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Finally a sequel to the award-winning, genre breaking, asymmetric strategy cult classic.  The most sentient AI in gaming.
You can still help us reach more stretch goals!
You can still help us reach more stretch goals!
2,545 backers pledged $97,205 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

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$97,205

2,545

Miss the campaign?  You can still get in on the action and help us reach further stretch goals with BackerKit.

THANK YOU!  Not only did we hit our original funding goal in 22 hours, but we made it through a full four stretch goals beyond that.  

We'll continue providing updates through kickstarter -- of course -- but if you want up to the minute communications, please head over to our forums for the game.

Right at the end we hit one last stretch goal with the help of paypal backers: Interplanetary Weapons. (It's the only way to be sure.)  That goes along with the awesome Nemesis, Spire, and music goals that were already hit.

You've all been amazing, and we look forward to a fantastic 2017 with you. :)

-- Chris and Keith

AI War II is a grand strategic RTS against an overwhelming, inhuman enemy who has conquered the galaxy.  The enemy has made only a single error: underestimating you.

You must steal as much technology as you can, and take enough territory to fortify your bases and launch your attacks.  But every conquest you make turns the attention of the AI ever more in your direction... so choose your targets with care.

Multiplayer!

We designed AI War II from the ground up for both solo and co-op play (up to at least 8 players), and put the emphasis on your smarts instead of your reflexes.

What Makes The AI Awesome?

The AI has a distinct advantage over you in a grand strategic sense, but when it comes to combat and tactics it plays by the same rules as you... and it's very devious.

The core conceit of the AI is that most of the time it's not aware of you.  But pieces of its empire become aware of you at various times, and you have to then deal with those pieces in battles ranging from tiny skirmishes to thousands-strong epic encounters.

We've written in depth about our core approach to emergent AI, which keeps it from becoming predictable.  However, on top of that we've layered a lot of specific tactical tricks to counter a wide array of player tactics.

Variable Difficulty!

The game has options to tailor the game to your skill level and playstyle:

  • Whether you're a masochistic ultra-hardcore grognard
  • Someone who enjoys RTS games.
  • Or just a space game fan!

Generally speaking, if you're winning all the time, the usual suggestion is to 'up the difficulty a notch.' Most players tend to enjoy the game best when victories are hard-fought or just barely lost. It's not about winning or losing, but about finding the right balance so that each campaign is an epic story of accomplishment.

Sidebar: The very highest difficulty is meant to be unwinnable -- and so top players enjoy their occasional victories at that level, then help us update the AI to prevent their prior tactics from working.  We have a super fun time with that arms race, and it makes the AI at the lower difficulties more interesting, too.

Key Design Shifts From AI War Classic (The Original Game)

  • The Ark: your central command is now mobile, and can directly hack the AI. What could go wrong?
  • Making the AI's responses more fluid and aggressive.
  • Reworking armor and attack multipliers into new, intuitive defense mechanics.
  • Splitting Energy: globally-held Fuel drives your fleets, while per-planet Power allows for meaningful planet customization.
  • Reinventing Cloaking: the old long-term stealth ability becomes a dangerous assault mechanic.

Design Documents:

  • First of all, we have the  Design Document, which outlines what the launch build of the game is intended to be.  This is useful even if you've never played AI War Classic.  Notably, this explains the Key Design Shifts above in considerable detail.
  • Then we have a separate Appendix A - Relationship To AIW 1 document detailing specific differences from original to sequel.
  • For those considering the Personable AI reward (and for those who are simply curious) we have Appendix B - AI Traits, detailing the currently-planned traits that can be mixed and matched to create new AI personalities.
Key Technical Mumbo Jumbo
  • Lots and lots of multithreading to make awesome use of modern computers.
  • XML modding for game content, and advanced C# modding for several key logic zones.
Misc:
  • DRM-free copies also available on launch, and day-one OSX and Linux in addition to Windows.
  • Robust scaling of the 3D graphical complexity so that it can look great while running well on older machines, and look even better on newer ones.
  • Already approved for Steam -- no Greenlight needed.
  • Come chat with us and other backers on our Discord server!
  • Feel free to sign up for our mailing list if you'd like the occasional update about new games or other major happenings.

Thanks to fixing up a ton of usability issues, AI War 2 is well placed to deal with the first game's most common complaint: the killer learning curve. AI War is meant to be a hard but fair game, and the start menu should not be enough to defeat new players.

We’re coming at the problem from a few different angles. Usability changes will help smooth the difficulty curve once they’re in-game, as will quickstart options that allow you to jump into the game without fiddling with settings.

One thing we will not be doing is dumbing the game down.  The point is to remove your need to fight the interface, so you can focus on fighting the AI.

 

We are pleased to announce that AI War 2 is built from the ground up to be open and easy to modify, while still maintaining multiplayer stability. Players can modify ships and structures, the design of AI personalities, and create tutorials, scenarios, and vignettes of their own.

You can write your own C# code (just as we do) to hook into various parts of the game, such as map-generation, which allows for much more robust modding than we had originally planned. Modders asked for this, and we listened!

The design document has a list of modifiable components that we identified before we even started making the game.

The project hit 100% funding in just 22 hours -- WOW!  And our awesome backers carried us through a further FOUR stretch goals by the end.  We have full writeups for the SpireNemesis, and Interplanetary Weapons if you want more details.  We'll see what we can do about those solar systems post-campaign. 

Bear in mind that the project funding total listed doesn't include the paypal contributions, which are what pushed us the last bit over the finish line.

 

Please note: rewards for backer tiers are as-shown in the sidebar.  If you increase your pledge for the purpose of add-ons, that does not increase your baseline rewards.  THAT said, if you pledge at least $260 through any combination of tiers and add-ons, we'll send you a copy of Stars Beyond Reach.

 

By popular request!  Simply add an extra dollar amount to your pledge equal to the addon(s) you want, and then in the backer survey we'll ask you what exactly it is that you were adding on.  Note that you can choose multiples of individual items (three cyber cyphers, etc) if you wish.

Extra Launch Copies
$20: One extra copy of the game at 1.0 release.
$35: Two extra copies of the game at 1.0 release.
$50: Three extra copies of the game at 1.0 release.
Add an extra $15 per extra such copy beyond the first 3.

Extra Early Access Copies
$30: One extra copy of the game at the Early Access release.
$58: Two extra copies of the game at the Early Access release.
$85: Three extra copies of the game at the Early Access release.
Add an extra $26 per extra such copy beyond the first 3.

Extra Alpha Copies
$48: One extra copy of the game at the private alpha release.
$94: Two extra copies of the game at the private alpha release.
$138: Three extra copies of the game at the private alpha release.
$180: Four extra copies of the game at the private alpha release.
Add an extra $40 per extra such copy beyond the first 4.

Expensive Oddities 
  • "Personable AI": If you've backed at a tier that is at least $160 (taunts), then add $40 to your pledge and you can note in the survey that you also want the "Personable AI" rewards in addition to whatever your chosen tier rewards are.
  • "Cyber Cypher": If you've backed at a tier that is at least $160 (taunts), then add $40 to your pledge and you can note in the survey that you also want the "Cyber Cypher" rewards in addition to whatever your chosen tier rewards are.
  • "Bronze Merc": If you've backed at a tier that is at least $100, then add $70 to your pledge and you can note in the survey that you also want the "Bronze Merc" rewards in addition to whatever your chosen tier rewards are.
  • "Silver Merc": If you've backed at a tier that is at least $250, then add $170 to your pledge and you can note in the survey that you also want the "Silver Merc" rewards in addition to whatever your chosen tier rewards are.
  • "Gold Merc": If you've backed at a tier that is at least $350, then add $270 to your pledge and you can note in the survey that you also want the "Gold Merc" rewards in addition to whatever your chosen tier rewards are.

 

 

Arcen (that’s Ar-KEN) Games started in 2009 with a lone programmer on a mission. Most real time strategy games at the time lacked artificial intelligence worthy of the name. Once you understood how the AI worked, the challenge, and most of the fun, disappeared. So Chris Park decided to make his own.

It would promote strategy over tactics, reward players for experimenting, and constantly surprise them. The game needed to be fun for Chris even if he knew the game backwards and forwards.

From its origins as a one man product, AI War Classic morphed into a community driven cult classic. Critical praise for the original is glowing, and it was one of the best-reviewed PC games on metacritic in the year of its launch.

Seven years, ten games, ten expansions to those games, and hundreds of patches to those games later Arcen Games is a proud independent game studio with fans all over the world.

Pablo Vega joined very early on and provided an awesome musical score for the game. He has since scored every other game we have put out.

Keith LaMothe is helming this new vision of AI War 2 as both lead designer and lead programmer. Fans of the original game know him well, as he basically was the force of nature behind AIW Classic from 2011 onwards. Chris may have started the AI revolution, but Keith gave it many of its most dangerous weapons.

Daniette "Blue" Mann has been with the company since 2013, and her graphic design talents are behind our increasingly-awesome interfaces in years past, as well as some of the coolest bits in our move to 3D.

 

Risks and challenges

Arcen has spent over seven years making AI War Classic. We’ve patched it, improved it and expanded on it enough that, short of the AI rising up and destroying humanity, if we get our funding we can all but guarantee we'll release AI War 2.

That said, things change during development. Ideas can need more time, or not work at all. Miss a milestone and the game gets delayed. Programming challenges could push features intended for 1.0 into the post-release period. And this is before getting into acts of god and personal tragedies.

AI War II is set to avoid issues common to Kickstarted videogame projects. Our finished design document is hugely specific. The funding we need for the project has been carefully considered, and we're being utterly ruthless with the scope to make sure that it fits within the time budgets of the staff (primarily Keith) who will be working on this.

Given that this is a re-launch of a much higher-target kickstarter, a lot of the staff that was slated to work on the first one has to find other work elsewhere. Some of us are still with the company, but we'll have to fund ourselves via other projects either on kickstarter or otherwise.

We have carefully planned all of that out in such a way that none of those projects will AT ALL impact AI War 2 -- in terms of finances, schedules, or otherwise -- and we will not mix funds between any projects. We are adept at running multiple projects with separate teams, having done so for a number of years in the past.

As with anything else, we're open to any and all questions or concerns you might have, though. We understand that various other developers have done some shady things in this area, and we want to avoid even the appearance of impropriety.

In terms of design itself, we have two more secret weapons: AI War Classic and our community. Almost everything in AI War 2 has an equivalent in AI War Classic. If we run into issues implementing a feature we can look back to the original version. For everything past that point, we rely on our fans, always a source of ideas and creative solutions to problems. We have a reputation for speaking with our fans and listening to them in return. You’ll know what we’re doing, what our challenges are, and what we’re doing to overcome them. We’ll go into excruciating detail (after telling you to expect "a brief update" or "a quick video,"), just like always. It’ll be great.

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    EARLY BIRD Planet Proprietor

    ++ 2x of the game in the private alpha
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    * 2x of the game in the private alpha
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    * 1x Bionic Dues and Skyward Collapse
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    * AI War 2 Original Soundtrack
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    ++ Design and name an AI personality (subject to approval, and using existing traits).

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    * 2x of the game in the private alpha
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    * 1x Bionic Dues and Skyward Collapse
    * 1x AI War Classic + All Expansions
    * AI War 2 Original Soundtrack
    * 1x The Last Federation + 2 Expansions
    * Name an in-game planet (subject to approval)
    ++ Name an in-game mercenary group the player can hire, and select the (existing) ship types it uses. Name subject to approval. (see main page for more details)

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    * 1x AI War Classic + All Expansions
    * AI War 2 Original Soundtrack
    * 1x The Last Federation + 2 Expansions
    * Name an in-game planet (subject to approval)
    ++ Write a "cyber cipher" (see rewards section; subject to approval.)

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    * AI War 2 Original Soundtrack
    * 1x The Last Federation + 2 Expansions
    * Name an in-game planet (subject to approval)
    ++ Write your own Player-triggerable taunt (subject to approval!) to be fully voiced.

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    * 1x Bionic Dues and Skyward Collapse
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    * AI War 2 Original Soundtrack
    * 1x The Last Federation + 2 Expansions
    * Name an in-game planet (subject to approval)
    ++ Bronze Merc reward, plus write the merc group's on-arrival taunt (subject to approval) to be fully voiced. (see main page for more details)

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    ++ 1x of Stars Beyond Reach AS-IS. (See main page for details)

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    Mayhem Consultant

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    * AI War 2 Original Soundtrack
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    * Name an in-game planet (subject to approval)
    * 1x of Stars Beyond Reach AS-IS. (See main page for details)
    ++ An hour of dedicated modding assistance from the lead designer (see rewards section for details)

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    * AI War 2 Original Soundtrack
    * 1x The Last Federation + 2 Expansions
    * Name an in-game planet (subject to approval)
    * 1x of Stars Beyond Reach AS-IS. (See main page for details)
    ++ Silver Merc reward, plus work with Blue on a modified appearance (within reason) for the merc group's lead ship. (see main page for more details)

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    Flagship Designer

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    * AI War 2 Original Soundtrack
    * 1x The Last Federation + 2 Expansions
    * Name an in-game planet (subject to approval)
    * 1x of Stars Beyond Reach AS-IS. (See main page for details)
    ++ Work with art director Blue to create an alternate visual design for flagship units that any player can then discover as they play the game.

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    * AI War 2 Original Soundtrack
    * 1x The Last Federation + 2 Expansions
    * Name an in-game planet (subject to approval)
    * 1x of Stars Beyond Reach AS-IS. (See main page for details)
    ++ Work with art director Blue to create an alternate visual design for an Ark that any player can then choose from in-game.

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    * 1x Bionic Dues and Skyward Collapse
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    * AI War 2 Original Soundtrack
    * 1x The Last Federation + 2 Expansions
    * Name an in-game planet (subject to approval)
    * 1x of Stars Beyond Reach AS-IS. (See main page for details)
    ++ Work with art director Blue to create the visual design for a Derelict Fortress.
    ++ Work with Keith to design the weapons/defenses the fortress has when repaired (out of existing mechanics).
    ++Work with Keith to create the lore backstory for this facility.

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    * 1x AI War Classic + All Expansions
    * AI War 2 Original Soundtrack
    * 1x The Last Federation + 2 Expansions
    * Name an in-game planet (subject to approval)
    * 1x of Stars Beyond Reach AS-IS. (See main page for details)
    * Work with art director Blue to create an alternate visual design for an Ark OR Flagship that any player can then choose from in-game.
    ++ You and two of your friends (more if networking conditions are amenable) play a campaign with lead programmer/designer Keith LaMothe against the AI for up to 8 realtime hours. (See main page for details)

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    Loremaster

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    * 1x Bionic Dues and Skyward Collapse
    * 1x AI War Classic + All Expansions
    * AI War 2 Original Soundtrack
    * 1x The Last Federation + 2 Expansions
    * Name an in-game planet (subject to approval)
    * 1x of Stars Beyond Reach AS-IS. (See main page for details)
    * Work with art director Blue to create an alternate visual design for an Ark OR Flagship that any player can then choose from in-game.
    ++ Commission a series of in-game lore entries on the in-universe topic of your choice (see rewards section for details)

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    Skyward Code Sourcerer

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    * 1x Bionic Dues and Skyward Collapse
    * 1x AI War Classic + All Expansions
    * AI War 2 Original Soundtrack
    * 1x The Last Federation + 2 Expansions
    * Name an in-game planet (subject to approval)
    * Design and name an AI personality (subject to approval, and using existing traits).
    * Write your own Player-triggerable taunt (subject to approval!) to be fully voiced.
    * Write your own AI-triggered taunt (subject to approval!) to be fully voiced.
    * 1x of Stars Beyond Reach AS-IS. (See main page for details)
    * Work with art director Blue to create an alternate visual design for an Ark OR Flagship that any player can then choose from in-game.
    ++ You and two of your friends (more if networking conditions are amenable) play a campaign with lead programmer/designer Keith LaMothe against the AI for up to 8 realtime hours. (See main page for details)
    ++ FULL SOURCE CODE to Skyward Collapse and its expansion. NDA required, but code can be used for commercial purposes. (See main page for details)

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Funding period

- (31 days)