Which of these is your favorite RTS of all time?
Supreme Commander
Total Annihilation
Company of Heroes
Command & Conquer
210 Total Votes

Dev Journal: Working For Stardock

Posted on Wednesday, March 21, 2018 By GeneralsGentlemen


Hey guys! I've been working at Stardock for a bit over a year now as a designer on Ashes of the Singulairty: Escalation. It's been an incredible journey, so I wanted to share my experience of how I got here and what it's been like. 


How did I get started working at Stardock?

I've practically dedicated my entire adult career to the comprehension, articulation, and broadcasting of RTS games. In November 2016 I was 4 years into creating frequent shoutcasts, reviews, and video essays on my YouTube channel. At the time, I was pumping out a video every day as I was creating YouTube content full-time, after the Australian Electronics Retailer chain that I was working at for years to support myself closed down. YouTube advertising revenue is small and my channel is far from large, but I was hoping that if I was prolific enough I'd be able to attract enough of my audience to back me on Patreon for the funding to be sustainable.

Despite the generous backing of much of my audience, it wasn't enough, and after 6 months I had burned through a significant chunk of my savings. I accepted defeat and applied for jobs at some local retail stores. I had an interview at a second-hand retail store which went well, but I was pretty bummed that I was a 23 year old dude now about to start another soul crushing retail job. I dropped out of University in first semester a few years earlier, and the only work experience I had was retail; it was rather all-in for my YouTube channel to take off or to get picked up as a shoutcaster for a company like ESL or Riot Games. But the way I saw it, I'd rather try to pursue my passion of RTS games while I was young and didn't have the responsibilities and stresses that I would later in life, instead of doing something safe and standard and then waking up one day in my 40's miserable that I wasted my life and living with regret that I didn't give it a go. 


The day after my retail job interview, I woke up to an email from the President and CEO of Stardock, Brad Wardell. He said he was a subscriber who liked my Company of Heroes content and that he made some of his team watch my "What Makes RTS Games Fun" series, then gave me some info and Steam keys about this new game they were about to release called Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation. I asked him if he'd like to sponsor my channel, and to my surprise he said yes. I worked my way up from running ads on my videos and doing sponsored content, to then giving feedback as a design consultant, and ultimately where I am now full-time at the helm of Ashes of the Singularity and future RTSes.


What's it been like working on Ashes?

Working on Ashes has been amazing and I'm very proud of how the game has progressed over the past year. To use the terminology that Professor Jordan Peterson recently popularized, I've found working on Ashes strikes the balance between Order and Chaos, and the sense of meaning and purpose is profound. Order, because RTS is my speciality and my jam, so I'm confident in my decisions and articulations; I feel like I'm the right guy for the job. Chaos, for two reasons: firstly because my work encompasses so many things, from new scenarios and designing units,  to making videos and balance changes, and secondly because I have so much to learn about the industry, the game development process, and disciplines such as programming and art.

Most weeks I am working on something different which prevents it from becoming repetitive and boring, unlike when I was making YouTube videos full time. That had the Order, but not the Chaos, which made me feel stagnant. Working on Ashes is not always fun - such as when I'm updating wikis and testing a Scenario during its development for the 7th time -but it is always compelling.



What's it been like working for Stardock?

Like many members of the Stardock team, I operate from home which works with Stardock's unconventional structure. There's an emphasis on individual team members taking initiative and creating their own value, as opposed to a top-down management approach of being directed what to do. My job is to make Ashes better and more successful, and I have the freedom to pursue that through whatever means I think would best achieve it. Each week I decide what I'm going to do, what changes should be made, or which types of videos would help promote it. Despite having a boss and producers above me, it feels like I'm my own boss. 

I have a weekly Skype meeting with the VP of Stardock Entertainment and other team members, where sometimes I am assigned certain tasks - but most of the time it just goes along the lines of: "So what have you been up to the past week? Cool, anything you need from us? Cool."

I get input, help, and perspective from other team members, and sometimes my decisions are questioned, but never challenged or denied. In essence, Stardock's teams trust me and are confident in what I'm doing, which is greatly appreciated. There's a big link between the feeling of being controlled and job dissatisfaction, which Stardock seems to be aware of. Here's a quote from Brad on an old forum post about our work philosophy: 

"Every day at Stardock is FUN.  Even during crunch-time, it's FUN.  And why is it fun? Because every day we do what we want to do. It's why we are able to attract the best and brightest. Because the best and brightest are often motivated to have the freedom to work on the things they want to do work. To do the things they want to do."


Another thing about Stardock that I really appreciate is that the members of upper management are actual gamers themselves. Most game companies are managed by executive corporate suit types who don't understand the culture and passion of the medium and of their communities. Our CEO was the initial founder, and is still hands-on with the coding and presenting the game to an audience. Many founders of games studios sell the company off and get replaced with Mr Burns types that treat video games as if it was any other kind of business. With Stardock, I don't have to worry about management coming down and busting my balls about, "Why did you spend all this time writing a ~4000 word essay about Supreme Commander? How is that going to generate sales?" 

Stardock has a culture of transparency and integrity. Our products each have a monthly dev journal which lets our players into our inner thoughts about what we've been up to, what we're working on, and what our plans are moving forward. These aren't fluffy marketing pieces; sometimes we say we're working on stuff, which then ends up being delayed or scrapped for various reasons, and players can feel let down. It's the inevitable price for consistent and transparent communication, but I think most people prefer it since it creates trust and anticipation for what's to come. I always get annoyed by draconian silence and vague responses from devs in other companies who are afraid to say anything for fear of backlash if they don't meet all of their road map deadlines.

We interact with our community in a way that's unusual for most game studios, aka: "Thanks for your feedback, we'll look into it!" Our developers are active on forums and respond candidly, even when it's not what people want to hear; we don't just relegate it to community managers. I'll argue with people about balance or about why I didn't like a certain RTS game, and Brad may deliver a snide response to someone who leaves a really stupid review. Ultimately, we act like normal people and we treat our community members like normal people. This often catches community members off guard as they're not used to devs acting this way. Sometimes, people apologize and get worried that they have offended me, just because I concisely say to someone they're wrong and explain why they're wrong. We always try to be polite, but we don't put on a fluffy marketing guise that would be draining to maintain. 



What's been your highlight?

From a personal perspective, my highlight was being flown out to the Stardock office in Michigan, USA and staying there for a week and a half. I got to meet all of my colleagues that I long had correspondence with, and those working on other projects I got to meet for the first time. Stardock is filled with talented and passionate industry veterans and it was great learning from their experience about how the industry and development cycle functions. I loved the culture and the atmosphere there, from the dogs running around the office to the quirky personalities people were displaying on their desks. I'm in the process of trying to immigrate over to the US so I can work from the office. It'll take some time, but I'm really looking forward to it.

Being in the office made me feel like I was a part of something big - Stardock has an exciting trajectory with our world first core-neutral engine, Nitrous, and seeing so many great people work together across many different projects was humbling. Plus, it sure was convenient being able to tilt my head to the side and say, "Hey Rob, can you help me with this?" instead of waiting until 9pm when he'd get online. I wasn't there for long but I felt a sense of family among the team, such as their regular board game nights and all the offers to hang out with them outside of work hours. 

From a work perspective, my highlight was the production of the two latest Juggernauts: the Agamemnon and the Eye of Darkness. I designed these two units from scratch and was able to see them develop every step along the way, from the initial tinkering around in Photoshop cannibalizing concept art trying to piece together something which I thought looked cool, to now having the final product brought to life blowing up hundreds of units. 



What are the challenges?

The main challenge is wanting to do fifty things but only being able to do three of them. Just like playing an RTS game, I have to manage the resource of programmer time. Adding new features and making fundamental gameplay changes requires a programmer to allocate time to implement, and everything has an opportunity cost. Implementing a quality of life change is a new feature not implemented or a bug not fixed. Many things that ostensibly seem quick and simple can be a significant engineering undertaking, so the answer to, "Why don't you do this?" is generally, "Because it would take a programmer 2 weeks to implement." This means I have to make tough decisions about which features and changes get the attention, while many other things may be neglected.

Ultimately, my vision for Ashes is held back by programming limitations; things would look different if I could wave a magic wand. It's the inevitable plight of any designer, a final product will never match the designer's original vision - the consumer just never gets to see what the initial design was. 

How do I get a job at Stardock?

For starters, check the Stardock careers page to see if our current openings are suitable. On a more general note, I'll provide some advice on how to enter the video game industry if you might not be suitable for a traditional entry. Find a specific outlet for your passion, something worthwhile and pursue it. Articulate. Do. Take the initiative, put yourself out there, create something valuable, be consistent. Not just because you think it will lead to something, but because you enjoy and find fulfilment in whatever it is you are doing, it's essential to have the drive to spend countless hours on it. Take pride in your work, do what is meaningful, not what gets you the most clicks. My video essays can take over a week to script, voice, record and edit, compared to the negligible preparation and editing required for a shoutcast which often got more views, but all it took was one CEO to notice. I have a friend who used to tell me off for not making my bed in the background of my videos. "You never know who might be watching."


My YouTube channel started as just a fun hobby with my best friend, but over the years through our content, I've been contacted by Stardock, Relic, Microsoft and EA. If you put yourself out there diligently, people will notice, and if you're lucky, doors may open. If nobody notices, make them notice. One of our newest hires at Stardock, Henry AKA SchismNavigator, spent over a year fostering and growing the Ashes community on Discord, just because he loved the game. He loved fostering a community, loved Discord, and very much hated Skype. Stardock noticed his work and how important Discord was becoming and thought, "Wow this is good, we'd love it if you did that for our other products." He is now one of our community managers. There are a lot of valuable things that game companies don't know they'll invest in until they stumble across or are presented with it.


As you can tell, I'm very grateful for the opportunity Stardock has provided me with. It's been an absolute blast so far, and thanks to all our fans who make it possible! Let me know if you have any other questions or what you'd like me to discuss in future.



Ashes Dev Journal: March 2018

Posted on Wednesday, March 14, 2018 By GeneralsGentlemen


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 Anti-Air**

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.

**Screenshot Contest**

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.

Watch us on Twitch    |    Subscribe to our YouTube    |    Join the conversation on Discord

That's it for today, thanks everyone. What balance changes would you like to see in the upcoming 2.75 update?

- Callum

Dev Journal: Designing Alien Units

Posted on Wednesday, March 7, 2018 By GeneralsGentlemen

Art design is one of the many components of video games that's subconsciously appreciated but rarely expressed and understood. If a game's art direction works, it just works, and the player isn’t required to dwell on it. I had little regard for unit design until I started as a designer on Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation, where I am now required to be cognizant of the many subtleties of game design which gamers take for granted.


It’s challenging to take a unit design from my head and communicate it to an artist to replicate, as it requires a thorough comprehension of a faction's recurring visual themes and quirks. Doing so has given me a new appreciation for the art design in many RTS games. Today, I'll be exploring how the Seraphim and Substrate factions from Supreme Commander: Forged Alliance and Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation are crafted in a way to visually distinguish them as alien compared to the other human factions.

Don’t Match Expectations

We all have an idea of what a tank should look like: a rectangular frame, a track on each side, and a turret in the middle. For something to look alien, it needs to oppose the image that pops up when you think about a unit type. The Seraphim tanks are unusual as they have their main gun off to one side and have unconventional tracks. The light tank has its right track larger than the left, while the siege tank has four separate tracks, with the front and back differing in wideness.


Don’t reflect Earth biology

Our expectation of walking robots is for them to match the biology we're familiar with on Earth. We want our robots to have knees, ankles and feet, and to walk in ways that resemble human movement. Seraphim walkers have multiple means of distancing themselves from a typical walker; some have blade-like legs that look and animate entirely unnaturally.



Other Seraphim walkers do have knees and feet, but have an additional leg segment, breaking the leg up into 3 sections, which is unlike anything in the animal kingdom. Humans also like even numbers of limbs, as that’s what we're used to, so when a walker has 3 or 5 legs it strikes us as very alien and unnatural. The 3 legged alien trope exists for a reason.

Another common factor that distinguishes alien technology is when walkers have body proportions that are very different from what we have as humans. This technique is especially noticeable with Aeon, but also with Seraphim, as they have thin legs and joints, unlike the tougher looking UEF walker that more resembles a human figure.



Differing geometry

Substrate units consist of lots of curves with sharp pointed ends, lacking the flat rectangular surfaces which are typical of their human rivals, the PHC.



This factional curved/flat dichotomy is found not only in the 3D models, but also in the textures. The PHC juggernauts have straight rectangular textures such as light panels and grooves, while the Substrate juggernauts have intricate curved patterns.



Strange weaponry

Seraphim weaponry is very unusual, not just because of the dark mysterious projectiles and effects used, but especially because of the odd barrels equipped on their vehicles. The weapon on the light mobile artillery doesn't have a traditional barrel - it resembles a conduit that charges and launches an energy projectile. The weapon is difficult to comprehend; it doesn’t make sense when you look at it, which is deliberate. Alien weaponry should be mysterious, yet the role which the weapon fills should be intuitive (the upwards trajectory and slow projectile speed communicates that this is an artillery unit).


The Substrate shares some of the weapon types used by their PHC rivals, but these alien weapons have qualities to distinguish them. For example, the Tormentor artillery frigate has a bright fang-like bulb at the end of its barrel, unlike the dark, perfectly round PHC equivalent.



Unusual texturing

Seraphim textures have a metallic shimmer, which suggests the material uses a construction technique unlike what humans use, because our metal doesn’t shine. The Tron-like veins throughout are mysterious and indicate some kind of power flow, and the bright lighting in between joints juxtaposes the darker metallic look, creating a curious effect that’s different to human constructions which have more consistent lighting and tone.



Physics-defying floaty bits

Humans haven’t yet worked out how to defy physics, so typically when there are objects that mysteriously float, it’s non-human technology. Many of the Seraphim and Substrate assets have components not directly connected, floating nearby and moving along with the primary object.



Recurring characteristics

A recurring feature among many Substrate units are the two pincers at the front. Reusing a common trait is useful for making units blatantly belong to a specific race, especially when the unit type offers less artistic flexibility.



Color palette
Regardless of the chosen player color, there are color palettes typical of each faction. The PHC units have lots of silver to represent the sturdy metal that makes up their constructs and reflects the tougher nature of their gameplay. Substrate units have sections of fluorescent aqua, which represents their technological prowess.


Color palettes and lighting styles can also extend to weaponry, allowing for easier readability of combat. Substrate has unique fluorescent weaponry, while PHC has lots of orange rocket projectiles.




Due to the meticulous art direction in distinguishing these factions, people who haven't played either game could identify Seraphim and Substrate as alien, as different as they are from each other. Readability and differentiation is a crucial part of good, intuitive RTS design; being able to articulate the unique features that comprise a faction is a critical component of being a game designer.

ASHES DEV JOURNAL: February 2018

Posted on Wednesday, February 14, 2018 By GeneralsGentlemen



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 almost 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?).


**Updated Wiki's**

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:

**Upcoming Tournament**

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)


**Screenshot Contest**

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.


Watch us on Twitch    |    Subscribe to our YouTube    |    Join the conversation on Discord

That's it for today, thanks everyone for being part of a great community!
- Callum


Posted on Monday, January 15, 2018 By GeneralsGentlemen

G'day and happy new year everyone! Today I'm revealing some more info about the upcoming DLC and talking some things happening in the community. 

**Upcoming DLC**
Hype announcement: Both Substrate and PHC are receiving a new frigate!


The Tormentor is an indirect fire frigate, capable of saturating an area with inaccurate artillery shells with area of effect damage. The Tormentor lacks the accuracy and single target damage of the Destructor Artillery Cruiser, making it intended for use against units rather than structures.

The Atlas is an anti-air and anti-drone frigate, allowing for frigate strategies to be more flexible and resilient against air units and Drone Hives. The Atlas is much less powerful than the Apollo cruiser, but only costing metal and being available from the factory makes the Atlas far more accessible.

Originally the new frigates, scenarios and maps were to be bundled with air transports as a "Mini Expansion" but air transports is a huge engineering undertaking, which would delay it significantly. So instead, we're going to be launching them separately as we will have all this great content ready that we want players to get their hands on. Expect an announcement and release over the next few weeks.

**Escalation Shoutcast**

Recently we posted a shoutcast I did of two top players, Shimbalama and Rbarnson. If you haven't done so already, subscribe to the Stardock YouTube channel as there will be more casts and Ashes content going up on there.

**Custom Launcher**

One of our community members made a custom launcher for Escalation. Change settings, launch and view benchmark results from the launcher without having to open the game.

So that's it for now. Here's to a great 2018!


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