Month: May 2013

AI War Beta 6.039 “Carrying The Combat ” Released!

This one is relatively small but contains the last new bonus ship type of the expansion, a few important changes to Showdown Devices, and a few less-important-but-still-nice other changes.

That last bonus ship type is the “Neinzul Combat Carrier”, which is a light combatant starship that can also build any youngling types you have unlocked. It also can always build a new unique type of youngling called the “Shrike”, which is a fast cloaked raider-type ship sure to better enable humans everywhere to annoy the AI.

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.

Skyward Collapse 1.007 “Stats Fit For A God” Released!

This one has a wide variety of stuff in it.  Most exciting for most players are likely going to be the new counts and stats on both the left and right sidebars.  Without getting too cluttered, you now have a much better view of what is going on in your dominions.

There are also several multiplayer improvements: two to the interface to better let you tell what other players are doing (if they are waiting on you, etc); and one to self-correct from any desyncs that might happen in a turn (yay safety code).

There was also a bug with the Midgard Serpent, Labyrinth, and Yggdrasil that was causing units to act crazily: hopping over gaps, causing exceptions, walking onto other units, etc.  Fixing this one bug also fixes a likely cause of desyncs in multiplayer, aside from it being wonky in solo play.

Beyond that, there are a few other tweaks and improvements.  More to come soon.

Enjoy!

This is a standard update that you can download through the  in-game updater itself, if you already have any version of the game.  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.

Welcome To the Arcen Way Of Doing Post-Release Support :)

Hello there!  Looks like, as usual with a game launch, we have a lot of new players to our games.  Welcome!  I think you’ll find Arcen is a bit… unusual… when it comes to our development process, though, and this may come as a bit of a surprise.

Two Different Software Development Philosophies
I used to have a boss who liked to say something to the effect of “a piece of software stops changing only when it’s dead.”  This was in the business software services arena, so that aphorism was pretty universally practiced in that industry.  How many of you use Gmail?  They’re always fiddling with that thing and adding improvements and changes, right?

In the games industry, there’s more of a “dump em” sort of model that most game developers use.  A new Mario game comes out, and it is what it is.  That game isn’t going to see any patches, period.  But… the game isn’t “dead,” either.  It’s only just come to life in fact, as far as the public is concerned, and it will live on in the annals of gaming history, with some players fondly revisiting it, forevermore.  I still crack open Mario 2 from the original NES every year or so.

The Benefits of Constant Iteration
Needless to say, given my background, I am not overly thrilled with the “here this game is, bye” sort of model.  I mean for games that I make, to clarify — it doesn’t bother me at all that Nintendo does it.

I think a lot of other indies feel the same way about the games that they make.  Terraria and Minecraft see tons of updates all the time (well, Terraria used to), and Don’t Starve and others update almost weekly as I understand it.  How many updates has Team Fortress had again?  And they aren’t even indie.  Etc.

The constant-iteration approach is really cool because it allows for a constant dialogue back and forth between players and the developers.  Once players have their hands on a game, they inevitably have opinions.  Things they would like to see improved, things they would like to see added just for the fun of it, and bugs they find that none of the testers found prior to release.

None of that is possible if the developer isn’t listening to you, and doesn’t keep doing updates.

The Downsides of Constant Iteration
I’m not going to pretend that it’s all glory on the iteration side, of course.  There’s something to be said for having a perfectly-polished game that never changes.  It’s an icon, something immutable that players can enjoy and remember forever.  I come back to Mario 2 all these years later, and it’s the same.  That’s actually pretty cool.

But more than that, sometimes during an iteration, we make a misstep — we change something that people freak out about (like the mountains/lakes thing in Skyward Collapse, and the bandit keeps against mythologicals thing in the same).  Sometimes new bugs get added.  Sometimes Herobrine keeps getting added and removed, over and over. ;)

What mitigates the downside of fixes like that is the developer actually listening to players when they freak out about a change or find a new bug.  Players talk, the developer listens, the developer makes a change, and people are happy — and the game has still evolved despite a temporary speed bump.

Update Frequency
I think the biggest thing that freaks out some people new to Arcen is just how frequently we update our games.  Most workdays in the week, we put out at least one update to at least one of our games.  It is extremely rare that an entire week goes by without an update, and that’s generally just happening when we are all knee-deep in working on a new game behind closed doors.  And even then, if we’re in a private alpha with players, the updates are pretty much daily.

Why all the rushing around?  Well, it’s not really that we’re rushing, honestly; we work every day of the week, same as any other game developer.  However, thanks both to our own internal updaters for our games and to the update model in Steam, updates take very little time.  Actually pushing out the code and assets for a new update takes me literally 5-8 minutes.  I’ve timed it.  It takes me longer to write up the post about the release than it does to actually push out the release.

In other words, the barrier to us actually doing releases at this frequency is basically nil.  So just because we can, does that mean we should?  I obviously think the answer is yes, since that’s how we do things.  My reasoning is that there are fewer risks of big incidents (huge bugs or players really hating something) if we do our updates frequently.  And with this frequency, if players do find a new critical bug or really have a giant backlash against a change, we can have a fix out often within hours.

How many times have you been frustrated by a developer who knows about a bug, and takes 6+ months to issue a patch for it, if ever?  Man, I start getting heartburn when it goes 24 hours, no joke.  Maybe I have a tiny bit of OCD or something, but I just don’t like things hanging out there like that if I know about them.

But What’s With All The Fixes Right After Release?
Day One Patches are a Bad Thing, right?  Well… I don’t know about that.

AAA Developers
First off, let me talk about AAA developers (which we are not) just to set the stage here.  Those guys have to get a build ready and “go gold” with it a month or months in advance of when you actually get the game.  It has to go through the process of manufacturing and all that good stuff, right?  That takes time, and once the discs are printed that’s it for the 1.0 version.

But what are those same developers doing during the months between when they finish the gold master and when you first get your hands on it?  Twiddling their thumbs?  I don’t think so.  They’re still working, testing, tweaking, etc.  I’m sure the dev leads are often slapping their heads and going “oh my god, how did we miss this one with 200 testers looking at it?”  But that sort of thing is inevitable in a game of sufficient complexity.

So what they do is dutifully fix, then test, all the things they find during this time period.  They’re doing a good job!  They’d call back the discs and apply said fixes to them if they could, but they can’t.  So day one when you get your disc, there’s a patch waiting for you, and the AAA dev team is feeling happy about that.  You’re feeling mad at them about releasing something buggy in the first place.  I understand the sentiment, and I’ve felt that from the player end of things as well, but I don’t think that’s really justified.

Indie Developers
As with AAA developers, we never stop working and just sit around twiddling our thumbs.  However, every indie developer has a massive disadvantage compared to their AAA counterparts: a tiny staff and no giant QA staff.  Most new indie developers are going to do all their QA testing themselves, plus roping in friends and family as much as they can.  An indie developer new to the market is going to have some launch bugs, and so long as they fix those pronto they should be cut some slack in my opinion.

But that’s not talking about Arcen — at this point we’ve been around for four years, and this last release is our sixth full game on Steam.  So none of what I just said about indie developers who are new to the market applies to us.  We have the benefit of an existing fanbase, and we use them to do QA testing for us in exchange for a free copy of the game.  And we also keep using ourselves and friends and family, of course.

In the private alpha for Skyward Collapse, which lasted almost a month, we had around 35ish testers banging on it as frequently as they could.  We had around 10ish testers who went just crazy above and beyond and were banging on it daily.  Holy cow are we indebted to those folks.

By the time any of our games launch, we’ve fixed all materially-significant bugs in them, and the testers are happy.  Same as with the AAA developers when they “go gold” for manufacturing.  Yay celebrations!

What Happens Right After Launch
This is the same for both indies and AAA developers: suddenly there are massively more people looking at your game. Skyward has sold more than 15,000 copies in less than a week.  A large AAA game might sell hundreds of thousands, or even a million copies in its first week.

How can thirty testers, or two hundred, or pick your number, ever compete with that many players in terms of finding bugs, exploits, and things that are confusing?  So as soon as that many new eyeballs are on a game, there’s this whirlwind of sudden feedback.  This is great, and I love how engaged players get — and how clever they are.  The important thing is that whatever they find that is a problem is addressed quickly, because I think it’s pretty impossible that they will find nothing unless the game has been through an insanely high-budget QA process that only a few companies (like Nintendo) can afford to do.

There’s also the issues of complexity: Nintendo does not make games with procedural generation, for instance.  They make closed game worlds where they control your experience minutely.  For a game with any procedural component to it, there’s always going to be new things that crop up unexpectedly.  You put a bucket on the head of a guy, and then that lets you rob him blind.  Oops, how did nobody find that?  Well, the game was just that complex, and none of the testers happened to think of taking that specific action.  Like I said, players are clever and will think of all sorts of things, particularly in a game with a high degree of complexity and randomization.

There’s also the issue of platform: Nintendo makes their own hardware, and don’t have to support a variety of operating systems and an even wider variety of hardware.  Holy heck is the PC the wild west compared to any console.  I don’t think even Nintendo could avoid some patches if they released PC games.

Finally, there’s the issue of player cleverness in certain genres.  Specifically, the kinds of genres that Arcen serves.  For a Mario game, this problem doesn’t exist: you can only be so clever, because the levels are controlled very tightly and the abilities all have very specific functions.  There is not more than one way to solve a Mario level unless the developers specifically designed it to have multiple ways to solve it.  This is just fine, but this very different from the sort of games we make.

With any strategy game, really, or with any game where there is crafting or procedural loot or a vast world with lots of interlocking rules… players are going to figure out some funky stuff.  Some of them on day one.  Some players are going to find a crazy shotgun-reloading exploit, and then the normal game balance falls to pieces when they use it.  Why wasn’t it found?  Complexity and open-endedness of the game world.

What’s the next step when an exploit is found?  For Arcen: trying to work out a fix with the community that stops the exploit without stepping on normal gameplay, and then implementing that as swiftly as possible.  If you complain about how AAA developers don’t fix the exploits, or just resort to banning people who use the exploits, then this should be a welcome thing.  But you can’t have it both ways: in the process of fixing the exploit, sometimes we’re going to make a misstep and change things that pisses off other players.  At that point we roll back that change and discuss it more with players.

Conclusion (TLDR)
The Arcen way of doing things is unusual, to be sure.  Possibly singular in the sheer frequency of how we do updates (weekly is not uncommon with some other developers, but I don’t know about daily).  But the way that we do things lets us better connect with our player community, lets us be more proactive on changes and fixes, and lets players see the fruits of said changes and fixes faster.

I think it’s a good system, but like everything it has its pros and cons.  We’re specifically making some changes to our process lately in order to try to minimize the cons: rather than immediately implementing a fix to an exploit that we think is a good solution, we’re instead taking it to our forums and inviting feedback and discussion.  Players are experts at poking holes in our ideas, and so we now wind up going through some lengthy discussion before we actually make a change.

What that leads to is slower fixes to exploits or certain tricky balance issues, but less “flailing” in the sense of “let’s try this and see what the players think” and then “oops, revert.”  That process of flailing is something that is a byproduct of being prototypers by nature (“let’s try this thing and see how it feels in action” works great in an alpha or beta — it’s a fast, effective, and visceral way to form opinions on a possible change — but it’s not a good idea in a released game).

Overall I think our new process of talking out substantial changes before implementing them is the way to go; and that doesn’t impact our ability to make small tweaks and fixes and improvements on a daily or near-daily basis.  I think that’s a win for everyone, frankly.

Thanks for reading, and for your support of our company in general!

Arcen Games Forums
Arcen Games Idea Tracker (Mantis)

AI War Beta 6.035-6.038 “Dire Protector” Released!

This one introduces Dire Guardians to the alpha players of the upcoming Vengeance of the Machine expansion. This won’t hurt a bit, really. Remember, if you’re interested in alpha testing for the expansion, please shoot me a PM in the forums.

This release also adds the fifth of six new bonus ship types planned for the expansion: The Protector Starship. It’s our first “finite” counter-shooter in that one of its its module can shoot down, say, 100 missiles in a second (when fully loaded anyway, after that it’s about 10 reloads per second) but not more than that. This is very different than the existing counter-shooter units like the Counter-Missile Turret which could shoot down 10 billion missiles per second if they were all fired at its allies within its range. Anyway, the new finite-counter mechanic is somewhat CPU/memory intensive so the cap on the Protector is low (2, like several other starships) and its module count is low as well (1 slot per mark), but the overall result is an interesting utility-player type that I hope y’all enjoy :)

There are a few other changes in there too, including a little rebalancing of the new Zenith Devastator and a likely-to-be-popular improvement to the Custom galaxy-map display modes (they now show immobile enemy units you’ve previously scouted).

Update: 6.036 is out to hotfix a bug in the last version where some old saves would load as if the “Fast Drones” toggle were turned off.

Update: 6.037 is out to fix a bug in the last version that threw errors when loading some saves from a couple versions ago (the protector starship had snuck out, and trying to load one that a wasn’t modular with the game now knowing it was modular… yeah).

Update: 6.038 is out to fix a bug (that’s actually been there for nearly a month, amusingly enough) preventing the creation of new Defender-mode games. Also fixed a laundry list of issues recently brought up by testers.

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.

Skyward Collapse 1.006 “Listen When I Command!” Released!

This one has two very key bugfixes, and a handful of other tweaks.

The first bugfix is one that was causing desyncs in multiplayer, occasional stupidity on the part of the AI, units moving onto enemy units, and more.  It wasn’t very easily reproducible, and wasn’t super common in every game, but it all tracked back to an error in how the playback of melee units worked… in certain circumstances (mainly if they were standing on the tile they were attacking). 

It also didn’t manifest if you just ended playback rather than actually watching them play out their attack.  So, yeah — that was hugely difficult to track down until a player came up with a perfect savegame that let me reproduce it reliably.  Then it was easily fixed within 15 minutes, but prior to that it was a frustrating needle-in-a-haystack situation that only happened sporadically, and that it wasn’t clear was actually all one issue.

The second fix is to the military commandments not working properly in terms of getting regular units to go attack gods.  This was accidentally messed up right before we released the game, and now it’s restored to how it’s supposed to work.

Beyond that and the few other tweaks, today has largely been a “measure twice, cut once” sort of day with us doing a lot of talking with players about proposed changes rather than actually implementing a flurry of changes.  This process will hopefully lead to something more refined on the first try of implementing said new features, rather than a disorienting flip-flopping around of how the game works for players not involved in the discussion.

Anyway, those discussions are starting to bear some interesting fruit, but we’re not there yet on them.  In the meantime we’re working on a few new features, and also are going through the list of mantis issues logged.  By the by, if you’re inclined to submit ideas for new Woes, feel free to submit those on our forum thread for new woes or in the issue tracker.

Enjoy!

This is a standard update that you can download through the  in-game updater itself, if you already have any version of the game.  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.

Skyward Collapse 1.005 “Player’s Choice” Released!

This one reverts two very unpopular recent changes.  We’ve made some cool shifts post-1.0 on the game, but these two were not viewed to be among them.  Players complained, loudly, and so after listening to the reasoning we’ve decided to revert the changes.  Not the first time this has happened in an Arcen title, and not likely to be the last; sometimes we try something new, and it just doesn’t work.  The key thing is we listen to you when you tell us about that.

Now: these changes were both intended to solve some edge-case “cheese” tactics that some players were using to basically break the game rules and win trivially.  These edge cases are frustrating for me in particular, because it makes the game feel broken.  “Somebody found a way around the game, to play the game without playing the game!  Augh!  Must.  Fix.  Now.”

The problem with that is obviously when it impacts regular players in a negative way.  The ones playing the game, having loads of fun, and not wanting the mechanics to change and screw them up.  “Fixing” the cheese tactics that someone who is (clearly clever) but also clearly not all that into the game is… well, it’s not the best choice.  Sorry for panicking and doing that to you, folks.  Bad move on my part.

I suppose the issue comes back to a fear that if a loose thread is found, then the whole tapestry will unravel.  If one person discovers a cheese tactic, what happens to the core players who love the game?  The fear is that they realize that tactic is there, start using it, and all the fun is sucked out of the game.  Soon it’s a graveyard and a broken game because of a lack of developer attention.

I don’t think that’s an unreasonable fear, but there are definitely some sayings about babies and bathwater that are appropriate about now.  Anyway, I would still obviously like to solve the cheese tactics, as those irk me to no end and I feel like it does undermine the game to some extent.  However, it’s certainly good to use the carrot rather than the stick when possible, and that is not something that these two changes allowed for.  They were elegantly simple changes in a lot of ways, which is why I went with them… but also unfun, so there goes that.

We’ll all mull on the couple of edge case cheese problems and see if we can come up with something better between the players and the devs, and if we do we’ll make a shift.  Beyond that, we now return you to your regularly scheduled programming. ;)

Enjoy!

This is a standard update that you can download through the  in-game updater itself, if you already have any version of the game.  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.

Players and Press React To Skyward Collapse

It’s been a crazy few days since Skyward Collapse launched late last week. The game has received a few new updates, the Steam community already has a guide up, and players (QuartertoThree, Octopus OverlordsBay 12 Forums), video channel owners and press (Kotaku, PC Gamer, Cult of Mac) seem to be buzzing about it — for heaven’s sake, half of Co-Optimus is playing it!

Reviewers like what they see:


PixelJudge: Skyward Collapse Review [5/5, 3/5, 4/5]
“I honestly tried to find even one element that could be seen as a flaw on Skyward Collapse. The problem is – it was nearly impossible, as everything the developers did here, they did great, giving us an astonishingly complex game which plays differently every time. The only weak spot would be the time required to actually understand what you are doing. Not everyone will have the patience, but then again, they shouldn’t have picked a strategy game if they don’t. Apart from that, Skyward Collapse is flawless and could be easily recommended to every gamer seeking some innovative, slow-paced, complex gameplay which will take ages to become boring!”

Dad’s Gaming Addiction: Skyward Collapse Review [8/10]
“Overall, I found ”Skyward Collapse” to be an intensely in-depth strategy game.  It looks simple on the surface, but there a ton of things going on behind the scenes that will keep analysts busy for hours.  Luckily, the easier difficulties allow those who don’t want to dive into all of the number crunching a chance to experience the game in a casual manner.”

Broken Analog: Skyward Collapse Review [8.5/10]
“I have begun to associate Arcen Games with their unique take on strategy games, but I have started to play their games more and more due to the wonderful soundtracks. A Valley Without Wind 2 has a great soundtrack, and Shattered Haven’s music did a great job setting the atmosphere of the game. Skyward Collapse’s music has a nice mix of both, great atmosphere with a nice variety of musical styles. The music alone is a reason to pay attention to Skyward Collapse.”

Game Wisdom: Skyward Collapse Mythical Strategy [No Score]
“Normally the strategy genre was all about balance: making sure every unit has the proper counter, no strategy being completely dominate and so on. With Skyward you have powers that can kill everyone on the map except for Gods instantly, bestow invulnerability and more. Just try to imagine fitting that into a game of Starcraft.”

Kelevandos: Skyward Collapse Review (Polish) [No Score]
Game Decider: Skyward Collapse Review [No Score]

There’s been a good amount of interest from both YouTube and TwitchTV channel owners as well:

Jasix: Skyward Collapse (Steam) – Jasix, Cous & Co. – [Child’s Play Charity]
Metal Canyon: Let’s Look At Skyward Collapse
TekkorGJC: Skyward Collapse – Extended Quicklook
Evilmidgit: Skyward Collapse with Gladdy, Vibez, and Popcorn
JTW158: Playing Skyward Collapse with Scott (Co-op)
Skyward Collapse with the Siberian Lemming (Russian)
TheBBRcast vs Skyward Collapse (Polish)

MrFishman55: Let’s Play Skyward Collapse
Vaetrian: Trying out Skyward Collapse
So Many Fail: Skyward Collapse – First Age
Thepicgamerseal: Skyward Collapse (Parts 1-3)
Tobias Knoll: Tobi plays Skyward Collapse (German)
Mishapp53: Playing Skyward Collapse
Dad’s Gaming Addiction: Skyward Collapse (Parts 1-3)

It’s still in the early going, but sales have been very solid. While I don’t have anything official to announce at the moment, the team is very confident Skyward Collapse will receive significant post-launch support moving forward. I sign off with some interviews and the rest of Skyward’s coverage. Until next time!

Interviews
Chris Park on Skyward Collapse: “My big fear with games is always that players will find an optimal unbeatable strategy.”
Skyward Collapse Interview with Erik Johnson

More Skyward Press Coverage
VG247: Skyward Collapse now available for Mac and PC
RPS: God’s Got Game – Skyward Collapse Trailer
IndieGames.com: Arcen’s god game Skyward Collapse has you balance carnage and creation
PCGamersN: Skyward Collapse plummets on to Steam
Blue’s News: Steamships Ahoy – Skyward Collapse
Multiplayer: PC Magazine #119 (Italian)

AI War Beta 6.033-6.034 “Bonus Tricks” Released!

This one includes another big chunk of content for the upcoming Vengeance of the Machine expansion. We’ve already got quite a few alpha testers smashing at it, but it would benefit from more so if you’re interested in alpha testing for the expansion, please shoot me (username is keith.lamothe) a PM in the forums.

Anyway, this release includes 4 of the 6 new bonus ship types planned for the expansion:

* The Lightning Torpedo Frigate, which fires miniature lightning warheads.

* The Zenith Devastator, a starship that isn’t really a raider (kinda slow, for one), but can shoot right through forcefields to get at the juicy targets underneath. So more helpful in a stand-up battle versus a big pile of shields (exos, anyone?) than a Raid Starship.

* The Neinzul Railpod, a two-shot railgun that can be mass produced at alarming speed.

* The Zenith Hydra, which breathes flame and regenerates (no idea where Hearteater could have gotten the idea from).

There are also seven new types of AI guardian, ranging from the relatively straightforward (but dangerous) Needler Guardian to the outright terrifying Infiltration Guardian.

Perhaps most interesting of all (to me, anyway) is the new AI Planetary Subcommanders: generally only a few planets in a given game will have one, and you won’t see them flying around or whatever, but you’ll probably notice when you see the very… um, peculiar choices they make in command stations, guard posts, and where to put those.

There’s also several (not necessarily expansion-related) bugfixes and balance changes and miscellaneous improvements. For one, I’m sure many of you will be happy to see your blade spawners and ally enclaves (and player enclaves, for that matter) not dumping endless numbers of ships onto your homeworld just because of that stupid subspace signal off in deep space.

Update: 6.034 hotfix to fix an unhandled errors problem with CPA launches due to the attempt to make the carriers not drop on neutered planets. A few other small changes in there too.

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.

Skyward Collapse 1.004 “Rise of the Valkyrie” Released!

This one is quite small, as it’s still a holiday weekend for us here in the US.  However, we’ll be back to our regular schedule tomorrow.

The biggest changes in this version concern mythological units:
1. The Norse mythologicals in general have gotten a huge buff against other mythologicals.
2. The Greek mythologicals lost all bonuses against buildings.
3. The bandit keeps are now immune to mythologicals (!!!), but the health of said keeps have also been reduced by half.

Also fixed two multiplayer issues, and a bug with the undo function in certain circumstances.

Enjoy!

This is a standard update that you can download through the  in-game updater itself, if you already have any version of the game.  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.

Skyward Collapse 1.002 “Hunting Through Rubble” Released!

This one is our first true post-release update, and it includes all of the main requests from new (post-alpha) players.

Probably my favorite thing is the ability to see what former building sites were by hovering over them or holding the Ctrl key.  Actually, holding the Ctrl key in general is super useful for telling at a glance whether you have the buildings you want in a town — when you’re zoomed out or a unit is standing in the way of a tile, it can otherwise be hard to tell very quickly.

There have also been a number of mostly-minor balance changes, with the exception of the Minotaurs, which were rebalanced pretty heavily.  These dudes still hit like a ton of bricks, but they do it with a hammer rather than ranged fireballs now.  And they have both more health and lower regen, which makes them a little more tank-like in an interesting way.  Overall they should be less OP now.

Which brings me to an interesting point, really: the fact that the Minotaurs were OP before wasn’t really causing game-breaking easy strategies.  In fact, kind of the opposite — players would play a Labyrinth (which spawns minotaurs) and it would soon be game over if they weren’t careful.  Not to say that Minotaurs weren’t also an occasional “get out of jail free” card, but it’s just interesting how the balance concerns here are the opposite of most games — our goal is actually to unbalance the game, not balance it.  But it always has to be in a fun way, where it’s not frustrating trying to bring balance to their own games.  Bit of a different design challenge from, say, AI War — which is a fun change of pace. :)

There were also a couple of multiplayer glitches that have been fixed, and a couple of typos.  Oh!  And the finished goods on the sidebar should be way less confusing for new players now.  That was another big thing off the “top feedback” list.

Enjoy!

This is a standard update that you can download through the  in-game updater itself, if you already have any version of the game.  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.

Skyward Collapse Now Available For PC/Mac

PRESS RELEASE

Skyward Collapse Now Available For PC/Mac
10% Off During Launch Week

Arcen Games is proud to announce the release of its turn-based strategy god game Skyward Collapse – out now for Windows PC and Mac OS X on Steam, GamersGate, Green Man Gaming and the Arcen Store.

To celebrate, the game is 10% off during its first week. The discount takes the $4.99 title down to just $4.49 through next Thursday, May 30th.

On top of that, Nick Trujillo (of Penny Arcade’s Strip Search) has completed and released his five-page comic based on the title and its cast. The collection in full can be viewed here.

Check out Skyward Collapse’s official website for more information, along with the game’s launch trailer and a batch of screenshots. Those interested in regular updates and discussion can follow the game on its ForumsIndieDB, Twitter, Facebook and Reddit.

Press and/or video channel owners interested in a Steam key for the game, please email: ArcenGames[at]gmail.com.

About Skyward Collapse
How do you balance — and indeed encourage — a war between factions without letting either side obliterate the other?  How do you rule over gods, creatures, and men who refuse to obey you?  How do you build a landscape of villages when bandits and mythology are conspiring to tear it down?  Skyward Collapse places you into the role of The Creator, and frees you to tackle these problems your own way.  Brought to you by the developer of the modern strategy classic AI War: Fleet Command, Arcen’s second full strategy title is equally unique (but far easier to learn): a turn-based 4x strategic god-game.

Your task is to build and populate the floating continent of Luminith.  You create — but cannot control — gods, creatures, and artifacts from both Greek and Norse mythology.  The power you wield with these is immense: Heimdall’s horn causes everyone outdoors to drop dead, for crying out loud.  Your task is to keep both factions alive and fighting until The Master calls you home — but this is harder than it sounds.  Bandit Keeps pop up periodically, as do Woes such as floods, serial killers, guild strikes, and vegetarian uprisings.  Every game plays out differently, and you’ll need even the craziest of your powers in order to survive what lies in store for you.

Available May 23rd on Steam, our site, and other distributors!

Game Features

  • A turn-based strategic god-game where you control neither faction, but instead strive to maintain the balance of power.
  • Make towns and war as the boardgame-like floating continent continues to construct itself around you.
  • Persuade your minions into doing what you want by controlling the circumstances of their (brief) lives.
  • 16 gods, each with unique passive abilities and three active powers, help you further your goals as you pass into the Age of Monsters.
  • Level up your player profile by winning games. Twelve unlockable buildings in all!
  • Straightforward controls paired with an intuitive and helpful interface make this an easy title to pick up… but the strategy runs deep.
  • Multiple difficulty levels let you play a very relaxed game up to a nail-bitingly difficult one.  There’s no one best way to win!
  • Co-op multiplayer for up to 8 players.

About Arcen Games
Arcen Games entered the PC indie scene in 2009 with their cult classic AI War: Fleet Command, which was named the 40th best-reviewed PC game of the year by MetaCritic. Their second year saw the release of The Zenith Remnant, the first two full expansions for AI War; as well as Tidalis, an innovative block-based puzzle with casual appeal and hardcore depth.

AI War’s third and largest expansion Light of the Spire marked Arcen’s first release of 2011, with the rest of the company’s focus being devoted to their most massive project yet: A Valley Without Wind, which released in 2012. The end of 2012/start of 2013 has been another busy time for the team, with AI War’s fourth expansion Ancient Shadows launching, A Valley Without Wind 2 hitting 1.0, and Shattered Haven’s releasing as well. The studio is currently working on its latest title, Skyward Collapse, for release in May.

Originally a one-man shop, Arcen Games has grown to have half a dozen part-time or fulltime contributors to its various titles. The team is also proud to be a platinum sponsor of the Child’s Play charity. For all the latest news, coverage and other musings, visit us on our Website, Forums, Twitter and Facebook; as well as Arcen founder Chris Park’s Games By Design blog.

Nick Trujillo Presents: Skyward Collapse Comic (Complete Collection)

The entire collection of Nick Trujillo’s comic is here for your enjoyment!  Skyward Collapse comes out later today on Steam, Green Man Gaming, GamersGate, and our own site.

About The Collaboration
I became aware of Nick Trujillo through the Strip Search reality show that Penny Arcade has been running.  Nick was my personal favorite to win, so I was surprised to see him eliminated when he was.  Bad days happen to everyone, though.

I have a huge love of comics in general, and so had been looking at the art that all the SS cartoonists had been doing on their websites.  Hugely awesome stuff across the board.  But when Nick was eliminated, I knew immediately I wanted to reach out and do a sort of PA Presents style of comic to help explain our newest game in a humorous fashion. 

It’s always a challenge to get our message across clearly and concisely, but I also felt like Nick could create a work that would be funny and interesting on its own merits.  And boy did he!

AI War Beta 6.032 “Tumbleweeds In The Stars” Released!

This one is the first non-hotfix release we’ve done since starting the private alpha of the upcoming Vengeance of the Machine expansion.

The release has a number of non-expansion changes that we hope help (we’re particularly curious to hear how that target sorting performance improvement works out), but the main addition is the new “Showdown Devices” minor faction for the expansion.

Won’t spoil the details on the faction for now, but we will mention the ultimate point of the faction: provide another alternate way to win, and an ultimate stalemate-breaker :)

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.

Skyward Collapse Official Website Live

PRESS RELEASE

Skyward Collapse Official Website Live
Launch Trailer And Screenshots Out Ahead of May 23 Release

Arcen Games has launched the official site for upcoming indie turn-based strategy god game Skyward Collapse, ahead of the game’s release later this week.

The official Skyward Collapse page includes the game’s description and feature list, along with the game’s launch trailer and a fresh batch of new screenshots. The landing will also serve as one of the storefronts for the title, alongside Steam and other select digital distributors.

Skyward Collapse releases this Thursday, May 23rd on Windows PC and Mac OS X. Members of the press and video channel owners interested in a copy of the game, please contact: ArcenGames[at]gmail.com.

About Skyward Collapse
How do you balance — and indeed encourage — a war between factions without letting either side obliterate the other?  How do you rule over gods, creatures, and men who refuse to obey you?  How do you build a landscape of villages when bandits and mythology are conspiring to tear it down?  Skyward Collapse places you into the role of The Creator, and frees you to tackle these problems your own way.  Brought to you by the developer of the modern strategy classic AI War: Fleet Command, Arcen’s second full strategy title is equally unique (but far easier to learn): a turn-based 4x strategic god-game.

Your task is to build and populate the floating continent of Luminith.  You create — but cannot control — gods, creatures, and artifacts from both Greek and Norse mythology.  The power you wield with these is immense: Heimdall’s horn causes everyone outdoors to drop dead, for crying out loud.  Your task is to keep both factions alive and fighting until The Master calls you home — but this is harder than it sounds.  Bandit Keeps pop up periodically, as do Woes such as floods, serial killers, guild strikes, and vegetarian uprisings.  Every game plays out differently, and you’ll need even the craziest of your powers in order to survive what lies in store for you.

Game Features
* A turn-based strategic god-game where you control neither faction, but instead strive to maintain the balance of power.
* Make towns and war as the boardgame-like floating continent continues to construct itself around you.
* Persuade your minions into doing what you want by controlling the circumstances of their (brief) lives.
* 16 gods, each with unique passive abilities and three active powers, help you further your goals as you pass into the Age of Monsters.
* Level up your player profile by winning games. Twelve unlockable buildings in all!
* Straightforward controls paired with an intuitive and helpful interface make this an easy title to pick up… but the strategy runs deep.
* Multiple difficulty levels let you play a very relaxed game up to a nail-bitingly difficult one.  There’s no one best way to win!
* Co-op multiplayer for up to 8 players.

About Arcen Games
Arcen Games entered the PC indie scene in 2009 with their cult classic AI War: Fleet Command, which was named the 40th best-reviewed PC game of the year by MetaCritic. Their second year saw the release of The Zenith Remnant, the first two full expansions for AI War; as well as Tidalis, an innovative block-based puzzle with casual appeal and hardcore depth.

AI War’s third and largest expansion Light of the Spire marked Arcen’s first release of 2011, with the rest of the company’s focus being devoted to their most massive project yet: A Valley Without Wind, which released in 2012. The end of 2012/start of 2013 has been another busy time for the team, with AI War’s fourth expansion Ancient Shadows launching, A Valley Without Wind 2 hitting 1.0, and Shattered Haven’s releasing as well. The studio is currently working on its latest title, Skyward Collapse, for release in May.

Originally a one-man shop, Arcen Games has grown to have half a dozen part-time or fulltime contributors to its various titles. The team is also proud to be a platinum sponsor of the Child’s Play charity. For all the latest news, coverage and other musings, visit us on our Website, Forums, Twitter and Facebook; as well as Arcen founder Chris Park’s Games By Design blog.

Skyward Collapse Official Trailer

How do you balance — and indeed encourage — a war between factions without letting either side obliterate the other?  How do you rule over gods, creatures, and men who refuse to obey you?  How do you build a landscape of villages when bandits and mythology are conspiring to tear it down?  Skyward Collapse places you into the role of The Creator, and frees you to tackle these problems your own way.  Brought to you by the developer of the modern strategy classic AI War: Fleet Command, Arcen’s second full strategy title is equally unique (but far easier to learn): a turn-based 4x strategic god-game.

Your task is to build and populate the floating continent of Luminith.  You create — but cannot control — gods, creatures, and artifacts from both Greek and Norse mythology.  The power you wield with these is immense: Heimdall’s horn causes everyone outdoors to drop dead, for crying out loud.  Your task is to keep both factions alive and fighting until The Master calls you home — but this is harder than it sounds.  Bandit Keeps pop up periodically, as do Woes such as floods, serial killers, guild strikes, and vegetarian uprisings.  Every game plays out differently, and you’ll need even the craziest of your powers in order to survive what lies in store for you.

Game Features
* A turn-based strategic god-game where you control neither faction, but instead strive to maintain the balance of power.
* Make towns and war as the boardgame-like floating continent continues to construct itself around you.
* Persuade your minions into doing what you want by controlling the circumstances of their (brief) lives.
* 16 gods, each with unique passive abilities and three active powers, help you further your goals as you pass into the Age of Monsters.
* Level up your player profile by winning games. Twelve unlockable buildings in all!
* Straightforward controls paired with an intuitive and helpful interface make this an easy title to pick up… but the strategy runs deep.
* Multiple difficulty levels let you play a very relaxed game up to a nail-bitingly difficult one.  There’s no one best way to win!
* Co-op multiplayer for up to 8 players.

More Stuff!
Official Game Page, With Screenshots
Free wallpaper
Lengthy Q&A
Nick Trujillo Presents (comic)

Available May 23rd on Steam, our site, and other distributors!