General Category > AI War II

Core design: What makes AI war, AI war?

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* Asymmetric war
* Extremely tunable difficulty, including incredible challenges in the expansions
* Huge number of ships. Actually, before the unity version, one of the original trailers for this game looked like a tech demonstration of just how many ships you could get on the screen having a gigantic battle at once.
* The feeling of Ender's Game
* Huge variety: things to build, things to buy, enemies to encounter, candy technologies
* Challenging AI

For me it is mystery.  Never knowing exactly what the AI is going to send.  Never knowing exactly what kinds of ships lie out there for me to make and use to my advantage.  The mystery with respect to my own strategy (as I find new ships and have to adapt), and the mystery with respect to the sorts of ships the AI will send, are what keep the game exciting for me.

Other than the things you mentioned, to me it's a consistent feeling of dread. This is related to the asymmetric warfare concept with the enemy constantly having you outnumbered and outgunned, but extends to things like the soundtrack and artstyle as well. Not only is your enemy vastly more powerful than you, but you also have the music mostly conveying an atmosphere that changes between solemn, like a funeral march, and a more frantic "last stand" sort of sound. Then you have the more powerful ships like golems, spirecraft, motherships, and so on that resemble eldritch monstrosities and are intimidating to behold. The main menu theme will always be the first thing I think of when talking about AI War.

Another point, and probably more important, is replayability. The wide variety of tools, enemies, and so on combined with the game settings and the random maps makes the game immensely replayable, with no two campaigns being identical. Even in the case of an identical scenario, there are multiple viable strategies, so you won't necessarily see the same game play out if the map, AIs, etc. are the same. Even just trying out all the different AI types would last you a long time, and combine that with all the minor factions, map types, bonus ships, different victory conditions...

I have heard AI War mentioned in another game once: It was on t he concept that the "neutral" faction would have its power increase exponentially based on the words lost.

In other words, a power that had no trouble increasing to the player. So every strategy is based on minimizing that impact.

It's also a game with less emphasis on unit micro than a typical RTS, including using 'fixed' turrets to contribute significantly to defense, leaving most of the player's mobile units free for offensive purposes.

Hostile planets, on the other hand, can present something of a puzzle to unravel. Ion Cannons, Orbital Mass Drivers, Guard Posts, Fortresses, Forcefields, etc. require the player to decide what needs to be taken out, in what order, and what ships should(or should not) be used/present, until the time is right.


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