Arcen Games

Games => AI War Classic => Topic started by: x4000 on September 14, 2010, 12:13:16 PM

Title: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: x4000 on September 14, 2010, 12:13:16 PM
Original: http://arcengames.blogspot.com/2010/09/love-ai-war-andor-tidalis-we-could.html

Copied:

Most game companies probably wouldn't share this stuff, and certainly not on their front page, but as our fans know we're not like most game companies.  So...

To put it bluntly and briefly, at present we're only bringing in about one half of the minimum money we need to survive as a company, and that's quickly eating through the rainy day money that we'd set aside.  At this rate, if sales don't pick up then we run out of money sometime in November.

This is despite the fact that we've largely been very careful and prudent with our money and expenses over the last year.  We're just a young company, and thus more vulnerable to market fluctuations than most -- though, as you might realize from the gaming news, even many AAA development studios are about one failed game away from dissolution.  It's a cut-throat business.

The rest of this long post is background and explanation about how this came about and our business model in general, as well a request for help at the end, with ideas for how fans can contribute without spending a dime (as a commercial enterprise, we dislike asking for donations, though occasionally players offer).

One slice from our 3-month sales graph;
even those spikes are less than half the usual for promotions.
AI War Has Always Been Community-Driven
It's been nine months since I wrote or updated the topic Love AI War? Want to know how you can help?, but a lot of that still holds true: the short version is that what we need most is publicity and new fans.  Word of mouth has always been a huge driver behind the success of AI War, and we need that now more than ever.  For AI War to survive in its current frequently-getting-hugely-updated form, it has to keep continuously selling. 

AI War went on sale in May 2009, and it's grown enormously since then -- as has the customer base.  We've sold somewhere around 30,000 copies of some flavor of AI War and The Zenith Remnant.  All in all, that's probably around 18,000 customers, since those who buy the expansion also have the base game.

Right before the start of the summer, AI War was more popular than it had ever been -- sales were up, forum membership was at an all-time high, and all over the Internet, it seemed like random threads were popping up with players talking about this strategy game they'd discovered.  This was an amazement to us since that's not something that typically happens to year-old games.  It looked like we had something with enduring niche popularity along the lines of Dwarf Fortress, largely thanks to our ongoing free updates. 

Around that time, we decided to do both the upcoming AI War 4.0 version (free for all existing customers), as well as a for-charity micro-expansion to the game that was partly to celebrate the upcoming birth of my son (he was born on 9/1/2010).  All of this seemed easy to do, because profits were such that we were doing great with AI War alone, and Tidalis sales were soon to be added to that and we knew what a great game that was long before reviewers came around to confirm it.

The Summer Doldrums
The problem is, the summer doldrums hit.  It's a well-known phenomenon in the games industry, but for whatever reason it didn't happen to us last year.  Actually, apparently it didn't happen to a lot of companies last year, but I didn't realize that until recently.  I'd thought we were immune because the nature of our game and its audience, or something along those lines.

Suffice it to say, this year it has happened to us, and it's wounded us pretty badly over the last four months; I always try to keep a healthy operating cash buffer (and we have no debt), but that cash had already been about half depleted by the extra expenses of creating Tidalis.  This was an annoyance but not a crisis, except now the summer is over and sales have still been slower-than-average by a large, we-can't-survive-on-this margin.

Recent Sales Volume
The more detailed picture of the situation is this: at the moment, with Tidalis and AI War on the market, we're averaging about 1/2 to 1/3 what we were making in our "bad" months (where there were no discount promotions) with just AI War back in the spring.  Worse, if you average all the spring months together (discount sales and all), then these last couple of months we've been making about 1/4 to 1/5 of what we normally had been making.

Or, again, about 1/2 the minimum we need to survive.  Since last July, we've been in a position of growth and taking on new staff  -- it started out as just me, recall -- while still saving for as rainy day (such as this).  My expectation had been to comfortably bring on two, maybe three new staff members in the fall of this year, while still bolstering our savings at the same time.  And then mysteriously and suddenly everything changed.  The summer doldrums.

Ouch.  This stems from sudden sales problems with both Tidalis and AI War.  Tidalis has sold only a few thousand copies so far, despite largely euphoric reviews and player response.  And it's not even that large numbers of players weren't connecting with the game: Tidalis had some of the top sales spots in the casual, family, and indie categories on Steam and other digital distribution services in its launch week, despite my utter screwup of the advance marketing/PR for the game.  Just not much of anything was selling well in that week, it seems.

Under the circumstances, I suppose Tidalis has done well, despite having done about 10x worse than I'd expected the worst case with it to be.  It's still done better than the bulk of small indie games, but it's still not yet at the point where it's even nearly earned back what we spent to make it -- right now it's earned back about 1/16th of our cost of making the game.  Again: ouch.


What We've Been Doing About All This
It's not like I woke up this morning and realized this was a problem.  We knew that Tidalis was draining more of our rainy-day funds than desired back as far as April, and took appropriate cost-saving measures.  Then throughout the June and July, we knew things were uncomfortably slow, but we had two discount sales (one on AI War, one on Tidalis's launch) that we thought would  tide us over.  They helped, but basically only brought it up to around that minimum monthly figure we normally needed.  Yikes.  The plans for bringing on more staff got put on indefinite hold at that point.

After the launch of Tidalis, we've gone into overdrive trying to get reviews and press coverage for the game, and largely that has paid off well in terms of reviews and coverage... but had no discernible effect on sales.

We were already committed to doing the Children of Neinzul micro-expansion as a for-charity thing, and so we stuck with that -- that's not the sort of pledge we'd ever go back on, and it's something we intensely believe in, anyway.  Probably that will have a residual boosting effect on AI War and TZR sales numbers (and so far that has sort of been true), but also so far it has mostly been CoN itself that has been selling the best -- which we are thrilled about, quite apart from whatever our own challenges are.

The AI War 4.0 porting is something that at present we see as our best shot to pull in quite a lot of new customers in October, as it practically re-imagines the game as well as bringing it to a whole new platform.  As well as as making it vastly easier for folks to demo, since there aren't any prerequisites with the Unity 3D platform we're moving it to.

We've also thoroughly adjusted our fall schedule -- the plan had been to work on a large project called Alden Ridge, with a large (for us) team of 6.  Now we're looking at doing a smaller spinoff of that core game called Alden Ridge Arcade, with a smaller team of 3-4.  If income gets back on track, we'll do the full Alden Ridge game after that, but actually we're really excited about how the design for Alden Ridge Arcade has been coming along, anyway -- so even if the money situation magically resolved itself today, I'd still want to make Alden Ridge Arcade first.

As one part of our attempt to recover from the botched Tidalis PR, we've launched the Tidalis Design A Block contest to spur ongoing interest and player interactions with that game.  As well as a 30% off Tidalis discount promotion at GamersGate.  Some of the other planned stuff we can't comment on yet, but there's more in the works.

There's also the possibility of porting Tidalis to Android/iPhone/iPad, but there are a lot of risks inherent with that, as well as financial costs of licensing those versions of Unity, as well as opportunity costs of the significant time we'd have to invest programming that port.  Some of those costs are mitigated if we also port Alden Ridge Arcade to those platforms (which we'd definitely like to), but a lot of that is just up in the air because it's unclear if we'd have money to even make it through such a process.  And while the grass always seems greener in an unknown market, in our experience it rarely actually is (though Mac sales are now fully 10% of our income these last few months, so that was certainly a good move with Tidalis -- and hopefully also will be with AI War).

Internally, we've already done the stuff like salary cuts (for me), and of course the staff pulling royalties are really hurting based on the shortfall as much as the company as a whole is.  And we've cut pretty much every other nonessential expense that could be cut, long ago (we try to keep it lean in general, actually).

There are other things we're considering, too, but none of it is without risk, and at the moment I have the sense that we're one or two blunders away from oblivion.  Having Tidalis (so far) not perform as expected was a blow, but also having our AI War income drop so precipitously at the same time is something that would have killed the company in July if I hadn't been savings-oriented to start out with.

What Can You Do To Help?
Well, to some extent, we'd love your ideas on that.  But the bottom line is, we need people to actually buy the games that we've spent all this time and money making.  People with the right genre tastes have an above-average affection for our games once they find them and know what they are, but the huge challenge is getting people to actually find our games and know what they are.

AI War 4.0 and AI War:CoN are both hugely exciting, and the latest betas are already including an enormous, hugely-game-altering amount of stuff (not all of it is fully polished yet, but that's why it's still beta).  This is exciting stuff!  We think people would like to know, and we'd love help in telling them about it.  Through youtube, facebook, twitter, forums, plain old talking-to-friends-or-family, anything really...

Tidalis is a really amazing game, if I do say so myself, and while it's gotten a ton of great reviews, I get the feeling that most gamers don't even know of its existence.  Many people from our AI War fanbase enjoy puzzle games, but even those that don't probably know tons of people who do: moms, girlfriends, and sisters are one obvious source (and we've had many such stories already), but it's not like AI War is a game for boys and Tidalis is a game for girls -- my wife and I both play both.  But I guess everybody knows the stereotypical demographics for the genres.  At any rate, this is another game that we think is very exciting, and that a lot of people would like to know about who don't currently.  Despite their digital nature, our games also make great gifts!

The simplest thing that anyone can do is tell other people about our games!  It's always been the case that we wouldn't survive without word of mouth, and that's true more now than ever.  If you're reading this far, you probably already love one or both of our games, but that doesn't mean that other people that you know with tastes similar to your own even know what these games are, if they've even heard of them.  That's the greatest challenge for any indie.

With Tidalis, we have to combat the "ugh, yet another casual game" stigma that many people have until they actually try it and see how original it is.  With AI War, we have the challenge of people seeing how complex it looks, and how retro a lot of the graphics are (and our trailers are seriously outdated), and that turns off some of them for glitzier strategy games that they will then often endlessly complain about.  I hope to do more trailers for AI War coming up, but that will just depend on available time, which is in short supply.

Beyond the basics, if you have other ideas or special talents, we're always open.  A number of players have donated art or sound effects for specific parts of Tidalis or AI War over the last year -- that's always appreciated, but not what we most need right now.  Others have helped with writing stuff for the community wiki, or other little mini-guides elsewhere.  If you've got experience with video making, we would love it if folks want to do instructional videos, trailers, or otherwise for any of the games.  Those sort of promotional materials really do work, from what I've heard, though we've never done much with it in the past except in our own capacity.

And, of course, if you want to donate actual money you can, though the fact remains that that's not what we'd most like.  My view is that if we get dependent on donations, the only way we'd be able to survive is with continual donations unless something else changes.  Sure, maybe that can get us through a rough spot, but honestly if you could convert four or five friends to being fans of our work (and customers), that's worth a lot more to us in the long-run than a straight donation.

But beggars can't be choosers, don't look a gift horse in the mouth, and all that -- we're grateful for whatever folks can do, whether it's on this list or not.  As I noted, we'd absolutely love to have further ideas other than just what we've come up with, as some of them might work even better.

In Summary
In summary, we'd love anything that folks can do.  Right now Arcen staff is very tied up with the workload that we have to get AI War 4.0 and CoN done on time (the biggest blow to our company would not be to have those out sometime in October, or not at full quality at release), so our ability to launch or shepherd major initiatives on our own is pretty much nonexistent until mid-October at best.  That's why we're appealing to you.

Make no mistake, appealing to the fans for help was something I'd delayed doing as long as possible.  It's never good to be crying wolf at every slight dip in the business (dips are normal), but now that we're clearly in more than a dip, the time was right.  If things don't change, there will have to be some major shifts at Arcen by the end of the year at the latest -- lost staff, drastically lowered output, etc.

I still think that with AI War 4.0 coming out soon, and with our promotion work we're doing on Tidalis, we should see a resurgence.  What frankly scares the bejeezus out of me is that we haven't seen the start of any such resurgence yet -- and that instead we're still flying so far below our normal rock-bottom minimum.  I set up an elaborate series of safety nets for Arcen in case Tidalis didn't do as well as hoped (extra cash buffer, the AI War 4.0 project, etc), but so far things have gone in such a manner that we're crashing through safety net after safety net.

If that keeps happening, then the company could get into pretty much mortal danger.  This post is one attempt among many to try to erect some more safety nets in the way, to keep us from getting any nearer to that point.  It might well be that October is just an awesome month and completely makes up for this period, but I can't bet the company on that.  In the meantime, we could really use your help in making sure that, no matter what happens in October, there's still a recognizable Arcen Games in December or January.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: superking on September 14, 2010, 12:45:40 PM
in terms of community action in spreading the word, imo popular forums are an excellent, method- I personally discovered AI war through the TA spring forums. If someone could make up a stellar forum post advertising AI war- trailer, images, concise text, link to demo the whole works etc then copy-posting the post in the appropriate locations could bring alot of attention. The forums that immediately come to mind are the offtopic sections of SC2, battlenet & TeamLiquid (esp starcraft II section, which is v busy atm), Supcom, Spring, Age of Empires, Eve Online, Cortex Command, Dwarf Fortress, Close Combat, Dawn of War, the Paradox Forums etc.

I also think an updated and seriously kickass trailer should be a priority, since its alot easier to get people interested with an explosive video than with pictures and text.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Mánagarmr on September 14, 2010, 12:53:34 PM
I was actually considering spreading the word on the Dwarf Fortress forums, but I'm generally hugely crap at advertising stuff. So far I've gotten three friends + my mate to buy both AI:War and Tidalis, but that's the extent of my contribution unfortunately.

EDIT:
HEY! I just got an idea! I have a small following on my Youtube page, mostly thanks to some EVE-videos and a couple of Let's Play series. I could make reviews and/or short Let's Plays of Tidalis/AI:War and that might spark some of them. It's not much, but it's always something.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: keith.lamothe on September 14, 2010, 12:58:49 PM
Quote
So far I've gotten three friends + my mate to buy both AI:War and Tidalis, but that's the extent of my contribution unfortunately.
That's pretty good, actually, many thanks :)
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Spikey00 on September 14, 2010, 01:45:37 PM
Ouch, that's pretty bad...  I was able to encourage around four friends in purchasing AI War (expansions/etc.) and one for Tidalis, but yikes...

I encourage others to do a bit more for AI War if you love this game and community; I handle the Facebook pages and Steam community group, but I can't be everywhere at once.  We need some people to help promote and maintain our community externally--it's the only way we will ensure constant game support and to encourage word of mouth.  Chris has been making those off-world forum posts to help promote his game, but because he has a child, this means a troubling time for Arcen Games.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: mlaskus on September 14, 2010, 02:16:50 PM
That's terrible news. Seeing all those great reviews of Tidalis, I was sure you were doing better than ever. Well, I'm off to gifting AI War to my friends on Steam. I will also bug the fine folks at RPS to write something about AI War or Tidalis. I hope this will help.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: PVega8 on September 14, 2010, 02:20:38 PM
Getting the word out is the most important thing.

Thank you all for contributing.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Mánagarmr on September 14, 2010, 02:25:08 PM
We'll do what we can. It's only fair after you guys provided us with countless hours of entertainment with your splendid games. Would hate to see you go down that dark road.

FOR ARCEN!
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Draxis on September 14, 2010, 02:27:55 PM
I am not sure its the best idea to go onto a forum and do the usual 'Have you tried this game?  I think it kicks ass!' - You have to accept that AI war is really hard to get into, even for fans of RTS and 4x gaming.  Unless you know the person you are recommending to is the kind of person who can teach themselves to play Dwarf Fortress or EVE, a bit of mentoring can turn a 'this isnt for me' reaction into a 'let me call dave, this is gonna rock!'.

What you want to do is get the chatty, friendly, veteran players hosting games with new players running the trial version.  If the game is a blast until the trial runs out, everyone in the game will pay, right there and then, to keep playing.

I would gladly go on a forum and just ask if anyone wants to try a newbie-friendly multi-player game of AI war, but the glitches relating to enabling and disabling players mid-game (game has to be saved, everyone exits, and everyone re-joins), changing colours (game has to re-sync) and slowdown issues when more than 4 players have large fleets (which I suspect could just be bandwidth related) put me off :(
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: keith.lamothe on September 14, 2010, 02:30:15 PM
Seeing all those great reviews of Tidalis, I was sure you were doing better than ever.
Yea, that was really confusing for me too.  I mean, AI War got good reviews but it's a really niche game, there's a fairly low percent of the overall market that's even interested in a grand strategy game.  But Tidalis has a solid appeal to even casual gamers, and has gotten even better reviews... but it's not making much more money per day than AI War is now (and that's with AI War being over a year since release), and that's after AI War income dropping drastically over the past few months.

Very confusing; we made this puzzle game that many reviewers are raving about... but very few people actually buy it.  Maybe that's the puzzle ;)
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: HackerOperJP on September 14, 2010, 02:30:34 PM
We'll do what we can. It's only fair after you guys provided us with countless hours of entertainment with your splendid games. Would hate to see you go down that dark road.

FOR ARCEN!

I agree with you 100%

I don't know if this is possible or not but how about a sale promoting the new micro-expansion?  Maybe 10% off of AI War and/or Tidalis?  That's what got me interested in AI War.  I'm thinking about some videos on how to play AI War and posting them on different sites.  I have a few friends offering to help me make the videos so it shouldn't be to much of a problem.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: keith.lamothe on September 14, 2010, 02:34:20 PM
I don't know if this is possible or not but how about a sale promoting the new micro-expansion?  Maybe 10% off of AI War and/or Tidalis?
Plans are already laid for promotion when the CoN and 4.0 official release hits :)
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Shardz on September 14, 2010, 02:50:00 PM
For the time I've been playing AI War, I keep thinking and wondering about the impact of a Gamespot review...or even just a banner ad on that site might do wonders with all the traffic they have there. I know there are certain politics that go into that process cause there are lots of games they still haven't reviewed over the years and it must come down to some secretive agreement they have with developers.

As you can clearly see below, the page is already in place with a 8.2/8.8 critic/user score, but still awaits an official review that would end up putting the game on the top of the PC Games review section for quite a while - let alone a possible front page slot in the process. 

http://www.gamespot.com/pc/strategy/aiwarfleetcommand/index.html?tag=result%3Btitle%3B0

I would also echo this for PC Gamer magazine if they haven't already (I can't find any info of the game there online). The only thing with reviews (especially Gamespot) is that they can be a bit of a gamble depending on who is reviewing the product. I was also going to mention another AI Wars bundle including the new expansion and hit up the retail sites like Gamersgate again. It might be a bit redundant, but it does get the name on the front page in the end.

One thing that is puzzling me this week is the viral campaign of Minecraft; word of mouth is everywhere and I can't figure out why exactly. The developer (Notch) started taking pre-orders in June 2009 and has racked up over 4,200 units sold at $13 a pop ($26 at retail time) and the game is still in Alpha.  :o It's a cool little game and all, but it really offers no real goals, no campaigns, no mechanics...not much of anything other than a rudimentary engine with little to do (being a true sandbox game, though). I ask myself how this came to be other than some sort of user-generated viral campaign to spread the word. The one thing I realized is that they offer no demo of the flagship Alpha product and the free version they do offer is an old, stripped down pre-Alpha version which has long been abandoned by the developer. Perhaps this is a "Draw & Charge" tactic that lures folks to the site and gets them to blindly invest in the product...perhaps it's a legion of 11 year olds that love pixelated, blocky graphics...perhaps people are getting Mario flashbacks playing with those cubes for hours, who knows.  One thing is certain, though; their fans are generating a lot of buzz on the Internet and it finally crossed my path last night in my travels.

I'm not promoting that product in this post as it's nowhere near finished and has no common elements with AI War (other than it's on Windows), but the phenomenon that interests me is this viral campaign it seems to be enjoying and I wonder how it all got started. I think we can all help a little bit in our own ways, but I think what we are talking about here is attempting to break into the mainstream media for a little bit of hard earned exposure cause AI War definitely has the meat to compete successfully with anything out there.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: getter77 on September 14, 2010, 02:59:33 PM
Hmm...tis tough doings.

-If you bought the game via Gamersgate:  PUT IN A STAR RATING at the least, if not also adding a review to it/getting answers to people on the game tutor side of things related to it.  I'm pretty sure Gamersgate tracks these 2 aspects pretty heavily in terms of visibility and whatnot versus other titles, whereas other DD outfits don't quite have such metrics that I know of offhand save Impulse also having a user rating feature of some sort.

-I don't know exactly what reviews have been knocked out other than them being positive and relatively numerous, but at this point perhaps redouble efforts to get reviews up on whatever sites have yet to manifest that do have a track record of reviews for other games competing in the genre.  I doubt it is possible to have too many good reviews across too many different sites.

-All of the above and other people's suggestions definitely hold for AI 4.0---that's gotta be a big deal.  Especially on the trailer front for capable persons.

-Perhaps throw in with another Indie Bundle if one happens to manifest in the near future that might do well?

-Try to get on podcasts of any stripe if possible...IIRC Flash of Steel has one that could probably be a favorable venue.


That's about all I can wring out of my head at the moment given all else already mentioned by others.  Hang in there and good luck ArcEn folks, here's hoping other good ideas come to mind however they do.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Vinraith on September 14, 2010, 03:07:20 PM
RPS helpfully responded to requests for a post about this, so hopefully that will help some in and of itself. Getting the word out on gaming news sites should be a significant help, time to write some more emails...
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: mlaskus on September 14, 2010, 03:29:10 PM
Very confusing; we made this puzzle game that many reviewers are raving about... but very few people actually buy it.  Maybe that's the puzzle ;)

I wouldn't be so arrogant to suggest that I have an answer for you, but I do have a theory.
The screens and videos of Tidalis don't really give the game justice. Snapshots look like any other match-3 puzzle game out there.
Seeing the trailer didn't really help either, apart from flashy graphics, it looks like any other puzzle game.

I bought it just to support you, and was incredibly pleasantly surprised when I realized how good it is, but was it not for my love for AI War I would probably dismiss without giving it a second glance.

I guess many people don't even read all those great reviews you got, dismissing the game after a quick glance at a screenshot instead.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Vinraith on September 14, 2010, 03:31:11 PM
I don't know how hard it would be, but a browser-based Tidalis demo might do a lot to demonstrate to people that it's not "just another match 3 game." Something that could be passed around on Facebook and the like might more easily get the attention of the causal crowd.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Vaos on September 14, 2010, 03:32:27 PM
Like people are saying in the SA thread, AI War really needs some better matchmaking and/or an integrated irc client. Would implementing that be possible with the new Unity version? If more people can try out the multiplayer (which is the best) part of AI War, maybe they'll get their friends to play it, and so on.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: keith.lamothe on September 14, 2010, 03:37:54 PM
Matchmaking is now possible, I think, though the effort may be pretty significant.  It hasn't helped Tidalis much, due to the low count of players online at once.  Making an integrated IRC client is way outside the scope of the game, though it certainly has been asked for.  Definitely things to think about.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: mlaskus on September 14, 2010, 03:41:53 PM
I don't know how hard it would be, but a browser-based Tidalis demo might do a lot to demonstrate to people that it's not "just another match 3 game." Something that could be passed around on Facebook and the like might more easily get the attention of the causal crowd.

Well, it is on Unity. I have no experience with it, but as far as I am concerned it can be embedded in a browser easily.
By the way, Facebook could possibly solve Arcen's financial problems. If you guys could release a free browser based version of Tidalis integrated with Facebook and featuring microtransactions and some social stuff you could have an incredibly profitable cash cow.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: keith.lamothe on September 14, 2010, 03:44:58 PM
Well, it is on Unity. I have no experience with it, but as far as I am concerned it can be embedded in a browser easily.
Not easily, but Unity does support building the game for the Unity Web Player.  But we certainly couldn't take Tidalis as-is and do that, because the resolution supported is way different and we have to really minimize the actual amount of data involved (which basically means removing all the music and all but one of the visual themes, and making that one static with no animation, etc).  We've certainly been batting around that possibility to provide an easy-entry demo experience, basically.

Quote
By the way, Facebook could possibly solve Arcen's financial problems. If you guys could release a free browser based version of Tidalis integrated with Facebook and featuring microtransactions and some social stuff you could have an incredibly profitable cash cow.
We haven't actually talked about that specifically but in general we're wary of microtransactions and that kind of thing, feels exploitative.  Worth thinking about ways of doing it ethically, though.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Vinraith on September 14, 2010, 03:51:32 PM
I don't know how hard it would be, but a browser-based Tidalis demo might do a lot to demonstrate to people that it's not "just another match 3 game." Something that could be passed around on Facebook and the like might more easily get the attention of the causal crowd.

Well, it is on Unity. I have no experience with it, but as far as I am concerned it can be embedded in a browser easily.
By the way, Facebook could possibly solve Arcen's financial problems. If you guys could release a free browser based version of Tidalis integrated with Facebook and featuring microtransactions and some social stuff you could have an incredibly profitable cash cow.

Yeah, that's kind of where I was going with that. Hell, if the browser version had MP it could be a real Facebook sensation actually.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: mlaskus on September 14, 2010, 03:54:33 PM
Yeah, I generally hate microtransactions, but I know that Facebook games can be incredibly profitable. It might be worth sacrificing a small bit of your soul to keep the company running and hopefully fill your new swimming pool with 100$ notes. ;)
Then again, I'm not suggesting you should be exploitative, I guess it can be done ethically.

http://www.interstellarmarines.com/
Those guys did some pretty nice demos of their upcoming game in a browser, on Unity. It is a 3d shooter and it looks and plays really great in the web player.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: keith.lamothe on September 14, 2010, 03:57:49 PM
It might be worth sacrificing a small bit of your soul to keep the company running
Never ;)  But good for a laugh.

I think a barebones web version with co-op would be really cool (and if it works on facebook, all the better), though the co-op part would be tricky due to the size of the web player on the screen.  We'd basically have to significantly scale down the graphics AND limit it to 7-wide boards or something like that.  Worth thinking about, anyhow.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: mlaskus on September 14, 2010, 04:00:44 PM
due to the size of the web player on the screen.

Those I'm demos work in fullscren, maybe you could make the game pop into a new window or go into fullscreen mode when playing in coop?

Then again, I guess most people wouldn't want their browser game take up their whole screen.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: keith.lamothe on September 14, 2010, 04:01:39 PM
Does Interstellar Marines use the Unity Web Player?  Or something else?  We could investigate whether the unity one supports fullscreen, but my understanding is that it's pretty set-in-stone that way.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: mlaskus on September 14, 2010, 04:03:46 PM
Yes, that's why I mentioned them. The whole game runs on Unity, and they made some demos available through the Web Player now
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: keith.lamothe on September 14, 2010, 04:08:49 PM
Yea, the full screen works pretty well on that.  Lovely loading screen and music too, though it's still downloading and doesn't appear to be making progress.  Might be something with my network config or whatever, though.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: mlaskus on September 14, 2010, 04:13:28 PM
Yeah, they are pretty big, it took me a while to load too. I tried only the weapon training demo and it was quite brilliant.
Those guys are indie devs too, maybe they could answer some of your questions about using the Web Player. I admit, I personally haven't had any experience with them but it might be worth a shot.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Shardz on September 14, 2010, 04:18:23 PM
Yeah, I generally hate microtransactions, but I know that Facebook games can be incredibly profitable. It might be worth sacrificing a small bit of your soul to keep the company running and hopefully fill your new swimming pool with 100$ notes. ;)
Then again, I'm not suggesting you should be exploitative, I guess it can be done ethically.

http://www.interstellarmarines.com/
Those guys did some pretty nice demos of their upcoming game in a browser. It is a 3d shooter and it looks and plays really great in the web player.

The suggestions and ideas are coming slowly and Facebook is definitely a trendy media at the moment which enjoys high profile traffic. I personally, however, shudder at the thought of opening the floodgates of the Farmville community upon us, but I guess that is how commercialism works ultimately. I was a prominent forum member of Runic's forum prior to the release of Torchlight, and that community was about as tight as this one is with AI War. But as soon as the game was released, Steam & Gamespot launched the media campaign and flooded the forums with thousands of "Steamers" (mostly, but not completely) and changed forever the tone and number of intelligible posts we used to enjoy; effectively landing me here at Arcen to escape the din of Diablo fanboys clogging up the forums with ridiculous and redundant posts.

Ultimately, what I enjoy about Arcen is integrity. That doesn't come often in this world and especially in this industry. The fact that AI Wars is indeed a hidden gem in the weeds makes it all that much more attractive to me; although, this doesn't parallel with monetary success, either. When I read statements like, "It might be worth sacrificing a small bit of your soul"...I get a bit worried cause this is one independent game company which has a "ghost in the machine" in all their products and I'd hate to see anything change too drastically.

I also ended up leaving DeviantArt after many years because they decided to tie everyone's art gallery to the networking sites and I had to draw the line with that one. I understand the importance and value of mass marketing through those mediums, but one must take care not to lose the special bond with the core supporters in the process.  
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: mlaskus on September 14, 2010, 04:22:49 PM
Shardz, I was joking about sacrificing the soul. ;)

I agree with your concern about a flood of people though, but I think the community of any Facebook game could be hosted separately of the one we are enjoying here, preventing us from being flooded.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: keith.lamothe on September 14, 2010, 04:26:33 PM
Ultimately, what I enjoy about Arcen is integrity. That doesn't come often in this world and especially in this industry. The fact that AI Wars is indeed a hidden gem in the weeds makes it all that much more attractive to me; although, this doesn't parallel with monetary success, either. When I read statements like, "It might be worth sacrificing a small bit of your soul"...I get a bit worried cause this is one independent game company which has a "ghost in the machine" in all their products and I'd hate to see anything change too drastically.
Yea, I wanted to work at Arcen primarily based on the integrity I saw in how Chris does business (well, C# is nice too).  That's why I replied to the (joking) "sacrifice" comment with the word "Never" :)  Any economic decision where one of the costs is "Integrity" has an asymptotically high cost:benefit ratio ;)

As for problems with maintaining the community if there's a flood of new people... yea, that's a challenge, and it will basically be up to the moderators (like myself) to take the necessary steps to maintain the boundaries we have set, and up to the community to be a good example.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: KingIsaacLinksr on September 14, 2010, 04:27:50 PM
Thanks for letting us know, I never usually talk about what I'm writing for my blog next, but I'll be sure to push your games again within the next 24 hours.  I'll see if any of my FB friends might be interested.  I haven't brought anyone to your games yet, so I'll see if I can push a little harder on this.

:)

King
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Otagan on September 14, 2010, 04:30:57 PM
If it says "Arcen Games" on it, I have three copies of it.  I've convinced two friends to bite on the AI War/ZR combo.  Looks like my evangelizing will have to continue anew.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Shardz on September 14, 2010, 04:40:17 PM
Shardz, I was joking about sacrificing the soul. ;)

I agree with your concern about a flood of people though, but I think the community of any Facebook game could be hosted separately of the one we are enjoying here, preventing us from being flooded.

mlaskus: Yeah, I knew you were being tonque-in-cheek about it...I wasn't coming down on you or your statement, but the actual ideal of that has been on my mind for quite a while now in regards to success versus commercialism. I guess it's like the baby bird syndrome or something...you love it so much, but you know you will have to let it leave the nest someday. I really hate hearing any financial difficulties with this company at all cause Arcen deserves the big budget treatment and has put something on the table with some meat to it. My worries stem all the way back to when E.A. killed Bullfrog (one of my favorite companies of all time) and since then have seen the good guys with the best tricks struggle in the industry for whatever reasons. I know there is probably a simple solution to all this...and it might even be a culmination of suggestions in this actual thread.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Lancefighter on September 14, 2010, 04:48:58 PM
I shall be as your messenger onto the realms of EVE! Let them hear my songs of praise and respond in kind..
But mostly, itll just be me and zeba going on about how awesome AI war is :( I'm afraid its been tried many times, and I am just not sure the people of eve are willing to convert to such a complex strategy game..   :-\
However, no effort shall be spared in the spreading of the Good Word!
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: superking on September 14, 2010, 04:56:37 PM
the civilisation forums would be a good bet too
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: getter77 on September 14, 2010, 09:12:34 PM
Given the, surely impending even moreso, release of the proper shiny new Unity3D 3---what about chatting them up to feature the ArcEn wares as something of a showcase title(s) as an early adopter?  I see no reason for them to have anything but gain to be had from being able to point to a visibly hosted trailer and whatnot showing off at least a rather solid portion of their featureset beyond a bullshot tech demo that doesn't quite carry the water of an already realized project.   ESPECIALLY given their aims to heavily target the Indie and Indie+ segment of folks out there.

They've got to be hungry for all they can get along these kind of lines up against UDK, the new CryEngine looming, maybe Torque doing something notable one day for a change outside of making people mad, etc...
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Nimis on September 14, 2010, 09:15:47 PM
Looking through the comments of the AI War post at RPS (http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2010/09/14/aieeeeeeeeee-war-arcen-games-in-pain/#comments) I noticed several people trying out the demo complain about the speed of the game on the default setting. I can’t help but wonder if this is having an impact on the willingness of players to purchase the game. I know when I first started playing I thought that the pacing was absolutely glacial, and this is coming from a long time Civ player. Thankfully, after quitting out of the demo from pure boredom, I thought to look through the options later and saw the fast and dangerous setting, which completely changed my outlook on the game.

As AI War stands, the player either needs to be aware the speed options exist, or stumble into them by pure happenstance as I did. For this reason I think the game needs to prompt the first time player, preferably with some kind of visual comparison, of the two drastically different speed options available in AI War. As speed has a drastic impact on play-style and fun, I think making this option clear early on would be imperative.

I’m sure that the speed option is mentioned at some point in the tutorial, but considering the amount of information being given to the player at that time, especially to an RTS player unfamiliar with TBS concepts, it is VERY easy to miss or simply ignore. Giving a prompt at the start of the player’s first game would eliminate the problem and actually make players aware that the option exists. This prompt would be an easy way to effectively eliminate the problem of the game feeling slow for RTS players and hopefully convince them to purchase the game.

TL; DR version: Make the game prompt first time players, asking them for their choice in speed setting while showing a visual comparison of the two modes. Would alleviate first time players concerns of the game feeling too slow and hopefully encourage more RTS players to purchase.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: keith.lamothe on September 14, 2010, 10:08:49 PM
Yea, having those speed features mentioned really early on could help avoid unnecessarily giving the wrong impression.  Say something like "if this is too slow, turn on fast and dangerous and crank up the speed to +2" ;)

Another idea for community involvement in all this is putting together some "featured" AARs.  Something like Boatmurdered (minus the boatload of swearing) could be pretty amusing ;)  A single-player succession game could be more manageable than an MP one, just due to scheduling.  Dazio's beta-feedback AAR was a great read (particularly for showing off the flavor added by many minor factions), etc.  There's also the possibility of an "extended tutorial" AAR-ish thing based on a scenario that a sane person would actually play, complete with save-games at each stage.  Of course, 3.189 has some issues that are worse than what we normally let persist this long (the Unity port is coming along, it just takes time), so this might be better for when 4.0 is done (or nearly so).  One thing to remember about these ideas is that they don't have to be done _right now_; we've got time to think and plan.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: x4000 on September 14, 2010, 10:11:50 PM
Update post: http://arcengames.blogspot.com/2010/09/wow-lot-of-people-love-ai-war-andor.html

Copied:

MANY, many thanks here, everyone.  A lot of great ideas came up through the forums discussion on this, as well as in the comments on my last post, as well as on Rock, Paper, Shotgun's post about this, as well as elsewhere.  Some great work has already been done getting the word out the press, a lot of it by our faithful fans, and a number of sites have picked up on this and have offered support in various fashions.  I expected a big response and a lot of posts from the core fans on our forums, but the amount of response outside the forums has been really unexpected; we're extremely grateful.

Clearly related to all this publicity, we've made around $1500 all of a sudden in one day today (so far), where recently it's been more like $150ish per day or sometimes even less (much too small when split essentially 5 ways, plus split to general business overhead and taxes, no?).  So, that's been a nice little bump in revenue already -- and we are exceedingly grateful -- but the main thing that we need is sustained revenues, rather than flash-in-the-pan one-day boosts from discounts, etc.  But it's a start, and certainly people are thinking about us a different way, which is good, I guess.

I've felt kind of weird talking about this at all, honestly, as in some ways it feels like asking for a handout, and it's not like we're imminently on death's door -- after all, we have until November, and a lot could change between now and then.  But at the same time, if I wait until the last minute, then it's too late for anyone to do anything to help, and we really are sunk.  As it is, I think the timing was right to breach this topic, but it still feels a bit odd.

Product/Company Visibility Is A Tricky Thing To Gauge
On the other hand, I think that a lot of times people fall in love with some product or other, and then just because it's good they think it's well-known.  That's been the downfall of more than one product, I'm sure, and certainly some indie developers.  The Big Download news item about this referred to Arcen as "one of the more well known indie game developers," which was a huge surprise to me, for a number of reasons.  For one, I have never once, ever, met a stranger who knew who I was or had even heard the vaguest hint about AI War.  When I think well-known, I think more like 2D Boy and those guys; the indie darlings. 

I don't really mind being thought of as well-known, that's fine and certainly flattering, but my point is that I think it is indicative of that sort of mindset that winds up letting companies like us languish in more obscurity than people expect; the people who already like our stuff and know about us naturally think that others with similar interests do, also.  Normally that's something that can be fought with marketing or advertising or something, but only when you have something that is really surface-accessible, which is not what our games are known for (well, Tidalis is, but we have the opposite problem of people assuming it's generic when it's not).

That's the scariest part there, is that we could fold as a company simply because there's all these potential customers out there who we never could communicate with about what we actually have to offer them.  Outside the gaming business I've seen that happen multiple times, and it was kind of scary to suddenly sense that happening here.

Did We Piss It All Away?
So, on RPS in particular there were a few folks commenting that they wondered how we could let it get to this point.  As in, we must have just been spending money like crazy, thinking that a rush of money after AI War came out would keep coming in indefinitely.  But it wasn't like that at all (and we're so cost-conscious that we don't even have office space, and delayed getting proper web hosting that cost more than $100/year until the servers were about to buckle, etc).

On the other hand, these folks are right in that if I'd just wanted to stay a solo shop, working with occasional contractors and largely churning out AI War expansions for pay, I'd be sitting fat and happy right now.  I'd have several years' worth of income sitting in my bank accounts gaining interest, and I could slowly start venturing out into territory beyond AI War.  Certainly there are indie developers who do that, and some are successful and others are not.  Most of them tend to remain one-man shops forever, though, and I just can't stand working in isolation when there's an alternative; and, frankly, a lot of what has been achieved in the last year has only been possible because of the amazing and talented folks who have joined me on the team.  I wouldn't trade that for being fat and happy and alone.

Momentum Can Make You Too Comfortable 
Until this problem surfaced, the momentum had been going strong for the last year or so.  For each distribution channel of the game (our site, Impulse, GamersGate, Steam, and then Direct2Drive, in that order of arrival), there had been a floor under which sales never dropped, and a ceiling over which they almost never rose, during the course of normal business -- except when we did a discount promotion, and those always had predictable results in terms of raising sales volume, too (though increasing in scale 10% to 20% with each sale, actually, as word of mouth spread).

That safe, comfortable pattern lasted from late May of 2009 all the way up to around April-ish of 2010.  I knew that might start tapering off at some point, and honestly expected it to happen long before the doldrums hit, but in the end I don't think that's what happened.  But anyway, Tidalis was expected to pick up whatever slack arose, and then some.  It was an ambitious game in a completely different genre, and wouldn't cannibalize existing sales, and had a nice broad appeal while still keeping my hardcore sensibilities, and all that.  I was feeling pretty safe about what I was doing.  And then the bottom fell out, inexplicably and without much in the way of warning.

Silence Isn't So Golden On The Internet
The scariest part was that nowhere on forums were people talking about Tidalis -- there were just the reviews, and that was it.  A few people talked about the game on our forums, but only less than 2% of the people who bought it.  People consistently talk about AI War in various venues, and tiny conversations pop up here and there all the time (Google Alerts is wonderful for catching all that, to gauge response), but Tidalis just wasn't catching on in forums.  That was one of the biggest things that led me to feel like something just wasn't right (aside from the fact we were bleeding money all of a sudden after 12 months of growth, obviously).

Q&A
To some of the specific questions/thoughts raised in forum threads and comment areas in general:

1. Trailers.  I plan to do a trailer for CoN, and one for AI War 4.0.  However, time is limited and I want to wait until all the new art assets are in place with AI War 4.0, etc, before I do that. The 4.0 version will look pretty markedly different in a lot of respects (the starfields and the HUD in particular, but also some of the special effects), and I want the new trailers to reflect that.  So, hence my waiting at the moment -- but, if other folks want to do trailers or just fun/exciting/interesting/informative videos in the meantime, oh my god would that be a help.

2. Facebook.  This is another case of the-grass-is-greener syndrome, I think.  "Make a Facebook version of Tidalis" is a popular suggestion.  People have this sense that if you put out a game on the iPhone, you make a jillion dollars.  I mean, Facebook/Android/whatever-trendy-thing.  You see my point.  Well, people have the same mistaken ideas about casual games, too -- I can tell you from experience, as can many indie developers, that making a casual game is in no way a cash-in; it's almost a harder road than the hardcore niche route, I think.  The problem is visibility -- there again, people look at the top 1% of games, and see how well they are doing, and assume everyone does as well.  Right now, to hear Gamasutra tell it, almost nobody but Zygna is making any money on Facebook.  Anyway, point is that I keep in touch with a lot of other indie developers in a variety of markets (though not many on facebook, admittedly), and they all complain about their markets just as much as I could complain about mine.  Except for the lucky darlings of any platform, everyone else is going to struggle to some extent.

3. Porting in general (Android, iPhone, Facebook, web versions, and so on).  So: I addressed this partly with #2.  But, that's not to say that I think the porting suggestions are without merit.  It's simply that this is never easy or simple.  Well, in the grand scheme it might be easy -- it only takes a month or two of effort, right?  But that's about all the time Arcen has left on the clock, unless things change (which, with all this recent press, maybe they will, I hope -- but it's far too early to tell).  Leaping into a brand-new platform on which I have no prior experience, and spending all the remaining time that the company has doing so, strikes me as far more risky and reckless than anything I've done with the company since founding it.  Some of the Unity-supported platforms (iOS/Android, mainly) could be a calculated risk that is worth taking if there is time after the AI War 4.0 porting work (which is a far more safe bet in my opinion), but that really remains to be seen.

4. AI War on mobile devices.  This has come up for years, and it's just a no-go.  A few RTS games work pretty well on the iPhone, I've played them, but by and large you only have games with a few small bands of units, and a really REALLY revamped UI.  Also, they are all inherently single-threaded, and have to run on processors less than half (at best) of the minimum that AI War supports.  In the case of AI War, it's just far too large a game for those platforms.  Our consideration of mobile devices would be limited to Tidalis and future titles like Alden Ridge Arcade, if they are a fit (that one would be).

5. A small web version of Tidalis, as sort of a free demo.  We've certainly considered it, but it's not something that can instantly be done because of the way we load assets into Unity.  Long story, but our way is better except when it comes to something like this.  But, it's something we're considering more seriously of late, to be sure.

6. Microtransactions.  Goodness, aren't these trendy?  They just seem a bit unethical to me, like players are being nickeled-and-dimed.  And for multiplayer games, it creates all sorts of challenges for which players have what smaller components, unless those are non-gameplay-affecting components like the infamous horse saddles or something.

7. Work-for-hire.  Some folks suggest on occasion that we do work for hire, rather than our own original work. And, we've been approached by some companies asking us if we're interested in that arrangement (both today, and in the past in general).  As sort of a last resort, we might consider doing something like that before getting booted entirely out of the gaming industry... but we're not indies because we couldn't hack it in the mainstream games industry, if you get my meaning.  I'm grateful that people think well enough of us to offer, but it's just not our bag.

Signing Out For Now
It's been a super busy day, and I haven't been able to talk to everyone I meant to.  I've gotten a lot of emails from folks from various businesses offering advice, support, or various potential opportunities, and I'm trying to respond to everyone, but it takes time.  There's still a pile of emails in my inbox waiting to be read and responded to (there usually is, seems like, especially now with the baby).  I'm not complaining -- far from it, I'm extremely grateful.  But, I did want to let people know that I'm not ignoring them if they sent me an email this afternoon and I haven't yet responded.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: x4000 on September 14, 2010, 10:27:19 PM
Yea, having those speed features mentioned really early on could help avoid unnecessarily giving the wrong impression.  Say something like "if this is too slow, turn on fast and dangerous and crank up the speed to +2" ;)


Yeah, having some first-time getting-oriented notices and queries might not be a bad idea, to be sure.  Maybe some form of "lobby basics wizard" or something, with the big questions.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Trurl on September 14, 2010, 10:38:05 PM
Have you considering doing a crazy Tidalis sale on Steam? Like offer it for $2, which is cheap enough that most people will impulse buy. If you can make it cheap enough that 50% of active steam users will buy it, then you could make a ton of money.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: RCIX on September 14, 2010, 10:43:12 PM
I read the original post (and the update) but didn't catch the rest of them. Anyway, i do have a couple ideas:
 * Toss a few free keys out there. This wouldn't work though if you don't do any key checking with servers.
 * I could try and make a couple of banners people can use :)
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: x4000 on September 14, 2010, 10:48:22 PM
Well... we do hope to do some sales in the coming months, but there's a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff with all that that I can't comment on.

That said, we've done Steam sales with AI War at 30%, 50%, 50%, and 75% off.  The second sale (50% off) was about 20% more profitable than the first at 30%.  The third sale (50% off again) was about 20% more profitable yet again.  And the fourth sale (75% off) was about 50% less profitable than the first sale.

So... I'm wary, you know?  Once somebody buys the game at $2, that's it -- they aren't buying the game again.  If we could sell 300k copies at $2, that would be awesome, but even if we sold 30k copies of it at $2 we'd potentially just be shooting ourselves in the foot in terms of destroying half the customer base for the full-price version... while at the same time making everyone else wait for the game to be $2 again.  Those sorts of extreme discounts are dangerous stuff to play around with, there's no going back once you do them...

Granted, before the company utterly failed we'd try something like that, but it strikes me as sort of a "going out of business sale" type of thing to do.  Most games with an extreme discount like that are, essentially, so old that they're going out of business, and that's their last hurrah.  I bought Bioshock for something like $4 or $5 off a Steam sale shortly before Bioshock 2 came out.  If that wasn't a going out of business sale for the first game, I don't know what was. ;)

So... at any rate, I remain wary.  People who try it seem to love Tidalis, in the main, but most just haven't heard of it.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Lancefighter on September 14, 2010, 10:50:19 PM
I could totally use a banner to flaunt on the eve forums, as soon as it becomes relevant to eve (damn you forum rules x: )
I'm sure i could figure something out..
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Trurl on September 14, 2010, 10:55:13 PM
Gratuitous Space Battles recently did a 75% off steam sale, and it isn't an old game. Maybe Positech would be willing to tell you how that worked out for them?

Anyway, doing a crazy sale as a last resort sounds reasonable. Just make sure it is really really cheap. I personally can't resist super cheap games (I bought GSB for 75% off, even though I didn't have much interest in it), and I think a lot of people are like me.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: x4000 on September 14, 2010, 11:14:36 PM
Cliff and I keep in touch pretty closely, actually -- and I know that sale did super well for him. We did a similar sale for ai war, though, and it wasn't the same effect at all. Possibly because it was part of a week where a lot was on sale, but still. I just think there's a lifecycle games need to go through, and if you put them on super sale too early you're doom more harm than good. GSB also had way more press when it went on sale than Tidalis has so far, so that may also have been a factor -- people knee what it was, and were intrigued enough to gamble with a few bucks during such a sale. Maybe I'm being too picky or overthinking it, but that still makes me really uncomfortable.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: RCIX on September 14, 2010, 11:27:04 PM
Cliff and I keep in touch pretty closely, actually -- and I know that sale did super well for him. We did a similar sale for ai war, though, and it wasn't the same effect at all. Possibly because it was part of a week where a lot was on sale, but still. I just think there's a lifecycle games need to go through, and if you put them on super sale too early you're doom more harm than good. GSB also had way more press when it went on sale than Tidalis has so far, so that may also have been a factor -- people knee what it was, and were intrigued enough to gamble with a few bucks during such a sale. Maybe I'm being too picky or overthinking it, but that still makes me really uncomfortable.
Well, that, and no offense, but AI War falls just about on the extreme end of hardcore strategy gaming. I'd love to see something with more casual appeal (like SupCom2 without the controversy), whether it be another RTS in teh far future or you doing some heavy work on AI war to give it more of that casual side.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: TheMachineIsSentient on September 14, 2010, 11:30:43 PM
I'd like to post more in-depth later, but I want to object to the casual RTS suggestion... the last thing the world needs is another supreme commander. This game is hardcore, no doubt, but I like it that way. That's why I bought it. If Chris made some watered-down select all-> attack game, I wouldn't have bought it.

Would that be more profitable? Maybe, I don't know. But I wouldn't have bought it. I'm here because I like what the product is, which is a hardcore epic space strategy game with a tremendous AI. Is the kind of game you can play single player and never get bored. I will post more later. Chris, team, I support all of you in your efforts, I will do what I can.

I also want to give a short personal rant... I find it extremely distressing that my absolute favorite company right now ( you guys!) might not be making games anymore. I have gotten endless enjoyment since the day I bought it, more than any game I own; I consider myself a fan. The whole thing... I would be sour if this joyride were to end. Please don't let your hopes get down, don't give up, and please keep the train going, you do have people who know your name and who care about your work...

I work a long day programming and making things work for everybody else. At night, I want to enjoy myself, and there's no game I enjoy better than AI war. Don't let it die.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Lancefighter on September 14, 2010, 11:34:37 PM
well, look at galcon - that game is pretty much 'select units, attack', yet I've spent a few hours playing the iphone version.. its a delightfully fast paced counterpart to such long 4x-y games..

AI war more or less replaced space empires 4 for me - my biggest problem in turn based games is that id try to micromanage every single unit, only to realize after a while i still havent hit next turn....
And that counterpart, I would be too busy macromanaging id hit next turn far too much :p

Ai war is nicely within the same level of exploration, yet involving less micromanagement per game turn  ;D
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: RCIX on September 15, 2010, 12:19:44 AM
I'd like to post more in-depth later, but I want to object to the casual RTS suggestion... the last thing the world needs is another supreme commander. This game is hardcore, no doubt, but I like it that way. That's why I bought it. If Chris made some watered-down select all-> attack game, I wouldn't have bought it.

Would that be more profitable? Maybe, I don't know. But I wouldn't have bought it. I'm here because I like what the product is, which is a hardcore epic space strategy game with a tremendous AI. Is the kind of game you can play single player and never get bored. I will post more later. Chris, team, I support all of you in your efforts, I will do what I can.

I also want to give a short personal rant... I find it extremely distressing that my absolute favorite company right now ( you guys!) might not be making games anymore. I have gotten endless enjoyment since the day I bought it, more than any game I own; I consider myself a fan. The whole thing... I would be sour if this joyride were to end. Please don't let your hopes get down, don't give up, and please keep the train going, you do have people who know your name and who care about your work...

I work a long day programming and making things work for everybody else. At night, I want to enjoy myself, and there's no game I enjoy better than AI war. Don't let it die.
The main reason i don't play AI war is because i get into it, and i feel a little lost in all of the complexity; i don't really have any clearly defined goals other than "go kill the homeworlds" which takes a lot of buildup and work to get to. More often than not, i quit pretty quickly because i'm just wandering around destroying stuff. I most definitely agree that it shouldn't be a "select all -> attack" game, but the way it is now it takes some effort to just get into it, which is hard sometimes (i prefer more fast-paced action generally, though i do like grand strategy). Don't get me wrong, it's a great game, but you're losing out an a tremendous potential market that loves games like SupCom2 and such.

My idea for this is to take the smaller starts (30 and lower), and apply some sort of rebalancing algorithm that makes them more reasonable to play (maybe bumps up caps so you can take homeworlds with less knowledge, increases unit stats, things like that). At that level even, the scale is several times larger than the largest SupCom2 (or FA) game. That way they're not sort of fringe options where few people use them.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Vinraith on September 15, 2010, 12:29:03 AM
The "fast action, light strategy" crowd tends to be much more interested in flashy graphics than the "deep strategy" crowd, I think chasing after them is probably a misuse of resources and certainly not worth compromising the vision behind AI War. Hardcore strategy does just fine for itself, and I gather AI War was doing just fine within that market until just recently. I get the sense the larger problem is Tidalis' sales, and that's got to be as simple as a lack of exposure in the right venues. Let's face it, most of Arcen's pre-existing fanbase is a bunch of hardcore strategy gamers. We'll buy most anything they put out, but our ability to circulate useful word of mouth for a casual puzzle game (albeit a brilliant one) is pretty limited, we just don't run in the right circles.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: RCIX on September 15, 2010, 12:55:11 AM
The "fast action, light strategy" crowd tends to be much more interested in flashy graphics than the "deep strategy" crowd, I think chasing after them is probably a misuse of resources and certainly not worth compromising the vision behind AI War. Hardcore strategy does just fine for itself, and I gather AI War was doing just fine within that market until just recently. I get the sense the larger problem is Tidalis' sales, and that's got to be as simple as a lack of exposure in the right venues. Let's face it, most of Arcen's pre-existing fanbase is a bunch of hardcore strategy gamers. We'll buy most anything they put out, but our ability to circulate useful word of mouth for a casual puzzle game (albeit a brilliant one) is pretty limited, we just don't run in the right circles.
Its not that i want AI war to be light on strategy, just that i want a format of AI war that takes less than 10 hours minimum to complete. :P
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: keith.lamothe on September 15, 2010, 12:57:27 AM
Its not that i want AI war to be light on strategy, just that i want a format of AI war that takes less than 10 hours minimum to complete. :P
So do I, actually; I just don't have that much time to play games :)  I'm hoping to be able to do something about this via a scenario editor feature in a future expansion; the trick here is getting to make a future expansion ;)

Edit: and to be fair, 10 isn't the absolute minimum, some players are pretty used to 8 hour games it seems, but they're fairly advanced.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Lancefighter on September 15, 2010, 01:06:43 AM
i finished my first game in around 10 hours, that seems about right for a 40 planet map.. i could certainly see people being less, but as i mentioned someplace else - you play <random rpg> for considerably more than 10 hours per save, why not a strategy game?

<random rpg list>
Elder scrolls (morrowind/oblivion)
fallout
dragon age
mass effect
x3tc
substitute this with your own personal favorite
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: keith.lamothe on September 15, 2010, 01:12:05 AM
Yea, I loved those RPG's; I clocked in over 80 hours on some of them (like first playthrough of Xenogears, which I finished in a bit over a week; ah the school days...).

I think the desire for a shorter game is valid; getting that to fit the vision for AI War is trickier, but we'll see.  The basic idea is roughly the same as some player posting a save from a particularly interesting part of one of their games, and you can pick it up to see if you can accomplish the immediate objectives (as well or better than the original) or even try to finish the game.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: cpunch on September 15, 2010, 01:36:08 AM
I think that with some effort getting some new talk out amongst reviewers wouldn't be impossible.  The big thing that I see AI War having apart from the crowd is the ridiculous amount of iterative growth and feedback.  While remaining, fundamentally, the same game it is still almost indistinguishable in 3.189 from launch, and that's before you take into account adding Zenith and Neinzul content.  AI War isn't a static product, it isn't a launch-and-forget game like so much of the competition.  It's not about $10 DLC every month after launch until a sequel is announced.  It's a game that evolves and grows organically and seeing what can be done about getting re-reviews from people who wrote about it way back in the day could go a long way towards getting more good publicity.

That's a matter of marketing, though, and requires working with other people to get the idea set right..  What you really need are cleaner trailers.  Tidalis, for instance, in watching the trailers on Steam and actually having played the game.  It makes sense, look, those streams don't exist in other games!  But take a step back and realize that to the lay viewer, it just looks like generic-tile-game with more flash, despite promises about gameplay modes and new mechanics.  Develop a trailer around explaining how the game plays and it might actually make people more curious.

AI War is a different beast altogether.  Your trailer for the base version, at least on Steam, spends it's time trying to explain what's going on when it just simply won't make sense to people.  You see some stuff move around, there's probably an explosion, then stuff moves around again and you explain "look the AI has flanked."  It makes sense when you've played the game and are familiar with _what_ is going on, but not to a lay observer.  I think there's something to be said to trying to develop a trailer that creates a narrative.  Takes it away, paradoxically, from being about "look at the amazing AI" and make it a story about taking back the universe.  In fact, I just now watched the Zenith trailer and it ironically missteps by taking the right tone for the wrong audience.  People considering the expansions will buy on the basis of liking the game and wanting to know what the expansion adds in a cost:reward valuation.  People considering the base game will want to know the experience the game will bring them and right now it really seems like word of mouth is a primary driving force, whereas random people spotting the game on Steam or Metacritic have a single trailer.

What's the experience - what's the story?  It's losing the galaxy and the struggle to retake it.  It's commanding epic forces against an inhuman enemy that is smarter and better equipped than you.  It's the player being the hero.  It's what games are supposed to make us - heroes.  Let _that_ be the face of your game and let the players drawn to that idea learn about the AI and the depth of the game by themselves.  The curiosity brought on by a strong trailer will drive them to read reviews about the amazing nature of the game.  A trailer, even with quips of high praise, that focuses on a few blips moving around with an explanation of what is happening is not going to hook.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: mlaskus on September 15, 2010, 04:55:15 AM
Very nice post cpunch, I agree completely.

Maybe we could brainstorm a few ideas and make some fan trailers of both AI War and Tidalis.
A story driven trailer of AI War could have a really nice impact, sort of like a compact AAR showing some of the key moments in a typical game.
Being at the brink of destruction at first, just starting to fight the AI back. Capturing a system containing infrastructure you need to fight(Adv. Factories). Fighting back against a cross planet attack or some other big assault by the AI and losing some systems. Gaining a foothold near the AI homeworld and the final assault itself... and getting killed by the Avenger? :) Then a fast rewind of the whole video to the very beginning and display "Can you succeed?"/"How would you play?" or some other, more catchy phrase. Then a few flashes of action scenes from different games of AI War could be shown as the background music reaches it's crescendo and finally finish it with another catchy phrase and a link to Arcen's website.

Tidalis needs a trailer that explains exactly how the streams work. I have no idea how it could be done though.

----

Lancefighter, what dimensions would you like those banners in? Any ideas what would like to have on them? I can make some for you.

By the way, Chris, if you started pre-orders of Alden Ridge, I'm sure a lot of us would buy it now.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: getter77 on September 15, 2010, 08:10:33 AM

Tidalis needs a trailer that explains exactly how the streams work. I have no idea how it could be done though.


Perhaps somebody could make a custom puzzle/record it that specifically looks as flashy as possible but in such a way that it takes more than one click to trigger the lot of it such that shows a bit of the play?  Alternatively, a contrast one that shows various "impossible" situations where you'd just hang it up on another, more typical, match-3 game, but within Tidalis' take on things you can still soldier on?
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Mánagarmr on September 15, 2010, 08:28:20 AM
As I mentioned before, I'll try to make a hybrid Let's Play/Review of both AI:War and Tidalis on my YouTube page (http://www.youtube.com/user/denaries). I've had some success with LPs before, but doing a _real_ review that really presents a game is something I've never done before. Will try to have something posted by this weekend.

Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: TheMachineIsSentient on September 15, 2010, 08:42:29 AM
Yeah, I was thinking of pre-orders for Alden Ridge as well, but then i was reminded of Duke Nukem and wondered if we would be paying for something that we might never see. I see the charity thing as being a misstep. We all want a better world and healthier kids, but, I think it gave away income from your most stable, well-liked product which you depend on for survival. Chris, you are a victim of your own benevolent personality. ;) I know it is referred to as a micro-expansion, and it is I guess, but the content is worth purchasing. And the entire team deserves money for that effort. Maybe you could end the charity promotion? Maybe, since it isn't released yet, put a date on it where future earnings go towards development.

Just giving ideas, maybe that wouldn't pass the smell test for you, but I think that as long as everything is clearly stated prior to purchase, you are not violating any business contract with the user. Even better, maybe just give 10% to charity after a certain date.

The last thing I can think of this morning is advertisements on the forums. Don't everyone shoot me at once; desperate times call for desperate measures.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: keith.lamothe on September 15, 2010, 09:24:24 AM
I see the charity thing as being a misstep.
Please do remember that the decision to make CoN for-charity was made well before we saw signs of financial distress, and that kind of promise can't be gone back on.  We have to operate on reasonable assumptions when doing business, and we simply did not expect that our overall income would be lower after the release of Tidalis than before it.  If income drops like that, it can make any plan look like a misstep from the outside ;)

Quote
Maybe you could end the charity promotion? Maybe, since it isn't released yet, put a date on it where future earnings go towards development.
No, we can't do that, we've already publicly promised that all CoN revenue (after distributor cuts and taxes) will go to charity, and that's that.

Quote
The last thing I can think of this morning is advertisements on the forums. Don't everyone shoot me at once
Ok, we'll take turns ;)

Thank you for the suggestions, though, there's certainly warrant for thinking out of the box, even if some possibilities aren't actually possible.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Trurl on September 15, 2010, 10:49:55 AM
So, here's one thing that may be limiting Tidalis's sales: the demo is too large of a download. Casual gamers have a short attention span... they have a lot going on and can't be bothered to wait for a long download to try a game out. Also, casual gamers are more likely to have slow internet connections which makes downloads take even longer. Casual gamers are used to web games that they can try out almost instantly. They see a game they want to try and want to be able to play it within a minute. You can't expect them to wait an hour to download a 400MB demo. Heck, they might not even have 400MB of free hard drive space, and they certainly aren't going go delete their pirated copy of Twilight to make room for a game demo.

So, I think you need to come up with a new demo for Tidalis that is small... something that could be downloaded in less than a minute on a slow DSL connection. 10MB or so. Even better would be a Flash version of the demo (or maybe a Unity web player version?) that people could try out quickly in their web browser, but I imagine that would be a lot of work.

Just to give a little perspective... Peggle (the full game) is a 15MB download, so Tidalis is 27 Peggles. That's a lot of Peggles.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Lancefighter on September 15, 2010, 11:17:02 AM
400 mb is a large download? since when..
Maybe casual gamers have a short attention span, but i can certainly find something else to do while 400mbs download  ::)

also, eve forum rules require:
#  Maximum height: 120 pixels
# Maximum width: 400 pixels
# Maximum file size: 24,000 bytes (not Kbytes)
# signature graphics that may only contain your character name, corporation logo, corporation or personal slogan or other text that is directly related to your in-game persona, or content directly related to Eve Online.

the last one is the real problem :\ I could probably try an AI war banner of some sort, with my avatars face on it, that says something along the lines of 'what Lance does instead of stationspinning', but even then its probably a stretch  >:(
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: keith.lamothe on September 15, 2010, 11:24:03 AM
400 mb is a large download? since when..
Maybe casual gamers have a short attention span, but i can certainly find something else to do while 400mbs download  ::)
Yea, for someone who games a lot it's not that big a download, but for folks used to 15MB downloads...  Part of our difficulty with Tidalis is that it really is a hardcore game with casual appeal; meaning that casual gamers should be able to really enjoy it, but it doesn't fully fit into the "casual" category all around.  The download size is one example of that.

Making a "demo version" would be tricky since basically it means no music (or only one track, and that majorly compressed below its current quality) and no animation, really limited all around, etc.

Personally I think a super-slimmed-down web-based demo would be great, but as Chris said that involves a fair bit of time (new platform, etc), and we don't have a ton of that.  If our current efforts turn things around a bit, I think that would be one thing to explore.

Quote
# signature graphics that may only contain your character name, corporation logo, corporation or personal slogan or other text that is directly related to your in-game persona, or content directly related to Eve Online.

the last one is the real problem :\ I could probably try an AI war banner of some sort, with my avatars face on it, that says something along the lines of 'what Lance does instead of stationspinning', but even then its probably a stretch  >:(
Yea, honestly I think CCP is intentionally trying to prevent that kind of visual advertisement of other games.  That is their right, and I think we should respect their wishes in that.  I don't know about their policy on talking about or verbally advertising other games is, though.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: mlaskus on September 15, 2010, 11:34:10 AM
It's a shame about EVE forums then. I guess people there could be interested in AI War. Anyway, I will make a forum banner, maybe you can use it somewhere else.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: cpunch on September 15, 2010, 11:34:24 AM
Coming from someone familiar with EVE - I don't know that AIW and EVE share all that much in common besides being very large and about spaceships.  Just looking at that community and going "Look that's a lot of people who like spaceships" isn't necessarily meaning those same people want a deep strategy game.  For one, EVE is a game thoroughly aimed at two hardcore players: the PvP crowd and the Industrialist crowd, who would more likely want to spend money on Recettear so they can run yet another imaginary business.  A game that lacks competitive multiplayer and a deep economy is going to have a hard time finding traction in that community.  Certainly there are lots of people who would be interested, but they've got hundreds of thousands of subscribers and that certainty is simply statistics at work.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Trurl on September 15, 2010, 11:38:52 AM
400 mb is a large download? since when..
Maybe casual gamers have a short attention span, but i can certainly find something else to do while 400mbs download  ::)

Plants vs Zombies is 27MB, so Tidalis is over 10x as big as that. 400MB is HUGE for a casual game.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Lancefighter on September 15, 2010, 11:46:22 AM
Yeah, the forums are kinda supposed to be in character to a point, so it does make sense. And nah, I dont have any trouble posting in the offtopic area about aiwar..

and i guess I'm not up to date on my casual games then :x I've certainly downloaded larger demos than 400mb..

keep in mind that the fact that there are spaceships is a major motivator for me here :p spaceships imply created physics, which is generally more interesting than 'realistic' physics (take a look at Orbiter..) because, well, the developers can make the game as they wish instead of trying to fake realism.
But yeah, the internetspaceship circle and spaceshiprts circle dont overlap as much as i might expect they do :\
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Trurl on September 15, 2010, 11:46:34 AM
Yea, for someone who games a lot it's not that big a download, but for folks used to 15MB downloads...  Part of our difficulty with Tidalis is that it really is a hardcore game with casual appeal; meaning that casual gamers should be able to really enjoy it, but it doesn't fully fit into the "casual" category all around.  The download size is one example of that.

I can't imagine the market for hardcore puzzle games is very big. What other games are in that genre? Puzzle Quest? The Puzzle Quest demo is 34MB, which is 10X smaller than Tidalis demo. I'd consider my wife a casual gamer, and she loved Puzzle Quest and played a ton of it. I'll have to try out Tidalis on her, and see if she can stand the download time.

Quote
Making a "demo version" would be tricky since basically it means no music (or only one track, and that majorly compressed below its current quality) and no animation, really limited all around, etc.

I think you really need to make a Tidalis demo that will appeal to the casual market, which means small, I'm pretty sure. You've got to remove as many barriers as you can to people trying the game.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Trurl on September 15, 2010, 11:51:17 AM
and i guess I'm not up to date on my casual games then :x I've certainly downloaded larger demos than 400mb..

IMHO, if you are posting on this forum, then you are probably not a casual gamer.

I agree that 400MB is not particularly large for a modern game demo in general, but it is very large for a casual game demo. If you don't want to target the casual puzzle game market, then fine, but I would argue that that is a mistake.

Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: x4000 on September 15, 2010, 12:02:24 PM
Regarding concerns about the download size of Tidalis: I just can't fathom that as the issue, in the main.  It's not like we advertise that it's a 400mb download.  What do folks imagine is happening -- that people start downloading it, go "oh noes, 400mb" and stop the download instantly?  I think that once someone starts downloading something, they're pretty much committed to it unless it's going to be some ridiculous amount of time to get (like days, on dialup).

Granted, it's not doing us favors in terms of capitalizing on their attention immediately, but the reason that the Tidalis game is so large is simple: the art is power of two larger than that in popcap games, and the music is very high quality oggs, rather than what I'm assuming are some sort of synth-based soundsystem (midi, tracker of some sorts, etc).

You do know that the popcap games only run at 640x480, right?  Or at least that's true for PvZ.  Maybe there isn't desire for a casual puzzle game with high-res graphics and music, but honestly I don't think that's the problem here.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Trurl on September 15, 2010, 12:18:13 PM
Regarding concerns about the download size of Tidalis: I just can't fathom that as the issue, in the main.  It's not like we advertise that it's a 400mb download.  What do folks imagine is happening -- that people start downloading it, go "oh noes, 400mb" and stop the download instantly?  I think that once someone starts downloading something, they're pretty much committed to it unless it's going to be some ridiculous amount of time to get (like days, on dialup).

No, I don't think they'd stop the download. Instead they'd get distracted by something else and never go back and install or play the game once it is downloaded. Imagine your typical casual gamer who has 20 minutes of free time before Dancing with the Stars comes on, and she decides to download and try out Tidalis. So she starts the download and sees that's its going really slow and so she starts playing Farmville and then maybe checks back in 15 minutes and it is only half way through downloading Tidalis. Then Dancing with the Stars comes on and she turns the computer off and forgets all about Tidalis and never even tries it. There's one lost sale.

Quote
Granted, it's not doing us favors in terms of capitalizing on their attention immediately, but the reason that the Tidalis game is so large is simple: the art is power of two larger than that in popcap games, and the music is very high quality oggs, rather than what I'm assuming are some sort of synth-based soundsystem (midi, tracker of some sorts, etc).

You do know that the popcap games only run at 640x480, right?  Or at least that's true for PvZ.  Maybe there isn't desire for a casual puzzle game with high-res graphics and music, but honestly I don't think that's the problem here.

I understand all that, but the fact is, if you want to sell Tidalis to casual gamers then you have to compete with Popcap games. I agree that the high fidelity of Tidalis makes the download size of the full game worth it, but not for a demo. What if you made a demo that had a single song and single background... so basically just one level. How big would that be? Or maybe you need to make a low-fidelity demo... I mean, your average casual gamer is probably playing the demo on a laptop with crappy speakers, so the audio quality doesn't even matter. Heck, maybe the demo doesn't even need music.

Anyway, I'm not trying to criticize you for making Tidalis too large. I really am just trying to point out something that I think might be preventing casual gamers from picking up Tidalis. I certainly could be wrong about all this. I'll see if I can get some of my casual gamer family members (Wife, mother, etc...) to try Tidalis and see if the download size matters to them.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Otagan on September 15, 2010, 12:55:14 PM
Just out of curiosity, have you guys explored the idea of an AI War 4 pack on Steam?  Not that I necessarily think it would result in a flurry of new sales, but it would give the opportunity for some people who are uncertain about the game to buy as part of a group and get a lower price point.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: keith.lamothe on September 15, 2010, 01:00:26 PM
On the download size thing, Chris, I believe he is correct that we have lost a significant amount of possible sales on the "truly casual" side; I'm not talking about people who like casual games, I'm talking about people who basically don't like any other type of game.  A lot of those folks want to be able to try a game right now, and if it takes a while the conversion chance drops a lot.

But a normal-app demo doesn't sound good for a variety of reasons; if we were to go for a true "Lite" version that could function as a demo, the web version is the way to go, and that has significant dev-time costs.  Of course, we've already tossed the idea around internally a number of times, nothing new.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: keith.lamothe on September 15, 2010, 01:02:49 PM
Just out of curiosity, have you guys explored the idea of an AI War 4 pack on Steam?  Not that I necessarily think it would result in a flurry of new sales, but it would give the opportunity for some people who are uncertain about the game to buy as part of a group and get a lower price point.
I've thought about it, though I haven't mentioned it to Chris.  I think it could be a useful option, particularly for our more enthusiastic players who really want to get their friends into the game; getting them a discount on a pack that they can then gift out may be appealing to them to get people in on the base game and see how it goes from there.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: mlaskus on September 15, 2010, 01:49:57 PM
(http://imgur.com/gC0NV.gif)

I have quickly put together this simple animated banner. I didn't have much ideas on what to put in it so it uses a few random ingame images and a really poor catchphrase. It is very easy to modify though, so if you like the idea, and you know how it could be improved, tell me what to do with it or grab a .psd file (http://"http://dl.dropbox.com/u/123682/userbar.psd") yourself and beautify it to your heart's delight. ;)
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: keith.lamothe on September 15, 2010, 02:01:41 PM
Wow, cool, that's looking great particularly as basic idea :)  The animation and slim size is great for catching the eye without being intrusive.

Some possible shots that could be more interesting for the scrolling part:
1) Group of ships getting vaporized by a heavy beam cannon.
2) Forcefield (protecting a command station) under heavy bombardment.
3) Galaxy map (probably simple map type) around the border between human and AI worlds, possibly with a mouseover-path visible from human to AI territory.

For the catchphrase, trying to think of something, but one quick improvement would be "Would you survive?" => "Will you survive?".  Or perhaps split it into three:

"Every Decision Matters..."

"Will You Be Victorious?"

(2x pause)

"Will You Even Survive?"

Perhaps even do a fade-to-white (kinda like the nuke blast), and then fade back for the loop-reset.


This might be taking it too far, but the text could be interleaved with the image scrolling.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: cpunch on September 15, 2010, 02:07:07 PM
In terms of catchphrases, I really think you guys hit a _fantastic_ note with "Every choice has a consequence." on your Zenith Remnant blurb.  It's short but has weight behind it.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: mlaskus on September 15, 2010, 02:10:51 PM
Excellent ideas Keith. I guess I will have to record the fighting in-game and convert it to gif's, no biggie, but it will take me a while.

I was actually going to put in the star map in this version, but I completely forgot about it while working. ;)

I will experiment with the images scrolling under the text, maybe next to it, but I'm not sure if it will be readable.

The catchphrase is a lot better too, fortunately this is easy to change. :)

@cpunch:
Yeah, that's also an improvement, thanks.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Spikey00 on September 15, 2010, 02:13:30 PM
I'm still really concerned about Arcen's long term prognosis as I am sure a lot of us are, even with all the great stuff that has happened recently with the help of our community.  I can't help but feel for Chris, because he's done essentially everything right, but it's that folks sadly don't take to notice the indie scene, especially this new generation that's all into the graphics and FPS-action, maybe because they're ignorant or that they just simply haven't heard about how awesome AI War and Arcen truly are.

I've got some reaction from Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/AI-War-Fleet-Command/143457342376?ref=ts) and the Steam community (http://steamcommunity.com/games/aiwar/announcements/detail/990980149350970040) along with a friend who might be able to gift a few copies of AI War out, but beyond that I'm still worried about the future.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Legendsmith on September 15, 2010, 02:19:50 PM

One thing that is puzzling me this week is the viral campaign of Minecraft; word of mouth is everywhere and I can't figure out why exactly. The developer (Notch) started taking pre-orders in June 2009 and has racked up over 4,200 units sold at $13 a pop ($26 at retail time) and the game is still in Alpha.  :o It's a cool little game and all, but it really offers no real goals, no campaigns, no mechanics...not much of anything other than a rudimentary engine with little to do (being a true sandbox game, though). I ask myself how this came to be other than some sort of user-generated viral campaign to spread the word. The one thing I realized is that they offer no demo of the flagship Alpha product and the free version they do offer is an old, stripped down pre-Alpha version which has long been abandoned by the developer. Perhaps this is a "Draw & Charge" tactic that lures folks to the site and gets them to blindly invest in the product...perhaps it's a legion of 11 year olds that love pixelated, blocky graphics...perhaps people are getting Mario flashbacks playing with those cubes for hours, who knows.  One thing is certain, though; their fans are generating a lot of buzz on the Internet and it finally crossed my path last night in my travels.

I'm not promoting that product in this post as it's nowhere near finished and has no common elements with AI War (other than it's on Windows), but the phenomenon that interests me is this viral campaign it seems to be enjoying and I wonder how it all got started. I think we can all help a little bit in our own ways, but I think what we are talking about here is attempting to break into the mainstream media for a little bit of hard earned exposure cause AI War definitely has the meat to compete successfully with anything out there.

I'll tell you, it's constantly on Facepunch, somethingawful.com and 4chan's video games board, known as "/v/" or The Vidya.
People like it, promote it. More people see it, buy it like it... It's obvious how viral works. However, it's not really a campaign, it's more of a loop. Notch doesn't have to do much (anymore).
The way this was started is that Notch himself visits some of those sites.
Here's some proof, taken from Notch's own twitter (http://twitter.com/xnotch)
(http://i51.tinypic.com/2ccvtcz.png)
(SA is referring to Something Awful and that !! and string of numbers and letters is a secure tripcode, a way for users to be securely identified rather than remaining anonymous on 4chan.)
People like this level of developer-gamer interaction. It also allows gamers to give direct feedback to the developers, especially on /v/, as the post rate is very high with it ebbing one of 4chan's most popular boards.

I doubt it's 11 year olds, although with the goons (somethingawful users) the age is questionable. I know that there has been an Let's play AI War: Fleet Command done by SA and Facepunch users (http://www.facepunch.com/showthread.php?t=833748). This is good, some of the members know of it.
There are also AI War players on /v/ (I'm one of them and I know there are a few more, mainly because I gifted it to them). Speaking of myself, I do attempt to push AI war on my friends and almost anyone who mentions RTS games on /v/.

This is good, you've got the seeds of a viral campaign here. What's required is some of that developer-gamer interaction.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: keith.lamothe on September 15, 2010, 02:20:46 PM
Excellent ideas Keith. I guess I will have to record the fighting in-game and convert it to gif's, no biggie, but it will take me a while.
Yea; I could probably get the shots a bit faster, I'm just busy porting the various mouseover tooltips for the lobby to the Unity version ;)

For the galaxy map shots, a mature gamestate is desirable so you can get a reasonably complex border situation; if you don't have one on hand I could post one of the more interesting saves I have ;)

For the fighting shots, my suggestion is to start a new game and use the various cheats to get a solid production center for making your own stuff, and use the "warp in the clowns,bomber,100" cheat (or whatever for the second and third parameters) to get the opponents you want; though if you have some saves with appropriate battles that's great too.

The shot with the heavy beam cannon could also stand to have a Riot Control Starship with a forcefield module (mk I ff, probably), a bit off to the side; preferably in the middle of it's rapid-fire-ish firing animation.  Of course, I can go back and make these highly tailored ones later, just giving you ideas in case you want them ;)

Quote
I will experiment with the images scrolling under the text, maybe next to it, but I'm not sure if it will be readable.
Yea, I thought about that but figured it would be too much with the "I Heart AI War" text also there.  I was thinking that during the scroll it could fade to black (or nearly so, maybe not completely out), show the text, fade the text out and fade the scroll back in with the next shot, fade that out, show the next text, etc...  The "Will You Even Survive?" could come right after the nuke flash ;D

Anyway, not telling you to do all this, it's kinda crazy, but I think it could be pretty cool :)
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: keith.lamothe on September 15, 2010, 02:29:44 PM
I'm still really concerned about Arcen's long term prognosis as I am sure a lot of us are, even with all the great stuff that has happened recently with the help of our community.  I can't help but feel for Chris, because he's done essentially everything right, but it's that folks sadly don't take to notice the indie scene, especially this new generation that's all into the graphics and FPS-action, maybe because they're ignorant or that they just simply haven't heard about how awesome AI War and Arcen truly are.

I've got some reaction from Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/AI-War-Fleet-Command/143457342376?ref=ts) and the Steam community (http://steamcommunity.com/games/aiwar/announcements/detail/990980149350970040) along with a friend who might be able to gift a few copies of AI War out, but beyond that I'm still worried about the future.
Don't worry about it too much, it's not worth emotional stress :)  Arcen has no debt, and our monthly expenses are actually really low for a company, so it's not like the company has to totally disappear.  There are certain rock-bottom-must-be-paid expenses (like LLC fees, and some manner of webhosting, that kind of thing) to prevent real vanishment, but our games aren't selling zero, they're just not selling enough to support the kind of staff-time we need to keep producing games on an acceptable schedule... so most or all of us would be looking for "day jobs", so to speak, which obviously puts a massive hurt on our output.  Of course, my perspective is a bit skewed since I'm part-time and am not relying 100% on Arcen income even now; Chris would be able to give a more concrete picture.

But we don't need to talk about the bad-case-scenario all that much, we still have a number of good opportunities to turn this around.  We just realized that we need to do that soon, hence all this.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Lancefighter on September 15, 2010, 02:47:41 PM
ouch, that banner is huge >.> was thinking id throw it as my eve sig to see what happens, but with an image that huge it stands a greater chance of being removed quicker  :-X
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: mlaskus on September 15, 2010, 02:50:10 PM
For the galaxy map shots, a mature gamestate is desirable so you can get a reasonably complex border situation; if you don't have one on hand I could post one of the more interesting saves I have ;)

I would certainly appreciate a save game. I usually play against two diff 10 AIs, lately also with Hybrids enabled, so my map rarely features more than a few player held systems. ;)

By the way, I love Hybrids and by extension I hate you.
Don't worry though, it is the same kind of hate I feel towards Terry Cavanagh for making that damn Veni, Vidi, Vici in VVVVVV. ;)

EDIT:
@Lancefighter
Huge? It is standard size for forum banners. I took the dimensions from here (http://"http://archive.userbars.com/category/Games")
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: keith.lamothe on September 15, 2010, 02:59:26 PM
The save I was thinking of is kinda big, so here's a couple screenshots :)
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Lancefighter on September 15, 2010, 03:00:49 PM
nono, the size of the file - eve sig rules at 24000bytes :x
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Spikey00 on September 15, 2010, 03:18:48 PM
worriedPlayer must be set to true if salesLow and arcenSuffering is true.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: mlaskus on September 15, 2010, 03:20:21 PM
Thanks for the screenshots Keith.

Ah, right, I forgot about the filesize. Yeah, it is animated so it is quite big... :/ But that is only a problem if you actually have to upload it to their server. If you keep it on imageshack or imgur, or pretty much anywhere else they probably won't be bothered by it. Unless, ofcourse, they don't want the forum pages to load long, and that's why they limit the size.

I can make a shorter version later, but first I will concentrate on creating a nice full version. Cutting it into smaller pieces will take me no time then.

EDIT:
@Spikey00
Programmer humour? You are a bad, bad person Spikey :P
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Lancefighter on September 15, 2010, 04:06:34 PM
:\ no their rules state any signature must be within their size.. they dont offer any imagehosting..
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: keith.lamothe on September 15, 2010, 04:09:00 PM
:\ no their rules state any signature must be within their size.. they dont offer any imagehosting..
I think it's very clear that CCP doesn't want other games advertised through those banners, even if it does fit within the file size.  A more relevant question is how many bytes other forums are likely to tolerate, as that helps determine the number of frames we have to work with.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: TheMachineIsSentient on September 15, 2010, 07:17:10 PM
When you get a banner going, post it for everyone to spread the word.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Rustayne on September 15, 2010, 07:25:44 PM
I had an idea for Tidalis for you guys.  Is there any reason you guys couldn't set yourselves up with the big casual websites, like Yahoo! Games, or Shockwave.com, or Real Arcade?  I'd imagine if your trying to target the casual market, these venues would be a great place to put Tidalis in.  My wife is very big in casual games, and those 3 are the main websites she tends to go to play.  I would assume there are probably more venues, but for the most part, I'd imagine that Steam and Impulse aren't where most casual gamers are.  Most use steam for Valve games, or are gamers in general, and Impulse if you like Stardock products, or want to be able to play a game without Impulse running.

The other suggestions throughout this post have been very well thought out, and would of been some of my recommendations as well.  I do really hope you guys can get through this rough patch.  You guys are wonderful people, and your company beliefs and values are a very important aspect to why I love you guys.  You stay true to your fanbase, instead of milking them like most companies.  
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: x4000 on September 15, 2010, 07:30:51 PM
We got in touch with BigFishGames just today.  Shockwave just does flash stuff, to my knowledge.  RealArcade, Yahoo! Games and such actually already distribute AI War, but my contact there has gone rather cold after AI War didn't do much there (just the wrong market, really).  I need to prod him harder to see about Tidalis, you're right.

One other idea we've been batting around is doing a $6.99 micro-expansion for AI War in the November timeframe.  A different focus from CoN by a long-shot, but no features have been finalized and it's still just a maybe-maybe sort of idea.  The idea would be to lump in a bunch of easy-to-add but high-value new features that would be exciting for folks but that we could get done in a month total.  But what are the reactions to that here?  Basically, the idea being that this expansion + CoN would equal in total a bit more content and such than TZR did by itself -- then later, the fourth expansion sometime next year would be full-sized on its own.

No promises, but I just wanted to test the waters and get an early reaction from folks.  So... thoughts?
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: keith.lamothe on September 15, 2010, 07:34:54 PM
No promises, but I just wanted to test the waters and get an early reaction from folks.  So... thoughts?
Yea, we've got some cool ideas, so it wouldn't just be tossing a bunch of stuff in a (virtual) box and selling it... but I really don't want y'all to feel like we're over-milking the AI War cow.  I'm very interested in what people think about the idea of another medium-sized expansion.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: TheMachineIsSentient on September 15, 2010, 07:37:26 PM
I like the idea Chris. There are a lot of things that we could use... Do think you could throw in some bug fixes as well (I really need to fix for what is breaking my game, even restarting on a new game is not fixing it)?

If this is an expansion after the unity release, perhaps you could be celebrating that with maybe a new graphic for ship weapon fire. Anyway, I like the idea of you dropping some downloadable content for money, I'm up for that. If you could throw in even a couple game changing features and some bug fixes, you got my money.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: keith.lamothe on September 15, 2010, 07:43:38 PM
Oh, we'll fix the bugs for free (for all customers) as always, that's a given :)

Could you refresh my memory on the showstopper you're facing?
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Rustayne on September 15, 2010, 07:48:02 PM
Well oddly enough, Shockwave isn't all flash games.  You can download full games from them as well, with an hour time limit, and then buy said game.  They also offer a membership as well, to which if you play 9.95 a month and you can play their full selection.  I don't know for sure how this translates into making money but that is what my wife has told me.  As far as Yahoo, and RealArcade (Gamehouse now), I couldn't locate AI War in either of them.  So they have either been pulled, or are not in their database to search for.  Wife also mentioned a site called IWin.com that offer services like yahoo and such.  I took a quick browse over there and noticed a couple bigger name games, like Puzzle quest 2, for instance, that is it's own game.  

As far as your idea for a $6.99 micro-expansion for AI war, I think that would be fine by most of the loyal base.  Most of us are understanding and care about the issues here at hand, and would love to help out if we could.  If it is something that is feasible to do, then I'd say go for it.  I'd be gladly to pick it up personally.  I don't think your overmilking it, as the Charity with CoN can be marketed alot differently due to the fact that it is for a charity and not for your personal gain.  Yes, it was an extra 4 bucks, but it went to somewhere good, and most people have no issue with donating a few bucks to a charity that will aid and help kids out.  Marketing wise, that is how I would handle it if there were to be opposition that your releasing too many expansions.  
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: dumpsterKEEPER on September 15, 2010, 07:51:44 PM
No promises, but I just wanted to test the waters and get an early reaction from folks.  So... thoughts?
Yea, we've got some cool ideas, so it wouldn't just be tossing a bunch of stuff in a (virtual) box and selling it... but I really don't want y'all to feel like we're over-milking the AI War cow.  I'm very interested in what people think about the idea of another medium-sized expansion.

Personally, I'd be happy to buy any new expansion (micro or otherwise) that you guys might come out with that expands the AI War universe. I haven't been able to spend as much time hanging around the forums for a while due to RL stuff, but I'm happy to continue supporting Arcen (and encouraging those I know to do the same) as I've really enjoyed everything you've put out so far.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: TheMachineIsSentient on September 15, 2010, 07:52:03 PM
http://www.arcengames.com/forums/index.php/topic,7048.0.html
This is my bug, the mercenary dock isn't working properly. Even starting a new game...that's why I was initially suggesting I reinstall unless it is due to the configuration of the game that I create.

Do you prefer private messages( do we even do that on this forum?)?
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Shardz on September 15, 2010, 08:16:34 PM
We got in touch with BigFishGames just today.  Shockwave just does flash stuff, to my knowledge.  RealArcade, Yahoo! Games and such actually already distribute AI War, but my contact there has gone rather cold after AI War didn't do much there (just the wrong market, really).  I need to prod him harder to see about Tidalis, you're right.

One other idea we've been batting around is doing a $6.99 micro-expansion for AI War in the November timeframe.  A different focus from CoN by a long-shot, but no features have been finalized and it's still just a maybe-maybe sort of idea.  The idea would be to lump in a bunch of easy-to-add but high-value new features that would be exciting for folks but that we could get done in a month total.  But what are the reactions to that here?  Basically, the idea being that this expansion + CoN would equal in total a bit more content and such than TZR did by itself -- then later, the fourth expansion sometime next year would be full-sized on its own.

No promises, but I just wanted to test the waters and get an early reaction from folks.  So... thoughts?

Yeah! My thoughts are "sign me up!"!  :D

I pretty much auto-purchase AI War expansions without even thinking about it, so I might be the wrong one to ask...but, yes, I love the idea of more content in whatever way you decide to produce it. You could do a nice major story arc that would branch off in some obscure direction to keep us all on our toes...or maybe to provide alternate game modes or something. Whatever it is, count me in.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Vinraith on September 15, 2010, 08:23:35 PM
I think for most folks here a new AI War expansion would be an automatic purchase. I know I'd buy it, probably twice.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Sizzle on September 15, 2010, 08:35:44 PM
As far as a micro expansion, at that price point it would pretty much be an automatic buy for me.   For one thing, anything I can get several hours of entertainment from that costs less than movie tickets is an automatic win.  Secondly, you've already cemented your reputation as one of the better development teams out there for community interaction, which clinches it for me, really.

Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: keith.lamothe on September 15, 2010, 09:21:10 PM
I was thinking the feedback would be positive on the idea of another expansion, glad to hear that :)

More generally, we're really touched by the outpouring of support from folks (fans, journalists, distributors, etc; lots of people care :) ) and we're very grateful.  At Arcen we've always put more into the developer-customer relationship than is strictly required by the transaction, and we're very gratified to see so many people do the same in return (both now and in the past). 

But we certainly want the bulk of the solution to our financial difficulties to be making and selling really good games :)  And for a number of reasons another AI War expansion is probably the best way to do that in the near term, and could really help us get into a better position for other projects like Alden Ridge.

We'll see :)
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: keith.lamothe on September 15, 2010, 09:25:07 PM
http://www.arcengames.com/forums/index.php/topic,7048.0.html
This is my bug, the mercenary dock isn't working properly. Even starting a new game...that's why I was initially suggesting I reinstall unless it is due to the configuration of the game that I create.

Do you prefer private messages( do we even do that on this forum?)?
Oh, ok, I just hadn't thought of that one as a showstopper :)  Certainly will fix it once the Unity port is in beta, though. And forum posts are much preferable to PMs in general, unless it's something best handled privately (conflicts between users, etc).
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: ShadowOTE on September 15, 2010, 09:27:42 PM
Hey, haven't been on in awhile, but I did get around to picking up Tidalis yesterday, and CoN has been pretty neat so far. Good luck to you guys!
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: keith.lamothe on September 15, 2010, 09:28:38 PM
Thanks much for the support :)
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Fleet on September 15, 2010, 09:48:17 PM
AI War expansions are automatic buys for me, and I would imagine for many of your customers that visit these forums. Keep the expansions coming regularly, early and often! A smaller expansion would get some money flowing sooner, which sounds like a good way to go.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: colonyan on September 16, 2010, 12:00:28 AM
I bought AI wars just after it was released. Up until now, original alone amused me so much that
didn't thought of buying expansion. And here goes this new of tight sales.
I just bought Zenith Remnant and playing right now and .... Wow. Isn't just music too good?
Really adds sinister mood here. I'm also excited to find out new elements.
I want Arcen Games to keep making its games. Short of words but good luck. b
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: keith.lamothe on September 16, 2010, 12:01:33 AM
Thank you for the support :)
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: mlaskus on September 16, 2010, 05:50:24 AM
When you get a banner going, post it for everyone to spread the word.

Yeah, that was the general idea. ;)

A little progress update, I recorded some videos in AI War, but GIF's 256 colour palette limit is making them look terrible.
I guess I could use PNGs instead, but some browsers(Chrome, Safari, IE) are still unable to display animations in this superior format. :(
I am going to experiment with the graphical settings in-game, maybe disable the backgrounds, they are lovely but I would rather lose them than the prettiness of that Riot Starship's force field.

EDIT:
I think I have a pretty good idea now how it should look.

1.AI WAR

2.I <3 AI WAR

3.I <3 dissapears, AI WAR moves to the edge
Animation starts fading in

Heavy beam + riot

4.Every choice has a consequence

Star map

5.Will you be victorious?

Forcfield defense

Zoomed out battle

6.Will you even survive?

Something big flies through the view... Avenger? / The view scrolls over a massive AI Fleet

A nuke comes into view and detonates / A home command station is overwhelmed and detonates

Fade to white
Fade to black
Loop
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: snrub_guy on September 16, 2010, 06:20:22 AM
Any expansions (hell, probably any games) from Arcen are insta-buys for me. Any time a new expansion comes out I get another load of hours out of the game. Sounds good to me. Hope everything works out, and I'll try to spread the word.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: jordot42 on September 16, 2010, 06:45:24 AM
     $6.99?!  What an exceptional deal!  I'd pay triple that easily.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: BlackCobra on September 16, 2010, 07:15:54 AM
As far as a micro expansion, at that price point it would pretty much be an automatic buy for me.   For one thing, anything I can get several hours of entertainment from that costs less than movie tickets is an automatic win.  Secondly, you've already cemented your reputation as one of the better development teams out there for community interaction, which clinches it for me, really.

so true

i would buy an expansion immediately
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Ixolite on September 16, 2010, 08:03:41 AM
Not sure if that was suggested or even considered before, but...

How about using those pesky torrent sites full of so called pirates to your advantage? Those are really good at spreading the word out, but it would require taking some risk. Don't know how difficult would it be to prepare a special edition of the game solely for that purpose but my ideas would be for example:

- Spreading out the demo to as many torrent sites as possible, but with longer time limit - say 10 hours. Why? 3 hours, as it is now, is rather short for AI War, you can barely scratch the surface, especially if you need to go through tutorial first. Actually, tutorial could be without a time limit itself. Anyway, if someone doesn't like the game in 10 hour mark, chances are he won't buy it or even tell anyone about it anyway. If one does however, it might be better encouragement to buy full version once he committed two or three evenings on it already. 10 hours is not really long enough to finish a single game for the first time, could be one more prod into getting the real deal.

- Creating a stripped down version with only basic options enabled but without a time limit at the same time. So only simple ships selection, two or three AI types per difficulty level, one maps layout, limited factions and modifiers, no achievements etc. All those options that are taken out should still be visible and described properly, so that you know what are you missing from the game. Having game in such state out on torrent sites could generate some attention.

In addition to releasing special demo/stripped version to torrent sites, you could try advertising your move via press releases (including TorrentFreak for example), stressing out that you're giving away large portion of the game for FREE (like: "get 10 hours of game time for FREE" or something like that) - don't call it a demo, make it feel special and out of the ordinary. You might also think about a discount code hidden (not too deep so people can find it) in the torrent release - word of mouth might spread thanks to it.

Added bonus of that approach is that if it catches on, the torrent will live for itself without much need to provide bandwidth for downloads and taking care of the attention around it.

There is of course a matter of the game getting cracked, but those not willing to buy it won't buy it anyway, while those who get the cracked game and like it enough might buy it eventually and spread the word some more in the mean time.

Just a quick ideas that I'm sure need refining and considering the potential risks, but I do think it is worth exploring in one way or another.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: mlaskus on September 16, 2010, 08:10:47 AM
@Ixolite, sadly, the game has been all over torrent/warez sites since it got released. I doubt a stripped down version of the game, or a demo would get a lot of attention there.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: superking on September 16, 2010, 08:27:12 AM
Any expansions (hell, probably any games) from Arcen are insta-buys for me.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Rustayne on September 16, 2010, 08:27:35 AM
Have to agree with Mlaskus on that one Ixolite.  I know I had no problem finding the game on a torrent as of 5 mins ago.  If there is already a cracked copy of the game out there, I sadly doubt a watered down version would do very well on torrent sites.   I could be wrong, but if they downloaded the demo/stripped down version, and liked it, but didn't want to pay the 20 bucks for the game, they would find the cracked copy and play that instead.  Your idea has some merit though I think.  If there was a way to show people who torrent things that AI War is a great game, there is a chance that they would buy it.  It really would depend on the community of the torrent site in question.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: keith.lamothe on September 16, 2010, 08:52:52 AM
Yea, while we're really not going to say "blah blah blah piracy is to blame"... judging by some recent data (both general and specific), I'd say it's quite possible that at least 75% of the people getting a full version of AI War are doing so via electronic-five-finger-discount, and an even higher percentage for Tidalis.

But it's just not relevant, for a ton of reasons.  We have to make our plans as if those people just didn't exist (no DRM, etc) because sales-wise they don't ;)  Though hopefully some of them do eventually do the right thing, but I don't want to get into that discussion.

Anyway, I only mention it in response to the torrent suggestion.  A good idea in theory, but yea, it wouldn't get a lot of attention next to the full versions flying around on the same torrents.

As for the demo time, I think 3 hours is plenty when taken together with the intermediate tutorial.  That's like 7 hours of play (possibly more), and at that point you've probably got a pretty good idea whether you like the basic concept of the game or not.  There is the problem that they just don't see the mature stages of a real gamestate that way (particularly with the various minor factions, etc), and I hope to be able to do something about that more directly in the future.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: mlaskus on September 16, 2010, 09:04:15 AM
Maybe the updated tutorial could feature a section describing possible interactions with minor factions?
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: eRe4s3r on September 16, 2010, 09:19:27 AM
Whats more puzzling is how Minecraft could even make any sales given that there is not a single "game" in this game. Its just a sandbox with blocks, like a inferior form of lego. Man, i must be getting old or something ;P Or maybe its that i can make better looking things from blocks, for free... the curse of a 3d-designer!

As for pirates.. pirates are not customers, theres 0 point to focus on piracy to increase sales. And thats that. The only way to combat piracy is for arcengames to make online account registrations and 1 serial-per-user DRM. That would cut down on piracy, and net you exactly NILL extra sales.

I think, that Tidalis is way too complex to appeal to any casual crowd. Its not a casual game (like nearly no high-planning and skill puzzlers). As for AI-War well, it is a Niche genre within the RTS genre (so twice Niche).

Now i can't really say more - i like AI War but even i have to admit that the amount of time one has to invest in even a single game is too drastic - the game needs a short game mode.

Also, i think with gamers getting older they also grave for more mature serious storylines (not the kinky mature kind) i call it "hard-sci-fi" but not sure thats the genre... anyhow... I wish there'd be a "story" mode in AI-War, with random events, quests, characters and heck, even my own flagship - but that'd be way too much work....
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: superking on September 16, 2010, 09:29:39 AM
piracy can be hugely reduced if someone is willing to take 15 minutes out of each day to tour the warez sites reporting RS/MU/HF/FD etc links.

I still think the best way to get attention is a good trailer
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: keith.lamothe on September 16, 2010, 09:32:47 AM
The only way to combat piracy is for arcengames to make online account registrations and 1 serial-per-user DRM. That would cut down on piracy, and net you exactly NILL extra sales.
Exactly, and then they just make a keygen.  They already have, which is kind of amusing since they didn't actually need to, but anyway, I don't want to spend any more words on the subject ;)

Quote
the game needs a short game mode
I agree, though not a mode that actually "shortens" the overall game (I don't think it would scale in a fun way), but via short scenarios.  Like "break the stalemate" stuff, where you can jump into the middle of an interesting gamestate and have a primary objective different than "kill the AI home command stations".  So the gameplay itself need not change much, just the positioning of the "start" and "end" points within that campaign.

Quote
Also, i think with gamers getting older they also grave for more mature serious storylines (not the kinky mature kind) i call it "hard-sci-fi" but not sure thats the genre... anyhow... I wish there'd be a "story" mode in AI-War, with random events, quests, characters and heck, even my own flagship - but that'd be way too much work....
Actually I've thought a lot about that; the main thing isn't the work involved, but that it'd basically be a different game.  There's a lot of stuff I'd like to do that just doesn't fit within the scope of AI War, and trying too hard to stuff it in there would hurt everything.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: pallenda on September 16, 2010, 09:52:29 AM
I didn't plan on getting Tidalis but for the extra support to you guys I did anyway, maybe the game will grow on me. (I normally more into action puzzles or whatever you call them like tetris/Chime).

This place might be a better place to ask this question than the other place I asked it in. I wonder if I can just buy several CoN copies and give away keys to my friends who have AI War?
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: keith.lamothe on September 16, 2010, 09:57:20 AM
I didn't plan on getting Tidalis but for the extra support to you guys I did anyway, maybe the game will grow on me. (I normally more into action puzzles or whatever you call them like tetris/Chime).
Tidalis has both the "brainteaser" type puzzles and the action type puzzles.  If you fire the game up and play through the tutorials the last two are basically easy action boards.  After that you can try the Action Sampler to see some of the crazy things we do there.  Adventure mode is a mix; the actual progression is action levels, but there are "hidden" brainteaser levels.

Quote
This place might be a better place to ask this question than the other place I asked it in. I wonder if I can just buy several CoN copies and give away keys to my friends who have AI War?
Yes, that works just fine (same for TZR, too); and the proceeds for CoN go to the Child's Play charity :)
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: eRe4s3r on September 16, 2010, 09:57:36 AM
I also think that the games should cost more but thats just me. Arcengames has low prices for games, and particularly the CoN expansion is way too cheap.

Also the 4.0 conversion should provide space to release an "AI War: Unity" with all the addons in, for 29.99$

And everyone who has bought AI War and Zenith and CON gets (for each) 25% off. Yes, it'd be mean but that would imo be a fair pricing.

Its also important the Tutorial gets updated and "fancied up" ;) Explosions and Effects, and that stuff. With Unity we FINALLY get shader effects so the graphic quality can go through the roof.

Well, my 2ct ;p
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Ixolite on September 16, 2010, 09:58:42 AM
OK, I know torrents and piracy is a touchy subject but my thinking is: since you cannot do anything about it and cannot realistically fight it, why not trying to use it to your advantage instead.

Quote from: mlaskus
@Ixolite, sadly, the game has been all over torrent/warez sites since it got released. I doubt a stripped down version of the game, or a demo would get a lot of attention there.

Just checked couple sites and seriously - the game is close to non-existant there. 14 people on a torrent is hardly any attention at all.

Quote from: Rustayne
Have to agree with Mlaskus on that one Ixolite.  I know I had no problem finding the game on a torrent as of 5 mins ago.  If there is already a cracked copy of the game out there, I sadly doubt a watered down version would do very well on torrent sites.   I could be wrong, but if they downloaded the demo/stripped down version, and liked it, but didn't want to pay the 20 bucks for the game, they would find the cracked copy and play that instead.  Your idea has some merit though I think.  If there was a way to show people who torrent things that AI War is a great game, there is a chance that they would buy it.  It really would depend on the community of the torrent site in question.

Yeah, you can find it if you are looking for it. My point was rather to make it really visible there, make it official. Tell people to look for it, make them see the name, make them see its a popular download. Also, from my experience, people tend to like artists who don't blame piracy for everything and try to work out new ways to reach the torrent users instead. Even if it means that the cracked full version gets more attention - again, usually people who get the cracked version wouldn't but the game anyway. But they have to know about it first, not to buy it consciously. I know I may seem rather controversial in my view of this matter but my point was to use torrent sites to gain attention and let more people actually know about the game.

Quote from: eRe4s3r
As for pirates.. pirates are not customers, theres 0 point to focus on piracy to increase sales. And thats that. The only way to combat piracy is for arcengames to make online account registrations and 1 serial-per-user DRM. That would cut down on piracy, and net you exactly NILL extra sales.
You're wrong about that. Piracy, like it or not, is a fact and you can argue that some of the pirated copies are lost sales. But in the same time, it is also an advertising and test driving - sort of try before you buy, parallel to official demos (which in case of larger producers often drastically differ from the delivered product). Also, any copy protection can and will be broken as long as the game is running on the "client" computer - there is no 100% successful copy protection. On the other hand, a lot of people are willing to pay for quality product, even if they found out about it via said electronic-five-finger-discount.


I just think this is worth considering, especially if it doesn't require a lot of additional resources to carry out. Publicity is one of the things Arcen needs at the moment from what I understand, and making a lot of official, positive "noise" about torrents might be a way to gain some of it.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: keith.lamothe on September 16, 2010, 10:06:25 AM
I'm politely requesting that the discussion of piracy go quietly away now ;)  There are some interesting points, but conversations on that topic never seem to end well.

I also think that the games should cost more but thats just me. Arcengames has low prices for games, and particularly the CoN expansion is way too cheap.
Well, particularly in this market, the relationship between "price per unit" and "price per unit * units sold" is heavily non-linear.  It's quite possible to make more money selling something for $10 than $20, for example.

Quote
Its also important the Tutorial gets updated and "fancied up" ;) Explosions and Effects, and that stuff. With Unity we FINALLY get shader effects so the graphic quality can go through the roof.
Yea, we're hoping to make the tutorial updates a priority soon.  As for the graphics that's up to Chris, but we are very excited about getting a proper set of tools in that regard, for sure.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Ixolite on September 16, 2010, 10:17:22 AM
I was merely suggesting using torrent sites as a promo tool - mentioning the piracy was a byproduct of argumentation there since it is common to think torrent=pirate. But I guess I kind of expected that and I won't pursue the matter any further.

On a side note, I am trying to spread the word out to my friends ;)
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: keith.lamothe on September 16, 2010, 10:22:03 AM
I was merely suggesting using torrent sites as a promo tool - mentioning the piracy was a byproduct of argumentation there since it is common to think torrent=pirate. But I guess I kind of expected that and I won't pursue the matter any further.
Yea, I wasn't taking issue with what you said, I just know how discussions even on the periphery of that topic get nasty and unproductive fast and didn't want to derail this very helpful thread.

Quote
On a side note, I am trying to spread the word out to my friends ;)
Thank you very much :)
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Ktoff on September 16, 2010, 11:36:44 AM
If you want to help, gift a copy to a friend :-)

I played the Tidalis demo and it wasn't for me. Instead of buying a game i probably won't play i prefer gifting copies of AI war in the hope of building a multiplayer circle. Up till now i have one failure and one semi-failure/semi-sucess( half full? ). Not what i wanted but: Two more Sales for Arcen :-)

I love the no-DRM stance of AI War, DRM games always feel kind of broken (and i still use Steam...). The last time i tried to install my Adobe Suite (4th install) i noticed that you have to deactivate your old installs if you want to install again. I managed to recover a broken windows partition to deactivate one version, but the others are gone and have been for some time... If i run into a similar problem i might just download a cracked version. Works as well only without the bother of my several hundred € Version.

@keith: feel free to delete that last paragraph, i fear i am beeing sucked into the DRM discussion ;)
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: keith.lamothe on September 16, 2010, 11:38:48 AM
Thanks for the support :)

And no worries on the DRM thing; I'm not trying to be draconian, just want to avoid triggering a corollary of Godwin's Law ;)
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: keith.lamothe on September 16, 2010, 11:44:18 AM
By the way, for those of you trying to get your friends interested in AI War (thank you!), if they don't like it that doesn't mean there's nothing to be gained; if you could give us their feedback (or better yet, herd them to these forums so they can tell us themselves) that could be really helpful.  Obviously there are things we can't or won't change but often there's something that we can do.  Also, I've found it's often possible to take those stated desires and distill them down to the real "itch", and then find another way of scratching that which does fit with our philosophy.

But, to take an example, if I'd never seen anyone ask for a more dangerous/proactive AI opponent I probably never would have cooked up the Hybrid Hives (which still need a lot of work, but are doing fairly well for beta).  We can't really change the basic design of the overall AI, but that didn't mean we couldn't add another opponent to brutally thrash entertain the people wanting that kind of thing :)
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: mlaskus on September 16, 2010, 12:08:33 PM
...we couldn't add another opponent to brutally thrash entertain the people wanting that kind of thing :)

Well, I certainly wouldn't mind... ;)
What I really crave for lately though is some kind of non-suicidal, non-static ally that actually develops alongside you while you expand your territory. Something like Hybrids but on your side. It is just that I cannot seem to convince my friends to play with me, and especially longer games can feel a bit lonely.

I've been meaning to write about it in the suggestions forum but I haven't gotten around to it yet. I have some ideas how could it work, so I will make a topic later.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: keith.lamothe on September 16, 2010, 12:13:44 PM
...we couldn't add another opponent to brutally thrash entertain the people wanting that kind of thing :)

Well, I certainly wouldn't mind... ;)
Hybrids will get more dangerous, rest assured :)  At least with Advanced on; the Basic ones will get more interesting but I want them to be playable by sane players so they don't feel left out.

Quote
What I really crave for lately though is some kind of non-suicidal, non-static ally that actually develops alongside you while you expand your territory. Something like Hybrids but on your side.
Quite funny, actually, just last night I was talking to Chris about an idea very much along those lines, for the November mini-expansion :)  I don't want to talk too much about it yet as plans are very much up in the air, etc.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: mlaskus on September 16, 2010, 12:22:01 PM
Oh cool :)

I will make that thread when I finish that banner I'm working on. We will see how similar our ideas were.
I have a bit of a hard time getting those animated scenes to look good. Having such a limited space available makes it hard fit anything there without panning the scene wildly or making it long... and I cannot make it too long, or use too many colours as the file size and the colour pallete are only going to get worse as it grows, but I hope you will like it. ;)
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: keith.lamothe on September 16, 2010, 12:24:32 PM
Yea, I think my thoughts on the banner were a bit ambitious ;)  Might be good as part of a trailer, though.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: mlaskus on September 16, 2010, 03:58:31 PM
Oh man, I just had a nasty surprise. :D

Photoshop can export at most 500 frames long animation... that's about half of the banner.
I will either have to work around it somehow or significantly shorten the whole thing. Anyway, I will post the end result here.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: keith.lamothe on September 16, 2010, 04:00:09 PM
Wow, 500 frames would be a lot of bytes, let alone more ;)  But I'll be very interested to see the result, in any event.  Can then see just how much data we're talking about, in relation to not making ourselves a nuisance to forum readers ;)
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: mlaskus on September 16, 2010, 04:12:50 PM
Those 500 frames take only 500kB of space. That is with default compression, I guess I could make it significantly smaller without losing much quality if I played around with different settings. You are right about being a nuisance though, I will refrain from posting about this, until I'm finished, from now on. ;)
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: keith.lamothe on September 16, 2010, 04:15:23 PM
Oh, I certainly don't mean that your posts are a nuisance, haha, I meant that having to download half a meg (or more) of image due to someone's sig might be ;)  But we'll see what it turns out being.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Sizzle on September 16, 2010, 04:21:01 PM
By the way, for those of you trying to get your friends interested in AI War (thank you!), if they don't like it that doesn't mean there's nothing to be gained; if you could give us their feedback (or better yet, herd them to these forums so they can tell us themselves) that could be really helpful.  Obviously there are things we can't or won't change but often there's something that we can do.  Also, I've found it's often possible to take those stated desires and distill them down to the real "itch", and then find another way of scratching that which does fit with our philosophy.

I tried to get my brother interested,  but the gameplay did not turn him on, even though he's very much into conquer the galaxy games like Master of Orion and such -- he particularly enjoys Sword of the Stars by indy developer Kerberos Productions.  Usually he's *very* involved in any forums for games he enjoys, so perhaps I can get him to post at least something here....

But the feedback in a nutshell from him is that he felt that with the fleet sizes in AI War that all the units 'felt' the same, or were simply variations on a theme, there may be tons of units but when you have a swarm of a bazillion going around, they're all just flying guns that go pew pew -- build a few hundred ships, fling them at the enemy.  (He's much into designing his own ships, also enjoys Gratuitous Space Battles).

Personally I don't think that's the case, but again I'm passing along 'feels like'  not 'is'.  I'll try to finagle him posting something more lengthy.  Do you want the feedback in a particular place?  I know we have the Suggestions forum, but for one-off posts that might not have the person coming back....
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: keith.lamothe on September 16, 2010, 04:29:32 PM
If it's just general feedback rather than concrete suggestions then the plain ol' "AI War" forum is fine; the one this topic is in.

And yea, I really really love ship design and really wish a proper MoO/MoO2 descendent was with us (I tried SotS briefly but didn't like it, I'll take another look at some point).  That was my big motivation behind the module system that's used by the Riot Control Starship (and Avengers and Hybrids, but those are AI-only); what does he think of those?  Certainly it's not like full-blown ship-design, but it's pretty good for something that's an RTS/4X instead of an actual 4X.  We've had plans for a while to add more modular ships, we just have massive tons of other stuff keeping us busy (good stuff, just not that).

As for the ships all feeling the same, yea, I'd say that's more of a feeling than an actuality.  But in easier situations it is quite possible to just lump your ships together and throw them in the general direction of the enemy-colored stuff and win.  I found the same to be true in the MoO games ;)  We're also doing various things to make the "blob" approach further and further away from the ideal, although that comes with an increased need to make it easy to execute tactics on the fly (which is pretty good now if you know the advanced features of the interface, but that also takes time to learn).
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: mlaskus on September 16, 2010, 04:40:29 PM
Don't even mention Master of Orion 2 if you want that finished in any realistic time scale! :P

Sorry, that was my last post on the banner's topic before it's finished. I will go back to cutting my animations and sobbing quietly...
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Sizzle on September 16, 2010, 04:41:38 PM
And yea, I really really love ship design and really wish a proper MoO/MoO2 descendent was with us (I tried SotS briefly but didn't like it, I'll take another look at some point).  That was my big motivation behind the module system that's used by the Riot Control Starship (and Avengers and Hybrids, but those are AI-only); what does he think of those? 

We never did get to riot ships in the couple quick games we tried (demo only;base game only), unfortunately.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Legendsmith on September 16, 2010, 04:56:12 PM
Whats more puzzling is how Minecraft could even make any sales given that there is not a single "game" in this game. Its just a sandbox with blocks, like a inferior form of lego. Man, i must be getting old or something ;P Or maybe its that i can make better looking things from blocks, for free... the curse of a 3d-designer!
I know I haven't posted much so you're liable to ignore me again, but I did explain what I believe to be a good part of the reason minecraft sells so well.

Just going to add to my previous post (http://www.arcengames.com/forums/index.php/topic,7059.msg56334.html#msg56334) here:
When you're talking to people on the forum you're talking to people who have already bought the game (with some exceptions).
As I said before, there are places where spreading the word would be a good idea, SomethingAwful, 4chan's video games board (if you don't mind the trolls and language) and Facepunch, you're going to be talking to potential customers.

As for minecraft, I play it and it is fun; People like making things. If you've only played creative mode I can see where you're coming from with your comment, but the survival/Alpha is a much more in depth.
There are monsters and animals (mobs), tools, minecarts (everyone loves them), farming, a damage system, day, where you build and night, were you defend yourself or mine for ore.


We never did get to riot ships in the couple quick games we tried (demo only;base game only), unfortunately.
Damn. If its possible, you should try them. They're great fun. (Not sure if Riots are available in the demo, I bought AI War before they were added).
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: keith.lamothe on September 16, 2010, 05:01:54 PM
Riots are available in the trial version, yes :)

Earlier today I read some of the RockPaperShotgun AAR on Minecraft that Quinn is doing, and it looks like a lot of fun.

As for interacting on those specific boards... well, personally I do mind trolling and language; a lot.  But I'm also pretty thick-skinned so I can deal with that part.  The other part, however, is the sheer time involved.  We already interact on these forums quite a bit and it's a lot of fun to do so, but we have to actually develop games sometime ;)
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Ozymandiaz on September 16, 2010, 05:03:26 PM
This is dire news indeed :/.

I will use what channels I got, but tbh Arcen forums is one of the forums I am most active on now a days (in addition to eve-o). I have not been on the Cvi forums or Introvision forums for ages, I guess a revisit is in order :)

I know of one forum however that might be interested in such a game. I will explore that possibility, and If I am right it might net some interest.

I shall be as your messenger onto the realms of EVE! Let them hear my songs of praise and respond in kind..
But mostly, itll just be me and zeba going on about how awesome AI war is :( I'm afraid its been tried many times, and I am just not sure the people of eve are willing to convert to such a complex strategy game..   :-\
However, no effort shall be spared in the spreading of the Good Word!

I tired to convince people in EVE as well. But the EVE community is so bitter :P That will not deter me tho, I shall attempt it more often, if I take forum moderation flak form it I do not care (but I do think it is allowed to talk about it to some degree, since I see posts like that other times) . People seem to be attracted to forbidden fruit ;)
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Ozymandiaz on September 16, 2010, 05:07:16 PM
Any expansions (hell, probably any games) from Arcen are insta-buys for me.

Let me ditto this as well.

I will gladly buy a AI War expansion. AI War has been the most interesting RTS game i have ever had my hands on, and I can happily spend hours on each of my campaigns. Its just so deep and interesting. Truly a gem among all the dull rocks in the gaming world.

I guess I like AI war since I need to think a bit more, and that all the focus is on gameplay. I do not know why it has not cached on more.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: keith.lamothe on September 16, 2010, 05:12:59 PM
I guess I like AI war since I need to think a bit more, and that all the focus is on gameplay. I do not know why it has not cached on more.
Actually AI War has sold pretty well for its first 16 months (or something like that) of sales.  Considering that it's an indie niche RTS game it's done very well.  The issue is that eventually a given title's sales will drop off, and eventually it did.  We expected that and that's fine.  The problem was that our next product (Tidalis) did not do well (yet, we still have high hopes for it).  Thankfully Chris was really conservative in his estimates and we had a lot of savings.  But that can only last so long without having to really scale back basically everything.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: eRe4s3r on September 16, 2010, 05:20:00 PM

I know I haven't posted much so you're liable to ignore me again, but I did explain what I believe to be a good part of the reason minecraft sells so well.


No no ;) I was nay Ignoring you, only not reading through all the comments ;p If thats so then that is interesting - but Viral Marketing does not work on demand. Particularly not on /v/ or SA.. so not sure that is applicable to a totally NOT sandbox like Tidalis or AI-War. Still an interesting Theory ;)

Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: mlaskus on September 16, 2010, 05:26:32 PM
Earlier today I read some of the RockPaperShotgun AAR on Minecraft that Quinn is doing, and it looks like a lot of fun.

Yes it is :)

I haven't played much, only a couple of hours but I already have a few quite extraordinary stories to tell. Like exploring an enormous cave system for 10 hours to finally find my way back to the surface located, like 10 meters from my original entry point. Or creating an artificial waterfall at the top of a lean, tall mountain and then using it to hide a secret entrance to my mansion located at the top.

The only thing I don't like about Minecraft is how there is no demo version. You can play some outdated build, but it hardly gives you the right idea of how the current version plays. If you would like to try it out, I could send you my account name and pass in a PM.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Ozymandiaz on September 16, 2010, 05:27:47 PM
I guess I like AI war since I need to think a bit more, and that all the focus is on gameplay. I do not know why it has not cached on more.
Actually AI War has sold pretty well for its first 16 months (or something like that) of sales.  Considering that it's an indie niche RTS game it's done very well.  The issue is that eventually a given title's sales will drop off, and eventually it did.  We expected that and that's fine.  The problem was that our next product (Tidalis) did not do well (yet, we still have high hopes for it).  Thankfully Chris was really conservative in his estimates and we had a lot of savings.  But that can only last so long without having to really scale back basically everything.

That is good to hear at least, but non the less, for such a deep game I would have expected it to reach a huge popularity. I think it just that awesome what you guys are doing at Arcen. And despite me not being a puzzle fanatic, I really like Tidalis as well! ;)

I guess many of us in the community is just not buying the games, as such, we kind of buy into the community, buy into the idea of Arcen. We believe in Arcen as a company. Maybe if you could try and convey that spirit, the spirit of Arcen, out more? I have no idea how that can be done, but I do know that people often buy into things if say the company clearly expresses a belief they hold and cherish, a goal of sorts that has nothing to do with monetary gains. I believes Arcen is such a company in reality, that you really do believe in making good games for the sake of making good games, but maybe to get that message out more clearly?

Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: keith.lamothe on September 16, 2010, 05:37:14 PM
I guess many of us in the community is just not buying the games, as such, we kind of buy into the community, buy into the idea of Arcen. We believe in Arcen as a company. Maybe if you could try and convey that spirit, the spirit of Arcen, out more? I have no idea how that can be done, but I do know that people often buy into things if say the company clearly expresses a belief they hold and cherish, a goal of sorts that has nothing to do with monetary gains. I believes Arcen is such a company in reality, that you really do believe in making good games for the sake of making good games, but maybe to get that message out more clearly?
Yea, that spirit, so to speak, is why I'm working here.  But it's a tricky thing to try to spread the word about, basically only our customers can do that.  We can state our philosophy and motivation, but it's really only you folks that can testify to how true we are to that.  And from the discussions I've seen elsewhere y'all have been doing a very good job of that :)
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Ktoff on September 16, 2010, 06:49:33 PM
Well the feedback from my friends was that it is too complex and takes ages to play. In virtually every other strategy game you move along a tech path that branches from time to time. Here everything is open from the beginning (after that you only unlock higher tiers).

This is not something i want changed in this game, but this makes this game (somehow expected) not very suitable for casual gamers.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: superking on September 16, 2010, 07:06:26 PM
^ agree, this has made it difficult to introduce to my freinds. problem is, I am only interested in complicated games- casual gaming on the PC disgusts me  ;D
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: TheMachineIsSentient on September 16, 2010, 07:06:48 PM
Well the feedback from my friends was that it is too complex and takes ages to play. In virtually every other strategy game you move along a tech path that branches from time to time. Here everything is open from the beginning (after that you only unlock higher tiers).

This is not something i want changed in this game, but this makes this game (somehow expected) not very suitable for casual gamers.

I tell all of my friends as well, and they look at the game and immediately feel intimidated. I explain at length how awesome and deep the gameplay is, and they like that, but at the same time, it's outside the realm of what they think a space game is. To be honest, I've never played a game like this, either. What would really help I think are:

* plots, some sort of rpg elements such as developing a main ship, or perhaps even collecting modules that only appear randomly and hidden inside of maps. Only by playing many campaigns can you even have a shot at finding them all, and realistically, probably not possible. This would totally expand the market for people who are collector type personalities. The modules themselves don't even have to be overpowered; it could be as simple as changing the gun color of your Mark two fighters ships, it could be unlocking a hidden zenith character on some planet, it could be a secret audio track, it could be a new ship type ( both ally and foe), you get the idea. This persistence across games would attract new personalities to your games.

Please comment on this! I'm getting more excited the more I think about it.  ;D


* a story. I know somebody already mentioned this, and Keith you already replied, but I'm just going to say it... A campaign, even a campaign that is already set up a certain way like a mission... A story would be great for some people.

* I don't think graphics are a problem, however, some unique weapons would be nice between classes of ships or even Mark of the ship class.

* optional boss fights. The concept of bosses... People like the challenge of going after some hard to get boss, maybe even a random spawn... This is for achiever personalities ( do you think about gamer psychology?).

* Something to do after you conquer the galaxy. Maybe it is a rescue mission, a "return home" mission, maybe it is a random in-game cutscene.

* ranking at the end of the game. Have the AI analyze some of the game of events for proficiency and give a rundown or some feedback.. Perhaps a ranking like, "score: star commander" ,Fleet Adm., Brig. Gen., dreadnought supreme, so on and so forth....

* missions in game that would reward you with neutral allies, not just lowering the progress meter

Maybe I should be posting this in the suggestion forum? Oh well, what do you think? By the way, I think if tidalis attracted different gamer personalities besides just puzzle fans ( think achiever, collector, Explorer, social, mobile...), it would probably sell more copies.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: mlaskus on September 16, 2010, 07:20:25 PM
Well, I'm almost finished with the banner. Though, I'm disgusted with how it looks after chopping off over half of the stuff that was in it. :(
Every scene was shown from a few perspectives and zoom levels, not only panned around. The text was nicely animated. And it nicely looped as the AI War logo appeared at the end and was moved to the edge of the screen before restarting.

This is how it looks with default compression... ~700kB
(http://i.imgur.com/JPSXF.gif)

And this is the effect of me playing around with compression settings... ~300kB
(http://i.imgur.com/zCaoI.gif)

The timing of some animations is a bit off right now, as I chopped them off and moved around a lot so expect an update later.

EDIT:
Ah, and I dropped the FPS from 30 to 24 to get under the 500 frames limit, so the animation is choppy... :(

EDIT2:
(http://i.imgur.com/ixquq.gif) ~380kB
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: keith.lamothe on September 16, 2010, 07:45:41 PM
Please comment on this! I'm getting more excited the more I think about it.  ;D
Well, remember what I said earlier about not trying to shoehorn a different game into AI War ;)  But we do try to see these kinds of requests to "bust the envelope" and try to distill them into changes that would only "push the envelope".  It's an incremental process, and we have to say "Ok, here's a concrete step we can take that will at least partially scratch that itch without messing up the rest of the game", then take that step, and then ask "Did that help?  Did that Hurt?  Does it look like we can take another step?".  The Hybrid Hives are a good example of this, and we're still in the evaluation phase because they aren't done yet.  But they are an example of a kind of AI that is totally contrary to the design philosophy behind the "main" AI.  But that's ok, so long as it doesn't mess with said main AI.  But because it's an incremental process y'all have to be patient ;)

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* a story. I know somebody already mentioned this, and Keith you already replied, but I'm just going to say it... A campaign, even a campaign that is already set up a certain way like a mission... A story would be great for some people.
Yea, and we do have some of the pieces in place to make that possible, and I have another step in mind for the November mini-expansion.  But this is the sort of thing we have to be really careful about, so it doesn't come off half-baked in some respect.

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* optional boss fights. The concept of bosses... People like the challenge of going after some hard to get boss, maybe even a random spawn... This is for achiever personalities ( do you think about gamer psychology?).
Tried the Avenger yet? ;D  Incidentally there's an achievement for killing it now, though I forget if that's in the public version.

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* Something to do after you conquer the galaxy. Maybe it is a rescue mission, a "return home" mission, maybe it is a random in-game cutscene.
Not so sure about that, I guess it would be more a question of having a minor faction that isn't pacified after you "win", etc.  But mostly I'm interested in stuff that happens before the end-game, since that takes so long to reach anyway.

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* ranking at the end of the game. Have the AI analyze some of the game of events for proficiency and give a rundown or some feedback.. Perhaps a ranking like, "score: star commander" ,Fleet Adm., Brig. Gen., dreadnought supreme, so on and so forth....
We did some work on that but I never got much farther, Tidalis happened, etc.

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* missions in game that would reward you with neutral allies, not just lowering the progress meter
One of the minor factions Chris and I are thinking about for the November mini-expansion would be something along these lines.

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Maybe I should be posting this in the suggestion forum?
If you want to, and normally we really encourage away from having massive catch-all threads, but in this particular case having this one coherent (hopefully) conversation is a good thing, I think.

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Oh well, what do you think?
I think these are good things to think about, and I think we can come up with something you'll like.  But the initial steps are likely to leave you wanting more, just because we can't invent an RPG-within-an-RTS all in one go ;)  Largely because we may get a step or two down that road and everyone realizes "Um, that wasn't such a great idea".

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By the way, I think if tidalis attracted different gamer personalities besides just puzzle fans ( think achiever, collector, Explorer, social, mobile...), it would probably sell more copies.
Achiever: it has achievements, it has high score boards, it has a fairly extensive list of stats, and it has some very challenging levels.
Collector: it has a system of collectibles, and as you get achievements the size of the "plushy pile" gets bigger (of course, you have to find it first).
Explorer: the adventure has quite a few hidden puzzle levels you have to look for.  Granted, that's not "zelda" exploration by any stretch, but it is just a puzzle game after all.

Also, the adventure has a story, for folks who like that kind of thing.  And it has both brainteasers (which are not my cup of tea, though they're really well made) and action levels (which definitely are my cup of tea).

In short, Tidalis already has a lot of features to appeal to several different types of people, I don't know that we reasonably could have made it much broader in the timeframe ;)
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: keith.lamothe on September 16, 2010, 07:55:26 PM
Oh, I forgot to mention a few things regarding Tidalis's features that (in theory) should broaden it's appeal.

You mentioned Social; well: drop-in-drop-out-anytime co-op (and competitive), both local on the same computer or over the network (or both at the same time, for a total of 4 players), an internet matchmaking service (granted, there aren't many people who use it because there aren't many people who use it), with handicap features for players of different skill levels.  FWIW it also has a twitter option for tweeting your high scores (or achievements, iirc).  It also has the editors we used to create the game content, so you can make your own levels and share them with others.

Anyway, not trying to dogpile on you, it just seemed really ironic in light of how much Tidalis does have to appeal to a broad audience, both in terms of gameplay and peripheral features :)
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: TheMachineIsSentient on September 16, 2010, 09:02:23 PM
Wow, are we talking about the same game, Keith? If so, this does not do it justice...(from steam)

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Tidalis is a block-based puzzle game with casual appeal, hardcore depth, and an addictive new "streams" mechanic. The game is brimming over with riffs and variants on that core mechanic with 20 game modes, dozens of special blocks and items, and 115 levels in the adventure mode alone. The basic rules of the game are this: blocks fall down into the board and have a color and an arrow direction. If a stack of blocks exceeds the height of the board, you lose. In order to clear blocks, you must right-click and drag paths through the arrows to set up chain reactions of like-colored blocks.

If this sounds simple, that's because it is -- you'll be lining up lengthy chains within minutes. But you'll be surprised how much brainpower it takes to set up combos of multiple chains, and the many brainteaser-style puzzles include some real stumpers. Tidalis has co-op and competitive multiplayer modes (both online and offline); action-oriented modes and timer-less brainteasers; a lengthy, casual-friendly adventure mode; twenty unique game modes providing innumerable twists to the basic gameplay; dozens of special blocks and items; and over fifty minutes of beautiful music to go with the painterly art.

In short, several games' worth of content are built on top of this core mechanic, which you'll quickly find to be as iconic as it is novel.

  • Puzzle game with casual appeal, hardcore depth, and an addictive new mechanic.
  • Two-player co-op and competitive play (both local and networked).
  • A wide selection of both action-oriented or brainteaser-like levels.
  • Casual-friendly adventure mode, hardcore-focused custom games and vs modes.
  • 20+ game styles, and dozens of items and special blocks.
  • Rich, painterly art style and beautiful music.
  • Players can create and share whole new themes, levels, and adventures.
  • Options for colorblind players, players averse to lots of light and motion, and older computers.



I don't mean to be overly critical, but this page is not good marketing, it said nothing about the exciting features that you mentioned to me in your post. I had no idea they were even in the game, granted I only played for couple hours ( I did the challenge tutorial thing ). Now I want to revisit the game because I think there's a lot more to it than what I thought it had. I wonder if anyone else feels the same way. What a shame!

As far as the RPG elements for AI War, I know it's a gradual process, I know it is iterative... However, I think that the idea of randomness where you can find and collect little modifiers for the game but don't break the game but add a little bit of functionality, maybe some visual changes, maybe a non-game breaking ship, this kind of thing encourages people to load up AI War more and more just to find the hidden treasures of the universe. Is worth it, really... Even iteratively, or expansion 4.0.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: keith.lamothe on September 16, 2010, 09:11:45 PM
Wow, are we talking about the same game, Keith?
Are we talking about the same features page? :)

http://arcengames.com/tidalis_features.php

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    At A Glance
    - Puzzle game with casual appeal, hardcore depth, and an addictive new mechanic.
    - Two-player co-op and competitive play (both local and networked).
    - A wide selection of both action-oriented or brainteaser-like levels.
    - Casual-friendly adventure mode, hardcore-focused custom games and vs modes.
    - 20+ game styles, and dozens of items and special blocks.
    - Rich, painterly art style and beautiful music.
    - Players can create and share whole new themes, levels, and adventures.
    - Options for colorblind players, players averse to lots of light and motion, and older computers.

What Is Tidalis?

Tidalis is a block-based puzzle game with casual appeal, hardcore depth, and an addictive new "streams" mechanic. The basic rules of the game are this: blocks fall down into the board and have a color and an arrow direction. If a stack of blocks exceeds the height of the board, you lose. In order to clear blocks, you must right-click and drag paths through the arrows to set up chain reactions of like-colored blocks.

If this sounds simple, that's because it is -- you'll be lining up lengthy chains within minutes. But you'll be surprised how much brainpower it takes to set up combos of multiple chains, and the many brainteaser-style puzzles include some real stumpers. Tidalis has co-op and competitive multiplayer modes (both online and offline); action-oriented modes and timer-less brainteasers; a lengthy, casual-friendly adventure mode; twenty unique game modes providing innumerable twists to the basic gameplay; dozens of special blocks and items; and over fifty minutes of beautiful music to go with the painterly art.

In short, several games' worth of content are built on top of this core mechanic, which you'll quickly find to be as iconic as it is novel. Get the demo now!

What Makes Tidalis Unique?

What happens when a notable indie strategy developer makes a puzzle game? We have no idea. Our first game happened to be a notable indie strategy game, but we've never considered ourselves tied to any particular genre. Truth is, we made Tidalis because we like puzzle games and we wanted to take our opportunity to innovate in that space.

The "streams" mechanic employed by Tidalis is what makes it so unique -- chain reactions with a dozen blocks are trivially easy to create. This makes the game really easy to get into, but also makes the creation of advanced multi-stage combos more challenging than in other block-based puzzlers. At an advanced level of play, it's the difference between Chess and Checkers; with Tidalis in the hands of an expert, there are more variables to keep in mind as you set up truly elegant interactions.

But never fear: the easier difficulty levels are quite relaxed, and our Zen mode provides a particularly no-rush style of gameplay. The core mechanics are so simple that the two-year-old daughter of one of our staff enjoys playing along with him. And we suppose it goes without saying that many of our mothers are hooked on it, too.

Whether you're just looking for a casual fun time, a deep and strategic puzzle experience, or a series of brain-bending puzzles, we've got you covered. About half of the five staff members working on this game are the hardcore puzzle types, and the other half have completely casual tastes. We've approached this with our usual attention to detail: the mechanics of the timing, chain merging, and other mechanics have been refined to a ridiculous degree to provide an optimal experience in all play styles.

As of 7/14/2010, Version 1.000, The Game Includes:


* Supported Platforms: Mac OSX "Panther" 10.39 or higher, Windows 2000 or later
* Game Styles: Normal, Zen, Sun & Moon, Line Clear, Graviton, Frenzy, Featherweight, Trampoline, Light-Up, Item Survival, Water, Wind, Jumping Bean, Limited Streams, Eater Defense, Solitaire, Speed-Up, Block Swap, Shuffle, Bumpers
* Difficulty ranging from 0-10
* 115 Adventure Levels, 69 Brainteasers, 9 Ranked Boards, 5 Sampler Levels
* Block Sets: Smooth, Faces, Pixel, AI War, Organic, Shapes
* Music/Art Themes: Cavern, Fishing Village, Fishing Village Night, Forest, Forest Night, Night Marsh, Night Marsh Variance, Open Plains, Open Plains Cloudy, Rainy Mud Flats, Tidal Wreckage, Volcano, Windy Mountaintop, Jeweled Palace, River, Snowy Lowlands, Temple, Foothills, Hidden Theme 1, Hidden Theme 2, Hidden Theme 3
* General Special Blocks: Glass, Stone, Tinder, Fire, Ice, Bubble, Charred, Eater, Direction Locked, Color Reactive, Metal Grille, Turnip, Magnet (Repulsor), Magnet (Attractor), Quad Repeater, Flipper (180), Flipper (45), Crystalizer, Color Blocker, Emission Statue, Pit Monster, Sick, Cured, Living Stone, Inverter, Energizer
* Puzzle-only (or special mode) Special Blocks: Plastic, Metal, Wall (Passable), Wall (Solid), Water Fish, Water Balloon, Sponge, Apple, Golden Apple, Empty Block
* Easy, game-integrated game updates
* Mouse or keyboard controls, with keyboard control customization
* Multiple adventure savegames
* In-game tutorials
* Combinations of game modes in custom games
* Fun adventure mode story: Intro Cutscene, 45 Main Story Cutscenes, 6 Hidden Cutscenes, Ending Cutscene
* General Items: Place Color Block, Place Special Block, Can 'O Beans, Extend, Constrain, Crystal, Quake Hammer, Lightning, Question Mark, Huge Boulder, Rainbow, Flood, Icer, Turnipalooza, Color Popper, Fence, Hourglass, Running things on your feet, Feather, Barbells, U-Turn, Wind Burst, Scrambler, Insta-Streams, Molasses-Streams
* Puzzle-only (or special mode) Items: Safety Pin
* VS Modes: Garbage, Endurance, or Freeform
* Co-Op-Only Modes: Sun or Moon, Block Vaporizer, Item Buddies
* Limited Vs AI
* 64 Achievements
* Adventure collectibles and brainteaser titles
* Level Editor, Adventure Editor, and Theme Editor
* Per-player handicaps, co-op items
* Local high scoreboards (daily and overall)
* Network play for up to two computers, with up to two players on each computer (so 2-4 players in all).
* Alternatively, local 2-player multiplayer on a single computer.
* Server listings and filtering.
* Ability to sumbmit high scores and achievements to twitter.
Windows System Requirements
Windows 2000 or later, 32 or 64 bit

* 512 MB RAM (1 GB recommended)
* 1.4Ghz CPU minimum, 1.8 Ghz recommended for background animation or multiplayer
* 600MB Hard Disk Space
* 800x600 or greater screen resolution (32 bit color, 1280x720 recommended)
* Internet Connection or LAN required for networked multiplayer
* There are no particular graphics card requirements; anything from the last 5-8 years should be fine.

Mac OSX System Requirements
Mac OS X "Panther" 10.3.9 or later, Intel or PowerPC based

* 512 MB RAM (1 GB recommended)
* 1.4Ghz CPU minimum, 1.8 Ghz recommended for background animation or multiplayer
* 600MB Hard Disk Space
* 800x600 or greater screen resolution (32 bit color, 1280x720 recommended)
* Internet Connection or LAN required for networked multiplayer

Of course, the steam page is the one much more often seen, but honestly there's a limit to how much we can cram on there.  Perhaps there are some things we could shuffle out and shuffle more important ones in, dunno.

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As far as the RPG elements for AI War, I know it's a gradual process, I know it is iterative... However, I think that the idea of randomness where you can find and collect little modifiers for the game but don't break the game but add a little bit of functionality, maybe some visual changes, maybe a non-game breaking ship, this kind of thing encourages people to load up AI War more and more just to find the hidden treasures of the universe. Is worth it, really... Even iteratively, or expansion 4.0.
Well, I'm not seeing any kind of concrete steps towards meta-game gameplay-affecting collectibles... but if we ever got as far as an actual campaign (which will be a journey in itself, getting there) and a campaign-with-a-story (another significant several steps) then in theory it could unlock certain other scenarios, etc.  But that's certainly a series of serial hypotheticals ;)
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: keith.lamothe on September 16, 2010, 09:14:27 PM
Well, I'm almost finished with the banner. Though, I'm disgusted with how it looks after chopping off over half of the stuff that was in it. :(
Every scene was shown from a few perspectives and zoom levels, not only panned around. The text was nicely animated. And it nicely looped as the AI War logo appeared at the end and was moved to the edge of the screen before restarting.

This is how it looks with default compression... ~700kB
(first image)

And this is the effect of me playing around with compression settings... ~300kB
(second image)

The timing of some animations is a bit off right now, as I chopped them off and moved around a lot so expect an update later.

EDIT:
Ah, and I dropped the FPS from 30 to 24 to get under the 500 frames limit, so the animation is choppy... :(

EDIT2:
(third image) ~380kB

Wow, thanks for working so hard on that, it's looking very cool :)  Though I know what you mean about mixed feelings after taking something that's what you want and cutting it to something that fits within the "deployment" restrictions.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Vinraith on September 16, 2010, 09:35:37 PM
It's funny, a story-based campaign is one of the few add-ons for AI War I probably wouldn't buy. Strategy games make for terrible story telling devices, the best part about a good strategy game like AI War is that it allows you to create your own story as you play. Invariably, that's far more interesting than any pre-scripted narrative to me.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: keith.lamothe on September 16, 2010, 09:37:56 PM
Yea, to be clear, we're definitely not talking about anything storytelling-wise for this next expansion, that's just too much of a jump to make at once.  And if we ever did anything like that it wouldn't be the only feature of the expansion.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: TheMachineIsSentient on September 16, 2010, 09:39:11 PM
Okay, so we agree that steam doesn't do the game justice...

But then there's: http://www.gamersgate.com/DD-TID/tidalis-bundle

and also: http://www.direct2drive.com/9653/product/Buy-Tidalis-Download

All of these sites have the exact same verbiage, although they serve different crowds.


You could provide a link to the full description on your webpage, but those are three sites where it looks like match three madness. I wholeheartedly agree that your features page is better than the one that I purchased from-steam- which I imagine a great many of your customers are buying products from. Are the majority of your sales coming from your feature page or other sites? You don't have to answer that...just saying, maybe it needs a little extra help in advertising.

If the steam page stinks... Change it up. There is match three fatigue in the gaming world, and people are going to overlook it if they sense that's what it is.

I think you should mention the plushy pile and hidden levels to Intrepid adventurers...



Regarding AI War, what do you mean by concrete steps? I was thinking something like...

"I finished a campaign of AI War last night… I found a spawn that gives me a new beam modifier for my z beam frigates. I had to fight against a Mark three planet to get to it! It was a little out-of-the-way, and it raised my progress meter, but the Schwartz is now orange!"

"I was liberating the rebels on Saturday with some friends, and now we are able to make ships that are automatically allied and controllable by all of us at the same time."

"I took down the avenger, and it dropped a new powergenerating unit that is also a ship at the same time"

I don't mean that you level up and gain experience points... Just little rewards for actually finishing the game( this might do wonders for the multiplayer problem of finishing games). Maybe certain rewards only show up in multiplayer ( and appropriate to multiplayer). And the rewards themselves aren't game breaking… Purple beams? Nothing but coolness factor for adventurous players willing to look. We were discussing the endgame in another thread a while ago; this would be a great part of that and a risk to take.

I don't know if you're getting irritated in your post... But I'm just throwing this stuff out there for ideas for you guys, things that could alter your audiences perceptions. You already won your core crowd over, people like me are already going to purchase what you guys create. It's everybody else you need to sell.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Vinraith on September 16, 2010, 09:49:02 PM
Yea, to be clear, we're definitely not talking about anything storytelling-wise for this next expansion, that's just too much of a jump to make at once.  And if we ever did anything like that it wouldn't be the only feature of the expansion.

Yeah, I know that's not on the plate for the November micro-expansion, just figured I'd provide a counterpoint to the (inevitable) campaign requests.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: keith.lamothe on September 16, 2010, 09:52:31 PM
I don't know if you're getting irritated in your post...
No, definitely not.  On the occasions that I get irritated I usually don't mind making it clear ;)  Though more cautious with customers of course, haha.

I do appreciate the feedback, particularly about Tidalis (because, as I said, AI War has sold as well as could reasonably be expected of that kind of niche game from a previously-unknown indie; indeed better than could have reasonably been expected given all the installing rigmarole, etc).  And I hope I'm not coming across like we didn't make any mistakes.  Obviously, clearly, at some point we made mistakes.  And as Chris has already stated there were some big honking ones in the PR on Tidalis.

I think the biggest problems are that we made something that both hardcore and casual gamers would like (a lot, pretty often), if they got sold on it, but it's got several barriers preventing it from really reaching the casual gamer market pretty much at all, and while the hardcore market probably saw a good bit of it (it was on the front-page steam rotating ads for a while, after all, and got 100% reviews from people like Tom Chick and James Allen) there were other barriers preventing them from getting sold on it.

We are currently taking steps that will hopefully rectify both problems; we'll see how those go.

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But I'm just throwing this stuff out there for ideas for you guys, things that could alter your audiences perceptions. You already won your core crowd over, people like me are already going to purchase what you guys create.
Yea, and we really appreciate you guys :)

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It's everybody else you need to sell.
Not everyone else.  We just need enough diehard fans like y'all ;)  Partly kidding there, that doesn't work so well as a business model.  But on the other hand I think we need to learn some lessons about the chances of actually getting much more than say 30,000 or 40,000 copies of any one thing sold in a year, etc.



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Yeah, I know that's not on the plate for the November micro-expansion, just figured I'd provide a counterpoint to the (inevitable) campaign requests.
Yes, and we do appreciate that people chime in on both sides, particularly when it comes to stuff that's taking the game in a new direction.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: x4000 on September 16, 2010, 10:16:19 PM
The latest update: http://arcengames.blogspot.com/2010/09/point-of-clarification-were-debt-free.html

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The fact that Arcen is debt-free is an important point, and I wanted to make sure that didn't get lost in the larger posts from the other days.  Why is that so relevant?  It means that, in the grand scheme, the company as an entity is in no danger of disappearing whatsoever.

Even in this super slow period, even after the royalties it owes staff, Arcen makes about five times what it needs to in order to continue operating the website, pay our LLC fees, and that sort of thing.  That means that AI War and Tidalis and so forth would still be on the market a year from now, two years from now, and so forth.  Rumors of our impending bankruptcy are greatly exaggerated, in a manner of speaking -- one only has to declare insolvency if one can't pay one's debtors and has no assets.

What Stands To Be Lost, And What Doesn't
So what's the big deal been?  Well, the problem was never about Arcen-the-entity.  The problem is about Arcen-the-team-of-people.  Myself, Pablo, Keith, and Phil, primarily (Lars is happily employed elsewhere fulltime, anyway, and has only ever worked part-time with us).  The financial challenge that we've been facing was that we wouldn't be able to keep paying the actual staff, providing benefits for those who have them, and that sort of thing.  In other words: laying everybody off, including myself.

That would be the end of us doing much work for you, but the prior work that we've already done would live on.  That said, many of us have decided that we'd still try to do some stuff part-time in the off hours even if we had to look for other work (we all love what we do), but it won't be the same at all, especially for me -- as a new dad, I can't put in nearly the hours I did back in 2008 or 2009 when I was working two jobs.  I have no idea what we'd be able to accomplish and in what timeframe, but it would be just a tiny fraction of what we do now, I'm certain.  And if one or more of us found other employment with other game developers (a few have offered, over the last year or so as well as recently), then odds are we wouldn't be able to do much with Arcen aside from selling what we'd already made.

So when I was saying that would be the end of Arcen Games as people know it, that's what I meant: that we'd go into sort of a shadow half-life, like Voldemort did after his curse rebounded upon himself.  Like the dark lord, we might then be able to claw our way back into full life, but it wouldn't be the same and it would take a long time at best.  Okay, perhaps I shouldn't be comparing us with an arch-villain of a fantasy work, but it was the only analogy that came to mind -- I've been re-reading the Harry Potter series lately, so I'm sure that's why.

Things Have Improved, A Bit, The Last Couple of Days
None of this makes the situation any less serious, of course, but at least it does mean that the products themselves won't completely disappear, and that we'd have some hope of making a comeback even if we did completely go under.  The outpouring of support and help over the last few days has been absolutely amazing, though, and has helped at least push our dead-end date out by a good half month so far already.  That's pretty stunning for a couple of days without anything even being on discount -- we're extremely grateful.

We've also had a number of businesses offering us support in various manners, and for that, too, we are extremely grateful.  "No man is a failure who has friends," to be sure.  I've felt alternately a bit like George Bailey and Kathleen Kelly lately, which is not something I'd ever expected.  Of course, the main thing on my mind with Kathleen Kelly was how it turned out for her despite the outpouring of support, but that's just cynicism.

I think that, if it's possible for things to work out, we'll find a way with the help of those who have rallied to support us.  We've got a few things brewing in the works for after AI War 4.0 at this stage and even before, though we can't talk about most of them yet.  There hasn't been a magic bullet to solve all our problems yet, but every bit helps and things are moving in the right direction for the first time in months -- that's all we can ask for.  I'm certainly filled with a sense of hope, and it's all thanks to you.

We can still use all the help people care to throw our way, though, to be sure.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: keith.lamothe on September 16, 2010, 10:20:32 PM
Quote
Okay, perhaps I shouldn't be comparing us with an arch-villain of a fantasy work
I think you may have a permanent injury to the PR lobe of your brain ;) (j/k)
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: x4000 on September 16, 2010, 10:24:34 PM
Quote
Okay, perhaps I shouldn't be comparing us with an arch-villain of a fantasy work
I think you may have a permanent injury to the PR lobe of your brain ;) (j/k)

I figure some levity is overdue -- if ever I were to have some terminal illness, I'd hope I wouldn't just mope around all the time, after all. ;)
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: keith.lamothe on September 16, 2010, 10:36:40 PM
Indeed :)
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: RCIX on September 17, 2010, 12:44:11 AM
Something else i'd like to see is some method of upgrading your existing ships without actually having to buy more ships or new tech or something, kinda like SupCom2's ability to research damage, health, regen, etc. boosts. You'd obviously need to devise a system where you can actually see the updated stats of ships after you get the upgrades, but i think it could really work.

So like you could research a 10% damage boost to your bombers (or core triangle, or all fleetships, depends), which would cost 250 knowledge (since it's not all that much; it would be like having an extra 18 MkI bombers).
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Lancefighter on September 17, 2010, 12:51:58 AM
it was going well until you mentioned how badly supcom 2 failed  ::)

kidding really, i just dont agree with the way supcom 2 did it  (most notably, the ability to increase tech point gain by turtling)

Not saying, of course, i WOULDNT love a personal forcefield for my starships..........
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: mlaskus on September 17, 2010, 03:40:03 AM
Every description page of Tidalis should start with enormous bold letters saying, "This is not a match 3 game". :P
Also a trailer which actually explains how the game plays(but not in a tutorial kind of way), as I wrote in an earlier post, I was completely confused when I saw the trailer.
I just watched the extended trailer on Steam, and it is a lot better but still, I'm not sure if I would understand how it works just by watching it.

@Vinraith
RTS games can't tell a story? Have you played Red Alert 2? ;) It is hilarious!
Also, Starcraft II, if you ignore its terrible writing, got the storytelling right.

Storytelling, if done properly, has it's place in every genre. Uplink had a great story hidden in it if you were able to figure everything out. It played out in emails you received, news reports and the content of some systems you could attack and ultimately lead to an apocalyptic conclusion.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Tusoalsob on September 17, 2010, 06:10:23 AM
I don't know if you guys know it, but here in Germany there was no test od Ai wars in anny Game magazine so the most people don't know about the game.

Perhaps you shoud give the magazins a test version so they can test it and repart about it in the magazins. There are mostly no Strategy titels in the making now and nothing that is realy comming out around the stategy sector, and SC2 is through he game magazins. SO Ai wars whout have a good chance for a nice Placment and some Fans can rite some "Leserbrife" to the magazine to keep it in talk some time.

You choud get good points in the lenth of the game because most other Strategy titels are very short and in the reply value of the campein. Perhpas you choud give the Magasins a demo version to put on there dvd's so no strem users can see it too and have a adress to order it.

The thing i can do is tell every friend about it :) and try to get some Links in some Forums to get more People to try it out and buy it.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: mlaskus on September 17, 2010, 06:48:07 AM
@Tusoalsob
That's a pretty good idea. I completely forgot about magazines, I haven't read one in a few years.
I just checked, and the biggest PC gaming magazine in Poland(200 000-300 000 readership, I don't remember exactly) has never mentioned AI War nor Tidalis. I guess I could bug them to try it out.

Also, making a deal with a magazine to let them release full version of AI War on their DVD could be a good idea. I don't know how this kind of deal would work. Probably you would earn a lot less than selling those copies individually, but that would mean a large influx of people who would possibly buy the expansions.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: snrub_guy on September 17, 2010, 08:38:08 AM
@Tusoalsob
That's a pretty good idea. I completely forgot about magazines, I haven't read one in a few years.
I just checked, and the biggest PC gaming magazine in Poland(200 000-300 000 readership, I don't remember exactly) has never mentioned AI War nor Tidalis. I guess I could bug them to try it out.

Also, making a deal with a magazine to let them release full version of AI War on their DVD could be a good idea. I don't know how this kind of deal would work. Probably you would earn a lot less than selling those copies individually, but that would mean a large influx of people who would possibly buy the expansions.

That or get some mags to stick the ol' three hour demo on the disc. That'd get some exposure. Same for Tiidalis. Not sure how easy it is to get on the discs though.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Ktoff on September 17, 2010, 10:03:27 AM
I don't know if you guys know it, but here in Germany there was no test od Ai wars in anny Game magazine so the most people don't know about the game.

This has a lot to do with the fact, that most game magazines rarely review independent titles unless they are well known :-) I wrote to a couple of magazines about this game, but not much happened. Maybe AI War 4.0 will be a new chance, but this is still an indie game and no matter how cool it is, it won't ever be a game for the masses. And it is hard to get a game magazine for the masses to review a independent niche game.

But it would be worth a shot to send the larger magazines in germany a free copy of Ai War 4.0 Ai War has come a long way since i bought it.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Vinraith on September 17, 2010, 10:36:54 AM
@Vinraith
RTS games can't tell a story? Have you played Red Alert 2? ;) It is hilarious!
Also, Starcraft II, if you ignore its terrible writing, got the storytelling right.


We'll have to agree to disagree there. For the most part, "story telling" in RTS games means "perform a go-here-do-this series of tasks in the game engine, get rewarded by a story advancing cinematic." To me, that's not the game telling me a story, it's me playing a linear set of largely non-strategic training maps and the game rewarding me with a piece of a movie each time I do so. Strategy games are poorly designed for telling a pre-scripted story through the game play, and that's a good thing. The reason they're so bad at it is that in order to be interesting a strategy game has to give you lots of options, multiple goals, and interesting choices. Forcing a pre-scripted plot into such an open framework is all but impossible, because it's actively working against the strengths of the genre. Like any open game, strategy is always best suited to letting the player tell their own story, to allowing surprises and twists to emerge organically out of the game play itself. If you provide enough depth, enough variety, and enough interesting and difficult choices you're going to get a new narrative every time, which is far more interesting than any pre-rendered cinematic or voice over if you ask me.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Lancefighter on September 17, 2010, 11:29:44 AM
I thought Homeworld (the first one) was fairly good at the story bit..

but arent ALL games a series of 'go here, do this, get cutscene with story'?
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: mlaskus on September 17, 2010, 11:38:09 AM
Fair point, RTS games are great at becoming a story as you play. I doubt you will find many people here who would disagree with you.
After all, we all enjoy AI War, which is emergent gameplay at its best. :)

Red Alert might have been a bad example of a game telling a story, I just love its cinematics, it was a biased choice. ;)
All I really wanted to say, is that RTS games can have a story, it is not playing to the genre's strengths, but it certainly can be done.
Hopefully, without relying on cinematics, but somehow, creatively sneaking it into the gameplay.

I always liked the campaign missions in which you are limited to but a few units, it transforms the game into a sort of a puzzle to solve. I'm sure there are some fun ways of putting constraints on the gameplay to suddenly change the player's experience. Though I'm not suggesting anything like that to be done to AI War, that was just a general remark on my part.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Lancefighter on September 17, 2010, 11:47:45 AM
odd, I'm the opposite - nobody should shoehorn an RTS into a tactical game......
Now, dont get me wrong, I love tactical games too (Ground Control was one of my favorites), but they arent meant to be the same type of game  ;)

Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: mlaskus on September 17, 2010, 11:54:09 AM
But those missions were rarely tactical. It was just a puzzle.

I have Tanya, she is great but tanks are going to roll over her. Hmm, what should I do? Oh! Barrels! Even a child knows that absolutely all barrels in existence explode! Shoot them Tanya. Ok, that was a nice explosion and it took out the tanks, now let's...
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Ozymandiaz on September 17, 2010, 04:56:35 PM
odd, I'm the opposite - nobody should shoehorn an RTS into a tactical game......
Now, dont get me wrong, I love tactical games too (Ground Control was one of my favorites), but they arent meant to be the same type of game  ;)



I agree.

As a loose comment to other guys posting here, changing AI War to suit other styles of play is imo not a good idea. Adding optional features, thats  another matter ;)
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Lancefighter on September 17, 2010, 05:01:21 PM
But those missions were rarely tactical. It was just a puzzle.
I beg to differ - tactics is what happens on the battlefield in a limited scope. Choosing who to shoot at once the sides are engaged in battle is a choice of tactics - shooting a guy with a anti-tank gun over the guy with the machinegun is a tactical choice
Strategy is what happens before people start shooting, when you allocate your resources, move your men, and do things on a large scale - attacking a power plant or factory would be a strategy choice.

What you just described is purely tactical choices  ;)
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: keith.lamothe on September 17, 2010, 05:06:43 PM
Yea, I think there could be room for a few tactical scenarios where you're given a set amount of resources and starting ships to work with and a few planets to capture and/or defend.  But that's just for those players who really enjoy the tactical side of the game and want a setup where it's critical.  Everyone else could ignore it :)
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: mlaskus on September 17, 2010, 05:11:40 PM
Yeah, but in scope of those missions, you didn't have any freedom, you couldn't apply different tactics, there was usually only one correct solution to a given obstacle. So while the decisions were tactical, it really reminded me more of a puzzle game.

@Ozymandiaz
I'm not suggesting any change to AI War's mechanics here, we got a bit off topic.

EDIT:
That's a pretty neat idea Keith. If you made some interesting scenarios available, I guess it could not only be fun but also serve as a nice thing to show to people we would like to convince to play.
Right now I'm a few hours into a campaign with a friend I'm introducing to AI War, and he started complaining that there is not much interesting stuff going on. I guess I chose a too low difficulty for him(7.3) but the time already invested in the match will make it a bit hard to convince him to start a new game. I guess I will just have to show him the nukes, this should spice things up a bit. ;)
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Lancefighter on September 17, 2010, 06:01:41 PM
2x schizo waves no wave warnings will 'convince' him that there is plenty going on. Also, make sure your not playing against a turtle :p
Consider adding to this the ai modifier where the ai masses waves on a planet and then sends them...
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: mlaskus on September 17, 2010, 06:39:53 PM
Yeah I know that, the thing is, we already played for a while, I wanted to show him stuff from as much of the campaign as I could, hopefully get to the late game. If we started a new game he might get bored replaying the beginning, also I wouldn't want to scare him off by making him get brutally slaughtered, at least not at first. That might give him the wrong impression that the game just spawns masses of enemies.

The scenarios Keith mentioned could be ideal in a situation like this. I guess, it would also require a lot less time than playing the campaign, so it would be easier to persuade people to at least give it a shot.

Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Spikey00 on September 17, 2010, 06:42:31 PM
I DOTH PROPAGATE OUR  EMPIRICAL INFLUENCE OVER AT CASTLE AGE:
http://174.37.115.166/cforum/showthread.php?t=39863
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: TheMachineIsSentient on September 17, 2010, 07:46:48 PM
We'll have to agree to disagree there. For the most part, "story telling" in RTS games means "perform a go-here-do-this series of tasks in the game engine, get rewarded by a story advancing cinematic." To me, that's not the game telling me a story, it's me playing a linear set of largely non-strategic training maps and the game rewarding me with a piece of a movie each time I do so.

Video games as storytelling vehicles is actually very well-established. Revealing a little bit of story at a time and allowing the player to experience part of it in gameplay form... That's still storytelling. It's more interactive than a book. I agree that may not be right for AI War. Nobody is suggesting mass effect or StarCraft two invade the game; I was referring to something more subtle.

Although, let's not deny that there are story elements in AI War, they're just undeveloped. Look at the zenith faction, the children of neinzul ( I'm assuming that neinzul is a noun, which means story-telling element!), and the short blurb at the opening screen. There is even that creepy voice saying that you have "discovered the zenith remnant," as well as various trash talking throughout the game when you make a mistake.

Yes, this is not Capt. Picard exploring the galaxy, but neither is this a straight simulation. You can portray a universe, you can describe a setting and environment, you can breathe life into a conflict by just sprinkling out a tiny bit of guidance, even with just factions and a short back story. The extra step here to a character with a name is not that far off… It doesn't have to be central to anything. It could be a random boss spawn, or a rescue operation... The idea of randomized surprises in the game that you might only get an opportunity to see, that's compelling.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: eRe4s3r on September 17, 2010, 08:36:01 PM
I DOTH PROPAGATE OUR  EMPIRICAL INFLUENCE OVER AT CASTLE AGE:
http://174.37.115.166/cforum/showthread.php?t=39863

Thread doesn't exist (anymore?) ;) Too much influence? ;P  ;D ;D What was it about?

But arrrrrrrr - Castle Age - Pseudo F2P browser lame sauce game only for facebook junkies and thats good that way - keeps its vile influence away from real games (and real gamers) ;P - not even a game in the sense since you can win without actually playing - in fact, not playing is automagical default victory - you win at life, so to speak ;D Community imploded many months ago due to the developers only catering to the Pay and not the Free 2 play. In fact punishing/obstructing f2p more to favor Pay more.

I am getting old and grumpy, particularly when it comes to pseudo games on Facebook - games that are built on spamming your dudes for pointless in-game rewards are SPAM and the trash of the internet,

Ehem, sorry for OT ;)


And yes, automagical is a word - darn you, Firefox Spellcheck!
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Spikey00 on September 17, 2010, 10:21:22 PM
(Yes, I also think browser games are silly but I was somehow dragged into it by my friends.)

Eh, I assume they deleted the thread, sigh.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: RCIX on September 18, 2010, 12:14:29 AM
Something that might help is if someone shoehorns AI War into The Big Indie Game Video Project (http://forums.tigsource.com/index.php?topic=14859.msg417129#new). I'm not sure what i'd show in 6 seconds, but it might raise visibility of Ai war over there. Which reminds me, i should post in the indie games section at TIGSource :)
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Lancefighter on September 18, 2010, 12:18:29 AM
Could probably manage to get a quick panning shot of something shooting at something  :D
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: keith.lamothe on September 18, 2010, 12:36:08 AM
Could probably manage to get a quick panning shot of something shooting at something  :D
A 200-strong Hybrid fleet attacking a Devourer ;)  Of course, that's not really an example of gameplay, just an interesting emergent result.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Lancefighter on September 18, 2010, 12:40:59 AM
Yeah, sounds good :D emergent stuff is the more fun bits of any game (ZP was going on about how mafia 2 was boring, except this one emergent bit where he needed money so he robbed a store and got into a standoff situation..)

Uh yeah, I like emergent bits.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: keith.lamothe on September 18, 2010, 12:49:42 AM
By the way, I just now found out about another RTS/4X (Impulse sale) called Star Ruler.  I mention it partly because it looks really cool but also because it seems to scratch some itches that AI War doesn't, at least for MoO addicts like me ;)  On the other hand, I have no idea what kind of AI it has, but their marketing certainly doesn't emphasize it so I'm expecting something on par with SoaSE (which it looks a lot like in general, but better).  Anyway, the point isn't which game is better, just curious what y'all know about it and if it's as good as it looks.

The trailer is pretty interesting: http://starruler.blind-mind.com/sr_media.php ; this is another thing worth inspecting re: our own efforts.  Personally, I think it's a stronger sell than our trailers (though I haven't watched said in a long time); do y'all agree, and are there particular reasons or is it just because it looks much nicer? ;)
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Lancefighter on September 18, 2010, 12:59:44 AM
at first glance, it really looks a lot like distant worlds.

their trailer seems to involve, in order of appearance, pretty graphics, 3d graphics, some mouse movements, some action scenes. and uh, that seemed about it.

aiwar lacks ... er.. pretty graphics, so uhh....
will see if i cant find a demo >.>
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: keith.lamothe on September 18, 2010, 01:00:34 AM
I saw ship design and a tech "web" (instead of tree) in some of the stuff, which was pretty interesting.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Otagan on September 18, 2010, 01:01:14 AM
I've logged a few hours with an earlier version of Star Ruler and can probably field some more specific questions about the game.  I'll say that the AI in Star Ruler as of when I played it (version 1.0.0.4) was pretty lousy, though, and is nowhere comparable even to SoaSE.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Lancefighter on September 18, 2010, 01:02:19 AM
quick glances at their forum seems to indicate taht ai modding is possible though, so its generally only a matter of time until someone fixes that
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Otagan on September 18, 2010, 01:04:19 AM
quick glances at their forum seems to indicate taht ai modding is possible though, so its generally only a matter of time until someone fixes that
In its current state (which is, by the developers' own admission, incomplete), I don't really consider the lack of competent AI to be a glaring fault.  It's one of those things that's going to be constantly improved by the devs over the lifetime of the game, along with just about every other aspect of it.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Lancefighter on September 18, 2010, 01:05:08 AM
they should take a few hints from some other game with a fantastic ai.. wonder where you could find them nowadays :\


also, no demo?! rawr :(

edit

looks like star ruler is more popular on the ... ahem.... *other* content distribution sites than ai war is >.>
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Otagan on September 18, 2010, 01:10:33 AM
They're working on putting together a demo, but their main priority at the moment seems to be getting ready for their Steam launch.  I'd imagine a demo would come at some point after that.

Curiously enough, the developers had run completely out of money and were forced to either:

a) Curl up and let their venture die.

or

b) Release a game that did not live up to any of their expectations and then use the funds from their sales to continue development via patches.

They ended up choosing the latter, obviously.

Regarding their sales numbers, they've moved a total of just over 3800 copies (up-to-date number is on their homepage) since launch several weeks ago via Direct2Drive, Gamersgate and Impulse.  Steam release will be any day now.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: keith.lamothe on September 18, 2010, 01:16:51 AM
quick glances at their forum seems to indicate taht ai modding is possible though, so its generally only a matter of time until someone fixes that
Well, modding doesn't necessarily mean that the AI is moddable.  SoaSE was very much in that boat, for example.  But I hope the Star Ruler AI is moddable; assuming it either doesn't have any major flies in the ointment or they can be successfully modded out, I could see myself enjoying that one for many hours :)  I still need to check out Distant Worlds, though.

Anyway, the reason I brought it up was to see if there was anything we could learn from it.  The ship design screen actually reminds me of my own plans for a UI to manage ship modules and that kind of thing (don't want go into too much detail, I'm bad about saying I'll do xyz and while it's quite doable I just don't find time for a while, etc), though of course ours wouldn't be that involved since the underlying tactical simulation doesn't do stuff like directional damage, per-module power management, etc.

The tech web idea also sounds interesting though I don't think AI War's tech system could readily be changed into a tree or web, nor do I think Chris would buy that it should ;)

psuedo-edit: Interesting info, Otagan; looking at their production values (i.e. all that 3D art) I had wondered how they managed it as an indie.  I guess the answer is "by the hair of their chinny-chin-chin" ;)  But assuming they make good on the design, etc, I'm glad they did.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Lancefighter on September 18, 2010, 01:20:58 AM
well, i looked at their forum, and someone had the world AI in with a version number, so i assumed it was an AI mod  :P


honestly it looks like a different perspective- they try to keep in the 4x gameplay, while ai war is strictly rts. 4x generally have customization, rts generally dont..
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Otagan on September 18, 2010, 01:24:25 AM
Anyway, the reason I brought it up was to see if there was anything we could learn from it.  The ship design screen actually reminds me of my own plans for a UI to manage ship modules and that kind of thing (don't want go into too much detail, I'm bad about saying I'll do xyz and while it's quite doable I just don't find time for a while, etc), though of course ours wouldn't be that involved since the underlying tactical simulation doesn't do stuff like directional damage, per-module power management, etc.

Funny thing: Star Ruler doesn't have directional damage or individual module adjustment, either.  At the moment, at least, the ship design screen is basically just defining stats for a ship class you want to build, and the location of the components has no bearing on either the appearance or performance of the ship you are designing.

The tech web idea also sounds interesting though I don't think AI War's tech system could readily be changed into a tree or web, nor do I think Chris would buy that it should ;)

And Chris would be right in that case.  The tech system in Star Ruler is entirely too random and simplistic to fit into AI War and be effective.  I don't think players would like dumping 10,000 knowledge points and 8 minutes of research time into a generic combat ship category only to constantly get everything but those tier 3 bombers they want.

psuedo-edit: Interesting info, Otagan; looking at their production values (i.e. all that 3D art) I had wondered how they managed it as an indie.  I guess the answer is "by the hair of their chinny-chin-chin" ;)  But assuming they make good on the design, etc, I'm glad they did.
As I mentioned above, the ship design screen has no effect on the actual ship model you construct.  There are just a few basic ship models that can be scaled up and down.  It creates the impression that there are hundreds of models when there are really dozens, at most.  They quite literally did scrape by with the hairs of their chinny-chin-chins before release due to the aforementioned financial issues, and now we rely on their pledge to update the game to keep the content flowing for the game to (possibly) fulfill its potential.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: BlackCobra on September 18, 2010, 06:03:06 AM
nearly everything is written in AngelScript (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AngelScript) Galaxy creation (you can make everything you wanted (i made a multi Galaxy mod (http://forums.blind-mind.com/index.php?topic=771.0) for the game so...)), AI, user interface, technology
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: eRe4s3r on September 18, 2010, 12:07:17 PM
By the way, I just now found out about another RTS/4X (Impulse sale) called Star Ruler.  I mention it partly because it looks really cool but also because it seems to scratch some itches that AI War doesn't, at least for MoO addicts like me ;)  On the other hand, I have no idea what kind of AI it has, but their marketing certainly doesn't emphasize it so I'm expecting something on par with SoaSE (which it looks a lot like in general, but better).  Anyway, the point isn't which game is better, just curious what y'all know about it and if it's as good as it looks.


Well i actually am the dude responsible for the subsystem graphics/ship textures (most of em anyway) and default ship models and their optimizations. ;D (Though i could not model the ships from scratch, sadly - in a case of indy-dev syndrom, our concept artist had to model the ships because our ORIGINAL modeler disappeared (i was originally just there for subsystem art.. turned into full-blown texture and optimize those ships! lmao) ;/)

I think once the game features settle there will be more work on "modular" models but this ain't a game like galciv or Sots - with potential infnite ships every single module on a ship object increases load on the cpu exponentially which is why the default models (with models assigned to certain ship-scale ranges) are all you get for now ;P

If theres any reason why i wish this game would succeed (apart from me getting paid! ;p) its because its fully moddable.

Edit: Also, Turrets on ships are even worse performance wise. As each turret is a own AI unit - that just wouldn't work in SR
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: keith.lamothe on September 18, 2010, 12:09:20 PM
Oh cool, I hadn't realized you were on that project, I hope it goes really well for y'all :)  Sorry to hear about the, uh, staffing problems, but so it goes sometimes.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: eRe4s3r on September 18, 2010, 12:21:26 PM
Yeah its the common plague of indy startup projects, its really hard to find people for such "payment not guaranteed" projects that really stay on, funnily i also did the image they use on steam (least, the image part of it, not sure what they add besides it ;p), also a first for me ;P

Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Spikey00 on September 18, 2010, 01:48:52 PM
(Holy crap, Eraser, you're everywhere!)
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: getter77 on September 18, 2010, 04:31:12 PM
Yeah, at this point, I'd say the predominant line of thinking from the sidelines is something like "What is Star Ruler on a good track for...and what has Distant Worlds done so far to leave people scratching their heads?"

In general though, I'd say Arcen would to well to (continue to) lift good ideas/practices from games of any stripe---especially given that the theme for both games thus far has been more than meets the eye and tending to fuse a little of this and that.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: eRe4s3r on September 19, 2010, 09:10:30 AM
(Holy crap, Eraser, you're everywhere!)

I am in your ceiling stealing your.. well you know the saying ;p  ;D
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: keith.lamothe on September 19, 2010, 07:58:02 PM
TheMachineIsSentient, we got away from the topic, but if you don't mind, could you post the verbiage you would suggest for the distribution store pages (i.e. the steam, DD, GG, etc, sites)?  I dunno if we would be able to even fit the number of words that would be necessary to do the game justice even in barebones-bullet-points form, but it would probably help anyway.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: TheMachineIsSentient on September 19, 2010, 09:41:01 PM
I pondered this for about an hour or so, trying to fit everything into Steam's restrictions. I'm assuming the reason there are two different game descriptions is because there is a size limitation. The game description you posted was actually pretty good ( aside from some things that I thought were actually either poorly written or detrimental to selling your product, such as mentioning limited and AI in the same sentence), so I borrowed a little bit from that, changed some of the words around, and removed any slight smell of match three.

I firmly believe that match three is not going to do you any good here, as that mechanic is overdone. I also believe that match three doesn't really reflect this game, and you should remove it from your steam accolades in the description. As soon as I read match three, I thought, "dammit... Not another one!" I hang out at gametap for some of their retro games ( which are now disappearing), and that is where apparently all match three games go to die.

The other thing I did here was call out Pablo Vega by name, as I believe you should celebrate your indie-ness. It's barely in there, but is there, and I think that recognizing your company as a group of real human beings and aspiring artists can only help you and invite people to take a look. Aside from that, let's be honest, the music in this game is a huge part of the game, it plays along with you, and I am constantly humming that hypnotic main track throughout my house...

I changed some of the adjectives and removed anything I thought seemed to say that this game is easy. The game does have some really easy parts, so for someone that is looking for a mindbending experience, starting the adventure mode is the wrong way to go for the demo. I thought that the adventure mode picks up difficulty to where I like it farther in.

Let's see… I emphasized social gameplay, as I think that a lot of people want to be able to play either with their siblings, significant others, or gamers that might have a variety of taste. This is for those people that want to be engaged and challenged, even when they are playing with someone refuses to play "counterstrike" with them or whatever the story is. While it might suck to play bejeweled with the typical casual puzzle gamer, this game is as deep as you want to make it... Which is a  good thing, and I tried to say that in here.

I left out twitter and Facebook. I think they are both unfortunate stains on society, and the last thing anyone needs is another update in their mailbox... But hey, the option is there! I sense a backlash on this stuff ever since Farmville, but that's up to you if you want to mention it. It's something I would rather mention in the initial guide or something.

Lastly, I mentioned accessibility. I am a part of the software industry myself, and this is one thing that we focus on. We have a checklist of things that we must do to achieve compliance, and every engineer is on board with making the product accessible for everybody. I think this is a good thing, as it shows your attitude as developers to be welcoming and human-focused. This also gives a slight hint at your indie-ness, which as I said before is something you should be embracing in your literature, in subtle ways.

"We are not big business, and we invite everyone to play." That's what I get from that line.

Let me know your thoughts... Edit as you see fit... Or see if you can bring in your other features page.


Quote
Tidalis is a block-based puzzle game with casual appeal and hardcore depth. This puzzler challenges you to control the flow of streams as you encounter obstacles and trigger bonuses. You will have to think ahead as you perform combos and induce chain reactions to solve each level!

There is endless replayability on that core mechanic with 20 randomizable game modes, dozens of special blocks and collectible items, and 115 levels in the Adventure mode alone. No need to adventure alone, as Tidalis supports innovative cooperative play (including Adventure mode) in addition to competitive modes.

In summary, Tidalis features co-op and competitive multiplayer modes (both online and offline); action-oriented modes and timer-less brainteasers; a lengthy adventure mode with hidden levels and collectible items; twenty unique game modes providing innumerable twists to the basic gameplay; dozens of special blocks and items; and over fifty minutes of beautiful music to go with the painterly art that reacts to your performance as you play each board!

Whether you're just looking for a casual fun time,
cooperative puzzling with friends, a deep and strategic puzzle experience, or a series of brain-bending puzzles, we've got you covered.


  At A Glance
    - Easy to learn, hard to master
 - Two-player co-op and competitive play via Internet lobby or direct connection
    - Variable difficulty; a wide selection of both action-oriented or brainteaser-like levels.
    - Adventure mode with collectible items and hidden levels rewarded by your performance, hardcore puzzle enthusiast custom games, and versus modes.
    - Endless replayability; 20+ game styles including the popular Sun And Moon solitaire, Frenzy, Bumper mode, and dozens of items and special blocks.
    - Rich, painterly art style and captivating music by Pablo Vega that reacts to your gameplay
    - Players can create and share whole new themes, levels, and adventures.
    - Arcen Games supports accessibility; Options for colorblind players, players averse to lots of light and motion, older computers, customizable keyboard controls or mouse


Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: keith.lamothe on September 19, 2010, 10:03:48 PM
Thanks for doing all that :)

detrimental to selling your product, such as mentioning limited and AI in the same sentence
For an exhaustive list like that we have to say that, because it is true that we intentionally cut a pretty obvious corner on the VS AI, namely that it only supports a subset of game modes and special blocks, etc.  There are good reasons that we cut that corner, but it's either not mention VS AI at all or mention that it doesn't support everything ;)  But for a summary that feature doesn't have to be mentioned at all.

Quote
I firmly believe that match three is not going to do you any good here, as that mechanic is overdone. I also believe that match three doesn't really reflect this game, and you should remove it from your steam accolades in the description.
We detest the label, but it is true that the basic mechanic of the game kicks in when you create a reaction involving at least 3 matching pieces.  But we wouldn't mention it of our own accord.  James Allen (OutOfEight) gave the game an 8/8 score, which is pretty significant if you look at how many reviews he's done (660) and how many 8's he's given (29) ; so we kinda want to include his quote ;)  But we might be able to find an honest way of structuring it so that the match-3 term is not in there, if Chris is ok with that.  We also want to add a blurb from Tom Chick's review, since he also gave it a perfect score.

Anyway, I'll pass this along, we'll see what we come up with.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: madpinger on September 24, 2010, 02:43:45 AM
Well, I sort of got everyone I knew to buy AI:War when I got it months back, 4 in all.
Wrote a review and linked it as a recommended game on my personal website. etc etc

I'v all ways been pushing Arcen games where ever I can cause it is such a good product that is only made better by the interactions with the staff.

I'm not sure what more I can do, tho I'll give it some thought and see where else I can spread the word. ^.^

I wish you all the best of luck.  I would sorely miss Arcen Games if the worst were to happen.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Magos Mechanicus on September 24, 2010, 05:29:00 AM
Really sorry to hear this. Ever since Christopher's first marketing blitz for AI War reached one of my forums and I started playing, I've been quite fond of this company for its extraordinary dedication and great games.
Hope you can find a way out of this slump.

Now I don't know what kind of budget you'd need to finish Alden Ridge Arcade, but one idea I feel is worth at least mentioning to you is preselling it on Kickstarter (http://www.kickstarter.com). One guy who's currently doing this is Schuyler Towne (http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/schuyler/lockpicks-by-open-locksport), who wanted to launch a company selling picks and tools to competitive lockpickers. Initially hoping to get $6000 together for a first production run, he's now made over a thousand sales, raised 13 times his goal (and counting) and has essentially launched his company already.
The advantage of this approach, then, is:
It's something to consider, at least. I know I'd back you.

Good luck, guys!
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: vonduus on September 24, 2010, 10:35:26 AM
I am trying to get AIWar and Tidalis on nation wide TV here in Denmark, I don't know if I have any luck, but if I get a positive response, I hope you will stand by with some free copies for the reviewer(s). I also asked some newspapers and the danish version of pc gamer why they haven't reviewed these games yet.

I told them all to write directly to you at [email protected], I hope this is okay.

Cheers vonduus

edit: In my mail to the media I focused on AIWar as a unique hard core game for nerds (for some reason nerdiness is fashionable this autumn here in DK ???), and I focused on the fact that  arcen is an indie company with a pretty much unique business model (lots of gamers here are very upset by the standard corporate trend in gaming 'security', even Civ5 has got quite a lot of bad press for its being Steam-only).

edit2: And I didn't mention anything about financial trouble, as I believe this might be counterproductive.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: x4000 on September 25, 2010, 12:08:36 PM
Cheers, vonduus -- I really appreciate it, and you're right that I'm completely down with giving license keys for that, using my email for that, etc.

As for any other comment I missed responding to here or elsewhere recently -- sorry about that. I read them all, but there is such a limited amount of time for me lately that I'm having to not respond to everything as much as I normally would. I feel bad about that, but something had to give and it couldnt be work on ai war 4.0, or fatherhood duties, so I've been a bit stuck. Thanks foe understanding, and most of all thanks for all the help and ideas!
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: TheMachineIsSentient on September 25, 2010, 11:19:00 PM
A few more ideas for the pile:

* AI War, collectors edition
* design a ship contest
* community day
* put the soundtrack for both games on Napster
* woo the Linux crowd by getting reviewers on Linux sites ( after unity release, and maybe before for Tidalis)
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Spikey00 on September 26, 2010, 09:33:38 PM
Chris should pen a novel about AI War for extra moneys.  </joke>

I'm sure we would love that, though!
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Otagan on September 27, 2010, 12:52:17 PM
Chris should pen a novel about AI War for extra moneys.  </joke>

That worked out really well for Brad Wardell.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Rustayne on September 29, 2010, 02:28:19 AM
I am not sure if this has been mentioned or not, (16 pages is alot of information for me to keep stored in my head), but I noticed on the Unity's website, the engine that Tidalis is made from, that it isn't listed in the game list on their site.  This might be an oversight, or something, but I'd imagine that it might be a way to get your name out there a little bit more.  If developers, or novices that are looking into engines to help them create a game, they could stumble among Tidalis and might make a few sales that way.  Figured I'd throw the suggestion out there.  You could also do this once AI War is up and running with Unity as well.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: vonduus on October 03, 2010, 05:16:38 PM
I had a long discussion with my son about gaming in general, and we also talked about arcens financial problems. This is in essence what he said:

Starcraft II is out now, so a lot of people are focused on the space game genre - even if the game play is not in space proper, the lore is very spacey, and the campaign interface is full of pretty graphics depicting planets and space ships. Anyway, those people have no time for AIWar for the time being, they are too busy playing Starcraft II. Blizzard is one of those pr-driven companies, so they know all about for how long a game is interesting, and they probably have a pretty exact idea of when it begins to get boring to normal customers. And so they are timing the release of Diablo II, so that this somewhat coincides with the beginning of inevitable customer boredom.

What arcen should do, is checking up on when Diablo II is bound for release, and then do a new relase or a discount sale of AIWar, one or two or three weeks before that. At that time a lot of people will be very favourably disposed towards games with a space theme, while at the same time looking for something to play, while they are waiting for Diablo II to be released, and some of them would probably buy AIWar.

I don't know if he is right in this analysis, but it is worth thinking about. Probably the people who would enjoy both games are pretty bored with Starcraft II already (like me, after finishing the campaign on hard and discovering that the skirmish ai is quite stupid) so perhaps you can push a sale earlier.

Just thought I would mention it.

Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Cheese on October 04, 2010, 11:48:47 AM
I'll make a post on Facepunch at some point.
E: It's up (http://www.facepunch.com/showthread.php?p=25246645#post25246645)
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: x4000 on October 04, 2010, 05:07:51 PM
Thanks, all!

To the various ideas:

Quote
* AI War, collectors edition
Probably we'll do that, or something like it, actually.

Quote
* design a ship contest

We already allow suggestions anytime, and I'm not sure how much that would really increase visibility at this stage.

Quote
* community day

Not sure what that is.

Quote
* put the soundtrack for both games on Napster

They are on iTunes, but Pablo owns the rights to the soundtracks outside the games, and so it's his personal business what happens with that sort of thing (and doesn't help Arcen one way or the other).

Quote
* woo the Linux crowd by getting reviewers on Linux sites ( after unity release, and maybe before for Tidalis)

With it only being playable in WINE, I'm not sure how enthusiastic they'd be.

Quote
I am not sure if this has been mentioned or not, (16 pages is alot of information for me to keep stored in my head), but I noticed on the Unity's website, the engine that Tidalis is made from, that it isn't listed in the game list on their site.

We told them about it, but they didn't put it up.  ???  It was one of the first unity games to include Steamworks support, too (the first, I'm almost certain, for the Mac).

Quote
What arcen should do, is checking up on when Diablo II is bound for release, and then do a new relase or a discount sale of AIWar, one or two or three weeks before that. At that time a lot of people will be very favourably disposed towards games with a space theme, while at the same time looking for something to play, while they are waiting for Diablo II to be released, and some of them would probably buy AIWar.

Well, Blizzard kind of do their own thing, they don't play by normal rules.  When you're a midlist author, you don't try to do what Stephen King does, or you'll be in real trouble.  There are some good points in there, but Blizzard trades on the strength of their name to make most of their sales, plus the massive amount of free press coverage that they get just for being them, so it's really just apples and oranges.  We are talking with other indie developers, and with a few smaller publishers, about timing of releases and similar, though, to see what other folks of a similar scale to ourselves think.

Quote
I'll make a post on Facepunch at some point.

Wicked!  Thank you!  ;D
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Cheese on October 05, 2010, 12:11:10 PM
It sunk, might have roused a little interest considering the 200+ views though. Then again, that's normal for FP. A lack of things to discuss I suppose. Meh.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: x4000 on October 05, 2010, 12:12:46 PM
Well, thanks for getting it on there, anyway!
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: MysteryOne on October 05, 2010, 12:57:29 PM
I'll get on spreading the love of AI War later, but on forehand, gimme a few links to articles, etc.
that may (or may not) be best for other RTS-players and others to know about AI War: Fleet Command...

So i can give em' anywhere i might good for spreading the word.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: getter77 on October 05, 2010, 09:43:57 PM
Quote
We told them about it, but they didn't put it up.  Huh  It was one of the first unity games to include Steamworks support, too (the first, I'm almost certain, for the Mac).

Definitely continue to press them on this, especially when 4.0 actually hits proper.  Perhaps they are backlogged with housekeeping in the wake of Version 3---still very much in the best interests of both parties.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Rustayne on October 06, 2010, 02:09:08 AM
Quote
We told them about it, but they didn't put it up.  Huh  It was one of the first unity games to include Steamworks support, too (the first, I'm almost certain, for the Mac).

Definitely continue to press them on this, especially when 4.0 actually hits proper.  Perhaps they are backlogged with housekeeping in the wake of Version 3---still very much in the best interests of both parties.

Agreed.  The engine has done a lot for you guys, and in turn you guys have done for them by choosing their engine over another, or even sticking with what was working for you.  Keeping up with it might be a good idea.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: zespri on October 06, 2010, 03:12:53 AM
I found this old thread http://www.arcengames.com/forums/index.php/topic,690.0.html but no other mention of AI War / Tidalis in other languages. Maybe this could help promoting the games a little? Is the game "localizable"? Are there already any existing translations available?
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Cheese on October 06, 2010, 11:10:39 AM
Bay12 thread (http://www.bay12forums.com/smf/index.php?topic=67447.0) on the financial issues. There's a discussion about it, has some opinions in it.
Someone thinks you need to 'polish' the game and make it's web page look more attractive or something. He thinks you go on about the numbers of units too much. He hasn't actually tried the game of course.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: keith.lamothe on October 06, 2010, 11:35:31 AM
Well, it is certainly possible that the existing marketing materials have a higher-than-intended emphasis on the unit count.  If a potential customer is of the sort that sees something like that and has made a "definitely not downloading demo" decision within 10 seconds, they are outside the audience that we can reach with our current marketing abilities.  Not saying that there's anything wrong with the person (no one's paying _them_ to find/play/like/buy our game), and not saying that there aren't marketing techniques that can reach that kind of not-willing-to-give-us-much-of-a-chance person, but we have neither the expertise nor the resources to make that happen in a general way.

But we will make improvements where we can, as with everything.

Anyway, thank you for your efforts in that thread and elsewhere :)
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: MysteryOne on October 06, 2010, 05:59:05 PM
Hmm, no one has given some useful article links for would-be recruits' education...  :-\
or do think that it's enough to give them the link to your purchase page?   ::)
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: keith.lamothe on October 06, 2010, 06:04:39 PM
Hmm, no one has given some useful article links for would-be recruits' education...  :-\
or do think that it's enough to give them the link to your purchase page?   ::)
Oh, sorry, I did see your post earlier but was really busy.  Here's the "summary" page with the feature lists and trailers:

http://arcengames.com/aiwar_features.php
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: keith.lamothe on October 06, 2010, 06:07:56 PM
And if they want reviews, the metacritic page is a good place to start:

http://www.metacritic.com/game/pc/ai-war-fleet-command

And a good review that isn't listed there:

http://www.outofeight.info/2009/06/ai-war-fleet-command-review.html
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: x4000 on October 06, 2010, 06:13:59 PM
And various interviews:  http://arcengames.blogspot.com/search/label/Interviews

The most recent two in particular are really good and current, but there are a lot of great ones that are simply a bit more outdated, too.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Varone on October 07, 2010, 03:18:01 PM
Hmm just a suggestion you could do, don't know if it's been said before.

You could try creating a flash demo version of Tidalis and uploading it to popular flash gaming sites. Possibly even Ai war too though perhaps as a much more limited version. Would be lot's of advertisement for your games and site anyways.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: x4000 on October 07, 2010, 03:23:02 PM
Yep, we're thinking of doing a unity web player demo of Tidalis!  For AI War it likely wouldn't work, but should be good for Tidalis. :)
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: MysteryOne on October 07, 2010, 04:28:53 PM
Hi again folks!

So, i've spread the love of AI War to at least one site for now: Tactical Gamer.
They got lots of games in their lists, so why not this one too, since it's tactical too, in a grand scale so.
http://www.tacticalgamer.com/general-discussion/168252-ai-war-fleet-command.html
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: x4000 on October 07, 2010, 04:29:42 PM
Thanks so much! :)
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: MysteryOne on October 07, 2010, 04:33:23 PM
No problem.  :D

Now, i've got a couple of suggestions for the next expansion/version, i'll be heading to proper thread. ;D
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: x4000 on October 07, 2010, 04:34:10 PM
Please log those in the tracker, if you will: http://www.arcengames.com/mantisbt
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: MysteryOne on October 07, 2010, 04:52:28 PM
Please log those in the tracker, if you will: http://www.arcengames.com/mantisbt

I'm talking about new features, etc.  ;D
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: x4000 on October 07, 2010, 04:53:37 PM
Same deal, that's where those go now -- we're trying to port all the old stuff from the forums, and get rid of those subforums, etc -- it's just a huge job!
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: MysteryOne on October 07, 2010, 04:58:08 PM
Ok, i'll see to it tomorrow.  :)
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: eRe4s3r on October 07, 2010, 06:37:27 PM
Mhh, i have some issues with suggestions moving in MantisBT without staying in the forum as well.

The problem with putting the suggestion in the bug tracker is that you will only find them if you search for them, which you can't if you don't know about them, and you won't know about them because theres no (to me apparent) way to for example, only display the suggestions and not bugs in the first page by default (theres a way to change columns and other things in preferences but not WHAT content is displayed in these columns...)

So this kinda removes all community involvement in suggestions.... except of course the 3 people who actually take the time to read every suggestion in that system :o By Manually clicking on "category: Suggestion Type X" -> Apply Filter. And this category function + Apply Filter is extremely clunky as you can't say "want to see ALL suggestions but NOTHING else" you can only filter 1 by 1 through them.

And lastly, whats also annoying about MantisBT is that closed issues disappear from the "Monitored" and "My Issues" lists, which is evil_Bad ... because you can never again find them, which is ok for bugs that are fixed, but not for feature requests that are, for the time denied but may later come up again.

So generally, i have the feeling that moving suggestions to this tracker is going to reduce the inflow of opinions about them drastically. Which is of course, bad.  ;D

Imo the only way to make suggestions work in at least half-a-decent way is to maintain them in the forums but issue them at the same time in the tracker, then provide a link in the forum to the tracker entry, and in the tracker entry to the forum entry.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: x4000 on October 07, 2010, 06:39:45 PM
You're missing the filter controls: you can filter it to just suggestions easily, or make it show even closed issues and not just open ones, etc.  It does everything you described and more, and we can even set up global quick-filters if people want them (or people can do them for themselves, too).
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: keith.lamothe on October 07, 2010, 07:27:18 PM
I think that the tracker is actually better at getting at the info than the forums, but that a lot of people who would jump into a forum discussion won't get near the tracker, let alone comment on a tracker record.  I might be wrong about that.

I think continuing to have how-to-improve-the-game discussions over here is good, it is a forum after all, but the actual one-thread-per-discrete-issue part fits in the tracker.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Lancefighter on October 07, 2010, 08:01:19 PM
I generally agree that the forum works considerably better for mass stuff....... would it be possible to get some sort of bot to link the two? I'm meaning that generally the end user will be able to view it in customary forum form, but as a developer you can look at it to see it in dev-preferred form
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: eRe4s3r on October 07, 2010, 08:16:38 PM
You're missing the filter controls: you can filter it to just suggestions easily, or make it show even closed issues and not just open ones, etc.  It does everything you described and more, and we can even set up global quick-filters if people want them (or people can do them for themselves, too).

Mhh, i need a Tutorial then as its not apparent how thats supposed to work.

the first page i can see is this one (bookmarked)
http://www.arcengames.com/mantisbt/my_view_page.php

No filter controls there and no personalization possible, thats bad (as surely thats the "incoming" page, so i go there

http://www.arcengames.com/mantisbt/view_all_bug_page.php (already the URL indicates thats not what i want..)

Theres a filter yes (Filter by Category), but i can only chose and filter for 1 category, not for multiple. I could SORT the whole thing by category of course, but then i am still shown 90% of stuff i have no use for...

So yeah, this is easily the most confusing filter i have ever seen  :) Or maybe i am just easily confused, still...  I don't understand how to make my own custom filters either. Theres a manage filters but no CREATE custom filters anywhere... If you do make a selectable filter, please have one called "Suggestions" that lists only suggestions ;p

------

And i would much agree to see something like Lancefighter suggests, but likely a bot is going to be way more complex than it sounds. And require unified formating of suggestions...
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: vonduus on October 07, 2010, 11:11:09 PM
I think the suggestions should be allowed to stay in the forums. The best place to discuss a suggestion is in the general discussions forum (this one), because this is where most people will see it and comment on it. Suggestions in the developers section is only seen and discussed by people who know it's there, go take a look, there is not that much discussion going on, compared to here. And I don't think the notes in the bug tracker is a good platform for the kind of social talk that is also important for this kind of forum.

General discussions is also the place where the Community Suggestion Poll is located. I suggest we use the bug tracker to track bugs, and the forums to discuss everything else.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: keith.lamothe on October 07, 2010, 11:42:07 PM
Well, I think the tracker should track suggestions too, at least ones that the suggestor is serious about ;)

But the forums do seem much better suited to an actual discussion environment.  Having that tracker record is very valuable, though, particularly if/when implementation actually starts.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Winter Born on October 08, 2010, 12:06:38 AM
One of the nice things the forum does with one click is show changed/new posts since I last visited.
Also I am more inclined to look at a topic with a lot of hits, again something built into the SMF.
Both of thes probably could be set up in Mantis

I do think the SMF forum does promote more community participation (what it was designed to do :P )
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: vonduus on October 08, 2010, 10:11:58 AM
Well, I think the tracker should track suggestions too, at least ones that the suggestor is serious about ;)

But the forums do seem much better suited to an actual discussion environment.  Having that tracker record is very valuable, though, particularly if/when implementation actually starts.

Of course, when all problems and bugs from the port has been solved, it will be a lot easier to use the bug tracker for suggestions. AIWar has never been a bug-ridden application, in the past bugs were mostly something that came up in connection with implementation of suggestions. I remember this was one of the things that really amazed me, when I first began playing AIWar: The game never crashed on me! When this trait has been re-established, and the game has become bug-free (and it seems you are slowly but steadily getting closer to that goal) perhaps the bug tracker will be more of a suggestions tracker ;)
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: TheMachineIsSentient on October 08, 2010, 11:48:24 AM
I have ported a lot of defects to the bug tracker from the forum. I like the bug tracker for maintaining priorities and managing lots of bugs, but it is certainly inaccessible compared to the forum as it relates to adding new defects and searching on them. The forum maintains categories and allows everybody to add their input fairly easily, where the bug tracker is an extra step and does not have those nicely laid out categories (unless you, the user, are savvy enough to figure it out). I think this is going to exclude a lot of people if you make them use the bug tracker for suggestions, which I agree are best discussed on the forum first.

If a suggestion is so awesome as to be approved, then move it over; locking the suggestion forum will only mean people will make more posts in the general thread area. Part of it may be a laziness problem, but the reason they are too lazy to do it is because it is a few extra steps and a bit of a learning curve to open a very simple suggestion.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Sizzle on October 08, 2010, 12:32:53 PM

Theres a filter yes (Filter by Category), but i can only chose and filter for 1 category, not for multiple. I could SORT the whole thing by category of course, but then i am still shown 90% of stuff i have no use for...

So yeah, this is easily the most confusing filter i have ever seen  :) Or maybe i am just easily confused, still...  I don't understand how to make my own custom filters either. Theres a manage filters but no CREATE custom filters anywhere... If you do make a selectable filter, please have one called "Suggestions" that lists only suggestions ;p


1)  Go to  http://www.arcengames.com/mantisbt/view_all_bug_page.php (http://www.arcengames.com/mantisbt/view_all_bug_page.php)
2)  Click "Advanced Filters"
3)  Select an item to filter on (in your case, perhaps "Category" would be a good place to start)
4)  Ctrl click on each category you want to include in your view (same methodology as file selection in windows explorer -- shift click to select from your currently selected category to the category you're clicking on, etc.)
5) repeat for "Status" for looking at closed issues, or only "considering" and/or "strongly considering"
6) repeat for any other fields you like
7)  Click Apply filter.


Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Sizzle on October 08, 2010, 12:53:42 PM
I have ported a lot of defects to the bug tracker from the forum. I like the bug tracker for maintaining priorities and managing lots of bugs, but it is certainly inaccessible compared to the forum as it relates to adding new defects and searching on them. The forum maintains categories and allows everybody to add their input fairly easily, where the bug tracker is an extra step and does not have those nicely laid out categories (unless you, the user, are savvy enough to figure it out). I think this is going to exclude a lot of people if you make them use the bug tracker for suggestions, which I agree are best discussed on the forum first.

If a suggestion is so awesome as to be approved, then move it over; locking the suggestion forum will only mean people will make more posts in the general thread area. Part of it may be a laziness problem, but the reason they are too lazy to do it is because it is a few extra steps and a bit of a learning curve to open a very simple suggestion.

I think the tracker just needs to be more prominently featured and preferably integrated into the forum so that we don't have to register a new user.  I'm aware that Chris has already looked into this and only found one apparently broken plugin for SMF integration, that doesn't mean it's not a laudible goal nonetheless -- maybe the community can assist in finding one that works.

Maybe a permalink to a "suggestions" view that is pre-defined in mantis at the top of the forums.  Several pre-defined views should work well so that the user can get their feet wet so to speak without having to figure out the filtering themselves.  The bugtracker really is superior in finding out whether something has already been suggested....
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: TheMachineIsSentient on October 08, 2010, 02:49:56 PM
Superior? Forum steps:


I should also add, there is a plaintext search box on the forum which is really handy.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: eRe4s3r on October 08, 2010, 04:10:33 PM

Theres a filter yes (Filter by Category), but i can only chose and filter for 1 category, not for multiple. I could SORT the whole thing by category of course, but then i am still shown 90% of stuff i have no use for...

So yeah, this is easily the most confusing filter i have ever seen  :) Or maybe i am just easily confused, still...  I don't understand how to make my own custom filters either. Theres a manage filters but no CREATE custom filters anywhere... If you do make a selectable filter, please have one called "Suggestions" that lists only suggestions ;p


1)  Go to  http://www.arcengames.com/mantisbt/view_all_bug_page.php (http://www.arcengames.com/mantisbt/view_all_bug_page.php)
2)  Click "Advanced Filters"
3)  Select an item to filter on (in your case, perhaps "Category" would be a good place to start)
4)  Ctrl click on each category you want to include in your view (same methodology as file selection in windows explorer -- shift click to select from your currently selected category to the category you're clicking on, etc.)
5) repeat for "Status" for looking at closed issues, or only "considering" and/or "strongly considering"
6) repeat for any other fields you like
7)  Click Apply filter.




Thanks, and, wow, that is totally unintuitive. Who puts a Shift Select function in a DROP down menu that instantly closes when you press left mouse button? Why isn't it automatically a shift function and closes when you click apply.....

Ehm yeah, but thank you for the Tutorial ;) That works fine and that reduces my complaints by -1- ;)
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Mánagarmr on October 09, 2010, 01:41:27 AM

Theres a filter yes (Filter by Category), but i can only chose and filter for 1 category, not for multiple. I could SORT the whole thing by category of course, but then i am still shown 90% of stuff i have no use for...

So yeah, this is easily the most confusing filter i have ever seen  :) Or maybe i am just easily confused, still...  I don't understand how to make my own custom filters either. Theres a manage filters but no CREATE custom filters anywhere... If you do make a selectable filter, please have one called "Suggestions" that lists only suggestions ;p


1)  Go to  http://www.arcengames.com/mantisbt/view_all_bug_page.php (http://www.arcengames.com/mantisbt/view_all_bug_page.php)
2)  Click "Advanced Filters"
3)  Select an item to filter on (in your case, perhaps "Category" would be a good place to start)
4)  Ctrl click on each category you want to include in your view (same methodology as file selection in windows explorer -- shift click to select from your currently selected category to the category you're clicking on, etc.)
5) repeat for "Status" for looking at closed issues, or only "considering" and/or "strongly considering"
6) repeat for any other fields you like
7)  Click Apply filter.




Thanks, and, wow, that is totally unintuitive. Who puts a Shift Select function in a DROP down menu that instantly closes when you press left mouse button? Why isn't it automatically a shift function and closes when you click apply.....

Ehm yeah, but thank you for the Tutorial ;) That works fine and that reduces my complaints by -1- ;)
Umm, it works like that in...pretty much every program that has drop downs O.o (And you are allowed to select more than one option ofc)
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Fiskbit on October 10, 2010, 04:40:47 AM
Chris, in case you missed it, Revlry in the comments over at http://www.pcgamer.com/2010/09/30/ai-war-and-the-hidden-cost-of-indie-games/ (http://www.pcgamer.com/2010/09/30/ai-war-and-the-hidden-cost-of-indie-games/) offered to do some free advertising. If you haven't yet, that'd probably be worth following up on. :)

Also, 3 of us were talking in IRC several nights ago about how nice PvP would be for the game and that it'd really revitalize the game for us. I know that's a pretty small sample set and that there's a lot on your plate right now with AI War over the next few months, but I figure I'd throw the PvP idea out there as something to think about for the not-too-distant future to try to make the game appealing to more of the RTS audience. I think that AI War in a player-versus-player context would offer up an experience which differs significantly from other games, especially if the AI were included in that experience for terrain, pressure, and interesting happenings. I realize your expertise with RTS games is really skewed toward the co-op, that it's a non-trivial addition because there'd be some balance and gameplay tweaks required to get it just right, and it'd slightly complicate adding new things in the future because their impact on multiplayer would have to be considered. However, when it comes to increasing the size of the potential audience for the game, this seems to me to be a powerful possibility. The PvP crowd, though much smaller than the number of people who play solo, is pretty vocal, and this feature could get the game a lot more mention on forums, as well as additional AARs (with views on both sides of the battle!) that seem to get a lot of attention.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Lancefighter on October 10, 2010, 11:17:44 PM
Posting to say something along the lines of 'i was there'.


(and think that pvp would be good)
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: x4000 on October 10, 2010, 11:58:37 PM
Chris, in case you missed it, Revlry in the comments over at http://www.pcgamer.com/2010/09/30/ai-war-and-the-hidden-cost-of-indie-games/ (http://www.pcgamer.com/2010/09/30/ai-war-and-the-hidden-cost-of-indie-games/) offered to do some free advertising. If you haven't yet, that'd probably be worth following up on. :)

He also emailed Phil, I'm pretty sure Phil followed up.

Also, 3 of us were talking in IRC several nights ago about how nice PvP would be for the game and that it'd really revitalize the game for us. I know that's a pretty small sample set and that there's a lot on your plate right now with AI War over the next few months, but I figure I'd throw the PvP idea out there as something to think about for the not-too-distant future to try to make the game appealing to more of the RTS audience. I think that AI War in a player-versus-player context would offer up an experience which differs significantly from other games, especially if the AI were included in that experience for terrain, pressure, and interesting happenings. I realize your expertise with RTS games is really skewed toward the co-op, that it's a non-trivial addition because there'd be some balance and gameplay tweaks required to get it just right, and it'd slightly complicate adding new things in the future because their impact on multiplayer would have to be considered. However, when it comes to increasing the size of the potential audience for the game, this seems to me to be a powerful possibility. The PvP crowd, though much smaller than the number of people who play solo, is pretty vocal, and this feature could get the game a lot more mention on forums, as well as additional AARs (with views on both sides of the battle!) that seem to get a lot of attention.

Possibly, we'll have to see when we're looking at features for the november expansion.  It's certainly crossed my mind as a possibility, at least.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: superking on October 11, 2010, 06:23:45 AM
Q: how is the 4.0 release working in terms of the expansions etc? is 4.0 released seperate from the past expansions or is everything being bundled into one edition for the big release?
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: x4000 on October 11, 2010, 09:39:44 AM
Q: how is the 4.0 release working in terms of the expansions etc? is 4.0 released seperate from the past expansions or is everything being bundled into one edition for the big release?

Right now it's all bundled just because of the beta.  But later there will be separate installers for each, when we come out of beta.  It's basically going to work like it always has, but with an installer for each expansion rather than a zip-file-that's-not-a-zip-file.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: superking on October 11, 2010, 10:18:57 AM
is there going to be an all inclusive 4.0 bundle, like a gold edition?
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: x4000 on October 11, 2010, 10:20:07 AM
Probably not.  We're planning another micro-expansion for early December, so if we do a gold edition it will probably be alongside that.  Not that there won't be more future expansions, but we'd hate to release 4.0 and a gold edition, and then a new expansion a month and a half later.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: keith.lamothe on October 11, 2010, 10:23:05 AM
Yea, I feel a special kind of annoyance when a game series has a "Complete" edition and then later adds an expansion that isn't included in the Complete package ;)  Not that I mind it getting more new stuff, but it's basically a form of deception (albeit unintentional, they might have really thought they were done).

"Gold" isn't as dishonest, but I think people could still get the wrong idea.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: x4000 on October 11, 2010, 10:23:44 AM
I remember Neverwinter nights had gold, platinum, and some others, it seems like.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: mlaskus on October 11, 2010, 01:52:54 PM
I guess it wouldn't be an issue if you made it clear that this Gold edition does not mean an end to the game's development, but symbolizes a milestone of a sort.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: keith.lamothe on October 11, 2010, 01:55:08 PM
I think just a different phrase would be better in general, but yea, it can be done :)
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Ozymandiaz on October 11, 2010, 04:46:25 PM
I guess it wouldn't be an issue if you made it clear that this Gold edition does not mean an end to the game's development, but symbolizes a milestone of a sort.

Like 4.0 ;)?
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: mlaskus on October 11, 2010, 06:08:06 PM
Yeah ;)
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: vonduus on October 12, 2010, 07:10:42 PM
Chris, has any Danish TV-companies and newspapers contacted you yet? If not, let me know.

Next week there is a discussion in the Danish parliament on renewed government support to the Danish gaming industry. Unity is/was based here in Copenhagen, but they seem to have gone multinational and moved their HQ to San Francisco. They still have a Copenhagen office, though.

Unity seems to be an international success, I believe they don't need government funding any more. But they are almost unknown here in DK. This surprises me, no one I have talked to, including two programmers I recently met, have ever heard of Unity, or OTTE, as the company was formerly called. Perhaps it is possible to get the media interested in AIWar via the connection to Unity? The upcoming parliament discussion transforms this whole thing into breaking news, and Danish reporters love success stories, ugly ducklings becoming swans and all that stuff. And the fact that you can download the old version of Unity for free, combined with national narcissism, would almost guarantee that at least some reporters would be interested.

One problem could be that the reporters would focus solely on Unity and forget AIWar  (national narcissism again). But on the other hand, a game engine is not something to show off to everybody, but a finished game is. If Unity's PR manager had been Danish, I could have given her an informal call right away and discussed the possibilities, but she is Russian, and my Russian has become rather rusty over the years. Also I don't know how Russians feel about informal calls ;) But anyway, I believe there might be some potential free exposure for you in this current state of affairs.

So far I have just sent a short email to some select reporters (two TV-stations, two national newspapers and a gaming magazine), pointing them at the Arcen web site and leaving them your email address. I could send another email, this time also mentioning Unity, while you send some of your own material and some serials?

What do you think?
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: x4000 on October 12, 2010, 08:18:21 PM
Wow... I think that's great!  I hadn't really realized that Unity started there, but I'm not surprised.  I'm happy to talk to anyone you can send my way; I'd write more, but that about sums it up. :)
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: x4000 on October 12, 2010, 08:18:46 PM
To clarify one thing: no one has contacted me yet from the Danish press.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Mánagarmr on October 15, 2010, 08:47:19 AM
I know it's a drop in the ocean, but I just purchased another copy of AI:War with both expansions as a gift for a friend of mine.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: keith.lamothe on October 15, 2010, 10:28:44 AM
If we don't get any drops, we don't get an ocean ;)  Thank you for the support :)
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: x4000 on October 15, 2010, 11:29:09 AM
Every bit helps! We're very grateful. :) Thank you!
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Thumpy on October 15, 2010, 05:00:39 PM
well, i'm not sure if purchasing CON is considered even a drop in the ocean, but at least it's for a good cause. just bought it :)

i'll write a good review on german amazon soon, though.

Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: x4000 on October 15, 2010, 05:04:09 PM
Many thanks. :)
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Spikey00 on October 16, 2010, 10:16:44 PM
You lot should finish 4.0 and get attention of Gamespot to re-review it, somehow.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: x4000 on October 16, 2010, 10:32:47 PM
Gamespot never reviewed it to begin with.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Gallant Dragon on October 18, 2010, 08:39:53 PM
Why not?! >:(
Maybe we could start a giant mail campaign to get the big reviewers' attention...
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: x4000 on October 18, 2010, 08:42:02 PM
There's nowhere to mail them, and they don't tend to review indie games that don't win a contest or something.  IGN and Gamespot have completely ignored our existence, even though we're on Direct2Drive (a subsidiary of IGN).
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Gallant Dragon on October 18, 2010, 08:43:05 PM
How to get their attention...
Any ideas?  I'm pretty sure once they get wind of this game they'd love it.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: x4000 on October 18, 2010, 08:44:47 PM
Well, Gamespot banned me from their forums a year ago for posting about the game, so I've no way of talking to them at all.  I'm not sure what to do to get them to know about stuff, they leave no vectors that I can see.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Gallant Dragon on October 18, 2010, 08:50:09 PM
Banned you?  :o
For what, spam?
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: x4000 on October 18, 2010, 08:50:29 PM
Yup, that's what they said.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Gallant Dragon on October 18, 2010, 08:57:45 PM
So they banned you and didn't bother to look at what you were spamming about?
Mind you, if it was the sort of copy-and-pasted-looking post that's on a thread which is totally unrelated to your post, I'd understand.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: x4000 on October 18, 2010, 09:00:37 PM
So they banned you and didn't bother to look at what you were spamming about?

Yep.

Mind you, if it was the sort of copy-and-pasted-looking post that's on a thread which is totally unrelated to your post, I'd understand.

No, I wrote a response to an existing long thread where someone had asked about games like this, and I mentioned a number of other games and also AI War, in the interest of fairness.  I made two such posts.  However, this was in May of 2009, and I wasn't even on Impulse yet, let alone Steam or GamersGate or D2D, so I was a complete unknown and just trying to get anyone to look at the game.  I even explained what I was doing to the forum mod that banned me, apologized, and said I wouldn't post about my own stuff any more if they didn't want to hear about it, but he didn't care and left me perma-banned.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Giegue on October 18, 2010, 09:32:04 PM
heh, I know what you mean. I was on this forum that banned me cause they thought I hacked my way into the admin panel (I didn't actually get in), but it was just a bug in the forums. but they banned me anyway, even though I explained. it was also the community I planned to launch my first game... oh well. what can you do. (except rub in their faces how popular AI War is no thanks to them  8) )

(there should be an evil face emoticon here...)
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: keith.lamothe on October 18, 2010, 09:33:47 PM
We have a policy of not being evil, hence the lack of the emoticon ;)

Devious, now, there's another story...
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Gallant Dragon on October 18, 2010, 09:34:14 PM
So they banned you and didn't bother to look at what you were spamming about?

Yep.

Mind you, if it was the sort of copy-and-pasted-looking post that's on a thread which is totally unrelated to your post, I'd understand.

No, I wrote a response to an existing long thread where someone had asked about games like this, and I mentioned a number of other games and also AI War, in the interest of fairness.  I made two such posts.  However, this was in May of 2009, and I wasn't even on Impulse yet, let alone Steam or GamersGate or D2D, so I was a complete unknown and just trying to get anyone to look at the game.  I even explained what I was doing to the forum mod that banned me, apologized, and said I wouldn't post about my own stuff any more if they didn't want to hear about it, but he didn't care and left me perma-banned.

Wow, fun...
Anyone else have ideas for catching the attention of the big boys?

heh, I know what you mean. I was on this forum that banned me cause they thought I hacked my way into the admin panel (I didn't actually get in), but it was just a bug in the forums. but they banned me anyway, even though I explained. it was also the community I planned to launch my first game... oh well. what can you do. (except rub in their faces how popular AI War is no thanks to them  8) )

(there should be an evil face emoticon here...)

:[ (vampire)
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: x4000 on October 18, 2010, 09:34:29 PM
Yeah, there's certainly all kinds out there.  Sigh.  ;)
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Gallant Dragon on October 19, 2010, 12:02:57 AM
What about IGN or Gamespy?
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Salamander on October 19, 2010, 05:29:37 PM
I just recently ordered Children of Neinzul as I was chomping at the bit to play again (wanted to get more of the changes implemented before starting a new game and making my old games obsolete) although I normally avoid betas these days. I've gotten one friend to try the demo and if he likes it, I'm buying him all the AI War stuff as he's in bad financial shape and I'm back to work. Once my other close friends show up in ventrillo, I'll get them to try it/buy it too. I'm currently DLing the new 3.7.11 patch as mine was only at 3.1.something and reading all these changes I wasn't seeing in my game was confusing! I will mention this to other people as well as I think AI War is a great game (I have not tried Tidalis as of yet), and would love to see more stuff for it, and more people playing it.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: keith.lamothe on October 19, 2010, 05:31:14 PM
Thank you very much for the support :)

By the way, 3.711 and so on are really beta, if you want the latest "stable" beta that would be 3.189; your original install should be able to automatically update to it.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Mánagarmr on October 20, 2010, 07:07:36 AM
Yeah, the 3.7xx branch is experimental at best right now. It has some gamebreaking flukes that tend to rear their ugly heads around a bit. So unless you're in for bugcrunching, stick to 3.189 until the 4.0 version is released.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: x4000 on October 20, 2010, 09:55:15 AM
until the 4.0 version is released.

Which is Monday.  It's getting loads closer every day, but the tutorials still aren't there for new players.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Giegue on October 20, 2010, 05:27:37 PM
I just can't wait for the trailer. those are the best part!! or at least a good part.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: x4000 on October 20, 2010, 05:31:04 PM
I just can't wait for the trailer. those are the best part!! or at least a good part.

Yeah, I still gotta do one of those.  ::)
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Salamander on October 20, 2010, 06:28:38 PM
I am a regular at TESNexus for Oblivion Modding and posted this:

http://www.thenexusforums.com/index.php?/topic/249249-ai-war-fleet-command/ (http://www.thenexusforums.com/index.php?/topic/249249-ai-war-fleet-command/)

Hopefully get a few curious gamers to at least take a look!
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: x4000 on October 20, 2010, 07:09:29 PM
Thank you! :)
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Panman on October 20, 2010, 11:35:28 PM
Saw several articles on this game on GameSquad.  Tried the demo and have since purchased the game and all of the add-on's.  This is one of those games that just gets under your skin and you can't stop playing. 

Congrats and best of luck!
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: x4000 on October 20, 2010, 11:39:12 PM
Thank you! :)
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Salamander on October 24, 2010, 11:52:40 AM
I went ahead and purchased Tidalis via Steam yesterday to give it a try. I wasn't sure if it was my cup of tea or not, but for only 10 bucks, how could I go wrong? I've spent more than that on MMOs I don't even play anymore. Between TF2, some AI War, and my HoI3 game as Canada on the side on top of 'things to do' from a certain someone, I didn't get much playtime yet, but so far so good.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: x4000 on October 24, 2010, 12:12:26 PM
Many thanks, and I hope you enjoy it! :)
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: ZedF on October 27, 2010, 10:09:31 PM
By the way, for those of you trying to get your friends interested in AI War (thank you!), if they don't like it that doesn't mean there's nothing to be gained; if you could give us their feedback (or better yet, herd them to these forums so they can tell us themselves) that could be really helpful.  Obviously there are things we can't or won't change but often there's something that we can do.  Also, I've found it's often possible to take those stated desires and distill them down to the real "itch", and then find another way of scratching that which does fit with our philosophy.

I tried to get my brother interested,  but the gameplay did not turn him on, even though he's very much into conquer the galaxy games like Master of Orion and such -- he particularly enjoys Sword of the Stars by indy developer Kerberos Productions.  Usually he's *very* involved in any forums for games he enjoys, so perhaps I can get him to post at least something here....

But the feedback in a nutshell from him is that he felt that with the fleet sizes in AI War that all the units 'felt' the same, or were simply variations on a theme, there may be tons of units but when you have a swarm of a bazillion going around, they're all just flying guns that go pew pew -- build a few hundred ships, fling them at the enemy.  (He's much into designing his own ships, also enjoys Gratuitous Space Battles).

Personally I don't think that's the case, but again I'm passing along 'feels like'  not 'is'.  I'll try to finagle him posting something more lengthy.  Do you want the feedback in a particular place?  I know we have the Suggestions forum, but for one-off posts that might not have the person coming back....

Decided to log in and post. Sizzle's brother here.

For me the biggest issue is I've moved away from RTS, as a gamer, over the years. I enjoyed Dune 2 when it came out, but RTS was already getting old for me when Starcraft I came out, and that's quite some time ago. I have never really enjoyed the TA-style resource acquisition mechanic that makes me feel like I should always be doing something with those resources that are constantly rolling in. I am a much more methodical planner and definitely like to take my time making (and optimizing) strategic decisions. Even a relatively slow RTS like Sins of a Solar Empire just didn't fly with me, as a game I'd want to commit to; the combat mechanics seemed like a fancier version of rock-paper-scissors, and the strategic side of the game struck me as a bit lacking.

So a quality 4X game such as Sword of the Stars, that's easy on the micromanagement without stinting on depth of gameplay, is just plain more up my alley right off the bat than any RTS. (BTW, SotS is definitely worth another look, especially with SotS2 due out next year. But if you do, make sure to get the Complete Collection, as the game has matured a lot through the various expansions. I imagine you guys share a similar philosophy with Kerberos as far as ongoing support goes.  :) )

Now, I would like to like AI War! I think that a solid AI is extremely important and I've heard no complaints in that department. I very much appreciate the asymmetrical approach to AI development and find the concept refreshing. While from my "non-RTS gamer" point of view, the units seem by-and-large like spammable flying blobs that go pew-pew and don't have a lot of personality, where I prefer carefully crafted warships that are both aesthetically pleasing and capable on an individual basis rather than en-masse... I understand and accept that there is real variety in the number of different kinds of units in terms of how they work, even if this isn't immediately apparent to someone who has mostly given up on RTS conventions and gameplay.

I decided give AI war another shot now that 4.0 is out; some of the changes may help (both on the UI side and streamlined gameplay side,) and improved tutorials certainly wouldn't hurt. (Playing a solo game where I can pause at will and not feel like I am making my brother wait on me could be helpful too.) Because I like to support indie developers that I feel may develop games that are up my alley in future, and Arcen seems to have a certain amount of credibility as a strategy game developer, I went ahead and purchased AI War even though it's not exactly what I normally prefer to play.

Hopefully the 4.0 changes and a fresh start will help. :)
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Mánagarmr on October 28, 2010, 01:05:37 AM
Wow, that's quite a text. You're one of the first people I've seen who've clearly stated "I don't really like your game, but I respect it" in a very respectful manner. Kudos for that! Giving critizism without critizising is not a common skill :D

As for that actual content, I'll leave that up to Chris and Kieth.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Sizzle on October 28, 2010, 03:58:12 AM
Wow, that's quite a text. You're one of the first people I've seen who've clearly stated "I don't really like your game, but I respect it" in a very respectful manner. Kudos for that! Giving critizism without critizising is not a common skill :D

As for that actual content, I'll leave that up to Chris and Kieth.

That's my brother for you... ;)   Biased opinion, but I appreciate his contributions to any forum he visits!

(Btw ZedF -- feels weird calling you by your screen name lol -- I'm pleasantly surprised you decided to give it another shot!)

- You might like playing on the smaller ship caps setting, it will have fewer but more powerful ships.
- There is an increased emphasis on starships in 4.0
- The AI guardians are in the 'fewer but powerful, and most definitely unique in flavor' vein.

Oh and future rule -- pause away in any games with me -- we are in voice communication at the time, by and large, and you're not such a bad conversationalist that I need to busy myself with the game!


Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: KamikazeRockets on October 28, 2010, 06:32:08 AM
I knew about AI War for sometime now, but I never gave a shot at it until today.
I saw 2 or 3 screenshots and thought that it was just one of many RTS wannabe.
Never read any description or watched any trailer.
For that, I want to apologies now.

This morning, I found out that new expansion was out, so I took a quick peek at your trailer and read through STEAM store page.
I never knew that AI War was so original, and it just sounded like an amazing game.
Then I read this forum, and now I just felt a need to support such an honest developer.
I just bought 2 sets of AI War and all both expansion packs. (for my friend and myself)
Please forgive me; I need you people to keep producing great games in the future.

I’m still at work, and haven’t played the game yet, but I really hope I love this game.
By the way, sorry for my shotty English, I’m Japanese.  ;)
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: leaston on October 28, 2010, 07:08:11 AM
What an amazing thread!! I've never seen any games company be so honest and open and to ask for help from what looks to be a very supportive community.

After looking at reviews and reading around the forum and website for the game, I've just done my bit and bought a copy. AI War does look fantastic and I'll be spending some time on the tutorial later today.

The Indie and smaller developers are the ones I tend to give my money to these days as the support and personal customer service is generally far better than with the big corporations. Not to mention that the games are (imo) often far more fun and interesting as the indie developer invests more than just their time in creating the software.

Good luck with the future and I really do hope your fortunes turn around. I wish you all the best with the success of the games.

Cheers,
Leaston
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Mánagarmr on October 28, 2010, 07:48:33 AM
I knew about AI War for sometime now, but I never gave a shot at it until today.
I saw 2 or 3 screenshots and thought that it was just one of many RTS wannabe.
Never read any description or watched any trailer.
For that, I want to apologies now.

This morning, I found out that new expansion was out, so I took a quick peek at your trailer and read through STEAM store page.
I never knew that AI War was so original, and it just sounded like an amazing game.
Then I read this forum, and now I just felt a need to support such an honest developer.
I just bought 2 sets of AI War and all both expansion packs. (for my friend and myself)
Please forgive me; I need you people to keep producing great games in the future.

I’m still at work, and haven’t played the game yet, but I really hope I love this game.
By the way, sorry for my shotty English, I’m Japanese.  ;)
Youkoso kudasai! (is that correct?)

In fact, your english is splendid, so do not worry. Also, there is no need to apologize, we're just happy you are here! I wish you many happy and fun hours with AI:War!
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Mánagarmr on October 28, 2010, 07:49:17 AM
What an amazing thread!! I've never seen any games company be so honest and open and to ask for help from what looks to be a very supportive community.

After looking at reviews and reading around the forum and website for the game, I've just done my bit and bought a copy. AI War does look fantastic and I'll be spending some time on the tutorial later today.

The Indie and smaller developers are the ones I tend to give my money to these days as the support and personal customer service is generally far better than with the big corporations. Not to mention that the games are (imo) often far more fun and interesting as the indie developer invests more than just their time in creating the software.

Good luck with the future and I really do hope your fortunes turn around. I wish you all the best with the success of the games.

Cheers,
Leaston
I can't say much more than that I agree 100% with what you said. Welcome!
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Salamander on October 28, 2010, 10:07:13 AM
Your post is not just fair and eloquent ZedF, but you sound a lot like me. I too prefer turn-based over RTS and I have SotS complete, but haven't played it that much yet. SE4 is still my all-time favorite 4x game (with MoM, MoO, MoO2, Civ 1,2, and 4 close behind). While I apparently like RTSs more than you, I am not a huge fan normally, but AI War just plays better than most. The AI for both the enemy AI and in reference to our units is far better than generally seen in other RTSs. I like the fact that if you just form a huge blob of units and vomit them at the AI, you may win some battles, but the attrition will be extreme and the new Eyes can put the kibosh on that as well.

My one old friend and I started my first ever multi-player game of AI War last night after I sent him the game+packs through Steam and I already gifted the complete game via Steam to another old friend so our plans to make more people play the game is on track.  ;D
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Lancefighter on October 28, 2010, 10:14:25 AM
se4 is amazing >.>
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Mánagarmr on October 28, 2010, 11:51:00 AM
SEIV was a favourite of mine, but thanks to the Balance Mod, I'm stuck in SEV actually.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: keith.lamothe on October 28, 2010, 12:00:01 PM
I really like SEV (never actually played IV), and the balance mod, but I find that the game bogs down in both turn processing times and the amount of time it takes me to tell it what I want it to do each turn, in ways that don't seem necessary.  That said, it has one of the most robust interfaces I've ever seen for handling the large amount of relevant data, which is nice since my background is in web-database programming.

One of the things I really like about AI War over 4X games (though in general I prefer 4X stuff since I've never been an RTS-afficianado myself) is that it can maintain a decent realtime pace of progress even in the late game.  You can pause if you need to, but the game isn't always waiting on your input, and doesn't spend several seconds processing each turn, etc.

Welcome to the forums, ZedF :)
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Lancefighter on October 28, 2010, 12:04:14 PM
SEv never really did it for me.. it just wasnt the same as se4.

Also, it is completely messed up when attempting to play on vista/win7 without hacking at cleartype stuff.

But yes - the fact that after a while the player micromanaging everything becomes incredibly tedious..
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: keith.lamothe on October 28, 2010, 12:06:36 PM
Yea, I had to hack out the cleartype and use 16-bit color, etc.  A bit of a technical learning curve there ;)

But the game itself was immensely enjoyable, until I got to the point where I just didn't have the rl time to do the amount of manual input it seemed to desire of me.  Perhaps I should have looked harder for automation tools.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: ZedF on October 28, 2010, 12:21:48 PM
I really like SEV (never actually played IV), and the balance mod, but I find that the game bogs down in both turn processing times and the amount of time it takes me to tell it what I want it to do each turn, in ways that don't seem necessary.
I agree that late game micromanagement explosion can be a big problem for 4X games in general. It's one of the reasons I've had a somewhat rocky relationship with the Civ franchise over the years.

SotS actually has some design philosophy and in-game tools that can help with this (along with being generally anti-micro by design in the first place.) The game is constructed so that there are frequently only a handful of planets you are actively concentrating on at any given time, and the rest just contribute funds to your empire's coffers and only need a small amount of attention, if any. Also there are a couple diplomatic tools that help you convince clearly inferior rivals to surrender without a fight, and a scenario option that allows you to win by acclamation if you control a majority of the galaxy.

That said, it is definitely an issue I wish more 4X developers would pay better attention to.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Lancefighter on October 28, 2010, 12:36:42 PM
well, thats just it - I am one of those players, where if you give me a chance, I will (try to) micromanage every single one of my units. in something turn based, this is fairly simple.
 I grew up on MAX,  (mechanized assault an exploration), which I wholly blame my addiction to this type of strategy game. (and not to mention, i believe, the first game of its scale to offer full map -> few units view).. pretty much a game that requires micromanagement to get places, at least the way I played.. I would always end up blowing up radars and such and sit 'just' out of sensor range >.>
Awesome game, tis a pity that the AI isnt fantastic  >:(

But right - even se4 had some things, they.. in theory had a system of ministers, which I absolutely never used. I assume they did something, but.. er.. *shrug*
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Mánagarmr on October 28, 2010, 12:48:47 PM
Hmmm
So, I just reinstalled SEV and Balancemod...(got inspired... damn you!) This Cleartype hacking? Links as how to do this?
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Salamander on October 28, 2010, 01:09:33 PM
I never used the ministers in SE4 either, but I too do a lot of micromanaging. I've only actually finished a handful of my SE4 games as it gets to the:"I know I'm going to win this game. I just need to mop-up my enemies" stage. I spent most of my time designing ships and units as I found that the most enjoyable aspect of the game. I used a heavily modded version of the base SE4 game with lots more hull types and expanded the value of the special (organic, crystalline, etc) techs, especially if you took  2 or more and could make some interesting hybrid components and facilities.

I bought and have played SE5 but I always cringe at the AI handling of my fleets as I always did it manually in SE4 and my designs virtually required it. Keeping my all point defense SDNs moving with the offensively armed ships took my intervention as I was never happy with the AI settings for the ships in SE4 either.

My favorite Paradox titles (EU3, Vic 2, and HoI3) are all psuedo-realtime but you can pause them and adjust the speed up and down to taste, and they still have a turn-based game 'feel' to them. I just wish they had less annoying bugs and less of a checksum issue between people who buy the game different ways.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Admiral on October 28, 2010, 08:59:51 PM
SEIV was a favourite of mine

I built the original SE:IV Play by Web site. It finally went away about a year ago and is now a completely new site run by someone else. That was a fun game.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Azure on October 29, 2010, 06:15:35 AM
Hi guys!

It wasn't until a couple hours ago that I got to know about AI War. I tried the demo for an hour or so and then I dove into this forum. I'm unemployed at the moment and I really wish to be able to live out from what I write so I couldn't help but spare some of my scarce euros to help such a great piece of time-engulfing brainy entertainment.

I wish I could do some more, at least for the moment I'm writing this while Impulse is installing my copy of AI War + the 2 expansions  ;)

Forgive my weird English, I'm from Spain so I will surely write some  ??? thingies  ::)

See you around here!
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: keith.lamothe on October 29, 2010, 08:39:21 AM
Thank you very much for the support :)
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Salamander on October 29, 2010, 10:02:07 AM
I can't believe I forgot to mention Dominions 2 & 3 among my turn-based strategy games! In a similar move to what I did for my friends wiht AI War, I also bought copies of Dominions 3 for several of my close friends. Now I'm debating buying Tidalis for them all too just because I can.  :P
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: RCIX on October 29, 2010, 09:10:35 PM
So 4.0's been out for a whole 2 days! How are the sales going? :)
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: x4000 on October 29, 2010, 10:51:43 PM
So 4.0's been out for a whole 2 days! How are the sales going? :)

We've made more in the last two days than we did in the last two months (even with all the hoopla about our financial situation).  So, that's definitely an improvement.  I think we'll be able to make it to January at this stage, if the sale keeps doing as well as it has been over the next few days.  And if LotS does well, maybe a couple more months beyond that.  It's looking like we might actually be clawing our way out to the point where we can get the first Alden Ridge betas out in the spring, and ride off that plus possibly more AI War expansions if we have to.  It's not the path I'd planned on months ago, but it's not oblivion either.  That's all contingent on things continuing on their current course, naturally, but so far so good, so fingers crossed. :)
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Winter Born on October 30, 2010, 01:02:34 AM
Yay!
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Rustayne on October 30, 2010, 06:55:19 AM
That's great news x4000.  Glad to hear you guys are doing a bit better.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: x4000 on October 30, 2010, 09:23:23 AM
Me too. Thanks for all the support guys! :)
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: HitmanN on October 30, 2010, 01:46:20 PM
I'm a bit behind here. Purchased TZR last night. ;) Gonna look into CoN too eventually. Good to hear things are going good though!
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Dathknight on October 30, 2010, 06:58:41 PM
I've played AI War again after an half year. The changes are awesome, the music is amazing (Revelations 9-6 is a masterpiece) and the game is pure fun. Keep on working like this. :D
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Mánagarmr on October 30, 2010, 07:05:12 PM
Wewt! Glad to see things are improving! Here's to it staying that way!
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: keith.lamothe on October 30, 2010, 07:09:39 PM
Yea, seeing the numbers go up like a good sale and stay with that trend was a bit relief :)  Of course, part of that is CoN, but we're also very happy to contribute to Child's Play.

Anyway, the difficulties have taught us a lot of important lessons, and it looks like we'll have a chance to see if we've learned from them ;)
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: KingIsaacLinksr on October 30, 2010, 10:00:43 PM
I haven't really pushed on my contacts, so maybe I can encourage some purchasing.  I hope. 

Great to hear your not going into oblivion, I would be a sad panda. 

King
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: keith.lamothe on October 30, 2010, 10:03:23 PM
Well, we wouldn't completely disappear, at least so long as the revenue covered the LLC fees and webhosting, but we would have to drop a _lot_ from even our worst months for it to get that bad.  Of course, that would mean no paid staff time and us needing to find other sources of things like food, which as you can imagine isn't conducive to much getting done.

But things are looking up, at least short-term :)
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Lancefighter on October 31, 2010, 03:05:32 PM
forums and IRC are considerably more crowded-feeling than they were before..
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: x4000 on November 01, 2010, 12:13:13 PM
Tell me about it.  Good to have all the new players!
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Texashawk on November 02, 2010, 01:55:12 AM
Greetings; new poster and Arcen fan here.

I have to say, tried your demo on Saturday and fell in love in the first hour (after working through part of the intermediate tutorial) and immediately purchased the whole bundle through Impulse.

I have since put about 4-5 hours into the game, and once I 'get' the interrelations between the installations, ships, units, and resources I can only shake my head in awe at how precise the strategy indeed is in this game, and this is from someone who typically hates RTS and even didn't like SOASE (much, though I play it once in a while) No, my heart is in true 4X and wargames - and not shallow either; I typically play War in the Pacific:AE, Fall from Heaven II (Rise from Erebus mod), Harpoon3, Aurora, and Distant Worlds (yes, technically it's RTS but if you haven't played it, try it; you'll see why I consider it a 4x). So I love my hardcore games.

HOWEVER.

The ONLY thing that really got me to stop and take a few seconds to look at this game wasn't the trailer.

It wasn't the screenshots.

It wasn't the reviews.

It was the concept. A game in which humanity LOST the 4X race! A game in which the AI has essentially wiped us out! A game in which only scattered, ragtag bands of humanity must clutch onto what little advanced technology is left, and claw and scrap their way to the central computer world, and destroy SHODAN. Or Skynet. Or XERXES. Or Mother. Or whoever.

The point is, finally, you get to be (sort of) John freakin' Connor in a grand strategy game!! And that, once I realized what it was, was the kicker.

Man vs. machine. And machine has humanity hanging off the ravine.

THAT is what you need to get out there. I have seen this game in many places, and dismissed it out of hand because THE CORE CONCEPT WAS NOT DRIVEN HOME. The concept is fantastic, but were it not for a little blurb linked from a forum I frequent, I never would have realized what this game was about. Concept got me to the door; execution brought me cheerfully though.

MARKET. THE. CONCEPT. As a former advertising major, I can not stress this enough. GET YOUR CONCEPT OUT THERE IN BOLD PRINT.

Good luck, Arcen!!
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Texashawk on November 02, 2010, 02:12:10 AM
Hell, thinking about it more, I even have a tagline for you!

"Commander, the machines have taken the galaxy; we are down to a single planet. The human race stands an eyelash from the finish line.
In these last days, you must battle to ensure we never cross."

 8)

Steve



Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Ozymandiaz on November 02, 2010, 04:53:53 AM
Indeed, getting the real essence and concpet of AI War out would be a good idea. I must admit, I did not buy it the first time I saw it on steam back in january (wow, its been a long tiem already...), only after a friend told me about it. Then I was hooked, hehe :)

forums and IRC are considerably more crowded-feeling than they were before..

Indeed! :) Amny new faces here, and thats a good thing
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Ozymandiaz on November 03, 2010, 07:14:42 AM
Have you considred making an Arcen reddit account?

I have not used that site much previously, but the last weeks I have been using it a lot. The community is good natured from what I see and likes to take part in teh happenings in the world.

I tried announcing the new expansion for AI War there myself, but I am not a marketing guy ;) But comming from Arcen officially might get you some more attention :)


Just an idea at least.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: x4000 on November 03, 2010, 10:27:32 AM
I actually had an x4000 account there, and have posted many times. Usually I don't post news, as from trials that has been less successful, but we've had posts from others on the front page of overall reddit twice, and on the top of the gaming section half a dozen or more times. It is indeed a good site, although it was distressing when they basically turned on me at the mention of financial difficulties. You get a lot of self-important comments then from people that sneer and assume one thing without really reading the article. Sigh. But overall it's been a very good site to us.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Ozymandiaz on November 03, 2010, 10:44:15 AM
I actually had an x4000 account there, and have posted many times. Usually I don't post news, as from trials that has been less successful, but we've had posts from others on the front page of overall reddit twice, and on the top of the gaming section half a dozen or more times. It is indeed a good site, although it was distressing when they basically turned on me at the mention of financial difficulties. You get a lot of self-important comments then from people that sneer and assume one thing without really reading the article. Sigh. But overall it's been a very good site to us.

Yes, there are unfortunalty some of thoose out there, and they like to voice themself out loud :/
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: x4000 on November 03, 2010, 11:51:25 AM
It's definitely a hazard of the Internets, for sure.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: RCIX on November 03, 2010, 01:20:57 PM
Yea, for reasons i can't comprehend the vocal minority of whatever basically owns [insert site here] :P
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: x4000 on November 03, 2010, 02:00:37 PM
Here's the latest update on what's going on with us: http://www.arcengames.com/forums/index.php/topic,7511.0.html
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Entropy5 on November 04, 2010, 05:27:50 PM
Not sure if this has been mentioned or not. There is a TV show on the G4 network (in America anyways) called "Attack of the Show". It's a show about technology and such. Once a month or so they do a segment called "Indie Games." I've purchased numerous games that I saw on that show. You might want to e-mail them and see if they'll show your game.

www.g4tv.com/aots

Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: x4000 on November 04, 2010, 05:28:53 PM
Cool!  I'd not heard of that, actually.  Thanks very much for the tip, I'll see if I can get in touch.  And welcome to the forums!
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Fishbreath on November 15, 2010, 04:27:19 PM
I was looking for a space game of some sort back in the spring, and I ended up springing for Gratuitous Space Battles over AI War. GSB has been fun, but for the past few months and for the rest of the next one I'm on a computer with old enough graphics hardware so that some of the things GSB does makes it choke badly.

So I looked into AI War again, and this time grabbed the demo, played through the tutorials, and figured it would probably be worth a buy. I snagged the game and the expansions, started up my first campaign, and now, seven hours of gameplay later, I have to wonder what on earth I've gotten myself into. I don't think I've ever come across a game that has impressed me so quickly; an hour or so in, when I got a sense of the scale of the map and the task ahead of me I had to stop just to give myself some time to think about what to do next (and I've had to do that again, too). Now I'm well into the midgame, and my initial impressions are only reinforced: this is one of the best strategy games I've ever played. I guess I could say it this way: it's like a (literal) puzzle, except there isn't a picture of the finished product on the top of the box, and if I put more than a few pieces in the wrong place, they all explode.

I've turned into a fan already, and I've got a couple of friends back home who are into the same sort of games. Next time I see them I'm going to see if I can't turn them into buyers too. Most of them are big fans of good co-op games, which this seems to be. I'll also be keeping an eye on Arcen's future releases, and whether or not I spring for them I wish you guys the best of luck.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: x4000 on November 15, 2010, 04:52:46 PM
Thanks so much for your support and the kind words!  It really means a lot. :)
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: keith.lamothe on November 15, 2010, 04:55:42 PM
Yes, thanks very much for the support :)

We're continuing to improve AI War, and are also exploring some cool new angles.  Once you've played a few games you might want to try the more story-campaign style experience with the Fallen Spire minor faction in Light of the Spire.  It's not done yet, but will be pretty soon, and the players seem to already enjoy getting slaughtered playing it :)
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: cubanresourceful on November 16, 2010, 11:42:47 AM
Just want to post a few of my thoughts, whether they are worth much or not.

First off, I've been playing AI War since version 2.0 came out on Steam (albeit on and off, blame my engineering classes for that). I read the description and downloaded the demo. Played the first tutorial and bought it. Then played the second. :P

I loved the vastness of the game. What I loved more was the fact that it kept my attention span. One reason why I don't consider myself a gamer, and I do not really buy much games, (unless they are on sale), is because most games cannot keep my attention. The vastness, variability, and my liking for space themed games and strategy games help retain my attention. That and well I cannot afford to not pay attention since I would most probably lose. Horribly.

It was since then, that now I am the proud owner of all the expansions of the game, including the beta release. It warmed my heart seeing that CoN was solely for contributions to Child's Play. I've also been a great supporter of being honest with your customers because maybe it won't net you the greatest profit compared to screwing over your customers, but at least your fanbase is true and the backlash minimal.

Another two reasons why I support not AI War, but Arcen Games as a company in general is their DRM policy and their openness with customers. A comment on the first being, if I am paying for a game, why am I more restricted than those who did not pay for the same game? That's flawed logic there which I can assume is a lack of taking Discrete Structures in college (God help those who have too though!). To comment on the latter, I love being honest about my problems to other people, sometimes it's the best way to earn honesty and loyalty, and can be a surefire way to garner opinions and advice that may be good or bad, but help put things in a better perspective than the one you may currently have. It also helps to have an insight into the company as a whole, and if Chris is so open about his finances, family, development, etc., then why can we not be open with him? Maybe that's why Arcen Games gets quite a bit of feedback, if you're honest with people, then they'll be honest with you. It's this honesty that brings me here time to time to comment on a few things, ask questions, and provide feedback to topics like these not because it stems from me wanting to be heard, but from Arcen wanting to listen.

Also dedication to your product means a lot to a customer, and if the amount of news on the website, the constant updates on the company and developers, constant updates to the games themselves, product roadmaps, and Chris and Keith post counts equal a staggering 34% of all the posts on the forums (that's 21,412 posts out of 62,937 guys) then I don't know what dedication is. Bottom line guys, support a company that does everything they can to support you and, above all, keep you happy. Which is why I am a proud supporter of Arcen Games, with AI War being my favorite game since I've bought it until now (actually, being completely honest, it's tied with the Gran Turismo series, I love cars and racing them :o)

The best of luck to you guys, keep on releasing expansions and I keep on buying 'em. I know I am not the only one, and I will do all that I can to spread the word, so to speak. :)


Edit: Fixed some funny grammatical errors. :D
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: keith.lamothe on November 16, 2010, 11:50:35 AM
Many thanks for the support and the kind words :)

And yea, it was largely the remarkable aspects of Arcen that you mentioned that made me so interested in helping out.  Chris is the guy who took the plunge to make all this happen, I'm just here to help push that boulder to the top of the hill ;)
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Winter Born on November 16, 2010, 12:50:08 PM
I think a link to the AI Wikapedia section somewhere on the Arcen website would be a positive.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Karlious on November 18, 2010, 07:56:06 PM
Just registered so I could post this :)

I've been playing AI War with friends off and on for the past year and its always been fun. I was just browsing the forums to see the changes from our last big play session and saw this thread :(.

I know I'm very late to the party here, but I just wanted to say after reading this I bought Tidalis for myself and a few friends haven't had a change to actually play it yet though!

I just wanted to say I wish you guys all the best, you've created the only fun multilayer sci-fi strategy game that our group can get together and play and not get bored in 2 hours(I'm looking at you Sins of a Solar empire!)

Can't wait for the next AI:War Xpac!
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Annatar on November 23, 2010, 03:38:58 PM
Hi folks (especially Keith, long time no see!), new posted but been an AI War player since Zenith Remnant.

I've always held AI War in high regard, and was a bit sad to read of Arcen's financial problems. I can only imagine how frustrating it is for you, since you put out two superb products and unfortunately, there aren't any Jedis to mind control people into buying.

For my part, before I even read this I've been describing and recommending AI War on Stardock's game forums. There was actually a thread started in the last couple of days asking for great space-themed strategy game recommendations, with a couple of us heartily endorsing AI War. There was a thread a couple weeks before that asking about AI War specifically, as well. Hopefully those got some exposure and generated some sales.

On a less wide-scale side of things, I was already planning on buying CoN and Spire expansions (had a break from the game and just got back into it more recently). I will most likely buy Tidalis as well, and already have plans to gift the entire AI War package after Spire's release.

I sincerely hope with everyone spreading the word that Arcen's income will improve. Among the many Indy developers around these days, it's still rare to see your amount of support, dedication, and (frankly) talent. After all, there's still AI War 2 to make! :)
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: keith.lamothe on November 23, 2010, 03:46:39 PM
Hi folks (especially Keith, long time no see!)
Indeed, now you see what's been keeping me so busy.  I do keep an eye on goings-on back there, but not enough time to split :)

Our recent promotional sale with the official release of CoN and 4.0 was very encouraging financially though we're still waiting on the bulk of the checks coming in there (but it's just a matter of time).  That should bring us up from "Link wandering around with one half-heart left and that stupid beeping noise" back up to 1.5-2 hearts or so ;)  And we're pretty confident that the LotS official release will go well too.  And holidays are usually a pretty good time, particularly contrasted with the summer months.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Annatar on November 23, 2010, 03:57:54 PM
That's great news :) I don't think you ever mentioned that you joined up with Arcen! I was quite surprised when I loaded up 4.0 and got lost in listening to the awesome music and saw your name scroll by on the main menu. You definitely picked a good place to join ;)
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: x4000 on November 23, 2010, 03:59:39 PM
We've really been enjoying having him here, too -- he's been a real godsend for me. :)

Thanks so much for your kind words and your support, Annatar, and glad to meet you!
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Annatar on November 24, 2010, 01:05:16 PM
Have you considered instead of doing a full-fledged new trailer, just to narrate (or have someone else narrate) a play-through of 4.0 AI War? Sort of like what you did with the Co-op walkthrough last year for Youtube, only with some more Pew Pew action :) Get it up on Gametrailers where it can get a lot of exposure. This would be a lot faster than making an actual trailer, and if you pick a good 10-minute chunk of a game where lots of exciting things happen (I'm sure the community could dig up a save that works if you don't have one), it would probably hook people more since they'd see the actual game being played :) Picking a chunk of a game with some capturables (Ion Cannons, Advanced Research Stations - stuff with immediate awesome results), and onlining a Golem (people love massive super powerful ships) should do the trick!
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: x4000 on November 24, 2010, 01:08:35 PM
It's certainly possible, and might be great as a player-led sort of project.  But, that sort of thing is really outside the scope of my time/abilities at the moment.  And gametrailers doesn't seem to really take submissions last I saw, which was frustrating.  But, we've talked for a while about how player-created trailers might be an awesome thing since variety and different styles might tap different audiences, for example.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Annatar on November 24, 2010, 01:25:21 PM
Hm, you've got a point that it might be a better suited community project. I know that during the beta test of Elemental (SD's latest), they would end up with walkthrough vids and such on Gametrailers that weren't anywhere else, so they must've gotten in touch with them somehow. I'll try to ask around there and see if one of them can tell me something. If it's a fairly pain-free process, it'd definitely give the game some nice exposure to have an official vid on the front page, since user vids don't show up on that main list.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Mithror on November 28, 2010, 12:39:31 PM
How do the sales fair with deals like the Steam Sales?

I would have loved to buy a gift pack and give it out to some friends. Think it would be nice to increase awarenes amongst them. Only... These sales might not be so good if you want to actually make money, I guess?

I'm definitely trying to persuade them to get into the game though. It's not much, but it's something! :)
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: keith.lamothe on November 28, 2010, 03:26:45 PM
There's actually a steam promotion currently on that includes Tidalis:

http://store.steampowered.com/sub/6791/

I think I can objectively say that it's an absurdly good deal ;)

Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Mithror on November 28, 2010, 04:21:17 PM
I know, I bought it =)
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Entrenched Homperson on January 20, 2011, 10:55:48 AM
So... I bought the game and Zenith, and got my friend to buy it, and 2 of his friends bought it. It is soooooo much fun to play at night after work. Thanks alot for a great game! I will continue to spread the word of mouth. I mean if 20 people got 4 of there friends to buy this game.... *Does some easy math* thats 80 people, which is 3200 dollars! Idk what your operating costs are, but seeing as how easy it is to infect your friends with at least a purchasing interest in this game, word of mouth seems really powerful.

I described it as the "Most powerful AI eva, it's all emergent and it uses REAL strategy. Like it's supposed to take 16 players to beat!"

Granted after having played the game this isn't a totally accurate description, but it's still a very powerful emergent AI (Which I love to think about as I play and encounter new strategies. Having an AI the intentionally waits for you to overextend yourself and attack from multiple points is very engaging in SP, which is all I have gotten to play so far other then a few casual games with some friends.

So go brag about this GAME! Really! It's really good and I always like to support indie developers. Alot of good indie companies I've followed have been crashing this year, it's been hard for alot of people. I do my best to help these great games, and especially in the case of this one.

Grats Arcen, on an amazing creation that will be played for years to come!
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: x4000 on January 20, 2011, 11:00:40 AM
Thank you!
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: keith.lamothe on January 20, 2011, 11:04:24 AM
Thanks very much for the support; welcome to the forums :)

I described it as the "Most powerful AI eva, it's all emergent and it uses REAL strategy. Like it's supposed to take 16 players to beat!"
Haha, not quite.  It actually just gets more stuff the more players you throw at it.

Quote
but it's still a very powerful emergent AI (Which I love to think about as I play and encounter new strategies. Having an AI the intentionally waits for you to overextend yourself and attack from multiple points is very engaging in SP, which is all I have gotten to play so far other then a few casual games with some friends.
Chris has done a remarkable job on the AI, I'm often surprised by what it pulls on me (all the more surprised because I've seen the actually rather simple individual rules that produce the behavior).  When I add something new it tends to be something more "traditional" (as opposed to emergent) like the Hybrids in CoN or the exogalactic-strikeforces in LotS (though TZR can get them now too through the "Broken Golems - Hard" minor faction), but the "main AI" actually tends to adapt to the presence of those very well.  Recently I was testing the end-game of the LotS campaign and had a massive wall of Spire city defenses and capital ships that could easily have taken down the (rather large) exogalactic armada being thrown at it, OR could have reasonably taken the mass of about 2000 AI threat ships stalking me from the other side of the wormhole... but when said stalking group went through the wormhole at the exact same moment as the exogalactic strikeforce (because the firepower balances tipped), they were able to blast their way through.  And I totally did not tell them to do that ;)

Of course, nothing reloading and using an EMP warhead couldn't fix, but I digress.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Entrenched Homperson on January 20, 2011, 11:17:43 AM
Replayability...

on a Grand Scale.
 :o :o :o :o :o :o
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: keith.lamothe on January 20, 2011, 11:23:54 AM
It definitely has that.  And if you get a little too used to the normal game, LotS has Defender Mode and the Fallen-Spire campaign, both of which provide rather different experiences.

But even just the AI types, bonus ship types, minor factions, options, etc of the base game are enough to keep someone occupied with new stuff for a while.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Entrenched Homperson on January 20, 2011, 11:31:59 AM
I'd love to see a mode where your ship cap was affected by capping star systems. I'd love that :D I find myself with a whole lot of wasted power, and having a little increase to ship caps every system would be kind of cool. IDK how you would handle losing systems and the effects to the ship cap. Probably the same way as brown outs.

Also Grid is ridiculously hard. :D It's all I play ><

*Likes simple maps* *Vines nearly gave him a seizure* 
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: keith.lamothe on January 20, 2011, 11:39:37 AM
I prefer Concentric maps, both aesthetically and challenge-wise :)
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: zebramatt on January 21, 2011, 09:44:33 AM
I prefer Concentric maps, both aesthetically and challenge-wise :)

Aye.

Although the mazes are pretty entertaining too.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Entrenched Homperson on January 21, 2011, 11:23:58 AM
Just bought the 2 other expansions last night, even bought a key for the beta :D. Maze is awesome, but it takes away a tiny bit of the atmosphere.  The real strategy comes from making decisions as to where to expand/scout/raid etc.  Maze is rather straightforward, but I found myself drawn to it alot. All in all I still like Simple because it has a very chaotic and "This is the situation your in, figure it out" quality. Very organic.

I wish we could tinker with our own map algorithms. That would be awesome. ;D ;D

I love finding simple maps where it's basicaly a bunch of islands connected by small bridges. That way I can plan separate mini campaigns to take each of them, and have few borders with that AI unless I choose to attack a star cluster.

I love Spire and Neinzul, but I still find myself coming back to Zenith.  I think the way you guys to license keys and the ability to turn of and on the expansions is really cool. Sometimes you just want the original, other times you want ever AI faction enabled (and consequently get steam rolled :D),

Glad I stumbled upon this great game developer while browsing the internet!
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: motai on February 05, 2011, 11:47:58 PM
i just wanted to mention one of the big stumbling blocks i have had is in the matching and multi player experience. i have had these problems with many games of the genre civilization and master of orion especially. civ 4 got it right and civ 5 got it mostly wrong. but still i would recommend a big push in cooperation with steam or someone to host a game internal host/matching service to find players. i know you have well supported irc forum but presonally and for many gamers out there irc is not my thing and reasearching ip address loopholes thru firewalls is really not fun. so that my 2 cents and hope to see a matching option sometime.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Oralordos on February 06, 2011, 11:28:59 AM
I believe that the reason that there is no matchmaking in-game is because each game takes so long so matchmaking with random people wouldn't be so good. One needs to arrange play-times in a game like this.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: motai on February 09, 2011, 11:37:25 PM
with some of the new modes like defender though its something to consider that a more available matching system could help the player base learn and enjoy the game more. i was more thinking of training games in the 10-30 system range that wouldnt take the longest but would help players learn. and screen into groups that would play longer games at scheduled times.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: TechSY730 on February 09, 2011, 11:40:25 PM
Agreed. Defender mode is short enough that playing with strangers that you don't intend on picking up another session with is feasible.
However, this idea should really go into the bug tracker (http://www.arcengames.com/mantisbt/), if it isn't already.
In here it is likely to be forgotten amongst the many pages this thread has.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: iron-hands on March 02, 2011, 12:32:01 AM
Obviously with 27 pages to go through I haven't read a lot of suggestions and I hope this wasn't already suggested, but it could do a lot.  Over the past 4-5 months there have been HUGE developments in gaming as a result of the iPhone and current iOS.  While it may be impossible or impractical to make a complete port of this game onto a new platform, it could still be used in the same way many other company's are utilizing the almost viral marketing strategy targeting hundreds of thousands of users.  In the current app stores, it's almost entirely indy company's dominating the scene, easily competing with EA, Capcom, and the like. 

A small standalone game, making use of the music, sounds, and graphics that have been already created, using the AI behavior scripts, and combat number crunching, could be quite successful on its own, even though the main purpose of the smaller app is simply to generate a larger interest in the main product.  This is something that many larger studios are doing, as well as movie makers.  Tron, Predators, Avatar have all had a fair amount of success.  Dead Space has an iOS game, again utilizing a lot of existing media to introduce their IP into a newer market with the goal of generating hype as well as additional revenue.

Of course, a game on the portable scale would need some simplification... Maybe simply one system with players competing for resources, or simply "tower defense", building a base of operations defending waves of AI.

Apologies if someone has already suggested this, but I'm loving the game so far, and I'd really like to help in any way possible.
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: keith.lamothe on March 02, 2011, 08:20:07 AM
Well, AI War sells fine (and is still going strong, over a year and a half after release, except for those summer doldrum months where almost everything sold poorly), so that's not really the one in need of iPhone/etc exposure.  Also, as you more or less indicated, it would have to be made into a totally different game to be a decent fit with the platform.  Not that we can't do that, but it would be a whole new project that would take a fair bit of time.  And whether the resulting game would actually appeal to either our current community or any segment of the iPhone/etc customer base would be up in the air, since it'd be a new game.

Tidalis is a much better fit for those platforms (the iPad at least) since it could reasonably run on the hardware and doesn't appear to be finding any significant market on the PC or the Mac.  We've already done a free web player version to see if that kind of direction is a good one.  I haven't actually heard how well that web version is doing (in terms of number of people playing, etc), but I imagine if it was doing much I'd have heard about it :)

There's also a number of issues with development for those specific platforms that increase the monetary, time, and frustration costs of pursuing them.  Since our revenues from October '10 through February '11 have been pretty healthy, we're not feeling the need to jump into that particular circus ;)
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: x4000 on March 02, 2011, 09:40:56 AM
But we definitely keep our eye on it. :)
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Anamnesis on March 22, 2011, 10:53:36 PM
Just picked up AI war and its expansions today and I already love this game. I don't know how I missed this game when it was released but I'm glad i have it now
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: x4000 on March 22, 2011, 11:16:53 PM
Thanks so much for your support!
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Teal_Blue on April 21, 2011, 04:14:30 PM
Of course, a game on the portable scale would need some simplification... Maybe simply one system with players competing for resources, or simply "tower defense", building a base of operations defending waves of AI.


Having a simplified version of the game, even just a button or 'mode' that changes what is on screen and how the game plays for the above mentioned 'resource competition type of mode' or 'tower defense type of mode' would be awesome in my opinion.

If you did something like this as DLC, or even as a paid expansion with other 'modes' that you feel fit, perhaps several (2, 3, 4, 5?) then i would buy it. I love your game, the only drawback for me personally is that the games take a 'looooong' time. For me, short and sweet is very, very nice.  :)

This is not meant to tell you what to do, only that if you had a 'mode' expansion pack for $9.99, then i would buy it, and probably love AI War more than i do now.  :)

If you ask the other players, they may say the same, or they may disagree with me completely, but at least you would know if it had a chance of flying. That is of course not counting whatever 'effort' it is to actually do the expansion, which from your point of view may either be worth it, or not.

Thank you for listening,

-Teal


 
Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Teal_Blue on April 26, 2011, 10:46:50 PM

Actually, just a thought after thinking about this awhile, but maybe it would be better, if we wanted a 'Tower Defense' or a 'Resource Builder/Explore' game (without monsters per se, maybe natural disasters or events instead?) might be better as a 'new' game instead of trying to morph an existing game into something else?

Just a thought,

-Teal


Title: Re: Love AI War and/or Tidalis? We could really use your help...
Post by: Wingflier on May 02, 2011, 03:11:25 PM
I've been trying to spread the word about this game to all my friends.  The problem is that it's such a deep and intricate game that I would almost say it requires a deep and intricate person to fully appreciate (good luck finding those!).  In all seriousness, AI War definitely has a niche appeal, but the people who do enjoy it love it.  I hope you guys continue getting support for AI War and all your other games (Tidalis is amazing) for a long time to come.