Author Topic: Love AI War? Want to know how you can help? (Updated 1/21/2010)  (Read 12142 times)

Offline x4000

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You guys know I'm pretty transparent about how things work at Arcen, and so far that has worked out really well.  Normally companies like to play their cards very close to the vest, pretending complete success no matter what, but that's always sat wrong with me.  AI War is successful, a pretty big hit by indie standards, but it's not all rosy quite yet.  We're still just getting off the ground, and there are ways that you can help if you're inclined.  This is a lengthy post, so if you don't care about the current state of affairs you can just skip right down to the "how can I help?" section.

How Did The 3.0/Expansion Release Go?
Things have certainly changed a lot since we released 2.0.  The game itself has changed a ton, and so has the company -- Pablo and I are fulltime here now, along with Phil, and we're finally working on a product that isn't AI War (while still keeping up with AI War as well).  The release of the expansion went very well, within that first week we sold enough copies to amount to around 10%-15% of the total playerbase, which is awesome.  Final numbers aren't completely in, and are of course still growing, so it's a moving percentage.  AI War was on sale during that period and also sold very well, and I believe has pushed us over the 15,000 units sold mark (it's definitely north of 14,000).  Just three months ago, when we released version 2.0, we were only nearing the 7,000 units sold mark, so we've really seen continual solid growth throughout the last while.  Not stellar sales, but it's keeping us all able to work here fulltime, and it's cementing AI War as one of the more successful non-blockbuster indie games of late on the PC.  We have a lot to be thankful for.

What's Coming Up?
So, we're all fulltime now.  We're committed.  This is what we do for a living.  It's a bit scary, but also really liberating.  And so far, AI War alone has been carrying us, and has given us a buffer reserve of something like 6 months.  Assuming that sales continue at a level equal to our "off" months (like November) in which nothing much special happens and we don't do any discount promotions, that's how long our company will survive -- six more months.  Future potential discount sales, our upcoming retail releases in Germany and Russia, and other upcoming products will extend that out further. 

Right now the goal is to get our next title, Tidalis, done in 2-3 more months of time.  So, releasing sometime in March or April.  We'll have a beta up for demo and testing and preorder within a few weeks, hopefully.  That's a game that has a much broader potential audience than AI War, so hopefully it will also have stronger or at least equal sales.  As long as it does as well as AI War, I think we'll be good for having enough money to complete our next title after that, A Valley Without Wind.  If Tidalis doesn't do stellar, I'll have to get creative.  But it's a really cool game, and already quite addictive, so we're all feeling very positive on that.

Still -- we've launched our company into the great unknown, and for a small business we're doing well and have great prospects to boot, but everything isn't completely pie-in-the-sky rosy or anything.  We're on the right track, and with hard work and the smallest bit of luck, we'll be in a whole different position by 2011.  We're certainly in a much improved position today compared to November!

So, how you can help?
If you're into AI War and want to help cement Arcen's future, the best thing you can do for us is to help spread the word!  Pure and simple.  Most gamers have never heard of us.  Even after an awesome review in PC Gamer, a release on Steam, and everything else that has happened, we're still most aptly described as "relatively unknown."

A surprising fact is that we've gotten about as much traffic to our site just from posts that fans have made on various other forums and sites around the Internet.  Don't go spamming, and of course don't say anything that you don't really believe, but if you're into the game then starting conversations about it is a huge help for us.  Other players won't know about the game if they don't hear about it from some other source, and for us the best method by far has been word of mouth.

It's also helpful if you do (honest, informative, fair) user reviews at sites that feature AI War such as:
MetaCritic
Co-Optimus

These sorts of reviews don't have quite the same impact as a post on a popular forum where you are known and a valued contributor, but every bit adds up.  People want to hear from other people with similar tastes, so getting your opinion out there and expressing how you feel AI War stacks up compared to other games you like is hugely valuable to us.

Final Thoughts
I'm really happy that so many players seem to have forged such a connection with AI War, but just remember that everyone doesn't "get it" so quickly (though the recent major reviews certainly help set the stage).  Some don't give it more than a cursory glance, some barely try the tutorials.  The thing that keeps people going is believing that there is something exciting there.  Some people are excited just by the descriptions of the game or the general look of it, and need nothing more.  Some people fire it up and are hooked right away, or by the time they get into the intermediate tutorial (I get a lot of notes from people saying that it was the intermediate tutorial that made them decide to buy the game).  

But other people are a lot more skeptical or busy, and simply don't want to give it a shot unless they hear from a trusted or semi-trusted source that the game is worth taking a harder look at.  That's why both reviews and word of mouth are so important, and on the Internet both have the chance to reach equal audiences.  I'm not asking everyone to go on some large campaign in support of the game, and I'm certainly not asking anyone to do anything that they are not completely comfortable with, but if you like the game and want to give back, you know what to do -- just pass the word on, in whatever fashion you are able to.  

It's the players that have helped to make this game what it is, and it's entirely upon your support that Arcen will succeed.  We don't have any funding whatsoever outside from proceeds from sales of our work, and that's just how I like it -- it keeps us creatively unencumbered, amongst other benefits -- but it is going to really create challenges for us if our popular support withers in the coming months.  Everyone has helped to keep this going for an amazing six months so far since our initial release, so now let's shoot for another six -- I'll bring the free DLC, you bring the beloved newbies (is there any forum out there where newbies are more appreciated than here?).

My gratitude in advance for anything you can do to help with promotion, and especially to those players who have already taken it upon themselves to spread the word even before I asked (spelk was the first, and in many ways he helped to launch this game).  And if you're not comfortable (or don't have the time) to help, no problem.  Just enjoy the game! :)
« Last Edit: January 21, 2010, 12:28:47 AM by x4000 »
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Offline Spikey00

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Re: Love AI War? Want to know how you can help? (Updated 1/21/2010)
« Reply #1 on: January 23, 2010, 04:54:32 PM »
I've done what I can for now!  I wonder who will actually read through my wall-of-text on MetaCritic and soon-to-be Co-Optimus.

Though, some of the sites need updating to reflect the ZR expansion.

EDIT:  Oh, and since I can't add in a bit more information to the MAIN Steam page for AI War, perhaps add in a bit more information there for those front page viewers?  More videos may help a lot, too.  (;
« Last Edit: January 23, 2010, 04:58:03 PM by Spikey00 »
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Offline x4000

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Re: Love AI War? Want to know how you can help? (Updated 1/21/2010)
« Reply #2 on: January 23, 2010, 06:48:17 PM »
Many thanks, Spikey.  As far as the main storefront page on Steam, that's not something I can directly edit, either.  And they tend to have a fairly specific format there, it's pretty set how it is.
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Offline Spikey00

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Re: Love AI War? Want to know how you can help? (Updated 1/21/2010)
« Reply #3 on: January 23, 2010, 10:59:06 PM »
Oh, whoops!  Actually, I noticed that I can edit the main community page; so I guess that is where it would be appropriate. 

If it isn't edited by yourself, Fisk, or anyone else, I'll try to when I'm [truly] back.  Of course, I'm hilariously HTML-illiterate, so perhaps it's best handled by a professional like Fisk or Rev.  (;
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Offline deMangler

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Re: Love AI War? Want to know how you can help? (Updated 1/21/2010)
« Reply #4 on: February 01, 2010, 06:23:45 PM »
I noticed an extremely negative user review of AI War at:
Direct2drive

The review:

http://www.direct2drive.com/ReaderReview/8631/1/0/0/116953/2/0/0

I am sure the reviewer is entitled to his view, but there are only two user reviews there so, due to the extreme negativity, it is a bit unbalanced and may unduly put people off who would otherwise enjoy the game...
I would have written a user review of my own to balance it out a bit but you need to buy the game from them before you can do that.
Just a heads-up anyway.
:)
dM


« Last Edit: February 01, 2010, 06:30:08 PM by deMangler »

Offline x4000

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Re: Love AI War? Want to know how you can help? (Updated 1/21/2010)
« Reply #5 on: February 01, 2010, 07:05:44 PM »
I noticed an extremely negative user review of AI War at:
Direct2drive

The review:

http://www.direct2drive.com/ReaderReview/8631/1/0/0/116953/2/0/0

I am sure the reviewer is entitled to his view, but there are only two user reviews there so, due to the extreme negativity, it is a bit unbalanced and may unduly put people off who would otherwise enjoy the game...
I would have written a user review of my own to balance it out a bit but you need to buy the game from them before you can do that.
Just a heads-up anyway.
:)
dM

Many thanks for that!  Yeah, I saw that other review, but there's not a ton I can do about it, as you say; hopefully other players who bought from Direct2Drive will write in with their own feelings.  That particular review sounded like the guy started up a campaign, played for 10 minutes, and decided he didn't like it.  Sigh.
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Offline carlosjuero

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Re: Love AI War? Want to know how you can help? (Updated 1/21/2010)
« Reply #6 on: February 01, 2010, 07:07:24 PM »
You just need a D2D account to do a review, I left a positive review (a copy of one I wrote for imtalkinggames.com) to help balance out the score. Apparently the person who wrote the review you linked to didn't play very long - and certainly didn't play on a decent difficulty setting.

I am willing to bet they were embarrassed they couldn't figure the game out and decided to trash it instead.
I noticed an extremely negative user review of AI War at:
Direct2drive


The review:

http://www.direct2drive.com/ReaderReview/8631/1/0/0/116953/2/0/0

I am sure the reviewer is entitled to his view, but there are only two user reviews there so, due to the extreme negativity, it is a bit unbalanced and may unduly put people off who would otherwise enjoy the game...
I would have written a user review of my own to balance it out a bit but you need to buy the game from them before you can do that.
Just a heads-up anyway.
:)
dM




Offline x4000

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Re: Love AI War? Want to know how you can help? (Updated 1/21/2010)
« Reply #7 on: February 01, 2010, 08:19:15 PM »
Many thanks, carlos!
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Offline Tayrtahn

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Re: Love AI War? Want to know how you can help? (Updated 1/21/2010)
« Reply #8 on: February 02, 2010, 11:07:25 PM »
Many thanks, Spikey.  As far as the main storefront page on Steam, that's not something I can directly edit, either.  And they tend to have a fairly specific format there, it's pretty set how it is.

Any chance of getting a new video up there at least? I just bought the game through Steam recently, and have to say that clicking to watch the trailer there actually turned me away from the game a bit (thankfully, not completely!). The little low-res version on the store page basically comes across as "barely readable text over shifting blobs of color." The intro to the expansion is much more compelling in general - a video along those lines would translate better to the small size and have a bit more of the flashiness you need to win over the viewer. Everyone love explosions!

Offline RCIX

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Re: Love AI War? Want to know how you can help? (Updated 1/21/2010)
« Reply #9 on: February 04, 2010, 12:56:29 AM »
http://www.lbpcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?21810-Device-challenge-Sackboy-Launcher&p=385104
See the (end of the) signature on the first post -- it's not much but better than nothing!

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Offline x4000

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Re: Love AI War? Want to know how you can help? (Updated 1/21/2010)
« Reply #10 on: February 04, 2010, 10:08:24 AM »
Many thanks, Spikey.  As far as the main storefront page on Steam, that's not something I can directly edit, either.  And they tend to have a fairly specific format there, it's pretty set how it is.

Any chance of getting a new video up there at least? I just bought the game through Steam recently, and have to say that clicking to watch the trailer there actually turned me away from the game a bit (thankfully, not completely!). The little low-res version on the store page basically comes across as "barely readable text over shifting blobs of color." The intro to the expansion is much more compelling in general - a video along those lines would translate better to the small size and have a bit more of the flashiness you need to win over the viewer. Everyone love explosions!

It is very difficult to get Steam to change store information of that sort, and I have to have a pretty great reason to hassle them about that.  Their low-res version is very low res if you look at it fullscreen, I think people are generally accustomed to looking at something higher-res (I certainly am), and the option for that is right there.  Short of making a new trailer (which takes days), there's not much I can do there.  The video has been pretty popular on youtube, and I think gets the message across pretty well -- there's no question that the expansion trailer is better, but so it goes; we've been learning with time.  At the moment, the current trailer posted for AI War is already its third iteration, but at the moment that's not on the slate for rework.  I really do appreciate the sentiment, but as a small shop there is simply only so much that we can do!

http://www.lbpcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?21810-Device-challenge-Sackboy-Launcher&p=385104
See the (end of the) signature on the first post -- it's not much but better than nothing!

[that's me over there ;D]

Thanks for the post!  I can't see sigs without being logged in there, I think, but I appreciate whatever it says! :)
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Offline RCIX

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Re: Love AI War? Want to know how you can help? (Updated 1/21/2010)
« Reply #11 on: February 04, 2010, 05:59:50 PM »
]

Thanks for the post!  I can't see sigs without being logged in there, I think, but I appreciate whatever it says! :)
You're welcome :)
It says (well part of it anyway) "Check out an awesome RTS-like game well supported by the developer and only 30 bucks including expansion! http://www.arcengames.com/ (AI War) "
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Offline Fox Soul

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Re: Love AI War? Want to know how you can help? (Updated 1/21/2010)
« Reply #12 on: February 05, 2010, 04:47:20 PM »
I got a unusual idea.
Half life, L4D and other valve products have a spray paint thing when you press T on any wall.
You will spray paint whatever your picture is.

I imagine you could upload a picture of AI War logo and just spray paint it at the usual spots you would normally spray paint.
You won't be spreading the word too a big mass of players but one at a time still counts.
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Offline x4000

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Re: Love AI War? Want to know how you can help? (Updated 1/21/2010)
« Reply #13 on: February 05, 2010, 05:06:25 PM »
I got a unusual idea.
Half life, L4D and other valve products have a spray paint thing when you press T on any wall.
You will spray paint whatever your picture is.

I imagine you could upload a picture of AI War logo and just spray paint it at the usual spots you would normally spray paint.
You won't be spreading the word too a big mass of players but one at a time still counts.

That is a very cool idea -- any AI War players who also play games of that sort are certainly welcome to do it!  Same thing goes for sigs that mention us, etc, it is very helpful and always appreciated.  Thanks for the thoughts!
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Offline Drutt-Myth

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Re: Love AI War? Want to know how you can help? (Updated 1/21/2010)
« Reply #14 on: February 27, 2010, 07:27:44 AM »
I wrote the other review on Direct2Drive for the zenith remenant. I had only had the game a few days when i saw that really nasty review and couldnt let people think this game was that bad. I normally don't write reviews at all.

But having played this game for several weeks now i wish i had given a even more positive review than i did. I have really enjoyed playing it. I will go back and see if its possible to edit my review if i can.

« Last Edit: February 27, 2010, 07:35:15 AM by Drutt-Myth »