Everybody Missed It: Trials of Ascension Is Finally Dead Again

If this is the last I genuinely have to hear about Trials of Ascension, I will eat my hat.

When the Earth ices over and humanity has disappeared, futuristic aliens will come to Earth and one day read about Trials of Ascension, the most incompetently led MMO that never made it to to launch and for nearly two decades refused to die.

For those unaware of the title outside of vaguely remembering the name, Trials of Ascension goes all the way back to 2001 when founder Don Danielson registered the domain name of what would be the greatest MMORPG of all time. Trials of Ascension would spend the next ten years in development hell, with its creators claiming that the game was well on its way to completion, had negotiations open with multiple publishers, and oh yea it needed like a million dollars in funding. If anyone knows a guy. In December 2008, the unfortunate news came that Trials of Ascension would be put on “momentary hold.”

And then in 2012, Trials of Ascension was REBORN! Don Danielson was back at the helm and ready to drive this puppy straight to nowhere. In late 2013, newly minted developer Forged Chaos put up a Kickstarter for a major sum of $750,000 buckeroos with an estimated date of July 2015. The campaign went into the toilet, as 349 backers donated a combined $86,835 or a rather interesting average of $250 per person. You can find the pitch video at the Kickstarter page here, and watch several minutes of Don Danielson talk about his game in the kind of monotonous, disinterested tone you’d expect from someone reading the TGIF menu outloud.

Having been thwarted by Kickstarter for the first time and despite not actually having a team of developers to create the game, Forged Chaos launched a store where people could donate and receive exclusive digital goods as rewards, digital goods for a game that didn’t exist and would never launch. Then they hired Teddy, who wrote the first line of code on February 26, 2014.

Teddy left at some point, and in 2015 Forged Chaos launched the second Kickstarter and only managed to prove that the public’s patience was essentially gone for this project. This time around the company managed to pull in just $25,000 of the lower $600,000 goal, less than half of the original campaign. Fast forward another couple of years and in mid 2018 the game finally launched! In Early Access, on Steam.

You might be asking at this point, “who could possibly be left to give a frick about Trials of Ascension, outside of the people who are sticking around to watch it burn of course,” and the answer was an absolute…nobody. Trials of Ascension launched into Early Access with a whole peak of 35 people willing to give the game a peak following by quickly slamming that refund button because within a month that number had dipped to 19, then 14, then 5. At one point in 2018, Forged Chaos put up a hiring notice for a programmer and game designer where they offered to pay a percentage of the game’s revenue. As mathematicians would later discover, any percentage of nothing is still nothing, but you’ll be part of a fun loving team of miscreants who also don’t know how to program a game.

Everything came to a head in May when Forged Chaos finally announced that Trials of Ascension would be retired in mid June, and nobody noticed because not a single publication covered this story until right now. Either that or nobody wanted to give Trials the legitimacy it clearly did not have.

Let’s recap: Trials of Ascension was a game built by the modern day Three Stooges who wasted nearly twenty years of their own lives and somehow never figured out how to develop a game within a time frame that most humans have gone from pooping in a diaper to nearly obtaining their associates degree. Following two miserably failed Kickstarter campaigns and years of dreaming about imaginary investors wanting to pour millions into the developer equivalent of the Dewey, Cheatem, and Howe law firm, the game showed up in Steam early access only to learn the lesson that it is always possible for less people to care about your vaporware.

Otherwise I have no opinions on the matter.

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