Author Topic: AI War 2 v0.500 Released: Major Milestone! Ship batch 7 of 7.  (Read 587 times)

Offline x4000

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Still not time for "beta" status, or Early Access, just yet.  If you're waiting for the smooth gameplay experience, there's still a bit to go -- but that's now squarely the next thing on Keith's plate (and the GUI is a big part of that, yes).

The release notes are here.



New Ships!

There are two dire guardians in this one (which are two of the most nasty ones), and then there are four big honkin' Zenith golems.  This includes the Dyson Sphere, the Zenith Trader... and yeah, the Devourer. :)  Ho-lee smokes.

Bear in mind that these are the last of the ships until things are playing really well and the interface and whatnot have matured substantially.  Sometime during the Early Access period when things are running well, Keith will work on those interplanetary weapons (a stretch goal), the spire stuff (another stretch goal), the Nemesis (yep: stretch goal), and whatever other minor stuff might be left that I've overlooked.  I think basically everything else is in the game now, though.



Milestone!

Anyhow, so this is a very big milestone for us, because that means that Keith's focus can stop being on content, and can shift instead to refinement, usability, and all that sort of thing.

I'm finally done with all my performance-chasing stuff as of a little while ago, and as of last release the sound system is in place (though not with all sound effects yet, of course), so cumulatively this makes for quite a satisfactory 0.500, I think.

Post-Processing Visual Stack AGAIN!?

I just finished redoing that, right!?  Well, it's been redone yet again thanks to some issues that are detailed in the release notes.  The overall look is pretty similar to what it was before, except things are a little crisper and better antialiased, and there's a very slight vignette effect.

The big difference is in the bloom effect, which is generally more subtle now, but also more diffuse and thus a bit more dramatic in how it blends things around.  Previously things were super intense in their bloom in a short range, but now they're intense in their immediate area, then fade out more gradually.  Gives a more natural look.

Additionally, in order to deal with the flickering glimmering lights that could happen in some cases previously, the game now uses a much longer (about 3/4 of one second) temporal filter on the bloom, which can cause some really pleasing light trails that are purely a screen-space (and thus "free" in terms of performance) effect.

You can see that with:

  • The first shot in this post, which has the camera stationary and then the Ark moving away from it, leaving a bit of a ghosting trail from its engines.  That's completely a screens-space effect.

  • The second shot in this post, which has the camera panning super fast to the right while the ships are stationary, and so you can see the glows being pulled to the left.  This looks less good, but is also a lot less common of a case and generally happens so fast you can't see it unless you screenshot it while you're in motion.  It does give a bit better sense of your own speed of movement, though, I'd say.

  • The third shot in this post (below) shows a stationary camera and both ships and shots that are moving, and how the glow trails help a bit with those.  This is more subtle since the shots themselves are trail renderers in a lot of the cases there.  It's noticeable in a still shot, but during gameplay I wasn't sure it was actually even happening.




If the temporal effect feels too strong to some folks, then I can easily make that a slider that folks can adjust in the settings, and we can debate what the best default setting would be if this is not it.  For the moment -- and I'm too close to this at the moment to speak with any real confidence on the matter -- I like how this is looking, though.

Coming Up!

Over the next half-week or so, Keith and I are going to be pretty quiet/absent, because of some other-life things that we need to take care of, respectively.  But then after that he'll be working on the user experience and GUI and so forth, and I'm sure a bunch of mantis reports.  I'll be working on mantis reports and more sound effects work, and getting the first voice acting in place, etc.

Enjoy!

Chris
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Offline Sounds

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Re: AI War 2 v0.500 Released: Major Milestone! Ship batch 7 of 7.
« Reply #1 on: June 27, 2017, 11:00:30 PM »
Hi Chris,
Super busy myself, but just a quick question relating to the layout ships/structures. Whilst they're rendered better, is there any thought on placing the ships / objects onto different z planes of the axis?

It really looks like there's no dynamic behaviour, sense of movement or atmosphere. Zooming in close tends to break immersion and ends up looking like a jumbled cross-sectional view of overlapping objects with little feeling of a war-like atmosphere / chaos.

Trying to be constructive here, so I hope the above does not sound too harsh.

Offline BadgerBadger

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Re: AI War 2 v0.500 Released: Major Milestone! Ship batch 7 of 7.
« Reply #2 on: June 28, 2017, 12:02:15 AM »
I hope you guys have a great week-before-the-4th-of-July break! I figure y'all have earned it after so many months of labour to get all the major pieces into the game. I look forward to perverting the Dyson Sphere to my nefarious aims while y'all are dealing with that whole Life thing.

Offline x4000

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Re: AI War 2 v0.500 Released: Major Milestone! Ship batch 7 of 7.
« Reply #3 on: June 28, 2017, 10:24:06 AM »
Hey guys!

@Sounds:

In terms of the ships when you zoom in, there are a couple of things going on at the moment:

1. They are overlapping incorrectly because the radii are not set properly in the xml files.  Cinth is going to be working on that.

2. They are also in a very boring set of formations right now, all very flat as you note.  I did those mostly as a placeholder thing.  Cinth has some really cool ideas that he's going to be doing for them, too, to make them a lot more realistic feeling.

3. They also don't move at all at the moment, aside from when the squad moves.  I've been thinking about introducing some slight movement into even the ones that don't have giant swooping actions, etc.

TLDR: Basically it's just a this-is-early thing, but it's always really a good idea to check in case we were not aware. :)

@BadgerBadger: Thanks for the kind words. :)
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Offline BadgerBadger

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Re: AI War 2 v0.500 Released: Major Milestone! Ship batch 7 of 7.
« Reply #4 on: June 28, 2017, 10:47:57 AM »
A couple comments on the questions Keith raised in the release notes.

 First, how do we make sure the Devourer doesn't accidentally eat the AI Master Controller. What if there was a "Devourer-Repeller" attribute that could be given to MarkV guardians controlled by the AI? Then the devourer just needs to avoid planets with those units.  This has the additional benefit(?) of imagining a clever human strike force that destroys the Devourer-Repeller units and then persuades the Devourer to attack the AI Master Controller.

Second, making it "less lame" for the Dyson Sphere to not capture AI planets. One possibility is to say "AI Progress happens on Capture of a planet controller, not destruction of the AI planet controller".  This way the Dyson Sphere can casually destroy the AI planet controllers. To make sure that the "neuter all the AI planets by destroying the controllers" strategy doesn't get too powerful, give the Usurper fleets significant strength increases when attacking an unowned planets with human defenses on it.

Another possibility for the Dyson Sphere would be to introduce a new mechanism for visually clarifying for a given a planet that "Capturing this planet will cause AI progress". This is currently a problem already, because right now there's no feedback for a planet that has been recaptured by the AI with the Usurper. I'm not going to be able to remember which planets on the edge of my empire have been recaptured (and thus I can take them back without additional AIP), or which have never been captured.

Offline keith.lamothe

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Re: AI War 2 v0.500 Released: Major Milestone! Ship batch 7 of 7.
« Reply #5 on: June 28, 2017, 11:42:40 AM »
First, how do we make sure the Devourer doesn't accidentally eat the AI Master Controller. What if there was a "Devourer-Repeller" attribute that could be given to MarkV guardians controlled by the AI? Then the devourer just needs to avoid planets with those units.  This has the additional benefit(?) of imagining a clever human strike force that destroys the Devourer-Repeller units and then persuades the Devourer to attack the AI Master Controller.
Yea, my thought had been to simply have the Devourer not route through the AI HW. But making it not route through planets with any Dire Guardians (distinct from MkV guardians) would be more interesting. Or possibly "more than 1 dire guardian", since other planets occasionally get some.

Kind of like an elephant being scared of particularly warlike mice.

That way you have to take out most of the AI HW before the cookie monster will go there. But then he will. "Get the Devourer to win the game for you" does sound like a fun achievement :)


A second part of it is how to balance the Devourer to not be quite the unstoppable force it can be now, without it just getting killed by the first MkV AI planet it runs across. I'm thinking of making the Devourer faction just respawn the thing every X game minutes if it's dead.

Another interesting idea is to find some mechanic whereby its strength varies over the course of the game, either by linear time or by total positive AIP (ignoring reductions), etc. That's a bit tricky because max health and shields can't vary for a specific entity definition. Attack power can be added through additional systems. And shields could theoretically be added by it spawning additional shield-generating ships that fly with it, but that's brittle.

Perhaps the best way there is to actually have different entity definitions for the Devourer, with different levels of strength. Then the faction just spawns the one that's appropriate to the current state of the game, whenever it dies or simply replacing it every X game minutes if it's not in the middle of a fight.


Or we could go the other direction and give it Dyson-levels of durability and make its weapon range relatively short so it doesn't just clean out the galaxy. But that would basically be an enemy-to-all astro train, which doesn't sound as interesting. Maybe that's a good variant for someone to mod in at some point, though.


Quote
Second, making it "less lame" for the Dyson Sphere to not capture AI planets. One possibility is to say "AI Progress happens on Capture of a planet controller, not destruction of the AI planet controller".  This way the Dyson Sphere can casually destroy the AI planet controllers. To make sure that the "neuter all the AI planets by destroying the controllers" strategy doesn't get too powerful, give the Usurper fleets significant strength increases when attacking an unowned planets with human defenses on it.
That's a good point. I've thought several times about having AIP happen on first-capture-of-planet rather than on first-liberation-of-planet.

Combined with the AI's reconquest mechanic that it already has with spawning the Usurper fleets, I think that could work well for letting factions raise all the ruckus they like. Still need to have them not kill ARS's and Advanced Factories and suchlike, which I don't know that they currently refrain from, but they could clear the AI off of planets entirely. And then when the AI's stronger or the Devourer has moved on or whatever the AI just moves in and reclaims the planet. Unless you take advantage of the situation at the right time, of course.


Quote
Another possibility for the Dyson Sphere would be to introduce a new mechanism for visually clarifying for a given a planet that "Capturing this planet will cause AI progress". This is currently a problem already, because right now there's no feedback for a planet that has been recaptured by the AI with the Usurper. I'm not going to be able to remember which planets on the edge of my empire have been recaptured (and thus I can take them back without additional AIP), or which have never been captured.
Yea, it does need to make that info visible.
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Offline WolfWhiteFire

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Re: AI War 2 v0.500 Released: Major Milestone! Ship batch 7 of 7.
« Reply #6 on: June 28, 2017, 12:22:21 PM »
What about also adding a structure or unit that attracts the devourer golem more than normal, so once you get rid of the units repelling it, you can get it to go there sooner? Possibly making it where the Nemesis can send the unit or build the building on your planets instead, so they can also be used against you. Also, atm is there anything in place to make it where the devourer golem can't eat your Ark, or will we just have to run as fast as we can if it visits the planet with your Ark on it?

Offline keith.lamothe

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Re: AI War 2 v0.500 Released: Major Milestone! Ship batch 7 of 7.
« Reply #7 on: June 28, 2017, 05:03:50 PM »
Also, atm is there anything in place to make it where the devourer golem can't eat your Ark, or will we just have to run as fast as we can if it visits the planet with your Ark on it?
It'll eat the Ark. But it's much slower than the Ark.
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Offline WolfWhiteFire

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Re: AI War 2 v0.500 Released: Major Milestone! Ship batch 7 of 7.
« Reply #8 on: June 28, 2017, 05:58:20 PM »
It'll eat the Ark. But it's much slower than the Ark.
I can just imagine how the AI would react.
AI Ship 1: Hey, I haven't seen any of those pesky humans around lately, did we finally crush them?
AI Ship 2: Nah, that Devourer thing ate that big ship they had, now all their remaining ships are just floating around uselessly.
AI Ship 1: Oh, that was easy, soooo... what do we do now?

Offline z99-_

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Re: AI War 2 v0.500 Released: Major Milestone! Ship batch 7 of 7.
« Reply #9 on: July 02, 2017, 07:39:56 PM »
Another interesting idea is to find some mechanic whereby its strength varies over the course of the game, either by linear time or by total positive AIP (ignoring reductions), etc. That's a bit tricky because max health and shields can't vary for a specific entity definition. Attack power can be added through additional systems. And shields could theoretically be added by it spawning additional shield-generating ships that fly with it, but that's brittle.

What about making it so that cookie monster gets a small fraction of the health it takes away from units as max health? As the game goes forward, increasing time and increasing AIP would both lead to more ships in in its path, indirectly increasing its strength. It also provides a soft check on the player trying to let it do all the heavy lifting, as weakening the AI via Cookie Monster means strengthening Cookie Monster. Also, achievements for insanely high Devourer Golem stats!

Offline TheVampire100

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Re: AI War 2 v0.500 Released: Major Milestone! Ship batch 7 of 7.
« Reply #10 on: July 02, 2017, 09:51:49 PM »
That sounds a lot like Pudge from Dota 2. Whenever he "eats" a hero, that adds to his strentgh which directly translates into max HP.
I like this idea but the problem is, when the devourer golem is out of your reach, you have no way to interupt him in his feeding frenzy and he will turn up as big behemoth once he reaches your system.

Offline z99-_

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Re: AI War 2 v0.500 Released: Major Milestone! Ship batch 7 of 7.
« Reply #11 on: July 02, 2017, 11:40:57 PM »
That sounds a lot like Pudge from Dota 2. Whenever he "eats" a hero, that adds to his strentgh which directly translates into max HP.
I like this idea but the problem is, when the devourer golem is out of your reach, you have no way to interupt him in his feeding frenzy and he will turn up as big behemoth once he reaches your system.

That could be a problem, but I think as long as the strength gains are low enough to where he'll usually pass by the player before getting totally out of hand, there shouldn't be an issue. Early game, there should be so few ships that it really doesn't make him any more powerful than he already is, and by mid to late game, the player should have enough of a military to deal with the occasional large unexpected threat like a Devourer Golem, and see enough of the map to know ahead of time when the threat's coming. In my mind, it would be sort of like a CPA - the player knows that there's a big threat that will eventually reach them, and they don't know the exact strength of the enemy force, so they should prepare however they need to. If they don't do that, they will need lots of luck or good tactics, or else it's game over (though not really, since you can just move out of its way!), just like with every other enemy force in the game.

Maybe a message could pop up like with the super-hybrids in AIWC, just to give players a heads up that it may be time for a whale hunt: "there is an abnormally strong Cookie Monster somewhere in the galaxy" :P