AI War 2 v0.897 Released! “Commanding From The Galaxy Map”

Release notes here.

Oh good grief this one is huge.  From one day’s work, too.  Let’s get down to it!

The Title Feature: Commanding From The Galaxy Map

Okay, so a funny thing happened when I added fleets to the game a few months ago: people started expecting to be able to select them on the galaxy map.  It was a completely natural thing to expect, but it wasn’t something I’d ever thought of, and the first game certainly didn’t work like that (ships didn’t even appear on the galaxy map).

I also didn’t realize for a while how crippling it felt not to have this ability.  To be able to SEE those fleets of yours, but then you click them and it just does… nothing.  The galaxy map had always been for information, and generally the ships shown there were for enemy structures you might consider capturing.  What was to interact with?  Until fleets.

So, yes: now we have the ability to select fleets, drag a band-box around them, use alt and shift for subtractive and additive selection, and so on.  This all pairs nicely with the cross-planet move orders stuff that Badger has done more recently.

You can’t issue direct attack or assist orders from the galaxy map at the moment, and I’m not sure I want to add that.  Generally the things shown are your own fleets and then enemy capturables; rarely something of an enemy that you’d want to directly attack.  Even if it is something you’d directly attack, it’s usually something defended by a bunch of other stuff you should deal with first rather than charging directly at.

What you can do is select stuff with ease from the galaxy map, and then click over to a planet (double click takes you in), and then right-click to move to a specific spot on the planet or give an attack order there.  OR you can select stuff on the galaxy map, and give them move orders at a planetary level from there.

Will we need more refinement on this?   Almost certainly.  I imagine there are various modifiers and conveniences people will be looking for.  But this is a huge step up already, so we’ll slot those other things in as we have time.  I’m mostly probably going to be gunning for the sidebar and for achievements, next, personally.

Galaxy Map Visuals

It’s not quite an overhaul, per se… but everything feels very different now.  You can see more ship icons at each planet, but they aren’t as large and in the way.  Planets themselves are smaller.  There are dotted lines between enemy planets and your planets where they can’t attack you via wormholes (wow this feels amazing to see).

The way planets are selected looks better, and their text is positioned and sized better.  You can see selected fleets on the galaxy map even if you didn’t select them directly here.  You can see what kind of command stations you’ve built on each planet at a glance based on the planet icon.

The intel tab highlights just the specific relevant planet for the thing you might want to capture or hack, not ALL the things of its type.  You can hover over the planet/local/ships tab icons again and highlight which planets have THOSE things.

Oh, yeah: and the galaxy map stays where you put it.  Zoom and positioning and so on, as you move between planets, rather than recentering you over and over again.  Wow that one feels huge, too.

Hey, We Have Four Tutorials Now!

I actually feel like this is a big disservice that I’m only getting to this at this point in the release notes.  This is huge news!  We do have more tutorials needed, and the last two of these in particular are hot off the presses and Puffin was feeling as tired as I am I think, so please be understanding of that and helpful in your feedback.

But boy, this is such a huge relief to me, personally, to have some solid tutorials in there again.  We’ve had the written “How to Play” bits, but some people just want the interactive stuff.  I get that, so now we have both.  Video tutorials will come soon, but I’ve kinda lost my voice at the moment and I’d rather have all the new GUI improvements and general quality of life improvements in there.

I really have to say, enormous thanks to Puffin on this.

Badger took the hit the first time around and did the very big long tutorial that was available at the start of Early Access.  And it was good!  People seemed to really like it.  But then I went and Changed Everything ™ with fleets and so on, and the tutorial that he made just became about 80% obsolete.

This time around, Puffin has stepped up and saved my bacon and is doing a series of smaller bite-size tutorials on the same general subjects, but in the new mechanical framework of the game.  Back when Badger added the first one, we could only HAVE one tutorial, so he had to make his big and cover all the stuff.  But from a design standpoint, we decided this time around it made much more sense  to have smaller bite-size ones on specific topics so that people could skip the bits they already understand, or don’t want to learn about right now… or revisit some specific topic they forgot, as the case may be.

Thanks to Puffin, I’m able to work on all these things like the galaxy map improvements while he’s doing those tutorials.  And frankly, I’m not the best one for explaining the game since I know it so well and tend to be either too detailed or not detailed enough.  I did the tutorials for the first game — AI War Classic — and everyone has been raving about how much better Badger’s ones were for AI War 2.  This makes sense to me, but has tended to add to my anxiety when trying to do tutorials myself.  Not that I wouldn’t have done them… but boy it has been a huge relief to have someone else do that so that I could focus on concrete polish stuff.

Bugfixes, Balance, and  UI Improvements!

There’s a hefty number of these, too!  Badger and Asteroid and I have been busy, and WeaponMaster has pointed out several things for this one after sifting through code, too.

The strength/weakness code gives a more succinct and readable result now, and more changes are planned — thanks Asteroid!  Decollision has had a few things fixed up, thanks to items WeaponMaster found.  NRSirLimbo made some excellent suggestions that led to Badger finding some substantial bugs in the metal tracking code, and that also lets you view metal flows while paused.

And… a bunch of other little stuff.  This release was nuts.  I’m really happy with where the game is getting to.  Puffin also did a bunch of internal achievements work that isn’t visible yet because I have yet to do the UI for it, but that was also a big win.  I’m heading off for the weekend, now, so hopefully folks enjoy!

Repeat Notice: Tutorial and Scenario Designers Wanted!

We’re going to be working on our own tutorials based on this system, but I’d definitely love to see a really robust number of scenarios from other folks, too.

Everybody has a different perspective, and maybe you want to teach some specific tactic or even set up kind of a small contained puzzle-like challenge cage-match with 5 planets against the dark spire and nanocaust with a quest you design with unusual victory conditions.

I think that sort of thing is just super fun, and it’s a way to play the game in a more bite-sized fashion.  Some of those sorts of things  aren’t even really tutorials, they’re more advanced challenges or puzzles.

But anyway, the tutorials system is a pretty robust framework that allows for all sorts of different scenario designs that I’d love to see people really lean into.  I’ve been explicitly trying to make this as easy as possible for non-coders to do — all you need is a text editor — and the idea of seeing what creative things people come up with to both teach and test players is exciting.

It’s more or less the same idea behind modding, where people add various map types or ship types or whatever else, except this time it’s custom scenarios for teaching or testing.

Back Monday!

More to come soon.  Enjoy!

Problem With The Latest Build?

If you right-click the game in Steam and choose properties, then go to the Betas tab of the window that pops up, you’ll see a variety of options.  You can always choose most_recent_stable from that build to get what is essentially one-build-back.  Or two builds back if the last build had a known problem, etc.  Essentially it’s a way to keep yourself off the very bleeding edge of updates, if you so desire.

The Usual Reminders

Quick reminder of our new Steam Developer Page.  If you follow us there, you’ll be notified about any game releases we do.

Also: Would you mind leaving a Steam review for some/any of our games?  It doesn’t have to be much more detailed than a thumbs up, but if you like a game we made and want more people to find it, that’s how you make it happen.  Reviews make a material difference, and like most indies, we could really use the support.

Enjoy!

Chris

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