Wednesday, April 23, 2014

TLF Version 1.004 Released (x64 Linux Build)

Version 1.004 is now out, and is just a quickie.  Another release is coming later tonight.

This version now has an x64 Linux build, so that people on x64 linux builds no longer have to have the 32 libs installed or run as root (whoah!) to make the 32 bit version of X Server run.

The game also now has a prettier icon, more forgiving rules with the docking changes introduced last night, toned down speeds on a couple of the racial flagships, and a couple of improvements/fixes to the player-funded creation of certain planetary buildings.

Tonight will continue our releasing at least one new free feature every day of the work week (none of the above counts), thanks to the overwhelming support this game has had.  Seriously, this is now our best launch ever, and that gap keeps widening by surprising degrees.  We're extremely grateful to our ever-growing community for their support, as well as to the press for taking the time out to look at our stuff.  You guys are all awesome!

After this week, we'll continue putting out at least one new free feature every week for at least a few months, if not longer.  A quest, a new weapon or ability, a new ship, a new action... something.  We'll vary it up, and make it fun.  I'm really excited about expanding the game even further, as large as it already is.  Right now we're doing that very fast in response to all the huge numbers of new players and all the things that a larger audience is bound to dig up in a game of this scope and complexity; once that settles down, we'll make it less intensive but still ongoing.

More to come tonight.  Enjoy!

This is a standard update that you can download through the in-game updater, or if you have Steam it will automatically update it for you.  To force Steam to download it faster, just restart Steam and it will do so.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

TLF Version 1.003 Released (Permadeath Becomes Optional )

Version 1.003 is now out, and is another biggie.  There are a couple of new features today, instead of just one:

1. Permadeath is now optional, and off by default.  Instead you "narrowly escape" from battles that you would otherwise die in, and it gives you a time penalty in solar map months.  This is a nontrivial penalty, in that things on the solar map may get out of hand -- so just fighting until you die still isn't the best idea; withdrawing is better. However, if you do wind up making a mistake that gets you killed, it's not just something that encourages savescumming by putting its boot in your face.  This was a common request.

2. Being "kited" by the Velociter flagships was a huge complaint, and something that has been addressed.  But while we were at it, we also split the Velociter into Type A and Type B models, with different attack patterns that are interesting to deal with.

3. The (arguably) most common remaining combat exploits are now dealt with, although there's still more to do.  The big thing is that you can't cheese docking missions anymore, and you can't grind burlust duels.  Burlust duels themselves still need work for the actual battles themselves, but either way the results of their battles are now more interesting and also non-cheeseable.

Then there's a bunch of other fixes and improvements, including but not limited to:

* Holy smokes there was a bug that was causing your health and shields to be way lowered in combat at various times, mainly when loading a savegame taken in the middle of combat.

* When a race takes over a planet, the RCI values are now closer to a clean slate rather than something that gets increasingly war-torn like in the last version.  That didn't work so well.

* The everpresent complaint about the missing Boarine federation deals is now addressed; thanks for your patience on that one!

* Races were -- sigh -- not unlocking any new hull types that they didn't start the game with.  No racial flagships, no expanded turrets, no expanded hydral tech, nothing.  That's now fixed.  So in effect there are now a bunch of "new" ships for players (at least those that were not in earlier versions of the alpha).

* You can now see what is going on with the ground troop numbers attacking and defending planets right on the solar map, which is kind of a big deal!

Today continues our releasing at least one new free feature (or in this case three) everyday of the work week , thanks to the overwhelming support this game has had.  Seriously, this is now our best launch ever, and that gap keeps widening by surprising degrees.  We're extremely grateful to our ever-growing community for their support, as well as to the press for taking the time out to look at our stuff.  You guys are all awesome!

After this week, we'll continue putting out at least one new free feature every week for at least a few months, if not longer.  A quest, a new weapon or ability, a new ship, a new action... something.  We'll vary it up, and make it fun.  I'm really excited about expanding the game even further, as large as it already is.  Right now we're doing that very fast in response to all the huge numbers of new players and all the things that a larger audience is bound to dig up in a game of this scope and complexity; once that settles down, we'll make it less intensive but still ongoing.

More to come tomorrow.  Enjoy!

This is a standard update that you can download through the in-game updater, or if you have Steam it will automatically update it for you.  To force Steam to download it faster, just restart Steam and it will do so.

Monday, April 21, 2014

TLF Version 1.002 Released (Tech Acquisitions And Planetary Attacks)

Version 1.002 is now out, and includes lots of goodies.  One of the top-requested features was a way to get techs from races that already have them, and so that's today's "feature of the day."

Beyond that, there are a ton of fixes and improvements all over the place:

* A few GUIs are now quicker to navigate through (those small-action "after action report" popups, primarily).

* A lot of racial attitudes now shift in reaction to bad things that you do to other races.

* Fixed three exploits that clever players found.  It's always fun to see what an increasingly-larger audience thinks of that a smaller one did not.  And then of course do something about it. :)

* We also fixed some really unfortunate errors in the planetary ground and bombing attacks that were making those basically... well, borked.  Incredibly sorry about that.  It was a small change that we had made right prior to the weekend that caused it, and the fact that it was happening was not immediately obvious.

* And then some other, smaller bugfixes as well.

Today is the first day of us releasing at least one new free feature every DAY at this point, thanks to the overwhelming support this game has had.  Seriously, this is now our best launch ever, and we're extremely grateful to our ever-growing community for their support, as well as to the press for taking the time out to look at our stuff.

After this week, we'll continue putting out at least one new free feature every week for at least a few months, if not longer.  A quest, a new weapon or ability, a new ship, a new action... something.  We'll vary it up, and make it fun.  I'm really excited about expanding the game even further, as large as it already is.  Right now we're doing that very fast in response to all the huge numbers of new players and all the things that a larger audience is bound to dig up in a game of this scope and complexity; once that settles down, we'll make it less intensive but still ongoing.

More to come tomorrow.  Enjoy!

This is a standard update that you can download through the in-game updater, or if you have Steam it will automatically update it for you.  To force Steam to download it faster, just restart Steam and it will do so.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

TLF Version 1.001 Released (Bugfixes, Large Screen Resolution Support)

Version 1.001 is a small release that fixes a few bugs that slipped past all 165ish of us who were testing (hey, it's a huge game) and which adds support for screen resolutions larger than 1920x1080.

Starting next week we're going to be releasing at least one new free feature every week for at least a few months, if not longer.  A quest, a new weapon or ability, a new ship, a new action... something.  We'll vary it up, and make it fun.  I'm really excited about expanding the game even further, as large as it already is.

Support for the game has been overwhelming so far -- as you can probably guess by the Steam top sellers charts -- and we're really grateful for that.  We're mostly trying to rest and recuperate this weekend (particularly tomorrow, that being Easter), but wanted to go ahead and get these key things out to you sooner than later.

Enjoy!

This is a standard update that you can download through the in-game updater, or if you have Steam it will automatically update it for you.  To force Steam to download it faster, just restart Steam and it will do so.

Friday, April 18, 2014

The Last Federation Out Today, 25% Off During Launch Week


UPDATE: The Last Federation is now available on SteamGOG.comHumble Store, and GamersGate!
--
Journalists and video channel owners interested in a copy of the game, please email arcengames[at]gmail[dot]com.

Arcen Games is proud to announce The Last Federation launches today for Windows PC, Mac OS X, and Linux platforms.

From the creators of AI War: Fleet Command comes an all-new grand strategy title with turn-based tactical combat, set in a deep simulation of an entire solar system and its billions of inhabitants. You are the last of a murdered race, determined to unify or destroy the 8 others.  But you must work from the shadows, using superior technology -- bring your cape and cowl.

TLF will be available today on Steam, Humble Store, and GOG; and will arrive soon on GamersGate, Green Man Gaming, as well as direct from ArcenGames.com. Carrying a $19.99 standard tag, the game will be offered at 25% off for the first week -- bringing the price down to just $14.99 until April 25th.

Features
  • Turn-based tactical combat, with up to 5 factions competing at once.
  • Extremely deep simulation of an entire solar system and its billions of inhabitants.  Even just watching everything unfold in Observer mode is entertaining, as nations rise and fall.
  • New-player-friendly ramp-up of complexity as you play, which you can disable if you're already a veteran.
  • Eight races each have very distinct personalities and attributes.  Each one even has its own completely unique political system.
  • Difficulty levels split between the grand strategy and turn-based combat portions of the game, both ranging from quite casual to incredibly hardcore.
  • Save and reload your game with ease any time, or tough it out in ironman mode.
  • Composer Pablo Vega's best soundtrack to date, featuring 54 minutes of music and the vocal finale "Lay Down Your Arms."

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

First TLF Let's Play Videos Surface

Wanted to quickly post and share the first trio of TLF Let's Play videos from Pewpewchewchew, Kailvin, and th_pion. They popped up over the past day or so, and all three are generally positive (exciting!):






Only two days away from The Last Federation's official release!




Friday, April 11, 2014

AI War Beta 7.019-7.020 "Oops MkII" Released!

This one is partly a hotfix to deal with a fairly serious AI bug I introduced in the previous version, but there was a fair bit of other work in the hopper ready to go out as well.

Not a huge release, overall, because we're basically in the last week before the April 18th official release of The Last Federation. The AI thinks you should go take a look. It'll watch your defenses while you're gone.

Speaking of the AI, some background on the main bug this release fixes:


Whenever AI threat ships (unlike guard ships, threat ships are free to attack you wherever and whenever they please) are on a planet there's a basic decision tree that gets checked repeatedly on the AI thread:

I) Is there an interesting human presence here? Basically this means anything over a token force, or the presence of a human command station, or the presence of a human irreplaceable (fab, etc).

I.A) If so, are we seriously overmatched by the local forces, and have we been here long enough to run away?
I.A.1) If so, pick a random planet an run for it.

I.B) If we're not overmatched, do we seriously overmatch the local human forces?
I.B.1) If so, generally focus on knocking out any irreplaceable units and the command station (if any).

I.C) If we're pretty evenly matched, then let each ship pick the targets it's best against in an effort to win the fight.

II) But if there is no interesting human presence here:

II.A) If we're Special Forces:
II.A.1) Go to the currently designated Special Forces rally point (which could be its "waiting area" a few hops deep into AI Territory if there's nothing suitable, or it could be a sufficiently-important AI planet with human forces it wants to crush).

II.B) If we're Threatfleet (not just normal threat, but threat that got stuck waiting somewhere for over half an hour and thus joins the coherent Threatfleet)
II.B.1) Go to the currently designated Threatfleet rally point (which could be its "waiting area" a few hops deep into AI Territory, or it could be an AI planet under attack by human forces the Threatfleet thinks it can take, or it could be a neutral/human planet it thinks it can take)

II.C) If we're just normal threat, look at all the planets and sort them by a combination of Desirability (command stations and irreplaceables have various values of this) and Difficulty (based on the local forces there and the forces in the way from here to there), then get on the road to the best looking target. Later on, at each wormhole, each ship will check whether it should wait before proceeding due to an unfavorable local strength balance.


And normally all this works pretty well. Except when a certain boneheaded programmer (yours truly) is renovating the AI code and accidentally makes it so it thinks the answer to the question marked "I)" above is ALWAYS "no".

So the AI threat would get to the target planet, surrounded by hideously powerful human defenses protecting a pile of irreplaceables, and ask itself "is there an interesting human presence here?" ... "Nah. Where to next, Bob?".

If I ever add that behavior back to the game as a legitimate AI Type, I'll probably call it "Inebriated". Three sheets to the wind. Yet strangely still effective in many circumstances.


In other news, the AI is now much smarter (theoretically, see above) about factoring in your mobile forces: specifically, when looking at a planet to see if it can win a fight there, it considers not just the local mobile and static human strength but also human mobile strength within 3 hops. This makes it much more difficult to lure into attacking a planet with relatively light static defenses by just pulling your mobile stuff back to the other side of a wormhole, only to bring it back in immediately after the AI takes the bait. There are a few nuances to when mobile human strength counts in this way, and some other new rules about how it evaluates "can I take that planet?" to help embolden the AI to attack on multiple fronts once it's in a serious fight with you anywhere.

There's also a few other changes in there, like MkV Spirecraft Jumpships becoming immune to Black Hole Machines, the Core Guard Post on-death exos now always spawn on the post's planet (making it less mandatory to split your fleet during a high-difficulty AI Homeworld assualt), and Remains Rebuilders are a bit better about prioritizing Energy Collectors and stuff currently in their range, etc.

Update: 7.020 hotfix for some performance problems (i.e. 10 second freezes, in some cases on some machines) recently introduced into the reinforcement logic.

Enjoy!

This is a standard update that you can download through the in-game updater itself, if you already have 4.000 or later. When you launch the game, you'll see the notice of the update having been found if you're connected to the Internet at the time. If you don't have 4.000 or later, you can download that here.

The Last Federation Launches April 18th

We're very excited to announce our PC/Mac/Linux title The Last Federation will launch next Friday -- April 18th -- on Steam, the Humble Store, GOG, GamersGate and directly through our website. It'll be priced at $19.99, with a discount planned for the first week.

TLF is a grand strategy campaign with turn-based tactical combat, and like all of our games -- you won't find anything else out there quite like it! The game marks Arcen's return to the space strategy genre, where we first made a name for ourselves with AI War: Fleet Command.

Features:
  • Turn-based tactical combat, with up to 5 factions competing at once.
  • Extremely deep simulation of an entire solar system and its billions of inhabitants.  Even just watching everything unfold in Observer mode is entertaining, as nations rise and fall.
  • New-player-friendly ramp-up of complexity as you play, which you can disable if you're already a veteran.
  • Eight races each have very distinct personalities and attributes.  Each one even has its own completely unique political system.
  • Difficulty levels split between the grand strategy and turn-based combat portions of the game, both ranging from quite casual to incredibly hardcore.
  • Save and reload your game with ease any time, or tough it out in ironman mode.
  • Composer Pablo Vega's best soundtrack to date, featuring 54 minutes of music and the vocal finale "Lay Down Your Arms."




Monday, April 7, 2014

AI War Beta 7.018 "Troubleshooters" Released!

This one is another fairly small release while we're focused on the last few weeks before releasing The Last Federation,

So we shot some troublesome bugs. Some old, like some missing art assets for non-steam installs. Some new, like the Heroic AI using its newfound ability to buy more champions for its waves... a little too enthusiastically.

But the AI's also gotten better at shooting troublemakers. In the kneecaps (or suitably analogous regions). Mainly as a quality-of-life improvement, we've removed the AIP-on-death from Special Forces Guard Posts, so they're now autotargeted and won't clutter up your backfield with enemy units that trigger various "ah! There's an enemy on the planet!" logic in sub-optimal ways. Since that AIP (or increased special forces size, if left alive previously) was a significant (albeit small) part of the overall balance, however, a corresponding buff was made to the SF. Specifically, they now spend a portion of their strength on Riot Control Starships. Some of you may not be familiar with how much havoc Riots can cause. You'll probably know soon.

Enjoy!

This is a standard update that you can download through the in-game updater itself, if you already have 4.000 or later. When you launch the game, you'll see the notice of the update having been found if you're connected to the Internet at the time. If you don't have 4.000 or later, you can download that here.

Monday, March 31, 2014

AI War Beta 7.017 "Ominous Rumblings" Released!

This one isn't as packed as some of ther other recent releases. During normal working hours I'm focused on The Last Federation, and even moreso right now as we're in the last few weeks before releasing that.

But there's some important player-facing changes and fixes in 7.017. Hacking an Advanced constructor no longer also charges you for a fab-hack, and the cost of sabotage-hacking is back down to 5 from 10 (was 2 until recently). Also, in light of Reprisal making fleetwipes more dangerous, the AIP cost of killing a Black Hole Machine has dropped from 10 to 5. Speaking of salvage, minor faction stuff dying on player planets now contributes to the player's salvage (the AI still doesn't salvage from minor faction deaths, as then they could lead to aggressive AI units with no player involvement).

One of the changes that snuck into 7.016 (because it was already done before the need for that hotfix became apparent) was to make the Starship component of waves scale much better with wave sizes. In this version other special parts of waves (like the Mad Bomber's extra bomber starships, Heroic's in-wave champions, etc) are using similar scaling logic. I expect that the Spire Hammer, in particular, just got a lot nastier once the AIP cranks up. Especially on higher difficulties you might find yourself on the uncomfortable end of a Spire capital fleet. What could go wrong?

Most of the actual work went into a very substantial code refactoring (primarily of AI Reinforcements) that didn't mean many player-facing changes... this time ;)

Enjoy!

This is a standard update that you can download through the in-game updater itself, if you already have 4.000 or later. When you launch the game, you'll see the notice of the update having been found if you're connected to the Internet at the time. If you don't have 4.000 or later, you can download that here.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

AI War Beta 7.015-7.016 "Cleanup, Aisle 3" Released!

This one is mostly a maintenance release, but there's some important iteration on Salvage and other features.

The salvage-reprisal waves were working pretty well but feedback showed they ultimately needed to be separated from normal waves into their own thing. Now they probably won't happen nearly as often (unless your fleet is an accident-waiting-to-happen permanently on the offensive... though I guess that's actually pretty accurate in some cases) and won't displace the normal wave mechanic. They'll also be much less of a threat in the early minutes of the game, to avoid the need for building serious defenses before you even start to attack.

The Neinzul Enclave Starship is hilariously powerful. In fact, hilariously over-powerful. And the hilarity is great particularly given the unit's past where relatively few players really wanted to use them. So we're not nerf-hammering it into the ground (indeed, the first two marks are getting a bit better), but ultimately it's not good for a single line of units to allow you to take heavily-defended systems without significant casualties. Further balance feedback (up or down) is quite welcome.

Hacking costs have seen another pass, with the ARS-redirection and design-corruption actions getting cheaper and the fab-hacking and sabotage actions getting more expensive.

And there's some important bugfixes, including one for the issue where the first two Showdown CPAs would imitate the third (and launch everything).

Update: 7.016 hotfix for a goof I made that had all mark-levels of enclave only getting mark-1 drones. Also some other changes from last night, but no time for a full blog post for just a few things, focused on TLF during the day.

Enjoy!

This is a standard update that you can download through the in-game updater itself, if you already have 4.000 or later. When you launch the game, you'll see the notice of the update having been found if you're connected to the Internet at the time. If you don't have 4.000 or later, you can download that here.

Monday, March 24, 2014

AI War Beta 7.013-7.014 "Revised Salvage" Released!

This one's visible changes mainly focus on improving the salvage mechanic introduced in 7.011 based on feedback during the week.

That largely takes the form of excluding various ship-death situations from generating salvage: zombie-mode ships dying no longer give the AI salvage, and reclaimed ships no longer give anyone salvage. More importantly, the AI no longer gets salvage from neutral planets unless it still has a guard post (that isn't a wormhole guard post or a special forces guard post) on the planet. Previously if the AI destroyed one of your command stations it would proceed to rack up the salvage killing the rest of the stuff on the planet. A good deal for it, and not bad as a kind of Shark plot, but definitely not suited for a core mechanic. Anyway, that bit's under control now.

Under the hood, there's been a metric ton of code changes to wrangle the on-ship-death logic into a more manageable form. Previously there were over 90 distinct ways for a ship to die, many with slight variations on exactly what order the on-death logic was checked. That's a natural consequence of 5 years of development (with little time for doing things quite as "cleanly" as we would prefer) and just needed to be brought back under control so that new rules like "reclaimed units don't cause salvage" can be added in one place rather than... well, over 90.

There was also a fairly thorough rewriting of the wave-building code to allow for future... experiments ;)

Many of you will be happy about the ability to right-click a planet in the lobby to change its bonus-ship-type. That's a perennially-beaten dead horse around here, but the time's come for the computer to stop fighting the player in the pre-game lobby. Or else just make the starting bonus ship types always uncontrollably random (and not revealed before the game) to remove the "workaround-by-tedium" situation. But since I couldn't find a sufficiently safe distance from which to observe the results of the latter...

There's a few other changes in there too, and I hope the one aimed at the "too many heap sections" error will at least make that one less frequent). We'll see.

Update: 7.014 hotfix for some unhandled errors in an edge-case of ship death where salvage was assuming the ship had a CurrentPlanet when it didn't.

Enjoy!

This is a standard update that you can download through the in-game updater itself, if you already have 4.000 or later. When you launch the game, you'll see the notice of the update having been found if you're connected to the Internet at the time. If you don't have 4.000 or later, you can download that here.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

AI War Beta 7.011-7.012 "Salvaged Resources" Released!

This one carries a number of rather significant econ-related changes that have been brewing for a while:

Now that hacking has been around long enough and seems to be welcome, we've moved ahead with the combination of metal and crystal (into just metal) so that hacking can move up into the main resource bar. Crystal as a separate mechanic had some impact on the game, but ultimately we could do better.

The other main thrust was to nibble at both ends of the refleeting problem. To a large extent there's no problem if a major player fleet wipe takes a long time to recover from. Actions should have consequences. But if it _only_ takes time (specifically, the player's real wall-clock time), then that crosses the line from "reduced player ability" to "reduced player interest", which is not cool. So now the AI can "take the ball and throw it back" proportional to your offensive casualties. That nibbles at one side (making post-fleet-wipe more interesting, possibly terminally so). On the other side, when the AI takes casualties in your territory you get bonus metal-per-second while your command stations gather up the salvage. That nibbles at the other side (speeding up the refleet, if you survive).

Along with that, the resource cap (aside from updating for the m+c combination) now increases a bit with each command station and thus keeps up better as the scale of the conflict increases throughout the game.

Finally, there are a few bugfixes including a rather important one to the core timing of the simulation. Previously (as many of you noticed) the sim actually ran faster when you moved the mouse around like a crazy person. No longer :) But now the + and - speed settings have a more pronounced impact and the +10 speed (renamed to "+!!!") has been repurposed as a genuine "go as fast as you can" (while still drawing a few frames per second) setting. In the early game (before the sim load gets serious) that can let you pass a tremendous amount of sim-time very quickly if you want to.

Update: 7.012 hotfix for some unhandled errors on the Economy tab of the Stats window. Apparently it was still in denial about crystal.

Enjoy!

This is a standard update that you can download through the in-game updater itself, if you already have 4.000 or later. When you launch the game, you'll see the notice of the update having been found if you're connected to the Internet at the time. If you don't have 4.000 or later, you can download that here.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

AI War Beta 7.010 "Oops!" Released!

This one is a small bugfixing update to deal with some critical issues that came to my attention just this morning. Between working on The Last Federation (and, before that, Bionic Dues) and a third daughter coming along in September there hasn't been room in my schedule for AI War coding.

That said, I fully intended to fix any major problems that came up (the latest versions being beta releases after all), and I figured such stuff would bubble up to me without my needing to personally take time from new project coding to check mantis on a different project and such.

I was wrong (and should have verified my assumptions earlier), and there's been a few unhandled-errors/save-corruption reports sitting out there since at least late September. Very sorry about that, I will be more vigilant in the future.

Enjoy!

This is a standard update that you can download through the in-game updater itself, if you already have 4.000 or later. When you launch the game, you'll see the notice of the update having been found if you're connected to the Internet at the time. If you don't have 4.000 or later, you can download that here.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Bionic Dues Headlines Steampunk Bundle (Supports Direct Relief International)

Our tactical roguelike-like Bionic Dues is part of the latest Groupees 'pay what you want' ($1 minimum) deal. It's a Steampunk-themed bundle full of games, music, comics, and e-books -- with a portion of the proceeds will go to charity Direct Relief International. Here's what's included: