"Brilliant... I'm just like 'oh my god!'; if you're a spaceship fan you absolutely have to get in and muck around with this..."
- Scott Manley
"The game was developed with multithreading in mind, and promises large-scale battles without lag while having manually controlled ships and collision-based projectiles. The overall feel can be best compared to the dogfighting section of Unreal Tournament 2004." - themittani.com
"If Age of Ascent manages to pull it off, this will be the MMO equivalent of beating an opponent blindfolded, with your arms tied behind your back, while balancing a tea-cup on your head." - alphabetagamer.com
Real-time, epic, direct-piloting battles using a brand new cloud-based distributed MMO architecture
Global - everyone plays in the same universe
No download or install: it runs in your browser without plugins!
Free-to-play without pay-to-win
Multiple ship classes and modular ship loadout
Map derived from the real Milky Way star catalogs: more than 120k star systems!
A fully player-led economy from resource gathering to manufacturing and trading
Exciting and rewarding galactic exploration
Play solo or in groups - larger than you've ever seen before
Player vs Environment (PvE) mission running and engage with Non-Player Character Faction AI
Build and manage space stations
Claim territories and build an empire in space
Alliances and Corporations as large or small as you wish, with sophisticated management and access tools
We have a large number of stretch goals, including:
New ship and hull classes (science ships, support ships, drone carriers, weapons platforms, minelayers and minesweepers, stealth recon)
Capital ships (carriers and ships of the line)
Deep and involving storyarcs that will play out over days, weeks and months
Expansion of the number of NPC factions, and the space they occupy
Build your own multi-device cockpit
Multi-player options for co-operative capital ship flying
Banking and advanced currency exchange systems
Full set of player APIs and extension libraries
Advanced control and display device support (such as Oculus Rift)
Advanced player-owned spacestation, platform and jumpgate networks
Player-operated tournament arena combat and racing zones
Multiple language localization
If we get close to, or exceed our initial kickstarter goal, we'll detail the exact amount of the next stretch goal we want to achieve and precisely what's going to be in it!
There's a lot to share about our plans for Age of Ascent, so please read on! We firmly believe in listening to our community, we're going to continuously update this project as it grows and we need your feedback and ideas!
The title Age of Ascent references humankind's ascent into the heavens in the year 2176. Faster-than-light travel and communications have been achieved.
If you're interested in getting an idea of what playing Age of Ascent will feel like, check out some of the short stories by our keeper-of-the-backstory-in-residence, Stewart Hotston. We think they'll give you an excellent introductory flavor to the game setting we're building:
We're going to offer 10 initial ship hull classes: explorers, transports, industrial, cutters, scouts, frigates, cruisers, destroyers, battleships and capital ships. Each of these ship hull classes will offer different slot options from different manufacturing blueprints, and will be fully customisable in terms of the modules that you want to put in the slots.
Slots fall into 5 categories - Offensive (projected), Defensive (internal), Utility (a variety of types such as sensors), Engineering (engines and damage control) and Software (scripts to further modify behaviors, or to replay, e.g. formation evasive manuevers).
The modules that can be put into these slots will depend on the skill level of the pilot (or pilots if more than one is operating different parts of the same ship) as well as the size fitting and power requirements of the module.
We plan on having capital ships - carriers and ships of the line - that require crew to fly. Crew will initially come from specially skilled NPCs, but as an early stretch goal we will allow multiple players to fly the same capital ship simultaneously, occupying different positions and working together, acting in positions such as skipper, navigator, shields and damage control, engineering and power, weapons systems, manning turrets and so on.
We think anyone should be able to jump into a ship and contribute. We also think pilots should be rewarded for working together and for taking the time to develop their skills.
So we're aiming for classes of ships that will never be obsolete in large engagements, and that will allow for anyone and everyone to make a difference without necessarily losing a year's worth of investment.
We'll encourage you to put your goodies at risk and the rewards will be worth it, but with a system that can allow thousands of players to fight simultaneously, we'll also be providing every incentive for you to jump in your cockpit and get involved - whatever your skill level.
A player-led economy is crucial to us, but the NPC areas of our galaxy are also alive, and these zones will respond to your actions, be they trading, raiding or construction.
Like the real world, there will be multiple currencies which have a dynamic existence - fancy being a currency trader? And if you create a glut of hydrogen, their price will fall not just among players, but in the rest of the world, too.
Expert players in the core NPC systems may find they're granted the license to collect taxes on all trades in a certain region, or be offered preferential treatment if they keep feeding that NPC station what it needs.
In keeping with our focus on real science, we're using the Periodic Table of Elements as the basic construction building blocks for everything in the game.
We want to develop a full multi-stage production process cycle, from gathering resources and refining them down to their constituent elements, then recombining these elements into compounds and alloys, and then manufacturing these different parts to create components.
Finally, these components are assembled to make modules. The number of stages of the manufacturing process will depend on the complexity of the blueprint for the final product, while success will rely on having the right tools and facilities. Be careful though, in the core zones, some of the Great Powers won't just let you research or build whatever you want, they'll want their cut.
Last, but not least, resources: they won't renew. You may find a system where it takes two years to mine all the goodies, but once they're gone they're gone. We want you out there exploring, being surprised and settling ever further from home. Remember, if you don't mine it, someone else, possibly an NPC corp, will inevitably come and take the chance while you're looking the other way...
As we have more than 120k star systems to play with, the influence of an NPC consumption economy will wane outside of the core NPC system, with distance as the mitigating factor, until fully-player driven economic areas become the norm. We need to seed the economy via NPCs to get it started, but we want to let the players take over and run it.
Whenever we replay our favourite classic strategy games (like Civ or Alpha Centauri), we've found that we tended to always have the most fun in the first couple of hundred turns. Exploring a new area, finding out the challenges that lie before you, where to go next and choosing which grand strategy to implement depends on properly understanding access to resources, strategic chokepoints and nodes of focus.
We want to recapture that sense of a journey into the unknown, a journey that rewards the bold and the smart.
Skills & Technology
Skills will break in a number of areas from piloting and weaponry skills, to trade and manufacturing skills, to exploration skills, to alliance management skills and beyond.
The skills that a player develops for his pilot will be partly elective, time-based skills that accumulate over time, depending on where a player chooses to focus his or her learning... and partly based on the player's actual activity, ingame. We need the former in place to balance out 'botting, and also to help ensure that there's no "pay-to-win". People who play Age of Ascent for longer will become more skilled in the areas they focus on.
They also should have more opportunity to branch out, even though we are intensely focused on making the game accessible to anyone who wants to pick up and play. For us, the successful balance will be to provide a game which allows you to contribute and achieve from day one but that opens up new vistas of possibilities for those who build out their presence over time.
Faction NPCs, Missions & PvE
We know that not everyone wants to PvP. And that's fine with us. Age of Ascent isn't about dictating a play style that people have to conform to; it's about providing all the options players need to play the kind of game they want.
The core systems, of which there will be many hundreds, (or thousands depending on stretch goals!) are run by a variety of old-Earth geopolitical and ideological factions which have carved out their own empires in the vastness of the galaxy - and if you stay on their right side, they'll try and keep you safe and, just maybe, they'll offer you technologies and trades you won't see elsewhere.
Space in Age of Ascent is so large, that if playing with or working for others isn't your thing, then there's every chance to get out to a part of the galaxy that's entirely your own, far from the crowd, and disappear for years.
These NPC Factions will offer multi-threaded, multi-outcome missions. We feel the linear, pretty much identical, rinse-repeat quest/mission gets tedious very quickly, and we want to build mission systems that can change dynamically, according to local circumstances and which can have the scope to change entire regions of space depending on what players do and how our AIs respond to that activity.
We won't be re-spawning the same ships a hundred times, our AIs are going to see what you're doing and react.
Outside of missions, the NPCs in universe of Age of Ascent will run on emergent behavior systems rather than orthodox scripting, and there'll be plenty of opportunity to interact with them as you go about your day-to-day business - be that helping them or "hindering" them as you choose.
Alliances & Corporations
We believe player-run alliances and corporations should offer all the flexibility serious alliances have come to expect from MMOs. This means internal comms channels and forums, roles and titles, permissions, hangars, wallets, voting rights and shareholdings, limits, checks and balances. At a collaborative level, we have to cater for every way an alliance wants to operate - as a leadership council, a democracy, a dictatorship or an anarchy.
Player-built and Owned Spacestations
As the gameworld we're building is based on the real galaxy, there's going to be a lot of space. And we want players and alliances to fill that space themselves, with their own - modularly designed - space stations, jumpgate networks, trade-lanes, weapons platforms, manufacturing and mining centres, minefields, and every single thing that the pre-designed NPC zones of control has in them. So if you want to charge people to dock at your station or use your trade-lane, or collect taxes on transactions conducted by players in your alliance's space, or build a tournament arena and run your own combat - or racing - league... go for it!
Multi-device - Build Your Own Cockpit
We've already demo'd (and it's in this kickstarter video) using a phone to control ship flight. We love the idea of allowing players to build their own cockpit with multiple devices working in tandem. So you can have the front view out of your spaceship on your big screen, a Surface tablet next to you showing your local radar and navigation maps, an iPad giving the latest market prices for your sector, and your phone flying the ship. If that's what you want, that's what you should be able to do!
Minimum Specs For The Game
We have written the game to run even on low-end hardware. It's been tested on a $200 Chromebook and it works just fine at a decent fps. You'll probably want a mouse as well.
There's nothing to install or download; it runs natively in the browser without plugins. All you need is a modern, up-to-date, WebGL-capable browser such as IE11, Chrome, Firefox or Opera (not Safari, sorry).
Final Note on Backer Pledge Rewards
Where any reward level allows a backer to name an NPC, an asteroid belt, a star system etc, we reserve the right to reject names at our sole discretion, for any reason including being inappropriate to the setting or a breach of other people's trademarks or intellectual property. You may, of course, choose another name to submit!
About Age of Ascent & The World Record:
"I've written about Illyriad before and have always enjoyed its epic scale and massive numbers, but with this new project, the team is promising something that is not only larger than anything it has ever done but larger than anything that has been done before... by anyone. I've gone through a few test runs with tons of other players and had no issues whatsoever, even while running it on a $200 Chromebook!" - massively.com
"The event will demonstrate the PvP component of the game, allowing (hopefully) thousands of players from around the world to directly pilot ships in dogfights across a single, continuous battlezone. Illyriad Games will attempt to do this without sharding or slowing down gameplay... [This is] a grand experiment." - PC Gamer
"If Age of Ascent manages to pull it off, this will be the MMO equivalent of beating an opponent blindfolded, with your arms tied behind your back, while balancing a tea-cup on your head." - Alpha Beta Gamer
About Our Previous Title (to show the kind of MMOs we make):
"...fantastic browser-based city-builder... a ton of depth, a great community... play at your own pace... perfect gameplay... absolutely wonderful Lore... the map is incredible... reminds me of Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones - those great big epic stories." - massively.com
"Everyone loves sinking their teeth into a game with real depth and Illyriad offers that in abundance..." - Ubelly
We look forward to hearing from you, and we hope you'll back our project.
With best wishes,
James Niesewand and the Illyriad Games team
Risks and challenges
We believe that a substantial part of the risk for this project has been mitigated by this public alpha test of the working (but not feature complete!) PvP dogfighting component. We've been working on this for quite some time already, and it's awesome to have something to show you.
We've already managed to build an MMO architecture that scales dynamically in a way that no one's seen before, and we hope this gives you the confidence in our abilities to deliver the rest of the game on time and up to standard!
There are, however, going to be unforeseen obstacles and hurdles in our way. There always are - it's how you deal with them that counts. And we think we have some experience in delivering the "impossible"!
LIEUTENANT: 4x backer-only spaceships (cruiser, frigate, scout and cutter classes) + Access to the Beta test + 2000 ingame credits + Your name in the NPC database + Your choice of a set of "backer" decals for all of your spaceships.
COMMANDER: Name an asteroid belt + 5x backer-only spaceships (destroyer, cruiser, frigate, scout and cutter classes) + Access to the Alpha & Beta tests + Access to the closed game design forums + 5000 ingame credits + Your name in the NPC database + Your choice of a set of "backer" decals for all of your spaceships.
CAPTAIN: Name a spacestation and an asteroid belt + 6x backer-only spaceships (battleship, destroyer, cruiser, frigate, scout and cutter classes) + Access to the Alpha & Beta tests + Access to the closed game design forums + 10000 ingame credits + Your name in the NPC database + Your choice of a set of "backer" decals for all of your spaceships.
COMMODORE: Name a Star System and a spacestation + 6x backer-only spaceships (battleship, destroyer, cruiser, frigate, scout and cutter classes) + Access to the Alpha & Beta tests + Access to the closed game design forums + 10000 ingame credits + Your name in the NPC database + Your choice of a set of "backer" decals for all of your spaceships.
REAR ADMIRAL: 30 minute personal video call with James Niesewand + Name an NPC Corporation, Star System and spacestation + 7x backer-only spaceships (capital ship, battleship, destroyer, cruiser, frigate, scout and cutter classes) + Access to the Alpha & Beta tests + Access to the closed game design forums + 20000 ingame credits + Your name in the NPC database + Your choice of a set of "backer" decals for all of your spaceships.
VICE ADMIRAL: Unique piece of signed original game artwork + 1hr personal video call with James Niesewand + Name an NPC Corporation, Star System and spacestation + 7x backer-only spaceships (capital ship, battleship, destroyer, cruiser, frigate, scout and cutter classes) + Access to the Alpha & Beta tests + Access to the closed game design forums + 30000 ingame credits + Your name in the NPC database + Your choice of a set of "backer" decals for all of your spaceships.
ADMIRAL: Your likeness as an NPC character ingame + inclusion of your name as a character in the print-published Novella + original signed game artwork of this character + 1hr personal video call with James Niesewand + Name an NPC Corporation, Star System and spacestation + 7x backer-only spaceships (capital ship, battleship, destroyer, cruiser, frigate, scout and cutter classes) + Access to the Alpha & Beta tests + Access to the closed game design forums + 50000 ingame credits + Your name in the NPC database + Your choice of a set of "backer" decals for all of your spaceships.
ADMIRAL OF THE FLEET: Dinner at home with James Niesewand (flights & accommodation not included) + Name a spaceship + Your likeness as an NPC character ingame + inclusion of your name as a character in the print-published Novella + original signed game artwork of this character + Name an NPC Corporation, Star System and spacestation + 7x backer-only spaceships (capital ship, battleship, destroyer, cruiser, frigate, scout and cutter classes) + Access to the Alpha & Beta tests + Access to the closed game design forums + 100000 ingame credits + Your name in the NPC database + Your choice of a set of "backer" decals for all of your spaceships.