Ashes of Creation's monthly update focused on the user interface (UI) and it featured screenshots! I used an exclamation point so I must be excited. Right? You may want to read on.
I know, I know! Ashes of Creation is a work in progress so if I don't want to follow a game in development then I shouldn't follow it. I shouldn't be here complaining about it either but if you know me then you know I can't help myself.
The reason I choose to dig into Ashes of Creation is twofold. One: it is the promised one; the savior of this MMORPG genre that I love so dearly. Two: it has no issue taking money from people all while saying it doesn't need our money. If a game developer can take the time to sell calendars for an unreleased game then it can stand up to some criticism about taking its damn sweet time to release a game.
Ashes is under a glacially slow pace of development. Years (yes, years) ago you could buy the "indie studio" but Interpid Studios is way past being a small indie game developer. Ashes makes a lot of promises and yet shows very, very little in their updates which is concerning for a game this long in the pipeline.
Which brings me to my main gripe: Ashes should be showing us more at this point. If they can't then this game is so far out in the future we shouldn't be talking about it and the team definitely shouldn't be wasting cycles on calendars or monthly live streams.
Look at Pax Dei coming out of left field and generating buzz and showing more in a short intro video than the entirety of six years of Ashes updates. Pax Dei seems much closer to an alpha than Ashes. This may seem a poor comparison. How long has Pax Dei been in development? This is a fair criticism, but Pax Dei isn't asking for my money and isn't clogging up my feeds with lackluster updates. If Pax Dei hits the 6 year mark of monthly updates without showing anything close to a finished game then we can revisit it.
Back to Ashes.
As with the recent class updates the UI update this month was a typical lackluster update. A developer was brought on and talked about their team and their approach. Then some screenshots were shown of different UI components which were followed by yet more screenshots of sample user interface windows which were followed by... more screenshots.
I don't think once during the UI update we saw an actual functioning UI overlaying a game being played. That is concerning. There is a place for showing the static components of a UI, but the magic of a UI is seeing it and how it interlaces with the underlying game. How a UI functions is as critical as how it looks. All we got from this update was how it may look because we didn't actually see it in the game.
There has been a lot of praise in the Ashes community around this update and how "good" the UI looks. I am not sure if these folks are playing ancient games or are that detached from current offerings, but the UI screenshots shown were as generic of a UI as I could imagine. There was nothing to write home about. If anything I'd of said the UI is a little too artsy; I prefer a utilitarian approach. The game can be beautiful and awe inspiring, but the UI needs to be functional.
If it's not clear; I was not impressed. This adds to the mounting concern I have about Ashes. Each update is lacking in substance on the promised topic. We had an entire UI update and didn't see the UI being used. We heard more about promises of the UI: customization, sizing, and accordions. Did we see these in action? No. It is like anything else with Ashes: promises. Promises that may or may not be delivered. This was not an update that screams to me that the game is approaching any state of release.
Let me know how wrong I am by leaving a comment.