How to revitalize Ascent

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How to revitalize Ascent

Postby ForumBot » Wed Sep 04, 2019 3:32 am

I know I'm probably not really welcome here anymore but I do still check in occasionally mostly because I'd still like to see this game do well.

With that said, it goes without saying that the game is consistently but slowly losing activity. Nowadays whenever I go on, it's usually just an occasional new player (or someone i don't recognize) and RAM. I'm also hoping that many of these issues will be resolved when Ascent is relaunched, but I figured I'd put this word vomit here anyways, just for the sake of discussion.

1. The game needs *a lot* of optimization and general improvements. If I'm going to be honest, a lot of features like NPCs, while functional, barely work. The UI overhaul a few years ago was a good step forward in this, but I really do think QoL improvements should be more of a priority than it is. Also the performance makes the game unplayable on older machines. My old PC on which I started playing Ascent on with no major performance issues, I can no longer run Ascent with an FPS higher than 5-10. That could be the aging PC's fault, but I doubt it is entirely. Some things in particular that this game needs are money sinks, less glitchy ship physics (might be a Unity-related problem) and combat improvements, on which I elaborate below. Also something big that needs to be improved is the fact that large ships are basically impossible to maneuvre in first person, which ruins the immersion. I get they're supposed to be big and bulky, but I think this is one of those instances where you could sacrifice some realism for playability.

2. I think it would help the game a ton if it were free to play, but in turn the cost of premium went up considerably, to say $4 per month each if not more. I know that had I not played Ascent before, I probably wouldn't have paid $20 on Steam for it simply because it had relatively few reviews and wasn't well known. I played the web demo when that was still around, which is what convinced me to buy it later. On the other hand, free games often get tons of free traffic. A good example of this is Moonbase Alpha, which had millions of downloads despite very little press and being a pretty small game overall. I think this is the single thing that will help the most. Maybe charging money for the game will again make sense at some point, but not until the game receives some greater recognition. Another idea is to have a 'free weekend' like some games have, where you can try the game out for a few days for free, then choose if you want to buy it to keep playing or not. At the very least, I really think some kind of free trial should at least be offered.

3. Combat needs a complete rewrite. I know that most of Ascent's current player base could care less about that, but the enemy AI right now is completely broken and is mostly neglected anyways. If Jam doesn't want to rewrite combat or improve it, then I think it should be removed completely. Ascent was never really a combat game anyways, so that might make more sense. On this subject, Ascent tries to be everything but never really 'masters' anything.

4. I've suggested this before, but an inviter's program would really help. This is something that even a community member could pull off in the form of a competition or something like that, and it would hopefully bring some new players in. However, I've only seen this be very effective for free2play games, which Ascent isn't anymore. It still might have a positive effect though.

5. While I don't think this point in particular is very likely, seasonal events would help a lot at keeping the current player base active. There was that one year where blueprints for ship lights were distributed around Christmas, and I think even small-ish things like that would help.

6. Last but not least, I think giving more ways for the player base to be involved in this process would overall help too. For example, maybe adding a way to manually and easily replace models, textures and shaders within the game. Such level of customization is something I don't think has been tested in an MMO but it might attract some talented people if the game's looks can be heavily modified in that way.

tl;dr: i think changing the business model to be free but with a more expensive subscription would be the most helpful, but players could also have a role in this by inviting others to the game, sharing it, generating publicity, etc.
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Re: How to revitalize Ascent

Postby RAM » Wed Sep 04, 2019 2:16 pm

I saw you in last night. Stick around and play some. We are about tog et the rest of terraforming in game. You think gates were big projects? Terraforming will make gates look simple.
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Re: How to revitalize Ascent

Postby Mooncrest » Wed Sep 04, 2019 2:36 pm

These are all comments I can agree with.

I have my own list of things I think need looking at before any viable sales promotion can be made for the game to succeed.

Things that need looking at

I sort of agree with the way Jam is going about this, though. He is working on getting Algae into the game so that his die-hard followers can get up to something other than maintaining the status quo and building new gates. Then, hopefully, he will get on with sorting out some of the things on our lists of things to overhaul.

This is, however, going to take some considerable time, because, I think, he is still having to work on the 'New Game' at the same time.

Ideally, I would like him to, when Algae is finished, work on the overhaul rather than work on something else new.

Activity amongst the few remaining veteran players is steady. There are a few new players, some of which do seem to be sticking around.

I am slightly surprised that the game is still being offered for sale as I imagine we get a people buying the game and then giving up when they see the state the game is in; which will not bode well for the future as these guys may well pipe up with their bad experience if/when a promotional campaign is underway.

I think it could be advantageous to make the game free, for the time being, so people can try it. If they stay, most likely they will start paying for Premium, because they want to start building colonies etc. If they leave, they have no gripe about spending $20 on some waste of their time.

As you surmise, working on the combat system should be a low priority when the overhaul is underway. I think combat still needs to be there, thought I probably won't be using it, because t could draw people in in the future and there are all those nice, juicy colonies in the Red Zone to plunder when the time comes.

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