Jagex Announce Sandbox Shooter: Ace Of Spades

By John Walker on November 1st, 2012 at 2:00 pm.

Jagex, the UK-based studio responsible for the hugely successful RuneScape, have glued trumpets to their lips and heralded the announcement of their next game: Ace Of Spades. What’s that? You recognise a game by that name? Gosh, you’re a keen-eyed one. Indeed, a year and a half ago Quintin spotted the indie Minecraftish WWI multiplayer, and insisted that you play it. It seems Jagex took his instructions very seriously, and now they’re publishing it.

Combining a sixteen-player shooter with Minecraft-like block building is certainly a novel concept, and one that seems to work pretty well. Quintin compared the original‘s combat to Red Orchestra, and praised the way it balances building to prevent abuse. Now it’s a 32-player shooter, and has become considerably prettier.

The previous version is now a “prototype”, with the newfangled release appearing in December on Steam. But this new version is still describing itself as “retro-looking”, which I think is what you say now when your game is made of cubes. The hook remains the same – it’s a multiplayer shooter, but one where you can build your own bases and bunkers on the fly.

The previous version apparently saw 2.5 million installs, so it seems there could already be a fairly decent fanbase out there waiting to get into (and then inevitably complain about) the newer version. It seems this development has been done rather in secret, which I never quite understand. Perhaps they were hedging their bets. However, they seem happy enough to announce it now, including that players will be class-based, with comparisons made to Team Fortress.

Fans of the original, how do you feel? Nervous? Delighted? Itchy?

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59 Comments »

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  1. jonfitt says:

    Is this still going to be voxel based and hence suffer from vomit-inducing fisheye effects?

    • SooSiaal says:

      What do voxels have to do with fisheye effects?

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        PoulWrist says:

        Everything to about 50% of people, nothing to the remaining 50%. It’s an amazing effect and has come to be known as the Fisheye Paradox.

      • jonfitt says:

        The only explanation of the weird distortion effect that I’ve found is it’s something to do with the voxel rendering.

        • tungstenHead says:

          I can entertain a theory of how the huge number right angle lines in Minecraft may create conditions for motion sickness or a fisheye illusion that leads to motion sickness, but I don’t think it’s the culprit. I suspect it’s more likely just a high field of view (FOV) actually creating a real fisheye effect that leads to motion sickness.

          A lot of games (Bethesda’s RPGs, Unreal Tournament, just off the top of my head) will let you use console commands to mess around with FOV. See if you can find one and try cranking the FOV up to find out if the effect is actually something you only experience in Minecraft. I would be very surprised if you couldn’t recreate your nausea by messing around with that.

          Or, maybe you shouldn’t try making yourself sick. Maybe try finding a way (mod, console command, concave glasses (I think?)) to lower the FOV in Minecraft instead and see if that sorts you out.

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            darkChozo says:

            I think he’s talking about something specific to Ace of Spades. Haven’t played it in a long time but I recall there being a lot of weird distortion that was more than just usual FOV stuff. Seemed to be some sort of rendering glitch, not surprising considering the state of the game when everyone found it. It was rather disorientating, and I’m fine with Minecraft even at the higher FOV values.

          • Sugoi says:

            Low FOVs make me quite sick, but it’s rare to hear of people having issues because the FOV is too high unless they set it to something crazy (120+).

          • Baines says:

            I can think of one reason to try to make yourself sick, and that is to find out what is making you sick. If you can figure that out, then you can try to find solutions, or at the very least know that certain games are just going to be unplayable for you.

            I cannot play Minecraft. It makes me sick fairly quickly. I can’t even watch video of someone else playing it. A friend of mine is similar. I don’t know how video play affects him, but he gets sick even faster from actually playing than I do.

            Doom, Wolfenstein, and Quake all make me sick. Doom may be the worst offender. Conduit on the Wii makes me sick. Amnesia: The Dark Descent is one of the few recent FPS to do it. Most FPS don’t do it (though most FPS can act like an early warning system to me coming down with a cold.)

          • Barberetti says:

            The head and weapon bobbing in those games is the cause of motion sickness for a lot of people, so turn those off in the options.

    • DarkFarmer says:

      The original AoS used the venerable Voxelcraft engine, which has some strange fisheye distortion effects. Assuming this new game which looks radically different uses just a normal 3D engine like Unity or Ogre3D as a framework that will not happen.

      • jonfitt says:

        That’s what I’m hoping.

        Just for the record I have never had motion sickness in any game, and this one didn’t literally make me feel sick it just was very off putting. It was nothing like anything I’ve seen before.

      • LionsPhil says:

        It certainly doesn’t look like Ken Silverman’s work any more.

        Which will be interesting. The way bits of the base could be undermined and collapse was built into Ken’s engine; they’ll have to reimplement all that too. Also the original can run in software mode on a Pop Tart.

  2. syndrome says:

    Funny how this article made a little disappearing act yesterday.

  3. pakoito says:

    I loved the first iterations of Ace of Spades. Then custom maps came and it was just dumb inhouse rules and silly open maps. No more Blue Rats vs the Glorious Green Empire, one coming from the river, the other from the hills.

    • Rhuhuhuhu says:

      Have to admit, the custom maps are not of the best sort.

      It’s still an awesome concept though and I would really love to see this worked out info a nice full product.

    • Tusque D'Ivoire says:

      This!

      I much preferred the one and only map from the beginning, where it was mountainfolk against riverfolk. That’s where I have my deep mistrust of anything green from!

    • jikavak says:

      100% agree.Not separating custom maps from proper ones was a dumb move.

    • Geen says:

      Agreed. I miss those rolling green hills that had fire rained upon them like it was Normandy while trenches were frantically made as green bunkers began to fall apart, the Blues attempting to sneak through a river getting gunned down, the camo bridges, the elaborate mountain bunkers camouflaged and filled to the brim with snipers (which was hilarious when you tossed a grenade out of your foxhole and got 5 kills). Now it’s all custom shit and run-n-gun. Goddammit.

  4. db1331 says:

    Has there been a more copied/imitated game than Minecraft? I don’t mean to bash this (it looks fun), but WOW. I don’t remember the last time a game was borrowed from more heavily. Maybe the first Modern Warfare, as we are still getting clones of it today?

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      Dilapinated says:

      Doom.
      Tetris.
      Super Mario.
      Grand Theft Auto.

      When you become the first breakout success in a genre, you end up with a lot of imitations & games that are heavily influenced by it. Which one this is, we’ll see.

      • Brun says:

        This really. Pretty much every First Person Shooter ever made can trace its roots back to Doom (or Wolfenstein, since that technically came first).

        • Wild_Marker says:

          Every time this argument comes up, it can be swiftly ended by reminding everyone that before the term FPS existed, we used to call them “Doom-Clones”

          • benkc says:

            Similarly, in the late 90’s I remember people referring to the RTS genre as “Clone & Conquer”. (I guess because that works better than Dune-clone or Warclone/Clonecraft.)

    • frightlever says:

      Infiniminer clone Minecraft?

      http://www.minecraftwiki.net/wiki/Infiniminer

      • roguewombat says:

        I think it’s funny how Infiniminer always rears it’s head in threads like this… as if we all played it or knew such a title even existed before Minecraft.

        To reiterate Dilapinated: “When you become the first breakout success in a genre…”

        • Phantoon says:

          Infiniminer is to Minecraft as Wolfenstein 3D is to Doom.

        • Phasma Felis says:

          What’s really interesting in this context is that Infiniminer was a competitive team-based game with a strictly limited playfield. So Ace of Spades is actually a lot more like Infiniminer than it is like Minecraft.

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      AlwaysRight says:

      rogue?

    • YourMessageHere says:

      I’m pretty sure MW was a gestalt of dozens of other things as well. It certainly wasn’t the first FPS to cast the player as a soldier in a modern context. Nor was it the first to be heavily scripted.

      • Cigol says:

        Modern Warfare is Call of Duty, which was essentially Medal of Honor… so yeah…

    • Droopy The Dog says:

      Dune 2?

    • MOKKA says:

      Who cares if developers imitate other games mechanics/visuals as long as they do something creative with them?

      I agree that a straight up copy of a game isn’t a positive thing, but people trying to give an idea their own spin? By all means do it.

    • Eddy9000 says:

      “this new version is still describing itself as “retro-looking”, which I think is what you say now when your game is made of cubes”

      …or what you say when your game looks exactly like Minecraft but you don’t want to admit it.

  5. UsF says:

    I really enjoyed the trench warfare and flat dangerous maps with digging of mines. Last I tried it, there were very high maps, sort of vietnam style tropical combat and a lot of custom maps with fully build preset maps and large chasms inbetween, creating artificial barriers right from the start. The screenshots indicate more weapons, so I do not know if this will be for me.

    • Geen says:

      Yeah, I miss the trench warfare and whatnot. Stationary machineguns seem interesting, though.

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    PoulWrist says:

    Nice :) I was missing development on this.

  7. Guest_84592 says:

    I have been rather disappointed with the development of AoS, and the bazooka as well as the dragon in the pic makes me afraid that doesn’t change.

    As the article states, this was a WWI like game. Trenches everywhere, hidden into the mountain, the only way to victory was absolute precision with your rifle, building the right constructions when needed, and always being on the lookout for what comes in from past the view distance. All this was emphasizing team work, and strategy.

    Then the dev added machine gun, shotgun, and made rifles randomly imprecise, maps weren’t random anymore, but extremely simplified to the end that all atmosphere was lost. Intel-faking was made impossible as well – a regularly used tactic earlier.
    Thus we ended up with that CoD-like solo W+M1 = certain victory, hardly anything got built anymore, and the player base deteriorated by the day.

    AoS was awesome around versions 0.4-0.5 (iirc), but then suddenly got very shitty.

    • pakoito says:

      My feelings exactly, except for the rifle. The last time I fired the game went on a ~14 man streak until I ran out of bullets and spent 5 minutes running around their base spamming in chat. They started after the custom map changes and have no notion of how to sneak in and kill someone, or where/how to hide, and SMGs are not 1HK.

    • wodin says:

      So no longer like WW1…well thats killed that off for me faster than a six foot man in a bantam battalions trench.

    • Phantoon says:

      I’m pretty sure that dragon is built.

      • Guest_84592 says:

        Unlikely. In AoS things like that don’t live very long, since they are very easy to destroy.
        The second all connections to the ground have been removed, your building completely crumbles (on the other hand even a one block connection is enough to make it stay).

        In the original game that would sometimes lead to Green completely digging away the hill in front of its base to make it more difficult for Blue to get into deadly sniping positions.
        A single round in this game often takes hours.

        • LionsPhil says:

          Since it’s a promotional shot, they could have just chosen not to knock it down.

          Also, since it’s a promotional shot in a new engine, they might not have that working again yet.

    • Robin says:

      This.

      Those early days (0,20~0.30) I was as hooked as I hadn’t been since counterstrike 1.5 (hooked to a multi FPS that is).
      But the development made it more and more run&gun, sucking away what made it unique (and overall just reducing the player involvement, since what he needed to do was consequently reduced to the old plain firefight in team deathmatch mode).
      Who really needed a blocky call of duty? Me not for sure.

      Also the dev failed to see, and take advantage of, the “World War I fiction” that arose around the title, with all the “war is hell” comics and the recolored (blue/green) historical photos, which was so hilariously fitting.

      Huge disappointment, huge wasted chance.

      P.S.

      War is Hell

      • iucounu says:

        Never played it, but went back and read Quinns’ article again. That sounded great. What you’re describing – ouch. That sounds like a horrible game design wrong turn to me.

    • Kieran_ES says:

      Shortly after Quinns’ first posted about it, I became pretty obsessed with AoS. Played it loads for about 3 or 4 weeks and then stopped. Recently returned and found it to be a completely different experience. It’s lost a lot of the slow pace and consideration of your environment that made it different. Slowly making my way towards the intel over and through hills (Green4Life), stopping every now and then to take up position over the river and pick off anyone crossing by, then moving on again when it was no longer tenable. So good.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Yeah, it was pretty great how trenches mattered for shelter and concealment, digging secret murder-tunnels to perform surprise attacks on the enemy. Shame that point’s apparently been lost.

    • Geen says:

      Pretty much my opinion on this.

  8. MrFoo says:

    As a long time player, I must say I’m not that confident in Jagex improving the game… there’s far too many indications that they want to make it significantly different from the “beta”, and make it a more console-y type of shooter just with blocky graphics.

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    JB says:

    AoS is a fun game (even recent iterations) but the aimbots need stamping out in a BIG way.

    Last time I played there was at least one on each team almost all the time.

  10. Cerebulon says:

    I just hope they don’t tone down the Red Orchestra-y-ness
    Unforgiving trench warfare and bunker complexes emerging out of randomly generated hills and fields are what made the original so fun and I hope they don’t make it more uh…Um… Take more bullets to die.

  11. Zankmam says:

    People are gonna complain?

    You bet we are!

    I’d just love for the game to stay exactly the same, as a 5 MB launched-by-browser game, and this… They seem to be commercializing the game, which can be awesome… Or utterly horrible.

    If it is not free, I’ll flip tables.

  12. Tams80 says:

    I’m going to be pessimistic.

    JaGeX, the company which has changed beyond recognition and that has to all intents and purposes ruined what was at least a decent game (RuneScape) is now going to publish the at least decent game Ace of Spades.

    While it certainly does look like they’ve made it a lot better, which I wouldn’t be surprised if they have; how long until they ruin it with some stupid ideas?

  13. Beelzebud says:

    I’m sure I’m the only one, based on the comments, but I really am getting sick of blocks and low-res textures. If your game isn’t called Minecraft, you should think about hiring an artist or two.

  14. klingon13524 says:

    I never expected to see “Jagex” and “Ace of Spades” in the same sentence in my life. I just hope the combat is still better than Runescape.