Author: Keith LaMothe

AI War 2 v0.719 Released! “Do Not Feed The Turrets”

Release notes here!

When players keep telling us turrets are underwhelming, we buff them. This time the buff-o-matic was really cranked up. The AI isn’t very happy about the result (despite having a few turrets of its own). There are also several other changes to make turrets work better (all waves launching in the AIWC style, AI ships no longer popping out some distance from the wormhole, etc). Are they still underwhelming? Let us know.

What else is there?

New Shot Graphics!

Reworked Unit Icons!

New backer-commissioned Ark! (The AI is looking forward to educating you about glass houses)

Performance Improvements!

Resource-Production Techs!

A bunch of bugfixes, balance changes, and miscellaneous improvements!

Ok, I’m all out of exclamation points… oh, here’s one more.

Enjoy!
Keith

AI War 2 v0.718 Released! “A Wild GUI Appears”

Release notes here!

This one is the first publicly-available release with part of the new UI that Chris has been working so hard on. Specifically, the UI you see in planet-view and galaxy-view in the game itself. There’s still a lot of work-in-progress but, wow, that sidebar. MANY thanks to Eric T. Edwards in lending his mighty powers of UI/UX design. We’ve undoubtedly slaughtered that design in various ways, but the result is still way better than we could have come up with ourselves.

The other major advance is in the in-depth feedback from players like chemical_art and Magnus, which is tremendously helpful in our actually balancing this thing and resolving tensions in the design. Notable changes on that front this round:
– The AI planets you start next to are now MUCH easier to conquer, getting back towards how AIWC handled it.
– Starships are now a bigger deal: they’re now so expensive in metal and fuel that you can’t really even support _one_ at the start (though you generally can after conquering your first planet, it’s just going to tie up most of that fuel). But they’re now also 3x as strong, making even a single Mark 1 starship a significant presence in the early game, and they’re now easily the most efficient way to spend Science to increase your mobile striking power.
— So in many ways these aren’t like Fleet Ships at all anymore, except that they’re both part of your mobile fleet. You can choose how much to invest in each category (which may vary based on whether you’ve got more Fuel or Science available), but you’re going to need both.

Also notable is the beginning of the integration of real shot graphics. Still a ways to go on that, but at least now you can see those menacing plasma torpedoes that are about to kill all your missile corvettes :)

Oh, and the model for the second Arkitect backer-reward Ark, the Orchid, is now done. Maybe the AI will be moved to sympathy by this giant space flower… but I wouldn’t count on it ;)

And there’s a lot of various bugfixes and other improvements from Badger, Chris, and yours truly.

Enjoy!
Keith

AI War 2 v0.716 Released! “Activating Mk4 Grinding Machine”

Release notes here!

This one takes another big step towards beta.

1) The biggest individual area of changes is the defensive game. Thanks to community feedback (especially chemical_art and Badger) we realized that waves were actually too close together (a big change from how it used to be) and turrets were both not advertising themselves well and a bit underpowered for their task of generally keeping waves out of your hair so you don’t have to pull your mobile fleet back. Unless you’re in a really intense situation, of course.

Now turrets are a lot beefier :)

That said, with the new power-distribution-network on every planet, it’s much easier to undercut the power of a big pile of turrets if the defender is not stopping attackers at the door. This goes for both the humans and the AI.

2) Some key changes were made to AIP growth and Threat behavior to make it easier for special factions like the Nanocaust to do their thing and make a ruckus, without the AI taking out its frustrations on a lone unrelated human outpost (i.e. you) clear on the other side of the galaxy.

3) There are also several improvements from Badger (Autosave, Cumulative hacking responses, a bunch of bugfixes). Thanks, Badger!

Enjoy!
Keith

AI War 2 v0.714 Released! “Shields Down”

Release notes here!

The main change this time is definitely the removal of Shields (forcefields from AIWC), the rationale and discussion is too voluminous for this post, but if you’re curious the main discussion was here and here. (Edit: sorry, I was writing this in a hurry, and I forgot something very important: Thank you for all the feedback!)

Many of the other changes between 0.712 and 0.714 (0.713 was an internal version) were to adjust to this post-shield universe, and the result has been a lot of fun in testing. Here are a few of those changes:

* Snipers no longer have infinite range. Instead, they have about 50% longer range than anything else. So instead of shredding your unshielded missile corvettes instantly upon your arrival, AI snipers will have to wait for you to get in range. If you send in the corvettes expect heavy losses, but once you close the range the corvettes can do a decent job of killing the fragile snipers. Alternatively you can let the corvettes hang back and send in the fighters and bombers to do clear the way.

* To facilitate such “fighters go to point A, bombers to point B, corvettes to point C” tactics, the [ and ] keys now cycle through quick-selecting each of the types of units you have on the planet. So you can “press ], right-click A, press ] again, right-click B, press ] again, right-click C”, or something like that. And if you then see a bunch of fighters bearing down on your bombers, press [ to get back to the bombers and pull them away from the fighters.

* The planet area has been increased yet again, so there’s more room for you to keep the enemy away from key targets.

* Tractors are now much more powerful; again to make it easier to keep the enemy from getting in range of things you don’t want it to shoot.

* Tractors, Gravity generators, and Tachyon arrays were generally overhauled to provide obvious paths for upgrading your defensive setup’s ability to stop the enemy from getting places you don’t want it to go.

And here are some other highlights:

* Several metric tons of voice work!

* A bunch of new space backgrounds.

* You now start with a Flagship. It’s weaker than the normal ones but this way your early battles aren’t lacking the basic sorts of support you’ll normally have available later in the game.

* Your initial neighbors are much easier to conquer (you’ll get chewed up if you simply blob-roll the whole thing, but you’ll generally still win the battle).

* Unit counts have been doubled.

* A bunch of bugfixes, and some more balance work.

Enjoy!
Keith

AI War 2 v0.711 Released! “Re-Mark-able”

Release notes here!

The entire UI system has been basically overhauled. The xml definitions are largely the same, but under the hood it’s very different. The new approach makes it much easier to use in conjunction with the Unity WYSIWYG editor, which is very helpful when working with complex interfaces. The main menu has been redone, and other new stuff (credits screen, modal popups, etc) has been done via the new system.

Tons more updates to the unit visual models by Pepisolo and Goldenwolf.

BadgerBadger added the “Human Resistance Fighters” special faction; a fleet that will occasionally help you in close battles. There are also other changes to special factions by BadgerBadger (the Zenith Trader can now recover from being Devourer’d, etc).

54 of AIWC’s music tracks have been added to this game; you can disable that in settings but it’s helpful while we wait for the rest of the new soundtrack.

Lots of progress on integrating the voice acting.

The upgrade system for player units has been thoroughly revised:
– Now when you research Mark 2 Fighters, for example, your repair units will actually upgrade your Mark 1 Fighters to Mark 2 Fighters, and your Fighter cap will go from 10 squads to 20 squads (instead of 10 Mark 1s and 10 Mark 2s like in previous versions).
– You can now research normally up to Mark 4, instead of Mark 3. The Advanced Factory, rather than giving you Mark 4 where you already have Mark 3, instead just gives you +20% to your fleet ship caps.
– Experimental Fabricators no longer give you Mark 5 of a particular ship type, but give you a new experimental variant fleet ship type that’s based on Mark 4 of a normal ship type. For example, you can get the BombBox, which is like the Bomber but without any kind of reasonable survivability or speed. It hits a whole lot harder, if you can get it in range. Another example is the less-extreme Interceptor, which is like the Fighter but faster, less durable, and generally better at reaching and shredding armored Bombers before they get too close.

Turrets now cost power again, and are galaxy-capped instead of planet-capped. Both changes work more smoothly with the new upgrade system than they would have otherwise.
– You also start with Mark 1 Needler turrets unlocked, and even placed around your starting planet’s wormholes, to make sure you know that turrets are something you’re going to need.

The AI now has more variety between planets because each planet only picks from a small set of guardians, turrets, and fleet ships to defend itself. There’s a big difference between attacking a planet that “chose” Plasma Guardians and Sniper Turrets than one that focused on Needler, Laser, etc stuff.

Other rebalancing, including making “using the right weapon against the right defense” more important and generally making enemy gravity generators less frustrating.

And more; details are in the notes linked above.

Enjoy!
Keith

AI War 2 v0.707 Released! “Activating Mk2 Grinding Machine”

Release notes here!

Before I talk more about the release, I should note that the GUI focus groups ( here ) are being an enormous help. Thanks so much to everyone helping there! We’re nearing a final design for various pre-game screens (main menu, lobby, etc) and look forward to getting those implements while the discussion expands to include the in-game screens when it’s time for that.

Ok, back to the release itself:

This one is actually part 2 of a release; part one was last weekend.

These notes get a bit difficult to write because there’s a lot of “we worked on everything!” going on lately. If you want to know what changed, the wiki notes linked above are your best bet.

Nonetheless, here are some highlights:

1) Tons more units have been wired up with their proper models and formations (continuing thanks to Pepisolo and Goldenwolf for that)

2) The settings menu has been reorganized with the many different settings divvied up amongst tabs. Thanks, Badger!

3) The bottom-left menu has been heavily redone. Doesn’t look any prettier, but I hope it’s easier to use and less confusing. Among other things, it now responds to the F1-F9 keys instead of the 1-9 keys, so it doesn’t have conditional conflicts with the control group numbers. This also allows it to return to always-shown status (and only one base menu, instead of two context-specific ones, which caused a lot of confusion).

4) Lots of balance changes. Notably, the Warden Fleet is now much less in your face and much less powerful. It was doing its job of countering player attacks, but it was doing it too well.

5) Many performance improvements, most notably the organization of individual squad ships into subsquads that save on lots of unity transform updates.

6) The title screen is now much improved based on forum feedback.

And a lot of other stuff.

Enjoy!
Keith

AI War 2 v0.704 Released! “About that Flair”

Release notes here!

This one (0.703 and 0.704) includes a wide variety of changes:
* A ton of work on getting multiplayer functional again (still a ways to go, but it’s much further along).
* A variety of quality-of-life improvements like edge-scrolling working despite UI elements, and selecting builders with B unsuppressing the build menu if you had suppressed it.
* Fixes for some multithreading issues that were causing the game to bog down exponentially faster than they normally would in certain intense situations (more coming on that front).
* Fixes for some bugs that were killing the OSX build.
* Alterations to make the “main menu ship” more visually interesting without you feeling like it was pressed up against the screen.
* Tooltips in the lobby (and making them show on top of other things).
* A couple more batches of unit models integrated.

But the main and most obvious change is that all the ship icons have been redone. You know those color strips under a bunch of the icons to tell the different turrets apart (same with starships, guardians, etc)? Those were the “flairs”. Bye-bye flairs! Now all the turrets, etc, get a unique icon.

That said, the icons have to communicate a ton of information, so please tell us how they’re doing at that.

Enjoy!
Keith

AI War 2 v0.702 Released! “Activating Mk1 Grinding Machine”

Release notes here!

During the development cycle of various AIWC expansions I reached a phase where I started naming the releases “Sanding Machine”, “Mk2 Sanding Machine”, and so on. It was a polish phase, albeit a violent sort of polishing.

We’re not to the sanding stage yet here, but “Grinding” or maybe “Crushing”, like this: https://youtu.be/0bSmO9N25Yk?t=1m32s

Tons of changes in this version. I almost named the release “Plasma Siege Cannon”, after my favorite change (Plasma Torpedoes are now AOE with an awesome explosion animation), but the visual improvements are much broader than that. Probably most of those are from volunteer BadgerBadger, and they’ve made a MASSIVE difference.

There’s also a neat gameplay change: when I took the shield off the Ark, I unintentionally made the game a lot more annoying as that led to your Ark being pushed around by any enemy shields (previously it could usually push them around, having the bigger shield). That’s a legitimate behavior: when an enemy shield touches a unit, the unit gets pushed out of the way.

But the Ark now has the “is_chuck_norris” flag (not actually called that): when an enemy shield touches the Ark, the _shield_ gets pushed out of the way.

This allows for interesting, daring, and probably foolhardy tactics for busting up enemy turret balls much faster than normal: turn your Ark into a bowling ball and deprive the turrets of their cover. Never mind the fact that you just threw your King in amongst all the enemy pieces.

Enjoy!
Keith

AI War 2 v0.700 Released! “Hunting The Wild Beta Beast”

Release notes here!

This one has a ton of improvements from the main menu background to the message you get when you inevitably lose. (Ok, it’s not completely inevitable). And just about everything in between. We’re approaching beta rapidly. For the full story please read the notes on the wiki, but here are some highlights:

1) The lobby has a lot more options, including difficulty settings for all three parts of your AI opponent (the occupying Sentinels, the roaming defensive Warden Fleet, and the predatory Hunter Fleet). The framework for showing a large number of (moddable) custom option for each faction is also in, and is used to support the difficulty options.

2) Tons more units now have their proper graphics (thanks to Pepisolo and Goldenwolf!), as do flak and lightning explosions (lots of iteration there, may not be done). Badger also fixed up a ton of squishy vis-layer bugs causing the wrong number of ships to show in squads, lots of shots to not draw properly (or at all), etc. Thanks, Badger (and for a ton of other changes too)! Together with ship on-death explosions and shield on-hit effects (both possibly still too subtle) the visual feedback of the game has improved massively. Naturally, this involved multiple distinct subsystem swaps to get the particle-like behavior necessary.

3) New Camera! Again! This one’s actually good! When it doesn’t get locked into a psychedelic death spiral! (we fixed the death spiral bug before this release). It’s also regrettably closed-source, but modding other cameras is still possible.

4) The play area around each planet is now much larger and feels much less like a cage match and much more like AIWC. We may go even larger, let us know what you think.

5) Some major rebalancing. Starships are now “cap of one” units and thus very powerful individually. You also have to unlock even the Mark 1 variants, which effectively means that one of your first decisions is which 3 Mark 1 starships to unlock for your starting fleet (or to get Mark 1 and 2 of a single type, or to save some Science for other stuff). The choice makes a pretty big difference in the feel of the initial fighting. Similarly, turrets are no longer unlocked by default, but unlocking them is very powerful since you can put a full cap of each turret on each planet you control.

6) Also part of rebalancing, but worth its own point: Shields are very different now. The mechanic itself is the same, but you’ll see _way_ fewer shields than you used to, on both sides. Battles now see serious casualties much earlier in general. Not even your Ark has a shield now (the Ark’s now just a 600,000 hit-point Armored Ball Of Iron, its combat role is mostly just replacing your fleet ship losses mid-battle). If you want a shield early on you have to unlock a shield starship, which means only getting 2 of the other types (at most), though that’s generally still worth it.

Enjoy!
Keith

AI War 2 v0.613 Released! “When Changes Escape”

Release notes here!

Normally there’s some rhyme or reason to a release. In this case it was just time for these changes to escape. It’s pretty quiet at the end of a year and we’re mostly occupied with celebrations and other non-professional-work stuff, but there’s still been some progress.

The credits for this release don’t reflect community member BadgerBadger’s contributions as much as previous releases, since Badger is now largely writing the release notes for said contributions. Suffice it to say, we could just write a big “Thanks, Badger!” somewhere in every set of release notes and that would be pretty accurate.

One specific change that may help playability significantly is that the unit mouseovers are now not nearly as “sticky” (since you no longer need to be able to mouseover the mouseovers).

But there’s also a bunch of other stuff like another graphics pipeline shift (bloom is gone) and the ability to pick between the two Ark types currently defined (the normal one and the one the dolphins used to get out of Dodge).

Enjoy!
Keith

AI War 2 v0.612 Released! “AI Hunters and the Turrets that Stop Them”

Release notes here!

It’s been a while since the last release, largely because there’s a lot in this one.

The AI has undergone a bit of an overhaul. On the broad scale there’s the implementation of the Hunter Fleet (in AIWC we called it the Threatfleet) and refinement of the Warden Fleet (called the Special Forces in AIWC and AIW2 until now). On the small scale there’s a bunch of changes to how the AI handles being locally outmatched. Overall, your opponent is much more threatening now.

On the other side, you now have a lot more capacity to build defensive depth. I’ve gone back and forth on a bunch of models of how to make turrets make sense with the per-planet power resource and the per-planet caps AND the need to unlock the turret techs. In the end I’ve decided to just try not having them cost power. Other stuff still costs power, so you have to decide on what mix of shields, tractors, tachyon, gravity, etc to put on each planet, but in general the main limitation on how many turrets you put down is how much metal you have on hand to build them and how much science you want to spend unlocking more turrets (and thus increasing your cap).

Speaking of things getting smarter, the Devourer saw some AI improvements. Your turrets won’t help you with that.

There’s several improvements to the user interface that are small but important (escape closing settings window, save menu not passing keyboard input through to the game, etc), the new-game experience no longer has the possibility of dropping hapless new players straight into combat. Finally, I hope you like the new set of faction colors to choose from.

Enjoy!
Keith

AI War 2 v0.611 Released! “The Special Forces Have Arrived (Again)”

Release notes here!

This one had a lot of under-the-hood work to further the architecture goal of building the “Major” factions (human player, The AI) with mostly the same toolbox used for the “Minor” factions (Dyson, Devourer, Nanocaust, etc). This implicitly makes them all much more moddable and flexible.

But the result that stands out is that the Special Forces mechanic now stands out. Or rather, it used to be a mechanic, but now it’s a faction in its own right. The main AI makes donations to the SF, but the SF decides what to build and where to go. As in AIWC it acts to defend the AI’s planets against attack. Unlike AIWC, this behavior is more emergent (it should defend the AI against attacks from factions other than you, for instance) and is entirely moddable. If you want to make a SF sub-type that only builds long-range ships and only does sneaky drive-by attacks against the player, that can be done by modding. Or if you want a sub-type that only builds Etherjet Tractors and Widow Guardians and tries to tow the player’s fleet to its destruction, that can be done too.

Enjoy!
Keith

AI War 2 v0.610 Released! “Pay No Attention To The Golem Behind The Curtain”

Release notes here!

This one is an assortment of changes, including another graphics pipeline shift from Chris and some neat stuff from community member BadgerBadger (if you notice a wormhole name glowing red to tell you where a wave is coming from, that’s who to thank).

There are also some further efforts to limit shots being wasted on overkill, so that units on all sides fight “smarter”. In the process of doing that, I might have transformed the Devourer from an imposing menace to an unstoppable killing machine.

One long-anticipated change was support for variable-intensity minor factions. Only the Dyson has it right now, but it can be added to other factions easily now.

Oh, and the game will actually tell you if you’ve won or lost now.

Enjoy!
Keith

AI War 2 v0.608 Released! “Interface Evisceration”

(In case you don’t read our forums or our kickstarter, here’s a link to a recent gameplay video, from before this version’s work)

Release notes here!

This one is almost all about UI.

The meat of it was totally redoing two key parts of the UI: the main ship tooltip, and the pre-game lobby. I’m sure both still need a lot of work, so please give us feedback (note: I know the lobby doesn’t look right on lower resolutions because I tested it on a higher res and made the text too cramped). I would include screenshots for discussion but getting and posting them is a multi-stage process and I’ve really got to get some sleep. Perhaps one of you kind galactic-conquerers would post them instead?

Some key issues with UI scaling have been dealt with, so you should be able to use it reliably all the way down to 30% (its new minimum) if you’ve got a screen suitable to it. Again, feedback both needed and welcome.

Where wormholes show the name of the planet on the other side, they now show that name in the color of the faction that controls said planet. The text and color is now moddable as part of galaxy display modes, so you can have it display something different if you like (and don’t mind the C# code-mine).

Fabricators, ARS’s, and other units that can grant you a specific ship type now include the name of that ship type in their tooltip.

And a few other fixes.

Enjoy!
Keith

AI War 2 v0.607 Released! “Don’t Die Harder, Die Smarter”

Release notes here!

Don’t Die Harder, Die Smarter

This one goes a long way towards making AIW2’s units much more enthusiastic about their jobs.

AI Waves (and Threat in general) now behave in a much more intelligent fashion. Well, except for the enforce-stupid-refusal-to-retreat-for-30-seconds change, which just makes it less annoying. Less annoying to you. Very annoying to the AI.

All ships (not just AI) benefit from the targeting changes that greatly reduce lost efficiency from overkill, and from the pathfinding changes to prefer less dangerous routes where it’s still efficient.

Not many interface improvements this time around, but I know many of you will be happy to see range rings when placing turrets. (You’ll also be able to place more turrets, thanks to the power balance change)

Tachyon units now take their job seriously, and can actually reveal cloaked enemy ships in a reasonable period of time. At least if it’s a reasonable quantity of them. Otherwise you’re still going to be target practice for a bit, but at least you’ll have something to shoot back at.

Even the simulation itself is working smarter, thanks to zealous application of the Ostrich Algorithm for planets with no opposing forces.

And there’s a few other things in there, like a new AI type that loves cloaked units.

Enjoy!
Keith

AI War 2 v0.606 Released! “Input-astrophe”

Release notes here!

This one is about input.

Camera input. Chris redid the entire camera system, and now it’s much more configurable in the Settings window (and the code itself is massively moddable). The “Free Look” mode is a major new thing, but the default view is also very different, in response to player feedback about acceleration, etc.

Keyboard input. Each binding can now support more than one mapping, so both P and Pause/Break can trigger pause, etc. Several bugfixes and changes to make certain keys do what you would expect. Making the unit-commands context menu not open automatically to prevent conflicting with control group number input, and so on.

Mouse input. Added a much-requested feature from AIWC where bandbox selection ignores non-military ships unless they’re the only thing there. Made clicking planets in the galaxy view do what it did in AIWC (“go there” instead of “select this”; you can still select with alt+click). Fixed a key bug that was preventing mouse interaction with ship icons.

Saving you lots of input. The new “budget policy” concept allows you to give high-level commands about how your metal should be allocated, from the simple “suspend spending until we’ve saved up” to the amusingly complex battle-support policy that has multiple levels of prioritization and looks at whether a unit is on a contested planet, etc. This is fully moddable, so if you want to script your economy you can just about do so.

There’s a few other changes as well, including a helpful bit from community member BadgerBadger that reimplements AIWC’s model of waves being planned, announced, and then launched after a countdown instead of just immediately spawned (previously the timer was a projected estimate of when it will be). It’s great to see the modding tools put to good use :) Thanks, Badger!

(if you’re wondering where 0.605 went, I think it had a run-in with the Devourer)

Enjoy!
Keith