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.