Whatever happened to Ascent: the Space Game, Aura Kingdom, and Fragmented?

Ever pause during your day and find yourself wondering, “Whatever happened to that game?” With hundreds upon hundreds of online titles these days, it’s surprisingly easy for MMOs to fall through the cracks and become buried as more aggressive or active games take the spotlight.

Well, every so often we here at Massively Overpowered find ourselves curious what has transpired with certain MMOs that we haven’t heard from in quite a while. Have we missed the action and notices? Has the game gone into stealth maintenance mode? What’s the deal? What has it been up to lately?

That’s when we put on our detective hats and go sleuthing. Today we look at what has been going on with Ascent: the Space Game, Aura Kingdom, and Fragmented.

Ascent: the Space Game

Despite being a very small, very indie MMO, Ascent earned our respect around here for pulling off an ambitious PvE space sim sandbox with a dev team of one. While it wasn’t the best-looking game in the world, Ascent’s feature list — which includes 270 billion star systems, colonization, trading, farming, and politics — is downright amazing. For a while there, we were mentioning this game a lot, especially to disgruntled Star Citizen backers and antsy players looking for a challenging and complex game.

Unfortunately, “small” has dwindled to “near nonexistent” in the case of Ascent. Back in May 2017, the developer said that he was in talks with investors and grants to fund further development of the game, although he also confirmed that without their backing, the title could continue operating almost indefinitely. The idea was that with investor backing, the game would be relaunched as Ascent: Black Sky with a new engine, visuals, terraforming, and (why not) nukes.

The money so far hasn’t come, and the developer ended up putting Ascent on the backburner due to his full-time job and some work on a new/integrated title called The Medieval Game. The few players commenting on Ascent on Steam report that the game feels dead and abandoned.

Black Sky was always contingent on the grant he is still working to get,” a studio liaison reported. “He will have his answer December 9th [2017]. I am quote excited because of what he is developing for The Medieval Game (TMG), which will retrofit into Ascent. Black Sky is planned to be a release with the new Unity Engine. [Lead Developer] Jam just told me this past week that it looks like a month of work to get Ascent to work in the new engine, so no new client this month. If he gets the funding, then he progresses with Black Sky, then shifts to TMG. If he gets no funding, then he starts working on Black Sky on the side and finds gainful employment. Development on Ascent has slowed this year because of the time and efforts Jam has been making on financing. Without additional financing, he has to go back to full time work and work on Ascent on the side, which will slow development even more.”

Further updates on that progress, however, haven’t arrived.

Aura Kingdom

Sometimes I choose games for this column not because I’m worried that they’ve fallen off the face of the earth but because we simply haven’t covered them that often and they could use a little love and attention. That’s the case for Aura Kingdom, a colorful eastern MMO that dwells in the World of Warcraft clone territory with a large dash of anime influences. It also has a fantastic soundtrack, which is neither here nor there, but I thought I should mention it.

Anyway, Aura Kingdom had a couple of bursts of activity last year that kept its playerbase busy. September’s Patch 36 introduced the goddess Kitami (who is apparently “quite shy”) as an ally, upgraded mounts, and opened the doors to Sarpa’s Forbidden Laboratory, the Dimensional Hall and the Tomb of the Ancients, all high-level dungeons.

Even bigger and better was Patch 37, which arrived in October with the brand-new Lancer class. This character not only used his namesake weapon but also fire and ice abilities to wipe out foes. Then Patch 38 came to wrap up the year in November, giving players an early Christmas as well as the Eidolons Justicia and Michaela, more floors to the Vault of Eternia, more housing features, and more alchemy options.

A mobile spinoff of the MMO was announced back in 2016, but unfortunately the game came out only in Korea and other Asian countries.

Fragmented

In one of the sadder stories in the MMO genre, indie sandbox MMO The Repopulation — the game that looked to follow in the vein of Star Wars Galaxies — ended up struggling mightily with limited resources and finances years into its development, reportedly compounded by Hero Engine licensing entanglements. In a move to raise money, satiate backers, and stall for time, the studio created and launched a standalone survival sandbox in April 2016. Fragmented is now Above and Beyond Technology’s only property after the company ended up selling The Repopulation to Hero Engine company Idea Fabrik, which relaunched the MMO in early access back in Q1 2017.

While we are concerned about the fate of The Repopulation, what’s going on with Fragmented? The survival title officially transitioned out of early access to a full launch in August 2017 following 30 patches and 16 months of active development.

Above and Beyond’s devs said at launch that they “want to stress that this does not mean the end of updates for Fragmented,” yet their ensuing track record speaks to the contrary. Apart from the occasional sale (including a recent one that took the game’s price down to $2), there haven’t been any patches, hotfixes, or content updates since the game’s release.

So we can give it some time to see if the studio has any plans for 2018, but right now the future isn’t looking that bright for this once-hopeful savior of its big brother.

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Pepperzine
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Pepperzine

Fragmented not getting any updates since it launched is no surprise. Was pretty obvious it was going to be abandonware.

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Sylkesh

Very interesting column, thanks Justin. I was wondering recently about both Ascent and The Fragmented. I have my answers now :D

Siphaed
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Siphaed

The Fragmented thing sucks but it was an attempted cash-cow effort to fund another game entirely. A singular “pump-and-dump” as they injected already made assets from The Repopulation into it and then let it be.

This is unlike 7Days2Die and Rust -both of which are still in Steam Early Access– because they’re both still frequently patching year after year. Each has gone roughly 5 years in e.a. with progressive development at the pace of the small teams that they are. 7D2D ported to two consoles, Rust has yet to. Although the former’s console ports were sloppily handled; the latter felt more focus on the initial core game -i.e. PC version- was need before ever attempting to port over. But both are still developing and that is the key thing.

P.S. Added note, the zombies they keep adding into 7D2D are getting more and more creepy with each sequential patch. I thought the first batch was on the nose, but these newer ones are “OMGGGG!” freaky at night.

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Sajiri

Well, there’s an aura kingdom private server which is far less grindy and with a fairer cash shop. I played it for a while and it’s plenty active, pretty much everyone there says they used to play on the official server and then moved to this, despite AK being a ‘Free to play’ game. The private server also gets updates far faster than the aeria version.

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Alexander Smith

This is a common issue with many publishers like aeria. They simply abuse the shit out of their cheap eastern titles that are actually good and make them bad.

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Dystopiq

Aura Kingdom is one of those anime inspired MMOs that usually enjoy a burst of popularity then fade into obscurity months later

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Cosmic Cleric

Er, about Aura Kingdom (from a Steam comment) …

-Horrid in game lag, (rubberbanding all over the place)
Account gets suspended if you do not make a real money purchase in 6 months within playing, mostly buying their currency called Aeria Points, or AP, which is basically the Pay To Look Pretty currency(yes, that is a reality in this game, I speak from unfortunate experiece.)
-Account gets suspended if you do not log on after 3 months of last playtime if your character is under level 50, according to Aeria Game’s website.

Yeouch. I get they have to pay the bills, but that seems over the top, even for a F2P title.

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Nemui Byakko

Well, this is just not true. I played it and there is no special lag. And my account never was deleted, even after long periods of absense. And not suspended after not buying AP.
Why write this bullshit here? Do you think that if you kick some underdog game, it will bring you big popularity boost or something?
Abominable.

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Cosmic Cleric

Why write this bullshit here? Do you think that if you kick some underdog game, it will bring you big popularity boost or something?
Abominable.

I was going to reply with careful, deep, thought, but, nah, f’ it, your post doesn’t deserve that kind of reply, so I’ll just ask you a question instead.

Why should I believe you, over the person in the Steam post?
Snowman.

P.S.

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Nemui Byakko

I play Aura Kingdom on and off for about 4 years and have several accounts (to test all classes – they have a lot of them). I never bought AP on them, may be once on main account. They all are functioning and survived server merge just fine.
Aura Kingdom, not being AAA class game, has many interesting features and great anime style – for those who like it. Its developer X-Legend (Taiwan) is very active, game is very alive and still is definitely not a ghost town.
Aeria is clearly rather bad publisher. They milk games and close them. Their support is very weak, moderators evidently underpaid, overworked and in a very small number. If you will have some issue you will wait for answer a long time, and it may be not helpful at all. Their cash shop is too active and resembles mobile games in its strive for money. So, they have a lot of real bad features, no need to invent some un-existing ones.

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Cosmic Cleric

So, they have a lot of real bad features, no need to invent some un-existing ones.

I do appreciate your more thoughtful reply (thank you), as well as the reediting of your original post reply, but you might want to direct the comment I highlighted to the guy who made the post on Steam, as I did not invent it, especially when you yourself say …

Aeria is clearly rather bad publisher. They milk games and close them.

I’m just the messenger, repeating what I read on Steam, with no horse in this race.

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Stormwaltz

I was wondering what happened to Ascent. :(

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agemyth 😩

Maybe you missed out on its moderately popular days, but I consider the project a clear success. Ascent attained a small dedicated following for years, had a successful Kickstarter campaign, and delivered pretty much everything promised afaik.

It is ridiculous how many systems and interactions there are in the game, all things considered. The people still playing it are super nice and sociable, so with the right expectations I would say it is still worth checking out.

deekay_plus
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deekay_plus

still his point remains, hence the article. i hadn’t heard anything in a while myself and was surprised that it’s gone on the backburner. still as you say, completely successful, really well done indie that really beefs the star citizen “never done before” memes from that crowd and just genuinely if not a cinderella story like minecraft then at least a feel good one.

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Castagere Shaikura

I played Aura kingdom a long time ago. It was fun but leveling was a real long grind.

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deekay_plus

ty for this <3