AI War 2 v1.321 Released! “Enjoy Your Break, Voice Lady”

It’s rare that I include a joke in the title of a release, but this one was a comment by StarKelp on discord and was too good to pass up.  He helped find a really annoying QoL bug with the voice lines playing repetitively in certain cases, so here we are.  Full release notes here.

  • A variety of bugfixes that make life more pleasant and/or make the enemy more deadly.
  • Your own forcefields that are bumped out of the way by enemy Norris Effect units will now move back into position on their own, thus re-covering wormholes that previously were just left open.  This is a pretty major addition when you’re fighting certain enemies that push your shields around, and was the thing I wouldn’t have thought to do.  Big kudos to Badger on adding this!
  • Added a new Damage Amplification thanks to Quinn, who has basically created a new mechanic for ships that can be used to counter golems and other super-units with ships that use this mechanic.  This mechanic is available for modders immediately, and we’re working on ships of our own to make use of it.

More to come soon!

Please Do Report Any Issues!

If you run into any bugs, we’d definitely like to hear about those.

The release of this game has been going well so far, and I think that the reviews that folks have been leaving for the game have been a big help for anyone passing by who’s on the fence.  For a good while we were sitting at Overwhelmingly Positive on the Recent Reviews breakdown, but there have been a lot fewer reviews lately and so that has definitely had a material negative effect.  Go figure.  Having a running selection of recent reviews definitely is helpful, but at least we have a pretty healthy set of long-term reviews.  If you’ve been playing the game and enjoying  it, we’d greatly appreciate it if you’d drop by and leave your own thoughts, too.

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 super detailed, 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 v1.320 Released! “Intelligence Intensifies”

Another week, another six beta releases which now are officially out here.  This is a big one!  For the full story, you’ll want to start reading at 1.310, if you haven’t been on the beta branch.

  • First up, the Warden fleet of the AI now uses fire teams.  This is… a complete game-changer for them.  You can’t trick and trap them like you used to, although you can still mess with them in various ways.  They’re just way smarter and more fluid in how they respond to your messings.
  • We went through a ton of code and fixed up any potential problems that we found during a code review.  This cleaned up a few rare bugs that may or may not have actually been seen in the wild by players yet.
  • Fixed a variety of achievements that were not properly triggering — huge thanks to Quinn for putting in those fixes for us!
  • Fixed a bug where in certain circumstances, NPC factions could cause AI ships to turn threat against you, leading to your unexpected doom.
  • Improved some more of the fire team logic so that they don’t get distracted by things like command-station-remains (which are already shot to death and do not require further shooting at this time).  Prior to this, certain fire teams could get stuck waiting around to kill something that was already dead, thus letting you avoid the consequences of the hunter being after you.
  • The debug menu has been updated heavily to show which items are considered cheats and which are not.  One item that was previously a cheat — revealing the entire map — is now just considered a “lifestyle choice.”  In the first game you could choose to play with the entire map revealed from the start, after, all, so why not here?
  • We also added an option that lets you scout the entire map but not have each planet permanently watched.  Neither of these count as cheats.
  • We also made several substantial improvements to how we read in xml from mods, enabling some new functionality for modders.
  • Fixed a couple of cross-threading issues that could see drones get lost when they went back into their hub ship, or which could see stacks dying incorrectly in terms of the actual number of lost units.  This was majorly weakening some units previously, particularly if you had your stack caps set unusually low.
  • Some re-balance to the marauder empires, which could get overlarge and slow things down — now that they are so much smarter, they don’t need quite as many units to mop the floor with enemies, anyway.
  • Exos (of a certain strength) are now able to launch against you on multiple planets simultaneously, splitting their forces and then coming for you from several angles.  This makes them look better as they swarm in, being less stacked up, and also makes defending against them more challenging.
  • A variety of other bugfixes, tweaks, UI refinements, and so on.
  • If this doesn’t sound quite as large of a release as I made it out to be at the start of the post… just wait until you see the difference in the warden and the hunter fleets and how that changes the game for you.  It’s a whole new ballgame these days.

More to come soon!

Please Do Report Any Issues!

If you run into any bugs, we’d definitely like to hear about those.

The release of this game has been going well so far, and I think that the reviews that folks have been leaving for the game have been a big help for anyone passing by who’s on the fence.  For a good while we were sitting at Overwhelmingly Positive on the Recent Reviews breakdown, but there have been a lot fewer reviews lately and so that has definitely had a material negative effect.  Go figure.  Having a running selection of recent reviews definitely is helpful, but at least we have a pretty healthy set of long-term reviews.  If you’ve been playing the game and enjoying  it, we’d greatly appreciate it if you’d drop by and leave your own thoughts, too.

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 super detailed, 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 v1.309 Released! “Instigator Cheekiness”

Release notes here.  This is a small one, mainly hotfixes.

  • The Devourer now eats the Trader, as it should.
  • Instigator bases now spawn much closer to you until 600 AIP, after which they can get fully cheeky again.  Previously they could really mess with you at random starting at only 300 AIP.
  • There were a couple of brand-new bugs that you could run into thanks to the new pathfinding code, and those are fixed.
  • There were several longer-standing bugs that are also fixed.
  • The top-of-screen notifications for Cross Planet Attacks are more succinct and don’t have a largely-useless subscreen.

More to come soon!

Please Do Report Any Issues!

If you run into any bugs, we’d definitely like to hear about those.

The release of this game has been going well so far, and I think that the reviews that folks have been leaving for the game have been a big help for anyone passing by who’s on the fence.  For a good while we were sitting at Overwhelmingly Positive on the Recent Reviews breakdown, but there have been a lot fewer reviews lately and so that has definitely had a material negative effect.  Go figure.  Having a running selection of recent reviews definitely is helpful, but at least we have a pretty healthy set of long-term reviews.  If you’ve been playing the game and enjoying  it, we’d greatly appreciate it if you’d drop by and leave your own thoughts, too.

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 super detailed, 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 v1.308 Released! “Mega Performance”

Release notes here.  This is another huge one, which is why it took us a week to get it to you.

  • The top item here is performance, as the name of the release implies. The new fire teams are awesome and make the AI so much smarter, but we were having late-game performance problems with very long-running threads that would actually stall the AI and all the other factions for minutes at a time if your galaxy was large and populous enough.  Badger and I went through all of this with a scalpel and made performance improvements on the order of a 2000% increase for  some of the savegames in question.
  • There are still the occasional savegames with a very over-active set of marauders or nanocaust that don’t perform as we’d prefer them to, but the vast majority of our test cases (with usually hundreds of thousands of ships) moved from being insanely sluggish to running at full speed.
  • Exos have gotten much craftier about how they pursue their targets across planets.  This is something… that will come in handy in existing savegames but also with features-to-come.  (Cough)
  • Cross Planet Attacks (CPAs) have been massively reworked to be more efficient on your CPU, as well as to be more clear in how they work and to not cheat the AI out of higher-mark ships.  The CPA is now an event worthy of the name, without completely emptying the AI larder so to speak.
  • Puffin has made enormous numbers of changes to fleet designs that you’ll find throughout the galaxy, making them less mono-tech, and also has added 15 more fleet designs in general.  We were noticing some unfortunate trends in how people use techs, and we’re trying to encourage synergies rather than deep investment into a single thing over all else.  This is the first step in that direction, but it’s a strong one.
  • Instigator bases stressing you out?  That’s now a setting you can turn off to not have them.  They add mild time pressure that is good for the game as a whole, but which some people don’t appreciate.  We try to accommodate as many playstyles as possible.
  • Astro Trains AND the Macrophage got some buffs.  The AI and player strength levels had been growing and outpacing these.
  • The Zenith Trader has been revamped a bit in terms of the wares it offers, no longer letting you exploit it to just get way too many goodies.  It now works more like the first game, where you have to really consider what you want a bit more, rather than just putting everything everywhere.
  • Bunches of other bugfixes and AI tweaks and improvements and balance tweaks have also been included, plus other interface clarity improvements.  This is a pretty huge list of stuff.

More to come soon!

 

Please Do Report Any Issues!

If you run into any bugs, we’d definitely like to hear about those.

The release of this game has been going well so far, and I think that the reviews that folks have been leaving for the game have been a big help for anyone passing by who’s on the fence.  For a good while we were sitting at Overwhelmingly Positive on the Recent Reviews breakdown, but there have been a lot fewer reviews lately and so that has definitely had a material negative effect.  Go figure.  Having a running selection of recent reviews definitely is helpful, but at least we have a pretty healthy set of long-term reviews.  If you’ve been playing the game and enjoying  it, we’d greatly appreciate it if you’d drop by and leave your own thoughts, too.

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 super detailed, 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 v1.304 Released! “So You Like Combat Engineers?”

Release notes here.  This one really is just a laundry list of tweaks and fixes.

  • First up, lots of folks noticed that combat engineers and combat sentry frigates were not constructing in the prior build.  This was the unfortunate intersection of some new (good) logic and some old (bad but not harmful until now) xml inheritance.  That’s now fixed!
  • The right hand blank chat/log window in the lobby is now removed, making forumite Sounds much happier but possibly also frustrated since he was going to mod it out.
  • The main menu no longer chugs with bad performance.  That had to do with achievements resubmission to Steam, and didn’t affect the GOG version of the game (but would have as we get GOG galaxy support in soon).
  • We also are hunting an obscure performance drain that happens on the late game in super-high planet count games (200ish planets) with a few hundred thousand units and 8+ factions, etc.  It’s still a playable game on the savegames we have found there (about 40% speed at baseline), but we’re hoping to clear that up so it performs as well as anything else.  So far it’s been investigation more than solution.
  • The nanocaust now can use fire teams!  (Oh dear.)
  • Marauders can consolidate their planets a bit faster.
  • Sabotage hacks are now less aggo and cheaper — good for you.
  • Beyond that it’s just a handful of more bugfixes and tweaks.

More to come soon!

 

Please Do Report Any Issues!

If you run into any bugs, we’d definitely like to hear about those.

The release of this game has been going well so far, and I think that the reviews that folks have been leaving for the game have been a big help for anyone passing by who’s on the fence.  For a good while we were sitting at Overwhelmingly Positive on the Recent Reviews breakdown, but there have been a lot fewer reviews lately and so that has definitely had a material negative effect.  Go figure.  Having a running selection of recent reviews definitely is helpful, but at least we have a pretty healthy set of long-term reviews.  If you’ve been playing the game and enjoying  it, we’d greatly appreciate it if you’d drop by and leave your own thoughts, too.

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 super detailed, 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 v1.303 Released! “AI Hunter Fireteams For All”

Release notes here.  This is another followup to the epic one from a couple of days ago, mainly focused on some bugfixes and yet even more AI deadliness.

  • First up, the Hunter fleet was previously only using the exciting new fire teams feature if you chose the new “Assassin” option.  That’s not something most people would know to do, and it wouldn’t automatically kick on in existing quick starts, or existing savegames, and so on.  That’s no fun!
  • So we’ve made it so that all of the Hunter fleets now use fire teams, instead, and we took away the Assassin option since it would now have been identical to Normal.  All of the existing savegames will work, and now have scary fire teams doing all the fun things I talked about in the epic update.  Not opting-in required.
  • We also made a number of general improvements to AI threat and the hunter fleet IQ/logic, letting them make better decisions on several fronts.  Loading existing savegames where they waffled about now has them hulk smash.
  • There’s a general feature called “group move” that can be used by players or by NPCs/AIs.  There were some awesome improvements made to this functionality by Eagleheart a few months back for player purposes, but they just didn’t work well for AIs, which caused exos and fire teams to sometimes be on the slow side or staggered strangely.  Now something closer to our old logic is used for AIs/NPCs, making them formidable again, while Eagleheart’s logic is used for players like it was intended to be.
  • Beyond that it’s just a handful of more bugfixes.

More to come soon!

Please Do Report Any Issues!

If you run into any bugs, we’d definitely like to hear about those.

The release of this game has been going well so far, and I think that the reviews that folks have been leaving for the game have been a big help for anyone passing by who’s on the fence.  For a good while we were sitting at Overwhelmingly Positive on the Recent Reviews breakdown, but there have been a lot fewer reviews lately and so that has definitely had a material negative effect.  Go figure.  Having a running selection of recent reviews definitely is helpful, but at least we have a pretty healthy set of long-term reviews.  If you’ve been playing the game and enjoying  it, we’d greatly appreciate it if you’d drop by and leave your own thoughts, too.

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 super detailed, 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 v1.302 Released! “Frigate Empowerment”

Release notes here.  This is a small followup to the truly epic one from a couple of days ago, mainly focused on some bugfixes and balance tweaks.  More is in store for soon, but this is just a bit of tidying.

  • Okay, maybe I lied?  For the frigates, the benefits in this version might actually make them viable for the first time in the eyes of a lot of players.  They were dying quickly partly due to being targeted over-aggressively in the past, and now it works more like it did in AIWC.  To some folks this may actually be pretty monumental.  We’ll see if it’s enough to redeem frigates, or if they need more.
  • Snipers now do a better job of taking out the explicit kinds of targets you set for them and nothing else until that stuff is dead if you order them around manually, which is also a win.
  • Coarse background processing, and/or faster simulation speeds, should never let ships sneak past wormholes that are physically blocked by forcefields anymore.  This is a big deal for players who like to keep their doors locked, so to speak, and were previously finding enemies sneaking in through the cracks.
  • You can’t use crippled flagships to give you vision on enemy planets anymore, which closes yet another clever exploit that the same players who were using it asked us to fix.
  • Beyond that it’s just a general laundry list of bugfixes.

More to come soon!

Please Do Report Any Issues!

If you run into any bugs, we’d definitely like to hear about those.

The release of this game has been going well so far, and I think that the reviews that folks have been leaving for the game have been a big help for anyone passing by who’s on the fence.  For a good while we were sitting at Overwhelmingly Positive on the Recent Reviews breakdown, but there have been a lot fewer reviews lately and so that has definitely had a material negative effect.  Go figure.  Having a running selection of recent reviews definitely is helpful, but at least we have a pretty healthy set of long-term reviews.  If you’ve been playing the game and enjoying  it, we’d greatly appreciate it if you’d drop by and leave your own thoughts, too.

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 super detailed, 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 v1.3 Released! “The Grand New AI”

If you’ve been in the forums, you know that we’ve been in an opt-in beta period for the last… goodness, has it been three weeks?

Release notes start here and then keep going here, here, here, here, and finally with today’s last bits here.  That’s almost 15 thousand words of text, 29 pages in a word document.  So let me try to break that down so you don’t have to read every last bit.  There’s so much in v1.3 that it almost feels like a sequel in some ways, which is how we like it.

First Up: AI Defenses

This is probably the part of the new version that is most going to shock you when you load up a new campaign in particular.  The AI is… well, scarier.  They have more strength in more places, more variance in how they place things, and so on.

At a quick glance, it looks like the game got harder (and for a while in the betas that was empirically true).  But we’ve spent a lot of time trying to dial that back with the 1.3 build in particular so that it looks scarier and gives a more varied challenge, but isn’t actually baseline harder (except difficulty 10).

The really key thing to note about the AI defenses on each planet is that, while they may be numerically a lot stronger than they once were, they are also more spread out — most of the time.  This means that — most of the time — you can divide them up and attack them piecemeal, which is something we dearly missed from AI War Classic.  That’s now back, and we’re really excited about it.

But we actually went further than that and also made it so that there are now legitimately some “hotspot” planets that ARE harder.  They don’t seed very frequently on low-and-middling difficulty levels, and they don’t seed very near your starting position, but this is another cool thing we were missing from AI War Classic.

In Classic, sometimes you would run into a planet that was an unusually high mark, or that had a giant forcefield, or a superfortress, or whatever.  We have had things like that in this sequel for a really long time, but the planets still somehow felt… homogeneous after you got enough hours in the game.  So now the AI sometimes wormhole-camps its guard posts, sometimes masses them into a giant bundle that you have to take on at once, and other fun challenges.  These sorts of exceptions really add some flair and excitement.

Beefing Up AI Intelligence

This is I suppose more of an item related to offense, except it also applies to the warden and the praetorian guard, both of which are defensive in nature.  So I guess this is just a general thing.

First of all, Badger invented this handy new thing called “fire teams,” which are sub-groups that the AI factions can order around independently.  They can merge and split and coordinate and pincer and fake you out and a whole bunch of other things.

Basically something like the hunter fleet used to be a monolithic entity that came after you.  It was smart and huge and scary… but it was all in one place that you could keep track of.   It was hard to always predict what it was doing, but it could only be thinking of one thing at a time and so you could make some pretty accurate guesses based on its singular positioning.

None of that works anymore, because now the hunter fleet will fragment itself to pursue multiple goals at once.  So will marauders, and a bunch of other factions and parts of the AI.  You may still have a very good idea of what some part of the body of the hunter is thinking… and then be surprised that it was holding some substantial reserve well out of your viewing range, waiting for the opportune time to catch you off guard.

The cliche thing at this point would be to say “clever girl” with a picture of the three raptors.  But that’s just one part of fire teams.

Oh, hey — almost forgot.  We also made the subconscious mind of AI ships (and your ships in “pursuit mode”) a whole lot smarter.  You can trust your pursuit mode ships to take care of business much more efficiently now — to the point that battles they lost on their own in the past they now win.  Of course, that works against you just as frequently as for you…

Parallelism And The Lack Of Brain Function

Right, so we discovered something kind of crazy in this series of builds.  You know how you can fast-forward time up to 10x, and it doesn’t cause any extra CPU load?

Well… that was true, but it didn’t speed up the “cognitive functioning” of the higher-level AI.  Basically if you divide the intelligence for units and factions into subconscious/autonomic and conscious levels of thought… the subconscious/autonomic parts were as smart as ever on 10x difficulty, but the conscious thought of any faction that wasn’t controlled by a human was incredibly hobbled.

This had to do with how we schedule some of the multithreading of background functioning for factions to support their “conscious thought” without eating CPUs with limited numbers of cores if you have many many factions at once in a big game.  It was a complicated technical issue, but essentially meant that for some relevant reasons that we can’t break without breaking future multiplayer support, at 10x speed the AI was only getting a chance to even try to think consciously every 60 realtime seconds instead of every second or so.

We had reports of people who beat difficultly 10 AIs by largely playing on 10x speed, and exploiting the fact that they could issue a ton of micromanagement commands and just fight the subconscious of the AI before it even consciously realized they were there.

The first solution to this was for us to look at our architecture and see if we could squeeze out more parallelism.  A lot of us have quad-core computers with hyperthreading (so 8 virtual cores), or even just dual-core computers with 4 virtual cores.  The odds of any player having a single-core computer is vanishingly small, though there are some players in that boat.  There’s an option to turn off PFP (Parallel Faction Processing) if you need to, but for most computers you should get a performance boost or at least be performance-neutral with the way it is currently.

Major Performance Improvements

Right, so this is no small thing.  Even for those who have opted into the beta are in for a bit of a shock with the very latest build.  All throughout these last three weeks we’ve been squeezing more performance out of the game, but in particular we’ve been able to make a ton of strides in the last day.  Some of the savegames we were seeing that had 10% of normal speed on my quad-core now run easily at full speed.

Half on the subject of performance but half on simulation correctness, we found that our pooling of game entities was causing huge numbers of bugs that popped in and out of existence and not actually making things faster anymore.  This was originally intended to help performance back before unity introduced their time-sliced garbage collector, and it did work very well.

We pool a TON of things in this game, and all of that is an enormous benefit to performance in general, garbage collector aside.  But the actual pooling of entities — ships and structures — had to go.  It was causing problems on the background “faction consciousness” threads and often leading the AI to give wrong orders or even sometimes give orders to YOUR ships because of the nature of pooling.  All of that is solved now.

In the process of investigating this, we also really wanted to cut down on certain kinds of “game commands” that the background factions were sending that really didn’t need to be there.  Game commands are multi-player compatible ways for the faction consciousness threads (and human players) to give orders to ships above the in-simulation subconscious/autonomic commands that ships handle on their own.  Keeping that smaller reduces the CPU load in single player, and will reduce the network load as we work in multi-player.

Also on the subject of performance, now that the AI is using more turrets than it used to (that’s part of the general new defensive strategies that the AIs use), their turrets were… an annoying performance drain.  Normally we just stack mobile units if there are too many of them, or they go into guard posts as reinforcements, etc.  But none of that can happen for turrets, which are stationary.

To combat that issue, we made all of the AI turrets into Great-Turrets, which are about 5x stronger and costlier than the human counterparts.  In existing savegames from older versions it automatically strips out 4/5ths of the turrets to make sure you don’t get absolutely wrecked.  But this minor consolidation keeps performance thrumming along as well.

So Many Balance Changes!

Beyond great-turrets and fire teams and how the AI fortifies its own planets, a lot of other things have evolved here.

One of the most recent favorites of mine is that dire guard posts on the homeworlds of AIs now cost AIP to destroy, and the overlord itself costs less than before.  But as an added bonus, you now get a ton of science and hacking points from destroying the overlord — who is also now stronger, to properly meet the threat of the late-game fleets you can easily muster these days.  All of this makes for more dynamic escalation in multi-AI games in particular, but also even with just a single AI.

The way that player ship caps are calculated is also more consistent in terms of what you can expect with each mark level that you increase.  You get a much more consistent number of frigates added, for one thing.

We also very harshly changed how the growth curve went for individual ship strength as mark levels went up.  The multipliers were getting higher as well as the base attack power, meaning that in some cases a ship that was mark 7 could just evaporate its mark 5 opposite numbers.  Now things remain more stable all the way through mark 7, having a more linear growth rate.

A ton of ships individually got balance tuning based on feedback, far too many to mention.

We also revised and improved the way that planets are spawned in terms of the mix of mark levels (ratios based on difficulty) in the central areas of the galaxy (meaning between the player and AI homeworlds, not physical center).

We also made the “neutering” of AI planets into something VASTLY more powerful that you can do, as it much more sharply curtails what sort of reinforcements they can get there.  We also entirely block reinforcements on AI planets if they are outnumbered 2:1.  So that’s majorly in your favor, and a great new tool.

On the flip side, AI planets left to their own devices now have a much larger cap of ships that they can store up if you leave them alone for tens of hours.  Those of you who like to capture entire galaxies (not the normal way to play the game!) will have some interesting new challenges, but it should still be possible on the typical difficulties for that sort of thing (5 and 6).

Oh!  And in map styles that are really cramped — mazes or snakes, for instance — you now get a much kinder seeding of the early-game tools you need (Global Command Augmenters, etc).  Lest you think that all the seeding improvements we made were in favor of the AI.

New “Adaptive” AI Type!

This is something people have been asking for for a while.  Rather than fighting against an AI that works one way for the whole game… what if the AI kept switching up its style and you never knew what it was?  That sounds… terrifying.  But you guys wanted it, and so we added it.  Good luck with that. 😉

There are 15 new achievements in place relating to the five difficulties of adaptive AI types, so there’s more to hunt.

Max Game Speed Of 5x

In the past, you could make the game run at up to 10x realtime speed.  This was useful when the game was chugging (which it does a lot less often now), or when you just wanted to get past a certain slow section.  I myself tend to play on 3x or 4x speed normally and just pause frequently.  I dunno why, it’s just my personal taste.

The problem with going above 5x is that a lot of things start to break down.  We start running into the sorts of problems that you normally see in physics simulations that have very fast-moving objects and no continuous collision detection on.

Even at 5x, your minefields are a lot less effective, and ships with shorter ranges will get off fewer shots against enemies.  A lot of that is simply unavoidable without increasing the CPU load dramatically in order to achieve that 5x speed boost, which of course would defeat the whole purpose.

We looked at how people were playing and various scenarios run repeatedly at different speeds, and decided that 5x was the maximum at which the simulation really still resembles itself.  So that’s the new cap, if anyone is wondering why.

SO MANY Interface Improvements

Tooltips alone have gone through so much.  Rather than having just “regular tooltips” that show a lot of info, and “full tooltips” that show even MORE, we now have three levels and the default is vastly more brief.  It’s surprisingly easy to use and makes the game so much more approachable. But all the information is still there at your fingertips.

A lot of interfaces now show you vital info like ship strengths or more about what will be improved by a tech,

Back To The Subject Of Difficulty

So is the game harder now than in the prior builds?  … Depends on what difficulty you’re playing at.  Difficulties 9 and 10 are likely going to be vastly harder than before, while 5-7 should be about the same, and less than 5 probably will look fancier in terms of enemy movements and positions but not actually be much more challenging.

But you probably will have to use more of your gray matter in order to deal with more varied situations on average, more of the time, so it should in general be an even more interesting experience at most every difficulty level.

We kind of tilted some of the ship numbers in your favor a bit in order to make it so that all the new AI intelligence doesn’t just overwhelm you, and that may make some older savegames extra hard, it’s hard to be sure.  And in some cases you may say “you call that tilting strength in my favor?” 😉  And to that we mainly say “you should have seen it before during certain points of the beta.”

What can sometimes look very intimidating is something you really can just go in and dismantle piecemeal, because you have the superior ability to field replacement craft, among many other advantages.  Big thanks to all the people who were helping us out so much during the beta with their thoughts on everything, as that helped us shape things out to be a lot more interesting without being brute-force harder.

And Hundreds Of Other things

  • Lots of bugfixes and balance tweaks detailed in the full release notes.
  • Particularly a bunch of improvements for xml modders.
  • You can now hack GCAs in order to re-roll their options (thanks donblas!).
  • Nanocaust construction centers and Marauder Outposts now warp in over time (a short time interval, like 30 seconds to a minute) rather than warping in instantly. This gives their enemies a bigger window to counter attack in.
  • Add the “Extreme” category of Quickstarts, with 2 default, 1 nearly default, and 2 bonus scenarios.
  • Allied Marauders are back to killing command stations by default, but with a setting to disable it. This is a no-longer-basically-cheating version of “minor factions don’t cause AIP increases”. Allied Marauders always kill warp gates though. If this works then I’m going to deprecate “minor factions don’t cause AIP increase” since that’s too cheaty for my tastes.
  • Add a “Select all non-flagship military on planet” selection option.
  • Added “Remove Unlock Variance in Capturables” option. This option removes the random ranges ships and turrets can be found with, fixing it at a constant average. (Thanks donblas).
  • Maps now default to having 7 FCEs instead of 11 (there were just too many before).
  • Some updates to the Octopus map generator from Tadrinth.
  • Added some more tips, including explanations of Wave, CPA, etc.

More to come soon!

Please Do Report Any Issues!

If you run into any bugs, we’d definitely like to hear about those.

The release of this game has been going well so far, and I think that the reviews that folks have been leaving for the game have been a big help for anyone passing by who’s on the fence.  For a good while we were sitting at Overwhelmingly Positive on the Recent Reviews breakdown, but there have been a lot fewer reviews lately and so that has definitely had a material negative effect.  Go figure.  Having a running selection of recent reviews definitely is helpful, but at least we have a pretty healthy set of long-term reviews.  If you’ve been playing the game and enjoying  it, we’d greatly appreciate it if you’d drop by and leave your own thoughts, too.

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 super detailed, 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