WHAT: New AI War Expansion Next Month

By Quintin Smith on November 4th, 2010 at 6:19 pm.

I'm thinking of buying Space Alert. Should I buy Space Alert?

Christ. Not last week I posted about Arcen Games’ colossal update of their maximalist space strategy game AI War, which included hundreds of new ships and porting the entire game to a new engine. Guess what? They’ve just announced a new pay-for expansion, Light of the Spire, will be released next month. Arcen say they’ve got some “some seriously cool ideas for this one, too”.

What’s happening with Arcen’s finances? Weren’t they in trouble? Well, in a recent blog post they’ve once again displayed a remarkable degree of transparency.

Basically, it sounds like the release of AI War 4.0 has temporarily put them in the clear. On the subject of why they’d release an expansion where all the proceeds go to charity while they were running out of funds themselves, founder Chris Park says this:

We’ve had loads of people telling us we should “put an end to that charity thing” and look after our own finances first. If we go out of business we won’t be able to help the charity any longer, whereas if we get stronger and bigger we later can do more for charity. Our answer is, simply: no.

On the surface that seems like solid advice, but we’re not keen to start going back on our word just when things get rough. The charity micro-expansion has been a boost to us in terms of visibility and press, so it’s not like it’s completely selfless at this stage, if that makes those worried about this feel any better. But even if that wasn’t true, we wouldn’t want to cut this off, as we deliver on what we promise and we’re not about to start taking money promised to sick kids just to help ourselves. I’d rather go out of business.

It brings a tear to your eye. To lower the tone slightly, I really hope a consequence of this won’t be AI War being included in the actual Child’s Play aid packages. I cannot imagine anything more heartbreaking than some tired, diseased kid eagerly loading up his new videogame and promptly getting brutalised by an angry AI after fighting it for 11 hours. Imagine it. The click of the closing laptop, then silence. The child, he is too tired to cry. So tired…

So, how about that new expansion, Light of the Spire? I was going to write about AI War sometime soon, but this messes with my plans. I’m gonna have to get a move on, or everything I write will be outdated and I will be the laughing stock of games journalism.

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41 Comments »

  1. oatish says:

    damn these guys are fast

    I can barely say I know how to play the game and I’m sticking on my 3rd expansion already!

  2. omicron says:

    I really need to buy this thing. (that being, all the expansions released to-date)
    Need to mooch some money off my folks first, though. Just-outta-college ain’t fun.

  3. CMaster says:

    Just been playing it. Not quite so fun single as coop (although still alright. Also random map gen screwed me over – surrounded by TIII/TIV AI worlds with no iron. And I picked space tanks. :(

  4. protorp says:

    The last post here on AI War inspired me to pick up both the already released expansions and give it another shot. My first bash was thwarted by a lack of multi-hour gaming time so I never got past the tutorials.

    v 4.0 however, wow, it’s been subtly but brilliantly refined and polished to make the whole game much easier to get into despite the 6 trillion tons of new stuff. Honed starting resources, build rates, tutorials, info on the wiki all combined to speed me through the full tutorials and into my first few games in a couple of hours, and now I’m properly addicted…

    Seriously, this is fast becoming THE deep strategy game for me… I can’t remember being as brain plotting absorbed by anything since TOAW 10 years or more ago.

    3 huge cheers for Arcen games!

  5. Bonedwarf says:

    I was in hospital earlier this year. I was very ill. (As in I almost died at least 3 times.) I saw the kids in the hospital and what they went through and it broke my heart.

    So buy this damn charity expansion. The suffering of those kids is horrible:( If chucking down a few bucks can bring them any sort of joy, it’s more than worth it.

    As for AI War, can’t wait for the new expansion. The game is just getting silly now with all the additions, porting to a new engine etc… If I win the lottery, I’m giving Arcen a chunk of money. Seriously.

  6. JonFitt says:

    “I’m gonna have to get a move on, or everything I write will be outdated and I will be the laughing stock of games journalism.”

    Yeeeah, that’s what’ll make you a laughing stock, not the other stuff.

    I keed, I keed.

  7. President Weasel says:

    i have owned this game for a year and played it less for an hour. I need to stop being scared of its complexity and get back into it.
    I have maximal respect for Arcen Games’s recent behaviour.

    • TimA says:

      Same here, only a handful of hours played. I really want to get in to it, though. Again, I’d be most interested if anyone wishes to take part in a multiplayer session(s) one weekend. I know so little about the complexities of this game, but I know they exist.

      If anyone would care for some such multiplayer, PM me on the forum or send me an email (tim.ashcroft at gmail), maybe something can be sorted.

      Chris and everyone at Arcen Games: you are awesome.

    • Eternal_newbie says:

      Agreed. got all the expansions and Tidalis cos they are such awesome developers. But never got past the tutorials. Would be great if someone set up a RPS channel for AI War (maybe on Steam) having said that I know I wont have time to play this weekend. :(

    • Wooly says:

      Newest ability in Crysis 2: MAXIMUM RESPECT.

  8. Vinraith says:

    I’m gonna have to get a move on, or everything I write will be outdated and I will be the laughing stock of games journalism.

    Arcen averages an update a day, so just don’t worry about it. Every patch they’ve ever released (even when they switched engines) has been backwards compatible with earlier save games, so it’s best to just accept that things are going to get tweaked as your game goes along.

  9. j. says:

    I just want Minecraft to have as frequent updates as AI War. :)

  10. Rob says:

    Cheat codes.

    I know they’re taboo, but as far as AI war is concerned…. Hell yeah I use ‘em.

  11. westyfield says:

    “Something about iron.”

    • Noterist says:

      “It brings a tear to your eye. To lower the tone slightly, I really hope a consequence of this won’t be AI War being included in the actual Child’s Play aid packages.”

      AI War would be a fine game for the hospital-bound, at least there any iron deficiencies will be swiftly diagnosed and rectified.

  12. goodgimp says:

    To the neophytes I’d say: don’t be intimidated. The game seems very complex and difficult to grasp at first blush. The former is true, the latter is not. Despite the insane amount of depth, the way AI War is set up makes it very playable after playing through the tutorial. It looks far more intimidating to play than it really is.

    Now, mastering the game on the other hand… that’s taken me a long while and I’m nowhere close. It really is terrific game design.

    • Unaco says:

      I’d agree here… playing the tutorial, and then the first 5 or so hours of a campaign will get all of the mechanics and concepts down pat. You’ll then have all of the ‘equipment’ and knowledge required to play and master the game… but, as goodgimp says, mastering it isn’t just about knowing the concepts, and is a little bit trickier… you really do have to use strategy, scout, plan ahead, as well as react. I’m about 7 or 8 hours into my first really full fledged campaign (my older ~3.12 campaign felt a little odd with 4.0, ship caps all off and the like), and I’m just realising that continued expansion by me will only get me killed quicker, and I now have to start ‘expanding’ carefully, picking my targets, getting the resources I need without angering the AI’s even more. I know if I fail from this point on, it’ll be due to my poor decisions.

  13. Unaco says:

    Dayum! There’s been a lot of AI War recently, what with the 4.0 Update and CoN… and now this? I only started a new campaign with 4.0 (and tZR) on Tuesday and was planning on picking up CoN at the end of this month. I’ll have to pick up this as well now… even if I don’t use the stuff included in my campaigns… I am delaying picking up CoN because I probably wouldn’t activate the stuff it includes… picking up all the 4.0 Goodies (and Baddies) is enough for me just now.

    As regards the whole Finances/Charity thing… Have Penny Arcade made any mention of AI War? I only read the comics, and some times a little of the news, but haven’t seen anything from them. Would definitely be good exposure if they made a mention, or even a comic, about it.

  14. Moth Bones says:

    I downloaded the demo and just went “eerrrrrrrrmmmmmmmmm”. Is there an easy way in?

    • Delusibeta says:

      Tutorials. Do the three smaller tutorials, then get stuck into the tutorial campaign. Once you reach the other side, you’re in.

  15. Delusibeta says:

    The page about this on Arcen Games’ site is already up, and the blurb is quite tasty.

    “2 new campaign types: Defender and Construction.” Interesting…

    They’re going to need more tutorials of these, however.

  16. Philip L says:

    I am playing Defender mode right now, and damn is it crazy!!

    • Vinraith says:

      How’s that? The preorders aren’t up yet, nor is the beta.

    • cowthief skank says:

      The pre-orders are definitely up: http://arcengames.blogspot.com/2010/11/ai-war-beta-4027-first-light-of-spire.html

      Just ordered to support Arcen, as they more than deserve every penny I have given them. In fact I feel they undercharged me a little…

    • Philip L says:

      That isn’t true, I bought it legally, what are you suggesting?

      If you go to their store: http://www.arcengames.com/store.php , you will see it is indeed there for sale.

    • Philip L says:

      For anybody interested, I was on the 30 minute mode (select as many planets as you want, and defend wave-after-wave and see if you can survive. I made it to 22 minutes! Ended up with 4000 enemy ships on my final planet.

    • Vinraith says:

      @cowthief

      Those weren’t up at the point that I posted, but I’m glad to see they are now. 4.028, which has the first LotS beta, is up on the forums as of 5:27 PM EST.

  17. Vinraith says:

    Preordered. Twice. Damn I love this game.

    • Philip L says:

      Twice! That is dedication. Fancy some sort of multiplayer at some point (maybe the new defence mode?)

  18. Dominic White says:

    I’ve always liked ‘hunker down and endure the storm’ type scenarios, so having a specific defensive playmode makes this an instant preorder for me. Hats off to Arcen once more, and another £7 of my money to their rapidly growing monster baby RTS overfiend.

  19. Delusibeta says:

    Since I’ve recenntly slapped down £12 via Steam for all the content thus far, and haven’t had much chance to play it, I’m probably going to wait until I digest two expansions’ worth of content first.

    • Unaco says:

      If you do pick up the expansions, you can pick and choose what aspects are included in a given campaign (at least, that’s the way it is with The Zenith Remnant… I assume it’s the same with the others). So you don’t swamp yourself with too many new things… say you just want the Zenith Traders and Miners, but not the Devourers or Dyson Sphere, you can select the features you want included.

    • Dominic White says:

      Yeah, primarily, the expansions add new, optional factions that are either neutral or allied with the AI’s. With all factions turned on, the universe becomes a pretty busy place.

  20. DrazharLn says:

    As to Space Alert, Quinns, I can’t say.

    I’ve never played it before, nor heard of it, but I just looked it up now on boardgamegeek and it does look intriguing.

    A lot of these games remind me of Space Rogue

    It was Warcraft III mod for 4+ players where each player has a role (captain, engineer, gunner) and had to do their job within (and often outside) the ship.

    It was a favourite of my group’s and although getting the numbers was difficult sometimes, ’twas best played with 6 or more, y’see, it was a great game that was challenging, interesting and complex. Above all it required some level of discipline and organization within the crew. Managing to master its various facets was a great achievement.

    Anyway, Space Alert, looks good. Ask Rob F about it.

  21. SuperBladesman says:

    I really need to give this a go. I bought it a while back when it was in a sale on Steam. I really should load it up… :D

  22. Urael says:

    Okay, Arcen. Okay. I’ve tried your demo twice and both times have failed to captivate me BUT…these tales of awesome development prowess need to be recognised, as does the commitment to helping sick children (an opportunity I fairly glibly dismissed while drunk on Halloween, to my lingering shame). I shall purchase your fine game and all its components even though it may not ever be played.

    Well played, gentlemen. To your very good health. *raises glass*