Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Fire Sales In Digital Distribution

Chris Park discusses his thoughts on the benefits of the current culture of frequent sales for digital distribution games, and why players shouldn't feel guilty for taking advantage of any offers that a developer or publisher decides to put forth.

Fire Sales In Digital Distribution

What Makes For An Expert Indie Developer?

Chris Park believes that "expert indie developers" are a real thing, and common to spot among successful indies.  But, even among those that are less successful, there are certain hallmarks that identify those that would be investment-worthy for anyone looking to start up angle or venture funding aimed at indie developers.

What Makes For An Expert Indie Developer?

Complexity for the sake of complexity.

Chris Park is a huge proponent of simplicity in game design in general -- so why has he created such an incredibly complex game as AI War?  This lengthy article examines the market forces that lead to various kinds of complex games, and why a game like AI War or Dwarf Fortress is able to gain more popularity than certain game designers or reviewers might expect.  The short answer is that there is an underserved niche for certain kinds of complex games, which meet certain needs for genre experts.  The long answer is more robust and explores this from a cross-genre, history-of-gaming perspective.

Complexity for the sake of complexity.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

AI War 3.0 Released!

Arcen Games is pleased to announce the release of AI War: Fleet Command version 3.000. You can download a trial version of the game, as well as purchase a license key to unlock the full version. If you already have the game or demo installed, just hit "Check For Updates" inside the game to get the latest patch.  
- Updated art for many ships, including larger and more impressive command stations, space docks, fortresses, colony ships, and more!
-New starships: The Raid Starship line has been split, so that now there is a Raid Starship line (Mark I-III), and a separate Leech Starship line (Mark I-III).
-New capturables: Fabricators, which let you manufacture (the previously AI-only) Mark V ships, Bomber Starships, and more!
-Co-op improvements: Players who have lost their home station, or who join the game late, now get a “Home Command Station Core,” which provides them with the resources and build capacity they need to keep playing in a fun way without slowing the other players down.  Other minor changes also abound, such as messages to allied players when technologies are unlocked, and improvements to engineer assistance from allies.
-AI Improvements:  The AI is smarter and more devious than ever, while some of the more game-flow-interrupting tactics such as Cross-Planet Attacks have also been made less frequent.  Ship autotargeting is now notably better for both the players and AI.
-Performance Improvements: The game now performs 400% to 1000% better in supermassive games of (those with 100,000 to 200,000 units on the map), and on average 20% to 80% better on regular sized games (usually 80,000 units or fewer).
-Interface Improvements: A wide variety of player-suggested minor tweaks have been made to the interface, leading to ever-improved usability.  The planetary summary now has category-colorization on mouseover, planet names are colorized by owner status in the galaxy map, “control nodes” have been added to allow new automation options for players, amongst many others.
-Other New Ships: Rally Posts allow for directing incoming allied forces to a specific place on a planet, Cleanup Drones remove exploded enemy mines and turrets, and Mine Layers have turned into more generalized Remains Rebuilders which can auto-rebuild turrets as well as mines for players (both AI and human, so be sure to use Cleanup Drones on enemy planets).
-New Minor Factions: Minor Factions aren’t just for customers of the expansion!  Three new minor factions have also been added to version 3.0 for all AI War players (optionally enable any combination of them through the lobby).  
-Human Marauders are a hostile minor faction that will sometimes attack you or the AI from deep space, using their powerful new Buzz Bombs and Dagger Frigates.
-Human Resistance Fighters are an allied minor faction that will sometimes decloak from deep space and join you in assaulting AI worlds with their powerful new Fighter/Bombers and Frigates.
-Rebelling Human Colonies are formerly-captive human cities that need your help in order to survive -- fail and you’ll see an increase in AI Progress, but succeed and your entire team will be able to build the powerful new ships used by the Resistance Fighters.
-Ship Balance Updates: Many minor and major ship balance adjustments have been made – the most notable of these is that the core fighter/cruiser/bomber triangle has been redefined into an easier-to-follow fighter/bomber/frigate triangle.
-Game Flow Improvements: Not only are the disruptive cross-planet attacks less frequent, but all human ships now move 40% faster (making it easier to stage defenses or coordinate assaults – especially so since AI ships are still the same speed as before), many new automations have been built into the interface (the most notable of which is that metal/crystal harvesters are now automatically rebuilt on human planets after hostile AI forces are gone), and a few key structures (space docks, factories, etc) have been made more robust.  Players will spend less time than ever on repetitive tasks, letting especially new players take to the stars faster.
-And Much More: The full release notes for version 3.0 (not including expansion notes) are over 10,000 words long.  This is by the largest single release AI War has ever seen, and no small wonder – it was three months in the making!  Future free DLC updates will resume their monthly schedule.

AI War: The Zenith Remnant Now Available!

Arcen Games is pleased to announce the release of The Zenith Remnant, the first expansion to their hit RTS/4X hybrid, AI War! You can download a trial version or purchase a license key on the details page for the expansion.  Thanks to all of our fans who have helped to make this game possible with their feedback, suggestions, and preorders over the last months!

The Zenith Remnant includes a massive amount of new content that brings the galaxy to life in exciting ways. Capturables, special AI ships, and ancient alien artifacts litter the cosmos, making your choices as a player more varied than ever. Do you risk total war with the AI by capturing and rebuilding a massive golem? Do you procure defensive superweapons from Zenith traders?

Maybe you’d like to finally be able to build the powerful Core ships that the AI has long used -- or the all-new experimental ships with strange and powerful abilities. Befriend the dangerous alien Dyson Sphere by helping it against the AI forces, or sneak around it to avoid incurring its wrath (that thing is moody). If you see a Devourer Golem, don’t forget to run -- preferably as it pummels your enemies. Any path you take, there are consequences; AI War is known for being heavily strategic even amongst strategy games, and The Zenith Remnant takes it to new heights.

Key Features
* 122 new ships, including:
   * 14 new ship classes with a variety of abilities.
   * 7 massive capturable "Golem" ships.
   * Dozens of other new capturables, including “experimental” ships.
* 12 new AI Types.
* 4 Zenith alien minor factions (NPCs).
* Over 40 minutes of new in-game music tracks.
* Several new map styles.
* Several new AI behaviors and many related special AI weapons.

Availability And Pricing
The Zenith Remnant has a retail price of $9.99 USD (or equivalent currency), and is digitally available in English in all territories.  The expansion will, starting today, be available through all of our online partners including Impulse, Steam, Direct2Drive, and GamersGate.

50% Off Sale On AI War
In celebration of the release of the expansion, we and most all of our partners are selling the base game of AI War: Fleet Command at a 50% discount until the 18th or 19th (the end date varies depending on the vendor).  If you already have the game, now's the perfect time to get a friend into it so that you can enjoy some co-op together!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Trailer For AI War: The Zenith Remnant!

Work on The Zenith Remnant is finally coming to a close, and the game will be officially released tomorrow -- it extends the base game even more than we had planned when we set out to create it. Thanks so much to all of the AI War players whose suggestions really helped take things to the next level! For the first preview of the new music that is in the expansion, check out the trailer:

View On Youtube