AI War 2 v0.700 Released! “Hunting The Wild Beta Beast”

Release notes here!

This one has a ton of improvements from the main menu background to the message you get when you inevitably lose. (Ok, it’s not completely inevitable). And just about everything in between. We’re approaching beta rapidly. For the full story please read the notes on the wiki, but here are some highlights:

1) The lobby has a lot more options, including difficulty settings for all three parts of your AI opponent (the occupying Sentinels, the roaming defensive Warden Fleet, and the predatory Hunter Fleet). The framework for showing a large number of (moddable) custom option for each faction is also in, and is used to support the difficulty options.

2) Tons more units now have their proper graphics (thanks to Pepisolo and Goldenwolf!), as do flak and lightning explosions (lots of iteration there, may not be done). Badger also fixed up a ton of squishy vis-layer bugs causing the wrong number of ships to show in squads, lots of shots to not draw properly (or at all), etc. Thanks, Badger (and for a ton of other changes too)! Together with ship on-death explosions and shield on-hit effects (both possibly still too subtle) the visual feedback of the game has improved massively. Naturally, this involved multiple distinct subsystem swaps to get the particle-like behavior necessary.

3) New Camera! Again! This one’s actually good! When it doesn’t get locked into a psychedelic death spiral! (we fixed the death spiral bug before this release). It’s also regrettably closed-source, but modding other cameras is still possible.

4) The play area around each planet is now much larger and feels much less like a cage match and much more like AIWC. We may go even larger, let us know what you think.

5) Some major rebalancing. Starships are now “cap of one” units and thus very powerful individually. You also have to unlock even the Mark 1 variants, which effectively means that one of your first decisions is which 3 Mark 1 starships to unlock for your starting fleet (or to get Mark 1 and 2 of a single type, or to save some Science for other stuff). The choice makes a pretty big difference in the feel of the initial fighting. Similarly, turrets are no longer unlocked by default, but unlocking them is very powerful since you can put a full cap of each turret on each planet you control.

6) Also part of rebalancing, but worth its own point: Shields are very different now. The mechanic itself is the same, but you’ll see _way_ fewer shields than you used to, on both sides. Battles now see serious casualties much earlier in general. Not even your Ark has a shield now (the Ark’s now just a 600,000 hit-point Armored Ball Of Iron, its combat role is mostly just replacing your fleet ship losses mid-battle). If you want a shield early on you have to unlock a shield starship, which means only getting 2 of the other types (at most), though that’s generally still worth it.

Enjoy!
Keith

AI War 2 v0.613 Released! “When Changes Escape”

Release notes here!

Normally there’s some rhyme or reason to a release. In this case it was just time for these changes to escape. It’s pretty quiet at the end of a year and we’re mostly occupied with celebrations and other non-professional-work stuff, but there’s still been some progress.

The credits for this release don’t reflect community member BadgerBadger’s contributions as much as previous releases, since Badger is now largely writing the release notes for said contributions. Suffice it to say, we could just write a big “Thanks, Badger!” somewhere in every set of release notes and that would be pretty accurate.

One specific change that may help playability significantly is that the unit mouseovers are now not nearly as “sticky” (since you no longer need to be able to mouseover the mouseovers).

But there’s also a bunch of other stuff like another graphics pipeline shift (bloom is gone) and the ability to pick between the two Ark types currently defined (the normal one and the one the dolphins used to get out of Dodge).

Enjoy!
Keith

AI War 2 v0.612 Released! “AI Hunters and the Turrets that Stop Them”

Release notes here!

It’s been a while since the last release, largely because there’s a lot in this one.

The AI has undergone a bit of an overhaul. On the broad scale there’s the implementation of the Hunter Fleet (in AIWC we called it the Threatfleet) and refinement of the Warden Fleet (called the Special Forces in AIWC and AIW2 until now). On the small scale there’s a bunch of changes to how the AI handles being locally outmatched. Overall, your opponent is much more threatening now.

On the other side, you now have a lot more capacity to build defensive depth. I’ve gone back and forth on a bunch of models of how to make turrets make sense with the per-planet power resource and the per-planet caps AND the need to unlock the turret techs. In the end I’ve decided to just try not having them cost power. Other stuff still costs power, so you have to decide on what mix of shields, tractors, tachyon, gravity, etc to put on each planet, but in general the main limitation on how many turrets you put down is how much metal you have on hand to build them and how much science you want to spend unlocking more turrets (and thus increasing your cap).

Speaking of things getting smarter, the Devourer saw some AI improvements. Your turrets won’t help you with that.

There’s several improvements to the user interface that are small but important (escape closing settings window, save menu not passing keyboard input through to the game, etc), the new-game experience no longer has the possibility of dropping hapless new players straight into combat. Finally, I hope you like the new set of faction colors to choose from.

Enjoy!
Keith

AI War 2 v0.611 Released! “The Special Forces Have Arrived (Again)”

Release notes here!

This one had a lot of under-the-hood work to further the architecture goal of building the “Major” factions (human player, The AI) with mostly the same toolbox used for the “Minor” factions (Dyson, Devourer, Nanocaust, etc). This implicitly makes them all much more moddable and flexible.

But the result that stands out is that the Special Forces mechanic now stands out. Or rather, it used to be a mechanic, but now it’s a faction in its own right. The main AI makes donations to the SF, but the SF decides what to build and where to go. As in AIWC it acts to defend the AI’s planets against attack. Unlike AIWC, this behavior is more emergent (it should defend the AI against attacks from factions other than you, for instance) and is entirely moddable. If you want to make a SF sub-type that only builds long-range ships and only does sneaky drive-by attacks against the player, that can be done by modding. Or if you want a sub-type that only builds Etherjet Tractors and Widow Guardians and tries to tow the player’s fleet to its destruction, that can be done too.

Enjoy!
Keith

AI War 2 v0.610 Released! “Pay No Attention To The Golem Behind The Curtain”

Release notes here!

This one is an assortment of changes, including another graphics pipeline shift from Chris and some neat stuff from community member BadgerBadger (if you notice a wormhole name glowing red to tell you where a wave is coming from, that’s who to thank).

There are also some further efforts to limit shots being wasted on overkill, so that units on all sides fight “smarter”. In the process of doing that, I might have transformed the Devourer from an imposing menace to an unstoppable killing machine.

One long-anticipated change was support for variable-intensity minor factions. Only the Dyson has it right now, but it can be added to other factions easily now.

Oh, and the game will actually tell you if you’ve won or lost now.

Enjoy!
Keith

Goodbye, Alloy, But Thanks For Teaching Us A Lot

As of our upcoming version 0.610, we’re removing the Alloy Shader framework.

The above is a tutorial for Blue, our artist, though if any modders who are creating custom models are also using substance painter, this shows you how to set up your setup, too. You can also infer pretty easily how to do combinations manually using Photoshop channels to create packed maps, too.

Anyhow, we’re moving away from the Alloy Shader Framework to instead use custom shaders that give us an equivalent look with a vastly reduced workload and with definite compatibility with future unity versions, and this tutorial covers Blue’s side of what needs to change.

The above is a tutorial for Cinth, but this also is useful for any modders who are creating custom graphics for the game.

As noted in this video, this saves us a ton of manual work. A ton.

Also in this video I randomly stumbled across a visual improvement to the custom player ark Rorqual Hegira, so you can see how that evolved a bit thanks to the extra flexibility of this new shader set.

 

AI War 2 v0.608 Released! “Interface Evisceration”

(In case you don’t read our forums or our kickstarter, here’s a link to a recent gameplay video, from before this version’s work)

Release notes here!

This one is almost all about UI.

The meat of it was totally redoing two key parts of the UI: the main ship tooltip, and the pre-game lobby. I’m sure both still need a lot of work, so please give us feedback (note: I know the lobby doesn’t look right on lower resolutions because I tested it on a higher res and made the text too cramped). I would include screenshots for discussion but getting and posting them is a multi-stage process and I’ve really got to get some sleep. Perhaps one of you kind galactic-conquerers would post them instead?

Some key issues with UI scaling have been dealt with, so you should be able to use it reliably all the way down to 30% (its new minimum) if you’ve got a screen suitable to it. Again, feedback both needed and welcome.

Where wormholes show the name of the planet on the other side, they now show that name in the color of the faction that controls said planet. The text and color is now moddable as part of galaxy display modes, so you can have it display something different if you like (and don’t mind the C# code-mine).

Fabricators, ARS’s, and other units that can grant you a specific ship type now include the name of that ship type in their tooltip.

And a few other fixes.

Enjoy!
Keith

AI War 2 v0.607 Released! “Don’t Die Harder, Die Smarter”

Release notes here!

Don’t Die Harder, Die Smarter

This one goes a long way towards making AIW2’s units much more enthusiastic about their jobs.

AI Waves (and Threat in general) now behave in a much more intelligent fashion. Well, except for the enforce-stupid-refusal-to-retreat-for-30-seconds change, which just makes it less annoying. Less annoying to you. Very annoying to the AI.

All ships (not just AI) benefit from the targeting changes that greatly reduce lost efficiency from overkill, and from the pathfinding changes to prefer less dangerous routes where it’s still efficient.

Not many interface improvements this time around, but I know many of you will be happy to see range rings when placing turrets. (You’ll also be able to place more turrets, thanks to the power balance change)

Tachyon units now take their job seriously, and can actually reveal cloaked enemy ships in a reasonable period of time. At least if it’s a reasonable quantity of them. Otherwise you’re still going to be target practice for a bit, but at least you’ll have something to shoot back at.

Even the simulation itself is working smarter, thanks to zealous application of the Ostrich Algorithm for planets with no opposing forces.

And there’s a few other things in there, like a new AI type that loves cloaked units.

Enjoy!
Keith

AI War 2 v0.606 Released! “Input-astrophe”

Release notes here!

This one is about input.

Camera input. Chris redid the entire camera system, and now it’s much more configurable in the Settings window (and the code itself is massively moddable). The “Free Look” mode is a major new thing, but the default view is also very different, in response to player feedback about acceleration, etc.

Keyboard input. Each binding can now support more than one mapping, so both P and Pause/Break can trigger pause, etc. Several bugfixes and changes to make certain keys do what you would expect. Making the unit-commands context menu not open automatically to prevent conflicting with control group number input, and so on.

Mouse input. Added a much-requested feature from AIWC where bandbox selection ignores non-military ships unless they’re the only thing there. Made clicking planets in the galaxy view do what it did in AIWC (“go there” instead of “select this”; you can still select with alt+click). Fixed a key bug that was preventing mouse interaction with ship icons.

Saving you lots of input. The new “budget policy” concept allows you to give high-level commands about how your metal should be allocated, from the simple “suspend spending until we’ve saved up” to the amusingly complex battle-support policy that has multiple levels of prioritization and looks at whether a unit is on a contested planet, etc. This is fully moddable, so if you want to script your economy you can just about do so.

There’s a few other changes as well, including a helpful bit from community member BadgerBadger that reimplements AIWC’s model of waves being planned, announced, and then launched after a countdown instead of just immediately spawned (previously the timer was a projected estimate of when it will be). It’s great to see the modding tools put to good use 🙂 Thanks, Badger!

(if you’re wondering where 0.605 went, I think it had a run-in with the Devourer)

Enjoy!
Keith

AI War 2 v0.603 Released! “Banishment of the Bottom Bar”

Release notes here!

One resounding theme of recent UI feedback is “the upward-expanding pile of buttons at the bottom has got to go”. So for this release we told all the functions in that menu “you ain’t gotta go home, but you can’t stay here”.

The result is a general layout of:
1) Passive info on the top half of the screen
2) Interactable controls on the bottom half
3) Stuff pertaining to your selected units (if any) on the left
4) Stuff pertaining to your selected planet on the right

There was also a major switch in the graphics pipeline (now using Alloy since it recently became open-source and we could thus let modders have access to it) and a move of a ton of visualization code into the external-visualization project, which greatly expands what modders can impact.

Enjoy!
Keith