Beginning of the 5th Generation of Competitive Ace Combat Events
Within a month of Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown being released on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, the 5th Generation of competitive Ace Combat history has begun. Weekend tournaments have been hosted, new online squadrons are forming, older squadrons are being reestablished and talks of an esports style competition has launched. This article focuses on the beginning of the current generation - the 5th generation- of competitive Ace Combat. Terms like "Competitive Ace Combat" and defining time periods as "Generations" are not officially supported by Bandai-Namco or Project Aces (Ace Combat development team). Competitive Ace Combat is something that has always been defined by particular types of players that have pursued the highest level of competition in this series. It is something that is truly community grown with a history that extends back to the arcades of 1993. The 5th generation began with the release of Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown (January 18, 2019). Each generation of competitive Ace Combat is defined by either a single key point or set of key points. While it would be hard to define the next few years of the the current generation this early on, the direction this generation is going has already been influenced. In an unusual twist, this influence came not from within the online community but from the events of PAX South 2019. PAX South 2019 Besides the release of Ace Combat 7 that weekend, the highlight for the Ace Combat series at PAX South was the Air Force Ace Combat 7 tournament style events. Sponsored by the United States of America Air Force and Twitch.tv with commentary from Ace Combat Fan, the first competitive events for Ace Combat 7 were performed on the PAX Arena stage. The details of all of this have been discussed with video available in our Summary: PAX South 2019 and PAX South: RB Report articles. Having the first competitive events for Ace Combat 7 be done on stage and streamed online to a peak of 16,000 viewers has set a certain tone for the 5th generation. It's not necessarily a mandatory standard of presentation that any event hosted from now on must reach, but it has inspired competitive Ace Combat players, teams and community leaders to pursue various endeavors. r/AceCombat Matchmaking System A system that utilizes custom coded Discord bots to pair players together to then play Ace Combat 7 together. This system is the first of its kind in relation to the Ace Combat series and is being developed without any official support from Bandai-Namco or Discord. It is being developed by Zetec, the Head Moderator of r/AceCombat on Reddit and the Administrator of that community's Discord server as well.
Phase II development of this system is designed to be more in line with the online pre-game lobbies of Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown. Utilizing a function that lets a user mark themselves as Looking For Group (LFG), they are then able to interact with others that are also LFG or hosts that have rooms open and are looking for more members to play. The system is discussed in more detail in Zetec's interview with Project: Lighthouse about his PAX South 2019 experience.
As the development of this system continues, the potential to expand its abilities to include a function for teams to set up matches or support tournament style play is there. Open Skies Tournament The first fan-run online multiplayer event was the Open Skies Tournament set up by Ace Combat Fan and hosted by Project: Lighthouse. With planning that started in December 2018, the event was played on February 2nd, 2019. Open Skies was designed to be an invite-only event that featured prominent members of the Ace Combat community to represent teams from Brazil, the British Commonwealth, Europe, and the United States of America. With many of the competitors streaming while they played, Project: Lighthouse launched a test stream of their first multi-view broadcast layout. The competitors played well and experienced no problems, but the multi-view broadcast experienced technical problems. They were primarily audio issues and other unplanned complications.
The data gathered from this event has been used to introduce the first wave of changes to the multi-stream presentation. Further closed testing with this software is planned, but this type of broadcasting could one day be used in support of tournaments. Community Based Events Various groups are beginning to show interest in organized and semi-competitive gameplay. Social media and Discord servers are now becoming more active in hosting public events and tournaments. As this trend continues, the need for centralized websites and organizations is now rising. The previous generations of competitive Ace Combat had at least a handful of forum based communities that gathered individuals and teams. This then elevated the scale and scope of events hosted by the online community as a whole.
In 2019, Ace Combat-based organizations are being formed with varying degrees of competitive gameplay in mind. A handful of already established flight-gaming focused groups are also entering the online Ace Combat community in a larger capacity as well. We will be releasing articles in the future discussing more of the events, websites, and groups facilitating the beginning of the 5th generation of Ace Combat online game play. About the Writer Aaron "Ribbon-Blue" Mendoza Co-founder of Skyward Flight Media. A lifelong aviation enthusiast with a special interest in flight simulators and games. After founding Electrosphere.info, the first English Ace Combat database, he has been involved in creating aviation related websites, communities, and events since 2005. He continues to explore past and present flight games and sims with his extensive collection of game consoles and computers. | Twitter| Discord: RibbonBlue#8870 | NOTE: This article was edited on March 2nd, 2019. The bottom half of the articles which discussed A.C.E.S. Leagues has been removed in accordance with the decision of Project: Lighthouse to halt support for that organization. That information is available here.