Friday, October 29, 2010

AI War Beta 4.022 Released!

This update addresses some stability issues some folks have on OSX, and also provides better support for single-button mice on OSX.

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, October 28, 2010

AI War Official 4.021 Released!

This release has a small number of bugfixes and tweaks that came up post-4.0, and we wanted to go ahead and get this into your hands as soon as possible just to make sure things remain clean.  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, October 27, 2010

AI War: Fleet Command 4.0 and AI War: Children of Neinzul Released!

This release is unreservedly huge. It's a full re-imagining of AI War, practically a sequel (but free to existing customers). Frankly there were more updates here than in a lot of sequels we've seen. So it is with some difficulty that we compile these highlights, as even the list of highlights is enormous, yet omits a lot of major changes. Listed here are just the things that have changed in the base game itself, this isn't even including all the stuff that was added as part of the new Children of Neinzul micro-expansion. So here we go:

  • A grand total of 147 new ships have been added to the game. Again, this is NOT counting the new ones added as part of CoN. Most of these new ships went to the AI or are things that the players must capture, but there are also dozens and dozens of goodies for the players in the form of new warheads, new mercenaries, new turrets, and new lines of command stations.
  • An enormous graphical overhaul has taken place. Every special effect in the game has been replaced and majorly improved, the HUD and GUI has been completely redesigned and has a cleaner feel to it, and the starfields/nebulae have seen a rather startling improvement as well. Those new ships come with a bunch of new prerendered-3D graphics, as well.
  • The soundtrack to both AI War and The Zenith Remnant have been completely remastered and re-edited, and in a number of cases have new live performances for trumpet and electric guitar (adding to the existing live vocals and piano). The soundtrack for Children of Neinzul was also done at this new quality level, of course. Additionally, two completely-new bonus tracks have been added for free to the base AI War game, and an old track ("Thor") that had been dropped due to quality issues is back and awesome with a live performance. 
  • The interface has been streamlined all over the place, in ways that have really been exciting our hardcore fanbase (who helped design some of the changes). The biggest amongst these changes are perhaps the more-readable galaxy map, the new context menu (alt+right-click) with things like Auto-Gather-Knowledge and special Transport-Unloading logic, the complete removal of "control nodes" in favor of a much cleaner set of menus, and a larger display-on-demand minimap replacement (hold T).
  • Many new teach-yourself-to-play-better features have been added: or, as we like to call them, "discoverability features." The new Objectives and References tabs provide a lot of guidance for players without hand-holding them, a new Tip of the Day system on the main menu shows player-submitted tips, and all of the tutorials in the game have been completely redone and updated, and are more helpful than ever before. A fan even did some awesome new video tutorials for us, which replaced our older 2.0-era series of the same.
  • Along the theme of streamlining: Knowledge raiding has been completely rebalanced to no longer be easy or necessary, returning it to the proper role of "last ditch effort to get out of a hole". This was a really tedious activity since players were embarking on it too often. Similarly, the endgame was ALWAYS a grind in the old versions, to the point where very few players actually won games, but now the endgame has been completely redone and is more exciting and full of back-and-forth power struggles than ever. Gameplay activities that were tedious have been cropped and replaced with something more fun, with a great deal of public player testing and feedback.
  • Brace yourself: but the entire combat, repair, economic, and construction models have been almost completely rewritten. To the novice player these changes are subtle enough that it feels like basically the same game. To the more experienced player, these changes are a dream come true, shaving off rough edges left and right and leaving something simpler and more elegant in its place. We had a corps of 95 community members giving us feedback, after all, so there's been a lot of vetting of this from both newer and experienced players. The main benefits of these particular changes are simplicity, transparency-to-the-player, and internal accuracy in outlier situations.
  • As part of the new combat model, the old concept of "shields" (as distinct from "force fields") has been removed, and the random-hit-chance and range-related components of the hit chance calculations are gone. In place of this is a new, simpler, and far better "armor" system that affects damage output instead of hit chance.
  • One key simplification in this new version is the removal of all the internal ship-specific damage multipliers. In their place, we now have a small number of new "hull types," and ships get visible bonuses against them. This also removes the "Strong Vs and Weak Vs" display in favor of both the raw hull attack multipliers display and a new Reference tab when really detailed data is needed (presumably not often).
  • Following on with those massive changes, every last ship in the game has been rebalanced to a heavy degree, sometimes pretty much completely. With a game of this scope, we expect there are still some rough edges in there, but overall it's far better balanced -- and easier to understand the balance in a meaningful way -- than ever before. As part of this, the turrets and starships have both become a lot more specialized and interesting, and more of them are available to players right from the start of the game.
  • Performance has gotten a major boost in general with the new version, but additionally we now have new "Performance Profiles" that let the game more easily run on a variety of hardware. Best of all, these profiles can be swapped in and out in realtime while playing. This lets borderline computers lower their simulation/graphics load temporarily during a massive battle, then turn those factors back up when the battle concludes. The game in general also now does a better job of degrading its framerate instead of its overall run speed, which is an enormous boon for multiplayer games where one player is on iffy hardware. And as if all that wasn't enough, we also have a variety of simple new performance-diagnosing tools right in the Players tab that lets players see each others' framerates, how fast the game is running at the moment compared to realtime, and other helpful things like that.
  • This next change is also a shocker: we've reduced the default ship caps in the game. The game has always advertised having 30,000+ ships in realtime, but the truth was that often players were running more like 70,000 to 120,000 ships in large games. This was simply more of a CPU drain than it needed to be, and tended to make a lot of the AI worlds a grind. We now have Unit Cap Scales that you can set in the lobby -- and the old "High" option is still there -- but the new default uses about half as many ships, which is still significantly more than we've ever advertised as supporting. And for iffy hardware, you can actually quarter the number of ships in the game, which is ideal for slower laptops or similar.
  • Part of the reason for the shift away from just huge numbers of fleet ships is our new emphasis on larger centerpieces. The AIs have massive new command stations and guard posts, as well as mobile Guardians that not only defend but launch often-brutal counterattacks. Going along with these are the exciting new AI Eye that emphasizes de-blobbing, the new AI Barracks that lets the AIs store up overflow reinforcements for later use, and the AI Carriers which are the late-game AI equivalent of transports. All of these new things take the place of turrets, which the AI no longer uses at all, and in general they lead to a vastly different feel of game. It's a lot quicker to resolve battles (without making you rushed -- just no longer a grind), and in general it makes planets feel more unique and fun before you even get into the various special weapons that have always been a cornerstone of AI War.
  • The AIs aren't the only ones who have been getting a makeover, though. We already mentioned that players now get a lot more starting turrets and starships for free (and both of those unit classes are now far more central to the game). Players also now get a lot more knowledge in general (3,000 per planet now, instead of 2,000), and the player economy -- especially in the early game -- has had a massive boost. Your typical income without economic upgrades will be almost double what it used to be, meaning you can field far more ships, faster, including starships. Speaking of faster, the player ships used to be 1.4x faster than the AI ships, but now they are a full 2x faster. This asymmetry plays well into the enhanced feel of the player as a guerrilla warrior against a superior foe. This unique aspect of the game is really emphasized a lot more, now, and players have responded really well to it in beta.
  • Did we mention Mac OSX support? Thanks to our switch to the Unity 3D engine, AI War is no longer just for Windows. And while Linux isn't directly supported, we have word that it runs flawlessly in the latest versions of WINE. And, along these lines, AI War no longer has any prerequisites -- installation and setup is far more painless than in the past.
 
And these were just the highlights. Read the full release notes if you want all the gory details: it's taken us 170 days, 81 releases, 95 testers, and untold man-months to get this awesome new version out. We're really excited not only about what is represented here already, but what this re-launch of the game will enable us to do both with future free updates and future paid expansions. Thanks to everyone for their support during this long process!


Read on for information about Children of Neinzul.

Today I am born, today I die.
The Neinzul are an insectoid race of perpetual "younglings" that live for an extremely short span before dying and being superseded by fully-aware and vicious replacements. Their Enclaves form mini-collectives with their own personalities, goals, and desires. In this second expansion to AI War, players face off against the Neinzul minor factions, against new AI types in general, and enlist the help of the friendlier members of this new alien presence.

Enclave Starships bring a long-awaited feature: mobile space docks. New map types and new capturables add more excitement. Optionally, Hybrid Hives bring a new type of AI logic to the game: these free agents are like a coordinated pack of velociraptors hunting you against the backdrop of the regular AI forces. For advanced players, the Hybrid Hives provide more cut-throat opposition than ever.

 
Child's Play
When you purchase AI War: Children Of Neinzul, you're not only getting an exciting new expansion, you're also supporting an important cause. Arcen Games has partnered with the Child's Play charity, pledging 100% of the profits from sale of Children of Neinzul (excepting any taxes and distributor fees) to helping sick kids in need.  The staff at Arcen has long admired the work done by Child's Play, and we're very excited to finally be able to contribute in a substantial manner.

Key Features
* 36 new ships, including:
   * 5 new ship classes with a variety of abilities.
   * Enclave Starships and Regeneration Chambers for direct unlock.
   * 6 new AI special weapons.
* 6 new AI Types.
* 3 Neinzul alien minor factions (NPCs).
* Devastating new Hybrid Hives AI plot.
* 3 new in-game music tracks, plus a new title music track.
* Two new map styles: X and Concentric Circles.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

AI War Beta 3.908 Released - 4.0 Release Candidate One!

This huge release has a lot of good stuff, and it's one of the last pre-official-4.0 versions.  The main outstanding item we have left is the intermediate tutorial, and everything is fixes and minor tweaks.  The shortlist of what's new in this one:
  • Improvements to the pre-4.0 settings importer, and making it more obvious that it exists.
  • Basic tutorial 3 has gotten a heavy revamp.
  • Space tank balance is completely redone.
  • Control group double-and-triple presses work again.
  • The keybinding screen now binds based off keypresses rather than making you choose from a massive list (yay!).
  • Tip of the Day on the main menu!  If you have last-minute ones you want to get into 4.0, let us know! We'll still be taking suggestions post-4.0, too, of course.
  • The intro story and credits now play on the main menu, and the credits have been updated a lot.
  • Lightning turrets are now a lot more useful.
  • Armored golems, botnet golems, and artillery golems are no longer self-damaging when they attack, and have otherwise been rebalanced to account for that change.  Now none of the golems cause AIP increases or self-inflicted damage from attacks.  Again: yay!
  • Vampire armor is a thing of the past (man that was too tough).
  • Many various other bugfixes and a tad of performance tuning.
This is a standard update that you can download through the in-game updater itself, if you already have 3.701 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 3.701 or later, you can download the windows installer for 3.711, or the OSX installer for 3.712. Once you do an in-game update, they'll both be on the latest version, despite starting at slightly different versions.

Monday, October 25, 2010

AI War Beta 3.907 Released!

More bugfixes and balance tweaks, again. And the last of the memory-usage improvements we'll be able to safely make before 4.0 comes out.

This new version really ramps up the size and ferocity of the waves as the difficulty is increased, while at the same time making them a bit weaker at difficulties 5 and below (starships are hard to counter for true newbies, as it was pointed out).  The difficulty 6 should be fairly straightforward still in terms of waves but difficulty 7 is definitely getting more harsh, and in difficulty 8 they should be a major event -- not to rival a CPA or anything, but also not a complete brush-off.  All those knowledge-free turrets now have a lot more of a purpose!

Also fixed some balance issues with the Neinzul roaming enclaves and preservation wardens (they were still too brutal), and a number of fixes and improvements have been made to the Objectives and References tabs.

This is a standard update that you can download through the in-game updater itself, if you already have 3.701 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 3.701 or later, you can download the windows installer for 3.711, or the OSX installer for 3.712. Once you do an in-game update, they'll both be on the latest version, despite starting at slightly different versions.

Trailers For AI War 4.0 and Children of Neinzul!



Sunday, October 24, 2010

AI War Beta 3.906 Released!

More bugfixes and balance tweaks once again.  And some performance improvement things, and pretty huge memory usage improvements when more than one savegame is loaded per run of the application.

Amongst the balance changes, all of the waves are now 3x larger than whatever they previously would have been.  The waves have been incredibly puny lately, while the players' ability to deal with them (more knowledge-free turrets, stronger economy in general, etc) has increased quite a lot.  Aside from some problems lately with players being overrun with Zenith Electric Bombers and such (which was recently fixed), on the whole the risk from waves has seemed trivial compared to that from counterattacks, cross planet attacks, etc. 

Having the difficulty and risk be a little more consistent can only be a good thing, as it will avoid those unpleasant surprises when something is suddenly 1000% more difficult after playing seven hours into a campaign.  So that's something we're definitely wanting some last-minute feedback on, but I feel like the 3x buff is a pretty safe one, possibly slightly on the low side.  All those turrets are pretty rockin' now, after all.

The goal is to have waves be as significant as they were in 3.0 or 2.0, or perhaps slightly moreso (as they are less frequent than they were in 2.0).  My guess is that this change will suffice to get into that ballpark, and is pretty safe, but that it really could be more like 6x larger to really hit it. Again: feedback on this one from playtesting (not speculation, as the balance has changed in so many other ways recently) is welcome. 

This is a standard update that you can download through the in-game updater itself, if you already have 3.701 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 3.701 or later, you can download the windows installer for 3.711, or the OSX installer for 3.712. Once you do an in-game update, they'll both be on the latest version, despite starting at slightly different versions.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

New AI War 4.0 Video Tutorials!

Special Thanks to Moonshine Fox for creating these awesome new tutorials for AI War 4.0 -- the older ones that I created were from AI War 2.0, so an update was long overdue.  An updated game manual and wiki are in the works, as well as a new trailer for the game.  So much has changed even since 3.120, the last official version.


Basic Tutorial 
The first and most basic part of the official AI:War video tutorials.
View Larger Version


Intermediate Tutorial 
The second part of the official AI:War video tutorials.
View Larger Version


Advanced Tutorial 
The last part of the official AI: War video tutorials.
View Larger Version

AI War Beta 3.905 Released!

More bugfixes and balance tweaks, and a number of visual polish things.  And some performance improvement things, as well as another go at fixing that OSX threading crash.

This is a standard update that you can download through the in-game updater itself, if you already have 3.701 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 3.701 or later, you can download the windows installer for 3.711, or the OSX installer for 3.712. Once you do an in-game update, they'll both be on the latest version, despite starting at slightly different versions.

AI War Beta 3.904 Released!

A few tweaks, specifically to an annoying issue where AI units could "appear" on your planets as reinforcements in cases when they should not be.

This is a standard update that you can download through the in-game updater itself, if you already have 3.701 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 3.701 or later, you can download the windows installer for 3.711, or the OSX installer for 3.712. Once you do an in-game update, they'll both be on the latest version, despite starting at slightly different versions.

Friday, October 22, 2010

AI War Beta 3.903, "The Performer," Released!

Lots of performance improvements in this one.  Also, the last two stats tabs have been ported, and the new Children of Neinzul music track will actually play (whoops that it wasn't before).  These are tiny release notes compared to our usual, but it's actually been an enormously busy, stressful day.  Lots of preparations with distributors, I've been working on the trailers and the website pages for the games, Keith was working on deep memory performance stuff all day...  Busy day, but a good one.

Tomorrow the new trailers should be out, and then I'll finally be working on updating the last two tutorials in the game.  Then the credits/story needs to go on the main menu, the "tip of the day" thing needs to go on the main menu, and then... that's it!  We'll be feature-complete as far as version 4.0 of the game is concerned.  Anything not on that list (like, notably, the in-game graphs and the rest of the context menu) is not going to be until post-4.0.  The rest of our time leading up until Wednesday will be spent on documentation, the wiki, bugfixes, balance fixes, and last bits of polish -- that non-feature stuff that's in Mantis, basically.

Once 4.0 is out the door on Wednesday, we're going to be launching straight into... another short-term project. ;)  Stay tuned!

This is a standard update that you can download through the in-game updater itself, if you already have 3.701 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 3.701 or later, you can download the windows installer for 3.711, or the OSX installer for 3.712. Once you do an in-game update, they'll both be on the latest version, despite starting at slightly different versions.

AI War 4.0 and Children of Neinzul Coming on the 27th.

We'd been thinking we were going to release on the 25th, this coming Monday, but we need a couple of extra days.  Aside from one OSX crash all is well -- very well -- with the betas, but we still have a lot of last-minute stuff to prepare, and our distribution partners need time to get the stuff online, too.  So, mark your calendars for Wednesday instead of Monday!

AI War Beta 3.902 Released!

This one mainly fixes a bug in the last one that was causing savegames to all be 0 bytes.  Yikes.  We rushed this fix out as soon as we'd realized, thanks for your patience.

This is a standard update that you can download through the in-game updater itself, if you already have 3.701 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 3.701 or later, you can download the windows installer for 3.711, or the OSX installer for 3.712. Once you do an in-game update, they'll both be on the latest version, despite starting at slightly different versions.

AI War Beta 3.901 Released!

This version re-implements more of the statistics window tabs, hopefully fixes the too-low-ship-caps thing, fixes a couple of other exceptions and bugs, nerfs the Zenith Polarizer, and improves memory allocation a bit more.  The memory allocation thing in particular changed a few thousand of lines of code scattered throughout the program, so please do keep an eye out for wonkiness in the next couple of days.  So far it seems good, though, and the improvement to RAM use was worth the smaller risk of new bugs at this stage.

This is a standard update that you can download through the in-game updater itself, if you already have 3.701 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 3.701 or later, you can download the windows installer for 3.711, or the OSX installer for 3.712. Once you do an in-game update, they'll both be on the latest version, despite starting at slightly different versions.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

AI War Beta 3.900, "Taunts In Your General Direction," Released!

This release is smaller on the surface than usual, but it still packs a punch. The biggest thing fixed here is that now the AI Taunts are once again functioning.  On OSX, this is a pretty critical fix, as it was apparently deadlocking the game when trying to taunt on that side (or after 25 taunts, possibly).  So this release really fixes up the stability on the OSX side in a major way.

There are also a number of other more minor fixes and changes, and -- more importantly -- the balance for ion cannons now scales with the ship scale.  This should make things much easier for players playing on lower ship scales when they run into a bunch of ion cannons!

We also got Steamworks integration in and working, but it's not in a fashion that can be publicly used yet.  Monday, though!

At this stage, we're getting very close to being release-level quality.  There are comparably few major issues open at the moment, and we're still working through those.  But, for the next day or so it's going to be a bit slower on that because I'm going to be working on the storefront text, trailer, screenshots, tutorials, manual, and wiki, getting those ready for 4.0.  Busy times!  But it's really rewarding to see how this is all finally coming together.

This is a standard update that you can download through the in-game updater itself, if you already have 3.701 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 3.701 or later, you can download the windows installer for 3.711, or the OSX installer for 3.712. Once you do an in-game update, they'll both be on the latest version, despite starting at slightly different versions.

AI War Beta 3.801, "Lobby Revisitation," Released!

This release has a lot of miscellaneous stuff in it, but there is particular attention paid to the lobby in there.  Specifically, all of the known lobby bugs should be resolved as of this release -- including that squirrely one where settings weren't really taking, etc.

Also in this one:
  • Unique graphics for the avenger and hybrid hives, and upgraded graphics for the Neinzul Enclave Starships.
  • Multiplayer chat improvements.
  • Various balance fixes.
  • Expansion logos on the main screen to show which expansions you have installed and available.
The Avenger
This is a standard update that you can download through the in-game updater itself, if you already have 3.701 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 3.701 or later, you can download the windows installer for 3.711, or the OSX installer for 3.712. Once you do an in-game update, they'll both be on the latest version, despite starting at slightly different versions.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

AI War Beta 3.800, "The Refinery," Released!

Well, the release notes for this one are immense. I mean, really really immense.  At the risk of seeming terse, I'm just largely going to point you to those, because the fixes and tweaks are all over the place and I'm running really short on time, anyway.  But, some of the most exciting points:
  • Lots of refinements to the galaxy map and other parts of the interface.
  • The guardians scale much better based on the AI difficulty levels.  The prior sole way these functioned is now considered difficulty 8, for the very hardcore subset.  Rejoice, rejoice! ;)
  • Some other bugs that made things too hard also were fixed.
  • The achievements and the high scores windows are now in place.
  • A new music track for the base game, called "The Next Chapter," is now in.  That's the last one for 4.0!
  • For those who had been fussing about starfield density, this release should be pleasing.
  • A variety of bugfixes, including making sure flak isn't a death squad.
  • Making mouse wheel zoom function again for people with really low sensitivity mouse wheels.
This is a standard update that you can download through the in-game updater itself, if you already have 3.701 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 3.701 or later, you can download the windows installer for 3.711, or the OSX installer for 3.712. Once you do an in-game update, they'll both be on the latest version, despite starting at slightly different versions.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

AI War Beta 3.719, "And There Was Much Rejoicing," Released!

Today's release is perhaps the biggest bugfix release we've had by far.  The three biggest issues on people's minds are all now fixed: the "Network host initialization error," the "Access Denied: Could Not Get Cursor Position" error, and the clunky-feeling (compared to the SlimDX version) zooming.  We also fixed some bugs from the prior version where a few directly-placed structures couldn't be built.  Huge day!

As if that wasn't enough, there are a number of eagerly-sought balance shifts relating to starships, hybrids, guardians, and anti-starships.  The balance there should be more refined and more fun to play with.

I'd planned on having this release out 6+ hours ago, but these zooming issues literally took me all day, and a few hours last night.  What a time sink, but the result was worth it: the scrolling feels better than it ever has in the past, and if you don't like it you can customize it much more closely to your tastes than in the past.  We're hoping to be able to blow through the relevant items out of the remaining 225 open issues (and whatever else crops up and is relevant) much faster in the next couple of days, but Keith's extensive work on the crash errors and mine on the zoom handling were time well spent, I think.  We're suddenly much closer to release-level quality.

This is a standard update that you can download through the in-game updater itself, if you already have 3.701 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 3.701 or later, you can download the windows installer for 3.711, or the OSX installer for 3.712. Once you do an in-game update, they'll both be on the latest version, despite starting at slightly different versions.

Monday, October 18, 2010

AI War Beta 3.718, "Humanity's Bruised Ego," Released!

Today's release is a major one.  Really, really gigantic.  Not because it adds any new ships or features, but because it really polishes the balance and difficulty -- including fixing some nasty bugs -- to such a heavy degree.  Let's see, where to even begin:

In the prior version, the economy costs weren't working properly, repair costs and times were often 10x too high, and so forth.  This made players feel like they were poorer than they should have, rather constantly, and was a huge issue for enjoyment.  I suppose that's what we get for introducing such a brand-new economic model under the hood (to enable the performance profiles) a couple of releases back. But now all seems to be well here.


The next really gigantic issue fixed in this version is that of the balance with scouting.  See, AI ships were deserting their guard posts to chase after scouts, which we'd never intended -- and they were breaking out of special forces mode, too, which was also unintended.  This led to situations where you were perfectly safe in the last release if you just sat at your planet (well, aside from occasional waves), but as soon as you started scouting you were likely to be swarmed by high-level ships and brutally murdered.

This led to some folks in the forums thinking that this was the new intended difficulty (and alternately despairing or rejoicing), but that's totally not the intent.  Amusingly, some people felt it was too hard only until they "got the hang of it" and were able to survive on their home planet for more than 30 minutes.  It was totally too hard even then, folks -- the risk of loss in the early game is supposed to be minuscule, and you should be able to take a planet or three in the first hour with very little trouble.  But that hour is important, as you're setting yourself up for later in the game, and the mid-game is harder or easier based on those early decisions you make.

A number of other balance shifts are in this version, in support of that.  There are no more guardians on planets adjacent to the player home, for instance -- gives folks a little more time to expand easily, and starting next to a mark IV world isn't so much extra harder now.  We also did a lot of rebalancing in general, making starships less durable, rebalancing fleet ships all over the place, making harvesters more durable, etc.

Also -- and you'll love this -- now you start with a bunch of mark I turrets and starships unlocked.  It's a real smorgasbord, and lets people experiment with a variety of turrets and starships without having to spend knowledge to do so.  Then if they find something they like, they can invest with confidence in the higher-mark levels of them.  This also helps with the balance against guardians and starships significantly, as the siege starship is pretty crucial to have against some of them.


In the screenshot above, you may note that you can now see the wormhole guard posts (that's what those new, wicked-looking structures are).  Wormhole guard posts aren't new, and all-in-all they don't even function that differently now, but the main thing that has changed is that you can see them and shoot at them (and they have a tiny little pew pew shot back at you).

This should help to ease a lot of confusion about when and why wormholes are getting reinforcements (guardians and otherwise), and it makes it more clear why there are extra guardians at each wormhole when you're playing against a defensive-type AI (there are more wormhole guard posts, is why). Along with this, there were a couple of bugs with too many guardians spawning at individual guard posts, too.  That's also fixed.

And of course there are a variety of other random fixes and improvements, ranging from stuff with the UI to the fact that there is now only one "settlement" (instead of three) on the human home planets.  Oh, and there's an awesome new Reference tab in the Stats window, which should be very handy.


This is the last week of beta for us, so be sure to keep those bug reports coming!  We want to make sure that this has about the same level of challenge as 3.0, rather than being so hard as it's been lately (or so easy as 3.189 and similar were).  I think we're getting enormously closer to the right balance with this one.  It should be a lot more fun to actually play! ;)

This is a standard update that you can download through the in-game updater itself, if you already have 3.701 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 3.701 or later, you can download the windows installer for 3.711, or the OSX installer for 3.712. Once you do an in-game update, they'll both be on the latest version, despite starting at slightly different versions.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

AI War Beta 3.717 Released -- AI Carriers!

Today's second release is a substantial one.  The memory-usage improvements that Keith has put in place for the AI thread alone are really significant, as this lets the game skip for garbage collection vastly less often which means that the music/action doesn't skip even every 26 seconds or whatever we were up to before.  That's pretty sweet.

There are also five marks each of two new AI Guardians: Laser and Raider.  These are the last of the AI Guardians that will be in for the 4.0 release, and they both add new flavor to the Guardians and their ability to counterattack you.

Even better, there are now five marks each of new AI Carriers.  Normally when the AI has an excess of units it puts them into a barracks on their planet.  However, if they now have an excess of units and already have a barracks on that planet, they'll instead pop their ships into a carrier and send it toward your homeworlds!  The carrier is feisty on its own, but when it dies all the ships inside it come pouring out.  This is essentially the AI counterpart to the human transports, and -- like the human transports -- the carriers pass through force fields, cross minefields without harm, and are immune to tractor beams.  Tricky!  These naturally only show up in the late game, of course.

There are also new AI Eye units, which basically act as a de-blobbing agent.  If you gang up all your ships into one massive blob and go after a planet with an AI Eye on it (which are more frequent at higher AI difficulties), prepare to be cut down to size.  A lot of the recent changes to the game are really intending to make it more of a guerrilla-style raiding game in most cases, with the AI seeming a more formidable opponent throughout the whole affair.



These new ships represent the last ones that will make it into the 4.0 version (the Hunter/Killers that we'd wanted to get in place will have to wait until after 4.0, though they are partially implemented already -- there's just no time for balancing them properly).  Our official release of 4.0 is a week and a day away (the 25th), and we've got a lot of stuff to fix and balance in the meantime -- actually, before the 21st, where possible, as we have to get our files to the distributors by then.

At the moment, there are a number of fairly severe balance issues with even 3.717, but those are being whittled down and now that the feature-set has stabilized it will be a lot easier to blaze through them.  Admittedly we wish we had a little more time, but our financial situation means that we definitely have to make that cutoff, and so we're determined to do so with our usual commitment to quality.  And development on AI War never stops, so we'll be packing in more new stuff after AI War 4.0, too.  Speaking of, there might just be another expansion waiting in the wings to come out a couple of months from now... more on that later.

This new 3.717 release also includes some new balance changes in favor of the humans, with the guardians getting a bit of a nerf, and the human economy from the home command stations getting a 50% boost.  However, I just got out of a playtesting session and I can definitely say that this doesn't stop the game from being hard even right at the start.  Scouting stirs up AI ships so much that it's basically suicidal at the moment, which we obviously will fix, but more balance is also needed on the guardians and the player arsenal, etc.  A lot of that will be coming tomorrow and Monday, and I'm confident that we can hit something that is pleasantly challenging while not being insta-death.  Keep those bug reports and suggestions coming, folks!  That's been absolutely crucial for us so far.

This is a standard update that you can download through the in-game updater itself, if you already have 3.701 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 3.701 or later, you can download the windows installer for 3.711, or the OSX installer for 3.712. Once you do an in-game update, they'll both be on the latest version, despite starting at slightly different versions.

AI War Beta 3.716, "The AI Pacifier," Released!

Today's first release is a small one, but filled with critical fixes.  In the prior release, players were lucky if they survived to the 7 minute mark in new games because of some bugs that were causing the threat to skyrocket after the 1 minute mark.  Those are now all fixed, and the game should once again be playable-without-losing-instantly.  Along with that, we also redid the rules for how border aggression works, making it much softer in the early game, while ramping up more heavily in the late game if the players are parading around with massive numbers of ships.

On the other hand, in the last release there were a number of things also holding the AI back for established savegames, which made it too wimpy.  The AI wasn't launching waves, for one thing, but for another the new guardians were a bit tamer than we'd hoped.  These have also been corrected.

There have also been some changes to the costs of a couple of turrets, making them not all suck down crystal so heavily, and those window-order issues and related crashes should largely be fixed now.  Another release will be coming later tonight.  Enjoy!

This is a standard update that you can download through the in-game updater itself, if you already have 3.701 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 3.701 or later, you can download the windows installer for 3.711, or the OSX installer for 3.712. Once you do an in-game update, they'll both be on the latest version, despite starting at slightly different versions.

Friday, October 15, 2010

AI War Beta 3.715, "The AI Strikes Back," Released!

At long last, AI Guardians have arrived!  The first 40 of those ships (5 mark levels each of 8 ship classes) are now in, and a couple of them are pictured below.  These are basically overlarge, fairly slow, and fairly powerful ships that guard guard posts and command stations -- until provoked. 

In a lot of respects, they fill the same niche as turrets used to for the AI (the AI no longer gets any turrets, if you're just joining us), with two key differences: a lot more firepower is concentrated into each guardian; and the guardians have the ability to go on the offensive when you make them angry.  That's hugely important, as it makes the counterattack risk from attacking a planet inherently higher.


Also in this release are some key changes to starships, and how the AI uses those.  You'll be seeing at least one starship in every offensive wave now, which is one big difference.  Additionally, the AI is now able to use starships in more than just the "planetary roamer" mode that they normally have been.  This allows for attacks and retreats from starships, without those starships deciding to stick around permanently on the first AI planet they run into.

There are, of course, also a number of bugfixes.  The issue with the high threat right at the start of the game on lower-than-high unit cap scales has been fixed.  Additionally, we fixed the longtime issue of having at least a tiny bit of threat right at the start, simply by funneling those units into special forces during the first 60 seconds of the game.  So not only is the core bug fixed, but there's now a safety value of sorts in place to keep it from happening again.

Also, a lot of the window/dropdown/tooltip height positioning issues have been fixed, with great suffering, by Keith.  The z-indexing model for windows in Unity leaves a lot to be desired, and the documentation of that z-indexing model leaves even more to be desired, but Keith persevered and found a solution at last that seems to resolve all the issues.  He's asked me to relay that any more bug reports relating to window draw order are risking bodily harm. ;)

Oh, and by the way -- the turret caps are higher again.  With the starships and the guardians the way they are now, you'll need them.

This is a standard update that you can download through the in-game updater itself, if you already have 3.701 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 3.701 or later, you can download the windows installer for 3.711, or the OSX installer for 3.712. Once you do an in-game update, they'll both be on the latest version, despite starting at slightly different versions.

AI War Beta 3.714 Released!

3.714 is a pretty minor utility release, but has a number of nice fixes in it, such as melee ships that work, buffed starships, and alphabetized hull attack bonuses.  Another, larger, release will be coming later today.

This is a standard update that you can download through the in-game updater itself, if you already have 3.701 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 3.701 or later, you can download the windows installer for 3.711, or the OSX installer for 3.712. Once you do an in-game update, they'll both be on the latest version, despite starting at slightly different versions.

AI War Beta 3.713, "The Balance Destroyer," Released!

Okay, maybe the nickname for this release doesn't sound like a good thing, but it so totally is. Like "The Sledge Hammer" before it, this release absolutely rips apart some old parts of the game, and it builds something much better in its place.  This is the last such rip-things-apart release we're going to have before 4.0 hits: it's all rebuilding, fine-tuning, and adding on new stuff from here on out (guardians are coming, I promise!).

The thing that's been ripped apart this time, though, is the combat model. It's a lot of long-requested changes, actually, but we finally figured out a way to do them in a way that would keep the essence of the game while making us and players happy.


This new combat model in the game will possibly feel identical to the old one for novice players, but for advanced players is worlds different. Specifically:
  • The old notion of shields (not to be confused with force fields) has been removed.  Most novice players didn't even know they existed at all, but they had an immense effect on the game and the way that targeting worked.  Now targeting is: a) simpler; b) not range-dependent; c) not including a random miss-chance component.
  • However, there was a bit of interest in parts of the concept of shields.  We've now formalized that into a new Armor concept, which is way simpler than the old shields model, but provides some of the same benefits for ships like Heavy Bombers, etc.
  • The game used to have a massive number (over 2,200, actually) of ship-against-ship-type internal bonuses.  You know: rock, paper, scissors, lizard, spock.  And about 40 other elements, literally.  There had been great forums debates about this back in 2009, and possibly even stretching into early 2010, but... well, the short answer is that the time wasn't right and there wasn't a cogent model that met all my criteria.  But now there is!  So these are gone.
  • In place of the old ship-vs-ship-type internal bonuses, there is now a set of the following hull types: Scout, Light, Medium, Heavy, Artillery, Neutron, Swarmer, Ulra-Light, Close-Combat, Command-Grade, Refractive, Composite, Turret, Ultra-Heavy, Structural, or Polycrystal.  All ships belong to one of these hull types, and combat ships have some bonuses against approximately 0-5 of these hull types.
  • Going along with these changes, the old Strong/Weak Vs display has been removed from the game, for a variety of reasons.  In their place is a new Attack Multipliers display, which shows the bonuses against other hull types.  This is more brief, more effective, and again something a number of players had asked for.
Want more details on all those changes, and the reasoning behind many of them, etc?  See the lengthy release notes, linked above, for all that sort of thing.

But wait!  There is, in fact, quite a bit more to this release.  Aside from a number of eagerly-awaited bugfixes (missing image fixes to the OSX version and the 3.711 windows installer, Zenith Traders that will actually trade with you again, etc), there are a number of other changes.  The main ones:
  • Performance.  We figured out some new ways to squeak yet more performance out of the working set of the RAM.  Moving from .NET to Mono was more of a leap than we'd expected, because their garbage collectors are so different, but we're using the Unity profiler and other methods to get this optimized.  It's about as optimized now as it probably will be for 4.0 launch, and it's looking mighty good, even moreso than in 3.712.
  • Balance changes: Some of them are related to the whole combat-model-reinvention stuff that was already mentioned, obviously, but others are fundamental changes to how some ships work, or how mechanics such as "AOE damage immunity" function.  In particular, all the cluster bonus/penalty stuff (which wasn't really that fun) has been removed in favor of other mechanics.
  • Neinzul Younglings: These have seen a big revamp.  We're definitely soliciting feedback from playtesting with them at this time, too.
  • Previously, we sometimes called Mark V ships as "Core" or as "Mark V."  That's been made more consistent, as "Mark V."  As have the related ship names ("Core Predator" is now "Raptor Mark V," for instance).  See the release notes for more details on this, and what is indicated by the few ships that do still have "Core" in their name (mostly the Core Guard Posts).
  • The first OSX fixes: I mentioned that the missing images are now in place, but there was also a bug in the last version that was causing the OSX graphics to be slightly-to-very fuzzy.  Fixed!
  • And with this version, we can also confirm that the updater is definitely working on OSX just as well as on Windows.  In fact, aside from a handful of OSX-specific issues in our bug tracker, the experience seems pretty identical between the platforms, which is the goal.  We just didn't expect to get there that fast (knock on wood).
This is a standard update that you can download through the in-game updater itself, if you already have 3.701 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 3.701 or later, you can download the windows installer for 3.711, or the OSX installer for 3.712. Once you do an in-game update, they'll both be on the latest version, despite starting at slightly different versions.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

AI War 3.712 OSX Installer -- First-Ever Public Mac Version Of AI War!

This is an exciting post to get to make.  At long last, we now have an OSX version of AI War.  You can grab it here.  That installer installs an OSX version of AI War that is identical to the Windows version 3.712 that we just released tonight, including all the new and remastered music. 

The OSX version should be able to handle automatic updates exactly in the same fashion that the windows version does, but honestly we haven't had an opportunity to do thorough testing on the OSX version of the updater or the game itself on OSX. What I've seen so far looked flawless (and at a mighty fine framerate, too, on my MacBook Pro), but we haven't yet had our normal army of player testers on the OSX side, obviously.

So with the caveat that there may be some Mac-specific bugs at this stage (though hopefully not), I hope you'll enjoy the new version if you're a Mac enthusiast.  Worst case, we'll be unable to patch the existing install and will have to issue a whole new installer package; worse things have happened, and in the meantime we can definitely use the assistance of the Mac crowd in making sure this thing works well over there.



I delayed this long on releasing the Mac version because I didn't want the first impression of anyone on that platform to be of AI War in an unpolished, buggy state of the earlier betas.  Things are much further along now, but bear in mind that this is still very much a beta product, and not completely finished.  We really appreciate the bug-hunting, suggestions, and general feedback that people offer in these pre-release phases; it makes the final product so much better.

All right, all right, enough: enjoy!

PS -- The license keys for AI War are platform-agnostic.  So if you bought the "windows" version of AI War, you really bought it for both platforms.  Network play, etc, should work between both platforms, as well.  All the same deal as what we did with the Mac version of Tidalis, in other words.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

AI War Beta 3.712 Released -- Multiplayer Lobby!

Now that we're nearing the end of our "early beta" period for the AI War 4.0 work, it appears that twice-daily is our new release schedule for a bit. This week is basically the last of our "big overhaul" timeframe for AI War 4.0, and then next week is going to be all about polish, polish, polish.

A few secondary things, like the updates to the last tutorials, the high scoreboards, and the achievements lists, will also not happen until next week -- but at this stage, the game is getting very close to being fully functional in terms of gameplay and the in-game HUD, menus, and interface itself.  There are still a number of gameplay changes and interface additions coming this week, of course, but the road ahead is much shorter than the road behind.

So.  This new version 3.712 is a great one, because it includes a functional multiplayer lobby for the first time since the AI War 4.0 betas have been around.  There are also some other fixes and in-game tweaks, my favorite of which is the re-implentation of the resource bar tooltips.  Those tooltips include a lot of handy information and breakdowns that are useful in any game (it's hugely useful being able to check your allies' resource flows, the current AI Progress Floor, etc).

This is a standard update that you can download through the in-game updater itself, if you already have 3.701 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 3.701 or later, you can download the installer for 3.711 here.

AI War 3.711 Windows Installer -- With Music Included

At long last, here's an updated installer for the Unity version of AI War.  This is the 3.711 version of the game, and also includes all the new music that we just today released as a zip file download for those already with the Unity beta versions of AI War installed.  A Mac OSX installer is coming really soon, hopefully today.

Enjoy!

AI War Beta 3.711 Released, Remaster/CoN Music Released!

This release is just a bugfix version that resolves some important issues (including a crash bug in the prior release).  There will be another release tonight with actual new stuff.

However, today is already exciting because the long-awaited release of the remastered music -- and the new Children of Neinzul tracks -- is today!  We haven't managed to put together a new installer yet, and some folks with the game already installed just wanted a zip archive anyway, so that's what we've done.  Download the music bundle zip file here, and simply unpack it (with directories intact) into your game folder.  Pablo has really outdone himself with this one, and we're very excited to be able to share it with folks at last!
 
This is a standard update that you can download through the in-game updater itself, if you already have 3.701 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 3.701 or later, you can download the installer for 3.711 here.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

AI War Beta 3.710 Released

Second release in one day!  This release has a ton of good stuff.  There are a bunch more performance improvements (and tools for gauging your performance), the force fields have been updated and look awesome, more of the context menu is now in place, and the rest of the new "niche images" to tell the various ships-with-same-far-zoom-icons apart from one another where needed. 

Also, the hybrids and some of the other similar new ships won't be 20x too large and dangerous any longer, which we're sure will be a hit. ;)



This is a standard update that you can download through the in-game updater itself, if you already have 3.701 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 3.701 or later, you can download that here.

AI War Beta 3.709 Released

This one is just a small release, overall, with some key bugfixes to the last version.  That said, however, there is a new implementation of the context menu, which we know a lot of people have been waiting for -- so yay!  There's also a couple of smaller balance tweaks in there.

This is a standard update that you can download through the in-game updater itself, if you already have 3.701 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 3.701 or later, you can download that here.

AI War Beta 3.708, "The Salve," Released

I don't know why these prerelease names keep coming to me, but I imagine they won't keep up.  If the last release was the sledge hammer, where we burst through a bunch of walls and floors and started remodeling, this release is continuing the remodeling work -- and, even more importantly, healing some of those rips and holes from the last release, hence the name.

Notable stuff:
  • There's a bunch of key bugfixes and tweaks in there, including the ability to build command stations again (kind of hard to play for long without that, but that was the most severe of the bugs found in 3.707).
  • Wow did the economy get an overhaul.  The overall cap was raised from 600k to 999k, and command stations and harvesters all give you way more metal and crystal.  You'll need it.
  • A bunch of stuff is now (sim and regular) framerate independent, so that more of the graphics continue to move in realtime even when you use a faster or a slower performance profile.  Ships and shots and other things that are part of the simulation itself are just going to have to look jerky when you use a really slow performance profile -- there's no way around it -- but there's no reason that explosions, starfields, etc, can't be nicely animated during that time.
  • Speaking of, the ship movement now scales better (so your ships don't zip around on insane, and don't crawl along on extremely low).
  • And a blanket 10 move speed has been added to all ships, too, which makes the really slow ships feel less sluggish.  Always a plus.
  • The Neinzul Hybrids were growing at something like 20x the intended rate in the last release, which led to murder within minutes.  It's safe to go back in the water now. :)
  • Oh yeah, and the ship cap scale setting now actually applies to the AI as well as to you.  We forgot to handle that in the last release.
  • Also, the attack power of all ships has been scaled up, so that combat isn't sluggish like it was in the last release (thanks to downed reload times, largely).
  • And, last but not least, the first of the new "niche icons" to replace the old "niche text" have been added.  So you can tell metal/crystal manufactories apart again from far zoom, and selecting all your engineers from the planetary summary no longer selects cleanup drones or rebuilders, for example.
Enjoy!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

AI War Beta 3.707, "The Sledge Hammer," Released

We normally aren't in the habit of naming our beta releases -- they come too frequently, and generally have too little individually to warrant such a thing.  However, this particular release is an exception.  We basically took a sledge hammer to a goodly number of parts of the game (kitchen, dining room, you know), and have been remodeling those parts.



The result is something which has better performance in general, and which has new "Performance Profiles" to meet the demands of a wider variety of machines.  This was the chief goal of this release.  The default profile is High, which mirrors what the older versions of AI War used (Average was what the last few releases, and some players were feeling this was too choppy). But also, this release includes:
  • New internal handling for the economy in general, fixing a number of bugs.
  • Repair costs are now based off a fraction of the ship's actual construction costs, rather than being mysterious per-second numbers.
  • A good number of units have been rebalanced, some pretty heavily.
  • The AI no longer uses turrets at all, preferring mobile ships instead.  
    • There will be some upcoming new "Guardians" in the next couple of releases that will take the place of tractor beams and tachyon beams and such in the hands of the AI, but right now those are lacking -- makes it easier to scout and such in this release than usual, but that will be temporary.
  • Speaking of turrets, the ship caps for turrets with the human players have been reduced by 5x, while the costs and health, firepower, and other positive attributes have been increased 5x.  We noticed that players were typically only building turrets in groups of 5, anyway, so we just collapsed them into smaller units to make them easier to manage and to boost performance.  Plus, a single mark III tractor beam turret can hold 240 enemy units, which is just really cool.
  • There is now a Unit Cap Scale that allows players to choose from Low, Medium, and High.  The old default is High, but the new default is Medium, which has lower caps for many ships but with them being higher-powered.  This is a huge performance boost, but also gives players with beefy machines the options for the higher if they prefer.
  • Speaking of unit caps, while overall those are lower, the mark III, IV, and V unit caps are a lot higher compared to what they were.  So you can have a higher percentage of higher-mark ships, which is great.
Known issues with this one (from the new stuff):
  • The movement speed of ships isn't yet scaling properly in the performance profiles other than Average or High.
  • The animations for explosions, etc, are only correct in the High performance profile at the moment.
  • When you're zoomed very far in, but not quite all the way, the health bars will shoot way off the side of the screen.
  • The new counterparts for replacing the functionality of some turrets (particularly tachyon and tractor) aren't yet in place, so that makes things temporarily a bit easier for you.  Hooray!
This is a standard update that you can download through the in-game updater itself, if you already have 3.701 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 3.701 or later, you can download that here.

Friday, October 8, 2010

AI War Beta 3.704 and 3.705 Released.

A new version of the full installer, with all the full music tracks for Children of Neinzul plus the new/remastered tracks for AI War and The Zenith Remnant, will be forthcoming soon.  However, that takes a while to upload and prepare, and in the meantime we have a non-music-bearing patch that you can download of the awesome new 3.705 update.  Notable new stuff in this one:
  • Minimap!  And not just the old one that we used to have, which was of marginal utility (because it was so small), and always in the way.  Hold T to see the new one, or your middle mouse button.
  • No more control nodes!  Oh, the angst of an engineer without his control node.  But, the new system is better, and can be accessed through a handy new Ctrl button at the bottom of the screen.
  • Objectives screen!  That was actually there a bit in 3.703, but it's loads better now.  Just go into the Stats screen and click the Objectives tab.  It's a lot more informative and instructive, while at the same time not revealing data you haven't scouted for.
  • The in-HUD buttons and the planetary summary are both now vastly more efficient, and in the case of the buttons, vastly more readable.  This makes a huge difference.
  • Some more fixes/improvements to the game timing (it was running fast before).
  • That shot rotation bug is fixed (the one where shots moving up and left looked funny).
  • Various internal performance improvements to try to keep memory usage down, especially across multiple sessions that don't close the application.
  • The wave/reinforcement multipliers are now visible as an alert at the top of the screen when present.  No more confusion when you have a x27 wave modifier from your three golems!
  • The 3.705 version adds on some fixes to the button text centering, and to the lobby.

This is a standard update that you can download through the in-game updater itself, if you already have 3.701 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 3.701 or later, you can download that here.

The Reticule: Chris Park On Finances and Games

"Chris Park is the wonderfully open and honest chap who heads up indie studio Arcen Games, he has been extremely open about the financial troubles the company has been going through recently, excellently detailed here on PC Gamer.  I knew I had to talk to him about everything that was going on both financially and in regards to current and future games from Arcen."
Click here for the full interview

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

AI War Beta 3.703 Released.

Lots and lots of good stuff in this one.  To whit:
  • Some of the not-yet-ported galaxy map controls have now been ported.
  • New options for unloading transports have been created (people have wanted that for a while)
  • The tutorials are now back in place and the first two have been updated content-wise.
  • A bunch of the keybindings have been tweaked and now have in-game descriptions.
  • Multiplayer for existing savegames should definitely now work.
  • Other various bugfixes are in and items have been ported.
  • And... my personal favorite: that issue with the orthographic camera that was leading to blurriness on many monitors is now fixed, at long last.  Thank goodness -- the game is so much crisper now.
This is a standard update that you can download through the in-game updater itself, if you already have 3.701 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 3.701 or later, you can download that here.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Update On Children Of Neinzul Donations For Child's Play


It's that time again!  As of September 31st, 2010, we have so far raised and donated $1090.38 for the Child's Play charity via sales of our Children of Neinzul micro-expansion for AI War -- and that's just with preorders! We look to be well on our way to hitting our goal of $14,000.00 for the year at this rate (for those who are skeptical, typically sales of an expansion after release are vastly higher than just from preorders, so it's not a linear thing). We'll post monthly updates on how we're doing towards our goal, so check back!

More About AI War: Children of Neinzul and Child's Play
When you purchase AI War: Children Of Neinzul, you're not only getting an exciting new expansion, you're also supporting an important cause. Arcen Games has partnered with the Child's Play charity, pledging 100% of the profits from sale of Children of Neinzul (excepting any taxes and distributor fees) to helping sick kids in need.

The staff at Arcen has long admired the work done by Child's Play, and we're very excited to finally be able to contribute in a substantial manner. Our goal is to raise $14,000.00 USD for Child's Play in 2010, but even after 2010 all of the proceeds from this micro-expansion will continue to be donated to the charity.

At the moment, this micro-expansion is only available directly through the Arcen Online Store ($3.99 USD), which gets you full access to the beta.  However, at the time of official release (expected to be mid-October at the moment) we expect it to be available through all of the major distributors that currently carry AI War; those we've spoken to about it are as excited about it as we are.

AI War Beta 3.702 Released.

Lots of bugfixes and balance tweaks in this one.  Also a number of performance improvements, especially to cutting out the lag in the lobby from the last few releases.  A few GUI tweaks also made it in, hopefully making the interface easier than ever to visually parse and use.  Enjoy!

P.S. -- This is a standard update that you can download through the in-game updater itself, if you already have 3.701 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 3.701 or later, you can download that here.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Punchbag Artists

In this recent article at Resolution Magazine, Joel Goodwin discusses the effect of destructive criticism on game developers.  Yours truly is one of a handful of developers quoted in there a couple of times, which is cool, but it's a rather important article regardless of my ties to it.  In the end, I think Gabe Newell had the most interesting points to make (I never though of it that way), but I enjoyed reading how all the developers quoted deal with the abusive comments that are endemic to publishing anything on the Internet.  Definitely worth a read!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

AI War Beta 3.701 Released!

Hot off the heels of the recent 3.700 beta of the new AI War 4 comes this new bugfix-laden version.  Seriously, that's a lot of release notes for it having been the weekend!  Predictably, there were a number of issues with the prior beta version, and this new beta resolves most of the serious reports; this new version will play much better.

The updater in the prior version works just fine, but a number of the issues in the prior version were with the installer itself, so I've opted to just do another installer and start fresh from 3.701.  You can download 3.701 here.



One challenge we've faced in the last couple of days is how to distribute all these soon-to-be-daily beta updates without breaking the bank on bandwidth; another challenge was how to deal with the influx of bug reports and suggestions in an organized fashion.  People kept giving us walls of text with unrelated thoughts all clumped into one topic, and our bug reports forum wasn't really cutting it in general lately, anyway.  Nor the suggestions forums, either.

So, to solve this problem, we turned to Mantis BugTracker, and have a new Arcen Games Bug Track tool.  Some helpful souls have been helping us to migrate the old bug reports and the old suggestions.  That's a pretty gargantuan task, though, because there are probably over a thousand topics relating to suggestions.  If anyone has any spare time and you don't mind spending a few moments even moving just one or two topics over and filing them properly, that would be a huge help to us.



Even more helpful?  Please log any future bug reports or suggestions in the new tool.  It makes it easy for you to search to see if someone else has already suggested/reported the same thing, and it makes it easy for us to manage the flow and our own workload, as well as communicating to you roughly what's in progress, what's planned, etc.

Anyway, so this new beta is mostly bugfixes, but there are a number of smallish balance tweaks and similar in there, too.  Check out those release notes for more info.  Enjoy!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

AI War 4 Beta 3.700 Released!

Well!  It's been a long time since we've done a beta release.  About a month, which around here is just absolutely ages.  The porting of AI War to the new engine has been... intense.  No more so than we knew it would be, but that's still quite a challenge.

That said, we've been busy adding new stuff.  That ginormous wiki page just chronicles what is different from the most recent pre-4.0 beta (which also had a ton of changes, incidentally), rather than detailing all of the nitty-gritty porting work.  See the following link for a list of known issues, which includes features that simply haven't been integrated into the beta yet.  If that list seems long, it's not -- we'll have the bulk of that knocked out in the next week, or at least that's the plan.

So what all is new?  Well, the graphics, for one thing.  All the shots, explosions, special effects, menus and HUD, fonts, and starfield backgrounds have been massively upgraded -- well, really, completely replaced -- and the combined effect is pretty incredible.  There are still some work-in-progress parts to the menus and HUD in particular, but the net effect is pretty amazing; we've gotten so used to this that it's hard to contemplate using the older version at all.

Beyond the graphics (which look best in motion, by far), the list is diverse and lengthy.  We heartily refer you to the release notes.



This Is An Early Beta
That's an important point.  There are features missing, and there are known bugs.  And a lot of it hasn't been tested all that well just yet, as it's so hot-off-the-presses.  In other words:
  • If you're looking for the latest beta for general gameplay, you still want to be using version 3.189, the latest SlimDX-based beta.
  • If you just want to see what all the AI War 4.0 fuss is about, or you're excited about the new features and trying them out early, or you'd like to help us test, that's what this early beta is for.

If you fall into that second camp: thanks in advance!  We need the help of folks like you, to make sure no serious issues slip past into the official 4.0 release.  If you find something that's not already on our known issues list, please report it as a bug in our bug tracker, not in the forums.

We don't want to warn anyone off of the 3.700 beta -- it's a pretty incredible bit of work, if we do say so ourselves, and a substantial upgrade from 3.189 -- but we'd absolutely hate for someone's first experience with AI War to be with the 3.700 version, because it's significantly rougher around the edges and less polished than is our custom even for betas.

All right, all right, enough already.  Here's the download link.  Enjoy!












P.S. -- Make sure that you take note of the "AI War Pre-4.0 Settings Importer" application that you'll find in your start menu.  The importer allows you to import pre-4.0 settings files into the new 4.0 version. Unfortunately, the new versions of AI War can't directly read the legacy settings files because of a bug in the Mono framework (regarding deserializing generic collections, if you're curious).  Our settings importer tool also moves across savegame files as a convenience, although there is no compatibility issue with them.

P.P.S. -- Also, today's beta is just for windows.  Not to slight the people who've been waiting on the OSX version, but we were doing good just to get this one out, and it's already 2am at that.  We also want to make sure we get the tutorials in there before we do any OSX-based version, as we have a sneaky feeling that some people will make the 4.0 betas their first experience with the game despite our admonitions not to do so.  Hey, when you only have the one option on your platform... we can relate.

P.P.S. -- The forum discussion on this release is here.