Ashes of the Singularity: New RTS from Stardock and Oxide Games


I loved Supreme Commander, but couldn’t get into this at all. I think what put me off was the floaty, ethereal units and weapon effects that don’t really seem connected to the terrain. Combine that with units I can’t distinguish visually at all, and I’m just left unsatisfied by the experience.

I can see the good points, but it’s just not for me.


I’ve been having frequent crashes - either at game startup, or when a scenario cut scene is ending. Twice now when I verified the Steam cache it said a file needed to be reacquired. This has never happened to me in another game. Why would the Steam cache for this game be getting screwed up?


I noticed the little blurb in the dev journals for January about standalone expansion, very interesting, as well as how it applies to OTC and GALCIV3.

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?


Interesting to see how much user reviews can impact a game. I guess I should start reviewing games.


I’d suggest going through the troubleshooting steps and then starting a ticket if that doesn’t help. If you start a ticket feel free to post the ticket number.


Whoa, how did Imiss this. There’s a major OTC expansion planned?! Large enough to justify a standalone approach?


I know there’s a new Nomadic HQ type and new maps set on Io coming soon (thank you, Steam achievements), but other than that I’m not sure what else is in the pipe other than more tutorials, UI enhancements and challenge maps.


It appears that rebooting fixes it (at least the last 3 times), but I’m not sure what the underlying problem is. I don’t have any other symptoms.

I’ve verified the cache and my drivers are up to date.


Adam, Thank you for posting!

One day, when I get a grown up gaming machine again, I will buy Ashes and give it a whirl - mostly because of the enthusiasm and passion that you all (you, Brad, Island_Dog, etc) have for the game.


I’ve had some more crashing problems, but rebooting sorted it out again. It seems like it is more likely to happen if I play Ashes, shut it down, and play again later - but who knows, it may just me coincidence. I’ve sent the reports each time when prompted.

Playing the first campaign has actually grown on me a bit and I think it was the 5th mission that got exciting - the one that introduces the orbital that lets you airdrop a small force where you have vision. It’s actually pretty difficult for me on normal as I’ve failed a several times.I was doing well on one try, assaulting the final spot and I got too aggressive and lost my force, then started losing ground.

Yeah, I think my biggest obstacle is that spaceships just don’t look like anything that is easily recognizable. There are these swarms of ships moving as a big mass and it just isn’t easy to tell at a glance what’s what. I don’t think I’ll put in the time for it to become 2nd nature, but I am going to play the campaign some more.

One UI complaint that I have is that there doesn’t seem to be an obvious way to select all of 1 type of ship that belongs to the selected army. I feel like I’ve lost way too many ships because I couldn’t give orders to a particular type of unit.


Glad you’re having a bit more fun with it, Rob.

You can’t command individual units within an army. Armies are commanded as units. If you’re worried about losing individual (non-Dreadnought) units, you’re playing the wrong game ;)

Loose units, you can double-click one and it’ll select everything of that type onscreen.


There is, I believe, an opt-in now too that might make things better. One odd thing I’ve run into is that sound drivers matter. On our end, we’re going to have to not push them quite as hard but many older sound drivers (not video but sound) don’t handle all the different sounds we throw at it simultaneously.


Is it possible that there is a bug with the mission “Decanus - fire From the Sky”? I have a save game at the point when it says you have 5 minutes to set up the forward base by dropping in an engineer, but I’m getting attacked pretty fast. Is it possible that some event gets screwy when you load a saved game at that point so the AI acts like your 5 minutes are up?


I’ve read that post before and I don’t think that applies solely to RTS games. Any game released now will be compared to similar games that have been around since forever and that are a lot cheaper to buy than the new releases. Did people not buy DOOM because Wolfenstein: The Old Blood was a lot cheaper? Did people not buy XCOM 2 because XCOM was around or because Xenonauts was cheaper? I don’t see why Ashes would have suffered more just because it was an RTS game. If anything, an RTS game should be more noticeable in the current market, since new ones are pretty rare these days (e.g. Grey Goo, 8-Bit Armies).

I’ve bought a lot of Stardock games and I never seem to stick with them long. I bought the original Ashes and some DLC, but once I was done with it (without finishing the campaign), I was done completely. The same happened with the other games Stardock made (Galactic Civilizations, Sorcerer King, etc.). They’re all functional, usually look okay, the writing tends to be in the poor-to-adequate range, etc. They’re perfectly fine, but they’re all a bit soulless. As a result, I’ve decided that Stardock is probably not for me and I should just get back to my backlog, but I’m still interested in seeing what they’re working on and have some hopes for Star Control.


You’re comparing new games to not so old games. Ashes is competing against games from the 1990s, like Age of Empires and Rise of Nations (maybe 2000s). Also, most people aren’t going to choose some shooter from the 90s over new Doom because the visuals are much more important. Strategy titles have more shelf life because old graphics are more tolerable.


But if that is true, then why did people buy Endless Space, but not Ashes of the Singularity? I feel that the argument ignores the fact that perhaps Ashes isn’t as good as Endless (or, indeed, not as good as Age of Empires).


Isn’t Endless Space a totally different genre though?


Yes. But Brad’s argument is that Ashes didn’t sell well because it was competing with older games in the same genre. If that’s true, one would expect that to be true for games in other, related genres, too. Why buy Endless Space 2 when you could replay MOO2? Or why buy Endless Legend when you could just replay Alpha Centauri again or Master of Magic. Same argument, and I don’t think it’s valid at all.

But let’s try to look at some numbers then using Steam Spy (no. of players), with a focus on recent RTS games, as well as a few re-releases (and while the numbers may not be exact, they should at least give some sort of indication of how well a particular game has sold):

  • Original Ashes: 94,888 ± 8,547
  • Ashes: Escalation: 18,534 ± 3,777
  • Age of Empires II: 3,973,206 ± 55,019
  • Age of Mythology: 1,028,658 ± 28,106
  • Rise of Nations: 671,670 ± 22,722
  • Wargame: AirLand Battle: 563,888 ± 20,822
  • Wargame: Red Dragon: 512,516 ± 19,852
  • 8-Bit Armies: 72,929 ± 7,493
  • 8-Bit Hordes: 33,241 ± 5,059
  • 8-Bit Invaders: 11,080 ± 2,921
  • Act of Aggression Reboot: 124,704 ± 9,798
  • Grey Goo: 300,378 ± 15,203
  • Planetary Annihilation: Titans: 416,822 ± 17,906

I don’t think it serves much purpose to compare your new game, with new IP, to re-releases of older games like Age of Empires. Those games do well, and that’s largely because it’s a large publisher and those games are well-loved, with people wanting to own those games on Steam.

So let’s look at some original IPs. Based on these numbers, Ashes performed a little better than 8-Bit Armies. (Incidentally, the drop off from Ashes to Escalation is much bigger than from 8-Bit Armies to Hordes to Invaders, so there’s an indication that people aren’t as passionate about Ashes as about other games.) Compared to other original IPs, though, like Wargame, Grey Goo, and – if you accept it as an original IP – Act of Aggression, Ashes hasn’t performed well at all. Grey Goo has three times as many players, and Wargame more than five times as many players. Even Planetary Annihilation: Titans, for all the crap it’s been given by disgruntled people (obviously a vocal minority), has four times as many players.

Things get even more dramatic if you look at the stats for people playing in the past two weeks. Here are three examples:

  • Ashes: 4,231 ± 1,804
  • Escalation: 3,626 ± 1,671
  • 8-Bit Armies: 6,447 ± 2,228
  • Planetary Annihilation: Titans: 67,086 ± 7,187
  • Grey Goo: 7,051 ± 2,330

Ashes is trailing well behind in that regard, too.

If Brad’s argument was accurate, then games like Grey Goo and Wargame ought to have suffered, as well. But they seem to have done okay, and they’re being played by plenty of people, even a fairly long time after release. So I would suggest the problem is not with Ashes’s competition, with the game itself, which is fairly soulless (and perhaps that’s why the technical aspects of the game were so hyped by Brad et al.).

Long story short, then. People didn’t buy Ashes of the Singularity because they were spoiled for choice: they didn’t buy it [because it] just didn’t appeal to them. (And edit: I don’t mean to be ragging on either Brad or Ashes, but I think framing Ashes’s problems as something that’s due to competitors is not a very constructive way of looking at things, and if anything recent attempts at fixing the single player experience certainly show that Stardock doesn’t think the blame for Ashes not doing well should be shifted exclusively to people preferring to buy older or better known games over Ashes simply because they’re older or better known.)


It’s pretty important. Most game have positive or very positive user reviews, so when people are going to buy a game, and before putting in the basket see the average is ‘mixed’, they think the game has an important problem, like being buggy or a bad console port or have performance problems. Usually they are right, but there are a few games where the users reviews represent a more… ‘political’ stance, like the Hitman reviews being negative because people didn’t like the always online DRM and episodic model, or in this case, stuff about DLC, prices, etc.


Well, a game like Endless Space actually changed the formula up some, and Endless Legend even more, so I think it appeals to more people so they can play something a little different.

I’m not saying Ashes is any better or worse than other RTSs, or that it should sell better or worse. I also don’t know when Ashes was released in relation to those other games. But, is it possible that if some of those newer titles were released prior to Ashes that the somewhat small market for traditional RTSs already got their fill before Ashes came out? Is there as much variety in RTSs as other genres so you need to have 5 different RTS games?