AI War 2 v0.885 Released! “The Audible Bodyguard”

Release notes here.

This one is pretty darn substantial! 

Audio

On the audio side, one of the things that really spurred me to make that a shorter-term priority is Why the sound of a gun had to be nerfed in Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory, a video that came out yesterday by People Make Games.  I’ve heard similar stories before, but usually I tend to think of that in terms of other semi-tangibles like visual feedback, tells, telegraphs, or general smoothness. 

The non-music side of audio has been something I’ve really put a lot of effort into on a few titles, actually including this game… but the attenuation and general audio levels and mixing in this game was burying it.  There are still some sfx that need to be swapped out in general, I think, but the biggest problem was them cutting out beyond a certain zoom, or getting super quiet, or certain sounds (like explosions) not being mixed at a volume that you can hear well.  The first item in that list was IIRC intentional, but just a bad idea on my part.  And it got worsened over time as we made the far zoom able to go out further.

Anyway, so combat definitely has more “bite” now, which is good.

The Praetorian Guard

In the first game — the original AI War  — we had a thing called the “strategic reserve.”  Basically it was a budget that the AI would hold back and use when you attacked their homeworlds, and it was added after a lot of playtesting suggested we needed something like that.  I think that was a 4.x+ addition, or something along those lines.  But we never felt like that was a good fit for this sequel, for various reasons.

However, the general niche that the strategic reserve filled was definitely needed here.  Players figured out that they could “boil off” the AI homeworlds a bit by going in and aggro’ing them, then letting the aggro’d guards join the hunter or warden fleets (and thus then leave and go elsewhere).  As long as you could survive the roaming hunter or warden or both, or keep them distracted, then you had a MUCH easier AI homeworld to deal with.  Stupidly easier, really.

For whatever reason, I immediately started thinking of this in soccer terms when this was brought to my attention.  Essentially in a lot of sports like that one, you have some forwards/offense, some midfield/versatile, some defenders, and then probably the “final defender” (aka goalie).   What I realized is that we basically had an AI structure with just offense and midfielders, with “inactive midfielders” that, once aggro’d, would go off and stop defending the goal, so to speak.

If this were soccer or hockey, it would be terribly unbalanced to either have a ton of new midfielders that can join an offensive at-will once the ball first goes near their goal.  It would also be incredibly risky if they all chose to act like forwards.  Where the heck are the dedicated defenders?

AI War 2 has the main AI faction (or “Sentinels”) that are basically defacto guards/goalies at each planet until aggro’d and abandoned.  After that they either join the warden (midfielders, or somewhat floating defenders), or hunter (very predatory/lurking offense).

For MOST of the game, these three sub-groups work just well.  It’s at the hoomeworld that this falls apart.  I had been against adding a strategic reserve to this game partly because it would just feed the hunter, making it so that when you attack the AI homeworld you’d be inevitably involved in a two-front battle (your planets and their homeworld), and it would turn into a race or a game of attrition or something else un-fun and uncharacteristic of the rest of the game.  Basically it was going to be un-balanceable without sometimes slaughtering you and other times being laughably easy.   It being a nice middle-ground was going to be the rare case.

So… we needed defenders.  Only for the very end of the game, and only for the AI homeworlds, but it was super needed.  The warden and the hunter can’t be fed — there needed to be something that acted kind of like half and half of those two, in terms of general logic, but which really prioritized protecting the AI homeworld(s).  It couldn’t “leave the goal open,” but it also shouldn’t detract from the hunter or warden’s ability to strike or buffer you elsewhere (so having the hunter or warden suddenly change behaviors and act like a defender fleet was going to be bad because they might be too slow to respond and that also could be exploitable, and that also would eliminate any interesting chances for the AI to give you a two-front battle — the two-front battles aren’t something I hate, I just didn’t want them to be an inevitability every endgame).

Right: so we talked about it, and Badger implemented the Praetorian Guard.  These guys work as described as above, and keep the homeworld fights interesting while not letting off the pressure on the rest of the galaxy.  They fill the same niche as the strategic reserve, but without a risk of making the rest of the galaxy more dangerous in a generalized sense (they can’t add pressure on offense, given they are dedicated defenders).

You’ll have to start a new game to see these guys in action, but I’m very interested to see what happens with them.  Should be good!  I guess we need to make sure they show up in “quick start” games, incidentally.  If not, we can fix that in code.

Stacking

A bunch more changes have been made to stacking, centering  around bugfixes and balance, both.  There were some cases where stacks were much easier to deal with than they would have been if they were un-stacked, and that no longer should be so severe.

More New Stuff!

  • There area couple of new achievements, although you can’t see them yet.
  • You can hack exogalactic wormholes to cancel them, which is pretty slick.  I love having more ways to use hacking points instead of military might.
  • The Advanced Research Stations are a bit more intuitive, and a bit more balanced, and a bit more varied.
  • A bunch of work on how orders are given and copied have been put in place, and there should be fewer issues with decollision messing up orders, or with units losing their orders after one ship on a stack is blown up, etc.
  • The long-range planning for factions, which is basically their “conscious intelligence” now runs more frequently, but without bogging anything down.  The AI should therefore be a lot more responsive to rapid changes in the current situation.
  • A variety of AI types have balance tweaks that make them a lot more unique and interesting.
  • Watchman frigates are no longer so bloody expensive in energy or metal costs!

More to come soon.  Enjoy!

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.

Enjoy!

Chris

AI War 2 v0.884 Released! “The Helping Hat”

Release notes here.

This one is a bunch of bugfixes and some balance tweaks, and some bits to help you find the in-game tutorial. 

Sidebar: The title of this release is randomly a reference to Meet the Robinsons, which I highly recommend to anyone with kids.  But it kinda fits the mix of “tutorials plus AI,” I guess.

Details?

  • A lot of people were missing the “How To Play” section, and asking the same questions over and over again.  Even some of us directly working on the game were not remembering that you could see it in the in-game escape/pause menu.  Clutter!  There’s colorization now to make it way easier to see.
  • The How To Play section has a new bit on hacking, with some useful tidbits.
  • The AI warden and hunter logic is now improved such that it should now be much more formidable.  Before the units could sometimes trickle in, and now they go in full-force.
  • There were some truly infuriating-to-players bugs (sorry about that!) relating to the fact that player units can now stack.  When I wrote the stacking code, it assumed it would never be for human units, so there was some older code fighting against us.  All seems to be well, now.
  • There was also an unrelated bug with waves not spawning units.   Wow that made things easier!
  • The balance of some of the key AI structures has been tuned based on player feedback.
  • Similarly, the balance of some of the player starting fleets.

More to come soon.  Enjoy!

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.

Enjoy!

Chris

AI War 2 v0.882-0.883 Released! “Research and Reconquest”

Release notes here.

This is a hefty release, with a lot of welcome gameplay, performance, and technical improvements.

So, details?

  • There is now an “autobuild factories” option, which is helpful.
  • Magnifiers and Alarm Posts are back.
  • Advanced Research Stations (ARSes) are back, although they work differently from the first game or from earlier in this game; they augment the fleets system.  Each of these gets a Frigate or Strikecraft type; hacking the ARS grants that ship line to the hacking flagship.
  • A bunch of new icons are available, and are used by some of the new capturables.
  • Hacking a specific target (like an ARS) is now done by the flagship closest to the target, and also decloaks that flagship.
  • When the AI reconquers a planet, its Guard Posts will ‘Warp In’ over the next 10 minutes, each bringing with it a small company of guardians.  It was frustrating (particularly on high-mark planets) for the AI to instantly get hundreds of strength of defenses on a planet after reconquering. This now gives you a window to counterattack and destroy the helpless Warping In guard posts.
  • A big laundry list of bugfixes.
  • Another big laundry list of performance improvements.
  • Stacking for player ships, for the first time, so that you can have crazy  ship caps in the late game without tanking your performance.
  • Updated the Steamworks integration, so hopefully that works properly now on OSX and Linux (please let us know!).

The Performance Snipe Hunt

I spent a LOT more time than expected chasing down late-game performance issues in this build, mainly because I was concerned that those could bleed over into more games than realistically they were at the time of the last release.  It was time well spent, because we fixed a number of bugs we would not have found any other way, and a number of savegames will perform better than ever.

However, there’s still some elusive timing issue in certain savegames, and I can’t find what it is despite basically building a custom performance profiler into the game over the last eight days.  Eyeroll.  But it’s funny, because one game with 200k ships might perform better than another with only 60k ships.  And it’s not the AI logic, and it’s no longer decollisions or something like that.

In all those cases, you can crank up the game speed and still get a realtime game speed, although now it’s much more kind to the networking interface (for the future) than it would have been.  So fast-forward to the rescue, I guess.  It’s just choppy in those circumstances. 

The few remaining problem cases tend to be with a lot of factions on, and a lot of battles at once, and late into the game, and usually more than 100k ships out there;  most of those run at least 2x as fast now as they did for me previously, which is a good thing.  Unless we really hit some trouble spots, I think I may set aside performance stuff until post-1.0 (only a month or so left!) and focus on tutorials and other things that affect a much wider group of players. 

Most late-game campaigns actually perform just peachy, having CPU time to spare despite the insane simulation size.  So this thing is optimized as heck, really.  But it’s a personal irritation for sure when there are some semi-rare cases where I’m not sure why things aren’t as smooth as I’d like.  Frankly in those same circumstances, in the original game you’d be running at something like a quarter of wall clock time with far less going on, whereas here you can at least keep things realtime even if the ships jump around a bit in a way that irritates me.  So I’ll set that aside and just work on the bigger fish at this point.

More to come soon.  Enjoy!

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.

Enjoy!

Chris

AI War 2 v0.881 Released! “AI Neighborhood Watch”

Release notes here.

A neighborhood watch is normally something that is neighbors looking out for one another, but in this case I’m mis-naming the release in honor of the algorithm changes that Badger made to protect PLAYERS from having so darn many mark 6 and 7 planets in their galaxies.  New galaxies generated in the game should be a lot more palatable.

So, what else?

  • Interface improvements to the top bar (the various things you can click for more details).
  • Golems for the Warden fleet (yow!).
  • Marauders now more deadly.
  • Several bugfixes in code both new and old.
  • Several new tools to help us FIND some rare-ish bugs that we can’t repro locally.
  • Other conveniences like you not accidentally being able to build things that would put you into negative energy (and thus lose your forcefields all at once).

More to come soon.  Enjoy!

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.

Enjoy!

Chris

AI War 2 v0.880 Released! “Belatedly Finding Friends… And Enemies”

Release notes here.

I took a break from the tutorials work, and instead focused on performance when it comes to big background battles between warring other factions that you might run across. 

There’s more that we can probably make even more performant in that area, but we need to do more profiling and figure out things that we can spread out more across more sim steps in addition to what already is being spread.  In case the new performance tweaks give you problems of some sort, there’s an option in the Galaxy Options tab, under the Performance section, to turn that off.

At any rate, I want to see what happens with that as we’re adding ever more stuff that might be fighting offscreen and out of sight — it shouldn’t be causing your main game to bog down like you were seeing before.  But that’s something we can definitely look into more on the new framework that now exists.  I also wanted to get the new framework in sooner than later so that any bugs that are in it can be found suitably in advance of 1.0.

So, what else?

  • Badger came up with the idea that certain factions — right now the Devourer Golem, the Nanocust, the Human Resistance Fighters, and the Marauders — can be friends or foes that you discover partway into a game even if you didn’t choose them from the start in the “custom start” lobby (or if they weren’t baked into your chosen quick start).
  • Basically, this makes it so that as a game is going along, you can suddenly have a new wrinkle thrown in with one or more factions joining the party late… and likely making up for lost time, either to your benefit or not. 
  • I’m a big fan of this, as this lets you either customize things up-front, or change your mind and add something later if you think it will help (or might hurt the AI more than it hurts you, anyway).
  • Neutral planets controlled by a non-player, non-AI faction now show with the colors of that faction.  That’s really helpful for Dyson Spheres, Nanocaust, and other things like that.
  • Fixed a confusing thing with transports, which was causing some people to think they couldn’t load or unload them.  You should now find that it “just works” as you would expect, but let us know if not.
  • We fixed a bunch of other bugs.
  • Zenith Trader purchases no longer cost you AIP if you lose them, which mirrors how they were in the first game.
  • Mercenaries now have much more varied units!
  • Hacking is now something the AI responds more strongly to, and for superterminals they start doing exogalactic strikes against you so that you can’t just blob all your ships on the superterminal world and ignore the rest of the galaxy.

More to come soon.  Enjoy!

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.

Enjoy!

Chris

AI War 2 v0.879 Released! “Many Fixes and the Tutorial Rework Starts”

Release notes here.

A smaller one, while we get a lot of work done on the new tutorial framework.  But still some exciting fixes, and other tweaks.

  • Hacking no longer freezes flagships in place, and doesn’t have bugs related to canceling hacks anymore, and also shows a message explaining why your flagships can’t leave that planet.
  • Forcefields no longer cause ships to get stuck against them.
  • Officer fleets with Arks and Golems are no longer going to be QUITE so late-game, aka not right to an AI homeworld.
  • The whole “ship caps changing as you change them between different fleets” thing is no longer a worry.  Wow that was confusing.
  • Some other clarity things relating to swapping ships between fleets have been added, such as showing the ship counts in the interface.
  • Plus fixed a kind of sideways way you could get multiple copies of the same ship line in one fleet, thus causing manyproblems.
  • Mercenary Flagships got radar dampening, making them way more likely to live!
  • Transports that you give an attack order to (for purposes of the ships coming out of them) will no longer wander off to the southwest.
  • If the game has an exception on startup, it should always now show you rather than sometimes just seeming like loading xml assets was hung.
  • A LOT of work has been done on the new tutorials framework, but  it’s not ready yet.  I’m really hoping that we start getting some player-made tutorials in there as I flesh out the framework more, incidentally.  Some of them can be more scenario-like kind of like a “can you even win this” sort of “tutorial” if you want to. 😉

More to come soon.  Enjoy!

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.

Enjoy!

Chris

AI War 2 v0.878 Released! “Fleet Customization”

Release notes here.

Dang this one is big!  Lots of long-awaited features in here:

  • You can now swap ship lines between mobile fleets you control, thus letting you mix and match your forces better and have themed fleets.
  • A lot of the fleets are more themed now in general.
  • There are some new and improved “game 101” explanations included in the how to play section.
  • Transports work vastly better, with a number of quality of life improvements like having ships that are constructed for a transport-with-stuff-in-it appear in it rather than next to it, and many many more.
  • The ability from the first game to set preferred targets for specific ships of yours is now in place here, too; for instance having this one specific selection of your ships target pike corvettes or whatever.
  • The Zenith Power Generator can no longer be cheesed from the Zenith Trader, but is still an interesting and valid choice from them.
  • There are new “Watchman Frigates” available at all your command stations, giving you some mobile ships to hunt down small AI stragglers without having to bring your fleets home just to tidy up one sniper or whatever.
  • Fixed several bugs relating to shots, which were sometimes leading to invincible almost-dead units, and in other cases degrading performance.
  • Fixed several bugs related to AI guarding ships and how those interacted with stacks, which would give the AI ridiculous numbers of ships (one savegame had more than 2 million pike corvettes in it) in a very short amount of time, thus making balance way off and degrading performance.  This was probably not affecting most saves, but if you parked next to a warden post it would often get triggered, and AI civil wars would trigger it.
  • Fixed a number of UI annoyances with data that was flickering or jumping around or otherwise not stable, mainly because of things that needed to be buffered for the display thanks to multithreading going on.

More to come soon.  Enjoy!

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.

Enjoy!

Chris