Road to 1.0

Road to 1.0

Hey guys,

Between our upcoming Next Fest demo and Early Access being barely a month away it’s time we talked about our plans going forward.

Our current demo features the core gameplay of Ascent of Ashes: you build, manage your survivors’ needs and work schedules, and send them on expeditions to kindly ask people for their valuables at muzzle velocity. Generally, this gives you about an hour of gameplay. Enough to demonstrate what the game is about, but not really something to keep you occupied. For Early Access, our goal is to lengthen the average playtime to at least 10 hours. It certainly won’t be a finished game, but enough to get a good session or two out of it.

To achieve this, we’re aiming to add basic hunting and crafting systems to the game. We’re adding a new animal that you can hunt for resources and useful items you can craft from it. We’re also expanding on the inventory system and adding ammo management, meaning you will have to scavenge to keep your arsenal topped off. The needs system will be expanded, with penalties for leaving your survivors unhappy. And if all goes well and we have the time, we’re also looking at expanding the expeditions by adding small towns to the list of destinations, some basic voice over, and an electric grid.

That’s one big bed bug.

Milestone #1: Doctor, I Think I’ve been Shot

Once Early Access is out, work will begin on our first milestone update. The update will focus mainly on the combat mechanics. We ordered it first because small unit combat and tactics an integral part of AoA’s gameplay. Many other mechanics interact with it directly or indirectly, be it resources, research, even agriculture and farming. That’s why its important that we build a solid, enjoyable base before we build further up.

Among the upcoming features are a variety of firearms related mechanics such as bipods, weapon mods, usable scopes and aimed shots. Explosive and incendiary weapons, including grenades for your loadout will be included. Light artillery and the tactical planning mode are on the list as well.

Concept art for different weapons.

To go with this we’ll also be working on a number of supporting and related mechanics, such as fire, lighting, weather, and temperature. Also included is an in-depth medical system with hit locations, bleed simulation, and more. Maintaining a capable doctor and a supply of medicine will become vital to your survival.

This milestone is also when we will perform the engine switch we announced yesterday. Check out the post if you haven’t seen it already for more details:

Milestone #2: Farm World

Once combat is finished, we’ll focus our attention on the base building and management aspects of the game. That means fleshing out the animal system, adding new animals and ways to interact with them by taming and putting them to work. Work schedules and custom traits will give you new ways to manage your survivors.

Hamgrazers make for great beasts of burden.

The other big part of this update will be an initial skeleton for overworld exploration. A proper overworld map and convoy system. Different factions to meet. Random encounters, both hostile and helpful. Advanced tech and tools you can haul back to your base to reverse-engineer and unlock new crafting recipes.

Milestone #3: They See Me Rollin’

With the basic overworld in place, it’s time to give you the means to really go out and explore it. You guessed it, vehicles. In this update, we’re adding salvagable vehicles you can repair and use to travel or transport that hot new lathe you found back home. These vehicles will require crew and in some cases special training. They’ll offer customizability, heavy armor and serious firepower to really put the hurt on those raider outposts.

Vehicles will be a big part of this milestone.

Speaking of raider outposts, this update will add more to the overworld than just a way to traverse it faster. It will also include cities as an explorable location, as well as rare resources the player can harvest by constructing an outpost and setting up supply routes. Factions will become more interactive with the addition of diplomacy and trade, while survivor quests give you a new reason to go out and travel.

You will not be the only one out on the road, as NPC travelers are added to the overworld and may occasionally visit your base to trade and lodge. Giving them a bed to sleep in can reward you with great trade opportunities, new information about the surrounding area,

Milestone #4: A Tale of Remnants and Raiders

With all needed support mechanics and the overworld firmly in place, it is time for you to really experience the story of Acheron. This will include two stories you can discover organically as you explore the world, leading you through the events that led up to the Collapse, to opportunities to escape the war-torn planet or find a way to resolve the conflict for good.

The story of Acheron will be told through exploration.

As you explore the story you will be faced with numerous moral choices, both within the story itself but also in your interactions with other survivors. Depending on the path you choose, you may lead the restoration of society on a path of mutual cooperation and trade, or take what you want by force. The face of your settlement will change to reflect your choice, as your survivors band together or degenerate into violent raiders.

Milestone #5: Finishing Touches

Too many games these days come out unfinished and plagued with bugs and balance issues. That’s why the final milestone is dedicated purely to polish, optimizations and fixes. It also includes a super-secret bonus feature, but to see that you’ll need to play the game when it comes out!

Closing out

To finish out, I’d like to add a disclaimer that while these are our objectives at the moment, even the best laid plans can require adjustments and everything here should be treated as subject to change. Even so I think it is important that we have a certain plan and a set scope, both to give you guys an idea of what we’re doing and to avoid the Indie Game pitfall of eternal Early Access.

We hope you’re as excited for the game’s future as we are.

Until next time, stay safe and keep surviving.