The A.I. War Update To End All Updates

In the history of gaming, has anybody ever found anything /nice/ in space?

Thanks to everyone who wrote in about this. Arcen Games has released an update for A.I. War of such magnitude that I’m not sure our long-running A.I. War diary will ever be the same again.

Arcen Games describe the free 4.0 update as “unreservedly huge”, which sounds fair: 147 new ships, a new interface, total overhauling of most of the game’s rules and mechanics, updated tutorials, more advanced “teach-yourself-to-play-better” features AND a graphical overhaul. A.I. War now runs in Unity, meaning it’s not just prettier but Mac and Linux compatible. Oh, and the $4 Children of the Neinzul expansion’s been released, too. 3 new Neinzul factions, 6 new AI types, 36 new ship and 6 new AI special weapons. Christ. Trailers after the jump.

The 4.0 trailer:

…and the Children of the Neinzul trailer:

The Children of the Neinzul is, it’s worth stating, a charity expansion. Any profits go direct to Child’s Play.

If you got through all of the above without a clue as to what A.I. War is, you’ve definitely earned yourself an explanation.

Basically, it’s an indie sci-fi RTS game with a jaw-dropping maximalist bent. You don’t command tens or hundreds of units, you control thousands or tens of thousands. An obvious comparison might be the first Supreme Commander, but in terms of scale AI War blows SC out of the water in every respect. The battleground is bigger, the range of units is greater, and the whole game has a really interesting long-term tactical twist. Games of AI War can take many hours to get through, and as you upset the maniacal AI you’re playing against, the AI grows in strength and becomes more aggressive.

It’s a fascinating piece of work and absolutely worth taking a look at. Here you’ll find a demo on the game’s Steam page. If you do decide to play the demo, I offer you the best of luck. You’ll need it.


  1. oatish says:

    Time to start that campaign I’ve been waiting on…

  2. DrazharLn says:

    Not terribly impressed with the v4 trailer. It’s too long.

    Needs to be more focussed and shorter. Just have it go over the basic premise quickly then show some cool stuff and some of the awesome recommendations its received.

    • Him says:

      Make your own trailer. If it’s good, they’ll probably start using it.
      Assuming you let them, of course.

    • BAReFOOt says:

      It’s way simpler: It’s the *music*! It’s the complete opposite of the action. It’s a extremely sleep-inducing music, and I bet my grandma would love it to relax with.
      Just mute the music, skip a bit around, and play this (loudly!) in the background: Rob Dougan – Chateau

  3. mlaskus says:

    One of the best strategy games ever gets even better. :)

  4. Feet says:

    I tried the demo yonks ago and it didn’t click, have they updated their demo too? If so, I’m definately willing to give it another crack.

    • mlaskus says:

      Well, the demo is always kept up to date. The full version uses the same installation, it just gets unlocked with a serial key.

    • Collic says:

      All of the tutorials have been completely overhauled, they’re the most update they’ve been in forever. Its definitely a great tine to pick up the game right now.

  5. Andre says:

    A correction, unity isnt Linux compatible.

    • Otagan says:

      Users have reported successfully being able to run the game in WINE, for what it’s worth.

    • Quintin Smith says:

      Yeah. That compatibility was what I was referring to.

    • WickedShell says:

      Running in WINE doesn’t really make it linux compatible… It’s a nice hack that I use, but you got me all excited about a actual native linux client, and Unity supporting linux. There is a world of difference between the two unfortunately….

    • Collic says:

      Well, apparently it runs very well in wine, as do most unity games from what I hear. Its not native support, but it will likely work for you without issue.

    • Nick says:

      Use a real OS then.


    • Thants says:

      What, like BSD?

    • BAReFOOt says:

      Pff, pussies. Real men write their own OS! With hookers, and black ICE!
      And it will run any piece of code! Star Trek style!

    • Thants says:

      In fact, forget the OS and the black ICE!

    • Tasolth says:

      Ahh. Screw the whole thing. – Bender.

  6. Joota says:

    AI Wars is one of those games I am happy to support by buying it, even if I never play it. We need games like this.

  7. mrmud says:

    Steam hasnt updated the game to v4 yet in case anyone is wondering.

    • Ozymandias says:

      Okay, it seems that they must have updated it by now. In the top left is says “version 4.0000 trial” or something along those lines. So, play away =)

  8. Film11 says:

    Wonder if this will come out on Steam, and if so will it be part of a multi-pack deal? This could spell the end of Arcen’s money woes.

  9. Simurr says:

    “A.I. War now runs in Unity”

    wait… what? They ported a released game to a different engine?

    For some reason I find that horrifying and awesome at the same time.

    • Aen Darasi says:

      Yeah, these guys are crazy in the best way. I think the short story behind this is they developed Tidalis on Unity (a good game in its own right), had a good experience and decided to port AI War because why the hell not… in the process rewriting the whole thing.

    • Buttons says:

      Yeah, the dev team is awesome. My first experience with the team was when I had a problem with my AI War game, so I posted in their tech support forum. I checked back, literally, 5 minutes later and the company owner and lead developer (x4000) had responded with a solution which worked.

  10. Rob says:

    I have been enthralled with this game for the better part of a year now.

    I’m still pretty lost when I start up a campaign, though, but this 4.0 update has been the highlight of my week. I love the level of support Arcen is delivering on AI War and really admire the scope of the game.

    That said, man. Still SO lost.

  11. Josh W says:

    Half of what you put there would be enough to make this count as a sequal, let alone an expansion. But an update? To something that’s not a subscription service? This game is like the anti Champ Manager!

  12. frags says:

    Awesome! Hmmm didn’t notice a Steam update for it…

  13. Noterist says:

    Not having put much time into the first AI War demo I was going to ask the more knowledgeable peeps around here what “total overhauling of most of the game’s rules and mechanics” equates to.

    Then I got off my ass and checked the update notes. Barely any of it meant anything to me, but it was well worded enough to get across that Arcen wanted to make the game a lot less convoluted and more accessible in the process.

    I’ve downloaded the new demo and pushed this way up on my list of games that I never got around to playing.

    • unclean says:

      The most noticeable things are that the graphics now actually look pretty decent and the game is paced much faster, as it was really plodding before.

      As far as strategy goes, in the 3.X versions it pretty much boiled down to “build a huge ball of units and stomp face” or “kill all the command centers with Space Planes and run the retreating units into your chokepoint planet”. The devs added things like guardians and AI Eyes specifically to make those strategies take a lot more finesse to pull off and make unit composition more important. The AI also seems to counter attack a lot more viciously.

      There’s some other nice things added like the control, objectives and stats screens. Also armor classes (!), which makes the 3 dozen or something special units in this game a lot less confusing.

    • unclean says:

      Also they changed the shield mechanic (which I never really understood) to a much simpler armor rating, not to mention probably a dozen other things I’m forgetting.

    • cowthief skank says:

      The full release notes run to about 50,000 words – or over 200 pages – so you may be missing one or two… ;-)

  14. r3d says:

    now with more iorn.

  15. R3D says:

    now with Iron added.

  16. Schaulustiger says:

    I’m completely speechless after reading the release notes. Why they do not charge any money for that is beyond my imagination.

    • sneetch says:

      They’re gonna get my money because my policy is to spend more money on games I don’t have enough time, patience or skill to play.

      I should probably review that policy. :)

    • mlaskus says:

      Nah, it is a good policy.

      They have strong feelings about ethics in running a business. I would point you to a quote by Chris, but I have to find it first.

      Generally they don’t want to charge their players for updates or content which is essential to the game’s enjoyment.
      For example, the Guardians and new Guard Posts, completely changed the way the game plays and since those are all new units, most devs would put them in an expansion and charge for it. Arcen Games put them in an update.

      Bless those people, they will get my money anyway.

    • Sunjumper says:

      I would also very much hope that such generous updates from time to time will garner them enough media coverage and word of mouth to increase their sales.
      And it might inspire veterans to buy a copy of the game for their friends. (I am very tempted to get a copy or two for friends who might enjoy the game and one can allways use more partners in coop crime)

    • Schaulustiger says:

      I am very well informed about their philosophy, but in the light of their recent financial troubles, it still seems like an odd move. I hope it pays off via new sales as I wouldn’t want to see them die over their generosity.

    • Vinraith says:


      This is another one of those things they committed to doing before their troubles arose (like the charity expansion), and bless ’em they’re just too true to their word for their own good in some ways. They are planning another micro-expansion for December to help shore up the finances, and it looks like it’s going to have some good stuff…

    • Schaulustiger says:


      Bless ’em indeed, but I myself am not interested in the expansion since I feel like the base game is more than I need for my AI War cravings. Ah well, I think I’ll buy them now just to support Arcen Games…

    • mlaskus says:

      Yes, the base game is great by itself, but both expansions make it even better.
      Minor factions are especially fun, Hybrid Hives are my personal favourite .

    • Vinraith says:

      Hybrid Hives are worth the price of CoN all by themselves, they’re basically an entirely new opponent that behaves completely differently, and follows different rules, than the base AI.

  17. Army of None says:

    The return of Quinns: Iron Edition

  18. Collic says:

    Thanks rps !

    Anyone who hasn’t tried this yet, do so. The tutorials have been completely overhauled for this release as well, so its not as daunting getting up to speed. As a side note, I’m not sure if the steam version is 4.0 yet, if not the latest unity version can be downloaded from the Arcen site.

    Oh, and it has no drm whatsoever, and if you buy direct from their site you can hammer the code into steam and get it added to your library for later downloads. Pretty handy for remembering the serial as well.

    • theleif says:

      I just want to say that you sirs, are awesome.
      Really awesome.

  19. Meat Circus says:

    I love your sexy, sexy faces off, ARCEN GAMES.

  20. Dominic White says:

    This really is unparalleled developer support. Porting to a whole new engine is just unheard of, especially after two expansions.

    They’ve streamlined some stuff with V4.0, cutting the number of damage types, and reducing the number of elements at play in the shield/armor dynamic, but it’s all for the better. That stuff became fiddly, finnicky and generally awkward to manage to any degree when you’re trying to boss around 10,000 ships. Instead, they’ve focused even more on the maximalist side of things. More unique later-game units, more fancy stuff that NPC factions can do to both you and the AI’s, and hell, more of everything.

    If I wore a had, I’d be tipping it to those fellows at Arcen Games.

  21. Wilson says:

    This is excellent news. I thought the 4.0 version wasn’t coming for a while longer for some reason (probably because there is so much stuff in it) so this has made my day!

  22. cowthief skank says:

    Almost unbelievable that this is a free update. Most publishers would charge for even half of this content.

    Cannot wait to find time to learn and play this properly – my last full game was almost a year ago and I have become so rubbish it took the AI 20 minutes to finish me off the other day on difficulty 5…

    • cowthief skank says:

      And yes, I think that the release of 4.0 should mark the beginning of a new RPS diary…

    • Vinraith says:

      A new diary would be pretty great, yes. It doesn’t even have to be multiplayer, if that’s too difficult to organize, the game plays wonderfully solo as well.

    • Schaulustiger says:

      Yes please. More AI War coverage can only be good, a new diary would be even better.

    • Unaco says:

      All of the jokes about the long running diary would be funny… if I didn’t thoroughly enjoy the 1st instalment and crave more. The game diaries are a great part of RPS, and I enjoy reading them, even for games I don’t play. As people have said above, start a new one with 4.0.

    • Unaco says:

      Also, did Quinns ever finish the story of Onion Brogues?

    • Psyk says:


      Guess he finished advertising it so stopped same as the minecraft diary.

    • Dances to Podcasts says:

      He doesn’t finish much, does he? Guess he doesn’t have the metal…

  23. Xercies says:

    I know this is horrible to say but because there financially not ok. Stop bloody giving to charity man, make sure your on your feet first. And maybe put some of these updates on DLC/expans if there that huge.

    • Collic says:

      They had agreed to do the expansion for charity before the troubles. They’re hurting for cash, but still honouring that. Worthy of respect, I think.

  24. Winter Born says:

    I have been playing with the Unity beta for a few months now and the original SlimDx version before that. The new 4.0 Unity version has way better grapics, new music, a better organized interface with some cool new features. The AI also got over a 100 new toys to kill you with :)
    I also think it’s prety cool that all the money from the Children of the Neinzul expansion goes to a childrens’ charity (never seen the big guys do that). BTW one of the ships in that expansion is based on a suggestion i submitted into the Arcen forums so I’m jazzed — check out the game credits and you will see over 40 users just like you who helped create this game.

  25. Lucas says:

    Steam appears to be pushing the new AI War out now :)

  26. j. says:

    The game is wonderfully fun in multiplayer.

    • TimA says:

      Sigh, I’ve still not had chance to be organised enough to try multiplayer, though I’m sure I’d love it.

      Perhaps some of us could get something organised, AI War on a lazy Sunday afternoon sounds so good to me.

    • JonFitt says:

      AI War on a lazy Sunday afternoon sounds so good to me.
      Fixed it for you!

      In all seriousness it is fun but does take a long time. Be prepared to have one in the party take responsibility for saving the game so you can come back to it (which works really well btw).

    • Paul says:

      Another cool feature is someone can load their single player game as a multiplayer game. They just have to gift units, harvesters, shipyards, etc to the new player from their empire, and away you go!

      If you have a particularly challenging spot in your game, it can make an otherwise daunting task solo, a fun co-op game!

  27. Daniel Rivas says:

    Nnrgh. It doesn’t seem to be in my Steam list anymore. That’s not normal, I assume.

  28. y2k says:

    Add meh to steam killing_the_inocent
    i need more players for AI WARS!, 1 mission with me and a friend took 27 hours and still counting.. just … INSANITY!

  29. Unaco says:

    Looks like the update has been put through on Steam… I seem to be updating AI War with ~500MB’s.

  30. The Innocent says:

    Awesome. Way to go, Arcen Games!

  31. Edgar the Peaceful says:

    Don’t make me surrender my life again you bastards. I have kids and a job.

  32. Vinraith says:

    For those who were concerned: The 4.0 update and Children of Neinzul expansion are now both up on Steam. Keep in mind, if you’re planning to buy the game or expansions, that a key bought from anywhere (direct, Steam, Impulse, Gamersgate, wheverever) will unlock the direct download copy from the developer, and will register on both Steam and Impulse. I’d encourage you, then, to buy direct to help Arcen out, then register your key with your service(s) of choice for safe-keeping.

    • DXN says:

      Oh, whoops, I didn’t think about that and just bought it on Steam. Oh well!

    • Delusibeta says:

      Of course, if you’re tight, both the base game and Zenith Remnant are half price off Steam and Gamersgate.

    • erutan says:

      Hmm, I bought it full price on steam a few hours ago and it doesn’t even show up as owned in my games list. :/

  33. Hamburgers says:

    I thought they were broke? Or as good as?

    Why not a single word about how this and that is related?

    Is there some new development? Is this the last huzzah? What?

    Come on, let me know whether I should feel pity or not or what.

    • Collic says:

      Well, this is an important release for them, for sure. I don’t know what else you were expecting to discover.

    • stahlwerk says:

      I bailed them out by buying Tidalis earlier this month. All is fine.

    • CoyoteTheClever says:

      From what I understand, they need this release to be successful to see past December. They are also working on a new expansion that will be out in December, Light of the Spire I believe. So give them lots of support everyone :)

  34. DXN says:

    Them boys just earned themselfs a sale. Now to figure out how to play this thing!

    • mlaskus says:

      There are updated in game tutorials, as well as some video tutorials and a lot of text based ones. If you have any problems or don’t understand something, the community and the game’s creators are all incredibly helpful and will be happy to answer your questions. :)

  35. CMaster says:

    So just played a coop game with a friend.
    Pretty neat but one thing – AI was 2 x Level 7 at easier types. We captured 8 worlds, got AI progress up to 150 or so.
    And it didn’t attack us even once. Is that right, because I thought it was meant to send waves after you, hence the turrets (we only needed the turrets once, in helping establish a base on a Tech IV AI system.

    • Dominic White says:

      It’s statistically unlikely, but perhaps you ended up with a couple of the turtler-type AI’s? There’s one or two of the easier AI types that focus purely on defense, and never launch attack waves.

    • mlaskus says:

      That is quite strange, maybe the random AI types you got are defensive oriented?
      If it is not the case, it might be a good idea to tell the devs about it, it might be a glitch.

    • mlaskus says:

      Ah, ninja’d. :)

    • CMaster says:

      Yeah, just loaded back into game to see if I had some weird setting on (shouldn’t, didn’t change any).
      So yeah, possible we had 2 Turtle AIs reading the descriptions again, probablity would be about 1/25 or 1/36 assuming each AI is selected independently. (side note – love how complete the tooltips are). Thing is, it says we should still see border aggression and cross-planet attacks. Not once did the AIs move againt us in any way. Hell, one world we captured even had 80 different cloaked AI ships on it – that did nothing at all until we hunted them down.

    • Vinraith says:


      Something very strange is going on, there. It probably warrants bringing up on the game board, the devs are spectacularly responsive and may be able to diagnose/correct the issue.

    • Keith LaMothe says:

      CMaster, if you can post the save either in our forums:

      link to

      Or in our bug tracker:

      link to

      I can take a look at it and confirm that either they’re both turtle-ish AIs or figure out what’s going on :)


    • CMaster says:

      Ooh, hello Keith. You posted since I wandered off to your forums.
      Anyway, post is up now
      A couple of side comments – one, I was not impressed that the forums demanded I used a secure password – mix of case as well as numbers – and then emailed said password to me in plaintext.
      Second, I’d love to buy the game direct (had a good enough time with the demo to do so I think), but when buying direct is more than twice the Steam price at the moment, I’m simply not going to do that.

    • Keith LaMothe says:

      CMaster; on the forum password thing, you’re right, that’s pretty silly. It may have just been the default setting for that version of SMF.

      On the buying direct thing: yea, Steam is doing a 50% sale of the game right now; I’m not expecting you to buy it full-price during that time :)

  36. Keith LaMothe says:

    Thank you, Quinns, for the article.

    And thank you, commenters, for the support :)

    I’d like to add to the chorus of “Arcen Games is the best” that “Arcen Games’ fans are the best, too”. Seriously, our community is a huge part of how we’re able to keep this going, from bug reports to suggestions to challenging our ideas to just generally being grateful.

    Some people asked about our financial situation and why we would be so coo-coo-for-cocoa-puffs as to be donating proceeds from an expansion to charity in light of said situation, so let me clarify:

    1) As others have mentioned here, the plans (and public promises) to donate CoN’s proceeds to charity were made well before our financial difficulties became apparent. We would rather go out of business than break our given word.

    2) The financial situation is basically what the last public news said; at the rates of income and expense we’ve had over the past couple months, we would not be able to make payroll at the end of December (iirc; I don’t actually handle the numbers). Of course, that doesn’t mean we would hit that wall, we would just have to massively cut expenses to avoid doing so, which basically means cutting personnel hours, etc.

    3) Our hope is that the currently ongoing promotional sales will help turn things around, or at least cover us until the actual revenue from the next expansion (due out early December) hits our account.

    4) Even if these plans fall through, we won’t disappear completely (no debt, so no bankruptcy, so no closure), we’ll just be on a small fraction of the productive capacity we have now, and trying to rebuild.

    • malkav11 says:

      Well, it’s good to hear that it’s not as completely dire as I’d originally imagined. I can assure you I will be buying that next expansion.

    • Torgen says:

      I just wanted to let you know that, although I don’t have the money to buy this, I’m gonna. Just to suppoer you guys doing what I’ve always wanted to do.

      (I really, really need to make time to watch the new Unity 3 Tornado Twins tutorials.)

    • Torgen says:

      I just wanted to let you know that, although I don’t have the money to buy this, I’m gonna. Just to support you guys doing what I’ve always wanted to do.

      (I really, really need to make time to watch the new Unity 3 Tornado Twins tutorials.)

  37. NeonBlackJack says:

    It just showed up on steam for Half Off, so I bought it!

    Thanks, Arcen!

    I don’t really have the money or the time for it, but hey…I think I’ll really enjoy the game, and you’re the kind of developer that I support for a love of the craft.

  38. Devan says:

    I was so close to buying it before, based purely on RPS recommendation. The only thing that holds me back is the time investment, which I don’t have much of.
    But with this update, I don’t see how I could not make the purchase. That’s an ideal dev team right there, and worth supporting even if I never get around to playing the game.

    Keep it up, Arcen! Your virtues will pay off in the long run.

  39. Keith LaMothe says:

    CMaster: an update is out now with changes that should fix the problem you ran into where the AI was hitting errors and thus not making many decisions. Also, if something still goes wrong it will log the error in a format much easier for us to track down.

    Thanks :)

  40. Keith LaMothe says:

    Oh, forgot to mention that the update can be gotten through the button that shows up on the game’s main menu.

  41. Arathain says:

    Arcen are the hardest working developers in the business. The changes from version 3 are 66 pages in length. 66 pages. They released a whole other game in that time. As well as porting the game to a new engine. Remarkable.

  42. Corbeau says:

    Just bought the game on Steam because of this news. I’ve been tempted by the game before, but it seemed too complex and time-consuming for me. That may still be the case even after the streamlining, but work like this just plain shouldn’t go unrewarded.

  43. NPC says:

    Um… why did you discourage everyone from trying the demo? Is it hard / silly / buggy, or something else? Can you please explain?

    • DrazharLn says:

      The demo is just fine. I’m pretty sure that line links back to the bit about how the game can be very difficult.

      So it’s wishing you good luck in your attempt at a win.

    • NPC says:

      Ok, thanks, I’ll try it then :D

  44. Bum says:

    Could more people please buy Metro 2033 which is spectacularly cheap on steam atm with 66% off and AI War+DLC which is 50% off?

    I really can’t spare a dime for “fun and games” at the moment, and both those games are good stuff.

  45. datom says:

    Is there a direct-buy bundle deal available from Arcen? I’d rather buy from Arcen directly but money is a bit tight and the GG sale is inviting.

    My main gaming (haha!) machine is an eeepc 900mhz (because, well, I’m awkward that way, and it runs 95% of all games I actually want to play). It has always run on netbooks, but with the lower default numbers and lowest settings, could I play it without a) horrendous lag or b) burning the insides of the machine out?

    • Malibu Stacey says:

      Arcen’s own store is here link to
      It’ll cost you $34 (around £25 at current conversion rates) for the base game & both expansions & they only charge in USD so your bank may charge you currency conversion fees but once you get your keys, you can register all 3 with Steam (Impulse doesn’t register Children of Neinzul as yet from what other people say, haven’t tried myself as I only use Impulse for GalCivII & SoaSE). You don’t have to register them with Steam or Impulse if you don’t wish to, other than the license keys the game is DRM free.

    • Keith LaMothe says:

      @datom: If you want to see how it performs on your netbook please try out the demo (can be found in about the same place as the direct-sale page). In the past netbooks have been able to run the game, though they would run into trouble as the game moved on if unit count kept going up.

      If you play the game on low-ship-caps, and on a low performance profile (you could even try “extremely low” there just to see how it goes, though that setting is pretty painful for actual playing; it’s great to switch to briefly if your machine is bogging down on a big battle though), the actual minimum requirements should be pretty strikingly low :)

    • datom says:

      Fantastic guys, much appreciated. I’ll try the demo tonight with a view to buying tomorrow.

  46. President Weasel says:

    I bought AI War last year, had a quick look at it, thought “this is horrendously complicated” and then got constantly distracted by other games. I’m amazed and impressed at the support they’re offering; as I’m sure has been said, other companies would have offered this upgrade as a paid expandalone, not a patch.
    If I hadn’t already bought the game this would have made me buy it, as I think they’re worth giving money to even if I never quite get round to playing the game.

  47. Arboris says:

    Developers like Arcen really deserve to be rewarded for their efforts.

    The level of support seen for this series is remarkable.

    Even more remarkable is for the same company that is on the brink financial ruin, to be pledging 100% of profits from sales of Children of Neinzul to the charity CHILDS PLAY.

    Even though I already owned AI WAR: FLEET COMMAND and ZENITH REMNANTHI purchase them at full price along with CHILDREN OF NEINZUl directly from Arcen.

    I strongly urge that those of you in the financial position to support Arcen to do so by purchasing directly from Arcen.

    It is so rare to see this type of support and generosity in today’s gaming market that we really need to reward this kind of behavior.


    • mlaskus says:

      “Even more remarkable is for the same company that is on the brink financial ruin, to be pledging 100% of profits from sales of Children of Neinzul to the charity CHILDS PLAY.”

      Um, they pledged the profits while they were still doing very well, and now when they are having trouble they are keeping their word, which is remarkable. If it was like you described it, it would still be a nice thing to do but a rather silly one.

      Generally I approve of your post, very much, but that bit was quite misleading.

  48. Arboris says:


    I appreciate the clarification as it was not my intent to be misleading.

    Thank you!