Monday, March 29, 2010

Week-Long Steam Sale: AI War and Zenith Remnant 50% Off!

If you or someone you know hasn't yet taken the plunge into AI War or its first expansion, now's a great time to pick it up! Today is the start of a week-long sale at Steam on both AI War: Fleet Command and AI War: The Zenith Remnant.

If you're already an AI War player, and have been away for a while, be sure to check out the latest official version, 3.060 (currently on Steam and all other partner platforms). The amount of updates in that if you haven't played since 3.0 (the first version to support The Zenith Remnant) is pretty tremendous. And if you haven't played since 2.0 (the first version released on Steam and Direct2Drive)... well, you're in for a real treat.

Remember: all of the patches are always free for all customers of AI War (whether you buy any current or future expansions or not), and between our various updates there is a ton of player-requested free DLC content in them. Now's the perfect time to grab up some friends and launch into a new campaign -- or go it solo, if that's your style. AI War is an ever-evolving game, and you'll need all your wits to best this AI!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Indie Game News: Exclusive Screenshots: Tidalis now on Unity3D

Over at Indie Game News, where Arcen's Chris Park is a contributing writer, we've revealed a new screenshot of our upcoming puzzle game Tidalis, along with major news: Arcen is going cross-platform with a move to Unity 3D. It is not yet certain whether or not that will affect AI War down the road, but for the moment AI War is staying with its existing platform. More details in the article.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Announcing... The Indie Strategy Bundle!

Indie developers Arcen Games, Cryptic Comet, and Positech Games have joined forces to bring strategy fans the ultimate bundle: Gratuitous Space Battles + The Tribe Expansion, Solium Infernum, and AI War + The Zenith Remnant Expansion. This weekend only, the three companies are offering this special package for a mere $49.99 (for the math impaired, it would normally be $90).

"It’s a jungle out there for a lone indie dev: tired, hungry, low on ammunition and surrounded on all sides by AAA monsters and flesh eating zombies, and that’s why I want Cliff and Chris on my side," says Vic Davis, founder of Cryptic Comet. "I think all three of us share the desire to prove that the little guys can really create some unique games. It’s our business... and business is good."

"If we were larger companies, and profit-focused, I think we’d view each other as the enemy," says Chris Park, founder of Arcen Games. "But as tiny indies, that’s just not productive -- time has already shown that there are plenty of fans to go around. We're here to make innovative games, not corner markets. There’s a lot more for us to gain by working together instead of by being antagonistic."

"I can't think of three games that go together better, or which appeal to a more distinct group of gamers, than these three,” says Cliff Harris, founder of Positech Games. “The reason for this bundle is clear. We are like the Judean People’s Front from Monty Python. We need to unite against the common enemy, and that enemy is obscurity, not each other."

Each game in the bundle is a fan favorite, having carved out a unique niche in the strategy genre. Inspired by Milton’s Paradise Lost, Solium Infernum is a turn-based strategy game that pits you against other players as you use diplomacy, deceit and force to claim the Infernal Thrones of Hell. Gratuitous Space Battles turns real time strategy on its head, making the deployment phase of battle into the game itself. AI War is built around a completely unique AI concept, with gameplay best described as grand strategic 4X tower defense RTS (say that five times fast).

Suffice it to say that none of these concepts would have seen the light of day at larger companies, but each expands the genre in novel ways that will likely influence more mainstream strategy titles to come. But most of all, if you’re into strategy these games are fun (and they scratch that special itch in the brains of grognards). The Indie Strategy Bundle is designed to help strategy fans support the originals, while giving themselves a treat if they haven’t yet played these genre-bending gems!

This bundle will be available from March 4th until March 9th, 2010 at

Monday, March 1, 2010

AI War 3.060 Released!

Since January, Arcen’s focus has shifted from large-scale development of AI War to our other upcoming titles -- with AI War, our intent had been to simply maintain and refine the existing game, while adding a handful of exciting new features every month as free DLC.  As you may imagine, therefore, we were quite surprised to realize that this new version, 3.060, is the largest monthly update we’ve ever done.

There aren’t many huge single features here aside from the new Riot Control Starships (which introduce modular ship design to the game).  However, the number of small refinements are just staggering (the release notes are over 10,000 words), and we’ve made a number of significant performance improvements, too.

Here’s the list of particularly notable features out of the hundreds of changes:
- Simple Formation movement, as well as arc-movement.
- New, modular, riot control starships.
- Many various performance improvements.
- Manufactories now auto-manage themselves by default.
- Transports are now extremely more useful.
- Astro Trains are now much less fearsome.
- Cleanup drones can now remove mines (even perma-mines).
- Gate-raiding is now cheaper in terms of AI Progress.
- Hit chance logic is slightly simplified to avoid player confusion.
- New screenshot key (F12).
- Control nodes and rally points now knowledge-free.
- Option for historical autosaves.
- Dozens and dozens of balance tweaks.
- Other various bugfixes and small changes.
A big part of the reason for the impressiveness of this update is Keith LaMothe, Arcen’s new part-time programmer, who joined the team in January.  Keith is tasked with keeping AI War growing and improving while Chris Park, AI War’s lead designer and (previously sole) programmer is working on Arcen’s other upcoming titles.  Of course, Chris still plays AI War several hours per week and so can’t help but make some weekly changes to the game himself, and is still very much involved in Arcen’s ever-growing forum community, and overall design of AI War.

Arcen is quite pleased to see that AI War’s playerbase continues to grow so steadily ten months after the base game’s initial release -- we’ve seen a 300% increase in total customers since AI War 2.0 -- and in turn we’re making the continual refinement and feature-growth of the game an ongoing priority beyond the smaller monthly DLC releases that had been planned.  A second paid expansion for the game is also still planned for late this year.

Next month’s free DLC will include more player-requested changes, as well as our first work on new endgame scenarios and auto-created epilogues, both of which should really take the late stages of the game to new heights.

New to the game?  You can download a trial version of the game, or purchase a license key to unlock the full version.  If you already have the game or demo installed, just use the “Updates” button inside the game to get the latest patch.  For complete release notes, please see the “Updates” button inside the game, or visit the Arcen forums.

- The official installer can be found via one of our mirrors.
- The raw full files of 3.060 in a zip can be found here:
- The manual patch of 3.0 to 3.060 can be downloaded from here:
Full release notes

Fanboyism And The Cycle Of Perceived Inferiority

Chris Park takes a look at "fanboyism" and the ways in which people tend to incorrectly view "fame."  His contention is that people, as a whole, tend to think that others are more famous than they really are, and that this sort of belief can cause a variety of problems all around.

Fanboyism And The Cycle Of Perceived Inferiority

Choosing A Network Library in C#

Chris Park recounts his experiences with setting up networking in AI War, and how and why a solution like the Lidgren Network Library became the obvious choice past a certain point.

Choosing A Network Library in C#