AI War: Fleet Command - x-4000 (Chris Park)
Chris here!  Quick announcement about another title, but lots of AI War 2 notes further down, so read on! AI War 2 is coming together nicely to launch early this year, but we've also had a "volunteer brigade" working on something on the side: the first expansion pack for our rogue-lite shooter Starward Rogue -- Starward Rogue: AuGMENTED.

Developed by the "Arcen Extended" team, which is comprised of former contractors and modders from the community, the expansion has been nearly 2 years in the making, and adds a boatload of new content, including new mechs, new enemies, new items, new bosses and much more.  These folks have absolutely been pouring time and love into this project, but it hasn't been a diversion from AI War 2 for Keith, Blue, or me.

It’s probably one of the biggest expansions we have ever released for any title, and something we are very proud of.

The base game of Starward Rogue was something that people always loved to play, but got lost in the shuffle of the early 2016 market.  This expansion hopefully gets 2018 off on the right foot for Arcen as we lead into our big project for the year – AI War 2!

With that in mind…

Hey, AI War 2!

The AI War 2 project has been an excellent example of "no plan survives contact with the enemy."  Visualization has required more engine work and re-work than we anticipated, and that’s one of a few factors that have slowed our schedule.

On the other hand, the actual game simulation is far more moddable than anticipated -- modders can create practically anything: new Units (with just a bit of XML); new Galaxy map types (with just a bit of C#); tweak existing factions, or create new factions that can completely change the gameplay; you can change the AI behaviour or add new AI types.  All of that alongside more obvious things like adding new units or visuals or sounds or similar.

In any event, the game itself has come a long way and we're narrowing down the list of things that need to be done before beta.  We’ve just released new builds with updated graphics, UI updates, balance tweaks, the first of the voice acting, and a whole lot more.  

There’s more of that sort of thing to come, and we’re working on a “graduated beta release schedule” at the moment in preparation for an April 1.0 official release.

What’s a “graduated beta release schedule?”
  • Well, before we sound the “everyone come for final polish testing!” klaxon, there are a number of issues that we’d like help on from smaller groups of people who choose to come in and help with testing, feedback, or even direct modding/art/code as the case may be.
  • One of those areas, probably the biggest, is our AI War 2 GUI focus group, which we’d love to have as many people a part of as possible.
  • We also have quite a lively discussion on our NAT Punchthrough discussion thread, although we now have a volunteer network expert (thanks, Admiral!) who is directly getting involved in this bit.
  • And there will be other things as well, which we’ll be announcing through the forums and on kickstarter.  We won’t bother you with each of those through the newsletter, so be sure to follow us in one of those other locations if you want to stay in the know on these last pre-beta days.
  • Speaking of, here’s what we’ve been up to lately.  Although that doesn’t tell the full story of some of the things that are in progress but not yet implemented.

One Last Note About Starward Rogue

We also wanted to make a special thanks to Windless Zephyr for inspiring the Zephyr mech, and also for providing us with so many episodes of your long-running Starward Rogue series! :)
Rock, Paper, Shotgun - (Alice O'Connor)

It’s a Christmas miracle: AI War 2 [official site] has hits its crowdfunding goal on its second attempt, its wonderful creators Arcen Games will live to dev another day, and we’ve probably all learned a little about feelings or some other sappy nonsense I guess. The original AI War is a fascinating RTS – and one of Adam’s favourites – with a wealth of options in a war against an AI overlord who’s playing entirely differently to you. Given the first Kickstarter’s failure and Arcen’s recent troubles, I’d worried about both this game and the whole studio but thankfully all is looking up. … [visit site to read more]

Community Announcements - x-4000
Um... wow?  Folks are absolutely amazing in their support, and I'm just agog at this.  I'm going to be out most of the weekend, but I just wanted to say thanks in advance if we hit any stretch goals before Monday.  At the moment we seem likely to hit the stretch goal for new music sooner than later.

So, other stuff -- first I'd like to share one new video with you:

So just what is this "AI War" thing, and why should you be excited about it?

Hopefully the kickstarter campaign page answers that question, in a general sense at least. ;)  But prior to launching this campaign I was working on this video, and I finally finished editing it today (with Pablo's help cleaning up some unfortunately peaky audio because my mic gain was off), so I thought I'd share it.

If you're wanting to explain to someone first what this game is, then why it's frickin awesome, maybe this video will help.  Or maybe I'm just longwinded -- 9 minutes is pretty concise for a game like this, though. :)

First Stretch Goal: Soundtrack!

So... right!  We're funded. :)  Now we're working on the first stretch goal off our list:

Up Next

Next week I expect to release a video actually showing combat, and some other cool visual effects, and we'll show you more of the GUI, and Pablo has a video for you, and Keith has some written updates...

Busy times, in the best sense. :)

I'm personally not going to be around much this weekend because I'm both trying to have a better work/life balance in general and also we're celebrating my mom's birthday, but I'll be back in force on Monday.  I'll peek in some over the weekend, of course, and I imagine Keith will be around some Saturday off and on.  But just so you don't wonder where we are if we're quieter than usual.

Thanks again for all your support!

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - (Alice O'Connor)

Arcen Games have launched a new Kickstarter campaign to crowdfund AI War II [Kickstarter page], sequel to their cracking 2009 real-time strategy game which pitted players against AI playing by entirely different rules. “Didn’t they just…?” you’re wondering and yep, they did try to Kickstart it in October but cancelled the campaign when it was clear they wouldn’t reach their goal. They’re returned with a smaller pitch for a smaller game with a smaller budget, and this time they’re almost at their goal. … [visit site to read more]

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - (Adam Smith)

An entirely objective ranking of the 50 best PC strategy games ever made, now brought up to date with the riches of the last two years. From intricate wargames to soothing peacegames, the broad expanse of the genre contains something for everyone, and we’ve gathered the best of the best. The vast majority are available to buy digitally, a few are free to download and play forever. They’re all brilliant.

… [visit site to read more]

Community Announcements - x-4000
Good grief!  People are awesome.  I didn't mean to update folks here "late," but the new campaign for AI War 2 has already reached half of its (admittedly much more modest) funding goal.

I've already written a first update post that has a large Q&A based on early questions.  Apologies that the video above is just a teaser-style one, but one of the Q&A topics (way at the bottom) touches on the reasons for that.  Basically perfectionism on my part, I guess.

This is a very different project from the one that we were pitching in the first kickstarter, but I'm really excited about it.  Keith has written up a new design document that explains what is planned.  There's another document that compares the new vision for the sequel to the original AI War, for those wanting to see that comparison.

One of the last updates to the original campaign does probably the most concise job of outlining the differences between the two campaigns, the changing roles of Keith and myself, and the current configuration (so to speak) of Arcen.

Anyhow!  Hope to see you around soon. :)

Community Announcements - x-4000
FINALLY a sequel. Please stop by our kickstarter campaign -- we're counting on folks like you to make this bigger, better, clearer sequel a reality.

You might hate kickstarter, and I hate preorders, but I hope you'll love this project on its own merits. The original AI War is something that RPS called one of the best strategy games ever made, and which is widely regarded as having some of the best and most interesting AI ever seen in a game.

Why a sequel?

The original was designed in a different time, under completely different design goals. We're finally creating a sequel that is being rebuilt from the ground up using a whole bunch of new tricks and tech that we've acquired over the last few years.

The trickiest core technical improvements -- ranging from highly efficient 3D graphics to a multithreaded main-simulation to mod support -- are already complete.

Why trust us?

We’re not kidding around in our approach to this: we’ve made a massive 160+ page design document, because it was basically the only way we were comfortable doing a kickstarter campaign for this sequel.

We can't stand vague or overblown promises, so our goal has been to be as explicit and clear as possible. We did a massive AMA on reddit where we wrote more than 50 pages of responses, and we're happy to answer even more questions.

That said, this project is huge, and we've been having a rough time in the crowded New Steam Market (so to speak). Please consider backing the project if you can! It's very hard to reach customers nowadays, and we don't have a good way to fund this without your help. There are a few alternatives to kickstarter that we've worked out, but none of them give us the full creative freedom that working directly with our fans does.

Improvements at a glance:
  • GUI Clarity and usability!
  • Sane learning curve.
  • Better graphics.
  • Better performance.
  • Moddability.
  • More varied strategic landscape.
  • Streamlined out repetitive tasks.
  • Way, way more.

Even if you can't or don't want to back, please spread the word!
Whether or not you're able and willing to personally back the project, please consider forwarding this campaign's link to any friends (Steam or otherwise) that might have an interest in this sort of thing.

If you personally want to take a "wait and see" attitude toward this project, we totally respect that. But we are having trouble reaching our own existing customers, and so any help you can give us in spreading the word we would be incredibly grateful for.

Community Announcements - Dominus Arbitrationis
Chris here.  I'm going to keep this brief and try not to be annoying!  First up: if you didn't already know, we're running a kickstarter for the sequel to AI War, and that's a pretty big deal to us.

If you have not already, please consider signing up for the Headtalker campaign for AI War II.  The true power of this thing has only really become apparent to me today, and it's pretty awesome.

  • If 500 people sign up -- and there are 71 on there as of the time of this writing, including myself -- then a big social media blast goes out.  I guess kind of like a Thunderclap?
  • It tracks the amount of reach that we have on social media based on this, and basically it can be a way to get in front of a LOT of people.  Out of just 71 people signed up so far, that gives us a potential reach of 960 thousand people.
  • Bearing in mind that a ton of those people will have zero interest in this, it's still a lot more targeted than advertising in some ways, and it's also not costing us anything (or you much time).
  • Given our current backer counts, less than a third of you would need to help out with this for a big blast to go out.
  • And actually you can recruit other people as well if you like who are not backers of the project -- you never know if your friend's friends are strategy enthusiasts, even if that friend is not.
  • As with this kickstarter campaign itself, if the target is not hit, nothing happens.  So if we don't get 500 people signed up, then the whole thing doesn't happen.  Even if you have a small twitter following or just a few facebook friends or a small group on linkedin or whatever else, that still is valuable in that it helps us reach that count of 500 people.

Thank you for reading!
That was annoying, and I apologize for that.  To make it up to you, I'll give a few more tidbits about Reverse AI War, which I teased in update #8.

  • It's a much smaller and shorter game, and made for serial replayability.  Ideally games are 5-25 minutes long, depending on the complexity of the scenario you set up.  I'd estimate 15 or 20 minutes on average.
  • I doubt it would be multiplayer, but who knows.  Probably that would just be irritating to play with others, though, to be honest.
  • The game is set in the Arcenverse, in the timeline after Bionic Dues and Release Raptor, but long before AI War, The Last Federation, Stars Beyond Reach, or Starward Rogue.
  • You play as the AI at the end of Earth's history in this game.  You may remember from the lore of Raptor that basically some humans got left behind on Earth while the rich and the upper classes fled to the stars.
  • The AI eventually chases the humans out into the galaxy, as we clearly see in the first AI War.  However, before it can comfortably do that, it needs to take care of the planet that we both came from.
  • The overall idea here is thus that you're trying to kill the last of the humans remaining on earth.  It really gives you a perspective of the sort of vaguely Risk-like experience that the AI has in AI War, but on territories on earth instead of planets and solar systems in space.
  • As with AI War, the AI (you, this time) have vastly superior resources to your foes, but also some weak spots.  This game is also a David and Goliath simulator... but this time you're Goliath tasked with destroying David?
  • If that sounds easy, then you're forgetting the core weakness of the AI: blindness.  You don't know WHERE all those pesky humans are.  You thus want to do various things to draw them out, including letting them take some territory from you in order to expose themselves.  Mwa ha ha, they think they're so sneaky...
  • ...of course, the more you do that, the more you actually do risk that they pop up in surprising force and destroy your quantum computer, thus ending you.  The other risk is that they escape into space, meaning that you've failed in your chief objective.
Overall I think it's a really fun concept, and it's simple and short and yet has good strategy to it.  As I mentioned before, I hope to have a WebGL online demo you can play by the end of November.

Depending on how things progress with this kickstarter, I might be convinced to give out copies of this to all backers above some certain tier... ;)

That's all for now!  Sorry for being annoying about the Headtalker thing, but if you can help out with it it is definitely appreciated.  And hopefully the Reverse AI War details make up for it.


There have been a number of objections to the Reverse AI War thing being talked about on our forums, and I felt like those are things that I wanted to address here, too. Here's the original thread:,19276.msg209980.html#msg209980

The TLDR is that basically, no, that doesn't mean that we're giving up on this campaign. It doesn't indicate a lack of interest on my part in AI War II, either. It is an attempt to be honest and clear with you despite the fact that it may be mildly stupid from a PR standpoint, but I think that honesty tends to beat "smooth talking" in situations like this.

If you still have reservations, the post there is worth a read. I suppose the other biggest point is that we're neither just sitting here and hoping things improve (we're both making contingencies and actively trying to improve things at the same time). A lot of kickstarters do this thing where they seem to just be blindly trucking along, and anyone who looks at them goes "that's not going to fund," but they seem oblivious. I hate that so much. I doubt the people are oblivious, but I guess they don't want to show a lack of confidence and so they sure seem oblivious. I'd rather tell you as much as I can about what we're trying to do to make things better, instead.
Community Announcements - x-4000
Bugfixes and an AI War II kickstarter notice on the main menu.  The release notes cover the details, and we hope that you enjoy those fixes. :)

We also hope you'll stop by the campaign for AI War II and see if you think it's worth your time and/or money.  We are having an exceedingly hard time reaching our existing players for AI War Classic -- of which we need only about 3% to actually back the kickstarter -- and as such, our kickstarter is stalling.

We have a variety of ways in which we're working on pulling out of the stall, but by far the best option is getting the message out to people who would directly be interested.  Hopefully that includes you if you're reading this, but please also spread the word to other players you know who might have missed this!

Chris Park
Founder and Lead Designer, Arcen Games
Community Announcements - x-4000
Just a very quick note to point you to this link.  We won't normally bug you with every little thing, but we wanted to give you a chance to get in any questions you might have if reddit is your bag.

Obviously you can ask us anything in general, but it's nice to have an event for it, too!

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