Which of these is your favorite RTS of all time?

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DEV DIARY: Ashes T4s

Posted on Friday, January 13, 2017 By Draginol


We are currently working on additional units for Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation.  The T4s and more T3s are not units you will run into in the competitive multiplayer games but on the bigger maps, late game, we run into a lot of cases where the existing units just aren't powerful enough to distinguish between one civilization and another.

Below is a list of some of the units we are considering.  Feel free to suggest your names:

Name Level Description
Jinx T1 Fires a shot that slows down a unit. The more hits, the slower the unit goes
Flea T1 Splinters won't target it. Can jump up a level of ground without a ramp
Havok T1 Very fast moving light attack unit
  T2 Protects area from bombardment
  T2 Hides area from radar detection
Helios T3 Flying air Dreadnought
War Hog A3 Slow moving flying air cannon
Theia T3 Giant Mobile Factory
  T3 Greatly enhances other units in fleet
  T4 Very slow moving doomsday machine that will destroy one thing at a time.
  T4 Very slow moving doomsday machine that wipes out vast swaths of cheap units
  T4 Very slow moving doomsday machine that lays siege to a distant target
  A3 Ultimate air superiority fighter
  T4 Very slow moving doomsday machine that protects everything nearby

These units will be released for free for Escalation owners.

Ashes Dev Diary: But it's on my home machine...

Posted on Thursday, January 12, 2017 By Draginol

So I did a lot of changes on Ashes balance over the holiday and the team was asking for those changes to be checked in.

I said, "Sorry! I forgot to check them in, they're at home..."


Then suddenly, I realized, I had taken my work machine home to do those changes and brought my work machine back to the office after break.

So I do have them here which means my balance and AI tweaks can go in the upcoming update after all!

ASHES ESC: January 2017 Dev update!

Posted on Thursday, January 05, 2017 By Island Dog

Greetings and happy new year!

Lots of stuff going on so I'll get right to it.


People who bought the base game Ashes of the Singularity's DLC will start to see that DLC show up here and automatically be added to their account.

The tentative schedule is like this:

January: Part 1
- Dawn of the Singularity (eBook prequel written by David Simpson) [$4.99]
- Soundtrack (by Battlestar Galactica's Richard Gibbs and Civ V's Geoff Knorr) [$9.99]

January: Part 2
- Overlord Gauntlet (combines Overlord and Gauntlet together, if you have either one you get it) [$4.99]
- Epic Turtle Wars (combines the epic map pack with turtle wars with oblivion, if you bought either one, you get it all). [$4.99]

## Version 2.1 ##

We are hard at work on the next big update to Escalation. We expect this to show up within the next 30 days or so. Lots of little polish things, localization improvements, general clean up.

We'd like to get your feedback on other hot key layouts you might want to see. 

Think of 2.1 as a general across the board polish pass so feel free to comment here on any little touches you'd like us to get in for this version.

## Scenario Editor ##

We are going to be releasing an open source scenario editor for Ashes. You should be able to make your own stuff relatively easily. This will be in preparation for the forthcoming Steamworks uploading and downloading of maps and scenarios.

## Cider Mill ##

This is more of a modding thing but a major project at Stardock is to create a series of tools that will let people more easily modify Nitrous based games. That means UI, units, etc.

One of the first tools will be called Nitrous WhipIt which will let you bring in FBX files and manipulate them so that you can create your own models.

The long-term goal is to open up Ashes so that you can create any RTS with it. Baby steps.

## Juggernauts ##

The T4s are on the way. The question is whether we release them as they get done or wait until all 6 are done. You tell us.

That's all for now.

BTW, your reviews make a big difference to the game's success. We hope you're enjoying the game and if there's anything you want, let us know.



Originally posted by Brad on the Ashes Steam forums.

ASHES DEV UPDATE: January 2017

Posted on Wednesday, January 04, 2017 By Island Dog

Happy new year!

Here's what we're working on. :)

## Version 1.5 series ##

Last month version 1.5 was released but that isn't the end of the 1.5 updates.

In particular, these features/enhancements/bug fixes are scheduled to get added in 1.51/1.52/1.53.

1. Update UI.

We're bringing the Escalation UI over to the base game. The larger fonts and general layout are easier on the eyes.

2. Replays.

This is something that has been a lot harder to do than we had expected. Our lead developer has been ill which has slowed down work. She hopes to be back in the next week or so. Stardock's overall lead dev has been working on this feature in her absence.

3. Updated visuals.

From the lighting to the general look of materials and maps, we have what amounts to a visual p ♥♥♥ across the game in progress.

4. Safe mode.

Starting in 1.51, when you launch the game you will be given a choice between launching the game normally or going into "safe mode". This way, if someone has set up something wrong, it won't cause them to crash the game.

## User Reviews ##

Last Fall we had a "Mostly Positive" rating. Now it's "Mixed" with recent being very low. Why did this happen and what can Stardock learn from it?

Obviously, the game today is even better than it was last Fall. What changed was the release of Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation.

Traditionally, Stardock (and other RTSs) have released their expansion packs as stand-alone. We were trying to follow the model set by Supreme Commander who released Forged Alliance about the same time after the original release as Escalation was.

Stardock did this with GalCiv II with Dark Avatar and with Fallen Enchantress (Legendary Heroes), Sins of a Solar Empire (Rebellion) and so on.

So it didn't really occur to us that there'd be a backlash for doing the same thing with Escalation, especially given the sheer volume of updates the base game was continuously receiving.

Now, clearly, times have changed. And we're applying this feedback to Offworld Trading Company and Galactic Civilizations III whose upcoming major expansions will be released as DLC instead of a stand-alone has originally planned.

But what is done is done. Now, the question remains, what to do about the base game. Will our continuing work on the base game and the price differentiation help?

## Multiplayer integration ##

One unexpected challenge is that you presently cannot use Steamworks to have a game with one AppID to talk to a game with a different AppID. We are still looking into this but presuming we can do something about that, we expect to find a way to unify the MP player bases.

That said, we will probably get very aggressive in rewarding Steam keys to active MP participants in Ashes to Escalation to help give users more options.

More to come!


Originally posted by Brad on the Ashes Steam forums.

DEV Diary: Ashes of the Singularity: December 2016

Posted on Sunday, December 18, 2016 By Frogboy


Radioactive Extractor


In Total Annihilation there’s a map called Caldera’s rim.  It’s a huge naval map with bits of islands in it.  That’s where I want us to eventually get in terms of battlefield flexibility.

Check these screenshot from a mod of Total Annihilation:



Let’s break things down into bite sized chunks to understand what we have today.


We want Ashes to become the ultimate RTS game

There are a lot of things we have to do to get from where we are today to where we want to be. But we’ve already done the hard stuff first. We have the engine.

Step 1: You need the engine

Making an RTS engine is hard.  That’s why until Ashes of the Singularity, it had been many years since someone has made a new one.  And it is non-trivial.

I wrote about this earlier this year for IGN. If you’re interested in the technical breakdown. go here.

Broadly speaking, a next-generation RTS that wants to compete with Ashes will have to develop an engine to do it.  The Nitrous engine.

PC World investigated this claim earlier this year. You can see their results here.  The short version is that having a core neutral GPU engine is very hard to develop and Nitrous is the first and so far only one we know of that has shipped a game that does it (though Frostbite might be there).

So we have the engine.

Step 2: You need the gameplay

The original release of Ashes was an impressive, albeit limited RTS.  With a fraction of the budget of Planetary Annihilation and around 1/17th the budget of Supreme Commander, it’s a tough haul to compete.  But our plan is long-term.  The ugly fact is, the RTS market is small and you can’t spend a huge amount on an RTS up front if it’s new IP.

Escalation was a big step in the right direction for serious RTS players and lets us move the base game into being an introduction to the genre.  But we still need a lot of core RTS features:

  1. Replays
  2. A Solid Modding Suite
  3. Lots of UI customization
  4. Lots of power user interactive features

None of that will come quickly.  Replays is just about done. Steamworks sharing is almost done.  But we’ll talk about the modding in the next section.

Step 3: You need the content

And this is the biggest challenge for us.  Content is expensive and we live in an age where someone can just buy Supreme Commander: Forged Alliance for $5 on a Steam sale which has years of added content.

From here to there

First, we have to decide what the ultimate Ashes RTS needs to have.  No one will agree on this so I’ll just give you what I think it will have and as always, my opinion is subject to change based on persuasive arguments from players and this is all just my opinion obviously:


(click to enlarge)

First, yes, it’s totally inappropriate for me to even engage in a public comparison like this.

Second, yes, it’s even dumber to argue that competing games are objectively better than your own game.

Third, many of the weaknesses of a given game are either design choices or budget choices.  The relative budgets of each game translate into more green wins.

But I’m still going to do it since I’ve worked closely with the developers of the other games over the years (Stardock was GPG’s publisher, Blizzard’s contracted expansion pack maker for StarCraft: Retribution, and we’re friends with the UberE team).

Let’s break these down into the areas that are on our radar:

Differentiated T3s

As part of a future tech tree update, we will want to let players do a lot of interesting things with the different T3s.  We may eventually change the way T3s upgrade where you don’t pick their upgrade when they level up but rather they get a general bonus with their specific coolness chosen at the macro level as techs.

We also have two new T3s per race in development.  I’d like to see these out in the Spring time.

The new T3s will be available as a free DLC to existing players.

Differentiated T4s

Ashes currently has no T4s.  This will come in the form of Juggernauts with 3 per race.   They’re a very late game unit.

Differentiated T5s

We have none of these in development but think “doomsday weapons”

Multiple Paths to victory

Right now we have two.  But we would also like to have a turtle based victory path as well where they can build something that slowly spreads across the land. 

Interesting secondary terrain

So this would be ocean.

Good modding support

This is where we need to work with modders.

With Sins of a Solar Empire, we have the Galaxy Forge.  For Ashes, we’ll need to create a new Forge tool.  You can see to see what Sins modders do and to see some of the great Sins mods.


Sins: Star Wars


Sins: Star Trek

So let’s break that down:


Here are things we have to make:


Easy way to manage mods in game (we have to mess with the directories on the disk ourselves)



Some sort of particle editor (we do this by hand and C++ right now)



A tool that converts FBX files into OXModels (we have a special build of the game that converts them for us)



A UI editor (we currently modify this by hand)



Support for Substance Painter (we currently modify our materials by hand)



A way for designers to modify terrain easily (we currently have to edit files by hand)


All of this is doable. It will just take time and money. So we have to carefully pick what we do first.

Great single player replayability

Ours is good but not exception.  Here is what I think we need to do:



Current Ascendancy wars


Future Ascendancy Wars

I think the current Ascendancy Wars button should get renamed to Campaign and Ascendancy Wars call up a map of the galaxy (or at least the Orion sector) with thousands of worlds on it with you versus several AI factions.

Different worlds would give you wealth and you could use that wealth to buy more Quantum Bandwidth that would let you basically set up defenses on worlds so that they are harder to take.  Some worlds would unlock skins and other special goodies that would get added to your account.

Great Multiplayer community

Our community is great (the people). There just aren’t enough of them.

One thing we’re going to do in the next couple weeks is release an external tool that will make it easy to see when the queue is busy and let you chat with people from outside the game.


External Singularity Community app

That’s the near-term boost we can do.

The longer-term version will require some more thought.


These are just about done.  We have them internally now though.

Good Economic / Strategic Depth

I think this will require 1 or 2 more resources along with corresponding units along with a tech tree.

Good base building

See above

Interesting technology choices

see above

Long-term replayability overall

That will require a third and 4th race along with additional locomotion units (crawling units, tracked units, etc.).

BTW, gravity channeling units cannot go on water any more than a Star Wars landspeeder could go on water. It would sink.


How you can help

The speed in which we can do all of the above is largely based on how many engineers and artists I can assign to it.

Broadly speaking, I’d love to see us hire 2 full time engineers and then assign 2 of our existing full-time artists just to implement the above.

That’s a $40k per month burn rate.  The sales will support this.  However, where we need help is in evangelism.  Making sure people know about this game and how it’s evolving.

Participating on the forums and telling us what you want to see will help us prioritize.

Just your presence in the community helps.  We’re in this for the long-haul (at least until 2022 anyway, then we’ll see where things stand).



Concept Art

pod3_doodle renders_2_14 PHC_Pod_mk1_DuelAutocannon

All_Posthuman_Units2_greyPaintedAdjusted_Tom Ship_brainstorming_021914_01 Ship_brainstorming_030314_01


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