02 February 2018
Shattered Ascension mod includes miniatures and cards made from scratch
One of the tabletop’s most enormous board games has arrived on PC – and it’s all thanks to years of effort by its fans.
Shattered Ascension is a fan-made version of sci-fi epic Twilight Imperium: Third Edition that started life as an ambitious variant for the physical board game all the way back in 2007, an excellent article over on PC Gamer recounts.
The mod’s creator, PsiComa, went so far as to create brand new cards, gameplay features and a revamped rulebook from scratch for the game, which were well received by fellow fans but required a whole lot of printing and cutting to add to the base game.
The physical mod eventually became a digital one, with a project started to bring Shattered Ascension to PC sandbox Tabletop Simulator, which has become the home for hundreds of fan-made ports over the years – though few equal the scale of Twilight Imperium.
PsiComa and a team of fans converted hundreds of Twilight Imperium’s components into a virtual form. As you might expect, it wasn’t an easy task; at one point, PsiComa learnt how to 3D model to recreate the game’s dozens of miniature spaceships and units, and designed new planet hexes from the ground up rather than settling for lower-quality scans of the original tiles.
That wasn’t all. The digital version needed to be programmed, resulting in over 1,000 lines of code that added support for virtual dice, automated map creation, the ability to save and load matches, and a quicker setup time.
The mod took so long to develop that a new edition of Twilight Imperium – the first in more than a decade – was released in the meantime. While PsiComa and the Shattered Ascension say that there’s no current plans to bring fourth edition to the PC version, any improvements deemed worthwhile might be added into the project in the future.
You can play Shattered Ascension for free if you own Tabletop Simulator – there’s a number of multiplayer matches on the go if you’re looking for players. The original variant for the board game can still be downloaded, too – just make sure you have plenty of paper to hand.