AI War 2 v0.611 Released! “The Special Forces Have Arrived (Again)”

Release notes here!

This one had a lot of under-the-hood work to further the architecture goal of building the “Major” factions (human player, The AI) with mostly the same toolbox used for the “Minor” factions (Dyson, Devourer, Nanocaust, etc). This implicitly makes them all much more moddable and flexible.

But the result that stands out is that the Special Forces mechanic now stands out. Or rather, it used to be a mechanic, but now it’s a faction in its own right. The main AI makes donations to the SF, but the SF decides what to build and where to go. As in AIWC it acts to defend the AI’s planets against attack. Unlike AIWC, this behavior is more emergent (it should defend the AI against attacks from factions other than you, for instance) and is entirely moddable. If you want to make a SF sub-type that only builds long-range ships and only does sneaky drive-by attacks against the player, that can be done by modding. Or if you want a sub-type that only builds Etherjet Tractors and Widow Guardians and tries to tow the player’s fleet to its destruction, that can be done too.

Enjoy!
Keith

AI War 2 v0.610 Released! “Pay No Attention To The Golem Behind The Curtain”

Release notes here!

This one is an assortment of changes, including another graphics pipeline shift from Chris and some neat stuff from community member BadgerBadger (if you notice a wormhole name glowing red to tell you where a wave is coming from, that’s who to thank).

There are also some further efforts to limit shots being wasted on overkill, so that units on all sides fight “smarter”. In the process of doing that, I might have transformed the Devourer from an imposing menace to an unstoppable killing machine.

One long-anticipated change was support for variable-intensity minor factions. Only the Dyson has it right now, but it can be added to other factions easily now.

Oh, and the game will actually tell you if you’ve won or lost now.

Enjoy!
Keith

Goodbye, Alloy, But Thanks For Teaching Us A Lot

As of our upcoming version 0.610, we’re removing the Alloy Shader framework.

The above is a tutorial for Blue, our artist, though if any modders who are creating custom models are also using substance painter, this shows you how to set up your setup, too. You can also infer pretty easily how to do combinations manually using Photoshop channels to create packed maps, too.

Anyhow, we’re moving away from the Alloy Shader Framework to instead use custom shaders that give us an equivalent look with a vastly reduced workload and with definite compatibility with future unity versions, and this tutorial covers Blue’s side of what needs to change.

The above is a tutorial for Cinth, but this also is useful for any modders who are creating custom graphics for the game.

As noted in this video, this saves us a ton of manual work. A ton.

Also in this video I randomly stumbled across a visual improvement to the custom player ark Rorqual Hegira, so you can see how that evolved a bit thanks to the extra flexibility of this new shader set.

 

AI War 2 v0.608 Released! “Interface Evisceration”

(In case you don’t read our forums or our kickstarter, here’s a link to a recent gameplay video, from before this version’s work)

Release notes here!

This one is almost all about UI.

The meat of it was totally redoing two key parts of the UI: the main ship tooltip, and the pre-game lobby. I’m sure both still need a lot of work, so please give us feedback (note: I know the lobby doesn’t look right on lower resolutions because I tested it on a higher res and made the text too cramped). I would include screenshots for discussion but getting and posting them is a multi-stage process and I’ve really got to get some sleep. Perhaps one of you kind galactic-conquerers would post them instead?

Some key issues with UI scaling have been dealt with, so you should be able to use it reliably all the way down to 30% (its new minimum) if you’ve got a screen suitable to it. Again, feedback both needed and welcome.

Where wormholes show the name of the planet on the other side, they now show that name in the color of the faction that controls said planet. The text and color is now moddable as part of galaxy display modes, so you can have it display something different if you like (and don’t mind the C# code-mine).

Fabricators, ARS’s, and other units that can grant you a specific ship type now include the name of that ship type in their tooltip.

And a few other fixes.

Enjoy!
Keith

AI War 2 v0.607 Released! “Don’t Die Harder, Die Smarter”

Release notes here!

Don’t Die Harder, Die Smarter

This one goes a long way towards making AIW2’s units much more enthusiastic about their jobs.

AI Waves (and Threat in general) now behave in a much more intelligent fashion. Well, except for the enforce-stupid-refusal-to-retreat-for-30-seconds change, which just makes it less annoying. Less annoying to you. Very annoying to the AI.

All ships (not just AI) benefit from the targeting changes that greatly reduce lost efficiency from overkill, and from the pathfinding changes to prefer less dangerous routes where it’s still efficient.

Not many interface improvements this time around, but I know many of you will be happy to see range rings when placing turrets. (You’ll also be able to place more turrets, thanks to the power balance change)

Tachyon units now take their job seriously, and can actually reveal cloaked enemy ships in a reasonable period of time. At least if it’s a reasonable quantity of them. Otherwise you’re still going to be target practice for a bit, but at least you’ll have something to shoot back at.

Even the simulation itself is working smarter, thanks to zealous application of the Ostrich Algorithm for planets with no opposing forces.

And there’s a few other things in there, like a new AI type that loves cloaked units.

Enjoy!
Keith

AI War 2 v0.606 Released! “Input-astrophe”

Release notes here!

This one is about input.

Camera input. Chris redid the entire camera system, and now it’s much more configurable in the Settings window (and the code itself is massively moddable). The “Free Look” mode is a major new thing, but the default view is also very different, in response to player feedback about acceleration, etc.

Keyboard input. Each binding can now support more than one mapping, so both P and Pause/Break can trigger pause, etc. Several bugfixes and changes to make certain keys do what you would expect. Making the unit-commands context menu not open automatically to prevent conflicting with control group number input, and so on.

Mouse input. Added a much-requested feature from AIWC where bandbox selection ignores non-military ships unless they’re the only thing there. Made clicking planets in the galaxy view do what it did in AIWC (“go there” instead of “select this”; you can still select with alt+click). Fixed a key bug that was preventing mouse interaction with ship icons.

Saving you lots of input. The new “budget policy” concept allows you to give high-level commands about how your metal should be allocated, from the simple “suspend spending until we’ve saved up” to the amusingly complex battle-support policy that has multiple levels of prioritization and looks at whether a unit is on a contested planet, etc. This is fully moddable, so if you want to script your economy you can just about do so.

There’s a few other changes as well, including a helpful bit from community member BadgerBadger that reimplements AIWC’s model of waves being planned, announced, and then launched after a countdown instead of just immediately spawned (previously the timer was a projected estimate of when it will be). It’s great to see the modding tools put to good use 🙂 Thanks, Badger!

(if you’re wondering where 0.605 went, I think it had a run-in with the Devourer)

Enjoy!
Keith

AI War 2 v0.603 Released! “Banishment of the Bottom Bar”

Release notes here!

One resounding theme of recent UI feedback is “the upward-expanding pile of buttons at the bottom has got to go”. So for this release we told all the functions in that menu “you ain’t gotta go home, but you can’t stay here”.

The result is a general layout of:
1) Passive info on the top half of the screen
2) Interactable controls on the bottom half
3) Stuff pertaining to your selected units (if any) on the left
4) Stuff pertaining to your selected planet on the right

There was also a major switch in the graphics pipeline (now using Alloy since it recently became open-source and we could thus let modders have access to it) and a move of a ton of visualization code into the external-visualization project, which greatly expands what modders can impact.

Enjoy!
Keith

Some screenshots of newly-painted PBR ships.

These ships are painted by Blue using Substance painter — well, overpainted by Blue.  These were ships that she had previously painted in photoshop directly in a cel-shaded fashion, and which now she’s overpainting to give it a mixed realistic look.

It’s worth bearing in mind a couple of things:

  • These are screenshots from Substance Painter, so it will look a bit different in Unity.   See my recent videos on that subject.
  • These have emissive parts on them, but that REALLY doesn’t show up properly in the substance painter view, so you’ll have to imagine that part for now. 😉

Autocannon Minipod

Old:

First revisions:

My main note on that was that it didn’t feel beat-up enough, although beyond that I really love it.  And, um… what a difference, right??

Newest:

Aww yiss, now we’re talking.

Fighter

Old (although with some improvements that were overdue on the cel-shaded part):

New:

I just love the fighter, with how metal and beat-up it looks now.  It should do particularly well in the in-game lighting and with the lightmaps on. 🙂

Armor Ship

Old:

New:

I also really love the metalness here, and the added details.  I’ve asked about adding a variety of scorch marks on that, though.  We could do a variety of smart masks and then make them black with a very high roughness and potentially low metalness and that effect happens easily.

Bomber

Old:

New:

Overall I really like the bomber, although it feels a bit too gleamy-shiny in some ways.  Maybe having it a bit more worn of a metal as a base there is something we’ll do — or just introducing layers of wear.  I love the scratches we have going on.

Eyebot

Old:

New:

The eyebot is perfect, I love that glassy look it has and how perfect it seems in a lot of ways.  Really a different form of character to it, which is fantastic. 🙂

That’s all for now!

Just thought I’d share a bit of the progress that is being made.  Now I guess that our main problem is that these ships are drawn so bloody small in the battlefield — relative to the camera — that all that awesome detail is lost…

We’ll figure it out.  Someone on kickstarter was mentioning the same thing.  Maybe the answer is smaller squads of larger ships, or using more verticality to fit larger ships in the same radius, or who knows.  I don’t want to shrink the feeling of scale of the game, but at the same time we want to be able to see more than just the icon-fest, at least when zoomed in.

 

More AI War 2 art-related videos!

Figured I’d cross-post this new batch:

The above is a tutorial for Cinth on how to get things ready for Blue to do her painting in Substance Painter. It doesn’t handle the old-style of very-high LODs for us yet, but it gets all the rest of it.

The above is a video for Cinth on how we need to update our existing ship definitions to fit with our new “one material only” approach, which relies on mipmaps and GPU instancing for the bulk of its efficiency, rather than on baked vertex colors and dynamic batching.

The above takes a look at the newly-free alloy shader framework, which we’ve used in other projects, and looks at the difference in quality when we’re now integrating it into AI War 2.

Starting at 8:30 in there is a tutorial for Blue, and at about 23:00 in is a tutorial for Cinth.

https://assetstore.unity.com/packages/vfx/shaders/alloy-physical-shader-framework-11978

https://forum.unity.com/threads/alloy-physical-shader-framework-version-3-for-unity-5.305178/page-34#post-3278461

The above video is about three ships that I’d done with standard shaders previously, including the first backer’s custom Ark, and now they’re converted over to Alloy. Just a video of me working and chatting about it as I do. Why not.

AI War 2 v0.602 Released! “Nice Sidebar You’ve Got There”

Release notes here!

This one focuses on the UI, but there’s a lot of other stuff too.

On the UI front:

1) The “Let’s make a better sidebar” experiment has been abandoned, beaten unconscious, and fed to the Devourer Golem. In some order.
– Now we have a sidebar very much more like the original game’s, though with the extra feature of using each team’s color rather than a standard blue/orange/yellow for me/enemy/ally.

2) The main galaxy map display mode now shows way fewer units (just key units and sensor scramblers), since it was way too cluttered. You can use the other display modes to see the other categories, in turn.
– The planet names also no longer try to name the owner, and instead rely on text color to tell you that. Again, decluttering.

3) The game no longer automatically assigns a “Fighter, Bomber, Missile Corvette” build queue to your Ark. If you want that behavior, you can use the new “Build Policy” behavior menu to set your Ark to just build everything it can. The Build Policy framework is very powerful, and addresses one of the longer-standing UI requests from AIWC (build queue templates) but in a much more flexible way. This allows us or modders to write scripts that control what gets built and in what order, and can automatically adapt to changing conditions from battle losses, which builder is closest to the rally point, tech unlocks, etc.

On other fronts:

4) More updates to the Nanocaust faction from community member BadgerBadger. The very same Badger has also submitted a bunch of changes to the Zenith Dyson Sphere faction to bring its behavior more in line with AIWC. Thanks, Badger!

5) The ratio of ship-size to gravity-well-size has been altered so that more ships can fit into the same space. You can still zoom in to see them honkin’ huge, but one of the biggest balance changes from AIWC to AIW2 was actually that ratio, to an unintentionally huge degree. Made things feel kind of cramped. So this is a step in the right direction, and there’s now a handy lever to tweak it further (the “ship_size_scale” attribute in ExternalConstants, to be precise).

6) Several other things, including another huge chunk of AI code moved into moddable-territory, and fixes for a bunch of bugs, like the one from the last few versions that made the AI always start in “tutorial” mode unless you specifically selected an AI type.

Enjoy!
Keith