Century: Age of Ashes

Crafting high-octane multiplayer battles with dragons.

Crafting high-octane multiplayer battles with dragons.

Platforms: PC, XB1, PS4 — Publisher: Playwing

My Role

  • I championed the game at executive level, producing high-level documentation (design vision, product roadmap) for stakeholders, in close collaboration with the development team.
  • I provided in-depth analysis of game systems, inc. the moment-to-moment gameplay loop, game modes and long-term social mechanics, from the start of preproduction to the Alpha gate.
  • I collaborated with the business team and the development team to prepare different user retention and monetization strategies for various scenarios (from free-to-play Early Access to full Premium release), informed by an extensive benchmark of competitors and industry best practices.
  • I led the overhaul of the visual branding of the Playwing studio ahead of the game's reveal, providing the creative brief to Cory Schmitz, who delivered outstanding graphic design work.

Key Takeaways

  • There's a reason why there are very few aerial action games, and even less successful ones. Designing the core gameplay of a fast-paced aerial multiplayer game is extremely challenging. It requires a tricky balance of accessibility and impact (low skill floor), and yet provide experienced players with a renewed challenge for years to come (high skill ceiling).
  • Optional risk/reward mechanics are a great lever, whether in the level design (e.g. tricky shortcuts to reach power ups or vantage points), or the core gameplay (e.g. speed boost that can make you stall if used too much, or weapons that can backfire). More advanced game modes with goals or victory conditions strongly incentivising team-play are also a great way to challenge hardened players on their entire skillset: physical, mental and social.
  • Knowing how to strike a good balance between features and content is key to the sustainability of a free-to-play game built with a small team, especially one with high production values. A thorough R&D phase on the content pipeline (especially tooling for AI-assisted artistry) in pre-production can allow you to scale content production (e.g. maps, cosmetics, etc), and reallocate resources elsewhere.

Proudest Moments

  • Playing the game on a regular basis with the team during development is always something special. But playing with actual players over a few gameplay matches during the recent beta tests showed that the game is shaping up to be a really fun, original experience.
  • The reactions of publishers and platforms that we pitched at GDC, along with our main stakeholders the Guillemot brothers (founders of Ubisoft and Gameloft) comforted us on our ability to deliver on the game's core promise: flying fire-breathing X-Wings at breakneck speed.
  • Seeing the game finally revealed at the Game Awards ceremony (along with the new Playwing branding), and reading the positive reactions of the press and the public was a special moment, after several years of hard work with the team.
Paul Vauvrey

Paul Vauvrey