AI War 2 v0.707 Released! “Activating Mk2 Grinding Machine”

Release notes here!

Before I talk more about the release, I should note that the GUI focus groups ( here ) are being an enormous help. Thanks so much to everyone helping there! We’re nearing a final design for various pre-game screens (main menu, lobby, etc) and look forward to getting those implements while the discussion expands to include the in-game screens when it’s time for that.

Ok, back to the release itself:

This one is actually part 2 of a release; part one was last weekend.

These notes get a bit difficult to write because there’s a lot of “we worked on everything!” going on lately. If you want to know what changed, the wiki notes linked above are your best bet.

Nonetheless, here are some highlights:

1) Tons more units have been wired up with their proper models and formations (continuing thanks to Pepisolo and Goldenwolf for that)

2) The settings menu has been reorganized with the many different settings divvied up amongst tabs. Thanks, Badger!

3) The bottom-left menu has been heavily redone. Doesn’t look any prettier, but I hope it’s easier to use and less confusing. Among other things, it now responds to the F1-F9 keys instead of the 1-9 keys, so it doesn’t have conditional conflicts with the control group numbers. This also allows it to return to always-shown status (and only one base menu, instead of two context-specific ones, which caused a lot of confusion).

4) Lots of balance changes. Notably, the Warden Fleet is now much less in your face and much less powerful. It was doing its job of countering player attacks, but it was doing it too well.

5) Many performance improvements, most notably the organization of individual squad ships into subsquads that save on lots of unity transform updates.

6) The title screen is now much improved based on forum feedback.

And a lot of other stuff.

Enjoy!
Keith

AI War 2 v0.704 Released! “About that Flair”

Release notes here!

This one (0.703 and 0.704) includes a wide variety of changes:
* A ton of work on getting multiplayer functional again (still a ways to go, but it’s much further along).
* A variety of quality-of-life improvements like edge-scrolling working despite UI elements, and selecting builders with B unsuppressing the build menu if you had suppressed it.
* Fixes for some multithreading issues that were causing the game to bog down exponentially faster than they normally would in certain intense situations (more coming on that front).
* Fixes for some bugs that were killing the OSX build.
* Alterations to make the “main menu ship” more visually interesting without you feeling like it was pressed up against the screen.
* Tooltips in the lobby (and making them show on top of other things).
* A couple more batches of unit models integrated.

But the main and most obvious change is that all the ship icons have been redone. You know those color strips under a bunch of the icons to tell the different turrets apart (same with starships, guardians, etc)? Those were the “flairs”. Bye-bye flairs! Now all the turrets, etc, get a unique icon.

That said, the icons have to communicate a ton of information, so please tell us how they’re doing at that.

Enjoy!
Keith

SMF — Simple Machine Forums — For Newbies

Loads of people use social media and are excellent with computers, but that doesn’t mean that the archaic form of communication known as internet forums means much to them. In many ways, forums have more in common with the BBS days of yore than they do with modern social media or email or word processing, so it’s worth going over how to use forum software even for someone who’s not remotely a tech newbie. Enjoy. 🙂

And yes, this relates tangentially to AI War 2, because this video is mainly for Dune, my dad, since this software is new to him and he’s helping out specifically with some forum conversation steering and moderation.

We also have a number of other kickstarter backers who might be intimidated by forums, I have no idea, so there’s always the chance this is useful to one of them.

AI War 2 v0.702 Released! “Activating Mk1 Grinding Machine”

Release notes here!

During the development cycle of various AIWC expansions I reached a phase where I started naming the releases “Sanding Machine”, “Mk2 Sanding Machine”, and so on. It was a polish phase, albeit a violent sort of polishing.

We’re not to the sanding stage yet here, but “Grinding” or maybe “Crushing”, like this: https://youtu.be/0bSmO9N25Yk?t=1m32s

Tons of changes in this version. I almost named the release “Plasma Siege Cannon”, after my favorite change (Plasma Torpedoes are now AOE with an awesome explosion animation), but the visual improvements are much broader than that. Probably most of those are from volunteer BadgerBadger, and they’ve made a MASSIVE difference.

There’s also a neat gameplay change: when I took the shield off the Ark, I unintentionally made the game a lot more annoying as that led to your Ark being pushed around by any enemy shields (previously it could usually push them around, having the bigger shield). That’s a legitimate behavior: when an enemy shield touches a unit, the unit gets pushed out of the way.

But the Ark now has the “is_chuck_norris” flag (not actually called that): when an enemy shield touches the Ark, the _shield_ gets pushed out of the way.

This allows for interesting, daring, and probably foolhardy tactics for busting up enemy turret balls much faster than normal: turn your Ark into a bowling ball and deprive the turrets of their cover. Never mind the fact that you just threw your King in amongst all the enemy pieces.

Enjoy!
Keith

Swizzle Lists! A nonintuitive data structure for AI War 2.

It really seems like there ought to be a quicker explanation for this, but to explain the fundamental goals, the pitfalls, and the usage constraints of this data type… well, data types are hard to explain if they’re off the beaten path. This one is really useful, but also pretty strange.

edit: Aaaand Badger figured out the bug, which was not in this code, while I was making the video. Hopefully someone else finds this useful or interesting. 😉

Using Mantis Bugtracker, And What Everything There Means

Primarily for new moderator/admin Dune, but we know a lot of folks find this sort of thing interesting, so here it is for everyone.

If any other indies are using a bugtracker, this isn’t a bad approach to take, incidentally — we’ve handled almost 20,000 reports over the last 7 or so years in this. The first two years were spent with bug reports going through our forums — yuck! Definitely glad not to be doing that anymore.

AuGMENTED Goes Gold

It’s here! Arcen Games are proud to finally announce the launch of the first Starward Rogue expansion: AuGMENTED. Available now!

This is a bumper content pack for Starward Rogue featuring the following list of goodies:
* A new gold floor with unique challenges and rewards
* 4 new music tracks composed by Pablo Vega and The Overthinkers
* 3 new mechs: The Zephyr, The Paladin, and the Warhog
* 90+ new items
* 30+ new enemies
* 125+ new rooms
* 8 new room obstacles such as the pulse trap and the flamethrower turret
* 10+ challenge rooms (a new room type exclusive to the gold floors)
* 6 new minibosses
* 9 new bosses

We are also introducing Starward Rogue: Gold Edition which is a package deal featuring both the base game and AuGMENTED. Both AuGMENTED and the Gold Edition will also be on 10% discount until January 31.
It’s been a lot of work, but AuGMENTED is something we’re very proud of over at Arcen Games. Thanks, everybody. Hail to the Hydral! 🙂
We also wanted to make a special thanks to Windless Zephyr for inspiring the Zephyr mech, and also for providing us with so many episodes of your long-running Starward Rogue series! 🙂

AI War 2 v0.700 Released! “Hunting The Wild Beta Beast”

Release notes here!

This one has a ton of improvements from the main menu background to the message you get when you inevitably lose. (Ok, it’s not completely inevitable). And just about everything in between. We’re approaching beta rapidly. For the full story please read the notes on the wiki, but here are some highlights:

1) The lobby has a lot more options, including difficulty settings for all three parts of your AI opponent (the occupying Sentinels, the roaming defensive Warden Fleet, and the predatory Hunter Fleet). The framework for showing a large number of (moddable) custom option for each faction is also in, and is used to support the difficulty options.

2) Tons more units now have their proper graphics (thanks to Pepisolo and Goldenwolf!), as do flak and lightning explosions (lots of iteration there, may not be done). Badger also fixed up a ton of squishy vis-layer bugs causing the wrong number of ships to show in squads, lots of shots to not draw properly (or at all), etc. Thanks, Badger (and for a ton of other changes too)! Together with ship on-death explosions and shield on-hit effects (both possibly still too subtle) the visual feedback of the game has improved massively. Naturally, this involved multiple distinct subsystem swaps to get the particle-like behavior necessary.

3) New Camera! Again! This one’s actually good! When it doesn’t get locked into a psychedelic death spiral! (we fixed the death spiral bug before this release). It’s also regrettably closed-source, but modding other cameras is still possible.

4) The play area around each planet is now much larger and feels much less like a cage match and much more like AIWC. We may go even larger, let us know what you think.

5) Some major rebalancing. Starships are now “cap of one” units and thus very powerful individually. You also have to unlock even the Mark 1 variants, which effectively means that one of your first decisions is which 3 Mark 1 starships to unlock for your starting fleet (or to get Mark 1 and 2 of a single type, or to save some Science for other stuff). The choice makes a pretty big difference in the feel of the initial fighting. Similarly, turrets are no longer unlocked by default, but unlocking them is very powerful since you can put a full cap of each turret on each planet you control.

6) Also part of rebalancing, but worth its own point: Shields are very different now. The mechanic itself is the same, but you’ll see _way_ fewer shields than you used to, on both sides. Battles now see serious casualties much earlier in general. Not even your Ark has a shield now (the Ark’s now just a 600,000 hit-point Armored Ball Of Iron, its combat role is mostly just replacing your fleet ship losses mid-battle). If you want a shield early on you have to unlock a shield starship, which means only getting 2 of the other types (at most), though that’s generally still worth it.

Enjoy!
Keith

AI War 2 v0.613 Released! “When Changes Escape”

Release notes here!

Normally there’s some rhyme or reason to a release. In this case it was just time for these changes to escape. It’s pretty quiet at the end of a year and we’re mostly occupied with celebrations and other non-professional-work stuff, but there’s still been some progress.

The credits for this release don’t reflect community member BadgerBadger’s contributions as much as previous releases, since Badger is now largely writing the release notes for said contributions. Suffice it to say, we could just write a big “Thanks, Badger!” somewhere in every set of release notes and that would be pretty accurate.

One specific change that may help playability significantly is that the unit mouseovers are now not nearly as “sticky” (since you no longer need to be able to mouseover the mouseovers).

But there’s also a bunch of other stuff like another graphics pipeline shift (bloom is gone) and the ability to pick between the two Ark types currently defined (the normal one and the one the dolphins used to get out of Dodge).

Enjoy!
Keith

AI War 2 v0.612 Released! “AI Hunters and the Turrets that Stop Them”

Release notes here!

It’s been a while since the last release, largely because there’s a lot in this one.

The AI has undergone a bit of an overhaul. On the broad scale there’s the implementation of the Hunter Fleet (in AIWC we called it the Threatfleet) and refinement of the Warden Fleet (called the Special Forces in AIWC and AIW2 until now). On the small scale there’s a bunch of changes to how the AI handles being locally outmatched. Overall, your opponent is much more threatening now.

On the other side, you now have a lot more capacity to build defensive depth. I’ve gone back and forth on a bunch of models of how to make turrets make sense with the per-planet power resource and the per-planet caps AND the need to unlock the turret techs. In the end I’ve decided to just try not having them cost power. Other stuff still costs power, so you have to decide on what mix of shields, tractors, tachyon, gravity, etc to put on each planet, but in general the main limitation on how many turrets you put down is how much metal you have on hand to build them and how much science you want to spend unlocking more turrets (and thus increasing your cap).

Speaking of things getting smarter, the Devourer saw some AI improvements. Your turrets won’t help you with that.

There’s several improvements to the user interface that are small but important (escape closing settings window, save menu not passing keyboard input through to the game, etc), the new-game experience no longer has the possibility of dropping hapless new players straight into combat. Finally, I hope you like the new set of faction colors to choose from.

Enjoy!
Keith