About this project
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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.
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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 Spire, Nemesis, 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.
- "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.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
The dates on your tiers show the date of that tier's FINAL deliverable; you'll have access to the game during private alpha at the same time as every other private alpha backer.
Some rules of thumb:
- Backer badges will be available very soon after the Kickstarter ends.
- The private alpha is set for February. All private alpha backers will be able to claim their game at this time.
- Same deal for the Early Access in May and 1.0 in October.
- The collaborative rewards have later dates because we're going to need time to work with you on writing, art, or music as your case may be.
tl;dr: some tiers have later estimated delivery dates because your last reward comes later.
Yes. We don't have to go through Greenlight either; things are all already set there.
We want to! No promises though, getting projects on GOG is now more involved and more subjective on their side. They carry a number of our games, but they've flatly turned down a few others (RIP Starward Rogue).
They do seem interested in AI War II so we are hopeful they will carry it at 1.0, and maybe via their Games In Development program. Please stay tuned!
Did you just ask us that? Did you just ask US that?
Perish the thought. We hate DRM just as much as you. Regardless of platform, our games through our games are always DRM-free. With any of our titles, you can simply copy their files out of the Steam folder (or whatever) and plop them on a thumb drive or whatever you want to do. Easy.
There will be some Steamworks integration, which will not be required for local achievements, or for multiplayer in general.
There is also a check for updates via our own in-game updater. The original AI War has, as do our other titles. This can be disabled, and is in no way required to run the game. If the auto-updater detects an update it lets you know and you can choose whether to download it or not. You're never forced to keep the game up to date.
Certainly! You know we love you guys. We should have said this up top somewhere, but we just take it for granted so much we don't always think about it.
The OS requirements for Unity 5.4 have changed, but the change shouldn't affect anyone that is keeping remotely up to date with their OS versions. The new requirements are:
- Windows XP SP2+
- Mac OS X 10.8+
- Ubuntu 12.04+
YES. Turns out we can support both those and 64bit systems without multiplayer compatibility problems after all. Previously we had stated that would not be possible, but we were happy to learn we actually can do it!
Chris here. We had to really evaluate our scope. The original goal was based around us doing EVERYTHING all in one go, versus over time. There were a few reasons for that aggressiveness, but the main one was that I wanted to avoid having to lay off staff. We gave it our best go, but ultimately that was not meant to be. In some of the later updates on the first kickstarter, we went into a lot of detail on what all changed, if you want to read them:
First update with differences and changes in Arcen: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/arcengames/ai-war-ii/posts/1723950
Second update with even more clarity about what is changing in the re-launched design: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/arcengames/ai-war-ii/posts/1731960
Third update that breaks things out in more bullet points and has even more info: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/arcengames/ai-war-ii/posts/1733680
Yep! Here's the file: http://aiwar.s3.amazonaws.com/AIWar8000WinMacLin_RequiresKey.zip
This zip archive contains the OSX, Windows, and Linux versions all in one package. More than 99% of the files are the same between all three operating systems, so this gives you the flexibility of having all three operating systems in one package without needing to download multiple large archives. To play the demo, simply unzip the archive into the location of your choice.
To run the game:
1. Windows: Run AIWar.exe (this is 32bit)
2. OSX: Run AIWar.app (this will run as 32bit or 64bit, depending on your OS).
3. Linux: Run AIWarLinux.x86 if you are on a 32bit OS, or AIWarLinux.x86_64 if you are on a 64bit OS.
That’s it! Note: if you have a CD key (NOT a steam key) for the game, then you can unlock this demo into the full version of the game.
No restrictions! Once you have whatever copy of the game you're choosing to get, feel free to video and screenshot whatever you want to with it.
We also get asked a lot about monetization of videos. Good grief please feel free -- with any of our games. We love LPers and reviewers and all the various things people do, and if they can get compensation through video monetezation or patreon or whatever other source, we're super happy for them.
Yes! Finally, this is here. Hoo boy this took me forever, and for that I'm really sorry. I know some folks from our forums haven't been able to back until now. http://arcengames.com/ai-war-2-kickstarter-paypal-at-last/
At this point, the actual number on the kickstarter page becomes a lie. ;) So we may hit the Nemesis goal faster than it looks like, thanks to outside paypal pledges. If that's the case we'll treat them just as if they were on kickstarter itself, and we'll give you updates on that. But if we see some strange number like $87k and the $90k goal is "hit," then that's the paypal side bolstering it.
I do want to note: if you're able to back on kickstarter, please do so here instead of via paypal. It helps with management of everything on our end, as well as helping appearances on the kickstarter itself, and so on. But if that's not an option... now there's an option for you!
*Evil laughter* Yes, yes -- of course. I doubt that the new game will have quite so many as the first did, at least not right at first. But the first game had one of the highest number of achievements of most Steam games, mainly because of all the different things you could do, and all those expansions. We'll continue that tradition in full force!
Basically for those sort of rewards, we'll get them to you as soon as we can after the project closes. We're not sure if that will be right after the KS itself closes, or if it will need to be after the funds actually close and get sent to us (which takes 14 days after the project ends).
Honestly we're new to that part, and we'll be using BackerKit to help us, and will defer to them on best practices. We'll do everything we can to get you each piece of your reward as soon as possible per piece, though!
Chris: Yeah. :( That was something I was going to do in my own spare time just because I thought it would be super fun, but at this point there's a lot of other things that I'm doing for this project in my "spare time" (hmm) that take priority. You never know, it might come back! Either way, I want to make an actual game like that someday. But right now it didn't fit in the budget.
Chris: We get asked about this sort of thing -- or lifetime passes for DLC for this game, season passes, etc -- and that's something I'm against and unfortunately not going to change my mind on. I feel it is inherently consumer-hostile to have season passes.
To elaborate: it creates an implied obligation on Arcen's part that I'm not comfortable with. Let's say that AI War 2 releases and does pretty well, but for some reason we are not able to make expansions for a few years, or at all. Maybe it's not financially viable for some reason, or maybe Keith gets abducted by Burlusts.
In those circumstances, we'd be under a lot of stress from feeling like we're betraying those people who were kind enough to buy the season pass thingies. And a lot of those people probably would not feel great either, whether they "knew the risks" or not.
I'd like to think that everything will work out ideally with the project, but when I'm setting up any sort of circumstance where there is an obligation the company now has -- moral or legal or otherwise -- then I try to think through the less-ideal cases instead. In the case of a season pass, there are a variety of them that make me deeply uncomfortable and that I'm not willing to risk betraying a moral obligation for a few bucks.
When it comes to something like a Kickstarter or Early Access where you give us money in advance, we take it SUPER seriously and make sure that we budget very distinctly and are able to deliver on what we are promising. With a season pass, we wouldn't be able to do that -- and a lot of developers have gotten themselves into trouble by putting themselves in that position.
Ever hate how the AI taunts you, but you can’t taunt back? In a lot of classic RTS games it was possible to enter a number and have a specific voice taunt play. In modding communities, there were often large packs of unlicensed quotes and other nonthematic things that made them even more fun. We can’t do THAT part, of course.
These triggers are things that players will be able to trigger by entering a chat command of “T1” or similar to activate “taunt one,” and we’ll also make them triggerable by things like “T-yes” or whatnot to be easier to remember. Older RTS games commonly had this sort of thing, and it could be super satisfying to tell your just-defeated-in-a-battle opponent that their father was a hamster. To be clear: none of these taunts will play unless you or an ally choose to invoke them, so these won’t be invading your sense of immersion if you don’t want to use them.
It depends on the pledge tier that you select.
- If you choose "alpha" tier (which is more costly), you'll get it in February 2017.
- If you choose "early access" tier (which is middle-price), you'll get it when the game is first available in Steam Early Access, which is planned to be May 2017. This is also when the game first becomes available to the public to purchase, but at a price of $30.
- If you choose the 1.0/release tier, then you'll get the game when it leaves early access, which is expected to be October 2017. At this time the price for people buying it on Steam and elsewhere will drop to $20.
Note: If you're choosing the 1.0/release option, this does mean that other people who aren't kickstarter backers will have the option to get the early-access version prior to you getting your key. They'll be paying a premium ($10 more) compared to you, however. Basically this is the same sort of system that games like Prison Architect used.
This will be at 1.0/release for everybody. Because of our rapid turnaround on new builds (typically one a week at least, historically-speaking, but it varies), AND the new and larger build sizes (read: more expensive for us to distribute from our own bandwidth) it's not feasible for us to do a standalone version during the early access period.
Probably. ;) We may work something out, but please don't plan on it. The Steam version itself contains no DRM (you can copy the files to a thumb drive and move them around if you want), but is being used as the distribution mechanism during early access.
Of course! Whenever you get a key, it's yours forever after that. You're just getting in early -- and helping to support us more, for which we thank you! All of the keys are the same, but the alpha, early access, and 1.0/launch differentiation specifies when we deliver it to you.
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