AI War 2 v2.604 Released! “A Thousand Screaming Idiots”

It’s been six days since the last major release writeup, with four releases in all, and notes starting here and ending here.

We are in multiplayer alpha!  If you want the full info on multiplayer’s current status, the place to look at that from now on is here.  We’ve had the first victory over the AI in multiplayer happen, and we’re knocking down MP bugs steadily.

AI Improvements And Additions

Okay, this is a really big release, actually.  Far more than we had intended to do, but so it goes.

First off, the star of the show is definitely the new “Tsunami CPA” option in the galaxy options screen.  You can turn it on for existing savegames or new campaigns, but temporarily it is off by default.  It turns Cross Planet Attacks into the sort of… scary tidal wave of doom or glory that the pre-3.0 days of AI War Classic used to enjoy.

We’ll always keep the option to have boring-style CPAs in this game, where basically the CPA just releases a bunch of threat that join the Hunter fleet.  That’s… fine.  But as a number of people have noticed, that’s a very anticlimatic result after a scary countdown timer.

The hunter is its own thing, and is intelligent and scary in its own way, but it’s also cautious and coordinated.  That’s the very opposite of what a Cross Planet Attack used to represent, 8 years or so ago, in the first AI War.  A Cross Planet Attack is meant to be a flood of ships from all over the galaxy, only lightly coordinated at best, that wash up on the shores of your defenses and either dissipate or carry the wreckage inland.

So that’s what happens now, if you turn on the Tsunami CPA option.  It’s basically a thousand screaming idiots running at you from every direction, only sort of avoiding danger.  And they go for the throat, too, if they can get past your external defenses.  It’s thrilling and quite unlike anything the AI War multiverse has seen since maybe 2012.  How I’ve missed this.

However, here’s the thing that makes this extra cool and also quite new-feeling: the hunter may be cautious, but it also is quick to capitalize on openings.  And it operates alongside the Tsunami CPAs.  So while those are washing up on your defenses, and you think you’re going to be okay… sometimes the hunter shows up at just the wrong time and tips the balance.  It turns out that a meticulous and ruthless planner, given a thousand screaming idiots for cover, is even more effective.

Moving on from the keystone feature:

In a whole bunch of other areas for the AI, there are things that look on the surface like nerfs to the ship budgets for the AI, but actually are not quite what they seem.

The changes are complicated enough that it’s really easy to misunderstand the implications of them even if you read really carefully.

But to summarize the most important one, essentially the AI is… less reactive in how it applies its budgets when it feels like its king is under pressure.  It now trusts that it has been building a good and solid defense for a long time, and keeps pressing its own attacks on you.

Previously you could run into REALLY protracted final battles with the AI homeworlds, where the AI was being super defensive and making it really hard for you to win… but also really hard for you to lose.  Now the AI final fights won’t be quite so hard to win… but at the same time there is a dramatically higher chance of you outright losing during them.

Aside from this, there are what amount to some legitimate nerfs to the AI in the warden and praetorian guard sub-factions, if those are at their full cap for whatever reason.  Rather than donating excess income to general defenses (which made some AI types turn out to have generalized defenses that were way inflated in an inappropriate way), they just lose that budget.  This is more in keeping with the first AI War as well, and should not affect most games.  A few specific AI types may wind up needing a buff, but let us know how those feel (Special Forces Master and Praetor, mainly).

Oh, also speaking of the AI’s intelligence, the highest-level AIs (difficulty 8 and up) will now underestimate their strength a bit when deciding to engage you.  This will make them tend to engage you with overwhelming force more often, again like the first game.

And in general, turrets were being undervalued in terms of strength, which was hurting the decision-making of all factions.  So the strength values of those have been tweaked upwards (how the strength is reported, not what the damage of the actual turrets is), and that should lead to all factions making more sensible decisions on heavily turreted player planets.

Oh, and it’s harder to bait the hunter into your meat grinders on difficulty 8 and up.  You’re welcome. 😉

What’s Else Is New?

  • There’s a bunch of new little lore bits that now appear in the game when you are getting started!  This includes backstory on the Spire and Zenith if relevant when you find them, and backstory on the AI.  Some of these bits of lore are brand new information, and other are things that were easy to miss.
  • The Civilian Industries mod not only now works again, but also has been getting a number of substantial updates by its author, StarKelp.
  • Lots and lots of bugfixes.
  • One bugfix in particular fixes an issue where all of the fireteam-based faction ships were being lobotomized upon loading a savegame since September 3rd.  So that made the hunter, the nanocaust, scourge, etc, all really stupid for at least 30 seconds after loading a savegame.  That was a one-line typo on my part, but is now fixed.
  • The Nanocaust has seen a bunch of buffs in general, since they were starting to seem lackluster compared to the newer factions that are more powerful.  The devourer golem is coming up soon in terms of getting some new power levels (in its case those will be lobby options instead of a straight buff).
  • In the arena of multiplayer, we found an interesting bug a while back that was causing any ships in transports to get duplicated endlessly on clients, which led to all manner of bugs and eventually crashes.  The bugs we’ve been fixing since then have not been nearly so serious, and it’s really great to see how a variety of people are playing a variety of multiplayer scenarios with success now.  There are still plenty of missing MP-specific features and MP-specific bugs, but it’s coming a long way fast thanks to testers.

More to come soon!

Looking for more information about multiplayer and DLC2?  A recent post on September 25th has a lot of details.

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