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AI War 2 v2.001 Released! “Expansion 1: The Spire Rises!”

The first expansion for AI War 2 is out!  It’s time for a little retrospective of how things have been going since the October 1.0 launch of the base game.

Base Game Updates

Put most simply, we’ve had 47 patches to the base game since 1.01, which is about one every 3 days.  There have been a few of those that were just little hotfixes, and some were on the beta branch temporarily, but most of these were quite substantive.

The largest of these was v1.3, The Grand New AI, on January 10th, which we called “almost a sequel in terms of how much it adds.”  That’s a huge read on its own, so I won’t recap it here, but suffice it to say it added a ton of content and a complex new intelligence to the AI.  Some of that (like the awesome fire teams mechanic) was us backporting work from this new expansion to the base game.  Other bits were just us updating the base game.

I’m actually struggling a little bit on how to even describe what has been happening in the base game, because there’s no singular improvement.  It’s just been relentless evolution and refinement on basically every front.  We’ve had a lot of really involved testers, and some of the first large-scale mods (Civilian Industries, Galactic Conquest, and others), and a number of those modders have also been contributing code or ideas to the main game itself.

We also continue to have a healthy number of volunteers who pop in and out and make various additions.  Things I really wanted, but which kept sliding down my own todo list, like the ability to load a quick start or savegame into the lobby for further customization. Dominus Arbitrationis and StarKelp have been the two most active on that sort of front. Heck, StarKelp has kind of adopted the Macrophage faction from the base game and has been adding cool new features to them.

Anyway, the release history is long, and public, and has a lot of detailed writeups already.  Suffice it to say, things have been VERY active.

Expansion 1: The Spire Rises

The base game was already huge, and something that we considered to be on par with AI War Classic and maybe… two of its six expansions?  Something along those lines, although it’s apples to oranges since the content in AI War 2 tends to be so much more versatile and involved.

I’ll skip summarizing what is in this new expansion and just let you read about that on its own page, so instead I can speak a little more broadly here.

The very short version is that we now consider AI War 2 plus this expansion to give parity to be equivalent to AIWC and four out of its six expansions.  Wowzers.

AI Goes Up To 11

The Scourge are a faction born out of the desire to fulfill the Nemesis kickstarter stretch goal in a more… entertaining and robust fashion. That’s just how Badger, the mastermind behind this race, is.  The original concept was one large ship that harasses you mercilessly; that’s still here, but instead we also get a faction of multi-racial slaved warriors doing even more involved and interesting stuff.

Being able to set the scourge as your ally is one of the things that amuses me the most.  Just last night, StarKelp was playing in that fashion and watching the AI Hunters duke it out with human-allied scourge.  The result was a galaxy mostly swept clean by the scourge, and then an amusing of AI-on-AI tag in the ruined wasteland as the hunter fled around the galaxy, fighting as needed, and the scourge split up and chased them, occasionally seeming to have a small group pause and catch their breath on the safety of his home planet.  The fact that things like this can exist inside the game… that makes me really happy.

The really key testers for the Scourge were zeusalmighty, Astillious, Ethan “DEMOCRACY” Wong, and Ovalcircle.

Going Into All-Out War

The Fallen Spire, the other big faction in this expansion, were again to satisfy a kickstarter stretch goal, but in a more-fun way.  We didn’t get as much into the scripted-campaign territory (that’s just not personally as high on my list), but we did build out the citybuilding to a ludicrous degree.  And we then built out the AI forces to a ludicrous degree, giving them the ability to pull back in Extragalactic War units from “whatever it is they are fighting outside the galaxy.”  Those two big expansions of the content for this faction are just how I think about things. ;)

We’ve been really fortunate to have some huge-fan Fallen Spire players from the first game, such as Matt “Vinco” Taylor, show up to test things and let us know where we were failing in this expansion.  Things like the relics having a stronger response or phasing in and out of reality came about because of him, and so much of the citybuilding balance and the effectiveness of the Imperial Spire in the alternative victory condition were thanks to feedback from Ethan “DEMOCRACY” Wong.

Looking To The Future

There’s more that we could do with the fallen spire, and we do plan on that, but it’s already a really solid and huge thing that is a fun new way to play the game.  The amount of core content that we wound up adding was far above what we initially planned, so certain things like journals or multiple loadouts were pushed until later because there are just only so many hours in a day.

The nice thing is that some of those features can double as work for expansion 2, so as we enhance things we’ll continue backporting not just to the base game, but also the first expansion. For now it’s kind of a matter of balancing that against my goal to finally get multiplayer going fully.

The Sheer Volume Of Turrets

Soooo… this was not really planned at all, but is one of these things that we added in because somebody (Ethan “DEMOCRACY” Wong in this case) had a great idea and we wanted to do it.  He basically observed that in the base game, there are not all that many turrets, and they are not spread evenly among all the technology lines (because how could they be).

Looking at the base game, I see there were 11 combat turrets, plus orbital mass driver and ion cannons as major combat turrets. Then we had a further 2 non-combat turrets in the form of  tractor and tachyon turrets.  And that was it.  Out of the 11 combat turrets, one of those was also curiously larger and scarier than the rest, with a higher cost and much lower unit count.

Democracy thus made a big ol’ table for each tech, with columns for regular combat turrets in each row, and then one larger-than-average turret in each  row.  Working with Puffin, and then getting some assists in new code from Dominus and Badger and myself, plus a whole heck of a lot of new art on my end, and we wind up with THIRTY freaking new combat turrets in this expansion.  It’s madness.  They’re so much fun and so varied, too!  The first game never had anything like these.

Game Mechanics For All

We wound up adding new game mechanics to support the scourge, the spire, the turrets, and the new arks — yes, there are five new arks as well in this expansion. In a lot of games, you’d see that sort of stuff gated off if you don’t buy every last expansion, and so if you’re a modder you have to think about what expansions the player does and does not have if you want to allow them to fully use your mod.

I’m not a fan of that.  We build all the new mechanics into the base game so that any mod can use any mechanic, and the modder never has to worry about what expansions you have unless they are explicitly setting out to mod expansion content.  This keeps things going along really well, mods-wise, and lets you consider our expansions on their own merits individually without having to wonder if they block you from getting some mods you want.

The Sheer Volume Of Art

Oh, yeah.  One of the things that we recently did for the base game was massively upgrade the lighting, and add a lot more pleasing detail onto many ships.  That required me to go through and touch basically every ship and structure in the base game, which was a great result but super time consuming.

We also added some VERY large new ships for the Extragalactic War feature, which is something I wanted to be in the base game so that any expansion or mod can trigger those guys.  Right now mainly only the Fallen Spire trigger it, but it shouldn’t be a feature that is limited to them in the long term.

After all was said and done, the art asset bundles for the base game are about 1 GB.

Looking to the first expansion, then, the total amount of art wound up being… 714 MB.  That’s absolutely insane, but shows just how large some of these factions are, not to mention all the turrets.

Hey, Multiplayer!

We haven’t forgotten about that!  In fact, we’ve been coding in preparation for it from day one, and have continued to make some revisions to things to make things easier to implement there.  Balancing things out with such a small workforce has been hard, but now the turn for this aspect of the game has come.

To make things as easy on players as possible, the plan is to try to use three different transport layers to allow for playing multiplayer in any of three fashions.

Firstly, we’ll have some general basic networking based on Forge Remastered.  There’s some light NAT punchthrough in there, which is a big feature that we said we wanted for this game, but it’s only going to work but so well.  You ultimately need relay servers and such, and that’s expensive to set up and maintain-forever.  But this would be the absolutely-no-DRM-or-service way to play multiplayer, and probably the ideal way to play via LAN.  So here we are with this.

Secondly, we’ll implement Steam networking as another transport layer.  The game code is all the same either way, but then the code and networks that is transmitting the data of the game is different in these cases.  This should be the most seamless experience for Steam players who want to play via the internet.  Steam has relay servers, NAT punchthrough, and a bunch of other things that a small group of people can’t hope to match.  So we’ll just use theirs! But locking you into this wouldn’t be cool, hence other options.

Thirdly, we’re going to implement GOG networking as the last transport layer.  This one works very similar to Steam’s, has all the same cool functionality for bypassing firewalls without a hassle to you, and even has some inter-connectivity to Steam players.  The only real downside in the short term is that it doesn’t have Linux support (since the GOG Galaxy client doesn’t support Linux yet).  When they have it, we’ll add it.

None of this means we’re going to have matchmaking, because for games that last a long time that just doesn’t make any sense.  But for connecting with your friends via your platform of choice, this should make it so that you can just connect and play.  During the next few months I’m definitely going to be wanting to have a variety of testers to help us iron out the bugs and find network load bottlenecks, etc, before we move towards calling this “true multiplayer support.”

Beyond Multiplayer and DLC 2

Badger and Puffin and I have some things that we’d like to do for a DLC 3, and there are always new ideas coming up in general.  This project has been in work since 2016, and we could probably spend another four years on it and still never run out of ideas we want to work on.

What happens long-term is still… something that remains to be seen.  When multiplayer and the other base game features come out around the same time, that will finally discharge the last of the kickstarter obligations.

What happens after those obligations are finally met is… up to the market, really.  At the moment, AI War 2 doesn’t fully pay the bills, and it never has.  It is close to doing so, and our hope is that with expansions and related promos and so on it will start doing so.  In the current climate on Steam, back catalog sales drop by roughly half basically every year, which was income we used to rely on.

I still feel cautiously optimistic despite having to take on debt to cover half of my expenses last month (and having had to take on debt to a greater or lesser degree for 33 out of the last 36 months), but I figured it was worth noting.  Everything we’ve been accomplishing lately has been on a shoestring, despite such a successful 1.0 launch.

That sounds glum, but I’d rather give you an honest appraisal than potentially have some surprise after we get into summer if things are still on a downward-trending or flat trajectory.  We’re hoping that paid DLC and the free multiplayer update will reverse or at least delay that trend.  There’s more that we want to do beyond the “minimum required to finish this  up.”

The Very Short Term Future

The Scourge are very battle-tested at this point, but we’re sure that with a large influx of new players we’ll find more things to fix or improve.

The Fallen Spire also feel quite polished at this point, but it’s hard to know if it’s balanced well for all difficulty levels.  So we’ll probably have a lot of tweaks regarding that.  Our testers were all pretty skilled.

There are things we’d still like to add to the Fallen Spire, and we’ll probably do that while also getting started on the beta version of multiplayer. But for now we’re going to stop working all the nights and weekends.  We can get plenty of done without that, now that we’re past this initial milestone.  Badger is already digging well into DLC 2, to make things easier on himself schedule-wise later.  So the hope is for us to not really hit a crunch period again like we’ve had the last month.

One of the shortest-term things is that we want some more varied and descriptive icons for some of the new turrets and ships, and so that will be coming out later today.  There just wasn’t time, we were all falling asleep in our chairs.

Lots more good stuff to come soon!  We’re really proud of what has been accomplished in the last few months, and we hope that you get a lot of enjoyment out of it.

Please Do Report Any Issues!

If you run into any bugs, we’d definitely like to hear about those.

The release of this game has been going well so far, and I think that the reviews that folks have been leaving for the game have been a big help for anyone passing by who’s on the fence.  For a good while we were sitting at Overwhelmingly Positive on the Recent Reviews breakdown, but there have been a lot fewer reviews lately and so that has definitely had a material negative effect.  Go figure.  Having a running selection of recent reviews definitely is helpful, but at least we have a pretty healthy set of long-term reviews.  If you’ve been playing the game and enjoying  it, we’d greatly appreciate it if you’d drop by and leave your own thoughts, too.

More to come soon.  Enjoy!

Problem With The Latest Build?

If you right-click the game in Steam and choose properties, then go to the Betas tab of the window that pops up, you’ll see a variety of options.  You can always choose most_recent_stable from that build to get what is essentially one-build-back.  Or two builds back if the last build had a known problem, etc.  Essentially it’s a way to keep yourself off the very bleeding edge of updates, if you so desire.

The Usual Reminders

Quick reminder of our new Steam Developer Page.  If you follow us there, you’ll be notified about any game releases we do.

Also: Would you mind leaving a Steam review for some/any of our games?  It doesn’t have to super detailed, but if you like a game we made and want more people to find it, that’s how you make it happen.  Reviews make a material difference, and like most indies, we could really use the support.

Enjoy!

Chris

AI War 2 has left early access!

Chris here! By any sane metric I can think of, AI War 2 shouldn’t exist. And yet it’s more than I ever imagined it could be.

(Store links: Steam, Humble, GOG)

When we first set out to make this game three years ago, it was far less ambitious. Even that was going to be really hard. Somehow, in the process of falling down the stairs over and over again during this period, we wound up with a game that seems to be superior to the original.

This game shouldn’t exist, but it does, and I’m both proud and stunned.

The Secret? Community

The intro to this post runs the risk of sounding like I’m tooting my own horn, but it’s not actually about me. I’m not capable of making — even just designing — this game on my own. I don’t think anyone is, really.

The fact that this game exists isn’t a testament to me having some brilliant insight or a singular vision that I doggedly pursued. The reviews of the game are lovely, but give me entirely too much personal credit.

The state of this game is thanks to dozens of people critically thinking about this game — what this one and the original means to them and to others — and then a process of relentless, continuous, arduous iteration and improvement.

MVP Award: BadgerBadger

This section is long, and in some ways tangential, but if you read it you’ll understand why I’ve put it here so prominently. You have this guy to thank as much as me or Keith for this game existing.

Badger has been involved since the kickstarter, with questions and comments and key insights. For a lot of the first year, he was responsible for something like 80% of the bug reports and feature ideas on our idea tracker. When a lot of other people were just bouncing off the game and waiting around for Keith LaMothe and I to figure things out on our own — understandable, really — Badger was there providing really key insight and ideas.

But that was barely the start for him. After a while I was essentially like “so, do you just want source code access, given how much you’re doing here?” Because he had started doing some mods — nanocaust and macrophage, at the time, IIRC — and it was clear he would be less hand-tied if he had more access.

What happened next was essentially us getting a developer — volunteer, no less — who contributed as much to the design of the game as I did, in my opinion. Not only did he single-handedly conceive of and implement the nanocaust and macrophage, but he also did the dark spire and marauder impelementations, among many, many other things.

Some of the most brilliant and devious things that the AI has in this game compared to the first one? Badger. Some of your favorite UI detail screens, like metal flows? Badger.

Not to mention all the bugfixes, balance tweaks, and… just oodles more. This game wouldn’t exist in anything like the state it does now without Badger. Any credit for my “singular vision” on the game is doing him a major disservice, but he’s a quiet sort of guy when it comes to taking credit, so I wanted to take this chance to call him out in particular.

Growing Volunteer Developer Corps

So, Badger is not remotely the only person I need to call out as being absolutely indispensable.

RocketAssistedPuffin has also been involved heavily for the last year plus, and has taken over huge numbers of things that I never would have had time for. After I implemented the new tech system one way, he’s the one who figured out how to make it substantially more balanced. Most of the voluminous “balance change” sections on the release notes are from him working with other players or just reasoning things out himself.

Puffin has also had a ton of ideas on how to make things better in all sorts of sections of the game, and there was a period of about three months late last year where he and Badger were basically doing ALL the development on the game and I just pushed out releases of what they were doing. I was going through a really painful divorce and had a ton of anxiety and couldn’t face work, and these two kept things alive and improving.

But it never stopped there. Those new tutorials you like? Puffin. I wrote the bulk of the “How To Play” in-game wiki sections, but the most basic and understandable ones for new players were… again, Puffin. I’m excellent at writing encyclopedic entries that fill you in on huge numbers of details, but he’s the one who distilled “what’s the most central stuff you need to know, as briefly as possible” so that people can actually get into the game in any reasonable timeframe. Compare his work here to the tutorials I did in the original game, and it’s night and day.

And I’m still selling Puffin short, frankly, because he’s done so many things over such a long period that I can’t remember it all now.

More recently, we’ve had folks like WeaponMaster and Asteroid joining in and adding lots of bugfixes and quality of life improvements that I never would have had the time to do myself. Things like hovering over galaxy map links to see information on them were Asteroid. Endless tricky bugfixes were WeaponMaster. I’m selling them both short, but the release notes are filled with things that they either implemented or suggested or both.

And it doesn’t stop there. Quinn stepped in an made a bunch of additions. Keith laid the original groundwork for the entire game simulation and multithreading (he was the main programmer and designer for the first year and a half, and actually on staff during that time).

And there were so, so many others. And more each month!

Volunteers Beat Modders, I Think

I’m pretty free with the source code access, because I’d rather have a consolidated community of people helping rather than a bunch of mods that you have to hunt down and find.

So a lot of the folks that have turned into volunteers are what would have been modders on most other games. They would have made their own thing that you had to install and then wonder about the cross-compatibility of.

This game does have a ton of moddability, and for anyone who wants to “just” be a modder, that’s absolutely fine with me. But for a lot of the mods that are getting the most love, I’m happy to share source code access with those folks so that they’re in no way hobbled, and so that their work can go out as additional content that every player can find via in-game options without having to hunt through Steam Workshop or whatever else.

It’s an unorthodox approach, but a lot more team-oriented and lets us do quality control on each others’ stuff, “mods” included, which is a big win. If someone wants to steal the source code for this game, they can just decompile it like any other game for the most part. I’d rather put my trust in people and see things flourish rather than retain a stranglehold out of fear or pride.

What Did I Actually Do, Then?

All of this help from others let me focus on some of the really tricky architectural and design problems, which led to things like us even being able to HAVE a simulation of this size, and to have it perform as smoothly as it does.

I got to build lots of mechanics that other people then actually turned into specific units. It also gave me time to focus on some really nagging problems that just made the early versions of the game… unpleasant.

If I hadn’t had the time to think and talk to people about all those things, we never would have seen all the game evolve this way; I would have been mired in content development and other items just to get the basics out for the game.

The original design for this was something that Keith and I put together as a pair, but it only worked out so well. It was a good foundation, but needed… a lot of help. We both pushed that forward a lot, until the money situation got to the point where he (and all the other staff, eventually) had to step away, and I carried on “alone” (but with all those volunteers).

There came a couple of major turning points where I was reflecting on why I was so unhappy with this game as it existed, and listening to the various gripes that playtesters had, and then I was able to spend a month or three implementing something drastically new.

Fleets are the most notable of those, and they were initially met with a lot of mixed feelings and distaste because only part of my idea was there on the first public launch of those. Only in the last month or so has that feature completely come into its own, and that also had a lot to do with continuous feedback from people in early access telling me what they needed and what they did and didn’t like.

We also had a number of points during development where we just couldn’t escape certain performance problems, because there were suddenly battles that were an order of magnitude larger than the first game (which was itself the largest strategy game simulation of individual units that I’m aware of on the market until this sequel). So I got to focus on a whole bunch of crazy improvements and data structure inventions and even GPU shader tricks in order to make all this stuff work.

Without the rest of the community helping, there’s no way I could have had time to work on all that sort of thing, even in three years of development. A game of this scope shouldn’t run this well — it shouldn’t be possible — but it is because I was given the gift of time by so many others.

A Decade In The Making

It has been 10 years to the day since the first AI War came to Steam, and it’s been 3 years of developing this sequel.

We didn’t do any work on any AI War games from late 2014 through late 2016, but the rest of that time has been spent at least partly working on the original game or this sequel.

From version 5.0 of the original game through version 8.0, Keith was pretty much the sole developer on that while I focused on other things. He built out a ton of creative and clever things that made a return in this game, and also pushed the concept of what the AI could be — adding in some traditional decision-tree style logic in places in addition to the more decentralized-style AI that I had come up with back in 2009. That one that originally made waves on slashdot and reddit and hackernews and so on.

I’ve worked as the producer and design lead on this sequel, among my many other roles, and so the fact that there seems to be a “singular vision” is hopefully a sign that I did a good job in that role. But the degree to which this is a product of dozens of people’s work, over an extremely long period of time, really can’t be understated.

That’s what I meant all the way back at the start. This sort of thing shouldn’t have happened. It’s just so… unlikely. A ton of people came together over a decade and helped make something unlike anything else on the market.

That’s before even getting into other major (former) staff contributors like Daniette “Blue” Shinkle doing the vast majority of the art and coming up with the way-prettier style of ship that evolved AFTER the kickstarter, the awesome score by Pablo Vega, and 25 voice actors who did a fantastic job as various humans and the AI.

And good grief, I’d be remiss not to mention Erik and Craig and all the other folks at Indie Bros, who helped manage so many aspects of this game, as well as often doing work like helping clean up voice lines, etc.

A Few Common Questions

If you’re interested in what is coming in the very short term, there’s a post for that.

Similar if you want to know what the plan is for multiplayer.

For kickstarter backers (or anyone else who is curious), there’s an FAQ as well as roadmap of stuff for the next few quarters relating to kickstarter stretch goals.

And I just have to once-again plug this awesome After Action Report by zeusalmighty.

My Deepest Thanks

I never wanted to make this game, because I didn’t think I could. The original AI War seemed to be the high water mark of my career, and I spent a lot of time trying to make peace with that. But when the market shifted in 2015 and 2016 and finances started getting tight, it became clear that returning to the game that started it all was what made the most sense.

Thanks to all of the kickstarter backers for believing that we even COULD build this game. Keith and I felt like we could do something that would make you happy, but probably not something that would top the original. It took two extra years of development and an enormous village of people to make THAT a reality. So thanks to everyone for their patience and support during that time.

I also want to say a big thanks to everyone for their understanding during my divorce, which happened shortly after entering Early Access for this game. That made everything so much harder, and took me out of commission for a full three months or so where I just couldn’t work much. I had to learn how to be me again, and come to terms with being a dad with shared custody rather than a full-time father, and all of that was incredibly hard.

But the good news is that, as has happened with this game itself, a lot of things in my personal life have turned out unexpectedly, improbably well in the last year. After deciding to date again (after 18 years off the market, wow), I wound up meeting the woman who is now my fiancée surprisingly quickly (all things considered). Kara and her daughter have made my entire world so much richer than I realized it could be, and my son finally has the sister he’s wanted for so much of his life.

I feel incredibly fortunate, and a lot of my ability to get back to work and not crumble under the weight of anxiety and expectations for this game were thanks to Kara’s support and presence. The reality of her life as a doctor and surgeon also helps to kind of put my own work into perspective, sometimes, in the best way.

However this turns out financially, and despite my anxieties about my future as a game developer, I’m incredibly proud of what we’ve all created together, and I feel surrounded by all the right people both at work and outside of work. This has been the hardest three year period of my life, but the end result has all been worth it.

Thanks to everyone, and I hope you enjoy the game — both what it is now, and what’s to come.

Very Best,
Chris

AI War 2 v0.743 Released! “Music Blooms”

Release notes here.

Surprise!  The soundtrack is here. :)

For all kickstarter and backerkit backers with that as a reward, you should have an email now with the link to download it, or you can log in here to download it: https://aiwar2.backerkit.com/

For everybody else, these tracks are now a part of the game in general and something you get to enjoy as you play.  I’m super thrilled with how Pablo did this soundtrack, and it’s absolutely a huge one when you combine in the various returning tracks from Classic, the unused Stars Beyond Reach tracks that are being used in this game, and then of course the new compositions.

On an unrelated note, the bloom style and levels have been adjusted.  Various folks requested this, and it was bugging me, too, but getting just the right algorithm and getting it tuned just right so that it’s there, but not overwhelming –and also not flickery with fast motion — can be a tall order.  Fortunately I think I finally have a solution in place, although some specific emissive objects might need their emission levels adjusted either up or down.

Repeating myself from last release, and probably for the next few releases: behind the scenes Keith is still working away on the first wave of the pivot.  None of that is in this release, but it’s coming along. :)

As a reminder, we’re running a deep discount on the original AI War and its expansions.  If you don’t already have that game, now’s a super good time to pick it up.  If you haven’t got the sequel yet (via kickstarter/backerkit), then now is also a super good time to wishlist the sequel.  If you wishlist it, you’ll be notified when it goes to Early Access and when it goes to 1.0.

Enjoy!

Chris

AI War 2 v0.742 Released! “Darkly Loading Spire”

Release notes here.

Not sure why I went with a Dexter reference, but the new Dark Spire faction certainly are murderous.  Thanks once again goes to Badger for implementing yet another faction into the game.  Holy smokes this guy is on fire.  The Dark Spire are a bit more involved this time around, which is quite fun.

On my end, I’ve mostly been working on optimizing how the game loads, including pretty much halving the startup time as well as giving you visual feedback on what is going on instead of the application seeming to be hung.  This makes development and testing faster on our end, and gives a much better first impression for anyone coming to the game fresh, so I figured I’d go ahead and knock that out now.

Repeating myself from last release, and probably for the next few releases: behind the scenes Keith is still working away on the first wave of the pivot.  None of that is in this release, but it’s coming along. :)

As a reminder, we’re running a deep discount on the original AI War and its expansions.  If you don’t already have that game, now’s a super good time to pick it up.  If you haven’t got the sequel yet (via kickstarter/backerkit), then now is also a super good time to wishlist the sequel.  If you wishlist it, you’ll be notified when it goes to Early Access and when it goes to 1.0.

Enjoy!

Chris

AI War 2 v0.741 Released! “Music Part 1 Of 2”

Release notes here.

The entire soundtrack for the game has been completed, although only the first half of it has been mastered so far.  That half is now in place in the game, comprising 6 new tracks.  Overall the new soundtrack pieces are about an hour in length, adding to something like 15 minutes of music that was originally for Stars Beyond Reach, and 4.5 hours of music that was from the original AI War and has just been very lightly retouched.

These new pieces are some of Pablo’s best work, I have to say.  He notes that there’s a lot of inspiration in there from his two young kids — both in the calmer pieces, and the more hectic ones.  If someone wants to poke him and get him talking about the technical and compositional aspects of the new pieces, I know he’ll be happy to. :)

Beyond that, the other big new thing is that Badger is taking the Human Marauders to a new level, with them setting up little camps if you don’t swat them away appropriately, and then upgrading their camps if you keep ignoring them.  Something that was just a minor pest in the first game can now be a full-on menace if you let it sit and fester.

There are a couple of bugfixes in there from me, and a mild performance improvement in music playback and loading.  The startup speed of the game is still way too slow, and it needs a loading screen or something, but one thing at a time — there are bigger fish to fry in the short term.  Things are moving along!

Repeating myself from last release, and probably for the next few releases: behind the scenes Keith is still working away on the first wave of the pivot.  None of that is in this release, but it’s coming along. :)

As a reminder, we’re running a deep discount on the original AI War and its expansions.  If you don’t already have that game, now’s a super good time to pick it up.  If you haven’t got the sequel yet (via kickstarter/backerkit), then now is also a super good time to wishlist the sequel.  If you wishlist it, you’ll be notified when it goes to Early Access and when it goes to 1.0.

Enjoy!

Chris

AI War 2 v0.722 Released! “Down the Wormhole”

Release notes here and here.

Goodness, lots of changes right in advance of the big pivot.  Fitting, I suppose.

Let’s see… in no particular order…

  • Various performance improvements, some of them minor, some of them pretty darn major.
  • The “hey we’re in combat” voice warning is now considerably less common and more appropriate (thanks Badger!).
  • Another backer Ark, the Thanatos, has been added.
  • Several very annoying bugs, some on the sidebar and some on the main gameplay area, are cleaned up.
  • Wormholes look really different, and can be more easily clicked from very far zoom.
  • Hey, there’s a new Realistic map type, which gets back to the spirit of the default (and for many, favorite) map type from AI War Classic (thanks, yet again, Badger!)
  • First pass of Spire Civilian Leaders faction, now branded as Risk Analyzers (for flavour/story reasons) is in.
  • Oh, and Human Marauders.  Good grief, Badger!

Lots more to come in the next few weeks.  You won’t have to wait months to start seeing results from the pivot, although the game might become hilariously tiny for a little while.  There’s a new beta branch for this last pre-pivot release so that you can always get this one if you need/want it for some reason during that period.

Enjoy!

Chris

Pivoting AI War 2: Bring The Fun!

Hey all — Chris here.

We’ve hit a juncture point with AI War 2. We’ve built a lot of cool things, learned a lot, and now it’s time for a soft reboot. The current plan is to pivot the gameplay to very closely resemble the original AI War, but on our new engine, and then build up from that foundation.

Achievements So Far

So very much is going right with this game, from a technical level and an engine standpoint.

  • The game is crazy moddable.
  • It’s multithreaded to take full use of modern computers.
  • The 3D aspect is working out well.
  • We’ve figured out a variety of new tricks that definitely do improve on the first game, and can be kept.
  • The UI has already been dramatically improved by the introduction of a tabbed sidebar in the main view, and streamlining of several other mechanics that felt very difficult in the past. Eric (as a volunteer) has been a godsend for the UI, and we have pages and pages of more designs from him that we’re going to be working on in the next two months or so.
  • Badger (as a volunteer) has been an incredible tester, volunteer developer, and general help to getting us this far at all; he’s created the Nanocaust faction, as well as a new and better implementation of both Human Resistance Fighters and Human Marauders, among many, many other things.
  • Folks like zeusalmighty, chemical_art, Draco18s, and Magnus have been wonderful sources of thoughtful feedback, commentary, testing, and even map creation.
  • We’ve got art for over 130 distinct units (not counting different mark levels), and we’re set up well to finish off the rest of the art despite the staff changes noted below.
  • We’ve got over 1500 lines of spoken dialogue from more than 25 actors, focusing primarily on the human side at the moment; we have a few hundred lines of AI-side taunts and chatter, some of which is recorded but just not processed yet.
  • There are hundreds of high quality sound effects for a varied battlefield soundscape (with distance attenuation if you’re far away, and positional 3D audio if you’re down in the thick of it), all routed through a tuned mixer setup for optimal listening to all the various parts.
  • We have a set of music from Classic that is over four and a half hours long, and the new music from Pablo is partly in, but mostly set to be mastered and integrated within the next week or two.
  • There’s also a ton of map types, many of them new, and with a lot of sub-options to make them even more varied.
  • We’ve created half a dozen custom Arks as backer rewards, we have another four in various stages of completion, and there’s a lot of cool variety from those folks.
  • With a lot of the other custom art-related rewards (custom flagships, fortresses, and gold merc paint jobs — 21 backers affected in all, when you include the custom Ark folks), since we’re having staffing changes in that particular area, we’ve offered alternative options to those backers, yet said we’d honor the original reward if they prefer. We’ve had a mix of both responses, both of which are fine, and things are proceeding well there.
  • Other backer rewards are either already delivered (game keys of all sorts, many of the custom Ark rewards, backer badges, antagonistic AI voice line writing), or something that are still on the todo list but easy to handle prior to 1.0 (custom wallpapers, planet names, cyber ciphers, antagonistic player voice lines, custom AI personalities, and other non-art merc bits).

New Teaser Trailer!

On that note, here’s an excellent new teaser trailer that Chris and Craig created together. It’s light on details, but it’s just a teaser, after all:

 

The Sticking Point

The new game just isn’t living up to the first one’s legacy. We started out with a lot of design shifts away from the original AI War, and the design just hasn’t been as robust or fun as the original.

  • In AIW2, so far, there was no real sense of logistics. Things felt too simple.
  • The combat was basically getting you to just “fleetball” all the time, though that wasn’t our actual intent.
  • The defensive options felt too limited no matter what we tried, and player Arks wound up sitting away in a corner with their offensive fleet having to return home frequently to help with defense.

The Two Paths

We’ve done quite a lot of engine work to make the actual game that runs on top of it mostly data-driven, so we have a pretty decent amount of flexibility here. For the last few months, we’ve been chasing various issues in gameplay, trying to tidy those up, but it just kept feeling less and less “like AI War.” So, we had two options:

  1. Keep doing that and hope for the best, particularly that it magically starts feeling “like AI War” again.
  2. Go back and actually make AI War again, at least the base game, and then build from that foundation rather than starting way off somewhere else.

As you have likely already gathered, we’re going with option 2. As players, Keith and I have been really let down by how different certain sequels felt from their predecessors, and we really didn’t want to do that to you folks.

We want this to be the sequel you truly wanted, that takes the original game and then goes forward in a refinement fashion. Total Annihilation turns into Supreme Commander, not SupCom becoming SupCom 2. Age of Empires 1 begets AOE2, not AOE2 morphing into AOE3. All of those games listed are good, but there’s a reason that the second in each series is typically more acclaimed than the third.

Future Growth

We do know that some of you backed for something more radical in departure from the original game. Why have the same old experience again? That’s certainly a valid point, and that’s why we talk about this as being a foundation for future growth.

Look at how much the first game grew from version 1.0, way back in 2009, through six expansions and version 8.0 in 2014. They’re radically different games. That said, we were constrained at every turn by an engine that was designed for street racing, and that we were trying to take offroad. That just doesn’t work.

The new engine for AI War 2 is so robust and flexible that we can take it street racing, offroad, or underwater. Maybe we can have our cake and eat it too, at least eventually? Based on the underlying engine, there’s nothing stopping us from having n factions, xyz ships, and all sorts of new sub-games and mechanics on top of it if the response to the baseline is positive enough.

One example: We’ve floated a variety of crazy ideas about hacking in the last few weeks, for instance; and while those are Way Out Of Scope right now, there’s nothing stopping us from implementing those exact systems or something like them a year or two from now, once we know the baseline game is fun and feels “like AI War.”

Second example: in the preliminary design document we’re working on, check out the section way at the bottom about using Arks as champions. That’s something that we want to attempt sooner than later, and it could be an enormous leap forward on the “radical new ideas” front. Same with the mercenaries section in that document.

Schedule Changes

At this point, we’re looking at Early Access (the “fun point” fulcrum) being sometime in July. That will give us a lot of time to further implement Eric’s UI and refine some visual elements and whatnot while we’re at it. Obviously, schedules change, and this is a tight one on the side of Keith’s core gameplay work.

THAT said, the transition toward the fun point is going to come in 5 overall waves of core features from Keith. The 1st wave being minimum set of units to have a functional, winnable and losable game; the 2nd focusing on core variety; 3 and 4 focusing on various toys on human and AI sides; and 5 wrapping up the last toys as well as adding the minor factions noted on the design doc as being pre-fun-point. (Nemesis and Spire are both post-1.0)

Hopefully we’ll have a general idea of our progress, and people’s reactions to it, throughout those five waves.

After Early Access starts, there’s a bunch more stuff to add and tune, and we think the 1.0 can still be October. Some of the stretch goal content (Spire, interplanetary weapons, possibly some merc stuff) may be after 1.0, but that was always the plan, anyhow.

Staff Changes

All the above said, this is not coming without cost; it’s a major financial blow to the company, and unfortunately we can’t afford to keep our longtime artist Blue after April. She’s been with us for five years, and will be sorely missed, but we’ve known for a while this might be something that had to happen (as did she).

We’re basically folding back down into a quasi-one-man company, although that’s giving me too much credit. I’ll be the only full-time employee, at any rate. Keith is part-time and has been for some time. With the AI War 2 project being almost a year over schedule, something had to give. For myself, I’ve taken on a lot of debt, and am about to take on more.

We Remain Committed

You better bet that the game is going to come out; we’re working hard to make this truly shine, not just as a half-baked, unenjoyable mess. We’re determined that this will arrive at 1.0 as something that we can be proud of and that you can enjoy for many hundreds of hours.

This Isn’t an Engine Overhaul

We want to emphasize this! The AI War 2 engine framework isn’t changing much. The engine we built basically kicks butt, with all the moddability and support for advanced UIs and multi-threading, and so much more.

What’s changing is what we do with that engine, back towards something we know was fun on a different (much worse) engine. That solid baseline will be something we can have confidence in, and will be a great place from which to grow.

Example question: “Is the engine is flexible enough to go back to the original vision of mobile Arks as your king unit, and no stationary home command station?” Answer: an emphatic YES. The engine is so flexible that you can designate a king-unit option in XML and select it through the interface. That king-unit could be a squadron of fighters if you want, or the largest spirecraft with steroid stats. All of that can be done, at this very moment already, without any need for more than XML edits.

The 40+ Page Design Document

Measure twice, cut once. We’ve just spent the last week going back and planning things. Here’s the detailed design document.

In general there are a few upcoming stages:

  1. Working on getting it to match the AIWC base game. (The Pre-Fun timespan.)
  2. Players declare it is as fun as the base game of AIWC was. (The “Fun-Point.”) We may take it to Early Access at this point?
  3. We start bringing in more features. (The “Post-Fun-Point.”)
  4. We release the game to 1.0, probably in October.
  5. We do more stuff to meet our obligations as well as our personal goals. (The “Post-1.0 period.”)

At this point, Keith and I are feeling like the feature set as planned for the pre-fun-point is pretty darn huge on its own, and then there’s a variety of stuff planned for pre-1.0 that makes it even larger. We weren’t trying to expand the scope, but such is life.

There are also a number of ideas of varying tentativeness for after the fun-point that we want to try, such as bringing Arks in as a champion style. Things like that should really make the game feel like it has been taken to the next level compared to the first.

Looking for Modders!

Did you know:

  • ALL of the game data is in XML in AI War 2?
  • Adjusting ship stats is as easy as using a text editor to change a few numbers?
  • Adding new ships is just a copy-paste and then edit situation in those same XML files? You can use temporary graphics, and we can do real ones later.
  • All you need is Visual Studio 2015 Community Edition (which is free) or similar in order to edit tons of pieces of code for the game.
  • You can program map types with ease, GUI things with pain (that’s just UGUI for you), and make AI tweaks and similar somewhere in the middle of those two poles?

We’ll provide as much help as we can in getting you the info you need, and documenting all of this as things go on. If you have questions about where anything is, you can always ask Keith or Chris. Badger probably also knows, and before long we hope to have a solid stable of folks who know this well enough to help others.

Further, I feel it’s worth pointing out:

  • If you disagree with us about something relating to balance, you have the option of tuning the numbers yourself in your local copy and then showing us why we’re wrong. (Of course you can still ask us to do it, as has always been the case — but we’re no longer a bottleneck.)
  • If you make something particularly cool, then with your permission we’re happy to integrate that into the main game as an option that people can access without having to download something separate.
  • We wouldn’t have some of the cooler features that the game has right now, like the Nanocaust or some of the more interesting Dyson Sphere behaviors, if it wasn’t for Modder #1 — Badger. We know there were more of you who wanted to get involved in that sort of capacity, and now’s as good a time as any.

What do we WANT from modders?

A good question was raised: what are we really asking of modders, here? Honestly, that depends on the modder.

Some folks like putting in interface bits to solve personal pain points that they had with the original interface. Others have ideas for creative extra factions — for instance the Nanocaust — and we’d love to have those be something that you’re working on as we move toward 1.0, rather than as we move toward 2.0. If it’s all the same to you, anyway, it’s more valuable to us sooner than later, if that makes sense?

But in general, it’s kind of a “hey, if poking around at games like this is your sort of thing, we’re throwing a party and you’re invited.” We’re happy to show you around the house, not just throw you into the deep end of the pool without floaties.

Short Term Goals

We’re going to be aggressively pursuing the Fun Point, with Early Access to follow; and meanwhile building up and refining the UI, controls, and so forth to be the best that they can be.

Long Term Help

On the further volunteering end of things: if you want to help out with any sort of balance testing or custom unit design using the mechanics that we decide on as final, then the XML is easy to edit, and our doors are always open on our forums and on mantis.

Thanks for your continued support!

Best,
Chris

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: GUI Progress, Main Menu Updates, Shields Verdict, Beta News, Trailer Help Request, and more.

Progress report! The rest of the staff haven’t even seen this in actual practice yet, since I can’t check anything into our source control since this overhaul temporarily breaks EVERYTHING. But it’s an amazing new experience coming up based on these changes, plus others not yet shown.

Actually if you’re curious, you can check out my trello for some more details on what is coming: https://trello.com/b/tz2k8Q15/chris-ai-war-2-todo

New main menu! I was tired of that ship going by, and didn’t want some generic battle or other ship just sitting there. During the kickstarter, I really liked the red and blue planet aesthetic that we had going on, but it was highly unrealistic of course.

But that got me thinking about doing something more stylized: a blue circuit-boardy or borg-like planet (wound up going with the former) that is larger and more sedate feeling, and then a smaller and more burned-out or desert version that is glowing more red (wound up going with the former). The one represents the AI, the other the humans, and in both cases it’s showing how Earth sentience has symbolically moved on and lives on even though Earth itself was destroyed. I particularly like how the human planet almost crashes into the AI one, but just barely misses.

The symbolism of the asteroids rushing past the two planets is hopefully also obvious. I thought it was just a neat thing to do, and it seems very appropriate for the game and like something that would be mesmerizing just to sit and look at, which is always fun. When I added the little blue satellite line around the AI planet, that really brought that part together for me.

The Verdict On Shields/Forcefields (For Now)

Shields/forcefields are indeed gone for now, although we might bring them back in a limited capacity on the human side only.  So far that doesn’t seem to be needed, though, and that’s largely because of the impressive new power of tractor beams and turrets, and some of the new gravity mechanics that you can get a bit of a hint of in the new sidebar, above.

Anyone With Trailer-Making Skills Want To Help Out?

We’re running at full capacity even with awesome volunteers helping us out in a variety of areas.  We already have two trailers in progress at least conceptually (one in practice), but we’d really like to have at least a third in order for the game to be presentable in a variety of ways that people might find appealing.

I recall that Minecraft had a trailer-making contest and they had people who made way better trailers than either some marketing firm unfamiliar with the game could, or the developers themselves could.  I can’t really offer a bounty or anything on that, but if there are folks who want to come explain the “AI War experience” in general in trailer form, please feel free to email me at chrispark7 at gmail.

Oh, the other catch on that: we’re running low on time (about a month and a half until launch), and the visuals aren’t going to be fully finalized for another few weeks.  !Fun! ;)  Such is life, though, and at least the game itself is coming together really fantastically.

That Beta…

Obviously any of you can play the game right now or tomorrow or the next day, if you want to.  But we’re trying to get to a state where we can invite a huge number of you in and have you have a good and coherent near-final experience with the game, balance aside.

We’ll need your help figuring out where balance breaks down, because the game is huge and people have wildly divergent playstyles.  Plus it will be more bughunting time that then Keith and I can spend fixing issues from.

We’re not there yet, but one of the main things holding that back is the introduction of the new GUI, which is finally coming along.  Eric designed that much faster than I was able to implement it.

Anyway, please do stay tuned on that front — we hope to have a couple of dozen of you come in and really hit this thing hard during the beta.  Out of the few thousand of you that currently have a copy, surely we’ve got a few dozen for that… ;)

Thanks for reading!

Chris

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