AI War 2 v2.600 Released! “Multiplayer Alpha”

Can you hop into multiplayer and play now?  Why… yes, you can!  There will be bugs, at this point, but we’re well into alpha now, and the first waves of testers have helped us fix a lot of things.

Since the last update post fifty-seven days ago (WHOAH), we’ve had thirty releases, starting with notes here and ending here.

If you want the full info on multiplayer’s current status, the place to look at that from now on is here.

What’s New Other Than Multiplayer Stuff?

  • Heck of a lot of bugfixes and balance tweaks, as you might imagine.
  • You can have multiple Devourers and Zenith Traders if you like.
  • The Imperial Spire (in DLC1) has a number of improvements.
  • Ion Cannons are particularly more effective now.
  • Melee units now do battle far more effectively, too.
  • The way the galaxy map is drawn has had a lot of improvements, most notably in the lobby.  This feels SO much better in singleplayer and multiplayer.
  • Some features from the upcoming DLC2 (which is now pushed until January 2021) have been backported to the base game.  Notably, you can now hack Dyson Spheres like an ARS.
  • Dark Spire got a number of improvements, including more interactivity with other factions that hate them.
  • Hit the R key to reset the camera rotation and orientation, at long last.
  • Improvements and flavor updates to Human Resistance Fighters.
  • Lots of changes to AI Eyes to actually make them formidable again.
  • Lots of improvements to mod compatibility, which broke code-based mods temporarily, but ultimately make them work better in both singleplayer but especially multiplayer.
  • Scourge (from DLC1) intelligence improvements.
  • Civilian Industries By StarKelp has been added as our second off-by-default mod that we’re distributing for the mod author.  It may be broken at the moment because of some of the overhauls relating to multiplayer, but we’ll have a working build again as soon as that is ready from the author.  It’s a very cool mod.
  • More Starting Options By ArnaudB has been added as our third off-by-default mod.  This one adds a lot of new options for starting fleets for you.
  • There is a new “Find Planet” command (cmd:findp yourtexthere) that lets you find planets by name, which is super useful.
  • Better Default Screen Resolutions!  This has been bugging people for a while.  It’s now defaulting to your desktop resolution and fullscreen windowed mode when you start the game for the very first time.
  • More voice lines related to the nanocaust and a few other factions.
  • The AI difficulty descriptions have been completely rewritten and are way more clear as to what you can expect, without making you feel bad.  Huge thanks to Tzarro on this!
  • “Fireteam dynamic resizing” is a new feature that leads to massive performance gains in very late-game situations with a lot of enemy factions in play.  Huge win by Badger.

More to come soon!  Read on to hear about multiplayer and DLC2.

What’s The State Of Multiplayer?

If you want a truly exhaustive writeup about multiplayer, this has everything.

We have now been in multiplayer alpha for sixteen days, in a “soft launch” status.  Basically, we only told people who were really paying a lot of attention in the Steam forums or on Discord.  We had enough testers out of that smaller group to run into a whole slew of issues, and thanks to them you are now not going to be one of the folks to run into things that are that bad.

At first it was a situation where errors were immediate, and then it was a case of maybe being able to play 20 minutes at a time.  As of a day or two ago, Suzera and Ipsum were able to play for about three and a half hours without major errors, until they hit a game-breaking dead-stop issue.  However, the host was able to save their game, send it to me, and now on the new version they can keep playing as if nothing had happened; this may well be the first completed “real” multiplayer game of AI War 2 (assuming they win, heh).

At the moment you can definitely still expect some bugs, and things are not quite as smooth (visually) on the clients as we would prefer.  But we’ve made a huge number of strides, and it should be playable from start to finish aside from whatever unknown bugs you run into.  There’s a list of many of the known issues, but most of them are not that serious at the moment.

What’s The Difference Between Alpha And Beta?

Beta means feature-complete.  We’re not there yet, on multiplayer.  Things like sharing a faction between two players doesn’t have an interface yet.  Spectator mode has only been somewhat tested.  Lots more testing is needed in general.  Balance needs to be thought about by people who are actually playing it.  There are some features like gifting between players that are an obvious need.  Etc.

There’s a list of questions for multiplayer alpha testers that can have a major material impact on what beta (and later fully released) multiplayer functions will be like, so if you have an opinion, please feel free to let us know!

What Makes Multiplayer Beta?

When we have all of the major features missing from the alpha, then that’s a relatively feature-complete multiplayer experience.  When sync issues are not routinely a problem, and other bugs are not prevalent, then you can basically have an expectation of a “normal multiplayer experience.”  Connect, play, disconnect when done.

The purpose of the beta period is to have lots of people attempting that, so that we find the strange edge cases.  Or other features that are needed that we are missing.  Or balance problems that are specific to having multiple players.

At this point, the schedule is such that we’ll be hitting beta status sometime in October.  But we’re in a more-robust-than-I-expected alpha status at the moment, so there is that.

If you’re wondering “when can I play with my friends and actually just have a good time doing it,” my hope is that the answer is… maybe now?  Depends on your tolerance for bugs.

If you’re new to the game, or have a low tolerance for things that break, then my real answer to that question is “it should feel like finished and polished multiplayer in November,” based on how things have been going so far.

What About DLC2?

This is something we haven’t really been talking about too much, mainly because it seemed in poor taste to be talking about it before multiplayer was ready.  At any rate, Badger has really outdone himself on his part of it, and I’m very excited by what is there.

For my part of it, I have yet to even start it, and probably won’t be able to until sometime in October at the earliest because of multiplayer work.  So the end release for this expansion will probably be in January, which is when we’ll likely also call multiplayer “fully gold” in order to maximize the chance of marketing.  But realistically, hopefully multiplayer is there for you in every meaningful respect in November.

What can I tell you about this new expansion?  Well, it’s much larger than the first one.  It’s also not free to kickstarter backers, as an aside.  It’s called Zenith Onslaught, and it does live up to its name.  I look forward to being able to share more about that with you in the future, but for now I need to keep my eye on the multiplayer ball.

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

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