Holiday Roundup

It’s been an incredibly busy time here at Arcen in the last two months,
what with Pablo and Chris coming on fulltime and all the paperwork and
business stuff that entails, the ongoing development of The Zenith
Remnant, our further pre-development of art and design for our next two
titles (the first two previews for both of those will be out today), and
our ongoing work with publicity, new upcoming digital partners, and our
upcoming retail deals. Actually, this has been about as busy as time
as we’ve ever had. So, more than a few things have fallen through the
cracks on the announcements front, so our apologies for that. Here’s a
catchup post with a variety of stuff:

Recent Press
Rock,
Paper, Shotgun
recently featured AI War as their December 18th
entry for their “Games of 2009” list.

Sugar Free Gamer
recently selected AI War as the “top indie game that you should play
this year.”

A.J.
Hess from Diehard GameFAN
picks AI War as his #7 game for 2009.

DIY
Gamer
gave an honorable mention to AI War was one of the best indie
games of 2009.

Sandy
Warnstaff over at Reclaim Your Game
recently did a review of AI
War: “One of the most methodical, challenging and unrestricted games I
have ever played, AI War is the embodiment of nearly everything that
can go right in an RTS game with few drawbacks… I’ve seen some good
developer support, but Arcen Games really takes the cake… I hold Arcen
Games up as the standard that all developers and publishers should be
held to.”

Expansion Update
Work on the expansion has been proceeding as we had hoped, and the
current prerelease of the game (2.001ZE today) has 117 new ships for the
expansion. That’s considerably more than we’d been expecting to add
(having previously promised “between 80-100” new ships), and there are
still about 6 or so more ships that are going to make it into the
expansion before our release in the second week of January (which we are
presently on schedule for). We also have over 44 minutes of new music
so far completed, with more on the way — it’s some really great stuff,
and we’re holding it until our official release day as something of a
surprise. If you liked the soundtrack to the base game, you’ll love
this one even more.

So, what’s not in the expansion yet? Well, the big thing is that
there is still a lot of QA work to do, and many of the ships still need
balance tweaks or various little fixes to them. There are also still
more map styles to be added beyond the two new ones that are already in
place, and the new neutral AI is something we’re still working with
along with the last player-controllable golem. The new
expansion-specific achievements also aren’t yet in place. And that’s
about it! This product has come an amazing way since October when we
started on it, and honestly I think we’re all a bit surprised at just
how much we have been able to accomplish in such a short period of time.
It’s shaping up to be a really notable expansion, to be sure.

December/November Free DLC
One other thing that we’ve learned in the last couple of months is that
it’s pretty much impossible to release free DLC while we’re actively
developing an expansion to a game — at least when the turnaround on the
deadline is so short. Make no mistake, we’ve been absolutely packing
the DLC into the beta patches all through November and December, and
those are free to anyone who has the base game. However, we didn’t do
an official release of any of that DLC in November, and now it’s become
clear that we can’t do one in December, either.

There is simply too much risk of introducing bugs into the official
release from the beta work when things are changing constantly;
generally we prefer to have a week where no major features are added
before we do a release, so that that week can be spent on final QA and
bugtesting. With the expansion in full swing, we just have not had an
opportunity for that sort of downtime. Hopefully that makes sense —
we’ve promised monthly free DLC, but our first priority is to make sure
that we always give you a quality product, not one riddled with bugs
(not that the beta versions are riddled with bugs, but there are a lot
of outstanding issues that we’d strongly prefer to resolve before making
an official release).

But! Don’t worry that you’re losing out on anything DLC-wise, in the
grand scheme of things. Our next DLC release will be by January 8th at
the latest, and it will have 3x as much content as a normal one —
basically, all that queued-up content from the betas in November,
December, and early January. There’s a lot of cool stuff in that one,
so it should be very exciting even for those who aren’t ready to move up
to the expansion just yet. And, if you want it sooner than later, you
can always download the beta DLC at any time you please.

Lastly… Happy Holidays!
It’s a great time of year to be a gamer, with games of all sorts having
come out in the last month or two, and with lots of discounts all over
the place. Look for discounts with all of our distribution partners in
the coming weeks. Here at Arcen, we’re largely going to be out of the
office from December 24th through January 3rd, though Chris we’ll be
around for critical support issues, and probably some smaller
balance/bugfix work on the expansion, along with some last work on the
neutral AIs, etc, so that we’re sure to be on schedule for our release
in January. But, we’re going to be around a lot less in general during
that timeframe, anyway, so that we can spend time with our families and
enjoy the holidays. We hope that you have a chance to do the same!
It’s been a really great year for us, with the company being founded and
then amazingly growing large enough to actually support us fulltime,
and we owe great thanks to all our fans for making that possible. In
more senses than one, we couldn’t have done it without you!

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