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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.
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Poll: Would you be okay with us removing shields/forcefields?

Posted by Chris Park/Arcen Games (Creator)

Basically my assertion is that this needs to happen, and I want to see if people agree. I am referring to the big forcefield bubbles. My reasoning:  

1. These are at least some drain on the CPU, how much is up to debate.

2. These are a huge and ongoing source of micro or frustration on the part of players thanks to needing to keep their stuff under it. There is likely no perfect solution to this, and anything we try likely causes more CPU load.

3. By their very nature, they tend to look bad or at best kinda funky. A bunch of big balls of forcefields all over the place can only look but so many ways.

4. They make everything else feel less powerful by their very existence. If the survivability of certain ships depends on shields, then that strikes me as a problem with that ship.

5. They just feel... antiquated, to me, personally. It takes away from the feeling of space naval battles from so much sci-fi lore. Neither Star Wars nor Star Trek have shields that protect other units, EXCEPT as a big MacGuffin in the case of the shield around the second Death Star. I just finished reading the Bobiverse books, and a while back I was reading The Lost Fleet, and it really strikes me how there are never giant shield bubbles there. Any sort of naval engagements never have that, either.

6. Just in a general sense, I really, really feel like we're borrowing trouble with shields in general, and I greatly regret having ever added them to the first game. I feel that these will continue to take up dev time that could be better spent in other areas of the game, making the entire experience more fun if they did not exist.

I know that these were a thing in the first game.  And we do already have them in the second game.  But part of good game design is knowing when to trim fat.  Can they go?  Will you be upset?

This discussion is also on our forums:

P.S.: Answers of "let people use them if they want to turn on an extra option" are not okay, because that would destroy balance and reintroduce all the other problems if we have that.  This is black and white, they are either in or out. :)

Chris Park/Arcen Games, Mike B, and 20 more people like this update.


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    1. Harpsichord Knight on

      Did anyone else accidentally order the shield generator in the first game to some random location without realising? Entertaining as it was, I won't miss that.

      Glad to see the consensus is on getting rid of them.

    2. Keith LaMothe Collaborator on

      I imagine we'll add the solo-shields within a week, but since much of the premise of removing shields to begin with is that they've been a crutch for many players to survive what they couldn't otherwise survive, I figured it's a good idea to have them at least hop on one foot for a bit before handing them the other crutch :)

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

      One thing I want to note is that this does fly in the face of my intention to have bubble shields remain on in a one-per-planet fashion for the player side only. That's still the most recent thinking on my part. However, Keith has been balancing without those in mind, since those are meant to be specialist expensive items, and I can't say I blame him for that approach. It might be that the bubble shields just don't feel needed anymore, since tractors and cloaking and so many other things are so much more powerful now.

      But for anyone wondering why this release seemingly flies in the face of what I said I was leaning toward, that's why. At this point the only way to know if solo bubble shields should come back is for us to test this more, particularly with help from players who are most offended at the loss of said shields, over the coming few weeks. Feel free to wait until after the GUI overhaul is in, as we're not going to be closing the subject or something. There's not a "speak now or forever hold your peace" situation here.

      All that said... the shield-less situation that Keith has going at the moment seems pretty darn cool. :)

    4. Keith LaMothe Collaborator on

      0.714 is out now, marking the beginning of the no-shields era :)

      Announcement here:!-'shields-down'/

      Release notes here:…

    5. Nathan Frisson

      Anything that is a serious CPU drainer can be removed. I’ve seen plenty of fantastic games given thumbs down because they couldn’t be run on anything other than the latest gear. Shields are superfluous!

    6. Clinton Sands

      Reading this late obviously but I do like the shield concept. Ships can have them, they can be mobile. I do love the idea of large defensive shields guarding wormhole exits / jump points defense stations but maybe any large shields should be tied to the defense stations. A large shielded AI choke point was my go-to in order hold the AI at bay, not sure how you would re-balance defense without the shields.

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

      Cheers, folks -- thanks so much for all the thoughts, I've read them all although I've not responded directly to all of them. We're still mulling a few things.

      The overwhelming sentiment here is "whatever you think is best is probably right," which is both kind of you but also a little unnerving. George Lucas specifically needed to have people around him to tell him "no." The original Star Wars series was brilliant specifically because he was constrained, and other people were doing writing, and actors were changing lines they thought were out of character (leading to "I love you; I know."), and the final edit of the trench run being something completely different from his original vision, but still sticking to his vision in the larger sense (there is a trench run, people get excited when it happens and concludes).

      Over the next couple of weeks we're preparing for a wide-scale beta, and during that time I hope that some folks will come in a pre-beta fashion and help tell us "no" where we need to hear it. After we get into the wide-scale beta, again I hope that people are looking at what the game actually is, and giving us feedback on that, and not leaning too much on giving us the benefit of the doubt. Not that I need a thousand screaming banshees, but I don't want to accidentally birth a Jar Jar. ;) You guys keep us, and particularly me, on track with your penchant for keen observation.

      With all of that in mind, Keith and I are having some discussions at the moment on how exactly to handle this in a way that isn't going to alienate a minority of people, while at the same time removing the ROLE that these bubble shields had in the first game. That part has to go.

      As an aside: with the questions about balance, we're drastically altering that right now anyway. Some of the rock paper scissors elements were too weak, the AI's waves were too weak and infrequent, the AI's planets were way too hard to crack early in the game in particular, and so on. Fortunately pretty much all of the things in this paragraph are just numbers in xml files that we can change easily, and in fact that you can change and test on your local copies and then give us specific numeric advice if you find something you prefer. We've even been messing with ship caps, because they felt too anemic, despite squads.

      So there's a lot of last-minute changes going in, and the GUI is getting a complete overhaul, and then we hope to do the wide-release beta and start really getting polish work done for 5-6 weeks prior to release.

      Cheers, all. :)

    8. Austin S. Hemmelgarn

      Personally, I'm not really qualified to make any judgement on how this will affect how the game plays given that I never played the original and have logged almost zero time on this one, but I will comment that if they are removed, you pretty much need to do a full pass through everything else to make sure it's all still balanced. I absolutely agree that if a ship needs shields like this, it's an issue with that ship, but my agreement there is mostly based on macro-level reasoning and experience with a lot of other games. Resource-wise, I also agree.

      Regarding the sci-fi aspect though, I think it really depends on what you consider 'big shield bubbles'. While not shown in any of the movies, planetary shields do exist in the Star Wars universe, and they generally are capable of protecting ships in low orbit, but they have limits just like the shields on any starship (the big one being that they take huge amounts of energy to run). Similarly, while simple static shield generators like what you're talking about are not present in Star Trek, there are at least half a dozen cases between TNG, DS9, and Voyager where one ship extends it's shields around another or two or more ships operate their shields synchronously (both of them providing part of the power to generate a larger and more powerful shield around both ships).

    9. Ray Espiritu on


      Your rationale for removing them seems reasonable. If you feel it makes for a better game then so be it. Remove the shields!

    10. Missing avatar

      Kai Schmidt on

      In general I wouldn't favor the removal of stuff that's in there, but .... what you wrote about it makes sense and you can judge it much better than I could anyway

      So I'll vote to remove shield-bubbles.

    11. Missing avatar

      ISJ-110 on

      I love shields, sorry but its a meme with my friends, i'm "That Dude" who uses shields extensively, that and spider turrets.

    12. Missing avatar

      Robert McGregor on

      I agree, the point of AI War 2 is not to be a direct sequel, reiterating the same mechanics with flashier graphics. The point is to do something new and experiment. If you feel that forcefields are a relic of the first game that is preventing you from creating the sequel you want, then I'm all for removing them.

    13. Missing avatar

      Toni Babik on

      Maybe add/extend other defensive options so players can still fortify key positions adequately. Like Anti-Rocket Decoys, Repair zones, Hangars etc.

    14. Missing avatar

      Toni Babik on

      We have seen how the game works with shield bubbles in the first installment. So yes, let's be curious for how it plays and feels without them. :)

    15. Clasmir on

      Vote for rare bubble shields.

    16. Missing avatar

      Andy Hsu on

      I have no particular attachment to force fields. If their exclusion leads to a better game from your perspective, then that's fine.

    17. Missing avatar

      Devin Janelle on

      I'm all for removing them. Your post sums up most of the reasons I have against them quite nicely, especially that bit about everything else feeling weaker.

    18. Missing avatar

      Jabberwok on

      I forgot to mention that just because big shields aren't a thing in typical sci-fi like Star Trek and Star Wars doesn't mean you shouldn't have them. One of the things I liked about AI War is that it didn't just feel like another genre clone, but was willing to be more outlandish.

      But that's unrelated to mechanical considerations, which you guys are much more qualified to consider than I am. I always liked the process of fortifying a new system, but it sounds like you have other systems that may keep that interesting. Just in general, don't pass on an idea simply because other sci-fi isn't doing it.

    19. Missing avatar

      Jonathan Davis on

      One of the things also that stationary shields provided was the ability to help funnel enemies. As others have said, they added a nice terrain to the battlefield that does not normally exist that made it easier to deal with huge swarms.

    20. Benjamin Baxter on

      Yes, if it helps with game design and balance. That is much more important than their legacy inclusion.

    21. Missing avatar

      Kenuda on

      I would say remove them. The only time I ever used them was to protect my primary base in the first game, and it wasn't very effective anyway.

    22. Missing avatar

      Azuredraco on

      You design the game, do what's best :)

    23. Missing avatar

      Kranodor on

      Reasoning is sound, and as long as implications in regards to balance and difficulty are clear and will be considered (and the dev replies on some comments tell me that they are) - I'm all for it.

    24. Hellspark

      Sorry but I don't know enough about the game to give an informed decision so i'll leave that up to you. If you feel they need to go then do so :)

    25. HappyWulf

      Ok, so if bubble shields go away, then other things need to change as well.

      AI can't come screaming from a worm hole like bats out of hell and destroy things like they were made of paper.
      You could try giving buildings upgrade options that add flat hp buffers, energy, explosive, kinetic resistances, or other such alternative defensive measures.
      This could also be done with buildings that are emitters or dampeners, providing resistance buffs of a damage type to building and ships around it. Make these dampeners expansive or highly limited so you can't stack all of them, or make them interfere with each otter so only one will work if its by itself....

    26. Missing avatar

      Jarmo Petajaaho

      Feel free to remove the force shields. Your rationales convinced me.

    27. Missing avatar

      Mark Benner on

      Chris, I love the community of fans you and Arcen have created. Everyone seems to be in the camp of 'do what you think you need to do to make the best game you can' and I'm 100% behind that. Keep up the great work and effort!

    28. Missing avatar

      Bishop on

      I'm ok with the removal. I primarily used them to keep AI from running straight through several wormholes with fast ships. Since there are other ways to do this now, the shields aren't necessary.

    29. Missing avatar

      Andreas Trageser on

      OFF with their heads!!!
      Seriously, if they get in the way you have to burrow a bit of the unscrupulous A.I. and terminate a design.
      A possible workaround for a bubble could be maybe some color coding for ships effected by the shield field, in other words, instead of a 3D area ships which are assigned, resp. hooked up to the central shield generator which would maybe also mean less micromanagement.
      But as you mentioned before, it's maybe simply simpler to get rid of large shield generators.

    30. Missing avatar

      Karl Abel on

      Chris, sounds like you guys have it pretty well figured out, then. :)

    31. Missing avatar

      Kreton on

      Either way for me. In first AI War I didn't mind AI Shields too much, but 4 of them around wormhole did their work fine with mass AI counterstrike.

    32. Missing avatar

      Jerry Han on

      I'm okay with it being removed, if it makes for a better game.

    33. veritanuda on

      I guess we don't need to see a shield effect on every ship all the time. Maybe just a warning flare when shields are about to give out.

      Anything that makes it faster will be appreciated for sure. Especially when you have some epic battles and things start lagging.

    34. BearPerson on

      I agree that shields in their function of "bubble of damage soak needed to get to something" feel a bit awkward. Instead it may be better to have mechanics with alternate, similar function:
      - a cloak-nearby-units bubble to provide some protection (though does shooting break cloak?)
      - a projected radar disruptor that applies a range penalty (or even a maximum range, hamstringing snipers) to shots targeting any unit in range
      - a repulsor array that periodically pushes back nearby enemy units
      - a deflector shield that applies 20% miss chance to shots targeting nearby friendly units (perhaps only as a player construct, countering feels much better than being countered)
      Ultimately, any area-of-effect buff effect has impact on micro, but I don't think that's reason to remove ALL of them - perhaps the answer is improving formation-move so ships always stay within a configured maximum distance of designated formation-leader ships?

    35. Missing avatar

      Andrew Benton on

      I'm ok with it going away.

    36. Chris Park/Arcen Games 2-time creator on

      @Karl Abel: The denying access through wormholes is now something that the tractor arrays can do pretty well, although not with absolute impunity. But no enemy ships are able to skip being tractored anymore, which is a big deal.

      There are also some cool gravity mechanics that can make it impossible for enemies (or you!) to escape from a planet if you are exerting more gravitational force there. There's a tug-of-war type meter that will be showing when that's relevant, coming up soon.

      Between cloaking and those other things, it turns out shields were pretty redundant except in adding fiddly micro.

    37. Missing avatar

      cpt_freakout on

      If you think that's best, then out they go!

    38. Missing avatar

      Matthew East on

      Do what's best. I won't miss them.

    39. Missing avatar


      Please take them out if it makes the game play better!

    40. Missing avatar

      Karl Abel on

      Oh, again, this might be exposing ignorance about how AI War 2 plays due to having decided to wait until AI War 2 formally releases to try it, but the other invaluable thing you could do in AI War 1 with shields was deny the AI the ability to go through wormholes, which meant their super fast ships largely couldn't just bolt through your defenses and start wandering in your territory. While I realize our group's strategy of 'take huge swathes of land' was not how you generally intended for people to play AI War, it worked for us and I'd be a little sad if you couldn't help protect your innards along those lines either.

    41. Missing avatar

      Karl Abel on

      Hey Chris.
      I haven't played the builds of AI War 2 but as a frequent player of AI War 1 the point of the shields was typically for me to help reinforce vulnerable / unique buildings lest the AI just rampage through and murderface them.

      As long as any irreplacables in AI War 2 are able to be protected from immediate death from just about anything in a 3 player multiplayer game I don't really care if shields exist. Fleet ships with shields can definitely go.

    42. Missing avatar

      Nathaniel Smith on

      Just do it!

    43. Missing avatar

      Muttala on

      You have My support to remove

    44. Missing avatar

      Muttala on

      You have my support to remove

    45. Missing avatar

      Jeff on

      I'm fine with them being removed.

      In the original game it got plenty confusing (for me!) knowing which ships ignored shields, when you took a penalty when shooting out from under a shield, etc. Plus the extra micro of arranging things under the shields for max coverage.

    46. Mark Grubich on

      I like shields but they can be a major slog to knock down at times when AI have massive shields for some types/difficulties.

      Basically do what you think is best for the game guys. I've not played 2 that much despite my access as of yet so will defer to those that have played 2 more often. I loved/hated them in the original game.