10 Reasons You Need To Play Ace Of Spades

By Quintin Smith on April 13th, 2011 at 2:35 pm.

War is tough when all of your recruits are green.

Have I got your attention? Then I’ll begin. Ace of Spades is a freeware, multiplayer Minecraft-alike that takes Minecraft’s cuboid building mechanics and drapes a World War 1 setting on top of it, with the end result being a huge, immersive, dynamic game of capture the flag.

On the one hand, you’ve got two teams of sixteen exchanging rifle fire and grenades, trying to push forward and outflank one another. On the other hand, both teams are trying to improve their position by building bunkers, bridges and tunnels. If you want to give it a shot you’ll find the game here and a guide to playing it here. If not, then I’ve assembled ten reasons why you should reconsider your position after the jump. I want to stand up and high-five RPS reader David Lake for sending this in, but alas, this is the internet. What a shame.

(1) It quietly one-ups Minecraft by having rudimentary physics. In the above picture you can see a guy building a bridge between two opposed mountain sides. As I watched him and another guy go about this commendable task, some griefer ran up and used his pickaxe to remove the first two blocks of the bridge, sending the entire thing and both players crashing into the river below. You will notice I am holding a pickaxe in the picture. IT WASN’T ME. Dammit.

(2) Building is flexible without being open to abuse. You have a limited number of blocks you can put down with each life, so your constructions must be thoughtful, yet you can change the colour of whatever blocks you put down so that foxholes, trenches and shelters can be camoflaged. Equally, you can mark enemy emplacements with lipstick-red cubes.

(3) The tunnels are nauseatingly claustrophobic. Minecraft often brings about a sense of claustrophobia, sure, but it’s that much worse here because you’re constantly terrified of getting shot or blown up and you can’t move in tunnels. Also, there’s something indescribably grim about them. They’re not built for comfort.

As I was running through the tunnel you see above I fell straight down a one-cube pit that had been dug by some saboteur on the opposing team. Digging myself out took about 30 seconds. It was among the most disturbing feelings I’ve ever encountered in a game.

(4) Combat is more akin to Red Orchestra than anything else. The range of your rifle is enormous and headshots kill instantly, and the effects of this are both far-reaching and awesome.

You get players advancing towards the enemy from behind hills, sniping from high ground and forming proper front-lines where groups of opposing players hunker down about 150 metres away from one another. The most exciting moment I had playing Ace of Spades this morning was running up to the crest of a hill only to find four of my team-mates crouching behind scrub and rock on the same side as me, occasionally standing up to send a bullet in the rough direction of a group of enemies. At the same time, I could hear the distant sound of return rifle and see tracer rounds flying overhead. It was perfect.

All this said, shots to the body are a different matter. Since it takes several of those to kill you, the game still has plenty of room for ludicrous duels wherein two of you will be playing cat and mouse, chasing one another up and over hillocks, along gulches and through tunnels, until one of you gets in that one lucky shot. It’s so much fun.

(5) Your grenades rip tiny craters in the landscape, and a few grenades in the same place will create a functional ditch for you to cower in like the coward wise and cautious soldier you are. Since all cubes are equal in terms of destructibility, this of course means you can blow holes in enemy constructions, or theoretically level them.

(6) One of the items you carry is a spade. This makes the game’s title, Ace of Spades, a pun.

(7) Hitting “M” brings up a real-time map, from which all of your team-mates and everybody’s constructions are visible.

(8) A quirk of the game’s voxel rendering engine means that if you look down and try and move, the world begins warping around your feet in something akin to the hallucination caused by sniffing some 400 marker pens in succession.

(9) The half-finished and destroyed constructions litter the landscape both give the map a miserable kind of beauty and make it a rewarding place to play in. You’re not just sheltering behind some scrap of cover, you’re sheltering behind something someone started building. What had he planned? Why did he stop? Probably because he was shot, and- wait. You’re standing in exactly the same pl– *bang*

(10) This game only came out a week ago and is still in beta 0.22. The thought of what it could become, with artillery pieces and sniper rifles and barbed wire and God knows what else just boggles the mind. But if you start playing it now, you’ll be able to say you played it before it was cool.

Want to get involved? Of course you do. The official, awesomely bare-bones site’s here, and this excellent guide should answer all of your questions. The game currently lacks servers and griefing is pretty endemic, but I didn’t have too much trouble finding alright servers, and even found one excellent one. PC gamers? Get gaming.

EDIT: If you’re having trouble connecting or getting a grey screen or a directdraw error, check the guide above. It covers all of that.

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177 Comments »

  1. Lobotomist says:

    Downloading!

    Hope its not late fools day joke :D

  2. gorgol says:

    Holy crap, I wet my pants a little bit.

  3. Nighthood says:

    Someone needs to make an RPS UK server, because right now it’s awful to get onto any of them.

  4. well says:

    It is awesome, even if the graphics do have a tendency to induce nausea at times.

    There seems to be a bit of an issue right now with hackers/cheaters though.

  5. ZomBuster says:

    About 9 , the terrain wraps around, so those run-down, pointless piles of cubes at the edge are in fact the enemy teams buildings. Just the terrain wraps so you can’t shoot them or walk there.

  6. HybridHalo says:

    This actually looks incredible, though is something I had hoped that would be achievable within Minecraft itself at some point. Definitely looking to give this a go.

    Very surprised not to see the term “Block Ops” mentioned. :)

    • Lars Westergren says:

      “This is an order of magnitude cooler than Black Ops”.

      Edit: Oh. Now I saw what you wrote. Good one. Sarif Industries should invent those better eyes soon.

  7. CMaster says:

    Think I’ve got a server running.
    Let’s see if this works
    Click here
    Edit: Seems not. It’s not letting me put “aos://” in the link.

  8. gorgol says:

    Humm, I’m getting initdirectdraw failed.

  9. Mashakosha says:

    Just played this for a while. It’s surprisingly fun!

  10. JackShandy says:

    Orgasmine.

    Thank god, thank god, thank god Minecraft won’t be passing quietly into that good night. Seeing people take innovative mechanics and extend/build on them is magnificent- standing on the shoulders of giants, etc. In an ideal world this kind of thing should be automatic, we should just see the birth of something like Minecraft and go “Oh, of course some young go-getters will be taking this basic idea and making it into world war 2/e-sport/racing game/competitive dating sim.”

    I don’t know, maybe we’re in that ideal world now.

  11. QuantaCat says:

    This is great. This is competition at its’ finest, forcing the other developers to try their hand at their own things.

  12. McCool says:

    @Quinns: I’ll collect my high-five on Saturday I guess!

    This game is worryingly addictive. Though certain times of day seem to attract more griefers than others (and the game has yet to develop a voteban system so..yeah..), when you get two teams of serious players the fun is giddying. A group of four or so soldiers working in unison suddenly seem like the Royal Engineers, building bridges and mining out wide tunnels to aid their teams’ progress through the map with freakish efficiency . The sense of panic when your lines break and swarms of filthy blues move into your painstakingly built, multilevelled green fortress of death and get the grenades and shovels out beats the adrenaline rush when your “cap point” is in danger any day. The game is pretty bare-bones at the moment, but any game built around that concept has to be awesome.

    Oh and, really, don’t look down.

  13. Postal76 says:

    This looks excellent. Sadly, whenever I join a server I just get stuck staring at a barren gray landscape indefinitely.

  14. sinelnic says:

    Yes! I knew Minecraft would be remembered as the birth of the Atom in social PC simulacra. Tinier cubes and better physics is the future!! Yes!

    • McCool says:

      I’ve been thinking this too, since discovering the game. I think games like Dwarf Fortress and Minecraft might just have heralded in a new era for gaming, totally distinct from previous ones. Where in the 90s and 00s anyone could get their hands dirty in some code and put together a fun mod, now the same type of freedom is being afforded to games themselves. What we are now seeing, and AoS is a part of this, is a movement in gaming where someone can throw together some ideas, and get a workable version out to the public, for free, very early. Bringing anyone who might be interested in your concept into the circle of Game development like this makes us all Valve playtesters and personally, this a role I am more than happy to be in.
      The Unity deluge has started, too, but as it gains momentum I think this could really be the long-foretold era of DIY gaming we’ve been waiting for.

    • sinelnic says:

      In a “business model” sense I completely agree with you, and also this DIY model is very interesting in terms of “counterculturality” (sic) meaning in a world of concentrated capital and globally distributed intellectual production, a one man project being viable AND truly innovative…

      But my point was about the cubes mechanic itself, whereas in mostly all other games what you see is a set of props that represent a certain physical property (the “closed door” syndrome) whereas in Minecraft what you see is (mostly) what it is and what you can manipulate. I like to think of minecraft as the first real “virtual world” but of a very low resolution… and can’t help to dream about the day when chenical reactions are added to the possibilities of the little cubes.

    • Duckmeister says:

      Hey guys, uh, [url=http://www.minecraftwiki.net/wiki/Infiniminer]Infiniminer[/url].

      I hate being that annoying guy in the background who has to correct everybody, but seriously, you have to give credit where credit is due.

  15. nayon says:

    I think the trenches look more claustrophobic than Minecraft because the block size in Minecraft is larger.

  16. ComradePenguin says:

    What servers are people managing to connect to? I’m just getting unable to connect for all of them.

  17. Berzee says:

    !!!! =) Add this to the list of things that are too involved to play at work, but will occupy my mind until I get home.

    The list has one thing on it now.

  18. TheBlobThing says:

    This indeed seems awesome. Unfortunately, I can’t seem to get it to work. Either gray worlds, full servers or intense lag.

  19. Defiant Badger says:

    This is wonderful! In a very odd, melancholy WW1 kind of way.

  20. pakoito says:

    Buggy as fuck, i don’t think i even can get into playing.

  21. Berzee says:

    Some might even say it is *quite* the thing.

  22. reticulate says:

    Now then, I want to ask of you a riddle, of vaguely related circumstance.

    Who would win in an arm wrestle – Lemmy or God?

  23. LionsPhil says:

    A work of two anons

    So, how many people have had their megahurtz stoled by this? :V

    That said I like how this is like Minecraft, but with an actual game, even if the screenshots look as ugly as sin.
    Edit: Oh wow, they’re giving Ken Silverman’s actual voxel engine experiments a workout. Neat. (The guy who did the BUILD engine for DN3D and was sort-of gunning along at Carmack levels before stupidly deciding to return to formal education rather than continue with VIDYAGRAMES.)

  24. Rond says:

    WW1+Minecraft? Holy shit, does it have spiked helmets and chemical weapons? Please?

  25. Nemon says:

    I knew consolification would dumb down the graphics, I knew it!.
    But still, a must try.

  26. Quintin Smith says:

    I can’t connect to CMaster’s server. I’m getting the “Can’t connect to server” message, which makes me think it’s overloaded.

    If somebody wants to create a thread on the RPS forums where anybody who’s running a server can post the address, that would probably be a smart move.

  27. Luringen says:

    Every time I try to open client.exe, I get the program has stopped working message, before the window has even opened. Running Windows 7 32 bit. Tried running as admin, 264 colors and compatibility mode. Any advice?
    EDIT: Never mind, I got it working. Also, thanks to Zerrick for help!

  28. Navagon says:

    This sounds like a thing of fantasticness. I hope it goes on to great things.

  29. Metonymy says:

    Cant even play until they add a ‘reverse Y axis’ into the configuration.

    Seriously why did anyone decide to configure these games backwards? I hope you never have to land an airplane.

  30. patricij says:

    Oh…Silverman’s Voxlap! This could be brilliant, I loved Voxelstein 3d built on this engine…

    • LionsPhil says:

      It’s sort of weird and swooshy in motion.

      I just found a guy digging himself a pit and sealed the roof with blocks. I’m sorry you made a hole in my staircase and I had to fill it. :D

  31. DeepSleeper says:

    Reminds me of an old chart I saw somewhere detailing the process of making a modern video game, I believe it was from Gamespy? Started off:

    Step 1: A clever idea is had.
    Step 2: Guns are added to it.

    Obviously we’re moving in the right direction.

  32. Stuart Walton says:

    The voxel engine runs perfectly fine on my netbook (Might try my GoG version of Outcast on it). Not bad for the little Atom processor. I can see myself touring a few servers just to see the stories written on the landscape.

    I hope he gets a linux build for servers too. Should scale better than Minecraft does since there aren’t any autonomous systems like trees and running water taxing CPU cycles. Nor is there a ‘might as well be infinite’ persistent world eating up RAM.

  33. mjig says:

    Say what you will about 4chan, but whenever the only people who knew about the game were from /v/, there was a whole lot less hacking going on. As soon as the game got posted to Reddit and from there the rest of the internet, it all went to hell.

    • Tams80 says:

      There is a surprising amount of etiquette on 4chan. On boards like /v/ it seems pretty strong as well; on some of the other boards it can be very warped, yet is still there. This is probably why it wasn’t as bad at first.

    • McCool says:

      True that. Also, say what you like about /v/, but they are pretty on-the-ball when it comes to great new games, ahead of the rest of the internet by weeks if not months. Some scoff at /v/’s “flavour of the month”, but they have a habit of being gems, each and every one of them.

    • JFS says:

      This is why I almost never do multiplayer. It’s an exaggerated version of everything that is wrong with the Internet. A troll by itself may be bad, but give said troll a gun, everything goes south. A shame, really.

  34. Torgen says:

    Dammit, I keep thinking the name of the game is “Ace of Base” and that song starts up in my head…

  35. Kazang says:

    Can we start blaming Minecraft for the state of pc graphics yet?

  36. Mashakosha says:

    Need to find a way of running this windowed. Anyone know how?

  37. Stranglove says:

    I haven’t even encountered hostiles, and this is already damn good fun.

  38. Wulf says:

    I’d love to see a more nutty Sci-Fantasy take on this, using that as an excuse to throw in all manner of insanity. That is all.

  39. Teddy Leach says:

    This game is awesome! I was having a blast until I was randomly disconnected.

  40. Zanchito says:

    Do want! Downloading as soon as I get home!

  41. Conor says:

    The has been an update literally a minute ago. So, upgrade and whatever uyou want to do.
    Think I’ll make that thread in the forum as well because I have plenty of spare time.

    It adds votekicking (hurrah!), anticheat (hurrah) and “faster server update rate” (hurrah!)

  42. SprintJack says:

    Great, beta 0.25 released just when i tried to run it :)

  43. _Jackalope_ says:

    This is so much fun. Very tense. I fell down a massive man trap and my health dropped way down. I decided the best course of action was to eat my own giant apple shaped grenade. Then the game/server crashed. But the half hour up to that was great fun. The guns are very accurate but as it’s the same for everyone I like it. No classes to contend with.

  44. Orvidos says:

    Damn you Iron. I was just getting sleepy after a 45 hour bender of 100% insomnia, and now this comes up. That’ll teach me to poke about on the internets when requiring sleep.

  45. Teddy Leach says:

    I love how the RPS servers get full apparently in seconds.

    EDIT: And then go down within minutes. We really need a dedicated server.

  46. Isheh says:

    Played it for abit and apart from getting shot in the back while building its pretty fun,

    Edit: also now rolling back to version 0.22

  47. Torgen says:

    I’ve tried starting a server, but it silently closes after a minute or two, and never shows on the server page. Beforehand, it would show up bu no one could join because I hadn’t forwarded port 32887 on the router.

  48. Schaulustiger says:

    Does anyone have a working link to the 0.22 version? I only got 0.25, then the downgrade happened and now the main site just links to the forum which has apparently collapsed due to massive overload.

  49. Jeremy says:

    Oh man, this looks so amazing, I need to play this. I can’t wait for the day that they add some custom maps, with a fresh new town in the middle that is quickly battered as two sides fight for control.

  50. egg651 says:

    Download link appears to be broken. Could anyone be kind enough to post a mirror?

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