 million because you have to budget for all your other games that you want to make.   If you think the concept is a winner then you see it through, the longer you take to get there the more time it's left in limbo for people to complain.  star citizen has 200 million in budget and it's no closer to being finished, how much money does it take in 2016 to get a finished game. 

 

I'm not sure where you got "blame the players".  Blame the players for what?  I was responding to a specific post that I thought was representative of a particular constituency of the RTS community.

As a business, it has nothing to do with "believing in" a concept once the product is released.  Believing in something is a matter of faith and that is, in this analogy, would be the up front investment to get the game done.

Ashes is already a good, "finished" game.  However, I presume people would like to see it further developed.  We are doing that with Escalation.  But there have been many posts from people believing that the base game should have had the content of Escalation too.  That's not realistic.  The RTS market simply isn't large enough to justify that kind of budget on new IP. The Steam reviews routinely have people saying that Ashes should be $5 or some other absurd price.  

Supply and demand are what determines pricing and budgets.  

Since every RTS game released has to now (in the age of digital distribution) compete with every RTS that has ever been released, the supply of RTS games out there is very large relative to the size of the market.  Therefore, the demand for new RTS games is a lot less.

Similarly, because demand is a lot less, the price of new RTS games has to keep that demand in mind but that also affects the budget.  

What we, as a community, must do (presuming we want RTS games to continue to be made) is support those who make things we like. I know I'm preaching to the choir here.  But anyone who lurks long enough will find that there is a sizable percentage of the RTS demographic that is not supportive.

Let's take a look at the recent review scores for the RTS games most similar to Ashes:

  • Planetary Annihilation (Mostly Negative)
  • Planetary Annihilation: Titans (Mostly positive: 72%)
  • Grey Goo (Mixed) -- and they gave away an entire free race to their community
  • Act of Aggression - Reboot (Mixed: 43%)

Other strategy game markets, like 4X, don't suffer from this.  Neither do RPG, Action, etc.  Simulation games routinely sell both high numbers and has a user base that is extremely supportive.  

When it comes to making games, there are usually two motivators: Money and/or Affirmation.  You really need to have one.  

The greater RTS community tends to be very critical but also relatively few in number.  They are perfectly fine playing FAF or Company of Heroes 2 (Mixed: 65% recent) or Age of Empires.  Thus, they aren't aware that the RTS *developer* community is largely gone.  

Anyway, I'm not trying to rant or criticize anyone.  I am just trying to share with you and anyone else reading this that we should work together to try to restore the RTS market and the first part of that is to support (with reviews, sales, etc.) those supporting the RTS market.

We'll supporting Ashes (and Escalation) for a long time to come.  We have a very long-term plan for it.  The only question will be whether the market wants that plan to come to fruition.

What can you do?

Here are things the community can do that makes a difference to developers (not just RTS games but any game):

  1. Review the game on Steam
  2. Support multiplayer
  3. Support modding, work together on that (the mod scene for SupCom was due to fans making tools that let people manage mods)
  4. Participate on game wikis related to the game you like
  5. Participate on social media in areas related to the game you like (RTS in Ashes case)
  6. Participate on forums, be a good ambassador

Over the past couple of years I've seen developers leave the game industry to work at other jobs.  Two of them I talked to explicitly listed the Steam reviews as a reason.  I support the Steam review system (you have to have some way to determine whether a game is good and I like the Steam reviews more than Metacritic).  But holy cow, the things people write in those reviews are often terrible and without any empathy.

People who work in the game industry are taking a pay cut to work on things they enjoy.  Thus, the quickest way to irritate a game developer is to suggest they're trying to make "a quick buck" or "rip people off".  

 

 

on Oct 01, 2016

Steam "Mixed" review is given to games below 70%...all the way down to less than 50%?! Mixed is already very harsh if you have over 60% but less than 70%. I'll always have 70% in my head as if you got that in a masters it was considered excellent, 60%-70% good, and 50%-60% pass. So Mixed for 68% or whatever Ashes has seems pretty harsh, especially if a game with 50% gets the same label.

Addendum: Found this chart, not sure if it is still accurate but no reason to doubt it from game store review observations:

  • 95 - 99% : Overhwelmingly Positive
  • 94 - 80% : Very Positive
  • 80 - 99% + few reviews: Positive
  • 70 - 79% : Mostly Positive
  • 40 - 69% : Mixed
  • 20? - 39% : Mostly Negative
  • 0 - 39% + rew reviews: Negative
  • 0 - 19% : Very Negative
  • 0 - 19% + many reviews: Overwhelmingly Negative
  • I really think the Mixed range is far too massive. 69% being mixed and not positive is ridiculous.
I really think the Mixed range is far too massive. 69% being mixed and not positive is ridiculous.

Sad that game developers are leaving over Steam reviews. I can understand though, so many reviews have 0 thought put into them, must be demoralizing. And to be honest, I fear they create a culture of having to pander to the lowest common denominator, which is not a healthy thing for the industry. 

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