Month: October 2013

Preview: Simulations In The Last Federation

A few weeks ago, we did our first sneak preview of our upcoming game The Last Federation.

The game is a mix of strategy and tactics set in a simulated solar system with 8 planets, each with its own unique race.  The strategy section and the combat (tactics) are two different styles of play, but both are realtime pause-able (and fast-forward-able for the experts).

Your mission is the formation of the first-and-last Solar Federation, to unite whatever races manage to survive the events of the game.  You play as a mercenary fleet plunked down in the middle of a situation that starts out very simply (think the start of a game of Civilization), and which escalates as each of the planets becomes spacefaring and undertakes other activities.

The pacing of a lot of the strategy portion is actually very much up to you, incidentally.  You can smuggle spacefaring technology to races early in exchange for influence with them… but this will anger other spacefaring races if you get caught.  You can hang back and watch a conquest happen and then make friends with the victor (or even help them during their attacks), or you can try to maintain peace throughout the solar system.

Different strategies that you choose to employ are heavily influenced by the situation of the planets.  During some games, the situation on planets will be so poor for the various races that they are a lot more aggressive out of necessity.  Other times the most warlike races may be too distracted by internal war to bother with their neighbors.  Other times you may find that the solar system is pretty peaceable because everyone has resource-rich planets, and thus your biggest threats are from pirates and anti-federation insurgents.

The emergent AI in AI War: Fleet Command, which I’ve described in detail in the past, is something that works primarily because it is highly multi-agent.  In other words, there are loads and loads of ships in the game — tens of thousands, usually — and thus various flocking behaviors and other group activities are able to happen.  Over the years since I originally wrote the AI articles, we’ve layered on even more layers of AI in that game, including more traditional decision-tree types of AI, and the result is something even richer and more realistic as an opponent.  But none of that would really work without having so very many ships in the game.

The Last Federation takes a similar approach with its simulation.  The simulation of the eight planets, their populace, their buildings, their resources, and their environment is extremely complicated and multi-layered.  This leads to a lot of situations where races take actions purely from emergent circumstances such as who their allies are, what the resources are on their planet, how large their planet is, and so forth.  The starting state of the solar system is varied enough that you get a vastly different result every time.

The cool thing is that you don’t have to understand what is going on under the hood as a player — not remotely.  You are primarily worried about your own mercenary fleet and its influence on each race.  This involves managing the ships you have and winning battles, as well as taking contracts to improve your reputation with various races.

But the simulation isn’t just a backdrop to your game: the sorts of contracts you get offered come out of the simulation, and your opportunities to (for instance) sway the course of a war you are not involved in are substantial enough to give you reason to care.  If the Thoraxians are reaping giant swathes of Peltians down, you could help the peltians in a variety of ways (if you even want to help them).  Smuggle them technology or resources, use your bargaining power to bring them new allies that were ignoring them, or take some potshots at the Thoraxian fleet if you dare.

Then of course you later have the challenge of either appeasing the incensed Thoraxians, or finding some other way to get them to join the Federation despite their personal animosity towards you.  While surviving whatever forms of vengeance they may be pursuing against you in the aftermath of their failed war.  But maybe it was worth it, if it finally convinced the Peltians to join the federation.

In another game, the Thoraxians may be your dearest friends and a wonderful killing force ally.  The Peltians may be using their substantial space armadas to make up for their lack of ground combat strength, bombing their enemies into the stone age.  What to do then?

The learning curve on TLF should be worlds easier than the one for AI War, but there’s a lot of interesting depth here built on a complex underlying simulation that bubbles up to you in more concrete ways.  You don’t necessarily care that the Burlusts have 10m engineers, you care that they are looking to expand their industrial base and that you can get them some key technology to help them do that.

Put another way: the details of the simulated numbers will likely be exposed in an “advanced” screen for each race and planet (we have that for debugging, and will probably make that public so long as it doesn’t seem overwhelming), but the real information that you need is easily summarized and digested.

The bottom line is that in The Last Federation you are a part of a larger solar system, and there are many things that go on without your influence or interaction, as in real life.  It’s proving really fun and interesting to layer a strategy game inside a simulation game, because it makes the whole thing feel more real without making you manage the true complexity of the simulation itself.

Here’s the forum thread about this post.

Bionic Dues 1.005 “Combined Customization” Released!

This one is our first non-beta-branch update to Bionic Dues since it released, and so it comes with a plethora of goodies from 1.001 on upwards in the release notes linked above.

The biggest thing, by far, are the improvements to the customization interface.  The game supports a minimum resolution of 1024×720, and so our previous customization interface basically adhered to that at the expense of using the screen space of larger resolutions.  Now on resolutions that are 1280×768 or higher, you get a new and easier-to-use customization interface that combines a number of functions into one screen.  If you prefer the old interface for some reason, there is a settings option that lets you re-enable that.

A number of balance improvements are also in this version.  Sentry turrets are no longer OP.  Groups of ClawBots are no longer death on wheels.  Tuck now has an improved special ability.  And the pistol has been buffed quite a bit.  Among other things.

Enjoy!

This is a standard update that Steam will automatically download for you.  However, if you want to force a quicker update and are currently running Steam, just restart Steam.

Sneak Peek: The Last Federation

We’re always keeping busy here at Arcen, and we want to show you a bit of what we’re working on now.

The Last Federation is a space-based mix of strategy and tactics in which you control a small mercenary fleet on an unusual mission: the formation of the first and last solar federation.  Undertake mercenary contracts, fight pirates, customize ships, research technologies, and use your growing bargaining power to strong-arm planetary governments into doing your will.  Battles are quick and vicious, and, like Bionic Dues, the game is easy to pick up and play in quick bursts.

Yours is a very personal mission: not even your own crew knows your true intentions.

We’re expecting a private alpha in about a month, and then a general release probably in January.  We look forward to sharing more about it with you soon!

Arcen Games Piano Collections, Vol. 1

I think it goes without saying that we have the greatest fans in the world. Arcen Games has been around since 2009, and from the very beginning, we’ve had amazing fans that have continued to support us throughout the years. As a small token of our appreciation for the support you’ve given us, we’re releasing “Arcen Games Piano Collections, Vol. 1”. 

This album is a collection of various themes from the Arcen Games library set to piano. You can listen to it for free or buy it now on Bandcamp for just $1: http://arcenmusic.bandcamp.com/album/arcen-games-piano-collections-vol-1
Track List:
1) AI War Theme [AI War: Fleet Command]
2) Voyage To Zenith [AI War: The Zenith Remnant]
3) Midnight [AI War: Fleet Command]
4) Sleepless Children [AI War: Children Of Neinzul]
5) Tidalis Theme [Tidalis]
6) Adventure Intro [Tidalis]
7) A Valley Without Wind Theme [AVWW 1]
8) The Night Light [AI War: Light Of The Spire]
9) Ancient Shadows Theme [AI War: Ancient Shadows]
10) Shattered Haven Theme [Shattered Haven]
11) Falling Down [AI War: Vengeance Of The Machine]
12) The Home That We Once Knew [Bionic Dues] (Bonus Track)
13) To One Who’ll Stand And Fight [AVWW 2] (Bonus Track)

Once again, thank you so much for your support throughout the years. You are the best!

Bionic Dues Now Available on Steam, GamersGate and Arcen Store

Bionic Dues Launches for PC, Mac and Linux
25% off sale to celebrate launch week

Arcen Games is ecstatic to announce Bionic Dues — our mech-enriched roguelite — has launched on Steam, GamersGate and the Arcen Store for $9.99. To celebrate the release, the game carries a 25% discount during its first week on sale.

Robot rebellions should be quelled by the best of the best. When the best of the best are killed… it’s up to you. Subdue the uprising in time, or your corporate overlords nuke the city.

Bionic Dues is a tactical, turn-based roguelite with mech customization. Guide multiple classes of Exos through a variety of missions filled with enemy robots that are as buggy as they are angry. This is at least as bad as it sounds. Explore for loot, destroy key robotic facilities, and brace yourself for the final attack by your enemies… just as soon as they can pull it together.

“Top game moment: Realising a momentary oversight has condemned you to almost certain doom, but then, with only a perfect set of well-thought long-contemplated moves, you pull everything out the bag, blow the rig, and get the hell out of dodge to receive a hard-earned mission successful.”
8.5/10 – Richard Nolan, Strategy Informer

“Bionic Dues delivers tough decisions, sweeping tactics and enormous mech battles; packing massive replayability and unpredictability into its budget price point. A ‘Rogue-lite’ to remember and to savour through numerous scorched-earth defeats and hard-won victories.”
8/10, Editor’s Choice – Jonathan Lester, Dealspwn

Bionic Dues is available now on PC, Mac, and Linux. Follow the game on Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, and IndieDB for post-release updates and other announcements. Review copies and launch assets available upon request.

Features

  • Out-think wide-ranging tactical situations featuring robots with bad GPS, terrible aim, insecurity, a lack of focus, a tendency to backstab, and dozens of other maladies to exploit.
  • Over 40 unique bots, ranging from the hilariously inept-but-dangerous DumBots, BlunderBots, and BatBots to the terrifyingly effective WyvernBots, DoomBots, and MurderBots.
  • Carve your own path: choose 30 to 50 missions out of the 120 you discover as you explore the city map. Which missions you choose determines how prepared you will be for the final battle against the massing robot army.
  • Missions come in 23 different general flavors, and are entirely procedurally-generated like a floor of a traditional roguelite.
  • Mix and match your squad of four from six classes of Exos: Assault, Siege, Science, Sniper, Ninja and Brawler. Each has its own build and weaponry.
  • Choose an overall pilot from a roster of six to add a powerful perk that lasts your entire campaign.
  • Customize your four Exos with procedurally-generated loot that grants weaponry and defensive upgrades, new abilities, and more.
  • Difficulty levels ranging from quite casual to incredibly hardcore.
  • Save and reload your game with ease any time, or tough it out in ironman mode.
  • Stellar soundtrack by composer Pablo Vega, headlined by the game’s title theme “The Home We Once Knew.”