AI War 2 v0.775 Released! “Unit Stacking”

Release notes here.

Surprisingly large amount of stuff in this one!  Unit stacking is every bit the godsend I’d hoped it would be, performance-wise, and I’m really pleased with that.  We don’t have any remaining savegame cases where performance dips below 100% for long on my machine, and the targeting cycle keeps to sub-second times in every instance now for me, too.  That’s a really big win, and lets me finally stop looking at anything performance-related for a while.

This also has a lot of tooltip/icon tweaks to show you when ships contain something in general, which is really nice.  Before you couldn’t tell that the guard posts were filled with nasty confetti waiting to pop out and bite you!

We also have some automatic strength calculation code in place now, which may mess with the way the AI spends its budgets and how it feels about opportunities and risks.  It’s meant to fix that up long-term, and overall it seems positive already, but that may break a few things in the short term.

There’s some new hotness possible with unique variants of ships for specific AI types, like giving extra-awesome snipers to the sniper type, and unlocking them from the start, etc.  It’s actually a really powerful system that can be used for a lot of things, but I’ve basically just set up some example entries for now.

Puffin has reworked quite a few units pretty heavily, making Fusion Bombers and V-Wings both a lot more interesting and effective.

Badger swung in and fixed a bug when entities were transforming types, so upgrading command stations will probably work now — please just let us know.

Lots more to come this week!  Though, frustratingly, I have to be out on Thursday.  So nothing on that day.  But all the others!

Reminder: RocketAssistedPuffin has stepped into a volunteer balancer role, and he is not only looking for feedback, but he’s actively integrating lots of things that other people are suggesting on our forums and Discord, as well as things that he’s finding and coming up with himself.  The more feedback the better, for sure.

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

Early Access Approaches: Showreel Video from AI War 2 v0.774!

We’re getting very close to our Early Access release!  We currently plan on that being October 18th, or something very close to that.  Looks like a target we can actually hit this time, finally, too.  Things are looking up!  If you’re reading and you don’t already have a copy of the game, you can wishlist it on Steam to get notified when it goes live, or you can order it on backerkit if you want to play right away.

Here’s a video showcasing some of what’s new in the most recent release.

That video does a great job of showing off the visual improvements and the AI logic improvements in particular.  I love watching the ships kite around in the clips later on in there in particular.  But there’s really been a gargantuan amount of stuff happening lately.  The most recent release notes are worth a read in particular, if you want to know the very latest news.

Basically, if you haven’t been following things closely… things are just coming along really, really well.  We still have a ways to go before we’re ready for Early Access, but the schedule seems manageable finally, and it should be a really positive showing that we have at launch there.  No multiplayer right at first, but that will come in a few months.  Just too much to polish on single-player first, basically.  We had working multiplayer months ago, but disabled it for now because we kept breaking it while making gameplay changes, and it would be a better use of time to just finish fixing it back up all at once after the gameplay settles out.

We should start having some press preview (not REVIEW) builds in another week and a half or two weeks.  Very excited but nervous about taking that plunge.  The full game should be out by Q2 of 2019.

Oh, by the by: there was some back and forth for a while about “is this diverging too far from AIWC” and then “is this just going to be a graphical/performance upgrade of AIWC.”  Two extremes, I know.  But now we’ve landed in a happy medium space, where the game is a clear improvement from AIWC, but also not remotely just a clone of it.  I’m super proud of the strides this has taken forward during the Era of Discovery phase that we entered in August, because I feel like this has really brought the game into its own.

That’s all for now — thanks for reading and watching!

Chris

AI War 2 v0.774 Released! “Five Thousand Days”

Release notes here.

Holy guacamole am I excited about this one.  Buckle up, because this is going to be a long post.  I’m going to post a video in a separate update later tonight, too.

Bugfixing!

Let’s start with the “boring” but important: looooads of bugs have been squashed in this one.  Most if not all of the carnage wrought by the performance overhauls of the last few versions has been smoothed out.  Plus a variety of longstanding issues.  There are still bugs to hunt for sure, but it’s finally a net-positive compared to the last two weeks.  I’m really excited about that.

AI Defenses

Badger spent a lot of time reworking both how the AI initially defends its planets, and how it chooses to do reinforcements… and a few things relating to offensive waves, as well.  The net result is that the AI planets really feel a lot more like they did in Classic, which makes me very happy.

Oh, quasi-related, the AI targeting (your units and theirs) is better yet again.  They won’t get caught up with metal harvesters forever anymore, etc.  And so many bugs fixed that were causing them to go the wrong place or chase the wrong thing, etc.

Map Generation Stuff!

Badger also made several new map variants for clusters, and made it so that you can finally choose how many planets your galaxy contains.  The default is still 80 at the moment… but in general I’m leaning towards raising that in the future, and making the minimum planet count and maximum planet count higher than they were in the first game.

More planets does not equal more CPU load for us, most of the time; assuming the same number of units in both scenarios, having twice the planets would actually be a quarter of the load in a lot of cases (many bits of work have a squared cost to them based on unit counts at a single planet).  Given that we’d of course have more units if we had more planets, we could still do something like 50% more units in the galaxy but at only half the cost of what a smaller galaxy would be; something to that effect.  Anyhow, that’s all just xml data at this point, so it’s easy to change later.

Quality of Life Improvements!

You no longer need to build hackers or science labs to deal with those resources on your own planets — your command stations now gather those resources, too.  You still need those units if you want to gather resources on planets you don’t control, and to do hacks on AI planets.  But you no longer need to shuffle around those guys in the basic areas.

Similarly, ALL of the objectives are finally actually showing up on the sidebar.  It was previously not telling you about data centers, or Advanced Research Stations (ARSes), etc.  There are also some additions to the tutorial, and to the beginner objectives, which also help out a lot.  There’s nothing on the galaxy map that you need to pore over the map to find anymore; it’s all right there on your objectives tab of the sidebar, waiting to be clicked to take you straight to the planet in question.

Oh right, and you can also see the number of squads per category in the ships tab of the sidebar; I’ve already gotten so used to that that I forgot it was new in this release!

Lots and Lots of Ship Renames

A lot of names for things in AIWC, or early-AIW2, have been changed.  But it’s not just cosmetic; their functions are different, and we didn’t want folks to be confused by something working differently but having the same name.

There are also some units that were just generic, like “Laser Turrets” and similar… what did those do again?  Just… basic damage, I guess?  (Yes).  Those now have distinct roles instead, and took up new names in order to reflect those roles: Laser Turrets are now Nucleophilic Turrets, for instance, meaning that they do more damage against targets with higher energy usage.  They still do great as general damage dealers, but now they have a specific niche bonus.

Advanced Research Stations (ARSes) have been renamed and split into a trio of units, too.  They are now Fleetship, Starship, and Turret Schematic Servers.  It’s kind of a lot to explain if you’re a fan of the first game and want to know what’s different, so here’s a link to the details.  But the short of it is that there’s more to capture now, and the capturing starts earlier in the game.  This gives you more units to command, and gives you more choices in what to capture versus just having to take what you find.

Lots more to come this week!

Reminder: RocketAssistedPuffin has stepped into a volunteer balancer role, and he is not only looking for feedback, but he’s actively integrating lots of things that other people are suggesting on our forums and Discord, as well as things that he’s finding and coming up with himself.  The more feedback the better, for sure.

Balance Tweaks!

Hoo boy has RocketAssistedPuffin been busy.  He’s been really fleshing out all of the units so that they fit better into the world.  The nanocaust is a lot more threatening to starships now, for one thing.  Armored Golems got a bonus tesla coil.  The Cursed Golem got a buff.  Plasma weapons got a bit of a redefine, and split into two groups (burst area damage ones, and single-target ones).  Lots of really good stuff.  Oh, and the Botnet Golem now fires 50 shots per salvo instead of 16.  GOOD GRIEF, PUFFIN! 😉

One that I snuck in there, which Keith suggested a week or two ago, is the return of brownouts.  They work just like in AIWC: if your energy balance goes negative, then all your forcefields shut off.  Note that the actual shield health doesn’t go down on anything, just the projected bubble goes away.  So the survivability of the shield generators themselves isn’t affected… but they won’t protect anything anymore.  Some of the most exciting wins that the AI would get against players in AIWC involved last-minute brownouts, and it was a big thing for players to juggle when being invaded (in a good way, not a micro way), so I’m definitely pleased to have that back.

Icon Overhaul

Part of the reason why this release took so darn long (6 days!) is that I redid almost all the icons in the game.  Well, we kept 56 of them, and added 105 new ones, and took out… I don’t know, 50?  So “almost all” is a stretch, but in practice that’s what it feels like.  The icons for most of the units beyond the basics have either been reworked to be more legible, or have been made unique for the first time; a huge number of units previously just reused icons temporarily, but now none do.

This makes the galaxy map AND the planet view AND the sidebar a lot more legible.  One thing that was often pointed out was that Turrets were basically illegible before, but frankly I found guardians and starships equally unintelligible.  I guess they only seemed clear by comparison to the turrets.

We actually upgraded our icon system a fair bit in order to accommodate this, now including a third “overlay” layer that can go onto your two-tone team-color icons.  The overlay is just colored however it’s colored, and goes over any part of the icon that we want it to as we design them.  The result is that now “starships” all share a same backplate, and then little sub-images make it clear what KIND of starship it is.  You don’t need to be able to see the details of the little sub-images, even, because their vague shape and color is enough to differentiate them.  But they all have sensible details if you get up close.

Here, let me just show you:

One of the coolest things about the icon overlays is that I can do things like what you see with the Military Orbital Command Station you see there: it has a colored shield icon inside it, rather than some sort of little flair or whatever off to the side.  But then if you look at the turrets on the sidebar, or the starships also there, you can also see the icon background is the same, but the little marker is different.

The bump to usability this has caused is just crazy, and I’m super stoked about that.

Shot Visuals Overhaul

Basically, almost all the shots in the game got a rework, and they look better both up close and far away, AND perform better.  It’s about time these felt like a proper space battle!

One of the nice things about this change is that it actually helps with the ability to read the battlefield.  You can tell quite a bit about who is shooting, and what kind of shots they have, based on the colors and shapes you see going past during battle.  This was my major project over the weekend, and it really makes things feel so much better.  The nature of shots is something I came up with for this game, too, and they’re insanely performant.  I’ve had 30k shots onscreen at once (plus 10k ships) at 120fps on a GTX 1070.  Our shots are done in a way that their deformation is on the GPU and yet we’re still able to make use of GPU Instancing, so the CPU load of them is comparably low.  That code isn’t new, but we’re making much better use of it now.

More??

The last of the pre-Early-Access ships have now been added to the game.  Auto-Bombs have been added as a player-only ship, thanks to Puffin.  The Warbird Starship and Parasites are in, making a return from the first game also thanks to Puffin.  SuperTerminals and Co-Processors have been added in thanks to Badger, leading to yet more targets out in the galaxy to go for.

Performance!

Yep, we made even more strides on that front.  There ARE, however, still some savegames that are frankly intractable performance-wise.  They’re late-game situations with huge AIP counts, and basically should be losing situations.  But rather than just getting it over with, the simulation slows down and the targeting loops take up to 50 seconds at the moment on my machine.  Normally a targeting loop takes under a third of a second.

So what to do?  Well, I’d hoped to get this in this release, but I wound up just getting the framework in.  Tomorrow’s release will hopefully have them: Unit Stacks.  Basically, there will ALWAYS be a point at which a galaxy is able to become intractable if players push things far enough.  That’s just a given, since hardware isn’t infinitely powerful.  We had players spawn 30 million ships into a campaign in the original game using cheats, for instance, and that gives you a framerate of 1 frame per 20 minutes in that game, roughly (I’m not kidding).

So anyway, there has to be a “pressure release” valve somewhere.  People will always exceed what we have planned since there aren’t strict unit caps.  In the first game, we mostly got around that by having AI Barracks and AI Carriers, and what we called “cold storage” for AI units that were on idle planets.  The new game is a lot more efficient in general and hopefully won’t need those sort of measures.  But something a bit more elegant has occurred to me, and is my focus for tomorrow: as I said, Unit Stacks.

Basically when there are too many ships on a planet, the game will go through and combine like with like, bringing it down into realms where your computer can do the math in a timely fashion.  Each stack of units that gets combined will have a little multiplier number right on its icon in the main view, and on the side view won’t show differently at all.  There are a few more nuances there, but mainly it will just keep the performance from ever getting runaway bogged down and the game from having an over-abundance of icons in a meaningless way.  Basically I was thinking about Civ IV as an inspiration.

But more on that tomorrow!

So What’s That “5000 Days” Title Mean?

It’s a bit of a lame joke on my part, relating to the fact that I changed some of our 64bit integers into 32bit integers.  If you want some technical junk, read on.  Otherwise, feel free to skip this section.

Basically, Keith and I both come from business software backgrounds.  In such an environment, we’re familiar with situations where the limitations of a 32bit integer have been hit (that’s about 2.2 billion).  So basically, if Amazon used a 32bit integer to track orders, then after 2.2 billion orders their system would break.  Evidently in 2015, they shipped about 5 billion orders via Amazon Prime, so that gives you some sense of scale of what we’re talking about.

Well, we were tracking ships, and shots –and even the number of fifths-of-a-second a campaign has lasted — all as 64bit integers in order to avoid that sort of problem.  I don’t know the name of this number, but this is the largest a 64bit integer can store: 9,223,372,036,854,775,807.  Is that quintillions?  I think that’s what that is.  Anyway, that’s an unimaginably huge number, as if 2 billion were somehow comprehensible in a meaningful sense to us.

64bit math, even comparison operators and addition, take a lot longer compared to int32.   In this table, it’s showing the nanosecond costs of various operations of ints (32bit) versus longs (64bit) in C#:

 

As you might notice, the mere addition of a long is 5.6 times slower than the addition of an int.  To check time, there are lots of situations where we have to do things like “if ( Now > LastShotTime + 5 ).”   So the shift to an integer is a nontrivial amount of speed boost when spread across the literally millions of operations that we do of that sort in one second during gameplay.

The downside, however, is… bum bum bum… there’s now a time limit on campaigns in AI War 2.  I’m sorry to tell you this, but you cannot run a given campaign of the game for more than about 5000 straight days (24/7/365) before it will break.  (Note that this is NOT something to be concerned about, it’s a joke I almost regret sharing, probably most games have a similar limitation, it doesn’t limit things across campaigns, etc, etc).

To put this into perspective: 5000 days is 13.69 years.  Of continuous running, just one campaign ever, never turning off the power or adjusting anything.  Arcen isn’t that old.  I didn’t start coding the original AI War until just under 10 years ago, and it didn’t release until almost exactly 9 years ago.  I will go out on a limb here: if you can’t win your campaign in one hundred and twenty thousand hours, I think you need to choose a lower difficulty for your next campaign.  Also: do drop me a line, since it’s now the 2030s.

The joke, as it is, is basically at Keith’s and my expense.  We both somehow felt quite concerned about the limitations of a regular int, as if we’d hit the cap on that and the game would die.  (As it stands, even in the new version I have it cycle back around if it passes 2 billion shots or ships created in one campaign, so that it can’t break on that; yes I’m that paranoid).  The idea that we’d ever approach those sorts of numbers really shows that even the gut feel of math-inclined programmers can really be way off when it comes to what a billion means.

Well, I’ve thoroughly derailed these release notes now…

The End!

That’s it!  There’s lots more to read in these release notes, but I don’t have anything more to say about them here.  There should be another release tomorrow.  Lots more to come in the next few weeks.

Thanks for reading!

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 v0.773 Released! “Terrorized By An Infinite Loop”

Release notes here.

Right, new version.  I’m really, really glad that the various improvements from this build are in place now.   That said, the last couple of days have been pretty hellish.  We wound up chasing an infinite loop that would lock up the game… and maybe spent a full day off and on looking for that amidst doing other things.  Thanks to a lot of help from Badger and Puffin, we found it and nailed it.

There’s a lot of good stuff in this version, ranging from bugfixes and balance tweaks, to performance improvements all over the place.  There’s still so very many little things broken all over the place from the recent performance work, however, which is very frustrating to me personally.  It’s messing with my schedule, but it has to be done.  With some more weekend time, it will work out.  There’s also some really substantial performance work that still needs to be done for cases where the number of squads on a planet are north of a few thousand.  Hopefully I’ll have the worst of that sorted by next build.

There are also two new units here from Puffin, both guardians that have transforming-type abilities.  I’m super stoked about those.  Lots of little quality of life improvements from Badger, too, and minor improvements to the tutorial.

If there are any more absolutely-blocking issues, we have a beta branch on steam (right click and choose properties on the game in your steam list, then choose the betas tab) called alpha_0768_pretargetingrewrite. That lets you get back to the last build prior to last one if need be.  But we’re going to be crushing through more bugs on this current one on into next week, and ideally by Monday or Tuesday we’ll have all the serious stuff out.

Lots more to come this week!

Reminder: RocketAssistedPuffin has stepped into a volunteer balancer role, and he is not only looking for feedback, but he’s actively integrating lots of things that other people are suggesting on our forums and Discord, as well as things that he’s finding and coming up with himself.  The more feedback the better, for sure.

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 v0.772 Released! “Eye See You”

Release notes here.

The cleanup-style work continues, but in addition to that there are now AI Eyes thanks to Badger!

AI Eyes are something that a few players had been looking forward to having back, and the first two variants of those are now in place.  These create a situation where you need to attack planets with fewer ships (either more surgically, or with bigger but fewer ships).  That’s directly at odds with how a lot of time you’ll be playing, and it fits in nicely with the Orbital Mass Drivers, which discourage you from bringing those big centerpiece ships since those will get eaten.  Anyway, variety is good in terms of the sorts of challenges you might run into out there in the cosmos.

This build fixes a couple of fairly blocking errors, which are good to have out of the way, but we still have yet more cleanup to do beyond this one.  Meanwhile, Puffin has been hard at work on balance, making this a lot more interesting.  The Orbital Mass Drivers are much stronger, turrets have had a minor nerf, and guard post power is waaay up.  Among other goodies.

If there are any more absolutely-blocking issues, we have a beta branch on steam (right click and choose properties on the game in your steam list, then choose the betas tab) called alpha_0768_pretargetingrewrite. That lets you get back to the last build prior to last one if need be.  But we’re going to be crushing through more bugs on this current one on into next week, and ideally by Monday or Tuesday we’ll have all the serious stuff out.

Lots more to come next week!

Reminder: RocketAssistedPuffin has stepped into a volunteer balancer role, and he is not only looking for feedback, but he’s actively integrating lots of things that other people are suggesting on our forums and Discord, as well as things that he’s finding and coming up with himself.  The more feedback the better, for sure.

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 v0.771 Released! “Cleanup Aisle 1”

Release notes here.

That release last night sure was huge, eh?  Changed a ton for the better, but as with any release that is SO darn huge, it’s full of bugs.  In Early Access or after, we’d have to do a separate beta branch and get people to test there.  As it stands, this is a good example of why we haven’t started Early Access just yet.  This new build doesn’t fix but maybe a third of the identified issues, but it’s a definite step in the right direction — and it fixes some older issues, which is a nice plus.

If there are any absolutely-blocking issues, we have a beta branch on steam (right click and choose properties on the game in your steam list, then choose the betas tab) called alpha_0768_pretargetingrewrite. That lets you get back to the last build prior to last one if need be.  But we’re going to be crushing through more bugs on this current one tomorrow and into next week, and ideally by Monday or Tuesday we’ll have all the serious stuff out.

Lots more to come next week!

Reminder: RocketAssistedPuffin has stepped into a volunteer balancer role, and he is not only looking for feedback, but he’s actively integrating lots of things that other people are suggesting on our forums and Discord, as well as things that he’s finding and coming up with himself.  The more feedback the better, for sure.

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 v0.769-0.770 Released! “Thinking Long-Term”

Release notes here.

Holy cow, it’s been a week!  Well… just check out those release notes to see why!  This is absolutely a huge overhaul of… a lot.  And a heaping ton of bugfixes.  Some highlights:

  • The targeting logic for ships has been completely rewritten from scratch, and is far superior to what it was before in terms of performance as well as accuracy.
  • “Wormhole Invasions” are a new thing that the AIs can do against you.  These are very nasty backdoor attacks that help to make the AI more lively as time goes on.
  • A lot of multithreading work has been done, partly to enable the targeting logic upgrades.
  • But actually the “don’t stand on me please” logic for ships has been redone as well, making it so that as they stand around or move around the ships stay much further off of one another, thus truly showing just how many of them there are in any given situation (which looks cool and is useful tactically).
  • A new stingray fleetship has been added, etherjets as well, 6 new guardians are added, 3 types of minefields are added, orbital mass drivers are added… good grief!… 10 dire guard posts have been added, and 8 dire guardians, and design template servers, and fortresses…
  • A bajillion balance-tuning bits are in there as well, far too many to mention all of them.
  • That said, AI Guard Posts themselves are worth a mention since they’ve been basically overhauled in the balance department.
  • Oh, and guardians actually spawn all over the galaxy from the start now, too, which makes the game flow a lot different.
  • And space tanks have been basically reinvented.
  • And performance improvements have been made all over the freaking place, making a lot of example poor-performing savegames that we had been provided now perform at full speed with room to spare.  (There’s still one existing savegame that performs horribly that we got right before releasing this that we need to check on, though).
  • And… yeah.  The targeting alone almost makes it like a new game, because your ships are actually competent at a tactical level now… as are the AI’s…
  • It is worth noting that since the targeting is now running just in the background now, in really large battles the decision-making of units at a tactical level gets more sluggish rather than the game slowing down.  So you will start to see that happening.  We’re thinking about some ways to reduce the load of that, though.
  • Oh, science hacking is also a thing again!

I mentioned this last three times, but heck, I will again: RocketAssistedPuffin has stepped into a volunteer balancer role, and he is not only looking for feedback, but he’s actively integrating lots of things that other people are suggesting on our forums and Discord, as well as things that he’s finding and coming up with himself.  The more feedback the better, for sure.

The schedule that I outlined two times back is kind of in shambles, though, because of the massive detour here that performance took.  However, thanks largely to all the additions from Badger and Puffin, we’re now considering ourselves a lot closer to the press-build-readiness in general.  I had basically a 5ish day hiatus from our planned schedule, but the following things are being bumped back:

  • Improve shot visual variety and efficiency. (0.5 day) is an easy one to push back, because visually it has enough variety to make do for now, and the performance on shot visuals is excellent (I was hitting 30k shots at a time on screen and having 100+ fps during testing).
  • New capturables to add (3-4 days) was a harder one to push back, but I’d rather focus on polish right now.  There’s enough going on now that it’s really not needed.  Badger does plan on AI Eyes prior to the press build, and I need to get ARSes redone, but the rest of that can be skipped.
  • New ship mechanics to add (3-4 days) is another one that I hate seeing pushed back, but needs to be.  It’s not going away, just moving into EA.  Thanks in large part to Puffin, the variety of what ships are actually using is feeling pretty solid for an EA release right now (I think — let me know if you disagree).

So… by virtue of sacking all of those planned work items, we remain on schedule.  I still have more performance work to do (apparently, given the savegame that still runs at 10% speed), but nothing should be so dire as what happened this week.  And in the meantime, this will also let us get a lot of stuff really polished up and showing well, and we can start hitting the content additions hard right at the start of EA.

I’m sure we’ll also have a raft of new bugs resulting from all these changes in this release, too…  Anyway, thanks for reading.

Lots more to come next week!

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 v0.768 Released! “Golem Rebirth”

Release notes here.

There’s a lot of good stuff in here.  All sorts of bugfixes, major targeting improvements, beam weapons work better and have visuals, the AI does some cool new things, and there’s a lot of balance improvements.  It’s very late and I’m tired, so I’ll mostly leave it at that. 😉  Oh, there was a giant performance improvement, too.

One question: is the game too sluggish right now, in terms of how fast units kill things?  It feels like units die a lot slower here than they did in AIWC.  If so, that’s quite a pendulum swing away from where ships were insta-dying a few weeks ago, but the real balance needs to be somewhere in the middle.  It’s just something I was noticing, it seems like battles are really slow affairs right now.

I mentioned this last two times, but heck, I will again: RocketAssistedPuffin has stepped into a volunteer balancer role, and he is not only looking for feedback, but he’s actively integrating lots of things that other people are suggesting on our forums and Discord, as well as things that he’s finding and coming up with himself.  The more feedback the better, for sure.

The schedule that I outlined last time is still what we’re planning on, and so far so good.  There were a lot of things that were off the beaten path that I got done today that needed to happen, but I still was faster than the schedule laid out, so that’s good.  I won’t be around tomorrow, but I’ll be on Sunday unless I’m just absolutely beaten tired again.  Not sure why that’s been happening on the weekends.  But any rate, I’m going to be out next Friday (grr), so I want to get that extra day in in advance.  Gotta make this schedule work.  Anyhow, for now: sleep!

Lots more to come next week!

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 v0.767 Released! “Newly In Stock, By Zenith”

Release notes here.

The auto-targeting of player ships, as well as AI ships, should actually fully work better for real this time, unlike yesterday when I botched that a bit.

There’s also now finally something that the Zenith Trader is selling!  Namely, tamed and chained minor faction monstrosities… yikes, haha.

There are units still getting overhauls, becoming new things like the Metabolizing Gangsaw (so much cooler than the old Vorticular Cutlass) or the Pike Turret (new from what the Needler Turret was).  There’s also a whole-new Ambush Turret that you can place around wormholes to wreak some havoc.  The balance tweaks continue, with the AI Overlords becoming more interesting, and the Sentinel Frigates and Sentry Starships becoming a lot more useful.  You’re also less likely to get bumrushed by the hunter fleet early in the game, among other things.

I mentioned this last time, but it bears repeating: RocketAssistedPuffin has stepped into a volunteer balancer role, and he is not only looking for feedback, but he’s actively integrating lots of things that other people are suggesting on our forums and Discord, as well as things that he’s finding and coming up with himself.  The more feedback the better, for sure.

I spent more time today going through mantis, as well as getting all my previously-offline notes into there, and I’m now finally done with that.  I have finished compiling a big list of things for my trello to-do list, focusing on things that need to happen prior to a “press build” being ready.  I mentioned this flow yesterday:

  • First, we have to get things really nice and clean and polished, and with enough features that people get the idea, for a press build.  No press build, no previews, no EA launch coverage, and that is bad.
  • That has to be out to the press ideally 2+ weeks (3 is just infeasible now) ahead of a launch of the game into Early Access, or again we simply don’t have time to get good coverage.
  • There’s then a list of things that we need to get done during that 2 week period, basically to get full polish for the initial Early Access launch.  I’d like to set a lot of that time aside for reacting to bugs that are found during that period, but frankly a lot of the time is instead going to need to be spent on art.  So that will be a balancing act.
  • Then we release to Early Access, and life resumes its normal cycles as we head on towards 1.0 some months later.

After much teeth-gnashing, I think we’re still aiming for Early Access in mid-October — so a press build in very early October.  Yeah that is faster than I’d prefer, but it’s helping us to put a big focus on what needs to be in place in order to really wow people out of the gate, and then we can focus on polish during Early Access.  Frankly one of the things that hinders polish is the smaller pool of folks that we have who are playing it.  Having that larger pool of Early Access players will be absolutely invaluable to making the 1.0 everything it can be.  And of course, the plan is not to stop at 1.0.

At any rate, we’ll see if there are any big speed bumps that are hit.  In the meantime, expect to see a lot more focus from me in particular on new features in the coming two weeks, rather than bugfixes (aside from critical ones).  Puffin will still be on balance, and Badger will be doing whatever strikes him as important, and Keith should be coming in on some AI improvements.  So all around it should be a pretty good mix of stuff coming.

Lots more to come this week!

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 v0.766 Released! “Target Equilibrium”

Release notes here.

The auto-targeting of player ships, as well as AI ships, is better.  Also, balance continues to be majorly improved thanks to RocketAssistedPuffin.  Also also, the Nanocaust is better than ever thanks to Badger, and there’s a big laundry list of bugfixes.

I mentioned this last time, but it bears repeating: RocketAssistedPuffin has stepped into a volunteer balancer role, and he is not only looking for feedback, but he’s actively integrating lots of things that other people are suggesting on our forums and Discord, as well as things that he’s finding and coming up with himself.  The more feedback the better, for sure.

I should also take this time to point out the thread where you can give feedback to Eric on the upcoming lobby redesign.  I have been remiss on not giving that wider visibility.

Late today, I’ve spent a lot of time going through mantis, and I’m not nearly done yet.  I have been working on trying to compile a big list of things for my trello to-do list, with some new categories in there.  Basically, to get to a point where we can release in Early Access, a few things have to happen:

  • First, we have to get things really nice and clean and polished, and with enough features that people get the idea, for a press build.  No press build, no previews, no EA launch coverage, and that is bad.
  • That has to be out to the press ideally 3+ weeks ahead of a launch of the game into Early Access, or again we simply don’t have time to get good coverage.
  • There’s then a list of things that we need to get done during that 3 week period, basically to get full polish for the initial Early Access launch.  At least half of those three weeks should be set aside for just reacting to ongoing bugs and polish that people find, though.
  • Then we release to Early Access, and life resumes its normal cycles as we head on towards 1.0 some months later.

If we’re aiming for Early Access in mid-October, then that means that we have to have the press build done in 2.5 to 3.5 weeks at most.  Maaaan that feels rushed at this point.  I really don’t like that prospect.  I’m also not keen on waiting to go to Early Access in January, though.  I’m not sure which is worse, in the view of the next half year.  The 1.0 build should wind up being the same either way, but how that affects us financially and in terms of reviews and coverage… well, that’s a tough decision at the moment.

It’s super frustrating, because I’m really happy with how things are evolving right now, but there is so much that is evolving that there’s just never enough time for everything.  Particularly with our reduced staff, despite the volunteers that we have who are an enormous help.  This project is just… well, big.  That’s a lot of superlatives for one paragraph. 😉  But seriously, if I just stopped and worked on nothing but art from now until the deadline, I still might not have enough time for just that.  The more I think about it…

At any rate, we’ll see what happens.  I’m doing my best to be speedy, but new reports come in every day and even if they didn’t I’m not sure I’d have the time to tackle the entire backlog in time.  I plan on working on this project for a long time to come, knock on wood, but getting to the point where this is actually purchaseable on storefronts is a continual tug of war right now.  Either way, big exciting things are happening.  And that’s without any of the procedural ships in there!  We’ll see if those maybe get pushed back into Early Access or even later, if they don’t seem really needed.

Lots more to come this week!

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