AI War 2 v0.872 Released! “Supply and Control”

Release notes here.

This took a bit of extra time because I was moving house and moving my office, but also because we realized that there’s a lot of new cool stuff that we really do need to work on, beyond what I had indicated last release, in order to get this where we want.

The list of things that are planned for the short term to address those bits is here, and the discussion that started it all is here.

So what’s new in this actual build?

  • “Supply” has been removed as a concept, because it was decidedly annoying.  There are other things that will need to be added in to really make fleets manageable well, post-supply — but those are in the link above, and planned for quite soon.   Item one was to get rid of the annoying thing.
  • Tractor beams now have a lot of the benefits from the first game, including behaviors like the AI mobile ships with tractor beams actively working to kidnap your ships again and drag them off to stir up more threat and other bad things.
  • Tons of bugfixes, including one to that stutter that ships often had during battle, and another to make autobombs hesitate less before blowing themselves (and hopefully some enemies) to smithereens.
  • A whole messload of balance tweaks in general have also been added.  This ranges from certain strikecraft becoming way more useful (space planes and mirages for the win in particular), to forcefields becoming more viable to use, brawlers becoming slightly translocator-y and in general having a better feeling, and some of the golems not being SO overpowered compared to the others.
  • Another big balance change is that now guard posts have a lot of their personal hull into shields, making it so that fusion bombers are now a lot more useful against them, which is good for you.
  • The Instigators are now a lot more substantial in how they respond to you, giving you much larger forces to deal with rather than a small trickle.  They still give you plenty of time to deal with them, but they’re actually a threat you’ll notice and fear now, particularly depending on the difficulty level.
  • Turrets that are distributed to guard posts should also now be a lot less varied per guard post/planet, making it so that you’re less likely to run into “well, that mashup of turrets just counters everything, so I can’t really plan around it” issues like before.
  • Tractors and tachyon systems and cloaking systems now get better at higher marks!
  • When there are multiple AIs, they now pose more of a threat than before, with their budgets not being simply equal to a single AI like before.
  • The first of some of the new features (other than the removal of supply and the turret mix changes) are also in, in the form of some offensive hacks you can use against AI planets to weaken either their turrets or their guard posts (respectively), thus giving you more to do with your hacking points against the AI itself.  Even more is coming on that front, but the idea is that there should be more options to use your hacking points in ways that might prove critical to you actually being able to take out a tough enemy planet.  This is far preferable to there being such a paucity of ways to harm the AI via hacking that you just hack for science all the time.
  • Oh, and a bug where reprisal waves were double-sized is now fixed.  That should make that a lot more balanced.

We’re still in sort of a polish/refinement stage, but at this point we’re also in one where there are a number of substantial feature adjustments in order to really make the fleets stuff shine as much as possible.  This wasn’t something that I had fully foreseen, but it’s definitely welcome given how much this adds to the strategic options you’ll be enjoying.

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 v0.871 Released! “More Control, Part 1”

Release notes here.

Hey, we’re finally exiting the beta branch for our updates for the first time since… mid April?  Wow, that was a long stretch, but it was definitely worth it.  Things aren’t perfect yet in the new mechanics set, but we’re getting there and we’re definitely streets ahead compared to the old mechanics from April.

First, let’s talk about what is new in this specific build:

  • Some bugfixes with a few map generation areas.
  • The metal flows screen is now far more functional and useful.
  • 26 new in-game tips have been added to the strategy/tips section, for new and returning players.  If you’re “returning” since the April versions before we went into the beta branch, that will still be useful to you.
  • We recently added a Starting Battlestation for each player in addition to their Starting Fleet, but now we’ve also got a new Starting Support Fleet as well.  This lets you hit the ground running a lot faster.
  • Mark levels from EXP gains are now limited to only some ship types, and not everything in your entire fleet.  But we can customize this in the xml, so we’ll be able to tune this as needed based on feedback.
  • bunch of tech changes have been put in, mostly relating to things that were EXP-upgrade-only before, or in some cases Markless (not upgradeable at all).
  • In some other cases, we took away some techs for things like the Ark centerpieces, and made those solely reliant on EXP mark level upgrades, and for Citadels we made those just all one tech rather than three different ones.
  • In all, there are a lot more techs now, and the importance of science is very much retained compared to recent versions, but there’s also a lot more flexibility surrounding how you do your various upgrades.

Next, let’s quickly note what “more control” is still to come very soon, hence why this is called “part 1” on the release title:

  • I still need to implement that stupid fleet management screen.  Hopefully tomorrow morning, knock on wood.  At least a preliminary version of that.
  • Based on a conversation with AnnoyingOrange, I want to reduce the number of battlestations that are around for you to capture by a LOT, and instead make it so that in the place of most of those you’re getting things that add new turret types that are available at all your command stations.  That’s more in line with the original game, and should be kind of a “best of both worlds” situation, hopefully.  Less fiddling with battlestations, but still tons of turrets everywhere, and still battlestations for some occasions.  Right now there is just too much reliance on battlestations, which feels clunky to use simply because of the volume of them.
  • I also do plan on putting in some sliders in the lobby that will let us control things like the relative strengths and hulls of strikecraft compared to their baseline, to make them more useful alongside frigates and the other big guys, etc.  They’re balanced well relative to one another, but are currently a bit too quick to die in general… but then again everyone has different tastes, so we’ll make this a config thing.
  • There may be more resulting from this conversation, and please feel free to join in.

I’m hoping to get to all those things this week, but we’ll see how it goes since I’m also in the middle of moving house and my office, so it’s a challenging time with so much going on.  But I feel like those are probably the top items that are needed in order to really give the last bits of control back to you that you might feel is lost with the fleets update at the moment.  (And in most respects the fleets update actually already gives you way more control — as well as way more units — but I’m shooting for “universally better” and not “has some unfortunate tradeoffs.”  We’re getting there.)

Now that we have enough of the tutorial-y in-game wiki things in place, it was time to exit beta because what we have in these builds is way more polished and refined than the version from April.  Time to get everyone banging on this and seeing what they think.  And if you’re just sitting down to play the game and enjoy it, I think this is by far the most enjoyable version at the moment despite the ongoing todo list.

So, let’s say you’ve not been paying attention since April and haven’t tried the betas…. what’s new?

  • Well, there’s this whole new concept called fleets, and it replaces control groups as well as making things far more streamlined while giving you more to manage than ever before.  Essentially it makes it easier to manage larger numbers of ships, and makes it FAR easier to subdivide your forces and do multiple things at once, but it also has a lot of customizability (some of which is still to come, but a lot of which is there in the techs already), and both a mixture of hand-designed and procedural elements.
  • There are literally a few dozen new ship types, most of which are interesting variants on prior ship types at the moment, but which also help differentiate your fleets even further from one another.
  • We got rid of the old style of tutorial, and are working on an in-game wiki for specific questions, and then just having things be contextually explained as you see them in other cases, and then later will likely have some mild tutorial-lite things that pop in optionally when you play and give you rewards if you follow them, or no penalties if you opt to skip them.  Basically the idea is to be a bit more modern than the old style of tutorial, and teach you as you play, plus letting you look up things like complex advanced strategies in a concise format in-game rather than having to go to forums or a wiki for those things.
  • The quick starts are all new.
  • The lobby is all new, and vastly easier to use.  There are a few todos left on that as well, but nothing super critical right now.
  • The sidebar has really evolved in order to support fleets and their new way of constructing things, and that includes a completely revised Tech tab.
  • Related, there’s a whole new system of techs that should be really clear as soon as you see it, but basically allows for synergy between similar ships all being upgraded at once.
  • Also related, your fleets gain EXP in battle and level up, although only some of the ships see the benefits of that (primarily the fleet leaders, but also a few others).  Later on there will also be perks that you can choose with each level-up, but that’s coming a bit later on.
  • All 7 marks are now used by both players and the AI, and the marks are more granular and balanced rather than having such giant jumps.
  • The AI has been made a lot smarter, repeatedly.
  • And a bunch of map types have been improved, and map generation times are faster.
  • The planets controlled by the AI are a lot more varied and interesting instead of all being big blobs of everything.  This fits heavily with the new fleets stuff so that you can bring the right fleet for the job.  If you use fewer fleets, you’ll get an EXP bonus.
  • The Lost Spire Frigate faction has been removed from the game, and is now just a core part of the game (and expanded as well) all the time.
  • Command Stations are way more varied and interesting (the player ones).
  • There are a ton of new lobby options that let you really customize your experience without it being overwhelming to see.
  • You can now have as many AIs as you want in the game, and you can even throw them into a civil war if you want to.
  • Ships rallying is gone, as are “space docks” and “starship constructors” and “build queues.”  Instead the fleet leaders now build things directly with the help of factories that are within one hop of them.  And a whole bunch of logistical things that were major pains in the rear previously are thus solved all in one fell swoop.
  • Fleet leaders are now faster in general to move around, which feels more fun.
  • The game has Strike versus Officer fleets, allowing you to choose a more hero-unit-focused type of experience or a more mob-fleet-style experience.  You can either choose that based on what you capture in-game, or you can tweak those things in the lobby some.
  • The economy has been rebalanced several times over, and you can’t shoot yourself in the foot by accident by upgrading a unit anymore.  But old low-mark units can actually become useful chaff now if you upgrade other units in their same fleet (they then get progressively cheaper).
  • The entire method for scouting has been replaced, and is a lot more direct and progressive, rather than encouraging needless micro like the old system did.  But you do still have the power to directly scout things, or set up pickets, thanks to some hacks involving nanites.
  • We redid all the fonts, the entire post processing stack, and upgraded the unity engine twice.  There were a bunch of bugfixes in their changes, too, among them finally a fix to the stutter from the garbage collector.
  • There have been loads and loads of balance tweaks, and general ui usability improvements that are just plain too numerous to list.
  • The galaxy map itself is also more attractive and a lot more legible at the same time.
  • Did we mention the AI is way smarter?  Like… it’s not a small thing.  Badger was busy all over the place in that part of the code.
  • There’s a new “crippled” mechanic for your centerpiece ships, which is far preferable to things like them going back to neutral and then you having to do a corpse run.
  • Did we mention lots of bugfixes?  All sorts of them.  It’s been over two months, after all.
  • A new knockback mechanic has been added, thanks to WeaponMaster, and it includes a lot of special features that the first game never had.  Including even things like implosion-style knock-inward effects for some ships, etc.
  • The AI hyper-alertness has been toned down, making it so that stealth on AI planets is actually something you can do now.
  • Certain ships now have the ability to grant a bonus to all the ships in their fleet, helping make fleets even more unique and combinatorial.  We haven’t done a ton with that yet, but the mechanic style is cool and we plan more of it.
  • You can now see your metal outflows by clicking the metal resource part of the top header.
  • Oh, you can also choose from a number of different planet naming styles in the lobby now, to get very different feels of galaxy.
  • And did we say the AI was smarter?  Yeah, it also has some major improvements to how it handles reinforcements and responding to you when aggro’d.
  • …and there’s a whole bunch of other stuff, way too much to mention.

We’re basically in a state where there are definitely still some things that I will feel a lot happier when those are done, BUT this is by far the strongest version of the game yet in my opinion.  And wherever there may be weaknesses or oversights, either those are things that are on the very short term schedule (such as noted above in this release notes) or things that we might not be aware of and hope you’ll tell us about.  In some cases it has simply been a matter of adding lobby options to support different playstyles, such as a desire for fewer hero units, things like that.  There may also be some things that aren’t explained as well as they should be or are nonobvious, and I hope that you guys will ask those questions to I can get those into the in-game wiki or otherwise address them in tooltips contextually or what have you.  Exciting times!

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

BETA AI War 2 v0.870 Released! “Improving Fleet EXP Mechanics”

Release notes here.

Reminder: to play the beta, you MUST go into your Steam properties for the game, go under the Betas tab, and choose the “current_beta” option.  Otherwise you’re going to be stuck on the pre-fleets version of the game.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about regarding fleets, then reading this link is a really good thing to do or you are likely to be mighty confused.

So what’s new in this build?  This is obviously an incremental one, headed towards the non-beta full release of 0.900 that we’re aiming at in the next… weeks?  That timeframe is unclear, and will be based on testing feedback, which has been rolling in well so far; but there will be loads of incremental beta releases during this period.  Anyway, what’s new:

  • The EXP that fleets gain is now handled really differently, and hopefully in a more balanced fashion.
  • That said, there are still some open questions about the fleet EXP mechanics and a few related items that I’d definitely be interested in feedback 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

BETA AI War 2 v0.869 Released! “How To Play And Tip Of The Day”

Release notes here.

Reminder: to play the beta, you MUST go into your Steam properties for the game, go under the Betas tab, and choose the “current_beta” option.  Otherwise you’re going to be stuck on the pre-fleets version of the game.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about regarding fleets, then reading this link is a really good thing to do or you are likely to be mighty confused.

So what’s new in this build?  This is obviously an incremental one, headed towards the non-beta full release of 0.900 that we’re aiming at in the next… weeks?  That timeframe is unclear, and will be based on testing feedback, which has been rolling in well so far; but there will be loads of incremental beta releases during this period.  Anyway, what’s new:

  • This one fixes a bug with savegames that were being created in the prior build being unreadable.  Sorry about that one!
  • This one also removes the tutorial button in general, as the current plan is not to do the prior style of “scripted tutorials that you play through,” unlike earlier builds of this game and unlike the original AI War.  That’s so last-decade: people largely want to just start playing, you know?
  • With that in mind, we’re leaning on three different techniques to teach people how to play, two of which are partly in place at the moment, and the third of which will be coming along soon.
  • Firstly there’s the Intel tab, which brings really important stuff to your attention and has been there for a long while.  Plus the really robust tooltips, most of which you can hold Shift on to get a full explanation of the mechanic of the ship in question right at that location.
  • Secondly, there’s a new How To Play Section that has been added as of this build, and which is kind of like a wiki for answering specific questions you might have.  This goes into more depth than we can do in a play-as-you-go tutorial anyhow, and wiki-style explanations for things were always considered kind of required for the original game anyway (but were actually on our wiki rather than being embedded in the game like this now is).
  • The How To Play section needs a lot of fleshing out, and if anyone has ideas on what they’d like us to explain, or if they have strategies that they want to contribute to the strategy sections, etc, then that’s of course very welcome.  Sometimes the best people to think of what the first things they want to look up are the people who wanted to find that information recently themselves.
  • There is also a new Tip of the Day system on the main menu, which I’ve wanted for a while.  Contributions to that are also welcome.
  • Thirdly, and not in place at all yet, we’re going to be having some little “mini missions” that encourage you to do things that are helpful to your cause, and thus teach you bits of strategy inherently as part of the game, and which give you a reward in-game for doing it if you want to.  This is similar to something we did in The Last Federation, and it’s a different form of “teaching by playing.”  Letting you actually just play, but then giving you some missions that you can reject or accept that give you an in-situ way of learning about strategic options that you might want to partake in.
  • Anyway, between these three approaches the hope is that players are able to get into the game easier than ever, and without having to worry about if there are 5+ hours of tutorials or whatever.  We’ll see how this works long term, but it seems promising, since it covers both major learning styles right in the game, rather than having some stuff in the game and the rest on our wiki and youtube.

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

BETA AI War 2 v0.868 Released! “Fleet EXP Level-Ups and Starting Battlestations”

Release notes here.

Reminder: to play the beta, you MUST go into your Steam properties for the game, go under the Betas tab, and choose the “current_beta” option.  Otherwise you’re going to be stuck on the pre-fleets version of the game.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about regarding fleets, then reading this link is a really good thing to do or you are likely to be mighty confused.

So what’s new in this build?  This is obviously an incremental one, headed towards the non-beta full release of 0.900 that we’re aiming at in the next… weeks?  That timeframe is unclear, and will be based on testing feedback, which has been rolling in well so far; but there will be loads of incremental beta releases during this period.  Anyway, what’s new:

  • Lots of big-deal stuff in this one, just like in the last one!  Feedback is really heavily desired on the fleet EXP level-up thresholds in particular.
  • So the most notable thing, potentially, is that now basically as your fleets fight and destroy enemies, they gain EXP for doing so and then eventually level up.  This has always been planned, and for things like engineers and command stations (and a few other things), it’s actually the only way that those can level up; science techs don’t directly support them.
  • This is an automated process (the leveling up), contrary to what I’d been thinking about for a while, since that’s way less micromanagement for you.  But then what I’d been thinking of as alternative ways to spend EXP (for fleet customization purposes) will instead be “perk points” that you get on level up.  Rather like what happens in a variety of action games, Dying Light comes to mind.  Or Horizon: Zero Dawn, etc.  A bunch of others.
  • There are ten new quickstarts in here for you to enjoy, too — thanks, Puffin!
  • The mark level colors are now completely revised, so that you can properly read the gradient of difficulty across the galaxy map when looking at it colors-wise.
  • The AI no longer gets so much salvage, so it no longer will have such crazy strong reprisal waves early in the game.
  • Your player homeworlds are now able to produce a lot more energy, which helps a variety of things early in the game in particular.
  • Energy costs for lower-mark units now goes down when they are in fleets with higher-mark ships, same as happens with metal as of the prior build.  This only applies to player ships, so the fact that this can make you suddenly more or less vulnerable to nucleophilic or other effects with those ships is just one of those things you have to manage on those ships you choose to leave outdated.  In some cases it’s a real advantage, in others it makes them really vulnerable to specific ships like eyebots.
  • Drones now never cost you energy, as that was something that could really mess you up.  For the same reason they haven’t been costing metal for quite some time.
  • Several other bugfixes are in place, and we also upgraded the version of unity and hopefully that will fix the glitchy icons in the sidebar.  If you see that glitch again, please let us know!
  • And then one of the other best things for last, you now start with a hand-designed battlestation defensive fleet (of your choosing from a selection of 5) on your home planet, just like you start with a hand-designed offensive fleet of your choosing from a different selection of 5.  This makes it so that you don’t have to babysit your home planet at the start, you get one more bit of personality into your starting position from moment one, and also the very idea of battlestations (and the key role they serve) is introduced now from minute one even if you skip the (currently disabled) tutorials.
  • We’re closing in on 0.900.  I need to get the fleet management screen v1 in place, and then we’ll iterate on that from there later on.  Then it’s just a matter of new tutorials, and I think we’re where we need to be for this to come out of beta.  There’s then still a lot to do to get to 1.0, including a lot of things on fleets and whatnot, but with those additions the current build is I think complete and contained enough that it’s definitely not beta-quality anymore.

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

BETA AI War 2 v0.867 Released! “Smarter AI, Better Mark Level Spread, Player Economic Boom”

Release notes here.

Reminder: to play the beta, you MUST go into your Steam properties for the game, go under the Betas tab, and choose the “current_beta” option.  Otherwise you’re going to be stuck on the pre-fleets version of the game.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about regarding fleets, then reading this link is a really good thing to do or you are likely to be mighty confused.

So what’s new in this build?  This is obviously an incremental one, headed towards the non-beta full release of 0.900 that we’re aiming at in the next… weeks?  That timeframe is unclear, and will be based on testing feedback, which has been rolling in well so far; but there will be loads of incremental beta releases during this period.  Anyway, what’s new:

  • There are a whole heap of bugfixes in this one, and a lot of them make the factions or AIs work better and smarter.
  • There are also some explicit improvements to the AI intelligence, specifically around waves in particular and how they use those.
  • And some other cases where things like Raid Engines just really were Not Okay ™ on third party faction worlds because they weren’t designed for that sort of thing.  So those factions and the AIs just kind of agree “okay, let’s just remove the raid engine from that planet and all move on with life.”  Raid Engines are more of a special present for you, the player. 😉
  • Reprisal Waves in particular have seen a big improvement, and now work more like the first game.  Basically, it was way too easy for you to see a target AI planet that you were no match for, and just spend a lot of time whittling it down.  Reprisal Waves were always supposed to stop you from doing that by having a mechanic whereby the AI essentially goes “okay, that was cute, now swallow my boot heel.  If you’re coming back, you’d better be prepared for real and not try to cheese me through economic-powered attrition.”  In this game that wasn’t really hitting back hard enough, so some people were doing the whittling thing, especially with Fleets now being more of a streamlined thing.  So this loophole hopefully being closed should  be a big deal in terms of people really having to play smart and not just use their  economy to bludgeon something out of their reach.
  • There were also some really notable cases where AIs were not releasing their reinforcements from guard posts or similar when they should have been, or releasing them way too early.   In some ways that was like the AI holding one hand behind its back for no good reason.  Expect to be suplexed now, properly.
  • There are multiple styles of how you can have your planets named, now!  There are various ones named after stars, cities in various countries, the original list from Keith and I, and some tongue-in-cheek humorous ones.  You can also add your own (and if you create something cool that you’d like us to add for others, we can do so).  I need to remember to make a how-to document on that feature, but it’s pretty nifty.
  • Hacking is no longer quite so tough, particularly on superterminals.  It was pretty insanely over the top difficult.  But really there were a variety of hacking changes that should be a lot more pleasant.
  • Puffin also made a lot of balance changes, making transport centerpieces way more useful and less likely to suicide (partly thanks to Badger for his suggestions there, as well as all the AI work he did).  But then there was also a big change in the tech costs for things like Arks and Citadels in particular, making those way less costly so that you can actually reasonably afford them.
  • Then when it comes to mark levels, hoo boy a ton has changed.  Previously the AI only used marks level 1 through 5, but you could get up to mark 7.  This was… really backwards.  Now the AI uses all 7 mark levels, and you still can, too.  Especially with the reductions in tech costs, you’re more likely to be able to get more high-level stuff, too. Though the XP upgrades for fleet mark levels are still to come, and that will push you even higher in that regard.
  • THEN, even beyond that, mark levels are now a heck of a lot less extreme in how they ramp up.  The mark 2 units were literally over twice as good as mark 1 units, which was a holdover from AIWC that really didn’t make any  sense anymore.  And then there was a more gradual growth up to mark 7, but it was still a huge amount of power creep with strange spikes.  Now things are far more gradual, and so mark 1 units aren’t immediately useless.  And mark 7 units don’t immediately mean you overpower everything.  It’s supposed to be  important that you increasing mark levels on fleets, as are the mark levels of AI planets being higher or lower when you choose to fight them, but the balance was just all off because it was built on the premise of the first game which… is just different in a wide variety of ways.   The new balance might not be perfect yet, but it should be a lot more satisfying than before and also should make it so that your really huge power jumps are where they should be: getting more fleets.  Or upgrading something that is in a ton of fleets all at once.
  • But going even further than that when it comes to lower mark levels being useless or a liability up until now… those were always supposed to be useful as at least being cheap chaff… but the cost for a mark 1 unit was the same as a 9x more powerful mark 7 unit, so you could just absolutely tank your economy on stupid stuff that was no help.  Even with the mark levels being more balanced now, the lower marks now get cheaper as you unlock higher mark ships of any sort in a given fleet — the more the difference, the cheaper the lower marks get.  So you can actually make some fleets that have one  really good ship type in there and then a ton of super-cheap chaff, if you want, which is definitely useful as a way to  be a bullet sponge against certain types of AI forces (nothing AOE, but something that fires directly, for sure).  The AI doesn’t get this benefit, it’s just for players.  In the first game, higher mark levels got more expensive, but in this game that approach could wind up bankrupting your economy if you simply upgrade a tech innocently, so the discount approach for older stuff had to be taken instead.  And it’s fleet-based rather than global in order to encourage… more unique and interesting fleets, and to give you more opportunities to show your cleverness with how you upgrade your fleets.
  • Keeping on with the idea of making fleets something that feel good in their default-ish state without you needing to turn off a bunch of units (like the old-expensive mark 1 units), we’ve also implemented the first of a new type of ability: Raiders now make all the other ships in their fleets, other than the centerpiece, at least as fast as they are.  So if you have some awesome Raiders for doing fast strikes, and then a bunk of slow space tanks that were absolutely a horrible combo before… guess what?  Now you have awesome fast raiders AND supercharged wicked fast space tanks to go with them.   Suddenly that particular fleet isn’t a bad combo, it’s this new and more powerful thing because of the strange mixing.  We plan to do more things along those lines, to really keep emphasizing the procedural and cool combinatorial elements of the game.
  • Also, there’s a new interface thing where you can click your metal resource text in the top bar and see your metal outflows, which is really useful.  It’s a preliminary version and may have some bugs, so feedback is appreciated.
  • Last week I was thinking about some large systemic changes to the game in order to try to solve some problems that are persistent but really more isolated.  This week, thanks to tons of feedback, we’ve all been thinking more along the lines of ways to improve the specific pain points (aka, make you want to use all the units in every fleet if we can, for example), but without going through this in a really extreme fashion.  It was already a lot closer to being correct than I was giving it credit for, and some more creative thinking has really led to some new approaches that I think will be a lot more palatable.
  • With that said, I’ve still been reluctant to focus on the fleet management screen so far, because if you’ve got that and are happily turning off a problematic unit then you probably won’t tell us about it and we can’t make it awesome. 😉  But that will be something I add next week, I think.  Even so, trying to keep that to the simple model I outlined, or something close to that, by simply making all your options useful in some way rather than a complete economic drain like something like autobombs might be now.
  • Beyond that we need to get the revised tutorial in place and make sure that as much of the balance  is sane as possible, and then I think we’re ready for 0.900!  We then have a ways to go on polishing and adding things (like subscreens for seeing more about your empire) heading into 1.0, but that will be a really big milestone and in theory that could be next week.  Maybe I just jinxed it, but it sure would be nice; I guess it depends on what people find over the weekend.  I think we’re getting out of the territory where the beta versions are more complicated to get into than the non-beta versions, and where they won’t be going through as drastic of shifts as they have been over the last few months.  Certainly my fingers are crossed for that, but it seems like we’re getting into that ballpark.

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

BETA AI War 2 v0.865 Released! “The Return Of Deepstriking”

Release notes here.

Reminder: to play the beta, you MUST go into your Steam properties for the game, go under the Betas tab, and choose the “current_beta” option.  Otherwise you’re going to be stuck on the pre-fleets version of the game.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about regarding fleets, then reading this link is a really good thing to do or you are likely to be mighty confused.

So what’s new in this build?  This is obviously an incremental one, headed towards the non-beta full release of 0.900 that we’re aiming at in the next… weeks?  That timeframe is unclear, and will be based on testing feedback, which has been rolling in well so far; but there will be loads of incremental beta releases during this period.  Anyway, what’s new:

  • A couple of minor lobby improvements, but nothing super major.
  • There are now some lobby options that can be changed during gameplay, and the performance options (stacking is the only thing there right now) have moved to that section.  This prepares us for multiplayer staying in sync down the line.  All the other settings (not lobby options) are player-specific and local-only, versus the lobby options stuff is shared across the entire galaxy.  So this is big groundwork for later stuff.  Thanks to Badger for suggesting.
  • A variety of improvements have been made to the selected units / fleets window, including having it show selected fleets instead of individual units when you’ve selected an entire fleet.  This is pretty useful for a lot of reasons.
  • AI units were being aggro’d from way too far away when your ships were just sitting there innocently, and that now both defaults to a (vastly) lower value and also is something you can customize in the lobby options.
  • Also AI units were being aggro’d even by your cloaked units, which is fixed.  So between this and the prior change, there’s a ton of deepstriking you can now do.  Thanks to Puffin for figuring out these last two ones in terms of what was wrong.
  • Fixed a bug where on the galaxy map (and in the lobby) it would often seem to click the wrong planet if you were zoomed out a lot in particular.  Thanks to WeaponMaster for noticing that this was because there were some collision hitboxes we were leaving turned on for icons of “important ships at the planet.”  So that should all feel way better, now.
  • And then command stations no longer are able to be exploited to keep things like beam cannons from your military command station after transforming it to an economic one.
  • Then fixed some other visual glitches and oddities, including a variety centering around the Zenith Trader.
  • Side story: I keep working on the fleet management screen on paper and then tossing it out, because it’s really complicated in that it can be different between different types of fleets, and I’m not sure how many things we might want to add to this screen in the future in general, which makes it hard to settle on a design.  I’ve decided today that I’m going to use a settings-screen-like approach with categories and such, but that is all code-driven, which is kind of a cross between the map tab left sidebar in the lobby, and the new in-game galaxy-wide options screen that I implemented today.  The work that has gone into the lobby has given me a big advantage on doing those sort of interfaces super quickly, turns out, so that seems like a reasonable way to design this screen and then it will also be kind of infinitely extensible.
  • So the moral of the side story is that I think I can finally stop messing around on paper with the fleet management screen and actually implement that thing without worrying about how I’m hemming myself in (because I won’t be).  In some ways it’s slightly less elegant than I was planning, but it is definitely going to be more usable, which is the bigger thing to me.  And vastly quicker to implement. It can always be reworked later if need be, I figure, but this would be a great place to start.  It’s a relief to have that mechanic figured out.

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

BETA AI War 2 v0.864 Released! “Humanity Strikes Back”

Release notes here.

Reminder: to play the beta, you MUST go into your Steam properties for the game, go under the Betas tab, and choose the “current_beta” option.  Otherwise you’re going to be stuck on the pre-fleets version of the game.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about regarding fleets, then reading this link is a really good thing to do or you are likely to be mighty confused.

So what’s new in this build?  This is obviously an incremental one, headed towards the non-beta full release of 0.900 that we’re aiming at in the next… weeks?  That timeframe is unclear, and will be based on testing feedback, which has been rolling in well so far; but there will be loads of incremental beta releases during this period.  Anyway, what’s new:

  • Right, so lately most of the balance changes have been in favor of the AI: the end battle wasn’t challenging enough, some various behavior was suboptimal, etc, etc.  This time is different.
  • The humans (that’s us players) have been given way more tools to defend ourselves in the fleets versions of the game, but that comes at extra energy cost, and at times there were still not enough battlestations to go around, on top of that.
  • What this version does is attempt to address some of the inequity that middle-tier players were facing, particularly in the early game, economically-speaking.
  • In the last build, I put in notes on each difficulty level and said that if things were off, the description of the difficulty was correct and the balance was wrong.  Surprising no-one, the result is that we are already finding the balance was a bit wrong on things like difficulty 7.  With the way things were shaking out, 5 was more like 7 (but with a less-smart AI), and 7 was more like 8 or 9.
  • This version also makes it so that the Hunter and Warden Fleets are more different based on whatever difficulty levels you select for them.  That’s pretty handy as an addition from Badger.
  • kesseleth has added a new type of Instigator Base that feeds the Warden, which is really cool.
  • Four more quickstarts have been added in by Puffin.
  • Citadels are way more scary, which is a nice change also from Puffin.
  • WeaponMaster fixed a bug where crippled mobile factories were still able to build ships.
  • In general you also now have more lobby control over some things for the human faction, like if you want home human settlements and cryogenic pods, and if so how many.
  • There’s also a stronger (positive) incentive to actually choose to have those!

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

BETA AI War 2 v0.863 Released! “Control of Capturables”

Release notes here.

Reminder: to play the beta, you MUST go into your Steam properties for the game, go under the Betas tab, and choose the “current_beta” option.  Otherwise you’re going to be stuck on the pre-fleets version of the game.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about regarding fleets, then reading this link is a really good thing to do or you are likely to be mighty confused.

So what’s new in this build?  This is obviously an incremental one, headed towards the non-beta full release of 0.900 that we’re aiming at in the next… weeks?  That timeframe is unclear, and will be based on testing feedback, which has been rolling in well so far; but there will be loads of incremental beta releases during this period.  Anyway, what’s new:

  • The title feature of this  release is that you can now, in the lobby options section, control how many fleets of various kinds are seeded around the galaxy for you to capture.  This is a pretty big deal, because while I think the default balance is good for most people, it may be that you want a more hero-centric gameplay experience (lots of officer fleets and lone wolf fleets), or maybe you want basically NO heroes, and it’s just transports that your smaller strikecraft and frigates work around (so no officer fleets and a ton of basic fleets).  For those who have felt like the game was drifting in one way or another (heroes-wise), hopefully this now gives you the feeling that you can make it whatever you want.
  • Going along with that, you can also make it so that there are even more battlestations on each planet that you capture battlestations on,  if you want.  If you were feeling like you didn’t have enough turrets to go around without capturing too many undesirable planets, you can just crank that up to 3 or 4 instead of the default of 2, and suddenly your turret caps are going to be crazy and very flexible in terms of where you can put them.  So if you were feeling like the defensive tools were too scarce… you can now adjust that.  Or if you felt like it was too generous, you can go  for something a lot more stripped-down and hardcore by making only one battlestation on those planets.
  • Those sorts of features show some of the power of the new lobby for us to really let you configure more about the game than you ever could in the first AI War,  to get the experience you really want, but without it being crazy overwhelming in terms of what the interface to control all that is like.  This is one of several reasons that I bumped the lobby redo up in priority — some of these features were clearly things that some folks were going to need to feel like they were being heard, since they want more or fewer officers, for example.
  • Quick Starts have been gone since we switched up the savegame format, and they were waiting for the lobby redo to be done before we added those back in.  Now that the lobby redo is done, we’ve started adding back in quick starts.  There are only three at the moment, but it’s a good start and  we’ll build back up again.
  • There are a whole bunch of bugfixes and a couple of typo fixes in this.
  • The factions tab now uses the human-readable names for things in its dropdowns, which is a lot clearer and more pleasing on the eyes.  It also now shows you tooltips for line items in those dropdowns, which is pretty critical for selecting your starting fleet, AI types, and the like.
  • AI difficulty levels now have actual descriptions!  These are based around the difficulty settings from the first game, and what the  TARGET is for these difficulty levels in this game.  It may be that we’re missing the mark in the balance of various difficulty levels, so if something feels like it doesn’t match its description then that’s a matter of us needing to adjust balance, not the description being wrong.  We’d definitely love feedback on that sort of thing.
  • You can now see what the contents of the fleet will be for each command station type before you build it.  This is pretty key info in terms of letting you know that, for instance, military command stations get more turrets and thus are less in need of help from captured battlestations.  I expect that military command stations will be more needed early in the game, for instance, and then as you capture more battlestations and shore things up, you may convert some of those to economic command stations and see a nice metal windfall thanks to your efforts. But before it was hard to know that this was even a thing you could do, since you had to test building each thing before you’d find out what they came with!

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

BETA AI War 2 v0.862 Released! “Lobby Overhaul, Knockback, Nanocaust, and the Final Battle”

Release notes here.

Reminder: to play the beta, you MUST go into your Steam properties for the game, go under the Betas tab, and choose the “current_beta” option.  Otherwise you’re going to be stuck on the pre-fleets version of the game.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about regarding fleets, then reading this link is a really good thing to do or you are likely to be mighty confused.

So what’s new in this build?  This is obviously an incremental one, headed towards the non-beta full release of 0.900 that we’re aiming at in the next… weeks?  That timeframe is unclear, and will be based on testing feedback, which has been rolling in well so far; but there will be loads of incremental beta releases during this period.  Anyway, what’s new:

  • This took WAY longer than expected, but that’s because we veered into fully redoing the lobby, at long last.  There are still some bits that are todo noted here, but it was getting into things that were smaller to fix than was worth making you guys wait any longer.
  • With the lobby being completely redone, this means you can have arbitrary numbers of factions now, and there have been a ton of other improvements and fixes.
  • The Nanocaust has gotten even bigger and scarier.  Some of their weapons weren’t even firing properly, but they now will.
  • Knockback is a huuuuge new thing that WeaponMaster has added to the game that we haven’t had since the first game, and it’s a lot more functional and fun here.  It can be used in a variety of ways, including sucking things inwards rather than pushing them away.  Thanks also to AnnoyingOrange for a bunch of math suggestions here, mainly for using a “baricenter” method for calculating when a bunch of knockbacks are happening on a ship at once (or many ships at once).
  • Along with making the Nanocaust scarier, Badger also went in and made the AI Overlord battle way more intense on difficulties 7 and up.
  • Puffin has been up to a lot with the balance, in adding a bunch more tweaks and changes to mines, giving translocation (knockback) to a number of ships and structures now, and so on.
  • The AI planets are no longer able to get turret reinforcement boosts from having guard posts, since that was causing players to have to rush around to avoid that happening.  Instead there is a bonus strike craft increase a bit heavier, which is less taxing.
  • And a variety of bugfixes from Badger and WeaponMaster, ranging from the minor to some fairly major ones.
  • It’s worth noting that now that I’ve done all this lobby work, the other interfaces that I have to work on seem waaaay less intimidating, so hopefully those will go more quickly.  Nonetheless, there’s no other area (aside from maybe the tutorial, or the addition of multiplayer back in) that is so monolithically huge.  But those won’t delay the intermediate releases of the game, since they don’t actually replace anything from the existing game as it is this build.  So… yay!  Hopefully the last of the releases that are quite this huge and spaced out.

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