AI War: Fleet Command

I'm really, really excited for 4.0. An update to the UI would be most welcome, and would probably do the job of tearing me away from EU3!

Hmm. I'm willing to bet that at least some of the sadness here is that most people (myself included) totally didn't notice Tidalis at all. And just glancing at it, it doesn't pique my interest much. I'll look a bit deeper at it now, although I'm not a big fan of "block-based puzzle games". It seems like it might have a unique hook, but honestly--I think that was kind of a poor choice of genres to go after. It's so heavily saturated that not even a really cool novel game mechanic will get many people to notice you.

On the AI War side: Ooo! 4.0.

Hypatian wrote:

Hmm. I'm willing to bet that at least some of the sadness here is that most people (myself included) totally didn't notice Tidalis at all. And just glancing at it, it doesn't pique my interest much. I'll look a bit deeper at it now, although I'm not a big fan of "block-based puzzle games". It seems like it might have a unique hook, but honestly--I think that was kind of a poor choice of genres to go after. It's so heavily saturated that not even a really cool novel game mechanic will get many people to notice you.

Its quite fun. I understand if blocks aren't your thing, but I'd say its worth a demo regardless.

Thanks for the article Garion. That letter was a bit more specific than the stuff Arcen posted directly.

Hypatian wrote:

Hmm. I'm willing to bet that at least some of the sadness here is that most people (myself included) totally didn't notice Tidalis at all. And just glancing at it, it doesn't pique my interest much. I'll look a bit deeper at it now, although I'm not a big fan of "block-based puzzle games". It seems like it might have a unique hook, but honestly--I think that was kind of a poor choice of genres to go after. It's so heavily saturated that not even a really cool novel game mechanic will get many people to notice you.

The thing is that compared to AI War they did get a fair bit more coverage for Tidalis. Hell, I got Pyro to put it on the front page here (well, I messaged him about it, might not've been the only one) and basically no one played it. I was interested simply because I knew where it was coming from. Other people ... Arcen who? (Robear even created a thread and guess who was the one person who responded in it? Yup, me.) It's just that I think the coverage was much more of a shotgun blast of reviews and then gone. If you missed those reviews, there was little to no forum buzz to let you know about it.

Regardless, I think the game is pretty ingenious but I can see a lot of reasons why it didn't catch on. 1) It's not from PopCap. 2) It doesn't have a great endless mode, instead it mostly relies on interesting twists to gameplay to keep it interesting (and it has a bazillion ways to customize it, which is awesome, but a little daunting). This makes it move a step beyond Bejeweled and perhaps less easily addictive. 3) It's not PopCap. 4) The casual market is huge, but there's not much or a community in the same way there is for strategy games. 5) Not on Facebook.

And I can go on speculating. This thread probably isn't the place for it and I'm up past my bedtime, so I'd probably stop rambling. Arcen Games doesn't want to be known just as a strategy company because, well, they aren't. This project was apparently undertaken because they wanted to do it, but it does seem that it was perhaps not the best step for the company right now. At the same time, there was a huge dropoff in AI War sales which was unexpected, so all in all it's kind of a mess for them, but there is still light at the end of the tunnel. My goal this weekend is to put in some AI War time. Perhaps we can try to work out a mp game sometime in the future once 4.0 is released. This is a mp focused game after all and I've yet to play it that way. For now, though, I need to get reacquainted with the game and its hotkeys. So, screw you fall release schedule. I haven't bought Civ V and I'm not going to. Yet.

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I ignored Tidalis - mostly because I had no idea who made it. The tower defense game they have planned sounds interesting, but it's not coming out until 2012. Hopefully the extra attention the company is getting now will help.

AI War 4.0 will be out next week. Chris posted saying that 4.0 and the Child's Play funding expansion the Children of Neinzul will be live on Wednesday the 27th.

I need to finish up my current game and then I'll be diving into this next week ... or weekend. We'll see.

4.0 is out. Check out the blog entry for a list of the major changes ... there's a ton of changes.

And here's the 4.0 trailer:

There are 720p and 1080p options for the trailer if you head over to Youtube.

garion333 wrote:

4.0 is out. Check out the blog entry for a list of the major changes ... there's a ton of changes.

Ummmm, wow. That's amazing, and I'm sure expensive considering their finances.

Hmm, may need to pick this back up again...

I found this pretty interesting, just regarding the documentation of the upgrade:
Statistics For The Curious

Between 3.120 and 4.000, we pushed out 81 distinct public beta releases over 170 days. That's an average of one release every 50 hours. This is with a major chunk of Tidalis's development happening in the middle (it was released July 16th), AND a signficant period with no public releases while we ported AI War from .NET/SlimDX to Unity3D.
Community contributors assisted us with over 800 distinct bugs and suggestions-that-were-implemented (counting 95 distinct contributors).
The combined release notes for those 81 betas total over 300 kilobytes of text.
Believe it or not, this massive document (which is just under 31,000 words long) is the abbreviated, organized version of the full release notes (part I and part II, which were over 55,000 words -- or, 222 pages of a novel.

For a tenner, I'm considering picking this up. Can someone give their opinion on a recent rev. of the game. Any comparisons you can make to Sins and/or Distant Worlds would be appreciated. I'm guessing it's mainly combat and less about empire-building, correct?

Thanks

D-Man777 wrote:

For a tenner, I'm considering picking this up. Can someone give their opinion on a recent rev. of the game. Any comparisons you can make to Sins and/or Distant Worlds would be appreciated. I'm guessing it's mainly combat and less about empire-building, correct?

Man, it's so hard to describe this game. It is very much more combat focused, but you still do build bases on the planets, much like in Sins. Actually, the way planets are handled is about the only comparison I would draw to Sins. There's no gravity well in AI War, but you do build up structures on planets and around the wormholes connecting them. There's a tower defense aspect to the way you set up turrets and mines by the worm holes that is a tad different than the defenses found in Sins. AI War is also a LOT more strategic about which planets you take over. In Sins you can take over everything if you want. In AI War you can do that, but it raises the AI's alert level and will respond accordingly, so if you take over a bunch of planets that don't have strategic value you can end up getting crushed pretty easily.

It's not much like Distant Worlds either, little that I've played the game, because that's much more of a grand strategy experience with a huge importance on the economy. AI War has an economy, but it's pretty basic, comparatively. You don't create your own units in AI War and you don't have to worry about trade and that sort of stuff.

AI War is about choice, really. You have a ton of ships, turrets and other structures at your command from the get go. You can add more by capturing them or by researching them, but the base set of stuff gives you a wide variety of tactics to employ and it's up to you to choose. AI War is its own beast. It's pretty hard to get into as there's a bit of a learning curve much like Distant Worlds, but the tutorials give you a good introduction. One thing to note is that I found the tutorials to be a bland and boring after a while. I've come to realize that it's because those are fairly static matches, they're designed a specific way. Part of what makes AI War engaging is that when you play a non-tutorial match, the maps are randomized. Part of the joy of the game is scouting a broken golem unit three planets away and deciding whether it's worth the effort to go and grab that beast. Or instead you could make a bee line straight for one of the AI's homeworlds. Or you can turtle, snagging a few planets here and there, but mostly building up an unstoppable force to wait for the right moment to strike at the AI.

I don't know what the demo encompasses, but there is one. It's probably going to tell you more than what words can because this game defies description as it encorporates so many different elements from 4x to rts to tower defense games.

One last thing. Great AI. And there's a lot of them to choose from. And Chris keeps writing more, so it's nearly impossible for this game to get stale, which is actually why he decided to design the game as he wanted something he could play forever and stay interested in.

garion333 wrote:

I don't know what the demo encompasses, but there is one. It's probably going to tell you more than what words can because this game defies description as it encorporates so many different elements from 4x to rts to tower defense games.

The demo has a nice walk-through to get you up to speed, and it lets you play quite a bit. It locks a lot of the higher tech choices and you get a fairly limited system (about 12-15 worlds, so you know, small ;)), but it was still great. It will occupy a few hours easily, so check it out if you're on the fence.

Nice description garion!

Thanks for the very thorough feedback, garion. I'll give the demo a try, but I suspect it's not quite my type of game. I'm still working my way through Distant Worlds as time permits and really enjoying it. If it doesn't strike me now though, I might look at AI Wars again during the Steam Holiday Mega-sale.

Thanks again,

D-

Did we mention Mac OSX support? Thanks to our switch to the Unity 3D engine, AI War is no longer just for Windows. And while Linux isn't directly supported, we have word that it runs flawlessly in the latest versions of WINE. And, along these lines, AI War no longer has any prerequisites -- installation and setup is far more painless than in the past.

Oh sweet. I'm there. That's an impressive effort to port the game after the fact.

garion333 wrote:

One last thing. Great AI. And there's a lot of them to choose from. And Chris keeps writing more, so it's nearly impossible for this game to get stale, which is actually why he decided to design the game as he wanted something he could play forever and stay interested in.

Hell, I think it's fun just going down the list and reading the descriptions of the different AIs. There's so many of them! I want to play them all just to see how I could take apart their strategy, but there isn't enough time in the day.

I got to play about an hour of the 4.0 update, and I really like it. The overall presentation is very well done and polished. The pre-4.0 UI always seemed a little rough to me, but even down to the fonts used it's a lot easier on the eyes. The music before was pretty good, but the music in 4.0 is fantastic. Gameplay-wise there's just so much different that it's overwhelming to keep track of what I can notice. I also got the Children of Neinzul expansion and that also adds an ass-ton of content.

His switch to the Unity engine was a good call for a lot of reasons. IIRC he wrote AI War in C#, a language not a lot of engines support. (Most seem to use C++ or scripting languages.) Unity's claim of one-click porting to different platforms is probably a bit of a stretch, but I'm sure its multi-platform support helped the decision. I'd be curious to know how easy it was to work with.

One note regarding the upgrade: when I started it up after the update and the CoN purchase the game was "stuck" on Trial Mode, which limits the game length to 3 hours and the AIs to easy. I ended up uninstalling and reinstalling via Steam and all was well.

Michael wrote:

One note regarding the upgrade: when I started it up after the update and the CoN purchase the game was "stuck" on Trial Mode, which limits the game length to 3 hours and the AIs to easy. I ended up uninstalling and reinstalling via Steam and all was well.

For some reason the upgrade patch deletes the local confirmation of your CD keys. They need to be re-entered into the game after the patch to avoid the Trial issue.

My game didn't have my registration info at first either, but after I did the import settings thing and restarted they came back.

If anyone wants to setup a MP AI War game hit me up on steam or here on the forums. I have only played this SP and am quite a noob, but I think a MP session will really increase the enjoyment of the game!

My steam name is Mr Popov

I'm not sure when it happened (sometime in the last few days, I think) but the Mac version of this game is now up on Steam. It's a SteamPlay title, so if you own the PC version, you'll automatically get the Mac version, too.

ClockworkHouse wrote:

I'm not sure when it happened (sometime in the last few days, I think) but the Mac version of this game is now up on Steam. It's a SteamPlay title, so if you own the PC version, you'll automatically get the Mac version, too.

Yeah, it was recent. They've been busting their humps to get that out.

Edit: It was added a couple weeks ago, but it appears they held it back officially for the 4.0 release.

There's a new update on the Arcen blog with some corporate info as well as the announcement of a new full expansion coming in December.

I'm all over the new expansion. Between this and the upcoming (hopefully appropriately priced) Gratuitous Space Battles DLC I'm going to be one busy space general.

You can preorder the next expansion at Arcen's site for $10. I'd like to point out that unless you plan on waiting for a Steam sale (which I understand) you can use the retail key you get from them on Steam (I don't think Tidalis is listed yet, but you can add that to Steam too). Point being they get more money and you can still put it on Steam. I think they could use the extra $2 or whatever more than Valve.

I have to say - I shelled out the money for Civ5 and put about 8-10 hours into it, and I feel like I should be playing it more. But the depth just isn't there... I find myself firing up AI War more often than not.

I just thought I would add another bit of praise for an easily-overlooked feature of this game. It is flawless at alt-tabbing out to Windows and then returning to a game. That may not seem like a "feature", but considering how often I might want to look something up or even take a quick break, it's good to know I can alt-tab out and then come back instantly. Most fullscreen games take forever or are a crapshoot to crash when I do that.

(In fact, I alt-tabbed out to post this comment!)

Some other miscellaneous bits I've picked up along the way:

Getting friendly with the pause button has helped a lot and mapping it to the space bar helped even more. If you have "TBS-Friendly Pause" enabled in the options you can essentially have the same type of pause as Paradox Games, where you can issue commands and edit your build queue. This makes combat much more manageable as you can pause the action and direct your squads (you're binding squads of ships to 1-9, right?) to the correct targets.

Also, I like most of the music in this game, but some of the tracks are hit-or-miss as far as quality goes. Fun tip: while in the game you can press F3 to bring up the console, which is just a whole bunch of data that isn't useful to most people. It will identify the name of the track that's currently playing, however. If you really don't like a certain tune, it will tell you what directory it's in and you can either delete the file or just move it to a new directory and you won't hear it in-game anymore. (I wouldn't recommend doing it while the game is running, however.) What I've found is fun is to turn down the in-game music altogether and play some classical music in media player from Windows and then switch back to the game. It fits really well for whatever reason.

I picked this up during the recent Steam sale, and I've managed to spend just enough time with it, about three hours, that I can claim to understand the basics. The interface is obtuse in the sense that it's not immediately obvious what everything does, but it's also very elegant in the sense that once you learn it, it works very nicely, even given the game's ambitious design.

I get the feeling that once I've spent more time with it, I'm going to have a hard time going back to traditional RTS games. AI War exposes them for what they are: not really RTS, but RTT, i.e., real-time tactics games.

66% off AI War and its expansions for today at Arcen's store. The game (and the expansions) activates on Steam. Go. Now.

Done, and I got Tidalis.