Month: October 2016

Headtalker! Please sign up. Plus more “Reverse AI War” tidbits.

Chris here.  I’m going to keep this brief and try not to be annoying!  First up: if you didn’t already know, we’re running a kickstarter for the sequel to AI War, and that’s a pretty big deal to us.

If you have not already, please consider signing up for the Headtalker campaign for AI War II.  The true power of this thing has only really become apparent to me today, and it’s pretty awesome.

Briefly:

  • If 500 people sign up — and there are 71 on there as of the time of this writing, including myself — then a big social media blast goes out.  I guess kind of like a Thunderclap?
  • It tracks the amount of reach that we have on social media based on this, and basically it can be a way to get in front of a LOT of people.  Out of just 71 people signed up so far, that gives us a potential reach of 960 thousand people.
  • Bearing in mind that a ton of those people will have zero interest in this, it’s still a lot more targeted than advertising in some ways, and it’s also not costing us anything (or you much time).
  • Given our current backer counts, less than a third of you would need to help out with this for a big blast to go out.
  • And actually you can recruit other people as well if you like who are not backers of the project — you never know if your friend’s friends are strategy enthusiasts, even if that friend is not.
  • As with this kickstarter campaign itself, if the target is not hit, nothing happens.  So if we don’t get 500 people signed up, then the whole thing doesn’t happen.  Even if you have a small twitter following or just a few facebook friends or a small group on linkedin or whatever else, that still is valuable in that it helps us reach that count of 500 people.

Thank you for reading!

That was annoying, and I apologize for that.  To make it up to you, I’ll give a few more tidbits about Reverse AI War, which I teased in update #8.

Basically:

  • It’s a much smaller and shorter game, and made for serial replayability.  Ideally games are 5-25 minutes long, depending on the complexity of the scenario you set up.  I’d estimate 15 or 20 minutes on average.
  • I doubt it would be multiplayer, but who knows.  Probably that would just be irritating to play with others, though, to be honest.
  • The game is set in the Arcenverse, in the timeline after Bionic Dues and Release Raptor, but long before AI War, The Last Federation, Stars Beyond Reach, or Starward Rogue.
  • You play as the AI at the end of Earth’s history in this game.  You may remember from the lore of Raptor that basically some humans got left behind on Earth while the rich and the upper classes fled to the stars.
  • The AI eventually chases the humans out into the galaxy, as we clearly see in the first AI War.  However, before it can comfortably do that, it needs to take care of the planet that we both came from.
  • The overall idea here is thus that you’re trying to kill the last of the humans remaining on earth.  It really gives you a perspective of the sort of vaguely Risk-like experience that the AI has in AI War, but on territories on earth instead of planets and solar systems in space.
  • As with AI War, the AI (you, this time) have vastly superior resources to your foes, but also some weak spots.  This game is also a David and Goliath simulator… but this time you’re Goliath tasked with destroying David?
  • If that sounds easy, then you’re forgetting the core weakness of the AI: blindness.  You don’t know WHERE all those pesky humans are.  You thus want to do various things to draw them out, including letting them take some territory from you in order to expose themselves.  Mwa ha ha, they think they’re so sneaky…
  • …of course, the more you do that, the more you actually do risk that they pop up in surprising force and destroy your quantum computer, thus ending you.  The other risk is that they escape into space, meaning that you’ve failed in your chief objective.

Overall I think it’s a really fun concept, and it’s simple and short and yet has good strategy to it.  As I mentioned before, I hope to have a WebGL online demo you can play by the end of November.

Depending on how things progress with this kickstarter, I might be convinced to give out copies of this to all backers above some certain tier… ;)

That’s all for now!  Sorry for being annoying about the Headtalker thing, but if you can help out with it it is definitely appreciated.  And hopefully the Reverse AI War details make up for it.

Cheers!

Chris

The Last Federation Version 3.003 Released!

Bugfixes and an AI War II kickstarter notice on the main menu.  The release notes cover the details, and we hope that you enjoy those fixes. :)

We also hope you’ll stop by the campaign for AI War II and see if you think it’s worth your time and/or money.  We are having an exceedingly hard time reaching our existing players for AI War Classic and The Last Federation — of which we need only a tiny percent to actually back the kickstarter — and as such, our kickstarter is stalling.

We have a variety of ways in which we’re working on pulling out of the stall, but by far the best option is getting the message out to people who would directly be interested.  Hopefully that includes you if you’re reading this (possibly you like TLF, but were put off by the learning curve of AI War — which is a key thing we’re addressing in the sequel), but please also spread the word to other players you know who might have missed this!

Best,

Chris Park

Founder and Lead Designer, Arcen Games

AI War Classic Official 8.024 Patch Released!

Bugfixes and an AI War II kickstarter notice on the main menu.  The release notes cover the details, and we hope that you enjoy those fixes. :)

We also hope you’ll stop by the campaign for AI War II and see if you think it’s worth your time and/or money.  We are having an exceedingly hard time reaching our existing players for AI War Classic — of which we need only about 3% to actually back the kickstarter — and as such, our kickstarter is stalling.

We have a variety of ways in which we’re working on pulling out of the stall, but by far the best option is getting the message out to people who would directly be interested.  Hopefully that includes you if you’re reading this, but please also spread the word to other players you know who might have missed this!

Best,

Chris Park

Founder and Lead Designer, Arcen Games

Ship Design Progress, AMA Wrap-Up & AIW2 in the Media

Greetings Commanders!

Wow, what a week! We’re hugely grateful for everyone’s attention and interest in our game, and we’re looking forward to bringing it to you!

With everything that’s been going on you might assume we’re focusing on the Kickstarter to the exclusion of all else. Nah, not our style. Work is underway on AI War 2 right this minute! Here’s a sneak peak at where we’re at right now.

Ship Design Progress

Every unit in AI War Classic looks the same no matter who controls it. Your fighters look just like the AI’s fighters, and your capital ships look like AI capital ships. We’ve done a lot to make the player and the AI distinct in Classic, but fleets still look awfully similar.

We want to hammer home the alien-ness of of the AI in AI War 2. It has its own personality, why not its own visual design? With the AI taking over the galaxy and turning what it takes against you, you could say it’s a corrupting force. “Corruption” is the AI’s theme in AIW2. Let’s compare the human and AI ships:

The light trails alone make the jump to 3D worthwhile.

The light trails alone make the jump to 3D worthwhile.

These are bombers which are good for blowing up structures and not the greatest in a stand up fight. Bombers in AI War 2 look different than their Classic counterparts; Blue based these Mark I bombers on the much more formidable looking Mk. IV and V bombers from that game. Chalk it up to 353 years of technological development. When the AI starts fielding bombers of their own…

Though still a work in progress, AI ships are dark and oppressive, like proper galactic conquerors ought to be.

Though still a work in progress, AI ships are dark and oppressive, like proper galactic conquerors ought to be.

…they’re quite different, despite sharing a silhouette. Though these aren’t the final colors, AI ships are darker than their originals, have a darker light trail, and host moving corruption effects in place of highlights.

Now, all together and in motion:

Again, WIP, but notice how the human bombers behave vs. their AI counterparts.

Again, WIP, but notice how the human bombers behave vs. their AI counterparts.

Very nice.

I’ll let Chris talk about the how our ship designs have evolved over the last few weeks. Starting from the left and going right:

Not every ship will be in the game, but they're all gorgeous.

Not every ship will be in the game, but they’re all gorgeous.

  • Human fighter. I did some cool stuff with the shaders and materials to make it a lot more awesome-looking and also a lot more visible, which people had complained about. Blue modeled it and it’s just fantastic.
  • Old AI fighter. I created this. It’s really kinda awful.
  • Old human fighter. I also created this. It’s too dark, and just not cool enough. The shape is the biggest thing, but the textures also make a big difference. Blue deciding where the sleeves go on the new one makes it a lot better.
  • New AI fighter. Better, but the coloring needs work. It will need a lot of work on the shader/material side before I’m completely happy. It’s good in motion, but the more I see it still, the more I think about what could be improved.
  • Old human bomber. I made this to look like Classic’s lower-mark ships. I think it looks pretty darn neat in the main, but it’s a bit on the cartoony side, and also too dark.
    New human bomber. Blue designed this and I used the same shaders and materials on this that I used on the fighter. The effect is almost even better here. Not that all human ships will share these shaders/materials — not remotely — but these are two very basic ships and it seems fitting.
  • AI bomber. I see the same materials issue on this that I do the current AI fighter. I have to figure out a better way of representing corruption textures that doesn’t kill the framerate with particles or clash with the base colors. This may require some extra geometry from Blue in order to represent the AI’s forces but we’re still figuring that out.

Ask Arcen Anything A Success!

Tuesday’s Reddit AMA went so well we kept taking and answering questions until late last night! Check it out — we answered questions about everything from our intentions for AI War 2, system specs, Arcen’s website, and the questions we won’t answer.

Still have a burning question or just curious? We make a point of answering every question we get in as much detail as we have time for. Ask away here or on our forums, and you’ll get a response!

AI War 2 in the Media

We’ve been fantastically lucky with our media coverage. Rock Paper Shotgun’s Adam Smith reminded us why he loves AI War Classic, and highlighted three of the big features we’ve got planned for 2. He missed a few (dozen) others, but hopefully his planned reading of the design document gives him a chance to fix that. PCGamer, Gameranx, PC Invasion & DarkZero gave us a shout out as well! Explorminate, who interviewed Chris in April of last year, had some nice words about AIW2. And a number of our fans in the indie scene, most notably Wrathkal & Vegard, also took the time to talk about us.

To my personal delight, Dad’s Gaming Addiction took another whack at AI War Classic three years on. This time Vince takes on a pair of level 2 AIs… on a 10-planet map. Juuuuuust a bit of an uphill battle.

Capping things off, Chris will be on Three Moves Ahead next week! Look for that show to drop Wednesday the 19th.

That’s all for now, but we’ll have more AI War 2 news for you very soon. Please help us get the word out about AI War 2 on social media and on your favorite websites and forums! Thank you all for your support!

Arcen Games, signing off.

Reddit /r/Games AMA with us starting now!

Just a very quick note to point you to this link.  We won’t normally bug you with every little thing, but we wanted to give you a chance to get in any questions you might have if reddit is your bag.

Obviously you can ask us anything in general, but it’s nice to have an event for it, too!

amascreenshot

SPACE ARCHAEOLOGIST tier live, OST now available in select tiers, and 10% funded in 30 hours!

Wow what a whirlwind of a few days!  If I haven’t responded to your message yet, I really apologize and will do so as soon as possible.  I’m caught up on the kickstarter messages and comments themselves, but I’m behind on Steam and the Arcen forums.

Funding Is Starting Strong!

Our kickstarter for AI War II has now passed 10% funding within its first 30 hours, which seems like it bodes well.  But the graph for every game is different, and so we’re not going to sit idle just because of a strong start.  We can still use all the help that we can get in spreading the word on social media, other sites that would be interested in this sort of game, and of course via gaming news.

Reddit AMA Tomorrow

Speaking of!  Tomorrow we’re going to be doing another AMA on /r/Games/.  It will start at 11am EST, but if you’re going to be late feel free to still ask questions — I’m on reddit every day anyway (not during work!).

So what else is new?  Well, we’ve updated the video for the kickstarter to be a little better (it was already pretty killer).  If you’ve already seen it, it mainly just adds a bit of extra visual and sound effect punch and clarity in a few places, and then a bit of extra music at the end (sneak peek of a vocal track from Stars Beyond Reach, actually).

New Backer Tier!

Our $100 and $300 tiers sold out incredibly quickly, and we’re trying to figure out how to handle that — providing rewards at those levels that you folks will enjoy, but that don’t break us in the implementation/fulfillment phases.  Thanks for bearing with us!

In the meantime, we’ve added a new $400 tier: SPACE ARCHAEOLOGIST.

As a Space Archaeologist you get the following benefits shared by all Neinzul Backers:
– Named prominently in the credits as a Neinzul Backer
– Neinzul Backer badge on Arcen forums.
– 5 backer-exclusive AI War II digital wallpapers
– Write your own “message in a bottle” that will be discoverable in-game (subject to approval)
– Two copies of the game in private alpha
– Name an in-game planet

In addition, and EXCLUSIVE to the Space Archaeologist, you get to:
-Work with Blue to design a mysterious alien artifact, then collaborate with Jack to write what we know about them (subject to approval)

Initially controlled by the AI, alien artifacts are variants on the resource-generating derelicts scattered across the galaxy. Capturing an artifact earns you a one time Science bonus, and ongoing attempts to study them sometimes “glitch out”, and generate allied ships! These ships aren’t pushovers, and while you can’t control them, you don’t have to pay for them either. The AI won’t be happy about losing the artifacts however, and will destroy them rather than let you keep them.

Space Archaeologists will individually work with Blue to design their own artifact, and then work with Jack to explain what we know about it. That might be where it’s from or how it was found, secrets of its construction or how it’s been used. With this tier you’ll be adding one more secret to the Arcenverse, so don’t explain too much!

Soundtrack Now Included In All $100+ Tiers!

So many of you asked for this that we worked it out and are now going to be providing high-quality mp3, FLAC, and wav file versions of the AI War II OST for anyone who pledges at least $100. This will include the entire soundtrack, including any stretch goals or other bonus tracks commissioned, so when exactly you get each piece may be staggered a bit.

This was a belated addition due to popular demand, and kickstarter doesn’t allow us to change the description of backer tiers after someone has pledged at that level (definitely for the best as a general policy), so we’ve had to make note of it in the campaign FAQ and in the rewards section (not the sidebar).

If you’ve read this far, here’s a special reward. ;)  This is Pablo’s reorchestrated and remastered version of the original AI War title theme.  Just like Arcen itself, he’s come a really long way since 2009, and I continue to be really stunned and impressed with the work he’s doing lately.

Other Changes To The Campaign!

People have been making all sorts of great suggestions.

  • We now have a new $40 tier that simply gives you two v1.0 copies of the game (so it’s just like getting the $20 tier twice).
  • We’ve added two new videos down in the body of the campaign that show off the far zoom mechanics for the new game as well as the last trailer for the first game.
  • Down at the bottom there are now a number of charts detailing our work status on all the major 1.0 features.  We’re further along on a number of them than folks might have realized, massive design document aside.

 

That’s all for now!  I’ll have more updates coming up soon, as will other members of the team.  Thanks again for all your support, enthusiasm — and let’s not forget trust.  With a campaign like this you’re trusting that we’ll follow through for you, and we have absolutely no intention of letting you down.

Very Best,

Chris Park

Founder and Lead Designer, Arcen Games

AI War II: Kickstarter launches on Monday!

kickstartercoming

We’re finally almost there!  If you want a sneak preview of what the campaign looks like (minus some of the graphics and the video), here’s a link.  Please feel free to offer us feedback on it, and if you want to be notified when the campaign starts on Monday, you can either click the button right on that page, or you can email us at arcengames at gmail dot com and we’ll shoot you an email instead.

If you’re in the press and you’re going to be writing ONE article about this, please wait until Monday. ;)  Otherwise we’re obviously grateful for any coverage we can get.  But we almost didn’t post this note today just for fear of that sort of too-early posting.

What else is up?

Well, the AI War II forums continue to be full of awesome discussion.  The design document for the game complete enough for us to have a finalized budget, and for you to make an informed decision, although there are still a few areas that we’re going to be polishing into next week.

Talk to you soon!  For now I need to get back to making that video…

Chris

Click here for the official forum topic on this post.

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AI War II – Far Zoom First Look

Lots of stuff has been happening on the AI War II forums in general, and a lot of news in the dev diary section in particular.  Once the kickstarter for the game launches — later this week — we’ll be sharing more through our blog and social media.  It’s been an intensive process so far in the forums, though, with folks contributing 2,470 post on 180 topics in a matter of just a couple of weeks.

Here’s the first video of the game:

The kickstarter for AI War II is coming up in the next week! If you want to be notified of it by email, please send a note to arcengames at gmail dot com and we’ll be happy to.

Our forums have a ton of information about what’s going on and how you can contribute (non-financially) prior to the kickstarter if you wish to.

And our public design document is huge and still growing.  The latter will be finished up (for purposes of v1.0 specs) within the next 3 days.

I’ll be around on the forums plenty in the coming days, or I’ll hopefully catch you later this week when we launch the Kickstarter!

  • Chris