G'day! Today I'll be talking about the upcoming 2.75 update for Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation and some cool things that have been happening in the community. 2.75 will contain a large number of gameplay changes, but I'll only mention the most significant ones. You can view the full changelog here.
**Movement speed rework**
A criticism of Ashes that has often came up is how slowly the units move. We are increasing the speed of many units, frigates in particular, and standardizing cruiser speed. This helps Ashes flow better, gives frigates more utility as harassment, and doesn't punish a player for mixing in a type of cruiser that is considerably slower than others, such as the Drone Hive or Nemesis. Here's the full list of movement speed changes (which is subject to change upon more thorough testing):
- Archer max speed increased from 110 to 150
- Medic max speed increased from 120 to 150
- Reaper max speed increased from 110 to 150
- Sky Cleanser max speed increased from 110 to 130
- Sky Cleanser acceleration increased from 180 to 400
- Capacitor max speed increased from 110 to 130
- Tormentor acceleration reduced from 400 to 180
- Apollo max speed increased from 84 to 100
- Destructor max speed increased from 78 to 100
- Drone hive max speed increased from 70 to 100
- Drone Hive acceleration reduced from 120 to 70
- Artemis max speed increased from 78 to 100
- Nemesis max speed increased from 72 to 100
- Nemesis acceleration reduced from 120 to 70
- Caregiver max speed reduced from 150 to 120
- Mauler max speed reduced from 125 to 100
- Avenger max speed increased from 100 to 100
- Masochist max speed reduced from 150 to 100
- Hera max speed increased from 60 to 72
- Eradicator max speed increased from 60 to 72
- Prometheus max speed increased from 68 to 72
Substrate's lack of advanced mobile anti-air akin to the Apollo has been an issue that's bothered me for some time. In theory, the Overmind and Nest of the Queen fill that late game anti-air role, but the area of effect damage of the Strategic Bomber destroys all the drones, and any other anti-air nearby. It makes Substrate vulnerable in the late game to mass Strategic Bombers, and while heavy defenses like the Sky Ender do the job, you can't attack into the enemy base with your own defenses.
I thought about how to rectify this for a while and had a different ideas about how to address this. The first thing I thought of was removing the requirements for the Savager's anti-air beams, which it unlocks with the Sky Scour upgrade that it can get at lvl 3 on the left upgrade tree. The problem with this is that it would be two very important roles being fielded in a single dreadnought, and then I would have to replace the existing upgrade with something new.
My second thought was, what if I gave the Overmind the anti-air beam that the Savager gets. It was a much better idea to rework the Overmind into an anti-air support unit, as the Overmind currently lacks any specific role and it heavily overlaps with the Retributor, something else that has bothered me for a while. This solution works fine, but it has the huge downside of looking very contrived and tacked on... because it was. There was a little crystal that I attached the beam to, but you couldn't really tell and it just looked bad:
So then my next idea was to give the Overmind a set of dedicated anti-air drones, but I would have to make them invulnerable so they don't just get blown up by the Strategic Bomber and made obsolete. To compensate, I removed one of the existing drone swarms and increased the drone manufacturing time so the Overmind is weaker against ground targets, especially compared to the Retributor. The anti-air drones is thematic to the unit and faction, and it was easy to do the exact same for the Nest of the Queen which now also has anti-air drones. The only down side is that the invulnerable anti-drones is a little contrived, but you can't tell when all the other drones are shot out of the sky. The area of effect damage typical of many anti-air attacks and rapid movement of drones, which results in constant re-targetting, prevents the anti-air drones from having any impact on the survivability of regular drones.
You can expect the anti-air drones on the Overmind and Queen in the 2.75 update. Here's what the anti-air drones look like in action:
**King of the Hill - Substrate Edition**
King of the Hill has been getting lots of attention lately, and as of 2.75 you'll be able to play it as Substrate! There are also some other tweaks coming to further improve it and better balance its difficulty, such as removing one of the early difficulty spikes, but then making it more challenging very late in the scenario as some players managed to outlast it. I really like this mission, and I think Ashes works so well as a Tower Defense game; Against All Odds is probably my favorite single player component of Ashes. I have thought about writing a Dev Journal about why Ashes is so fun in defense missions, and perhaps I will.
Here's part of what players can expect if they last long enough. I will not tolerate anymore "beating" of this mission... you're supposed to eventually lose horribly.
We recently had a screenshot contest for Escalation. Congratulations to bbc6rgf57ytty5yxyw5gt who won it! (Yes that is actually his account name.) Here's the winning submission:
**Community Shoutout - GB Gaming**
More Ashes YouTubers emerge! The guys over at GB Gaming have been producing some great Ashes videos and live streams, so thanks to them and follow their channels to keep up with their content.
**Alien Art Essay**
We recently posted a video essay analysing the art design of the Substrate from Ashes and the Seraphim from Supreme Commander. We have more essays like this to come on the forums in the forms of Dev Journals, and some will be made into videos such as this one:
**Tweaking Weapon Colors**
I'm always thinking about ways within my means to improve the game. In the Alien Design video essay, I talked about how color palettes can be used for readability and establishing faction themes. Ashes does this with some things such as the orange PHC rocket projectiles, but there's other parts of the game where Ashes holds no regard for factional color schemes. It always bothered me how many weapons colors are not uniquely held by a faction; red lasers are typical of Substrate because of the Reaper and Harbinger, and yet the Athena and Prometheus Draining Beam are also red lasers. You'd think Green lasers are representative of PHC because of the Brute but then the Retributor and Savager AA beams are Green.
I wanted to standardize the laser weapons for each faction based around Blue and Green for PHC with Red and Purple for Substrate, and here's a sample of what that looked like:
But then I ran into the issue of, if all the Substrate lasers are red, what about the Hera, which has a red attack? If purple is for Substrate, then what about the Hades and Strategic Bomber, which have purple bombs? Isn't red for Substrate too similar to the orange rocket effects for PHC? I came to the conclusion that if I was to rework the weapon colors and VFX to be consistent and thematic, I would practically have to rework most weapons in the game to get a consistent theme that makes sense, something along the likes of:
PHC - Warm colors: Red, Orange, Yellow.
Substrate - Cool colors: Blue, Green, Purple.
On top of the fact that there seemed to be some code limitations preventing me from changing certain effects like the Hera, it was just too big of a project to justify something that has no gameplay implications. Either way, this idea been scrapped for now but I thought it would be interesting to talk about and let you know what I've been thinking about.
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That's it for today, thanks everyone. What balance changes would you like to see in the upcoming 2.75 update?