AI War 2.0 vs. 1.0, A Retrospective

AI War has come a long way since its original launch version. So far, in fact, that many developers might be tempted to call the AI War 2.0 version a sequel -- but we've opted instead to treat this all as free DLC for the customers who have, after all, made all this possible through their ongoing feedback, suggestions, and purchases.

Contents

Milestones
What Was Added?
What New Ships Were Added?
How Did The Graphics Change?
How Much Really Changed?
So What Comes Next?

Version 1.0

Version 2.0

Milestones

May 8, 2009: First public "advance release" version (0.939)
May 14, 2009: Official first release (1.001)
May 19, 2009: 1.002 First Free DLC (Warheads)
May 26, 2009: 1.003 Arrival on Impulse
June 2, 2009: 1.004 UK Gamer Review
June 10, 2009: 1.005 First Really Huge DLC Update
June 17, 2009: 1.006 Bytten and Out of Eight Reviews
June 24, 2009: 1.007
June 29, 2009: 1.008
July 8, 2009: 1.009
July 16, 2009: 1.010
The Wargamer Review
July 31, 2009: 1.011/12
Arrival on GamersGate
August 6, 2009: 1.013
CrispyGamer, PC Gamer Reviews
September 1, 2009: 1.201 New Economy, First New Chabot Art
September 18, 2009: 1.301 Co-Op/Networking Improvements
October 21, 2009: 2.000 Arrival on Steam and Direct2Drive
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Version 1.0

Version 2.0

What Was Added?

Looking at the list of milestones above really doesn't do justice to the sheer, furious amount of change that happened during those five months. We had never planned on doing anywhere near this robust a post-release process, but the idea to shoot for a "2.0 state" came about once the game really started gaining in popularity in June and July, when suddenly Arcen had enough income to hire an artist.

The game had already changed massively even before Philippe Chabot joined the team at version 1.013, but that's nothing compared to how much it changed after he was on board -- visually due to his work, but also in terms of sound effect quality, game balance, strategic options, and more. Here's a summary of what all was added since our first public release:

- 50 new units across 13 releases.
- Significant AI updates in 14 releases.
- Art upgrades in 6 releases.
- Major interface extensions in 13 releases.
- Performance improvements in 10 releases.
- Lowered system requirements in 1 release thanks to improvements.
- Improvements to make for faster early game in 2 releases.
- Sound effect upgrades in 3 releases.
- New music track in 1 release.
- Major new control options: Group Move, Free-Roaming Defender Mode.
- Smaller galaxy maps and multiple galaxy map styles.
- Dozens of new settings and lobby options.
- Realtime score graphs.
- Online wiki.
- Enhancements to aid Turn-Based Strategy Players.
- Completely revamped and improved scouting mechanics.
- Visible AI Alert Levels.
- Cheat codes were added.
- Multi-planet starts for players.
- Complete energy model revamp.
- Complete rework of all turret balance and stats.
- New cross-planet AI attack behavior.
- New tactical retreats AI behavior.
- Completely revamped, flow-based economy.
- Drag-building of ships.
- New "Supply" game mechanic.
- Co-op drop-in/drop-out and related enhancements.
- Local and Steam Achievements added -- 129 in all.
- Local and Steam leaderboards added.
- New AI Threat Meter.
- Custom planet name lists.
- Many preexisting ship classes completely revamped over time.
- Hundreds of balance tweaks and bugfixes across all of the releases.
- Scores of suggestions from dozens of players.
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Smoke Trails

Graphs

Achievements

High Scores

What New Ships Were Added?

In approximate order of release, these ships were all added as part of our ongoing free DLC campaign:


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How Did The Graphics Change?

A big part of our releases between 1.013 and 2.0 was the new art by Arcen's new artist, Philippe Chabot. The images all throughout this page show many of the differences between the old and new versions of the game, and it's like looking at two different games in many cases (or a prototype and a true version).

Ah, what a budget will do for a game! The early adopters made all of this possible, along with Daniel Cook, the artist for Tyrian who made the graphics from that game free for other indies to use. For more information on that, as well as how Arcen is "paying it forward" to other indies, so to speak, see this post: Free Graphics For Indie Developers!


Version 1.0

Version 2.0

Version 1.0

Version 2.0

Version 1.0

Version 2.0

Version 1.0

Version 2.0

Version 1.0

Version 2.0
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How Much Really Changed?

As much as this page discusses regarding the various changes that were made to the game, it really only skims the surface and touches on the very high points. It really takes the full release notes to convey the magnitude of all the improvements. That document, compiled in one convenient text file, contains 46,573 words of release notes. Thats 175 pages if you paste it into Microsoft Word, or the equivalent of 186 of a printed novel. It's a shortish novel, a novella perhaps, but for a post-release change log, it probably takes the cake.
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So What Comes Next?

Okay, so 2.0 is done... now what? Well, we're going to keep doing monthly free DLC for a long, long time. Basically as long as there is fan interest, most likely at least 2 to 5 years. In each month's free DLC, you can expect at least one new unit, AI behavior, or other similar feature. You can also expect a variety of bugfixes, balance tweaks, and other minor player-suggested tweaks. These DLC releases are going to be closer in scale to 1.002 or 1.004 in the release notes above, rather than the superlarge releases such as 1.201 or 1.301.

In addition to the free DLC, we've already started work on the first expansion to the game, The Zenith Remnant. This expansion will be a paid extension to the game, as with any other RTS, and it will be focused on adding huge numbers of new ships, new ship classes, new AI types, new galaxy map styles, and a new third party faction that players can interact with, the Zenith Aliens.

We're going to be utilizing an open development process that mirrors that of our 1.0 to 2.0 transformation, so that players who preorder the expansion can play the alpha and beta versions, offer feedback, and help to shape the expansion as it develops over the next couple of months. It's an unusual approach for a game developer, to be sure, but it has worked so well for us so far that we felt it would be foolish to cut our customers out of the expansion. Exciting times ahead!
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