Alpha & Benchmark Tool For Stardock’s SupCom-like RTS Ashes Of The Singularity

Ashes of The Singularity [official site] is the Stardock-published, Oxide-developed uber-RTS in which you control thousands of units. I can barely keep control of one toddler and one cat, so I’m already scared. Apparently the trick is to “build “meta-units” that act together as a single, coherent, massive unit” though, so I guess I’ll try a cut’n’shut on my household’s junior lifeforms and see if it works out. Anyway, this ‘first 64-bit RTS’ looks pretty spectacular, but the finished version is a long way off and specs look a little scary to anyone with a humbler PC. A paid alpha’s been available for a couple of months, but it’s now joined by a benchmarking tool with which you can a) splatter pretty scenes all over your screen and b) compare genital sizes.

We didn’t cover the alpha release in June, so I’m doing that now too. You’ll have to cough up a minimum of $45 to get into it, with all the usual ‘pre-ordering can be a mug’s game’ caveats that entails, but you get access right away, and it’ll be upgraded to the full release (via Steam) whenever that happens. Right now, the alpha includes “Skirmish mode against a basic scripted opponent (true AI opponent is yet to be implemented)l 1v1 Multiplayer; 3 small-medium size maps that can be played in either Single or Multiplayer.”

Before you even think about giving it a go, you should probably look at these specs:

Absolute Minimum:
64-bit Windows 7 / 8 / 10 OS
Quad Core CPU
8 GB Memory
2 GB DirectX 11 Video Card
1920×1080 Display Resolution
High-speed Internet Connection

We Recommend:
64-bit Windows 7 / 8 / 10 OS
i7 (or equivalent) CPU
8 GB Memory
4 GB DirectX 11 Video Card
1920×1080 Display Resolution
High-speed Internet Connection

Yep, that’s 1080p, quad core and 8GB RAM just to get through the door. Bloody hell, this thing isn’t taking any prisoners, is it?

Let’s take a look at the purported pay-off:

Crikey. That is a lot of things. In a perfect world this is spiritual Supreme Commander a whole bunch of people have been praying to their giant iron gods for, but time will tell.

As for the benchmarking tool, that’s out as of today. You’ll notice a lot of DX12 talk flying around, which necessitates Windows 10 right now. Hoever, “While the game is optimized for DirectX 12, users with DirectX 9, 10, and 11 will be able to run the benchmark.”

There are also ultra-mega-everything upgrades for the so-called Founder’s Program, if you’re Richy McRich-Rich and can’t live with the idea of not having absolutely everything.

Hopefully an RPSer will find their way onto the alpha soon, and we’ll have more to tell you. Meantime, click to embiggen the screenshot at the top of this post and prepare your most heartfelt ‘cor blimey!’

40 Comments

  1. morbiusnl says:

    ehm, what I see in the video is already possible with SC. And you dont need a i7 to run that.

    • EhexT says:

      The devs think they invented strategic zoom (in GalCiv 2) and that SupCom used fake projectiles instead of calculating them all the way.

      They also want to limit the max zoom and not have any unit icons because they don’t want the “icon clutter”, yet have the largest maps in any RTS ever and also the most units ever. Basically, they are not very bright.

      • 321 says:

        Exactly. =)) I was going to post that, beat me to it. That Brad Wardell is really something. He literally thinks he invented strategic zoom and the whole industry followed suit after him. Homeworld probably being the de facto inventer of this game mechanic all the way back in 1999 doesn’t seem to matter to him because he arrogantly doesn’t consider that as strategic zoom. Poeple in their forums pointed other games, earlier than his by 5 years which he most likely had no ideea of, he didn’t comment on those.

        He also insists on SupCom’s fake projectiles, even after longtime moders that worked with the game told him otherwise. Then his ridiculous insistence with no icons, leads me to believe he will have some half backed shitty view wich will not help anyone. Because you won’t see almost anything, because he insists on showing the whole unit model.

        All in all, Brad Wardell thinks he invented walking and hot water. He really belives that. He also belives that Demigod was the first moba and an extremely good game which somehow went under the radar because reasons.

        Bad shit will happen since that stubborn and dilusional guy has all the reigns of the game design in his hands.

        • EhexT says:

          But at least it’ll have good AI (until they break it with an expansion and never bother to fix it – hi GalCiv 2).

  2. Rao Dao Zao says:

    Why the massive default resolution? My 1280×1024 17inch worked just fine for SupCom.

    • Premium User Badge

      phuzz says:

      Obviously there’s too many graphics to fit on a puny screen.

  3. Xerophyte says:

    I attended their SIGGRAPH presentation and one interesting tidbit is that they’re possibly the first game built from the ground-up with new APIs in mind. Most everyone else is porting something, with the inevitable round-peg-in-square-hole inefficiencies that entails.

    This may or may not mean much in practice but we’ll probably be seeing a steeper difference between DX12 and not-DX12 here than in any other engine for a bit. Certainly more than, say, Unity, whose SIGGRAPH presentation on the same topic was essentially “well, we worked quite hard and now our DX12 renderer is typically not slower than DX11”.

    • Cinek says:

      Yep. DX12 will fall short to some of the expectations people have. Seems like more and more people get some wrong idea that switching to DX12 will cause sudden +25% boost in performance (heck, I even seen people talking about doubling the frame rate) while in reality you need a code base that’s written from ground up with DX12 in mind to really take an advantage of it… and that will take a long while, especially for AAA titles.

    • Phinor says:

      All that said, right now DX12 performs slower in this game on Nvidia hardware than DX11 (and performance is really bad anyway, the game won’t release for another year or so). AMD gets a huge boost though.

      • killias2 says:

        It also just “happens to be” a game made with AMD funding and close AMD involvement from the get go.

        It’s already been used as a commercial for how great DX12 is going to be for AMD cards (link to youtube.com – this for example).

        Personally, I’m taking DX12 benchmarking from Ashes of the Singularity with a huge heaping helping of salt.

    • Premium User Badge

      BlueTemplar says:

      What I want to know, is whether Mantle/DX12/Vulkan is going to give any significant boost to gameplay-related calculations (as oppose to only non-gameplay-affecting “eye candy” ones).

      See also this discussion :
      link to forums.gearboxsoftware.com

  4. Spuzzell says:

    Tape the cat to the infant for an instant 50% drop in required awareness. Top tip.

    I’m not sure this looks quite worthy of the system requirements. The game I’m waiting for is similar in scope but has proper locational damage on units, armour flying away from hit zones, weapons disabled by lucky hits, units unable to move due to track damage but still combat capable, shots deflecting off armour etc etc, so it’s not just a question of “x points of damage = explosion.”

    Locational damage on every single unit.

    THAT’D need an i7 or two.

    • Flatley says:

      The company of heroes style games (which includes warhammer as far as I know) had similar systems in place on a smaller scale. Given that it’s almost a decade removed, I genuinely believe the only obstacle to this kind of damage system is the priorities that engine designers choose.

      Hell, probably the best example of location-based damage that exists yet is Dwarf Fortress. Mainstream needs to catch up.

    • Colthor says:

      If you’ve got one tank or seven dwarves that level of detail makes a difference.

      If you’ve got hundreds of tanks, and you’re churning out dozens per minute, you’ll never notice if one of them isn’t shooting. And disabled tanks are just something you’d have to find and manually delete when you hit the unit cap, to make room for something that works properly.

      At that scale all but the largest superunits are inconsequential individually. It would just be a lack of abstraction for the sake of it, and maybe an extra bit of fiddly micro too.

    • MellowKrogoth says:

      Stop waiting and go play Wargame: European Escalation and its sequels right now. Hell, even R.U.S.E. and Company of Heroes 1 and 2 have some of the elements you mention.

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      BlueTemplar says:

      Sword of the Stars 1 (2006) has most of those. And I played it using an AMD Duron (granted, it could only really manage small-scale combats) :
      link to youtube.com

      SotS 2 (2012) is even more detailed with armor layers and shots that can cripple ships by destroying their ammo feeds, making their reactors leak and/or killing crew, but it was never really finished :

  5. MadMinstrel says:

    So, um, they released the benchmark tool to people who already bought the game, but not to people who would like to know if their rig can run it? Is it just me, or is that bass ackward?

    • Phinor says:

      The game is in alpha. That’s not the time to test performance for buying purposes. The benchmark is just a nice little thing to reward founders.

    • Diziet Sma says:

      Actually I’m with MadMinstrel that is back asswards. If I could download the benchmark and be content with the performance in Alpha I’d be far more likely to cough up the readies and contribute to the alpha in terms of finance and feedback.

      • rmsgrey says:

        Same here – I don’t know whether my machine would run it, so I’d want to find out before throwing money at the screen rather than finding out it refuses to run and having to find out what their refund policy is…

  6. Phantom_Renegade says:

    The massive resolution is ridiculous in a stupid way. I’d buy this if it guarantees a Sins sequel.

    • SirRoderick says:

      Well this article shows that I tend to hang out with a different online crowd than comments on these articles! I’ll contribute for a second with my views on the specs.

      They are incredibly vague. An i7 you say? Does a 5 year old i7 perform the same as the brand new Skylakes? Of course not, that would be silly. My i5 4690K will run this just fine at high settings, I promise you that much.

      Same goes for the video cards, What kind of a standard is “4GB”? That could be a whole range of cards that have different performance characteristics. It doesn’t mean you need a top of the line card at all.

      On a similar note I notice a couple people comment on the resolution being listed as 1920×1080 being too high or ridiculous. This is firstly a weird thing to list in requirements since you CAN change them and just scale the game, I think they include it as a reference point for the other specs. At the same time though, 1080p is the standard gaming resolution now and has been for a little while. It is very jarring to me seeing it talked about as being stupidly high while on my other often visited sites people are asking wether they should get a 1440p display for gaming. 1080p screens are ubiquitous are quite affordable even at the mid-high end.

      • Premium User Badge

        BlueTemplar says:

        When a minimum resolution is listed, it almost always means that under this resolution game’s Graphical User Interface will not work properly (because GUI’s generally don’t scale, and therefore some elements and buttons would lie outside of the screen).

    • Razumen says:

      1080P is hardly massive, it’s been the base standard for years now in computer monitors.

      • Premium User Badge

        BlueTemplar says:

        No, it still isn’t :
        1920×1080 or higher still only represents 15-35% of computer screens
        (while lower than 1360×768 is 13-23% of screens) :
        link to w3schools.com

        • iainl says:

          That’s because most computer screens are cheap laptops. 1920×1080 is the standard resolution for a cheap desktop these days, is probably the source of that claim.

          My immediate thought what what proportion of those 1360×768 screens are connected to machines with a real GPU in them, if they’re going to be asked to play this sort of thing.

          • Premium User Badge

            BlueTemplar says:

            1360×768 is only 2% or so. 1366×768 is 33%. (I don’t think there are any mobile devices running these resolutions?)

            13-23% is LOWER than 1360×768 (either horizontally or vertically).

            I’m assuming Razumen meant to include non-gaming computers (including Macs, Linuxes), but exclude mobile devices (and obviously screenless computers).

            If you want stats about gaming computers only (including laptops), then Steamstats is probably a better fit :
            link to store.steampowered.com
            Lower than 1360×768 : about 12%
            1360×768 & 1366×768 : 30%
            1920×1080 : 35% (16+/-5% according to w3schools )
            Higher than 1920×1080 : about 3%

  7. UndrState says:

    It looks great, and I’ll probably buy it, but dammit I want a new Sins game.

  8. DanMan says:

    Oh, it’s the let’s-make-a-game-with-that-engine-so-our-benchmark-doesn’t-look-like-a-synthetic-one game.

  9. Haxton Fale says:

    SupCom has one significant drawback: it wasn’t designed to work very well on multiple cores, and so the game slows down to a crawl if there’s too many units in play. Which, regrettably, is how I like to play. Original SoaSE had the same problem (and they were released around the same time) and there’s a noticeable improvement in Rebellion. Now it’s hoping that someone will make a proper SupCom successor that will be able to take as much advantage of multithreading as it can.

    • Haxton Fale says:

      Ah, bugger, it was meant to be in reply to another comment, since I clicked “log in to reply…”

      Alas, in this case I’ll also add that if I’m not mistaken, Planetary Annihilation also requires you to run 64-bit. I can understand the sentiment in ignoring that game, however…

    • Haxton Fale says:

      And since I’m already replying to myself, due to lack of an edit button, I’ll add: it’s not very likely that this will spawn a new Sins game. Stardock was only a publisher to that, it was Ironclad who developed Sins of a Solar Empire.

      Thanks for reminding me how much I want some more of that, though…

      • Premium User Badge

        BlueTemplar says:

        Ok, trying to post this comment for the 4th time, this time without a link (google “hardocp supcom intel core 2” for the reference) :
        That’s funny, considering SupCom1 was specifically marketed as being one of the first games to be able to use multiple cores :
        “Dual Core and Performance – Supreme Commander will utilize your dual and quad core processor natively and automatically. Running a dual or quad core processor is one of the best ways to improve performance in Supreme Commander.”

    • EhexT says:

      With SoaSE it’s actually just incompetence that made it run so badly. SupCom units have several different vision checks, a line of sight check for each weapon, pathfinding and calculated projectiles for every shot fired – SoaSE units check for range, don’t have to calculate shots, only have 1 vision layer and practically no pathfinding to do (and fighters don’t even do that – they have no collision avoidance). SoaSE doesn’t even have animated turrets (because they claimed it was “impossible with their unit counts”, even though Homeworld did it a decade earlier).

    • Premium User Badge

      BlueTemplar says:

      That’s funny, considering SupCom1 was specifically marketed as being one of the first games to be able to use multiple cores :
      link to enthusiast.hardocp.com
      “Dual Core and Performance – Supreme Commander will utilize your dual and quad core processor natively and automatically. Running a dual or quad core processor is one of the best ways to improve performance in Supreme Commander.”

    • Premium User Badge

      BlueTemplar says:

      You might want to check out RTSMP (Rethreaded Symmetric Multiprocessing Real-Time Strategy Mutation Platform) to see what’s possible in the multithreading department :
      link to rtsmp.com

  10. Timbrelaine says:

    “Meta units” sounds exactly like what Total War does, where the base controllable unit is actually many instances of a given model. But even older Total War games can place more than 1000 units under the player’s control, and those are mostly complex human shapes that require much more geometry and animation than hover tanks without moving parts in Ashes.

    Which isn’t to say that this won’t be a great game, but that it doesn’t seem like a great technological leap compared to other RTS games, despite supposedly being an example of what is achievable with DX12.

    • EhexT says:

      It’s more like Kohan than Total War – their meta units are made up of different unit types, not the same unit repeatedly and they’re supposed to act in a way that makes sense for what they’re composed of. Like Kohan. So if you’ve got a group of melee dudes and a group of archers with some priests in the same army they automatically have the melee guys engage, while the archers stay back and the priests heal the melee guys that get hit.

      Nothing revolutionary or new (Kohan did it) but a step farther than Total Wars unit blocks.

    • rmsgrey says:

      I haven’t played the latest Total War games, and haven’t bothered zooming in close since about Rome but the TW units used to have every man in the unit use the same animations at the same time for most things – so you’d have an entire block of horses, with their tails swaying in perfect unison and things like that…

      Having mixed composition units means that they’ll have to do more individual animation rather than simply rendering the same animated model in 50 places on the screen at once

  11. MellowKrogoth says:

    Hope this doesn’t get ruined by the competitive multiplayer crowd in the name of holy Balance. All I want is turtle against the AI with a couple friends and cover the map in explosions.