On the state of Ace of Spades


Once upon a time, Ace of Spades was a really nice game, a crossroads of sorts between Team Fortress 2 and Minecraft (or so they said). Its 90s-style graphics simply made it more appealing to gamers, both hardcore and in those countries that still use Pentium III computers. Ben Aksoy, the really nice guy he was, updated the game twice a week, and in no time we went from 0.15 to 0.75. The forums thrived, new open-source server software was in the works… until the Fire Nation attacked.


One day the AoS website was gone from the face of the earth… and the next day or so Jagex announced some game called Ace of Spades. And it actually looked really cool! At first we thought Jagex was making us a pretty nice deal, until the game was released and all we got was a crappy return, with unbalanced gameplay, NO backwards compatibility at all, and NO dedicated server.

So Build and Shoot rose out of the ashes, trying to carve out a unique community and master server after Jagex had completely obliterated the community, leaving little but a big crater where Aksoy’s name once was. For a few years, Build and Shoot thrived just as the old forums did, garnering an astonishing popularity as people were shepherded over to BnS for “free AoS Classic.” Clans were made, good times were recorded and uploaded, people were banned, all the drama of a nice healthy community.

But after a while it began to corrupt itself… the bright ray of hope BnS once was soon darkened… and the community stagnated. The introduction of a new OpenGL-based client known as OpenSpades kept the community going with Battlefield-like graphics, but it was simply not enough.

Today, Build and Shoot continues to die slowly. It is not known how long it will last, as it slowly becomes engulfed by its largest benefactor, aloha.pk. And today, I am introducing a new plan to fix this game: to bring it to the web, where anyone with a nice browser can play this game, without needing to set up anything. Updates can be pushed on the fly, gamemodes can actually customize the game, and so on. I call this project World War Spades.

And the technologies that I wish to use for this project had not existed until recently: the WebSocket protocol is gaining momentum in the big 5 browsers (Firefox, Chrome, Opera, Safari, and IExploder/Edge), and now a WebSocket packet inspector is being developed for Firefox, making debugging 9999% easier.

I will post more on the challenges I face in the making of this project.

1/26/19: After three years, I confess that I failed this project. I had severely overestimated the skill level required to complete the project; I was a dreamer at the time. I recommend BetterSpades (also available for Android), which is an open-source 1:1 remake of the original game and was in fact successfully finished.

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