Yesterday we launched the 2.71 update which featured a number of changes to air units and some improvements to Scenarios and Campaigns. With King of the Hill and Overlord tweaked, this now means every Scenario and almost every Campaign mission has received a rework over the last year compared to how it was when they launched. Sometimes I get nostalgic for how much Ashes has changed since I started last January and how overpowered certain strategies used to be (Punisher rush, anyone?).
Over the past couple of weeks I have been updating various parts of the Ashes wiki, from fixing up all the outdated unit info to expanding the modder's guide. There's still some work on it to go, but I want the wiki to be a useful hub of information to new players and to provide all the necessary information to anyone interested in modding or creating scenarios. I'd also like to create a flow chart of the counter system of each unit; while the in-game tooltips communicate the strengths of each unit, it doesn't say their weaknesses, and doing so would be piling too much into the tooltips.
I would love it if people tried out how to make a mod, scenario, or map, and reported to me anywhere they got stuck on something that wasn't explained or not explained well on the modding wiki so I can update and add more information.
**So, What's Next?**
Lately things have been slowing down on the Ashes front as more of our resources are pooled to work on Star Control: Origins. Once that's released, we'll be able to reallocate programmers, artists, and such back to Ashes. We have a lot of cool ideas for want we want to do (transports, third faction, naval, more modding/workshop support, etc.), but we'll work out what our roadmap is for Ashes when Star Control: Origins is shipped and we have an idea of how many resources we'll have available.
I'll be continuing to work on Ashes (though not solely) and have a strong presence in the community, but what I can do is limited without having a dedicated programmer assigned to Ashes. The 2.71 changes were all done by me, so please keep talking about maps/campaigns/balance (I do read it all). I can change all of that stuff, but requesting new features or, say, changes to the way Orbital Abilities function requires code changes from a programmer, which won't be on the table for a bit.
That being said, I think that Ashes' gameplay/balance is pretty much near the best it's going to be without being able to implement code changes, add new units (I still want my AA Dreads/Juggs), or undertake massive reworks which comes with the risk of breaking the campaigns. There's a lot I'd like to do with gameplay/balance such as make it so that everything can hover backwards, making disengaging more viable, but implementing these ostensibly simple things can be very time consuming from an engineering perspective.
As a result, lately I've been investing more of my time in non-gameplay related areas, such as updating the wiki's, tournament streams, shoutcasts, and marketing stuff such as an RTS podcast (highlights of which will go on SD YouTube) and an essay/video essay about designing alien units in RTS, which will be posted sometime soon. Ashes is my baby, so while I'm currently limited in the gameplay changes I can do, I'm trying to get as many eyes on the game to grow the community, and the more revenue it makes the more resources we can invest in it.
Our commitment to the Ashes of the Singularity project is long term, but there'll be ups and downs in terms of its development priority. I'm looking forward to being able to reveal what we're working on once there's tangible stuff to talk about, but in the mean time, I'll still do these monthly Dev Diaries even if it's just to blog about a specific topic or to promote what's been happening in the community. Such as:
Next fortnightly Ashes tournament is coming up on the 24th of February. I've stopped competing in these so that I can spectate the best matches and shoutcast them live with my now house mate, Blake/ArchonHawk, who I've been doing RTS commentary with for 5 years on our YouTube channel. After the tournament we often do an extra game or two just for fun, last week we ended with a live cast of 3 player free for all! The best of these matches get posted on the Stardock YouTube channel, but usually with a delay due to the scheduling of other of content.
The skill levels of the players in the tournaments are a mixed bag, but most are high level, so if you're not keen on entering you can tune into the stream and learn the strategies and habits of the top players which will improve your play. It's also a good time to ask me questions as there's downtime in between games. I used to stream the tournaments on my Twitch, but moving forward it'll be on Stardock's. As long as these community tournaments continue to run each fortnight I'll be streaming them, though sometimes I won't be able to make it, as it's a Saturday night my time.
Sign up for the next Tournament: (Link may not work unless you are logged into a battlefly account)
We wanted to celebrate the new Secret Missions DLC for Ashes, so we're having a screenshot contest! A lucky winner will receive a free copy of either the new Ashes DLC or a Stardock game of their choice. To see what the prizes are and to read the rules, check out the post here. I'm looking forward to seeing all of the screenshots - good luck!
**Monitor Automatch Tool**
One of our community members, Chronopolize, made a tool for viewing when players are searching for a ranked/unranked match; it also plays a chime when a player is searching. We made a tool similar to this a while ago, but that doesn't seem to work for everyone and having it as a web page and not a program makes it easier. Many people may find this convenient. Check it out here.
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That's it for today, thanks everyone for being part of a great community!