Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Curatorial Vs Exploratory Game Design

Two big trends in game design these days are cinematic and sandbox games, but AI War designer Chris Park feels that these are simply the latest manifestations of a much deeper division in game design practices that goes back to the very earliest days of the medium.  More to the point, he feels like most of the games ever made are some various combination of the two styles of game design.

Curatorial Vs Exploratory Game Design

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Like Chess, A Game Of AI War Has Three Abstract "Phases"

In-depth look at the three phases of a campaign of AI War, and the way that strategies grow and change over the course of such a campaign.

Chess, A Game Of AI War Has Three Abstract "Phases"

Designing Emergent AI, Part 6: The "Tempo," and AI vs. Player Agency

Continuing the series of articles about the AI in AI War.  Discusses player agency versus AI agency, and why the gameplay of AI War is based around keeping the AI deviously reactive rather than ever fully giving it the "tempo." Makes comparisons to games in other genres, most notably the various sorts of FPS games and why their AI is alternatively either more or less reactive based on their respective subgenre of FPS.

Designing Emergent AI, Part 6: The "Tempo," and AI vs. Player Agency

Thursday, May 6, 2010

AI War 3.120 Released!

Arcen’s primary focus has still been on Tidalis since the release of our last massive 3.060 update to AI War: Fleet Command, but nonetheless a ton has been happening over the last few months with our massive strategy title. The AI has learned some new tricks, performance and balance are better than ever, Golems (from The Zenith Remnant) are vastly more useful, and we've laid the groundwork for a lot of features that we're planning on expanding over the coming months (auto-generated epilogues, AI Plots, and so forth).
Here’s the list of particularly notable features out of the typical-for-Arcen hundreds of changes:
-Major new Border Aggression behavior for the AI is the largest single new addition to the AI since Cross Planet Attacks were introduced.
-Four new Heavy Beam Cannons (Mark I-IV).
-Huge performance improvements for the largest battles, game loading, and more.
-Focus fire control node options added, along with other various new control nodes.
-Many various improvements to ship autofire targeting in general.
-Many significantly rebalanced units, including MLRS, Anti-Armor, Transports, Sentinel Frigates, Scout Starships, all melee ships, mines, all Golems. Many of these units are like all-new (and much more useful) ships.
-ClearType text is now used, resulting in vastly more attractive fonts.
-New AI modifiers for optional less-Tower-Defense-inspired gameplay for advanced players: No Wave Warnings, Cross Planet Waves
-New AI Plots feature for more exciting endgames: the first one, Avenger, is now available and more will come in the coming months.
-New lobby options for starting with a largely invisible galaxy which is only revealed as exploration is undertaken (normally you can see all the planets and their connections, just not any details whatsoever about the planets).
-Dozens upon dozens of other, smaller, balance tweaks, interface tweaks, and bugfixes.
Our next major version will probably be a couple of months out, as we're realizing that bi-monthly official releases simply fit our schedule and testing cycle better. New beta versions come out regularly a couple of times per week, so you can always keep up to date on the latest and greatest inwork features through the AI War forums or via the in-game updater.
In August we're planning on releasing a version that switches the game to prerequisite-less Unity 3D, and also adds a Mac OSX version of the game, along with some other updates that will be in tandem with that (better updater tools, etc). The second expansion for AI War is currently planned come after both Tidalis and Alden Ridge are released, which means most likely we won't see another full-fledged expansion for AI War until late Q1 2011 at the earliest. However, with the upcoming Mac version of the game, and all the huge updates that are always coming out as free DLC, there's certainly no risk of the game getting stagnant!
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 see the following posts in this topic.

- The official installer can be found via one of our mirrors.
- The raw full files of 3.120 in a zip can be found here: http://www.arcengames.com/share/AIWar3120Full.zip
- The manual patch of 3.060 to 3.120 can be downloaded from here: http://www.arcengames.com/share/AIWar3120Patch.zip

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

All Advice You Hear (Even From Me) Is Wrong

Chris Park discusses why advice in general, but most specifically advice for aspiring indie developers, is often semi-applicable at best.  This doesn't make advice useless, but this article talks about why it's important for advice-seekers to maintain the right frame of mind when taking advice.

All Advice You Hear (Even From Me) Is Wrong

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Tidalis Beta 0.407 Released, Major Updates and New Videos

Version 0.407 of Tidalis, which has been inwork for a surprisingly long amount of time for one of our beta updates, is now out. If you look at the full features list, you can definitely see why it took more time than usual. The major new feature here is multi-well co-op play on the local computer, which has a lot of exciting possibilities that we're just starting to tap. This also paves the way for our Vs and network play modes, which will be making an appearance soon.

Also new in this version are more art/music background themes, more special blocks, the first few usable items, updates to the level editor, added animation techniques and general polish, more block skins including even better colorblind support, and dozens of more minor features. Things are moving fast as usual with Arcen, and we're looking to be right on schedule for our planned full release in early July (Windows and Mac OSX at first -- other platforms are under consideration for the fall and beyond).

We've also put together a new pair of videos for the game:

View Larger Version

View Larger Version

AI War and Zenith Remnant Bundle 67% Off This Weekend At Direct2Drive

The fourth week of Direct2Drive’s spring sale continues, and this week there's an incredible discount on an AI War bundle! The promotion only runs for another 5 days, so be sure to check it out! This bundle is about the lowest price you're likely to see AI War for some time to come.