Not Dead Yet: Tribes Ascend To Get Map-Making Tools

Tribes Ascend isn’t quite riding its sound-barrier-breaking coffin to Jetpack Valhalla just yet, but its future is looking rather desolate. Last week, Hi-Rez announced that major updates are out of the question for at least the next six months – and probably long after that due to SMITE’s company-devouring need for attention. However, in an interview with RPS, COO Todd Harris explained that the high-flying shooter isn’t entirely six feet under. Oft-requested map-making tools are finally on the way, and they could mean the difference between cement shoes and a second lease on life.

“The one thing we’re going to be working on next is a path for users to basically add their own maps,” Harris told RPS. “We just feel like it’s at a good point to have users maintain it. We feel that it’s a complete experience, and we want to give users the tools to add their own maps – versus, say, us adding more guns that wouldn’t benefit [the experience].”

Which is very good news, but it also raises all sorts of questions. What sorts of tools will intrepid shapers of land, sea, and air be adding to their Creativity Belts? Are we talking preset stuff, or a full-blown SDK? And how long will players have to wait to see their best online murder pals soaring with renewed vigor? For now, all of that is still, er, up in the air.

“TBD,” said Harris. “There’s actually some community work toward an SDK that’s been started, and I expect more details from us in the next month. It’s not anything that has a date yet or a full feature set, but that’s the only real feature that we have in the works – aside from some small bug fixes.”

“Ideally [we’ll release the map-making tools] in the next six months. But it’s a pretty fresh concept, so it doesn’t have a committed date yet. There’s a lot of ways we could go with it, as you can imagine. We just want to let people know that it’s the next thing for Tribes Ascend.”

So starting sometime in the near-ish future, the keys will be in players’ hands. It’s a smart move certainly, but why not continue to maintain Tribes Ascend in at least some small way? Well, for better or worse, juggling (and occasionally dropping the ball on) Global Agenda and Tribes taught Hi-Rez a lesson about biting off more than it could chew.

“SMITE is growing incredibly fast and, as a studio, we’ve learned the value of focus,” said Harris. “So other than Tribes mod/map support, our focus is all-in on SMITE for next six months.”

Check back soon for the full interview, in which we discuss who exactly Tribes Ascend was intended for, the various ups and downs of supporting it, fan complaints, balance issues, and a potential Tribes Ascend 2.


  1. kwyjibo says:

    Get Steam Workshop support, let the users take care of it, sit back and count money.

    • Moraven says:

      Exactly. Once enough content is made, promote the game some to get new players and the game can last a long time.

    • zind says:

      “Let the users take care of it” should also include user-run servers. Communities and clans that maintain a fleet of top-of-the-line servers but then can’t use them on a game because of GSPs could easily be won over by releasing the dedicated server files.

    • treat says:

      Right, lots of good ideas, except Hi-Rez is a cash-grab company and “ideas” require “effort.” I am willing to bet the amount of money I spent on this game (about $70 all early on/in beta) that this is the last we ever hear about mapping tools from Hi-Rez specifically. The idea that we’d ever actually get any is laughable.

  2. Moraven says:

    They have to be kidding themselves if they think they can fit another MOBA successfully in the world of LoL and DOTA 2.

    • Tomac says:

      At least they’re trying to be different from typical MOBAs with the third person perspective.

      • Moraven says:

        Looks like the Forge game and other high action MMORPGs. WoW is eventually going to have a Dota style battleground. I just don’t have high hopes after seeing so many other MOBAs coming out. LoL, DOTA 2, HoN have people locked and a growing eSports scene.

    • Derppy says:

      I frequently play Smite and enjoy it way more than League of Legends or DOTA.

      While the primary concept of lanes and item builds are the same, the combat is very different. Everything is a skillshot, so dodging enemy attacks and making sure you land yours is critical and often makes a bigger difference than items or levels.

      The third person perspective also changes the way you play quite a bit. You move slower if you back down, so in order to flee you have turn around and can’t see what’s happening behind your back. Sneaking up on enemies is easier and so on.

      The game also features 1v1 matches (Joust) and a daily game type with ridiculous rules, like everyone plays Hercules or starts with 100K gold.

      I also love the idea of various gods from different religions and cultures as game characters. Where else will you see Cupid and Zeus teaming up to kill Kali and Odin?

      I tend to agree the MOBA market is pretty saturated, especially when all the games in the “genre” play so much alike, but I think Smite is different enough to keep going and I know people who frequently step out of their LoL or DOTA to play a couple of Smite rounds.

    • gunny1993 says:

      This targets a new audience, it’s far more casual and less reliant on victory to have fun. (Unless fucking Loki is on rotation). For instance me and my 8 odd friends who until recently played Dota ,have totally moved over to smite and are loving it.

    • Soulstrider says:

      Not only they aren’t kidding themselves, they already did. Smite has already got it’s quite comfortable niche.

  3. LegendaryTeeth says:

    Maybe they shouldn’t have added all those stupid hit-scan type weapons to the game. I stopped playing a long time ago because of it. It’s trivial to mow down people with an assault rifle if all they can do is glide around in gentle arcs. Spinfusors and mortars are the only real weapons that should be used in a Tribes game.

    • rightyeauhuh says:

      Chains are no longer hitscan, instead being projectiles. They are still a fair bit easier, but better. That isn’t to say there are no longer any hitscan weapons, however. The pistols, shotguns, and sniper rifles are all hitscan.

    • mouton says:

      Assault rifles aren’t hitscan. But they are horrible – when I stopped playing most of the game consisted of constant ratatatatata, cheap risk-less sniper fire, then-OP plasma and ridiculous airstrike spam. And even if someone did use projectile weapons it was mostly bolt launchers and thumpers.

      Maybe it all changed for the better. Wouldn’t know, stopped really caring long time ago.

      • Unruly says:

        That pretty much describes my typical experience with Tribes 2 back in the day, actually. Base defense was handled by heavies with chainguns, mortars, plasma cannons, and missile launchers. Mediums ran around the field with chainguns, spinfusors, plasma cannons, and grenade launchers. Lights ran around with chainguns, spinfusors, and laser rifles. You’d also have heavies literally lobbing mortars across the entire map.

        Of course, back then you could actually carry all that stuff at once without having to worry about swapping weapons at an inventory station and the maps were much larger than they are now. Also, mines and deployable walls, generators, sensors, and inventory stations weren’t as limited as they are now. And vehicles like the bomber and the transport ship provided the air strikes rather than some stupid laser pointer that everyone has.

        • Mattressi says:

          Really? My experience was that base defenders would often have chainguns, but most others wouldn’t bother with it. The chainguns were significantly worse in T2 than the autos in TA are – they had bullet spread first of all (most TA full autos have little or none) which would increase the longer it was fired, they had slower bullets and did less damage. They also had a short spin-up time. The autos in TA are extremely accurate, have fast projectiles and, worst of all, have a higher DPS than a spinfusor getting direct hits on an enemy. Which is ridiculous, given how much easier it is to chain an enemy (especially with no auto projectile inheritance) compared to trying to hit an enemy with a slow-moving projectile which inherits 50% (IIRC) of the player’s velocity. So in TA, everyone uses them (or at least, they used to – but last time I was on is was mostly old-guard players who refused to use autos, which was nice), while in T2 they were more for those who were trying to do area denial or to shoot at aerial targets whom they could not chase.

          • mouton says:

            Even worse, autos in T:A causes/caused screen cracking/shake (i think you could turn on of these off, after some patch much later) fighting back much harder, especially if you were heavy.

    • simulant says:

      Snipers killed it for me. I realize there are some very talented players with quick reflexes out there. Unfortunately, they really sucked a lot of the fun out of that game.

  4. Noxide says:

    Tribe’s would be far better to spend the time on than SMITE, Sure people tried SMITE for a bit but after the novelty of 3rd person wore off they all went back the LoL and DOTA 2.

    • -Spooky- says:

      Grab Tribes1, port it in a modern engine. Done! T:A was a nice example, how to fail a good community and a huge fanbase behind.

  5. misterT0AST says:

    This is meant to be a response to both Moraven and Noxide’s comments.
    In Smite you can’t watch what your allies are doing, and there is no way to speak to the enemy team. This makes for a less communicative, but less aggressive environment.
    And i’m ready to bet some people after one or two games of Dota/LoL (after being implored to look into those wonderful, wonderful games by their friends or by the hype) got offended and started looking down to those games and their communities, giving up immediately (and it’s a real shame, since what lies beneath the shell of aggressiveness is one of the most complete and intense experiences the gaming world has to offer in 2013).
    I’ve read a few comments of people with ZERO tolerance for abuse, that “aren’t willing to spend their free time getting offended” (and yet oh what a loss theirs is!) and matured some kind of hostility and resentment towards both the mostly young and arrogant LoL community, the mostly elitist and snob Dota community.
    When they enter a game which has a fraction of Dota and LoL’s rich depth and weight, and they don’t even get insulted, not knowing the real meat of the other two games they sink right in in Smite, never wanting to go back to their brief and painful experience with the big two.
    If Hi-Rez plays their cards right they can expect a lot of love from this crowd of wounded, offended people, which grows every day with the growth of Dota 2 and LoL’s communities.
    And yet every time I hear someone giving up trying to get into these games for a few swear words I die a little inside.

    • rightyeauhuh says:

      The thought anyone can find Dota intense is shocking to me. It felt like watching paint dry, but I can only do so after smearing it on with an exactly 2″ brush, manufactured in Bronx at 6’o’clock in the morning after the fourth full moon of the year when the dew is fresh and my body virgin. I will never even begin to understand the appeal.

    • 1Life0Continues says:

      Your eloquent backhandedness has been thrilling to read.

      When learning a new skill, be it bicycle riding, driving a car, or learning to paint, do you find it much more of an incentive if your instructor yell ‘YOU SUCK FAGGOT! GO FUCK A DONKEY, YOU’D BE BETTER AT IT. MONGFACE!’ and other hilariously bad, but utterly disarming phrases at you whenever you’re not perfect? Does a constant stream of filth and insults and put downs make you more inclined to stick through something? If so, you’re a better person than I am.

      When I want to learn a skill, I (and I’m willing to bet many others too) thrive on encouragement, on leniency and mentoring, and patience. The good nature of others to say ‘okay, that was pretty bad, but you know what, that’s okay. Try again, and this time, how about you try not to get too close to the AoE throwing player this time?’ The community needs to embrace new players, and hone their abilities rather than denigrate them for not being perfect right out of the gate.

      So no. I won’t try DotA2 or LoL again. Hell, I don’t want to play SMITE either. But if SMITE exists in a place where new players can feel safer for their mistakes rather than constantly being yelled at for not being perfect 100% of the time, more power to them. Go SMITE.

    • Nurdell says:

      I would have argued with you about that smite is better than lol/dota poisoned community (because it is too, if you die your team gets angry. and it is not important if it was 4 people suddenly rushed on your lane or not; in 3rd person it is or 4th)
      And then I would suggest awesomenauts because of it’s cartoony style and less potential for raging in 3vs3 matches.
      But I started noticing the same hatred in awesomenauts community when everything doesn’t work as planned and one team steam-rolls the other or even if they just got a better team composition.
      I bet it’s because of personal responsibility in a team game that is making people angry when stuff doesn’t work. And it’s in the core of the genre and you can’t get rid of it so that means you can’t wash out that hate from moba games.

  6. Leprikhan says:

    “So other than Tribes mod/map support, our focus is all-in on SMITE for next six months.

    Well, I guess that finally dashes any hope I had of seeing GA2 this year.

  7. DOLBYdigital says:

    Still love this game and I’m glad to see they still have some plans for it. Hopefully it gets a decent mod community behind it with these tools. Thank you HiRez for making a solid skill based fast shooter that actually challenges me as a gamer. So many games these days don’t really test your mouse skills but this game does it for me and it reminds me of the good ole days…. so thanks :)

  8. Mattressi says:

    It’s a real shame that it took them the death of TA to realise that they should actually give a crap about the games they make and the communities which form around them. Why did it have to be bloody SMITE that they realised this for? Tribes is so unique and has so much potential. SMITE is…well, every DOTA game (but with 3rd person! Woo…).

  9. MeestaNob says:

    After the atrocious user experience that is the Hirez launcher/updater, I wouldn’t ever consider buying another one of their games.

    It’s the only game in my contemporary collection that has dramas logging in/patching/finding a game/working in general.


  10. Bensam123 says:

    There is so much potential in Tribes, it’s sad to see they fell back onto the comfort of modern warfare type weapons and frilly crap. I guess this just leaves way for some truely ingenuitive game to come along and take over where Tribes left off. I have yet to see one. Even the venerable Planetside 2 ended up stuck on the modern warfare wagon with each passing patch.

    More weapons made today, less weapons of tomorrow. It should be the other way around. I guess it’s good that they know they’re hurting things more then helping though.

  11. Josh W says:

    Wow, they just brought this game back from the dead. Lovely skiing maps!