Friday, April 23, 2010

AI War and Zenith Remnant Bundle 50% Off This Weekend At Impulse

If you or someone you know is looking for a great deal on AI War and its expansion... here's your chance! Today is the start of a Weekend Impulse Buys promotion at Stardock's Impulse on the AI War / Zenith Remnant Pack. The promotion runs through April 25th.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Tidalis 0.402 Released, OSX Updater Issues Resolved

The early days of the Tidalis beta have been a bit interesting, as one of the first things we discovered was that our updater would actually kill the OSX version of Tidalis during updates.  It was a Unix permissions thing that we somehow didn't encounter in our prerelease testing.  This took us days to solve in the end (more technical details here and here for those curious), and so there have been fewer gameplay updates than we would normally hope for during that period.

Even so, there have been a number of notable updates since the initial 0.400 launch, including:
* Adjustable keyboard bindings in the settings screen.
* New and updated advanced tutorials based on player feedback.
* Scoring tweaks, HUD improvements, and other bugfixes.
* More objective types and features for the level editor.
* Six new adventure levels, and tweaks to a number of existing adventure levels.
* Revamped trial mode restrictions based on early player feedback (no more overall time limit).

For the full release notes, please see the 0.401 and 0.402 topics. Normally we don't post about minor releases in the main news forum (to keep up with minor releases, see the Tidalis forum), but because of the automatic-update-breaking nature of this particular release we wanted to make sure that people knew about it.

A big thank-you, as always, is due to all of our early supporters and those who have stopped by the forums to report bugs, provide feedback, and so on.  We're really learning a lot from you all, including that the most popular secondary gameplay modes seem not to be what we expected they would be, for instance.  Despite the problems with the first round of patches, the game itself has had surprisingly few issues for being so early in beta, so we're really pleased about that.

Lots more exciting stuff is in the works!  Stay tuned tomorrow and Friday (in the Tidalis forum) for more Tidalis releases that will come out through the normal game-integrated channel.

If you don't yet have Tidalis:
You can download the demo (which alternately turns into the full game with a preordered license key) from the Tidalis download page.

If you already have Tidalis 0.400 or 0.401, full or demo:
You can download the Tidalis 0.402 manual windows patch.
You can download the Tidalis 0.402 manual mac osx patch.

Please note that if you changed the installation folder for Tidalis away from the default, then you'll need to point the manual patch to the custom location you previously chose.  It will simply point to the same default location that the original Tidalis installer was pointing to.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Playing Well With Others

Chris Park discusses the motivations behind the Indie Strategy Bundle, and his feelings on indie collaboration in general.

Playing Well With Others

Q&A: PC Indie Game Sales Numbers

Chris Park discusses the sales numbers for PC indie games based on his experience, as well as other sources that he has read over the last few years.  Digital sales numbers for AI War as of the time of the article are also discussed.

Q&A: PC Indie Game Sales Numbers

A Quick Guide: How To Recognize An Arcen Title

Chris Park discusses the "serious departure" that Tidalis represents from the pattern that some fans were expecting of Arcen based on the sole data point of AI War.  And, in general, discusses why this isn't a departure at all for Arcen, and what the overall roadmap for the future of Arcen looks like, genre-wise.  It's not puzzle games or strategy games, specifically, but something much broader.

A Quick Guide: How To Recognize An Arcen Title

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Tidalis Adventure Gameplay Video 1

As you can read all about on the post below, Tidalis is now in beta and available for preorder.  If you'd prefer a video introduction to the mechanics of the game before you download the demo, then this video covers the high points.  Enjoy!

View On Youtube

Friday, April 16, 2010

Tidalis Beta Begins, Now Available For Preorder!

What happens when a notable indie strategy developer makes a puzzle game?  We have no idea.  Our first game happened to be a notable indie strategy game, but we’ve never considered ourselves tied to any particular genre. Truth is, we made Tidalis because we like puzzle games and we wanted to take our opportunity to innovate in that space.

The "streams" mechanic employed by Tidalis is what makes it so unique -- chain reactions with a dozen blocks are trivially easy to create.  This makes the game really easy to get into, but also makes the creation of advanced multi-stage combos more challenging than in other block-based puzzlers.  At an advanced level of play, it’s the difference between Chess and Checkers; with Tidalis in the hands of an expert, there are more variables to keep in mind as you set up truly elegant interactions.

But never fear:  the easier difficulty levels are quite relaxed, and our Zen mode provides a particularly no-rush style of gameplay.  The core mechanics are so simple that the two-year-old daughter of one of our staff enjoys playing along with him.  And we suppose it goes without saying that many of our mothers are hooked on it, too.

Whether you’re just looking for a casual fun time,  a deep and strategic puzzle experience, or a series of brain-bending puzzles, we’ve got you covered.  About half of the five staff members working on this game are the hardcore puzzle types, and the other half have completely casual tastes.  We’ve approached this with our usual attention to detail: the mechanics of the timing, chain merging, and other mechanics have been refined to a ridiculous degree to provide an optimal experience in all play styles.

THE CURRENT VERSIONS ARE STILL BETA!  Sorry for the caps there, but it’s that important. This game is not nearly complete, content-wise.  We have so many more levels, puzzles, game modes, and so forth to implement -- not to mention network play.   But the core gameplay, and the first 30% or so of the content, has been polished to the point where we’re excited to finally be able to share it with folks.  We hope you enjoy playing it as much as we’re enjoying making it!

What Do I Need To Know?
If you're potentially interested in the game, and potentially being part of the beta, you'll want to first take a look at our newly expanded Tidalis section of the website.  That first page has information on the beta, including what is currently available in the initial release, and what our upcoming roadmap is for hitting final release in a couple of months.

If you want to try before you buy (which we always strongly recommend), you'll particularly be interested in the Tidalis download page.  Both the Windows and Mac OSX versions of the game are now available.  If anyone is interested in trying to run one or the other of those on Linux, we'd be curious to hear how it works -- we're also still looking for feedback on what the minimum system requirements seem to be.  At present the game does great at 60 fps on the lowest-powered hardware we have around (around 1.6 Ghz), so we know it's somewhere south of that, but we don't know precisely where.

If you're looking to create and share puzzles, or to download puzzles from other players, we've set up a Tidalis Custom Puzzles forum.  Actually, there's a whole set of forums for the game here that you should check out if you're wanting to be active in the early Tidalis community.

Please visit the Tidalis tech support forum if you need any tech support.  Unlike AI War, Tidalis does not have any prerequisites, though it helps if your graphics card drivers are functional.

The Beta Begins!
If you were around for the Zenith Remnant beta, this process will be quite familiar.  We'll post updates several times a week (sometimes several times per day), and you can download them at your leisure.  The Tidalis engine includes a built-in patching system that is multiplatform and is even superior to the one currently being used by AI War (AI War's patching system will get an upgrade to this model soon).  For the latest beta update news and release notes, be sure to check or subscribe to the main Tidalis forum.  The first beta update will be out sometime tomorrow, and they will follow regularly from then on.

We at Arcen would like to extend our heartfelt thanks for all your ongoing support.  Even as this post was being typed out, a few preorders have already gone in for the game based on players who were actively waiting for it.  We couldn't do this without our wonderful community, and we're really excited not only to see AI War continue to grow, but to see Arcen grow as a company as we explore the first of what will hopefully be many genres in our portfolio.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Tidalis Teaser Trailer 1, Tidalis Beta Coming April 15th

Tidalis is the second standalone game from indie developer Arcen Games, known originally for their hardcore RTS/4X hybrid, AI War: Fleet Command.  Not wishing to be typecast, and having game and level design backgrounds in a wide variety of genres, Arcen chose pretty much the exact opposite genre for their second game.  The final game will be complete with Arcen staples such as co-op, huge amounts of content, and attention to depth and detail -- Tidalis is extremely easy for casual players to pick up, but it will also keep hardcore puzzle fans entertained for months.  

Also: it's coming to both Windows and Mac OSX!  Beta will begin on April 15th, 2010 for both platforms.  Beta means that people who want to demo the prerelease versions of the game can do so, and customers who preorder will be able to play the whole thing as soon as each new feature and component becomes available.  This should be a pretty familiar arrangement to anyone who was around for the beta phase of The Zenith Remnant -- though instead of soliciting feature suggestions, we'll be interested in fan-created levels and puzzles, some of which may make it into the official game (with permission, and with full credit given, of course).  Full digital release is expected in late June.

View On Youtube

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

AI War takes Best Overall Game in the 2010 Bytten Ernie Awards

Indie review site Bytten was among the first three sites to review AI War last year.  Today the 2010 iteration of their annual Ernie awards has come out, and (spoiler alert) AI War: Fleet Command received the Best Overall Game award from them.  We're couldn't be more pleased, as they were one of Arcen's earliest supporters, and from the general spread of scores they've historically given out, it actually means something for AI War to have done so well.