Brad Wardell's views about technology, politics, religion, world affairs, and all sorts of politically incorrect topics.

imageA very long time ago, like, a million years ago, Stardock made a game called The Corporate Machine.  Like all of Stardock’s games, it was played almost exclusively single player.  But unlike our other games, it was surprisingly popular in multiplayer.  How come?

For The Corporate Machine we did the following:

  1. Start-Up Watcher: A little system tray app that monitored for available games and let people launch it.
  2. 7 multiplayer only keys that people who owned the game could share with their friends and included the Start-up launcher.

Last week, we released Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation.  People seem to really like it but, like our other games, it’s mostly played single player. 

When we designed Ashes of the Singularity and Escalation, it was our expectation that about 95% of players would play it single player, 5% multiplayer.  In reality, it’s been closer to 97% single player.

For multiplayer fans, this stat could be bad news but there is a silver lining: It becomes economically justifiable to release a multiplayer-only version of the game in the future.

Here would be the limitations:

  1. No single player support at all. No skirmish, no campaign, etc.
  2. Cannot add AI bots to multiplayer hosted games.
  3. Would have to have a Stardock ID (so that we have some direct control over issues of griefing, ,cheating, etc.).

Time frame

Not yet.  There are a couple of features that are pre-requisites. 

  1. The replay feature for version 1.5 of the base game (2.1 of Escalation) is absolutely a requirement. 
  2. We also need to create a new system tray app that will make it easier for people to jump into games.
  3. We need a scheduling app that will let people set up games and remind others to join in when the time comes.

Eventually, this Tournament edition would be available on Steam for $9.99 which would allow people to get the benchmark as well (since a lot of people just want the benchmark).  We don’t plan to make it free-to-play except for friends of those who have the base game.

Post your thoughts below on what you think of this concept.


Comments (Page 1)
on Nov 19, 2016

I like the idea. I'm glad you are waiting for replays before launching it. The 5% stat is kind of self-fulfilling. It's hard for new players to get into MP. They try it out but I feel like many probably get discouraged being matched with experienced players because no one else is searching ranked. Then they can't watch a replay to see why they lost and what their opponent did. So they give up. Whatever tools to help new players in MP that can be brought in would help. The playerbase can't support splitting ranked with a 2v2 version at this point but it would be awesome to see that at some point. Some players find that less intimidating than 1v1 and/or just prefer team games.

on Nov 19, 2016

Ekko_Tek

I like the idea. I'm glad you are waiting for replays before launching it. The 5% stat is kind of self-fulfilling. It's hard for new players to get into MP. They try it out but I feel like many probably get discouraged being matched with experienced players because no one else is searching ranked. Then they can't watch a replay to see why they lost and what their opponent did. So they give up. Whatever tools to help new players in MP that can be brought in would help. The playerbase can't support splitting ranked with a 2v2 version at this point but it would be awesome to see that at some point. Some players find that less intimidating than 1v1 and/or just prefer team games.

Only 3% of players have pressed the multiplayer button.  So it's not a matter of people trying it.

on Nov 19, 2016

I do think it is a great idea to have a Tournament Edition version of the game at a lower price.

So you have:

  • Tournament Edition at $US 9.99
  • Ashes of the Singularity at $US 19.99
  • Ashes of the Singularity Escalation at $US 39.99

Will you have the Strategic zoom enabled for the Tournament Edition?

Will players have all the maps including the DLC's to use?

Are they Able to play Custom MP games or only Ranked?

Will they have the Map Editor or Scenario Editor?

Good luck with that. cheers

 

on Nov 19, 2016

Frogboy


Quoting Ekko_Tek,

I like the idea. I'm glad you are waiting for replays before launching it. The 5% stat is kind of self-fulfilling. It's hard for new players to get into MP. They try it out but I feel like many probably get discouraged being matched with experienced players because no one else is searching ranked. Then they can't watch a replay to see why they lost and what their opponent did. So they give up. Whatever tools to help new players in MP that can be brought in would help. The playerbase can't support splitting ranked with a 2v2 version at this point but it would be awesome to see that at some point. Some players find that less intimidating than 1v1 and/or just prefer team games.



Only 3% of players have pressed the multiplayer button.  So it's not a matter of people trying it.

As someone who enjoys 1v1 ranked in Ashes that's a bit depressing but I guess that's reality. What % play custom MP games?

on Nov 19, 2016

+1 tourney addition. 

To clarify: Is the plan that those who own the game (escalation) would just be able to play MP,  without the additional tourney version purchase?

I personally don'y care TOO much on this point, but just want a sense of what to expect.

 

Also,  am curious how upgrades will be handled?

Will tourney addition be a crippled version that will remain the same forever, or will it have all of the latest greatest stuff as the game evolves?

Someone asked about strategic zoom above -- that's a good example of the sort of feature that I would be curious about.

 

I guess my biggest fear would be the "Strategic Zoom" situation happening again.

And by that, I mean a situation where SD adds a feature, but they invest so much time in it that they cannot justify "giving it away."

SO, a decision is made to require an additional upgrade/product purchase.

And because lots of folks won't make the purchase, this only serves to fracture the MP community.

And because the MP community is still pretty small.. The MP experience is strangled in its infancy... never even gets a chance to ramp.

 

Yeah, that would be bad. Please don't do that.

I STILL think that SASS would be a more sensible model for this.

It could lower the barrier to entry, perhaps to just a couple of $.

And the ongoing investment would justify continued development, attention, and upgrades.

 

That's my 5 cents.

 

GL.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

on Nov 19, 2016

ASADDF

I do think it is a great idea to have a Tournament Edition version of the game at a lower price.

So you have:

 

    • Tournament Edition at $US 9.99

 

    • Ashes of the Singularity at $US 19.99

 

    • Ashes of the Singularity Escalation at $US 39.99

 


Will you have the Strategic zoom enabled for the Tournament Edition?

Will players have all the maps including the DLC's to use?

Are they Able to play Custom MP games or only Ranked?

Will they have the Map Editor or Scenario Editor?

Good luck with that. cheers

 

It would be based off Escalation so they'd have strategic zoom.  They won't have maps or DLC but if the host of the game has it, they're fine. No map or scenario editors.

on Nov 19, 2016

Think of Tourney as = Escalation - single player features.

on Nov 20, 2016

Glad to hear a replay feature is on its way!! 

I'll wait for that before even playing skirmish.  I hope the replay feature becomes available before Christmas, so I can play skirmish during the Christmas holidays.

Regarding multiplayer, the main problem is the fear of getting thrashed, or sadistically toyed with, by a nasty other player.  Is it possible to have a category of quicker games that are labelled "just for fun" and the matchmaking is careful to prevent mismatches.  The shorter the game, the less painful the loss.  This is an advantage of Heroes of the Storm -- losses are less painful, because the game is short.  

Also, can there be a mercy warning when one side's military might gets too big compared to my military might?  An aspect of multiplayer that is unpleasant is that the opponent is better than you and will win, but toys with you and builds this massive army that you never know of, until it comes at you unstoppable later, and you feel, well the last 20 minutes or so of this game was pointless.  It's about mercy so the inevitable loser doesn't end up wasting time by the game dragging on to his inevitable loss.  

Also, how to prevent rushes?  It is unpleasant to lose because your opponent generated a quick attack that was quicker than you can build up.  

The point is, how to make multiplayer fun for the casual player. Most of us don't have time to practice to get good enough for serious and competitive multiplayer.  That's why we stick to skirmish, as we can set the difficulty of skirmish and can exit early if it's not going well without feeling any social embarrassment.  

 

on Nov 20, 2016

My recommendation if you play multiplayer, lose, and feel bad about it.

 

Play again. And again. And again. And sooner or later you will feel good about yourself when you win.

 

And then you will lose again. And again. and Again.

 

But keep playing, and you will win again.

 

I promise.

 

 

^^^ That, plus this: It's just a game, not a job, not a demarcation of social status. Maintain perspective.

 

It's like chess... takes time to learn and get better.

 

on Nov 21, 2016

So these players can't use any kind of bots even in multiplayer. But, could a player who owns Escalation add bots and invite tournament players still?

on Nov 21, 2016

This is a great news. Did you consider a free to play tournament edition? What are your thoughts about it?

on Nov 21, 2016

As someone who almost exclusively plays RTS in multiplayer, I really like this idea. And am glad to see ideas to support the multiplayer community in Ashes.

Personally, I'd prefer if Tournament Edition were a bit more expensive and had more features (MP bots, ability to buy DLC, skirmish if the MP community dies). But if Tournament Edition owners can upgrade to the full Escalation game (minus the cost of Tournament Edition), then this move makes sense and seems like a good one.

on Nov 21, 2016

fantstc1

My recommendation if you play multiplayer, lose, and feel bad about it.

 

Play again. And again. And again. And sooner or later you will feel good about yourself when you win.

 

And then you will lose again. And again. and Again.

 

But keep playing, and you will win again.

 

I promise.

 

 

^^^ That, plus this: It's just a game, not a job, not a demarcation of social status. Maintain perspective.

 

It's like chess... takes time to learn and get better.

 

As Frogboy said, the overwhelming majority of us have never even bothered trying multiplayer. Have absolutely no interest in it what-so-ever.

That said, will definitely give a key to my younger brother so he can try it.

on Nov 23, 2016

Maybe there is a way to promote multiplayer more from the home screen. Starcraft 2 does this by making the multiplayer aspect very prominent from the home screen. I would be nice to get more people in the multiplayer games!

on Nov 23, 2016

Great_One

Maybe there is a way to promote multiplayer more from the home screen. Starcraft 2 does this by making the multiplayer aspect very prominent from the home screen. I would be nice to get more people in the multiplayer games!

Starcraft 2 has a large multiplayer because the original Starcraft gained an inexplicably large multiplayer. They could've hid the multiplayer button and it would still be popular.

People aren't playing Ashes of the Singularity multiplayer because:

  • There's nowhere near the same playerbase.
  • Starcraft 2 is a dominant e-sports title.
  • Most of us don't care about multiplayer in Ashes.

 

They can do whatever they like to make multiplayer more appealing, but frankly, a lot of us will never bother playing even a single game of multiplayer, because it doesn't interest us in the slightest.

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