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Finally a sequel to the award-winning, genre breaking, asymmetric strategy cult classic.  The most sentient AI in gaming.
Sequel to the award-winning, genre-breaking, asymmetric strategy cult classic.  The most sentient AI in gaming.
Sequel to the award-winning, genre-breaking, asymmetric strategy cult classic.  The most sentient AI in gaming.
2,545 backers pledged $97,205 to help bring this project to life.

Plans and Status Updates for AI War 2

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Chris and Keith here! Apologies for not having made any kickstarter updates since June, good grief. We’ve had daily or weekly interactions and updates on our forums, blog, youtube dev diary, and release notes pages for anyone who wanted the full firehose info dump, but that’s no excuse.

Schedule Slippage - Overview

Let’s get to the toughest topic first. We had originally planned to have an Early Access release on Steam in May, and then a 1.0 release of the game this month, October. As you are no doubt guessing, a 1.0 release this month is not in the cards.

With the Early Access launch-pushback in May, we went ahead and gave out the keys to all of the early access backers at that time, even though the game wasn’t available for purchase on Steam yet. We’re going to do the same thing with the “launch” backers: we’ll have your keys to you later this month, even though the game isn’t in a launch state and won’t be launch on Steam just yet.

In both cases, you’re still getting your key when we said… but, well, the game is not in the state that you would want just yet. So at best that’s a half-kept promise. Obviously schedule slippage is not exactly uncommon with kickstarters or game development in general, but we are still very sorry about that.

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Where We Are Right Now  

Code:  

  • All of the core code for the game is done.
  • Multiplayer is currently broken for some reason, but should be quick to fix.
  • Massive amounts of work on frameworks for a flexible UI and extra modding capabilities have been put in place.
  • There are actually a number of extra goodies in there, like multi-squad formations and some other surprises. 

Gameplay and Interface:

  • Balance leaves a lot to be desired. 
  • In a general sense, the “feel” of the first game isn’t quite there yet.
  • There’s no tutorial, which makes starting to play quite hard. 
  • The lobby interface is very sparse. 
  • The overall GUI is ugly, but becoming increasingly usable through iterations. Our goal is for it to be better than the first game in terms of incorporating a lot of the longstanding requests people had for that game. 
  • The Spire, Nemesis, and Interplanetary Weapons stretch goals are delayed, possibly until after launch. 
  • Unexpectedly, we have a whole new minor faction in the form of The Nanocaust, created as the first mod for the game by BadgerBadger and integrated into the official builds by us. 

Art: 

  • All of the ship models and textures -- all two hundred and six of them -- are complete as of last week.
  • The actual integration of those ship models and textures is only about halfway complete, give or take.
  • The ship model and texture work includes all of the Spire, Nemesis, and Interplanetary Weapons stretch goals stuff -- so the art for those are already done, at least. 
  • The far zoom icons are done, although we will probably change some of the “flair” parts of them as we get closer to release.
  • We have done a number of pieces of concept work for the GUI in terms of figuring out a style, but none of that is integrated into the game yet (no point until the actual underlying elements stop shifting around so much), and there’s still more concepting work to do in general.
  • The visual post-processing stack is still evolving at this point, to give the game a more sophisticated look and avoid the “circus lights in abundance” feel that sometimes hits right now.
  • The visuals for different shot types are still on the todo list.
  • The visuals for how ships die are also still on our todo list. There’s a balance there between performance of particle systems and the frequency (read: very high) at which ships die that we have to work out.
  • We’re still working on inside-one-squad formations that look awesome, although some of those are already in place. Basically making them look more like actual naval or air force military formations rather than just grids of ships. This has been pretty cool to see evolve. 
  • The “ships flying around inside one squad with flame trails everywhere” approach has just turned out not to be feasible on modern hardware without impacting our ability to have really large-scale battles, unfortunately. There are some special tricks we could do to still make this happen, but that would get into some budget that we don’t have. This is a real shame, because this was something we showed off a lot in the kickstarter videos, but in pretty much every other respect our art is exceeding what was shown in the KS videos, so this has been a pretty decent tradeoff -- and something we can return to in the future. 

Audio: 

  • A lot of the sound effects for different shot types have been selected and set up, but are not integrated into the game yet. So the battles don’t sound as variegated yet as they will later. 
  • Another bonus that we’ve chosen to explore thanks to the urging of backers is extra voiceovers for human ships when you give them orders and when there are various alerts. We’ve done about 30% of the recording with a variety of voice actors for this, and we’ve integrated maybe 5% of that into the game so far. It’s something that brings more of a feeling of commanding actual humans rather than just lifeless ships, and it’s something you’ll be able to disable. It’s also something that we’ve got a system for making sure it doesn’t over-saturate you with the same voice cues over and over again, too. 
  • As far as AI taunts or human taunts that you can give back, we have not yet started recording any of those yet. 
  • The music is partly in place, but overall only a few tracks thus far. Pablo tends to work in a massively parallel fashion, and so a lot of his tracks are at various stages of completion rather than him finishing one piece fully and then pushing it out and repeating. Bear in mind he has to compose them and then perform them and then do all the audio engineering and mastering on them, so this process gains a lot of efficiency. 

(The GUI is being gradually blocked out and iterated-on in that fashion before being made pretty.)

Upcoming Schedule: October through November

During the next two months, more or less through December 6th, there’s going to be a flurry of extra work going on to try to get the game to a point where all of the AI War Classic enthusiasts are able to come to the new game and feel both somewhat at-home as well as like they’re in the next era of the game. 

Exactly what that means is a bit unclear at this point, but we know it focuses on usability, balance, the interface, and possibly tutorials. The reason for the lack of clarity is that there’s a big back-and-forth between us and you in this section -- this is a huge game, and so we need feedback on things that are unclear or break balance, and then we’ll respond to those items, and repeat.

There are a number of things we already have planned to work on through the early part of October prior to us releasing the “launch” Steam keys, and then after that point we hope we’ll see an uptick in the number of people who are giving us feedback. 

Upcoming Schedule: December 

After the December 6th date, or thereabouts, we hope to have things in a state where a LOT more people are comfortable jumping onboard and testing and giving us feedback.

Right now feedback has been really limited to only coming from a few people, largely because the game has been too unapproachable and too unbalanced. So that’s on us. 

But we just absolutely cannot go to launch, or even to giving out press previews, with that little feedback. Our goal is to get our side of things to where we can start getting your feedback -- from more and more of you -- while at the same time seeing more and more of you enjoying simply playing the game without having major complaints. 

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Upcoming Schedule: January 

Once the new year rolls around and we’re into 2018, hopefully we’re pretty close to where things are so polished that we can start handing out keys to the press and getting some previews. We don’t know if that will be at the start of January, or later into that month, but either way the goal is sometime in this time period. 

At this point in time, when we start sending out press keys we plan to disable our backerkit preorders store and our paypal preorders. This is also likely when the “Coming Soon” page on Steam will go live, although we might conceivably do that in December.

Upcoming Schedule: February 

This period might start sometime in January, if things are going really well, but either way it bleeds into February. Basically this is the “press review period.”

During this time we’re not taking any new sales for the game, and press are able to play and review the game. We hope that you folks are also playing the game and enjoying it and giving us feedback on how to make it better during this time so that we can apply some final polish to it prior to launch.

This time period is pretty critical for a number of reasons. Firstly, it gives press a chance to have reviews ready for launch, which can help a lot with purchase decisions. Secondly, it gives the game time to “settle” and hopefully have a lot fewer changes required despite a lot of backers playing it.

Thirdly, it gives a period of exclusivity where only backers and the press are able to actually get the game. People have an increased desire for things that they cannot have, and the press prefers writing about things that the general public cannot yet have, so we wind up with this funky period because human psychology is what it is. Hopefully this doesn’t feel manipulative to you, but we’re being upfront about why we’re doing this -- basically it will increase the strength of our launch week (which is critical) and the number of reviewers who will play it during this month (also critical).

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Upcoming Schedule: March

Obviously these dates get less certain as time goes out further, but the idea is that about a month after the press gets their hands on the game, we launch the 1.0 on Steam.

The exact day will partly be determined by what is going on with other game releases by other developers, what conferences and conventions are in that time period, what store-wide sales might stomp our launch, and so on. We won’t have visibility on what the exact ideal release date is until probably 6 weeks prior to choosing the day; and even then we might need to shift the day forward or back a week or so because of something else in the market that comes up.

Launch Discount

Speaking of the importance of a good launch week, one of the things we’re going to need to do is have the traditional 10% launch discount for the first 7 days. This is potentially contentious, because that’s a $2 discount that all of our existing launch backers (early birds aside) are not getting. 

If this is something that angers anybody to a huge degree, then Chris will refund the $2 discount to those individuals out of his own pocket. So please put away your pitchforks. ;)

That said, I think we all have the same vested interest in seeing this game do well and go on to have lots of post-launch support (which require sales to fund), and expansions, and so on. Basically we all want to see the same sort of arc that AI War Classic had, I think? 

The market is a lot more hostile now than it was in 2009, however, and the launch weeks are more and more critical to having any sort of momentum. The more we’ve looked at the data and talked to other indies, the more it has become clear what a problem it would be to not have a good leadup to launch (that month with the press), or not have a launch week discount that buyers have come to expect.

The backers and preorder customers here are the customers who have made this game possible in the first place, and so the 10% launch discount can really stick in the craw of some people when situations like this occur. We’ve witnessed the backlash against certain other games and developers when a development like that comes up out of the blue, which is why we’re telling you now, way in advance, and offering that $2 refund to non-earlybird launch backers if anyone is angry enough to take us up on that.

THAT said, in general we’ve been taking the approach that Prison Architect did, where “you pay more if you buy earlier,” which is counterintuitive in a lot of ways, but something that we’ve talked about the mechanics of with backers for a year or so now. Obviously the alpha and early access tier backers paid a whole heck of a lot more than the launch folks did, and those backers both help to support this game getting made at all, as well as having the game earlier and being able to influence the game’s design from an earlier stage.

We could go on at length about this particular topic, and we feel guilty about that as well as about the general schedule slippage here, but hopefully you read our reasoning and it makes sense -- particularly if you’ve been watching the PC market as a whole lately.

(The above image is a good example of us still needing to do some work on the post-processing pipeline, although it's already much better than that as of today's release of 0.522.)

Backer Rewards Status

There are a variety of backer rewards in a variety of states of completion right now. For practical reasons, it’s pretty much breaking down like this: 

  • Now that we’ve finished all of the ship art for the base game, we’re starting in on fulfilling backer rewards that are ship-art related. We’re working first with the custom Arks, since those are the most numerous and most complicated of the backer rewards, and then we’ll be moving on to the others that are art-related.
  • For things that are design-related (custom AI types, ship stats, etc), we probably won’t get to those until December. It’s better if things are more stable and you can play the game more before you get into that sort of reward.
  • For the audio taunts and the text and lore bits, I’m expecting that probably January would be the timeframe, just to balance with our workloads.
  • As far as all of the digital rewards, other game keys, etc, those are available now and you should already have them. The wallpapers aside, which again will likely be January.
  • To reiterate, the last of the AI War 2 game keys (those for “launch” backers) will go out later this month, and anyone else at a different tier should already have theirs. 

Wrapping Up 

Hopefully that covers the questions of where we are, where we’re headed, and why. The blogs and dev diaries and release notes show where we’ve been recently. Again we apologize about the delay, but we’re doing our best to mitigate its impact on you, and are feeling good about how it will impact the project as a whole.

As always: any questions, please let us know!

Best, 

Chris and Keith

Comments

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    1. Chris Park/Arcen Games 2-time creator on October 30

      That is the current plan, yep -- it's obviously cutting it close, heh.

    2. Missing avatar

      Curiouser and Curiouser on October 30

      Are you guys still looking to get keys out by the end of october?

    3. Chris Park/Arcen Games 2-time creator on October 18

      All very good points -- thanks for that.

      And yeah, the gamma is a good point with how horror games handle it. Funny that it's just them, but I guess it's because they are so darn low-contrast compared to most games. Interestingly, I recall having to calibrate the screen center for both TVs and monitors on a few games. I think the quake 1 and 2 games and maybe goldeneye 007?

    4. Missing avatar

      Sergey Shpikin on October 18

      Yes, BadgerBadger pointed to the same thing I had in mind: if you have to guess the display size and it's not like there's a lot of radically different sizes, probably it's best to show the player a static scene with GUI and ships and ask if this is "too big" or "too small" or "feels just right". Like those horror games asking to adjust gamma even before the main menu appears.

      All in all, I understand the challenge although it doesn't affect me directly — all displays I have are pretty standard 1920x1080/1200. But yeah, things change and you have to respond to these changes. I'll probably comment on the forum later if I have something to say on the matter. Just wanted to keep this comment section on KS alive as well \o/

    5. Chris Park/Arcen Games 2-time creator on October 17

      ...aaand this was such a good question that it deserved more visibility, so here's a forum post with the whole thing: https://forums.arcengames.com/ai-war-ii/about-gui-scaling/

    6. Chris Park/Arcen Games 2-time creator on October 17

      Note: the two comments below should be read in reverse order (bottom one first, then top one), or they won't make sense. They're responding to the comment three down.

    7. Chris Park/Arcen Games 2-time creator on October 17

      Basically we have to ask ourselves what we want the default experience to be when someone comes into the game with a resolution larger than 1080p. If they are coming in at 1920x1080 or lower, then we should assume it's a standard-definition monitor and have sizes that feel natural. That's not the case right now.

      But when it gets larger than that, do we assume a higher-density pixel display, or do we assume a bigger monitor? There's no way to check that in software, unfortunately -- in any OS, that I'm aware of. There are "dpi settings," but those don't actually relate to true monitor size. It's all relative, since your OS doesn't actually know the physical size of your monitor; prior to HDMI, possibly with the exception of DVI-I and whatever Apple was using, monitors were passive receivers pretty much.

      Soooo... long story short, for people running higher than 1080p we're going to have to guess on the default scaling and it will either be cartoonishly large or incredibly tiny if we guess wrong, or just right if we guess right. With the rise of high-dpi displays outside of Apple, I don't know which guess is going to be accurate more of the time.

      If we assume that larger displays at a smaller DPI are the norm, and adjust for that, then things may be so small on high-DPI smaller monitors that people can't adjust the settings screen it's so small. Then again, it may prompt them to go to the settings screen more rapidly. And it's probably a more familiar problem to them, since lots of programs don't scale up properly.

      If we guess higher-DPI is the more normal thing, then for people with large monitors with a standard DPI (like my 4K TV setup) things will be cartoonishly large. That also might be somewhat expected... I guess? Then again, it might not drive people to the settings as fast. Then AGAIN, this is probably more common in the short term (22" monitors or whatnot are getting increasingly common it seems, although so are high-DPI laptops...). And despite it being cartoonishly large for some folks, it's not unusable for anyone, and they can be pointed to the appropriate settings.

      So that's kind of the battle that we go through, aside from just finding sane defaults in general. Right now things are too large, but the good news is that if we can show it in a too-large fashion, we know that the game still functions that way if someone with poor eyesight is trying to play on whatever DPI. If we design the game such that things are at a more sane size from the start, then the oversized version likely won't fit at all. As it stands, scaling down the oversized one would probably just be adjusting a few numbers in a few xml files, and then presto things show up smaller, don't show as cartoony, and give you more play space -- more play space than you would likely have if we started with a more average size to start with, since we're having to be more conservative with our use of space right now.

      Ultimately this is not where I want to end up, feel-wise when it comes to the scaling, but I definitely want this to be in the milieu of what people can choose to see, scale-wise, and not have the game feel cramped even if it does feel cartoony. Our playerbase trends older, and is only going to get more so as the years of maintenance and expansion on this go on, so having what is essentially a "comfort mode" be extremely usable if cartoony-feeling is something that makes me really happy. I won't be using it, personally, but that is why I test in such a small window during normal development; it forces me into an experience that could be uncomfortable, and then lets me make sure it's not (by complaining to Keith if it is; I don't want to take much credit there).

      The really big win has been making this whole system so flexible that it can handle all of the above cases, and that's a big kudos to Keith. Seeing all the use cases and specs from me on that, I think he wanted to tear his hair out. Now it's all about fine-tuning the actual functionality, and then finding sensible defaults for scale. And of course making it look good.

      Hopefully that provides useful insight. :)

    8. Chris Park/Arcen Games 2-time creator on October 17

      No problem at all.

      In terms of the sizing, I suppose it's a bit of a "rubber band effect." One of the things that was complained about most in AI War Classic was how small the UI was, particularly on high-density screens. It's been a running complaint with a lot of our games that just looking at the GUI makes people uncomfortable and unsure what to do.

      We started the process in TLF a teensy bit, and then a lot more into Stars Beyond Reach (RIP), where we wanted to make efficient use of screen space while also letting people drill down into information. A consistent complain from non-hardcore players of our games was that we were surfaciing SO much information that it was hard to tell what was significant. Our solution to that has been a general mindset shift to try to surface the most important information more prominently, and then allow for added info by context as needed. Even the expert hardcore players don't need the wall of text every time they look into certain tooltips, as that's going to slow down scanning the data with their eyes.

      I know none of that is directly what you were mentioning, but it is all related in my mind.

      The other thing we have to bear in mind is that we have people running 4K screens that are huge (like me), high-density 1080p screens that are hard to read at default windows resolutions (also like me), or running high-density displays like retina or the surface pro (which I sometimes test on), or are running at 1024x768 on a monitor of unknown size and clarity. The brightness and contrast is unknown and varied. Etc.

      I think that problem has gotten a lot worse over the last few years. When AIWC came out, basically there was a pretty consistent pixel density to inch ratio. Some people would be a bit out of the normal range and would complain, or would have eyesight issues or how far they sat from their monitor issues, and so on. But the extreme range of experiences was not there.

      Right now the UI looks pretty toy-ish I think partly because of the way the icons are designed and the way the actual tooltip box background looks. I really hate that background, I'm not sure why we're using it. But there hasn't been a good reason to switch it, and basically Blue did some really awesome earlier prototypes of the GUI that we showed during the kickstarter that are what I want to move toward.

      One of the potential challenges we have is running the risk of becoming too monochromatic with the GUI, though, where all the icons start to bleed together and you can't tell what is what. The other risk is that things look too colorful and cartoony, like they do now. Rubber band effect again: the earliest versions were too hard to distinguish in terms of icons in the HUD, so I had Blue go the other direction, and now we need to find the middle again.

      I'll also note that the GUI is supposed to scale in portions based on the screen size, and we haven't really tuned that properly yet.

      I mentioned I play on a 4K screen, and it's a 42" TV or something along those lines. I sit about 3 feet from it, and it replaced my giant array of three monitors I previously had. I wanted to be able to test all the various types of resolution scaling, and that was the final type I was missing, although also it just plain out gives me more work-room than I had before, too. Regardless, most of the time I play with AI War in a window that is 900x600 or so, incredibly small, and then the rest of the time I play at something like 2400x1200. On the really tiny version, everything remains readable and usable, which I'm happy about. Some things move about in a wonky way that I don't like, but mostly that's settling down. When I play on the larger size, then things look more like Keith expects in terms of positioning, and things feel more natural, but yes I do feel like I've got old-person magnifying spectacles on -- or like it's a phone game, that's a good analogy.

      More in a sec, I think kickstarter won't allow comments longer than this.

    9. Missing avatar

      Sergey Shpikin on October 16

      I see, huh. Thank for the detailed reply! I read a bit of forums and I see I'm not the only concerned about the overall "perceived size" effect. AIWC was "small" like everything was compact and tight from the UI to the ships icons. It has that unique feel of having a lot of handles and buttons to play with and generally I like this approach (for some people it can look overwhelming for sure), the game feels deep right from the first sight.

      AIW2, on the contrary, feels "big" and kinda toyish, unfortunately, like a mobile game designed for touch screens. I saw the UI scale option but it works kinda weird just making everything smaller and not actually increasing the capacity. Oh, and also please add an FPS limiter of any kind, my GPU fan goes wild while it draws 500 frames per second!

      I hope you'll find a middleground between these designs! Nothing seems to be set in stone yet except the core gameplay principles and there's plenty of time. Knowing your relentless pursuit polishing each and every game to perfection I don't doubt the success!

    10. Chris Park/Arcen Games 2-time creator on October 16

      @Sergey: For the most part that looks correct, except for stuff in the tooltip there. That's worth throwing up on mantis. The text not fitting in buttons is expected, as those are fixed-width right now and most of the time the text fits or fits well enough to understand.

      The tooltips in particular are something that are absolutely horrific in my opinion, and the layout is really strange with them. They are tooltips that also have tooltips over items in the tooltips, which is helpful, but only to a certain extent at the moment.

      Those got restructured heavily pretty recently, and there's a big element of "please pardon our debris" at the moment with certain parts of the interface that previously made sense but now are incomprehensible. That's Keith's area, and it's constantly evolving, so I'm not sure what is known and what is not (either in the public build or his current up-to-the-moment local one).

      In a generalized sense the UI is definitely incomplete, though -- it shouldn't be missing unit names, but it is missing descriptions for them. The icons should have secondary hover-overs that explain what they do, but that's unevenly implemented thus far. In some of those cases I think it was a matter of testing the approach and seeing if that worked before committing to doing all the icons with that approach -- thus reducing wasted time if the underlying approach didn't work.

      I'll make sure Keith sees your note, and he'll have more info. I'm very much aware that right now the UI is kind of like a jammed door standing between you and the game, and you can only reach through various holes if you don't know the secret knock (ask BadgerBadger) that lets you teleport to the other side. ;)

    11. Missing avatar

      Sergey Shpikin on October 16

      Are there any gameplay videos in the wild? I couldn't find them and I suspect the game doesn't behave right on Linux. Wanted to compare what I see and what it should look like. The GUI is not just ugly, it's incomplete... some text doesn't fit the buttons, unit names are missing. I know, it's alpha and everything but I'm not sure that's not a bunch of bugs that are not present on Windows. Here: https://i.imgur.com/3Y2pQCs.jpg

      I surely would like to give it a try even in an incomplete state but it's just impossible if I don't know what the buttons do (because the text doesn't fit) and what those other icons are for.

    12. Chris Park/Arcen Games 2-time creator on October 4

      I do appreciate it. :) We will persevere -- Keith is the main one after the hydra now.

    13. Missing avatar

      carl7595 on October 4

      Appreciate the up front nature of your timeline. Also appreciate your commitment to getting it done right, and your understanding that it is a harsh market out there.

      Best of luck fighting the code hydra, and you retain our faith and trust. Keep making games that you want to play and I'm betting there are a bunch of folks who will still want to play them too. Keep fighting the good fight, and here's to some hard and productive months of work for all of your fine people.

    14. Chris Park/Arcen Games 2-time creator on October 4

      @2Ben: I appreciate it. :) And yep, extra budget is always a concern. In our case, our costs are split a bit in that not all staff are all-hands-on-deck with AI War 2. We don't need everyone to be, it wouldn't add anything except cost, and we have to pursue other avenues of income with staff that don't have anything to do on AI War 2. On top of that, I've had to pull some extra funding out of my own pocket to foot the bill for extra overages in the meantime. So that's not fun, but the current plan is a good one. Took a while to come up with.

    15. Missing avatar

      2Ben on October 3

      I can't say that I care all that much about delays for me personally. There are tons of games to play, and no hurry.
      However, several months delay can mean a pretty hefty extra budget for you. I've seen too many good companies sink because of that, or release a half-baked product because they just ran out of funds.
      You guys seem quite budget-conscious, so I'm not too worried, but please be careful. And get a [drink of choice] with the $2 from me :)

    16. Chris Park/Arcen Games 2-time creator on October 3

      @Paul Drager: On the subject of the reasons for schedule slippage, that's not a super easy question to answer candidly. We had a number of personal tragedies strike during the past year for folks on the team, one of which was life-threatening, and a couple of which took a staff member at a time out of commission for a month at a go.

      On the other end of things, we had some pretty enormous scope creep on the art side. That was a conscious choice on my part, after I saw what Blue was able to do. We wound up going with an art process that took 5x as long as we had planned, but was far more detailed. This didn't derail the overall project timeline, though, because it was running in parallel to the main project itself. That did cause a big budget overrrun that I had to absorb, but it didn't affect timing.

      There were two main areas that affected the overall timeline the most.

      Firstly, Keith and I had both built separate simulation models -- mine visual and his simulation-based -- and we had to reconcile those together. That took more work than either of us had anticipated to graft together. There were a variety of reasons for that, a number of which were centered around optimizations we didn't realize we'd have to do early in the process, and some things that were not threadsafe that we were used to thinking of as threadsafe in our prior engine-on-top-of-unity.

      The second big thing was the GUI. I had looked at a variety of middleware solutions, including MarkLight, and had chosen that one to go with. At that point I had a lot of experience with manual unity GUI design, and the marklight stuff looked like it would bring that more inline with what Keith and I were also familiar with as former web developers. Easy win, right?

      Well, it turned out that there was absolutely horrific performance with that sort of thing, as well as some other architectural issues that didn't become apparent until we started to really get into it. This was one of a number of challenges relating to our "moddable everything" attitude, actually -- there were a number of other areas that cost us time in figuring out how to make things extra moddable that would have been much quicker to do if we had just baked it all in like unity normally expects you to.

      At any rate, what we wound up having to do was roll our own GUI system from scratch. Which is a task we've had to do before, such as going back to when AI War Classic 4.0 was first coming out. That also took more time than anticipated back then, too. The biggest issues with those pieces were the sheer amount of test-and-repeat slowness, and the many many edge cases. We were able to approach the problem with a lot of experience under our belt, since we'd already done this sort of thing before... but this time we were also tackling the resolution-independence issue that plagued AI War Classic.

      There's an automatic resolution-independence gui scaler in unity that I've used in other games, and I thought it would easily translate over to here, as well. Turns out not -- the performance was abysmal with the complexity of gui we needed. Every element we scaled would cause a cascade of scaling, then the next thing would scale, then a cascade of scaling, and so on. It was nuts. So since that was bonkers in its implementation, again we had to roll our own.

      I complicated things a bit with the extra request that it not be just pure resolution independence, but that also the various parts of the GUI should scale only to certain degrees, and then shift instead to take up less of the screen. See, the modern PC landscape has a lot of high-DPI displays but also has a lot of traditional-DPI displays that are just huge. Resolution scaling in the traditional sense addresses the former, but not the latter. The old style of AI War GUI did great with the latter, but any increase in DPI was murder on the eyes. The solution that we came up with here solves both problems, and allows for flexible scaling of the GUI at player request, and does all of it by orders of magnitude more efficiency than unity is natively able to.

      All of which is to say, most of our time over budget was related to either the GUI, or making things super-duper moddable, or related to reconciling Keith's sim with my visual-lies-sim. Probably pretty much in that order of most extra time to least. And then you throw on the personal events on top of that, and here we are. The art has taken loads more time to implement than we planned, but as noted that was a purely parallel process and so hasn't bottlenecked us since everything else was also late. If the rest of the game was ready in May then the art would have been a bottleneck, but as it has played out the art was never actually the point of delay.

      There's probably more that Keith could comment on that I might have glossed over without meaning to, but those were the highlights. The actual game simulation and visual simulation pieces were done in the timeframes we'd expected. And probably 80% of the moddability also fit very well into that timeframe, with buffer to spare. That last 20% of moddability, and then the other elements mentioned above, blew the schedule wide open, though.

    17. Chris Park/Arcen Games 2-time creator on October 3

      @Aotrs Commander: That's been my attitude toward kickstarters in general as well, although not everybody thinks that way. I've definitely had remorse over backing some projects, but then others have been big successes. So I guess it balances out, overall.

      @Curiouser and Curiouser: Thanks as well, and will do.

      @leith: On the possibility of translating the game, that is probably technically possible in some regards, although it's not going to be as easy as in the first game where everything was in one central xml file. We have a variety of things that are spread throughout many data files instead, and that's kind of tricky to separate out. It's possible that simply doing a "language mod" against the main game would actually solve the problem pretty elegantly, come to think of it, but it's also something that we haven't really explored deeply yet. Translation efforts with the first game were repeatedly lackluster, mainly because the translation companies did a poor job, or the community volunteers didn't keep updating the translation over the course of the half-decade that the game was evolving, and there wasn't anyone else to pick up the new work after they left. With a static game that doesn't change after release it's a lot easier.

      That said -- it's definitely not impossible, so we'll just see what people are motivated to do and what we can help with!

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      leith on October 3

      Thanks for the update.
      We all know that a good game need time.

      Can we have the possibility to translate the game. I'm sure i can find some friends who can help me translate it in french

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      Curiouser and Curiouser on October 3

      I for one don't care about the $2. Lets just have a good game worth playing for years to come, and release it when it's ready.

    20. Paul Drager on October 3

      Curious why your original time line and reality are so far off? During the Kickstarter I believe people thought your time line was intensely short for the game. What changed? And I don't mean the micro, but in a macro sense? Art took way longer than expected. Etc.

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      Aotrs Commander on October 3

      The attitude I take to kickstarter games is one, I think, best exemplified by Jim Sterling, whe he said you should never invest in a kickstarter any money you're not prepared to throw away. And, with at least a couple of the games I backed, that's pretty much what I did. So, being somewhat of a limited nature in terms of income, I generally don't sink in more money than I would pay for the new game. (I sunk a fair bit more into Pillars of Eternity, since I reckoned Obsidian, being a rather larger company, would have been likely to deliver.) Heck, I've spent that money on actual games that turned out I might as well have chucked the money away!

      Which is a sort of roundabout way of saying that I have zero issues about you doing a discount for launch. I've made my investment already, win or lose (win, in this case!) (I mean, it's two dollars, which is something about less than two quid, seriously!) I don't generally bother with alphas or betas, even if I have DO have access to them, I'd rather wait for the finished project.

      As to the delays, no worries, take your time; as mentioned these days - especially with the thick sludge of crap infesting Steam and whatnot, getting a good launch is important. (By the same token, I understand there sometimes comes a point in a game's development where one has to get something out the door to ensure it gets out at all.) I'm patient!

      (I mean, one of my other kickstarters is Star Citizen - solely for the single player story campaign - and i've been waiting five years for that to get off its backside and put that out...!)

    22. Chris Park/Arcen Games 2-time creator on October 3

      BadgerBadger also wanted me to note that there will be bonus community generated maps from Draco18s, Tadrinth and him.

      Obviously we'll see what else people wind up modding and what we take into the official game (with their permission) from that sort of thing. BadgerBadger has already done a ton of awesome UI stuff like some of the galaxy map filters and the new campaign-based savegame system, etc.

    23. Chris Park/Arcen Games 2-time creator on October 3

      Thank you for being so supportive as well!

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      Cédric Venet on October 3

      Thanks for the informations! sound like a good plan and very nice to get access based on promised time instead of promised completion :). the 2$ is not much to get access several month in advance.

    25. Chris Park/Arcen Games 2-time creator on October 3

      Cheers! Thanks for the support on the delay. I don't think we're THAT far behind, though, goodness. The schedule laid out above is middle of the road in terms of conservatism.

    26. Arjun Yelamanchili on October 3

      You're very right that launch week/reviews makes or breaks most games. That being said please, please, please don't release as early as March. Take your time, I would hope we wouldn't see a 1.0 till October - December 2018 at the absolute earliest. Thanks for your hard work!