Hey folks! Chris here. :)
This is a really exciting day, because we've finally hit the point where the game is ready for Early Access, and it's actually OUT.
Note that anyone who backed the kickstarter should have had their keys as of last October at the very latest, so if you're missing that then please be sure to check out your account at backerkit to get your key: https://aiwar2.backerkit.com/
If you like it, please leave a review!
I want to go ahead and get this out of the way before getting into anything else. It's really safe to say that reviews are a big part of the lifeblood of games on Steam, and if you're enjoying it then the best way you can help us out is to tell other people.
So far, so good!
In terms of the reception and initial launch sales during EA, things are looking good so far! It's only been an hour and a half or so, but we're currently sitting at #7 on the top sellers list.
AI War Classic got up a little higher than that at a couple of points in the past, and so did The Last Federation, but it's still early yet and the market is tougher now, anyway.
Anyway, I'm not about to complain. Our new art for the header looks really killer on the main rotator, too!
My big goal for this is for it to help us fund the sort of ongoing development that the first game had. We had 6 years of development, with 6 releases, on the original game. I'd love to see that sort of longevity again.
And that's where I come to... so far so good! Things are looking up on that front (based on all of 1.5 hours' worth of data, granted).
In the sense of this game, compared to what this game had a while ago? Well, we've got a lot more polish, more content, more interfaces, better usability... a whole lot of stuff. Not the lobby yet, frustratingly, but that will be soon.
In the sense of this game, compared to the original game? Well, the factions here are absolutely nutso amazing compared to what the first game was able to do. There are "quick start" options that are easy to select and which have a lot of interesting scenarios already laid out for you. No need for the scary lobby, with those. Obviously lots of visual and audio improvements, but the mechanics themselves have also been made a lot more digestible while still retaining their strategic depth. Not to mention all the technical leaps forward, like the insane amount of multithreading, or GPU instancing, etc.
Should you play now?
I certainly think so! We've had a lot of people wanting to wait until a more-final version of the game, and we're to that point now, mechanically-speaking. The lobby is still a hacky mess, but all of the other interfaces are pretty mature. We plan on making more visual improvements to them just for beautification purposes, and there are more interfaces that we do want to still add, but overall we're getting there.
For ships, we do plan on a laundry list of new mechanics and new ships to go with them... but the roster is already pretty large. The factions add a ton of replayability on their own.
Anyway, a big part of the reasoning for Early Access is for us to gain feedback as we proceed from here and polish things up, add the last content, and so forth. We've been fortunate to have an increasing number of testers over the last month, plus continual help from Badger and Puffin, and more recently from Quinn as well.
Speaking of, keep an eye out for kickstarter wallpapers to drop soon -- Cath did an awesome piece that is going to be a kickstarter/backerkit exclusive. :)
This will be the one temporary showstopper, for some of you. Because of all the rework we wound up doing over the last two years, trying to maintain multiplayer stability during that whole time was just not feasible. So multiplayer has been disabled for a while, and we'll resume working on that in January. I want to spend the rest of this year on polish, bugfixing, and those fun new ship mechanics that everyone can enjoy.
1.0 Release Date?
The plan right now is for Q2 2019, and that seems very much like a date we'll be able to hit. After two years of constant slippage, it's nice to be able to say that with a feeling of confidence. All of the heavy R&D/prototyping pieces of work are behind us.
Loyalty Coupons on Steam
Something you may notice on Steam is a 25% off coupon that you get in your inventory if you've previously bought AI War 1, The Last Federation, or Bionic Dues. This is basically like getting the Early Bird Launch Backer tier here on kickstarter. We have a ton of customers that we have no other way of reaching (we only have contact info for about 10k out of half a million customers), and this is a way for them to actually get notified.
I hope nobody feels frustrated by this, but it is definitely a major tool in getting the word out that the game even exists. If you have a coupon that you can't use or don't wish to use, feel free to pass it on to someone else who wants it. Won't offend me in the least.
For the next week or so, it's probably a matter of bugfixes and balance tweaks, paired with me working on the lobby. Then I plan to start hitting those new ship mechanics up like crazy, and I'm still debating whether or not to try adding a procedural element to some ships. We're also talking about alternate end conditions of various sorts, but nothing is guaranteed on that right now. I think it's promising, though.
Lastly: Thank you!
We still have plenty more to do, but it's thanks to everyone here that we've made it this far. You kickstarted us in every sense of the word, and I just wanted to reiterate how grateful we all are for that.
Talk to you soon!