Space Game Junkie Pocast recording LIVE tonight at 8pm EST.

Chris here! It’s been a few months since I last did the podcast guest thing, and it’s nice to be getting back on that horse, so to speak. This is a favorite show of mine to guest on, and they’ve moved to a new format with live chat and streaming going on during it.
Here’s the details:
If you miss the show, don’t worry, you can still watch it later on without issues. The main thing you’d be missing is the ability to put questions in through the chat room, assuming the moderators are going to be passing some of those along. I don’t know about you, but I can’t read the chat room while also speaking coherently, so I tend to put it out of my sight as much as possible and rely on the hosts to bring up anything that people want me to address.
Version 0.900
Work on that new version is coming along well, but it’s HUGE in terms of how much code is being changed and how much it adds for players to find, do, etc. I keep coming up with more things I want to address, too, and Puffin and Badger also keep coming up with really good points.
Because of those shifts, most likely we’ll do a 0.850 release first, sometime next week, and only in the beta branch on Steam. It will likely be buggy as heck, and it will definitely be suboptimal in a lot of ways where we’re not remotely finished with some new aspect of the GUI or whatever. There are some GUI subscreens that are needed for the full 0.900 experience that there just isn’t time to do before next week, but it would be good to be getting testing and feedback for other kinds of bugs in the meantime.
Hopefully then we can spend a few weeks finishing the 0.900 work list, polishing whatever is wrong with the beta versions just from the sheer number of code changes, and so on. Various thing that might interest you in the new version:
  • Squads are going away, as I know people weren’t fond of that.
  • Hopefully by 0.900, but not right away next week, we’ll have some replacement icons for ships.
  • There’s a bunch of new ship variants available right out of the gate.
  • There is a new concept of Fleets, which is… kind of Stellaris-like in a vague way as I understand it, but also just kind of its own new thing. It will lead to waaaay larger effective ship caps for you, way more varied battle groups and defensive groups, and in general also a lot less micromanagement.
  • You can read about some of the details here, but those details are at least somewhat out of date, now.
  • You can read the kind of stream-of-consciousness flow of what’s actually changing here, but bear in mind that so many things are half-done that certain things are out without their replacements being in place yet. So please refer to the first document to see what is in general planned, despite the fact that some plans have evolved a bit as implementation has been ongoing.
  • One TLDR problem that this new update addresses is basically I didn’t like how exploration felt in this game. The factions and whatnot are awesome, but the feeling of actual exploration was completely missing from me and it has nothing to do with the amount of content. Throw in more content and it would have just felt more cluttered. Instead it was a matter of how exploration plays out really being suboptimal. So scouting is one thing that is being completely redone, but that’s not the only aspect to exploration that needed work.
  • The other big TLDR problem that this new update addresses was that there were a lot of various things when it comes to managing your empire — in this sequel and the original — that either couldn’t be done very easily, or at all, because of the UI or general design. You had too much or too little control in various ways, a bunch of stuff that needed to be automated in the first game because it was a pain, and a bunch of interfaces that were painful or text-heavy because of the underlying design. There are actually a substantial number of further improvements in these areas that are being discussed by Puffin and Badger and I that aren’t in either of the documents above, but those will most likely come starting after 0.850 next week so that you can comment on those as we go.
This project has been a strange one, because for a goodly while I’ve really loved the tech that we’ve built for it, and I’ve loved the AIs and the factions and a bunch of that sort of thing, but the actual act of playing this game… hasn’t really done it for me. I remember having similar feelings about the original game around this same time of year in 2009, as I was pushing on towards a 1.0 in May of that year.
I’m not sure if 1.0 is still feasible for May of this year or not, but one way or the other this is going to take a titanic leap forward in terms of just letting us all get on with it and enjoy ourselves at the appropriate level of strategic thinking, versus being bogged down in minutiae or not having the tools we need to properly exert control over a giant galactic empire.
Did I mention that this will probably up your effective ship caps by like 10x? So for those folks who have been feeling like things felt too small here compared to the original game, I definitely heard and agree with you. The Fleets concept was something Eric proposed over a year ago, and it’s bringing in some code bits that Keith put together over two years ago but which have never seen much use since then.
All in all, it’s an exciting time, and my enthusiasm for the project has really skyrocketed with the realization that some of those “intractable” problems actually do have solutions that can be resolved — and in the short term, even! A lot of the most key bits are already halfway implemented.
Thanks, as always, for your support!

AI War 2 v0.816 Released! “Aggressive Busting and Stacking”

Release notes here.

This is the last build before the 0.900x phase of the game’s development process, and it’s a big one!

First off, what’s new in this release?

  • A bunch of changes have been made to balance, as usual.
  • Several new ship mechanics have been added, such as a new “Bunker Buster” and “Charger” mechanics.
  • Several new capturable units have been added, such as Zenith Matter Converters, Distribution Nodes, Advanced Factories, and Spire Archives.
  • The AI has had a variety of upgrades that should make it properly more aggressive in a variety of circumstances where it was previously holding back.  Consider yourself warned. 😉
  • A bunch of bugfixes, including finally the fix for that “game command issued noise” sound effect playing when inappropriate.
  • A bunch of changes to stacking of AI units to make it work better, and also feel more like a real game feature rather than just a performance optimization (it was always meant to be both).
  • A huge raft of changes to various minor factions, generally keeping up the arms race that seems to be perpetual with all of them.  Smarter, stronger, more interesting, you get the idea.

Next up… what’s that about a new phase?

  • The new phase is called The Arrival of Fleets, which should give you some ideas on what is planned.
  • The goal with it is to take the game from “that early access feel” to a true 1.0 game.
  • As part of that, along with the goals of making the game feel more like the first game, we’re actually going to be diverging a bit more from the first one in a mechanical sense to converge on it in a “spirit of the beast” sense.
  • Yes, that is vague.
  • I want you to see it in practice before I try to explain it too much, because the document I wrote to outline my plans was 12,000 words long.  Badger and Puffin and Eric have read it and commented quite a bit, and my hope is that we’ll have a version you can actually play within the next week.
  • THAT said, I haven’t actually done a full hours analysis yet, so no promises, but we’re going to be working on it as fast as we can.
  • No you can’t read the document yet, but I will have it for you to read as the release changes come out.  The document is the result of your cumulative feedback over the last three months, and my musings on it as well as suggestions from a variety of you, and it’s enough of a change that I want you to be able to feel it in practice rather than us all armchairing it ad nauseum.
  • If this absolutely hits the fan and is terrible, then we’ve only lost a week, but so far the guys I showed it to are really excited about it to their surprise (and mine), so my hope is that after it comes out we go into revision and refinement as part of the new phase, not a rollback.  Fingers crossed, eh?
  • But either way it’s just hard to have you read a 12k word document and digest that and try to form a big opinion when it isn’t something you’re treating like a job.  Fifteen minutes of just playing in the new system will be so much more informative for you.

We’ll be back soon, but in the meantime you can watch this space in horror/fascination as you see things out of context and partially explained and implemented as we do the release notes. 😉

Problem With The Latest Build?

If you right-click the game in Steam and choose properties, then go to the Betas tab of the window that pops up, you’ll see a variety of options.  You can always choose most_recent_stable from that build to get what is essentially one-build-back.  Or two builds back if the last build had a known problem, etc.  Essentially it’s a way to keep yourself off the very bleeding edge of updates, if you so desire.

The Usual Reminders

Quick reminder of our new Steam Developer Page.  If you follow us there, you’ll be notified about any game releases we do.

Also: Would you mind leaving a Steam review for some/any of our games?  It doesn’t have to be much more detailed than a thumbs up, but if you like a game we made and want more people to find it, that’s how you make it happen.  Reviews make a material difference, and like most indies, we could really use the support.