Author Topic: Signing in Captain..  (Read 5327 times)

Offline spelk

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Signing in Captain..
« on: June 02, 2009, 04:54:21 PM »
Since I've littered the rest of the strategy gaming web with AI War posts I thought I should sign in here.

I'm a mature gamer from the UK, have my finger in a number of gaming community pies, and love discovering indie strategy titles like AI War. Since discovering the game, I've tried to expose it to all my usual haunts on the net, and I've cobbled together a review and put it up on www.ukgamer.co.uk

The game seemed to hit a nerve with me, in that it satisfies my need to tinker with spaceships, and to discover and adapt tactics to an AI that upon reading the background to it, has me left in awe. I've also been impressed with Chris' openess towards the community about his games, and how he has coded this game as a game he wanted to play... those tend to be the very best sort of Indie games.

Anyway, I've probably said enough, thanks for developing and releasing such an interesting take on space RTS and keep up the good work.

 

Offline x4000

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Re: Signing in Captain..
« Reply #1 on: June 02, 2009, 05:14:22 PM »
Thanks for the review, Spelk!  I'll make mention of that and quote you on a press page, too.  You're the first to do a real review of the game, though there are other in the process of looking at it.  Glad you are so happy with the game. :)

One small factual inaccuracy in the review:  when you play with more players, you don't need to increase the difficulty of the AI.  It internally ramps up automatically when there are more players, so that a level 7 AI is about the same relative difficulty for one player or 8.  So if you are used to playing at difficulty 4 or 5, and then crank it up to difficulty 9 just because you have some friends playing with you, you'll be in for a nasty surprise! ;)

I've been really pleased with the overall reaction from the community, and there have already been half a dozen or more great ideas coming from them.  After all of the many, many ideas that came from my alpha and beta testers, part of me thought we had already covered most ideas.  But people have so many good ideas -- my hope is that, in lieu of modding, I can grow the game in a community-focused way by listening to feedback and integrating what fits with the game.  That way the game retains its overall shape and doesn't fragment in the way that many single-unit mods do for other games (thinking here of all the tiny mods in SupCom), but the community still gets a chance to help shape the game -- in fact, the official core game, rather than just spinoff mods.

Thanks for your ongoing support and enthusiasm!

P.S. -- I have formalized and slightly expanded my explanation of the AI, if you want to link to the improved version:  http://christophermpark.blogspot.com/2009/06/designing-emergent-ai-part-1.html
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Offline spelk

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Re: Signing in Captain..
« Reply #2 on: June 02, 2009, 07:14:08 PM »
Thanks for the review, Spelk!  I'll make mention of that and quote you on a press page, too.  You're the first to do a real review of the game, though there are other in the process of looking at it.  Glad you are so happy with the game. :)

I sort of hammered it out quickly, so I'm still correcting it in places, so if you quote it feel free to make corrections etc as you see fit.

One small factual inaccuracy in the review:  when you play with more players, you don't need to increase the difficulty of the AI.  It internally ramps up automatically when there are more players, so that a level 7 AI is about the same relative difficulty for one player or 8.  So if you are used to playing at difficulty 4 or 5, and then crank it up to difficulty 9 just because you have some friends playing with you, you'll be in for a nasty surprise! ;)

Ah right, I hadn't really thought that deeply about the multiplayer, haven't had a chance to play with anyone yet.. I was just glibly saying get your mates involved and ramp up the AI for a bit of a challenge type of thing. But to know that the AI difficulty is scaled also to the number of co-op players is useful.

I've been really pleased with the overall reaction from the community, and there have already been half a dozen or more great ideas coming from them.  After all of the many, many ideas that came from my alpha and beta testers, part of me thought we had already covered most ideas.  But people have so many good ideas -- my hope is that, in lieu of modding, I can grow the game in a community-focused way by listening to feedback and integrating what fits with the game.  That way the game retains its overall shape and doesn't fragment in the way that many single-unit mods do for other games (thinking here of all the tiny mods in SupCom), but the community still gets a chance to help shape the game -- in fact, the official core game, rather than just spinoff mods.

Yeah I'm always in awe of indie developers who are so close to their playing communities and are so willing to take suggestions, weight them up and if they fit in with the games "vision" then the dev melds them into their works. Its so much more about community, and people enjoying themselves with a game, and looking forward to the possibilities of seeing features evolve.. a similar situation applies with the developer (Vice) of Evochron Legends/Starwraith, a physics based space sim combat.. and I think I linked this game over on their forums too. He's a single handed indie dev, who also nurtures a community of players, with both single player and multiplayer facets of his game, and he has such a close and open relationship with them, and he's always assessing and re-assessing his game, and asking for input and support from his community. Modders tend to use the tools and just add variety in any way they can, away from the original designers vision, whereas being a part of the evolution of the original product seems so much more fundamental and important.

Thanks for your ongoing support and enthusiasm!

Your welcome, thanks for the game. :)

P.S. -- I have formalized and slightly expanded my explanation of the AI, if you want to link to the improved version:  http://christophermpark.blogspot.com/2009/06/designing-emergent-ai-part-1.html

Ah ok, I'll sort that link out. Cheers.

Offline x4000

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Re: Signing in Captain..
« Reply #3 on: June 02, 2009, 09:26:18 PM »
I sort of hammered it out quickly, so I'm still correcting it in places, so if you quote it feel free to make corrections etc as you see fit.

No worries, I often do the same thing myself.  I don't want to edit your stuff at risk of putting words in your mouth, but I've updated the quote on the news page to match your revised version. :)

Ah right, I hadn't really thought that deeply about the multiplayer, haven't had a chance to play with anyone yet.. I was just glibly saying get your mates involved and ramp up the AI for a bit of a challenge type of thing. But to know that the AI difficulty is scaled also to the number of co-op players is useful.

Yep, that's how the fact that there are always exactly 2 AIs works.  Otherwise, with 8 players even the highest-level AIs probably would be no challenge, since the human players would simply have an undue advantage of numbers.  If you have someone to try out co-op with at some point, you should give it a go -- that's one of the most fun things about the game, although I realize that most people will play it single-player (as most of my beta testers did).  

I play four player co-op in the game two nights a week, and that's the most fun I have with the game.  There's a whole new level of strategy when you've got multiple people, because you have decisions to make about specializations, how to help reinforce one another, and how to expand together.  It's the same sort of feeling you might get from clan play in an FPS, but so much more powerful with the grang scale of an RTS game. On lower difficulties you can go lone-gunning to a certain extent, but when you play at the difficulty that is right at your skill level (for my group that's level 7 right now), a lot of times you have to at least pair up, if not more.  It's really a blast, even if the abilities of the players are uneven.

Yeah I'm always in awe of indie developers who are so close to their playing communities and are so willing to take suggestions, weight them up and if they fit in with the games "vision" then the dev melds them into their works. Its so much more about community, and people enjoying themselves with a game, and looking forward to the possibilities of seeing features evolve.. a similar situation applies with the developer (Vice) of Evochron Legends/Starwraith, a physics based space sim combat.. and I think I linked this game over on their forums too. He's a single handed indie dev, who also nurtures a community of players, with both single player and multiplayer facets of his game, and he has such a close and open relationship with them, and he's always assessing and re-assessing his game, and asking for input and support from his community. Modders tend to use the tools and just add variety in any way they can, away from the original designers vision, whereas being a part of the evolution of the original product seems so much more fundamental and important.

Yeah, I really like products that evolve, too -- even just having the weekly DLC for Rock Band is something I really enjoy.  I have no interest in Guitar Hero just because they don't have a consolidated expanding library.  That's something I really want to emphasize with AI War, too, is the consolidated feature set.  Rather than making a sequel, I'll just do expansions and continuously upgrade this one.  And all the DLC that comes out, regardless of how many expansions came out, will work with just the vanilla base game, so people never have to buy an expansion to keep getting the DLC.  I think that's important in order to keep player interest over the long term.  And most of the upgrades that I do will be in the free DLC, the expansions will mostly be about big chunks of extra content.

I'm excited by all the feedback the players are giving, too, because it really does help shape the game in a positive way.  It's good to have one chief designer who oversees everything (that would be me), but at the same time it's so incredibly good to have ideas from a wide variety of people, with a wide variety of gaming backgrounds and preferred play styles.  Some players have already made cool suggestions for things that I have not seen in any other RTS game (like pressing L to divide your forces in half -- that's surprisingly handy), and that's such an amazing resource to have.  I've had this same sort of relationship with business clients in the past (usually through a project manager intermediary at the client organization, but same sort of idea), and so I've been well aware of the benefits of this for a long time.  I think that Stardock seems to be one of the few bigger developers that has also already caught on to this, given the great way they are handling the early troubles with Demigod.  So it's not just us indie developers, which is nice!
« Last Edit: June 02, 2009, 09:28:35 PM by x4000 »
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Offline spelk

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Re: Signing in Captain..
« Reply #4 on: June 03, 2009, 02:42:01 AM »
Something I've noticed is that you're more than willing to go out there and pursue your community onto other forums, whereas the likes of Vice (Evochron/Starwraith developer) would only post on his own forums, and the community would be centered around his forums. Not sure whether this is an issue for you, but it does mean you're actively monitoring many websites yourself, and suggestions, comments posted there, and then if they're worth inclusion you probably have to document them here also for completeness.

I've posted some suggestions myself under the thread at Quarter to Three forums, because that thread seems to be buzzing with new ideas at the moment..

Can the new updates be installed into the Impulse version of the games directory, or is it better to wait for them to arrive via the Impulse update client?

Offline x4000

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Re: Signing in Captain..
« Reply #5 on: June 03, 2009, 07:28:41 AM »
Something I've noticed is that you're more than willing to go out there and pursue your community onto other forums, whereas the likes of Vice (Evochron/Starwraith developer) would only post on his own forums, and the community would be centered around his forums. Not sure whether this is an issue for you, but it does mean you're actively monitoring many websites yourself, and suggestions, comments posted there, and then if they're worth inclusion you probably have to document them here also for completeness.

I've posted some suggestions myself under the thread at Quarter to Three forums, because that thread seems to be buzzing with new ideas at the moment..

Yep, there are a lot of fragmented discussions all around.  I'll check out your comments over at QTT, I just have woken up and haven't had a chance to look around much yet at what comments were made recently.  When it comes to things like technical issues, etc, I am definitely copying them over to here, but I'm not copying entire conversations over (seems pretty time consuming).  For anything that causes ideas to be added into the game itself, everybody finds out about those through release notes, anyway. :)

Can the new updates be installed into the Impulse version of the games directory, or is it better to wait for them to arrive via the Impulse update client?

Actually, you should be able to do this, but I am not positive -- have not tried it yet.  It's on my todo list of things to check out, but let me know what you think.
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Offline spelk

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Re: Signing in Captain..
« Reply #6 on: June 03, 2009, 08:02:03 AM »
I'll give it a try and see if I can manually patch the Impulse version, and report back here.

Offline Sorceresss

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Re: Signing in Captain..
« Reply #7 on: June 03, 2009, 10:53:02 AM »
The 1.0004 update is not available yet on Impulse (Wednesday 3 June, at 10 : 50 Eastern).

« Last Edit: June 03, 2009, 10:59:34 AM by Sorceresss »

Offline x4000

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Re: Signing in Captain..
« Reply #8 on: June 03, 2009, 10:54:41 AM »
The 1.0004 update is not available yet on Impulse (Wednesday 3 June, at 10 : 50 Eastern).

Yep, unfortunately I can't control that process directly, and the only estimates I have from them are "it usually takes about a day."  They have it, but I know they are busy.  Hopefully should be there soon!
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Offline Sorceresss

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Re: Signing in Captain..
« Reply #9 on: June 03, 2009, 11:00:21 AM »
No problem : I'll check Impulse later today.

Also, I've posted, this morning, on the Demigod forum, the link to http://christophermpark.blogspot.com/2009/06/designing-emergent-ai-part-1.html.

See reply #29 at http://forums.demigodthegame.com/354259/page/2

Offline x4000

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Re: Signing in Captain..
« Reply #10 on: June 03, 2009, 11:02:39 AM »
Thanks for the link!
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Offline spelk

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Re: Signing in Captain..
« Reply #11 on: June 03, 2009, 11:37:22 AM »
Ok, I've backed up the directory from Impulse, and have unpacked the 1000to1004 update into it, and then the 1005b update, just overwriting any files with the newer versions, and it seems to run ok, if you create a shortcut to the AIWar.exe direct. Haven't tried running it through Impulse though. Hopefully when the Impulse patches come through properly it will still update automagically.

I did notice that the Impulse version of the game has the Check for Updates option in the main menu blacked out, presumably to prevent updating from outside of Impulse, but if you do it manually it seems to work ok..

Offline x4000

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Re: Signing in Captain..
« Reply #12 on: June 03, 2009, 12:36:34 PM »
Ok, I've backed up the directory from Impulse, and have unpacked the 1000to1004 update into it, and then the 1005b update, just overwriting any files with the newer versions, and it seems to run ok, if you create a shortcut to the AIWar.exe direct. Haven't tried running it through Impulse though. Hopefully when the Impulse patches come through properly it will still update automagically.

Awesome, it should work fine.  When you do "Verify Installation" I don't know what it will do, but it will be interesting to see.

I did notice that the Impulse version of the game has the Check for Updates option in the main menu blacked out, presumably to prevent updating from outside of Impulse, but if you do it manually it seems to work ok..

Yep, that is correct.  The normal Check For Updates link uses a MSI patching system, which requires that the game have been installed via our setup files.  The updates for impulse have to be delivered directly through the impulse client, or via just updating the files via the zip file.

Thanks for the info!
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Offline Sorceresss

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Re: Signing in Captain..
« Reply #13 on: June 03, 2009, 01:09:11 PM »
Updated to 1.0004 via Impulse at 13 : 03, on 3 June. The update was indicated as having a 1.59 MB size, and 358 files were indicated as having been extracted (before the actual installation).

1.005b ?! What is that ?

Offline x4000

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Re: Signing in Captain..
« Reply #14 on: June 03, 2009, 02:45:25 PM »
Updated to 1.0004 via Impulse at 13 : 03, on 3 June. The update was indicated as having a 1.59 MB size, and 358 files were indicated as having been extracted (before the actual installation).

Awesome, great!  I am surprised that 358 files came down, since the update didn't have that many, but judging by the file size it must have delivered the right thing.  I guess maybe they split the files up into smaller chunks for download or something.

1.005b ?! What is that ?

Haha, that's the latest prerelease version of the game.  Over on the Quarter To Three boards there has been a lot of discussion and requests for little additions and tweaks.  There is always a new version in progress, this one will be fully released next week.  New features in that version so far:

-The game now supports maps with 40, 50, 60, or 70 planets in them.

-It is now possible to put constructors (space docks and advanced factories) into attack-move mode or free-roaming defender mode when setting their gather point.

-Ships that are produced from a constructor in attack-move or free roaming defender mode will now emerge in the same mode.

-Explanation of the AI Progress in Basic Tutorial 3 has been updated to note that AI Progress DOES affect AI Tech levels as well as the number of ships they build.

-The zoom is now smoother, and in general works a bit better.  The zoom also now has a more constant speed, rather than accelerating as it gets further zoomed out.

-Holding the Shift key is now zooms in/out at double speed.

-There is now an "Allow Very Far Zoom" option in the settings window that allows players to zoom out much further than before.

-It is now easier to place ExoShields when in far zoom.

-There are now distinctly different blips on the minimap for metal and crystal deposits/harveters.


Here's the download, in case anyone here wants it:  http://www.arcengames.com/share/AIWar1005B.zip

That version is an upgrade from version 1.004, so you have to already have 1.004 installed. Just unzip it into your game folder (usually C:\Program Files\Arcen Games\AI War\ unless you specified something else). Please make sure that your unzip process keeps the folder structure from the zip file, rather than just unpacking all of the files into the base target directory.

Just bear in mind that it's a prerelease, and so might not work as perfectly as a full release would hope to.  There is always a prerelease in progress, so if you want to wait until it just comes out officially next week, that's also understandable!
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