BETA AI War 2 v0.855 Released! “Galactic Markings”

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:

  • In a lot of ways, this release is NOT hitting the most-important issues that testers have identified thus far.  Please know that we are thinking about those and making plans!  In the meantime, these things also really needed to be addressed.
  • The really big thing that people want are the rest of the controls for fleets so that the feeling of mildly being on autopilot in some areas is no longer there.  There’s been various talk about that being “the new direction” of the game and folks who are unhappy with that, but bear in mind it’s just a couple of pretty key fleet management interfaces missing, not some grand design to take away a lot of control from you.  Though the fact that things function in the main so well without those key fleet management screens is actually a big design goal, which we seem to have hit well.  Nonetheless, that’s coming soon no matter what.
  • Right, so the galaxy map has been a bit of a mess for a long time.  It has been various degrees of mess depending on when you look at AIW2, but suffice it to say that the sequel’s map always felt inferior to that of the first.  Visually and scale-of-stuff-wise, and in general referring to clarity of that screen… this build should be lightyears ahead of any prior build.
  • There’s still plenty more for us to do with the galaxy map as well, and there has been some rumbling of “why did you take away the ability to hover over specific ships and find them easily,” and my only answer to that right now is that those things are coming soon as well.  As far as the ship hover bit, some of the sidebar changes that are coming necessitated a change, so here we are.
  • You can now hack (very cheaply) to get the science off of neutral planets.  If you’ve actually conquered the planet, then just let your command station get the science for free… but this is something that is required for balance reasons because of a bunch of new things in this game (you not getting charged AIP for when a planet is taken over by a third party ally or enemy-to-all faction, for instance).  My initial reaction was “just let flagships also gather science,” but Badger quickly pointed out all the various exploits people can now do if we did that.  This new approach allows you to actually get more science than before for the amount of AIP you incur, but not in an exploity way.
  • Speaking of science… Puffin has completely redone how much the various techs cost to be more inline with the pre-fleets versions of the game, which should make things a lot more affordable-feeling and in general just be more sane.
  • Puffin has also majorly toned down just how much more fearsome the mark 5+ ships are.   Originally I figured that those ships would be AI only (the mark 6 and 7 variants in particular), and so I made the scaling on those pretty ludicrously powerful.  Now it actually turns out that with the new style of techs, it is PLAYERS who are almost exclusively able to reach those higher mark levels (and that’s something that seems thematically fitting), so the numbers really needed a rework in a major way.   Just upgrading your stuff to an insane degree was always the best choice, versus spreading it around.
  • Puffin has also really been busy making forcefields feel a lot more notable, giving you that shield-cracking vibe from the first game again, and in general working on a variety of balance things to differentiate units a bit more.  We had an interesting private discussion about some more things that might need to change in this area, but for now what is in place definitely are major steps in the right direction.
  • Bugfix-wise, the intra-galactic coordinators and other known issues from the prior builds are all now fixed up.  Plus steamworks integration works again, and a handful of other things.  There’s a fun bug with the mousewheel being inverted in Unity 2019.1 on linux, and until they fix that we’ve implemented a settings option that lets you work around it.

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 v0.854 Released! “Garbage… Collected!”

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:

  • Wow this one was a detour, in the main.  If any build is likely to break for you in some crazy way, it’s this one.  We upgraded unity, and our methods for drawing text, and how dropdowns work, and how the network code (which is used even in single player in a loopback fashion) hooks in… and a whole bunch of other stuff.  How we compile, and what we compile against.  What the post-processing stack is.
  • This was all stuff that needed to happen sooner than later, because there are a plethora of bugfixes in unity and in the textmeshpro asset that we use for text that really make life nicer in general, but this is part of why we did this during the beta period.  Also folks were complaining about the fonts a lot, so they’re wholly new.  There are little issues all over the place with things that could be a slightly better size or slightly more clear, though, I feel like.
  • I’m going to be out until sometime on Sunday, and then back fully on Monday.  So if you have a big problem in this build that doesn’t let you go further, then please just roll back to the prior one in the manner described below (the most_recent_stable thing).
  • That said, it’s seeming pretty darn good in the main, and I wanted folks to be able to bang on this some while I’m off, so here we are.
  • But that’s not remotely all!
  • WeaponMaster has been making some of the individual-ship AI smarter in various ways.
  • Badger has been making some of the threatfleet AI smarter in various ways.
  • A handful of quality of life improvements and bugfixes have been added.
  • Puffin has been making the balance way more pleasant when it comes to techs, in terms of some things being cheaper and some things being costlier.
  • Overall there was quite a bit of refinement, even aside from the big unity upgrade.
  • That periodic stutter (which was caused by “garbage collection”) should now be gone thanks to a new feature in unity to do incremental garbage collection, so hence the name of this release.  We’ve been asking them for a proper generational garbage collector since literally 2010, and this is at the very least a step in the right direction (and they claim that their R&D folks found this performed better than generational GC in most cases, so… okay, I guess).  Anyway it’s something we’re really happy to finally see!
  • Two known issues:
  • 1. In the bottom right corner of the main menu, it says you’re not logged into Steam even though you are, and also if you are logged into Steam the backdrop for the main menu might be just stars instead of the usual colorful thing with ships flying by. We’ll be upgrading our Steam integration dlls next build, which should fix that. Hopefully it causes no other issues.
  • 2. The intra-galactic coordinators for turrets and strikecraft do who-knows-what (maybe nothing?) right now. We wanted to get this build out asap, since it’s beta anyway.

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 v0.853 Released! “An Officer And A Bunch Of Fleets”

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 build is perhaps the biggest example of why we wanted all this testing feedback prior to going to 0.900.  Just saying.  The number of things that irritated people in prior 0.850-era builds that are now fixed is pretty enormous.  Let’s talk about those!
  • Auto-assigned hotkeys for your fleets (in new savegames) are now more likely to be useful for you.
  • Your command stations will now auto-rebuild themselves if you lose them but win the battle with battlestations or citadels in place.  Yay lack of busywork!
  • You can actually hack unexplored planets to explore them with nanites, properly!  This is a pretty big deal, as it’s the only means of manually scouting without incurring an AIP cost.
  • Bunch of irritating bugs fixed, and the longwinded backstory has been condensed down to the important points.
  • Tired of having all of your fleets have giant centerpieces in them?  ME TOO!  I, too, like lots of little strikecraft for most of my forces.  Thus we now have Strike type fleets with just a transport at the center, and then “Officer” type fleets that are more like what you’ve been used to.
  • Protip: take Strike fleets against ion cannons and mass drivers.  Officer fleets are suicidal there.
  • Note: we thought about making lobby options for giving you more or fewer Officer or Strike fleets relative to one another, but frankly it’s more interesting if you make those choices in-game (in my opinion).  If there absolutely aren’t enough of one kind of fleet to find, then… we’ll consider lobby options.  But choices made through gameplay rather than the lobby are so much more satisfying…
  • Most of the Officer-style centerpieces are a lot faster, so there’s less waiting around for them.  Even though they aren’t QUITE so central as before.
  • The AI’s costs to purchase most things doubled, so you won’t be getting wrecked with quite so large of enemy forces anymore.
  • Your higher-mark ships no longer cost more metal than your lower-mark variants, so you can’t accidentally hose your economy by upgrading a tech.  Techs are 100% positive goodness now, no downsides (opportunity cost aside).  Don’t worry, you’ll still need that metal for all the other fleets you’re getting now.
  • There’s a whole bunch more cases where you get extra engineers, in new savegames only.
  • There’s a whole bunch more cases where you get extra decloaking ships, in new savegames only.
  • Among those bugfixes, you can actually select between the different starting fleet types, now.  Enjoy those parasites… 😉
  • And the really huge one: there are no more mysterious AIP increase penalties for having too many fleets at one place.  We’ll deal with the exploits that you can potentially get up to later in terms of fleetballing too much, but the first solution we had was just plain irritating and not good.  There is discussion about potential options here, if you want to get in on that.

More to come tomorrow.  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 v0.852 Released! “Directness Is Better”

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:

  • Your ships no longer go through a rally phase from the factories they are built at to the centerpieces they will then join.  This was slow and annoying and caused all sorts of intractable issues when it comes to you wanting your fleet to act cohesively.  Now things just directly come out of their centerpiece and inherent the behaviors and orders of the centerpiece.  It’s not like any one factory was doing all the construction, anyhow, in most cases.  This directness solves a lot of logistical irritations, and prior to 0.850 I’d been wondering if I needed to do this.  Turns out yes!
  • Your tooltips now show you what techs upgrade a ship, if any.  Yay!  It also talks about upgrading fleets as a whole, which isn’t in yet but will be soon.
  • AI Command Stations that exist after an AI has reconquered a planet have been a minor pain in the rear for a while.  They seem to suggest that more AIP will be charged to you when in fact that is not the case.  They also allowed more recently for some exploity behavior when you farm them for scouting intel.  All of that stuff is now fixed up by having them simply be split into their own new category of command station that notes that they are a result of reconquest.

More to come Monday.  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 v0.851 Released! “Drones And Economies”

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:

  • Your command stations have been rebalanced a bit, and the descriptions have been updated a lot in order to keep veteran AIWC players from making assumptions that get them into trouble.  Aka, economic command stations are not always the answer anymore, and in fact can be kinda risky depending on the scenario.
  • Bunch of bugfixes.
  • Drones actually work now!  At least for the hive golem.  Still have not tested them for the third party factions and AI guard posts.  Let us know (with savegames, please) if those are having problems.
  • Just to save you some pain of hunting down cloaked AI guard posts that are harmless but hiding on your planet, those now lose cloak when their command station dies.  This actually can be used in your favor in a couple of combat ways, too, actually: “the enemy’s gate is down” on heavily cloaked planets, if you catch my drift.
  • There were a bunch of bugs with double-clicking which have been in there forever, and are now fixed.
  • The whole “control groups style number buttons” stuff now works again, except that you can’t (yet) assign fleets manually to the numbers.  But the first 10 you get will automatically be assigned numbers for you.  Baby steps!  The automation is useful long-term for new players and lazy people (like me) anyway who otherwise might not think to set their control group numbers and just do things the hard way, but the ability to manage that by hand is something that obviously we want you to have, too.
  • Dire guard posts no longer wreck your AIP.
  • Some of your forcefield units now have a much bigger forcefield, making them way more useful.
  • Citadels all shoot much further now, and battlestations all now have much more personal shielding.
  • The AI doesn’t tech up remotely so fast anymore (by AIP levels), because the AIP increases are a lot more common in the new versions of this game.  It’s actually a lot more in line with how I used to play the 3.x versions of AIP, where I’d usually have a final AIP of 500ish.
  • Note that you can still play a spectrum of high-AIP and low-AIP games in this sequel, but overall that spectrum has been slid a bit more upwards compared to the first game.  Frankly this is good, because otherwise the AI stays kind of brainless because it really isn’t aware you exist.  The new game mostly forces you to get into the territory of “it knows you’re there, but just really doesn’t care” if you’re playing a low-AIP game.

More to come probably tomorrow!  I’ll be working tomorrow, so might have another build out then.  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 v0.850 Released! “The Arrival of Fleets”

Release notes here.

To play it, 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 much-older (heck it’s been a month and a half now) version of the game.

Soooo… I’m a little stuck as to what to even say, here.  Here’s what this is, in a nutshell, I guess:

  • The game was feeling stagnant (to me personally) for a variety of reasons, and I wrote up a big document about what I intended to do to fix that.
  • I figured that an initial proof of concept would take “a week,” and in an ideal world it might have been possible.  But that’s obviously not what happened.
  • Instead of a small proof of concept, we actually doubled down on a lot of the most interesting things going on in the new build, and that document I originally linked doesn’t even convey the full scope of what has already changed.
  • This also actually slaughtered a ton of bugs and to-dos and complaints from mantis and the steam forums, so good stuff all around.
  • Hooray!  Month and a half well spent.
  • That said:
  • We’re missing some things again, like tutorials, quick starts, and a fleet management screen.
  • Also I hate the icons and the ships tab, functionally and visually.  This is not new.
  • There’s probably a ton of bugs, given only three of us have been testing this at all, and we haven’t even tried to test all the parts that are here.

Why should you play this new build?

  • If you don’t mind getting your hands dirty and want to help us refinement (bug reports, please!).
  • If you already mostly know what you’re doing with the game, and are just ready to play the next phase of it.

Under what circumstances should you NOT play this new build?  It’s under the BETA tab for a reason:

  • If you just want to play a game that is polished and doesn’t have any blatantly missing pieces, I’d advise waiting for 0.900.
  • If you have an allergy to bugs, and/or the thought of losing your savegame repeatedly prior to 0.900 bothers you, then I’d wait.
  • If you have no idea what you’re doing and would like some form of tutorial, then this absolutely isn’t for you yet.

What’s Actually New?

  • I just… this is where I struggle.
  • Most everything is refined.
  • The release notes are over 20k words long.
  • The initial document describing what is changing and why was 12k on its own.
  • Control groups are gone and fleets are in, and fleets are awesome and a player-side thing.
  • The docks tab is gone and a new fleets tab is in.  That one is only partially implemented.
  • The way techs work is completely redone, and is way better.
  • The way hacking and planet capture work are way better.
  • Many bugs were fixed, and achievements (not yet on Steam, but local at least) have been added.
  • There were a variety of AI improvements, and mapgen got a whole heck of a lot of overhauling.
  • Your ability to field a large force of spaceships, and to customize what sort of defenses your planets have, is through the roof compared to earlier versions of this game or the original game.
  • Transports are gone, but all your mobile flagships (Arks or Golems) now can do that.  Press L to load and U to unload.
  • Factories (formerly docks) are now incredibly automated, and the whole concept of things like build queues, rally points, and so on are all gone.  It just does what you want, now, without you having to tell it how.  You more or less tell it how by what you build and where you put things.
  • Scouting has been completely revamped from the ground up, and there’s a “hard mode” for that if you want.  It’s mostly automated and thus serves the role of gradual-information-dispensing that it was always supposed to.  There’s no way for you to cheese or grind it anymore.
  • The way AIs defend their planets is completely different, and each planet is much more of a puzzle box for you to solve.
  • There are way fewer capturables around the galaxy in a types-of-things-to-hack sense, like for instance Design Servers and all that sort of thing are gone.  This might seem alarming.  Even after writing the original big document, it alarmed me.
  • But the reality is that there is more to capture than ever before, in the form of partially procedurally-generated FLEETS of ships that each dramatically improve your offensive or defensive (or both!) power.  It’s shockingly gratifying as a way to grow in power, and the galaxy is absolutely littered with these things.  You can really field quite the force, now.
  • The way the AI buys stuff is completely different (from how it worked before and from how it works for you, too), and it’s way more effective and scary and interesting.
  • Your risk of losing very early into the game because you left your king (in a Chess sense) undefended is higher than ever, especially if you play with many factions on.  Your risk of losing in the middle and late game is also a lot higher.
  • In general things happen faster (not in a reaction-time sense, but in a not-waiting-for-things sense), and you’re both more powerful and more exposed at all times.  Games that are won are likely to be several hours shorter, and I expect that games that are lost are likely to be even shorter compared to their counterparts in earlier versions or the prior game.
  • There are literally dozens of new ship variants and new ship types.  It’s actually kind of absurd how much new stuff there is.  The sense of discovery, even for me, is notable as I look through the galaxy.  That new stuff isn’t marginalized, either, which is doubly cool.  You’ll actually be seeing it with frequency, just not all in one big ugly soup.
  • A bunch of stuff that took two or three steps (like colony ships!  hackers!  etc!) has been simplified a lot to just be one step.  Efficiency!  Let’s get on with it.
  • Savegames are vastly smaller in size, but actually have more data in them.  We’re using a completely different format.
  • The tutorial is disabled right now because we have to completely go in and redo how that works.
  • If you’re interested in our most immediate todo list, here it is.  Though some of that is misleading, because some of that stuff we might not wind up doing until after 1.0 or even at all.  I’m really not sure the hyperspace stuff is a good idea.  That applies to several things on the list.  But it’s a working list.

Badger and Puffin and I would all love to have your thoughts on this, as we’ve been working on all sorts of various elements of it.  The absolute scale of this game has been rather staggeringly shoved in my face as I’ve undertaken this rework, but rather than stop with half measures and just implement band-aids, I’ve been going for the full deal fix as I see it.  So hence a month and a half rather than a week.

What Now?

What happens next is that we finish up some of the interfaces, decide whether or not to do some of those items on the todo list or leave well enough alone, fix a bunch of bugs and balance things that you guys toss at us, and then we’ll ditch the beta status and go back to main steam branch builds when we hit that massive 0.900 build.  That will basically be this version, but fully finished and polished and with tutorials and all that jazz.  Think of this as kind of the needed preview version, and also a way for us to get a bunch of bugs out of the way (thanks to you finding them) without us inflicting them on people who just want to play the old version of the game.

Remember way back a year or so ago when we did “The Pivot,” and that was the largest change in the game that I thought it was going to have?  That brought us mechanically back toward the first game in a huge number of ways.  It also started a bunch of people asking if this game was just a reskin or what.  This new version, the arrival of the Fleets concept, basically is 2.0 of the concept of The Pivot.  Mechanically this takes us actually really far from the first game, and anyone asking about reskin status at this point after seeing any of the ui I will seriously wonder about.  But gameplay-thematically and game-flow-wise this is taking us way back toward the first game, back to what I loved about it in its earliest days.

In a lot of respects, at this point the amount of content is so astounding thanks to things like procedural fleets that I’m feeling like the smartest way to reach 1.0 from here is to focus on polishing the mechanics and interfaces, fixing bugs, getting multiplayer in, and in general going for something tightly polished (and still huge) versus dripping with even more new mechanics.  We can save that stuff for post-1.0.

In the shortest term, my goal is to get to a really stable and awesome 0.900 build, which should be the best version of AIW2 to date, and potentially better than any of the AIWC builds.  We shall see.  The proof is in the pudding, and today you guys finally get to actually get to taste things.  Hope you 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

Space Game Junkie Pocast recording LIVE tonight at 8pm EST.

Chris here! It’s been a few months since I last did the podcast guest thing, and it’s nice to be getting back on that horse, so to speak. This is a favorite show of mine to guest on, and they’ve moved to a new format with live chat and streaming going on during it.
Here’s the details:
If you miss the show, don’t worry, you can still watch it later on without issues. The main thing you’d be missing is the ability to put questions in through the chat room, assuming the moderators are going to be passing some of those along. I don’t know about you, but I can’t read the chat room while also speaking coherently, so I tend to put it out of my sight as much as possible and rely on the hosts to bring up anything that people want me to address.
Version 0.900
Work on that new version is coming along well, but it’s HUGE in terms of how much code is being changed and how much it adds for players to find, do, etc. I keep coming up with more things I want to address, too, and Puffin and Badger also keep coming up with really good points.
Because of those shifts, most likely we’ll do a 0.850 release first, sometime next week, and only in the beta branch on Steam. It will likely be buggy as heck, and it will definitely be suboptimal in a lot of ways where we’re not remotely finished with some new aspect of the GUI or whatever. There are some GUI subscreens that are needed for the full 0.900 experience that there just isn’t time to do before next week, but it would be good to be getting testing and feedback for other kinds of bugs in the meantime.
Hopefully then we can spend a few weeks finishing the 0.900 work list, polishing whatever is wrong with the beta versions just from the sheer number of code changes, and so on. Various thing that might interest you in the new version:
  • Squads are going away, as I know people weren’t fond of that.
  • Hopefully by 0.900, but not right away next week, we’ll have some replacement icons for ships.
  • There’s a bunch of new ship variants available right out of the gate.
  • There is a new concept of Fleets, which is… kind of Stellaris-like in a vague way as I understand it, but also just kind of its own new thing. It will lead to waaaay larger effective ship caps for you, way more varied battle groups and defensive groups, and in general also a lot less micromanagement.
  • You can read about some of the details here, but those details are at least somewhat out of date, now.
  • You can read the kind of stream-of-consciousness flow of what’s actually changing here, but bear in mind that so many things are half-done that certain things are out without their replacements being in place yet. So please refer to the first document to see what is in general planned, despite the fact that some plans have evolved a bit as implementation has been ongoing.
  • One TLDR problem that this new update addresses is basically I didn’t like how exploration felt in this game. The factions and whatnot are awesome, but the feeling of actual exploration was completely missing from me and it has nothing to do with the amount of content. Throw in more content and it would have just felt more cluttered. Instead it was a matter of how exploration plays out really being suboptimal. So scouting is one thing that is being completely redone, but that’s not the only aspect to exploration that needed work.
  • The other big TLDR problem that this new update addresses was that there were a lot of various things when it comes to managing your empire — in this sequel and the original — that either couldn’t be done very easily, or at all, because of the UI or general design. You had too much or too little control in various ways, a bunch of stuff that needed to be automated in the first game because it was a pain, and a bunch of interfaces that were painful or text-heavy because of the underlying design. There are actually a substantial number of further improvements in these areas that are being discussed by Puffin and Badger and I that aren’t in either of the documents above, but those will most likely come starting after 0.850 next week so that you can comment on those as we go.
This project has been a strange one, because for a goodly while I’ve really loved the tech that we’ve built for it, and I’ve loved the AIs and the factions and a bunch of that sort of thing, but the actual act of playing this game… hasn’t really done it for me. I remember having similar feelings about the original game around this same time of year in 2009, as I was pushing on towards a 1.0 in May of that year.
I’m not sure if 1.0 is still feasible for May of this year or not, but one way or the other this is going to take a titanic leap forward in terms of just letting us all get on with it and enjoy ourselves at the appropriate level of strategic thinking, versus being bogged down in minutiae or not having the tools we need to properly exert control over a giant galactic empire.
Did I mention that this will probably up your effective ship caps by like 10x? So for those folks who have been feeling like things felt too small here compared to the original game, I definitely heard and agree with you. The Fleets concept was something Eric proposed over a year ago, and it’s bringing in some code bits that Keith put together over two years ago but which have never seen much use since then.
All in all, it’s an exciting time, and my enthusiasm for the project has really skyrocketed with the realization that some of those “intractable” problems actually do have solutions that can be resolved — and in the short term, even! A lot of the most key bits are already halfway implemented.
Thanks, as always, for your support!
Chris

AI War 2 v0.816 Released! “Aggressive Busting and Stacking”

Release notes here.

This is the last build before the 0.900x phase of the game’s development process, and it’s a big one!

First off, what’s new in this release?

  • A bunch of changes have been made to balance, as usual.
  • Several new ship mechanics have been added, such as a new “Bunker Buster” and “Charger” mechanics.
  • Several new capturable units have been added, such as Zenith Matter Converters, Distribution Nodes, Advanced Factories, and Spire Archives.
  • The AI has had a variety of upgrades that should make it properly more aggressive in a variety of circumstances where it was previously holding back.  Consider yourself warned. 😉
  • A bunch of bugfixes, including finally the fix for that “game command issued noise” sound effect playing when inappropriate.
  • A bunch of changes to stacking of AI units to make it work better, and also feel more like a real game feature rather than just a performance optimization (it was always meant to be both).
  • A huge raft of changes to various minor factions, generally keeping up the arms race that seems to be perpetual with all of them.  Smarter, stronger, more interesting, you get the idea.

Next up… what’s that about a new phase?

  • The new phase is called The Arrival of Fleets, which should give you some ideas on what is planned.
  • The goal with it is to take the game from “that early access feel” to a true 1.0 game.
  • As part of that, along with the goals of making the game feel more like the first game, we’re actually going to be diverging a bit more from the first one in a mechanical sense to converge on it in a “spirit of the beast” sense.
  • Yes, that is vague.
  • I want you to see it in practice before I try to explain it too much, because the document I wrote to outline my plans was 12,000 words long.  Badger and Puffin and Eric have read it and commented quite a bit, and my hope is that we’ll have a version you can actually play within the next week.
  • THAT said, I haven’t actually done a full hours analysis yet, so no promises, but we’re going to be working on it as fast as we can.
  • No you can’t read the document yet, but I will have it for you to read as the release changes come out.  The document is the result of your cumulative feedback over the last three months, and my musings on it as well as suggestions from a variety of you, and it’s enough of a change that I want you to be able to feel it in practice rather than us all armchairing it ad nauseum.
  • If this absolutely hits the fan and is terrible, then we’ve only lost a week, but so far the guys I showed it to are really excited about it to their surprise (and mine), so my hope is that after it comes out we go into revision and refinement as part of the new phase, not a rollback.  Fingers crossed, eh?
  • But either way it’s just hard to have you read a 12k word document and digest that and try to form a big opinion when it isn’t something you’re treating like a job.  Fifteen minutes of just playing in the new system will be so much more informative for you.

We’ll be back soon, but in the meantime you can watch this space in horror/fascination as you see things out of context and partially explained and implemented as we do the release notes. 😉

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 v0.815 Released! “AI Multiplexion”

Release notes here.

Badger has really outdone himself with this one, I have to say.  This adds quasi-experimental support for multiple AI factions in the galaxy, along with a bunch of new tools for letting specific AI types spawn specific things at game start.

Then Puffin has been really on top of it with a bunch of new unit types and AI types, some of which are partially implemented for the time being.  And Badger added black hole machines.  And science hacking is no longer such a research goldmine for you, anymore — spend those hacking points on more varied goals, folks! 😉

There’s yet more fixes in here that were figured out by WeaponMaster, too.  Man you folks all rock!

I honestly spent most of the day asleep; I was that sick.  Antibiotics are helping.  But some of that is I think just a stress response to a larger existential crisis of sorts that I’ve been going through for the last few months and am feeling more acutely in the last week or two for a couple of reasons.  I’ll… have some thoughts up on that soon, as I try to figure out how to get myself properly functional again.

For now these other guys are killing it, which I’m eternally grateful for, and the game is evolving an amazing amount without me.  I feel really bad about that, but at the very least it is a relief to see how this is coming along despite my personal issues.  Silver linings!

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 v0.814 Released! “Of Runaway AIs And Tech Cost Revamps”

Release notes here.

This version has a surprisingly-robust revamp of the tech costs and the scaling between tech levels in general, thanks to Puffin.  I didn’t have any idea this was coming, and he trialed this with players on the forums first and it quickly became clear that the new approach is better.  Huge kudos!

Slightly more pressingly, there was a big bug in the prior version that was causing the AI to get massively strong massively quickly.  This was due to some xml values being more than a little opaque in their meaning.  To aid in meaning, I split those out into three different sub-values instead, now.  But if you were wondering why the last build was suddenly kicking your butt instantly, that’s what it was.  Sorry about that!

DarkArchon figured out what was going on with transports and similar not showing their paths on the galaxy map when you try to predict routes from one place to another, and/or them being too hard to see in general.  Big thanks there!

My illness has been compounded by allergies and got a bit worse, so I’ve been mentally sluggish this week.  I plan on getting a bit more done tonight and tomorrow in terms of that document for “substantial changes” that I was referring to last release.  I guess I’ll just repeat my notes from last time, on that subject:

“I’m writing up a document that explains my design for some substantial changes — please hold your pitchforks — that I think will address most of the complaints people have about control groups, fleet management, fleetballing, the docks ui, and maybe even scouting.  That last bit I hadn’t expected to tackle, but as I’ve been going through things in a comprehensive fashion I realized that it’s actually just as much related as the rest of it.”

“I think it’s only a couple of days of work for me once I finish writing it up, so the design and writeup process is longer than the actual implementation time if I’m correct on that.  But this has been a bugbear set of issues for me for over a year, and I’d rather measure twice and cut once on it.”

“It’s also a short enough amount of work once it is done that I’m planning on inflicting it on everybody AS I give you the explanation document, rather than giving you the document first. 😉  My rationale for that is that we can all nitpick the theory of it forever, but it’s hard for anyone to see exactly what I have in my head from a document and not just react to parts of it.  Much easier to have the full thing out and then react to that, and the document then serves the purpose of illustrating if there’s some place where the actual implementation deviates from intent, or where further refinements or rework is needed to keep to the spirit of the intent.”

The UI framework that I was looking into may be amazing, but unfortunately may be a nonstarter due to lack of linux support.  Bummer!  That would have saved a huge amount of work on my part, but there’s potentially no real workaround there.  Their engineers are looking into it, but my hopes aren’t high.  Back to the notes from last time:

“Assuming that the big changes go over well with folks, then that’s the last big design hurdle remaining for the game, prior to 1.0 at least.  The new plan for multiplayer, detailed two releases back, will still need to be implemented, and the ui will need to be majorly updated in one fashion or another, but everything else is just a matter of content and getting individual slices of work done, versus something that is a larger design question.  So that’s very good!  It was important for me to start nailing the really tough stuff as soon as I got back to work, since I really didn’t want that hanging over me.”

“As noted recently, I am fully back at work now.  If you were wondering what was up, I recently put together a video explanation of what happened.  I don’t go into a lot of detail, for privacy reasons, but there’s enough there to get the important pieces across.  I’m increasingly happy, for a variety of reasons, and that’s a real relief.  Life is still a work in progress, and finances even more so, but there’s a path forward.”

Continual thanks to Badger, Puffin, and Quinn for having held down the fort while I was away.

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