Year: 2010

Update On Children Of Neinzul Donations For Child’s Play

As of December 30th, 2010, we have so far raised and donated $10,529.71!

We didn’t quite hit our goal for the year, but we did raise a substantial amount of money — and also, bear in mind that a lot
of the money generated in 2010 is actually paid on
“net 30” or “net 60” terms to us, meaning that money generated in 2010
will still be arriving as late as February 2011.

Given that foreknowledge, it looks like we will be very close to our goal by the end
of January or February. We’ll keep posting monthly
updates on how the donations are doing, so check back even in 2011!

More About AI War: Children of Neinzul and Child’s Play
When you purchase AI War: Children Of Neinzul, you’re not only
getting an exciting new expansion, you’re also supporting an important cause. Arcen Games has partnered with the
Child’s Play charity, pledging 100% of the profits from sale of
Children of Neinzul (excepting any taxes and distributor fees) to helping sick kids in need.

The staff at Arcen has long admired
the work done by Child’s Play, and we’re very excited to finally be able to contribute in a substantial manner. Our
goal was to raise $14,000.00 USD for Child’s Play in 2010, but even after 2010 all of the proceeds from this micro-expansion
will continue to be donated to the charity.

At the moment, this micro-expansion is available directly through the Arcen Online Store ($3.99 USD), as well as through Steam, Impulse, and GamersGate.

AI War Beta 4.059 Released!

We’re still on holiday break until the 3rd, but this new release has some maintenance fixes.

This is a standard update that you can download through the
in-game updater itself, if you already have 4.000 or later. When you
launch the game, you’ll see the notice of the update having been found
if you’re connected to the Internet at the time. If you don’t have 4.000 or later, you can download that here.

AI War Beta 4.058 Released!

We’re still on holiday break until the 3rd, but this new release has some updates that we’d been working on before the holidays that we finished up today, and some other fixes.

Included in this one are, most notably, six new AI types for the Light of the Spire expansion.  That makes a total of eight for the expansion, which is going to be the final tally — the focus was mainly on other kinds of features.  This also adds in 24 new achievements, 23 of which are for the new expansion and one of which is for the base game.

Additionally, we fixed that longstanding-since-Unity-porting bug with the trial mode not always being recognized until a restart of the application after an expansion was disabled or validated.

Lastly of major note, there’s also a new ability on almost all self-attritioning units where they now won’t self-attrition when in low-power mode.  For golems, Neinzul Younglings, etc, this is a pretty major change.

And there were actually a couple of other small fixes, see the release notes for details.  Enjoy!

This is a standard update that you can download through the
in-game updater itself, if you already have 4.000 or later. When you
launch the game, you’ll see the notice of the update having been found
if you’re connected to the Internet at the time. If you don’t have 4.000 or later, you can download that here.

AI War Beta 4.057 Released.

This one is another tiny maintenance release.

This is a standard update that you can download through the
in-game updater itself, if you already have 4.000 or later. When you
launch the game, you’ll see the notice of the update having been found
if you’re connected to the Internet at the time. If you don’t have 4.000 or later, you can download that here.

AI War Beta 4.056 Released.

This one is a tiny maintenance patch.

This is a standard update that you can download through the
in-game updater itself, if you already have 4.000 or later. When you
launch the game, you’ll see the notice of the update having been found
if you’re connected to the Internet at the time. If you don’t have 4.000 or later, you can download that here.

AI War Beta 4.055, “Intra-Galactic,” Released!

Well, it’s that time of year again, where the Arcen staff takes the better part of a week off to spend time with family, recharging, etc.  Good times!  So it’s going to be rather quite on the release front around here for a bit, but lots of good stuff is coming, as I noted yesterday.

I didn’t manage to triage all the issues in mantis like I’d hoped to do this week, but we got the actual count of unfiled/confirmed/feedback issues down to 288 from over 500 on Monday, so I’m feeling really good about that.  There’s still more to do before LotS and AI War 4.4 are released in mid-January, but overall things are looking really clean and polished.

So, today’s release is a big one, sort of a holiday parting gift from us.  And boy is it an exciting one!

The biggest news from this release is the new Intra-galactic warp gates.  Be sure to check those release notes for the full details, but these basically let you warp ships from certain kinds of constructors across the galaxy to a location of your designation.  So you’ve got a fabricator or an advanced factory in some backwater hole, for example?  In the past you’d have to periodically manually transport them to the front lines, a hassle which made those constructors almost useless for practical purposes.  Now you just throw up an intra-galactic warp gate at your target planet, and that’s where they pop out (paralyzed at first, but that wears off pretty quickly).  This is a feature that should make a lot of people’s days right there by itself.

But wait, there’s the proverbial more!  Tired of having your ships swallowed by Maws and never given back?  That’s fixed — and, now you can see exactly how many ships you have in maws, and what their cumulative remaining health is.  No more wondering.

You can also upgrade command stations in-place now, and things go a lot more smoothly vis-a-vis harvesters and reactors, etc.  Control group icons on the planetary summary are finally legible again!  Spire civilian leaders are a lot better balanced!  Range circles are less intensive on the GPU!  Force fields won’t accidentally stall out while building anymore — and EMPs work properly on force fields again!  Tachyon drones and decloakers have much better tachyon ranges!  Etherjets have much better tractor ranges!  Man that’s a lot of exclamation points!

Oh, and fortresses have been completely overhauled.  Been giving them a miss for a while — and/or not been feeling all that threatened by the AI fortresses lately?  Both of those end with this release.  Likewise, counterspies and ion cannons have their teeth back when it comes to scouts and similar, while spider turrets and sniper turrets are useful against raid starships again (and there was much rejoicing).

I’m really pleased with how much we were able to get done despite the holiday rush, but as I’ve noted plenty more is coming.  Probably this is my last missive for the next three or so days, though, and releases will be spotty and smaller for a bit after that.  Our normal programming returns on January 3rd.  Happy holidays, everyone!

This is a standard update that you can download through the
in-game updater itself, if you already have 4.000 or later. When you
launch the game, you’ll see the notice of the update having been found
if you’re connected to the Internet at the time. If you don’t have 4.000 or later, you can download that here.

Upcoming Development Schedule, Alden Ridge Renamed!

More AI War updates coming tomorrow, and then that’s going to be the last batch of
stuff for a while.  We’re going to only be having spotty hours here and
there between December 24th and January 2nd, so don’t expect much in the
way of releases there (though I imagine there will be a couple of
smallish ones).  We’ll mainly be recharging and spending time with
family.  When we return, we’ll have another week or two of AI War stuff,
I suspect, for then having a LotS / AI War 4.4 release in mid-January. 
The official Tidalis update will also be around that point, too.

Then
we’ll be off to work on Alden Ridge — although, that’s actually not
the name of that game anymore.  We’re really combining the projects of
Alden Ridge and A Valley Without Wind (though mostly keeping to the
gameplay of Alden Ridge and combining that with the themes and story —
and some gameplay — of AVWW).  In any case, I felt the stronger of the
two titles was A Valley Without Wind, so that’s what the combined
project will wind up being called.

It’s going to use an
art style that is all-new and not what is shown in the screenshots from
either Alden Ridge 2008 or the old AVWW mockup images.  It’s going to be
prerendered 3D, with some pretty cool visuals in HD.  I look forward to
sharing it with you in January, but if you’re curious as to my general
3D art style, you can see a lot of examples of that here
A lot of that is older, and of course it’s largely side-views whereas
AVWW will be all top-down, but that’s the general idea of what the
various components like grass, trees, etc, will generally look like. 
Minus fancy effects like global ambient occlusion and anisotropic
filtering and similar, which really don’t work in a game like what we’ll
be doing.  In other words, look at the models, not the Vue-based
atmospheric blending.

Anyhow, A Valley Without Wind is
really an exciting project for us, and it’s going to combine the best of
the ideas from Alden Ridge 2008, the old AVWW design, and some new
stuff we’ve come up with more recently.  I’d rather not get into
specifics now because it’s early days yet on that project and a lot is likely to change as we get down to the actual implementation (as should happen with our development style),
but we’re really feeling good about the direction is taking, and we
think people will be really excited to see the alpha version when we
make that public in March or April. 

In the meantime, once we’re really
getting full into development on that, we’ll post periodic development
diary updates for both what we’re doing with the design of the game, as
well as with screenshots and probably occasional videos so that you can
see what the early versions look like.

Most of our changes are to play to our existing strengths: our knowledge of procedural content and dynamic systems; our past experience with creating wide-ranging player choice with sandbox-style environments with overarching goals; the sort of art, as pictured here, that I’ve been working on as a hobby since 1998, rather than the sort that requires staff that we can’t presently afford; the sort of content that doesn’t require a level designer, but instead which relies on programming to create emergent effects.  That sort of thing.  We think it’s going to be our most exciting title to date.

Stay tuned!  And: happy holidays, as well!

AI War Beta 4.054 Released!

This one is, predictably, pretty sizable.  Seems like most of our new versions lately have been.  At any rate, there’s another big laundry list of bugfixes and balance tweaks.

One of the biggest changes in this one is to what happens when you lose a command station: now you lose all your harvesters on that planet, and all your reactors as well.  That’s a much more harsh penalty, which somewhat brings back the feeling of what it means to lose a planet that used to be in the game… oh, back in the 1.0 or 2.0 days.  In the past we often made it “feel important” to lose a planet based on making them slow to rebuild, but that just felt slow and un-fun.  Now it retains the speed while having more of a penalizing kick, which some players had been asking for.  This also means that players can’t get sneaky and put energy reactors on enemy planets in supply, which we’re also happy about.

On the other hand, mark I-III reactors and also harvester exo shields now leave remains when they are destroyed, so that remains rebuilders can come through and automatically rebuild them if they are lost.  This helps make retaking a planet less of a chore, and it also makes rebounding from raids where you didn’t lose a planet that much faster, too.

Mark I and II force fields got a notable buff for both players and AIs, which players had been wanting.  Some guardians and some spirecraft got some various buffs, and gravity drills now retain their teeth when in the presence of speed-boosting ships.  Gravity turrets now are more effective, as are multi-stacked force fields.  Distribution nodes give you waaay more resources than before.

Another notable change is the complete re-balancing of harvester exo-shields.  In some ways these have been made more powerful and useful, but in other ways they are now more harshly penalized (the ongoing resource cost of them is way higher).  This basically brings them back more in line with their original pre-2.0 design, which only through accident had we strayed from, while at the same time making them less fiddly to use.

Lastly, Hunter/Killers are once again temporarily gone from the game.  Well, they are still there, but nothing spawns them anymore.  The logic that was spawning them has now been put to use spawning carriers instead, which is inherently balanced and a lot more appropriate in many various ways.  Players should be pretty happy with this shift in the main, though we understand some will miss the idea of H/Ks in an abstract sense.  Fear not: they will return, just in a different form a good while later.  We ran out of time for them in this release cycle (still so much to do, and dwindling time because of the holidays, etc), but they’re high on our list to do some interesting stuff with in the coming months.  Of course, if you want to make sure that they do (or do not) make an appearance sooner than later, be sure to register your votes in mantis so that we’ll see the collective will on the vote tallies page.

That’s it for today — enjoy! 

This is a standard update that you can download through the
in-game updater itself, if you already have 4.000 or later. When you
launch the game, you’ll see the notice of the update having been found
if you’re connected to the Internet at the time. If you don’t have 4.000 or later, you can download that here.

AI War Beta 4.053 Released!

This one is another big multi-day cumulative release.  There’s been a number of bugfixes as part of it, and turrets have had a first pass of rebalancement done to them, which should be welcome.  Hunter/Killers have also been toned down a bit (firing shots 1/3 as frequently should be helpful).

There is really just a ton of miscellany in here.  Mining golem timers are lowered thanks to their recent changes.  Fixed various tooltips that were a bit off.  Buffed a number of experimental units a bit.  Hybrid module rebuilding has been hit with the nerf stick (they can’t do it if they’ve been hit in the last 30 seconds).  Marauders and resistance fighters don’t spawn more frequently with AIP increases any longer.  Improvements have been made to the Resource Flows tab of the Stats window.  That sort of thing.

Additionally, a few graphical/visual things have been done.  The “niche images” are helpfully shown in more places, and the icons in the intel summaries are finally colorized again.  The latter of these has been much-anticipated by players for a while now.  Anyway: enjoy!

This is a standard update that you can download through the
in-game updater itself, if you already have 4.000 or later. When you
launch the game, you’ll see the notice of the update having been found
if you’re connected to the Internet at the time. If you don’t have 4.000 or later, you can download that here.

Tidalis Beta 1.012 (Bugfixes, Release Candidate 2)

This release brings us closer to the next official release, which will
hopefully be tomorrow if all continues to look well with this new
version. The manual has had some minor tweaks, and more importantly a
fairly major (but also somewhat rare) graphics issue from the
post-engine-upgrade betas has been fixed

This is a standard update that you can download through the
in-game updater itself, if you already have 1.000 or later. When you
launch the game, you’ll see the notice of the update having been found
if you’re connected to the Internet at the time. If you don’t have 1.000 or later, you can download that here.

Tidalis Beta 1.011 (Bugfixes, Release Candidate 1)

This version fixes a few minor graphic glitches that have crept into
the recent betas since the engine upgrade. It also fixes a
longer-standing bug with the fullscreen/not-fullscreen button not
changing the resolution properly.

With these fixes now in place, this is all of the known bugs of
any seriousness now fixed. Thus this is basically “release candidate 1”
for the next official update, and we’d love to have feedback from folks
on how it’s looking for them. Assuming that all still seems well in a
day or two, we’ll do our next official release of Tidalis, so that all
players get the benefits of all these bugfixes and engine upgrades!

This is a standard update that you can download through the
in-game updater itself, if you already have 1.000 or later. When you
launch the game, you’ll see the notice of the update having been found
if you’re connected to the Internet at the time. If you don’t have 1.000 or later, you can download that here.

AI War Beta 4.052 Released!

Today I have absolutely no time, so I’ll just leave you with the release notes for this one.

This is a standard update that you can download through the
in-game updater itself, if you already have 4.000 or later. When you
launch the game, you’ll see the notice of the update having been found
if you’re connected to the Internet at the time. If you don’t have 4.000 or later, you can download that here.

Tidalis #2 On Tom Chick’s Games You Should Have Played This Year

Tom Chick, taste-maker PC games reviewer also to be found on SyFy channel’s blog Fidgit, has recently been posting his 2010-in-retrospective posts.  The most recent, Ten games you should have played in 2010, held an excellent surprise for us: Tidalis in the #2 spot.  “The thinking man’s Bejeweled 3,” indeed.  His original review of the game was here, at Gameshark.

For that matter, yesterday Chick had a list called The ten most overrated games of 2010.  Starcraft II took the #1 spot on that list, which we won’t comment on either way (it’s really a different sort of RTS from AI War, anyhow), but in his notes about other games that should have gotten more attention that were instead overshadowed by Starcraft were both AI War and Gratuitous Space Battles (another big friend of Arcen) having had “great expansions.”  Awesome — as you’ll recall, Chick was a big fan of the original AI War all the way back circa version 1.013 or so.

AI War Beta 4.051 Released!

For being our second release of the day, this one isn’t small.  It’s yet another balance/bugfix release, since we’re solidly in that polish mode for the game. 

This one focuses on minor factions more than anything else, and pretty heavily re-imagines the circumstances under which both marauders and resistance fighters will show up, as well as how formidable they are once they arrive (aka, way more formidable now).  The marauder buzzbombs aren’t even suicide units anymore!

In terms of new features, both the rebelling human colonies and all the various types of fabricators now have foldouts in multiplayer (little copies of themselves for the non-capturing player, which are indestructible and invisible-to-the-enemy but which die if the central structure is killed).  This means that when one player captures a fabricator or similar, the entire team gets the benefit of that, as has long been the case with advanced factories.  In the past we hadn’t had it work that way because of a desire for having per-player specialization, but in the end that just made fabricators less worthwhile in multiplayer, or encouraged players to micromanage them and gift them back and forth (micromanagement = yuck).

The other big thing in this version are a number of new in-game notices that clarify a few situations.  For one, it’s a common question that players get caught off-guard not realizing that something like AI Eyes have the warp gate ability, and so get waves on a planet they thought was safe.  Nevermind that they could have just checked the Hostile Wormholes overlay on the galaxy map, this clearly needed to be made more clear.  Now whenever you’re in a planet, if there’s anything that lets the AI launch waves (or reinforcements, which was another point of occasional confusion when players captured a planet while still having a special forces guard post alive, etc), there are now counts showing that in the upper left of the screen.

There’s a bunch of other miscellaneous stuff, too.  No more players farming AI Eyes or SuperTerminals.  No more AI beachheads getting launched against player homeworlds.  And so forth.  Enjoy!

This is a standard update that you can download through the
in-game updater itself, if you already have 4.000 or later. When you
launch the game, you’ll see the notice of the update having been found
if you’re connected to the Internet at the time. If you don’t have 4.000 or later, you can download that here.

AI War Beta 4.050 Released!

This one is another really long set of release notes, partly because it’s been several working days since we’ve done an AI War release — just due to timing, other obligations, the Tidalis updates, etc.  But we’ve been working on AI War all throughout that time, too, which makes the list longer-ish, though not as huge as some of the recent ones.

Anyway, the big thing here is the rebalance of the bonus ships, especially a lot of the Neinzul stuff but also Spire stuff and base game stuff.  Additionally, the experimental anti-bottleneck/anti-giant-fleet feature from the last version has been removed, as it just wasn’t working out.  Thanks for all who tested with that and offered feedback!

This is a standard update that you can download through the
in-game updater itself, if you already have 4.000 or later. When you
launch the game, you’ll see the notice of the update having been found
if you’re connected to the Internet at the time. If you don’t have 4.000 or later, you can download that here.