AI War Hits v5.0, Light Of The Spire Released

I spire with my little ire. Something beginning with... spire.

Today, Arcen Games wants you to get in spire(d). Light of the Spire is the biggest expansion for AI War to date, and with its release today it brings with it the series’ first story-driven campaign, a new Defender mode that should take “minutes instead of hours” to play, new AI types, new factions, new music and 180 new ships, which is great, as I was just sat here thinking that AI War really needed even more sodding ships. Just look at the size of the update they released back in October! Madness.

That said, I guess if your game is priding itself on being the most unreasonably large strategy game in existence, it only makes sense that the expansions are similarly sized. Or does it? All I know is that the developers at Arcen must see flighty little spaceships when they close their eyes by now.

Today also sees the release of AI War v5.0, which balances almost every combat ship in the game, “revamps golems”, tweaks the game’s pacing so the dramatic stuff happens sooner and gives your psychotic AI opposition a new “stalking” mechanic “where it lies in wait until the player is at their most vulnerable”. Joy. You’ll find demos for both the updated base game and the expansion here.


  1. Atic Atac says:

    Ok now I have to finally buy AI War. This is post-release support literally going through the roof. (even though it’s payed). Need an AI War Full Package deal on steam plz.

  2. Jonathan says:

    Why does AI War have to be so cold and unapproachable? I want to like it, but it keeps pushing me away.

    • MrMud says:

      Its not, it loves you and wants to hug you.
      Do you hate hugs?

    • Samuelson says:

      I can’t see AI War as cold, maybe a little unwelcoming but definitely not as cold as Star Ruler, that game is as cold as a mother-in-law’s kiss.

    • Lightbulb says:

      Push through it. Play it like Dwarf Fortress – losing is fun.

      I felt the same until I forced myself to play it. Love it now. :)

      After a certain amount of time it kinda clicks. I would sugget getting the expansions though they make it much more fun. Maybe try learning in vanilla first though could be (even more) overwhelming with EVERYTHING turned on.

  3. pierec says:

    One day I will finally finish a campaign in this game.

  4. bill says:

    On the one hand a story based campaign is tempting.

    On the other hand, the whole thing sounds way too big and intimidating now.
    and I have no idea what i need to buy – all in one pack, latest version, base game plus this only, etc..

  5. keith.lamothe says:

    “All I know is that the developers at Arcen must see flighty little spaceships when they close their eyes by now.”

    Maybe Chris does. I generally see the large modular capital ships and starbase-like defenses since that’s what I played around with the most while making LotS ;) Ridiculously powerful beam weapons, engraved on my eyeballs.

    Thanks for letting folks know about 5.0/LotS :)

  6. Unaco says:

    Wha?!?! I barely played any 4.0!

  7. keith.lamothe says:

    “On the other hand, the whole thing sounds way too big and intimidating now.
    and I have no idea what i need to buy – all in one pack, latest version, base game plus this only, etc..”

    You can download the base game demo and install LotS (no need for TZR or CoN, though they do add stuff). It will function in trial mode but that still lets you play the first 3 hours of a campaign. That won’t let you get into the meat of the scripted campaign (Fallen Spire), but it will let you see the way it’s basically handled.

  8. jzono1 says:

    I reccomend buying it all, and playing a basic game with the default settings. The AI gets the improvements from the expansions, yet you don’t get all the complexity of the new features untill you turn them on.

    I’m still on my first campaign; for some reason I insist on conquering every system in a 80 system game. 30 hours in, and I’m over halfway there :)

    It’s an unique experience.

    • Vinraith says:

      You realize, of course, that the game is pretty much designed to kill you if you try to conquer every planet on the map. Carefully choosing what to take, and where and when to strike, is the whole point. :)

    • keith.lamothe says:

      It is theoretically possible to take every planet, depends on whether you can force all AI attacks to go through one planet (some map types make that not feasible, some AI types make it impossible), and fortify that one planet out the wazoo.

      One of the from-early-times forum members had a game going with his friends from sometime in the 1.0 days to sometime in the 3.0 days where they conquered the entire map, playing every Monday night. And generally staying on the latest beta version. There were a number of cases where we fixed some recently-introduced bug “in time for the Kalzarius game” ;)

      But “galactic conquest” is definitely a self-inflicted punishment. Though much more possible in a Fallen-Spire game, once you’ve got enough of those capital ships.

    • jzono1 says:

      I know; and because I started with a difficulty of 6, on a map with a few nice choke points between me and the AI, it’s possible since I’ve been getting better at it through the long game.

      Strategic use of a supernode to reduce ai progress also helps.

  9. MuscleHorse says:

    I’m not even into RTSs that much but I’m absolutely blown away by this.

  10. Mr_Hands says:

    To get myself used to things, I just used a crap ton of cheat codes in a few games. Definitely makes for a ridiculous experience.

    Either way, Arcen has done a tremendous job with exceedingly meaningful updates and additions to the game. A fucking story mode?! Hell yes.

  11. BaronWR says:

    Oh god. I’d just about got my head round the base game and now you go and change it again? Damn you and your good after-sales support!

    • keith.lamothe says:

      Yea, the players who stay on the latest betas sometimes joke about the updates coming too fast for them to actually play a game. And sometimes it’s not really a joke ;)

      When Chris was overhauling the tutorials for 4.0 (they got some updating for 5.0 but thankfully didn’t need much to stay accurate) I told him he should include a warning “Now be careful as you try to take this Advanced Factory, the developer will nerf your most effective strategy midway through the battle”.

      But 5.0 is in a good place and while we’ll keep up with gradual refinement/balancing/bugfixes we’re going to be focusing most of our time on our next game. This will hopefully let the players breathe a bit ;)

    • BaronWR says:

      And now you’re actually responding to my internet whining! Don’t you know that we angry internet men expect to be ignored! How dare you act like you care!

      But seriously, I am really impressed at the continued support for the core game. Keep it up (although possibly not so fast, so I get round to bying some of the expansions).

    • keith.lamothe says:

      “Don’t you know that we angry internet men expect to be ignored!”

      What better way to make them angrier!

      “Keep it up (although possibly not so fast, so I get round to bying some of the expansions).”

      Yea, one goal of our next game is to have sufficient depth and “extension points” to give us another “target” for these kinds of updates if the game is successful. For one thing, might make the AI War players feel less “in the line of fire” ;)

    • Dominic White says:

      Yeah, you’ve built up enough content here for the game to survive for a good long time on just minor updates, balance patches and general tweaking and tuning. Another expansion on top of this ridiculously huge pile of content would probably be too much.

  12. Basilicus says:

    Yep, Arcen’s my new favorite dev. I haven’t even gotten a chance to play the copy of A.I. War I picked up in the Christmas Steam sale, yet I have no qualms saying this. In an age when publishers are releasing games full of bugs and not always fixing the bulk of them, it is unendingly impressive to see Arcen provide such incredible support to its community.

  13. Schaulustiger says:

    Has everyone seen the new preview page for “A valley without wind”? If not, go here: link to

    It sounds very exciting and I’m going to pre-order as soon as such an option is available. Seriously, Arcen Games is the ony dev studio that I’d buy a game from without having seen it. Yes, they are that amazing.

    • CMaster says:

      Oooh, new, less ugly Arcen site, where they’ve finally updated the AVWW/Alden Ridge preview.
      I still like the idea of a game set in the original AVWW setting – a lone (as far as the residents know at least) region of health and prosperity left in a ravaged world that has to protect itself. I’d probably go more management sim with it though than necessarily tower defence. In fact, I’ve now just come up with yet another game design off of that, – a managment sim where you have to sustain, rather than build up from the start. Because that would be overwhelming, let’s have the player work their way up through the bureaucracy – initially being tasked with overseeing one small aspect, with enough sucess becoming regional governor or whatever. To add replay and interest (seeing as you have to flesh out these systems anyway), you could have the option of starting in a variety of different roles: Farm supervisor, captain of a border guard post, factory manager, etc. Better add it to the big word doc of “game designs I haven’t done anything with”.

      New AVWW actually sounds just like a grand-scale rougelike. Which would be good. I’m really hoping to see more aspects of the more interesting roguelikes that are developing (DF, Rogue Survivor, not real murder sim etc) start to break through into more mainstream games – as Minecraft has shown the hints of. As Deus Ex showed us the way was year ago. The future is in simulations – build people a world and rules, give them goals and set them at it. Sure, the inital development costs can be daunting, but the cost per hour of gaming can easily become trivial compared to tight scripting. Viva La Immersive Sim!

      Erm sorry, seems I got carried away with my stream-of-conciousness post there. Sorry.

    • Jp1138 says:

      I also though of Dwarf Fortress/Roguelike reading the description… I hope it turns as good as it reads :)

  14. MadTinkerer says:

    Now they just need to release the expansion on Steam and I’ll get it.

    • DerShcraa says:

      Just buy it directly from Arcen and insert the key into the Steam copy.

    • keith.lamothe says:

      That will work 99+% of the time, but there’s a small chance someone with a keygen will gen exactly the same key that you get, and then register their ill-gotten key in steam and thus you probably won’t be able to get steam to take it.

      There’s also sometimes a 1-to-2-week delay between “available on steam” and “can register bought-elsewhere keys in steam”, and it certainly won’t be possible before the product is actually on steam at all.

      So if having a copy “fully” in steam is a 100% requirement for someone, the only way to guarantee that is to get it through steam.

      All that said, the keygen-collision thing is really quite rare, and the delay before bought-elsewhere keys can be registered is pretty short in the grand scheme of things.

    • Delusibeta says:

      You need to wait until Steam sells it (at least) to register it on Steam.

    • sinister agent says:

      Has steam porn become an established fetish subgroup yet?

    • theleif says:

      I bought the original on steam, and the Children Of Neinzulan and Light of the Spire expansions from the Arcen site. Just put your serial in the game (license/expansions) and it will work. Well it worked for me.

      Edit: I might have had to to something else, i don’t remember now. So to be safe you might want to ignore this advice.

    • Vinraith says:

      The beauty of Arcen games is that, in principle, buying one anywhere gets you that game everywhere else. In my case, I bought the original and all three expansions direct from the developers (so as to avoid Steam/Impulse/whoever’s 30% cut out of the dev’s profits), but then registered the games at Impulse and Steam so as to have convenient backups in several places. Lately I usually play on Steam, but since the AI War client running under Steam allows you to update regardless of Steam and install and activate expansions regardless of Steam the version of the game i run under Steam has been the latest beta of Light of the Spire the entire time.

      Short version: even if you only ever want to play under Steam, buy direct from the developer. Arcen gets more money (they deserve it) and you get the game anywhere you choose to plug in your keys anyway.

  15. Carra says:

    Bought it during a steal.

    I should really get to it one of these days :)

    • Vandelay says:

      In the same boat. I bought the game during the Steam Christmas sale. Played the first couple of tutorials, before I got distracted by other shinies. Really should try and find the time to play it. Sounds like good stuff.

  16. Arathain says:

    I’ve said it before, but Arcen are the hardest working developers in the gaming business today, by a country mile. For most of November and December there was a beta patch at least every other day, with a list of changes a page or two long. Not just balance tweaks, either- major new game mechanics, code optimisation, all sorts of stuff. At the same time they’re active on the forums, fielding all sorts of suggestions and bug reports and working them in to the game. Just remarkable.

  17. Dominic White says:

    The coolest thing about this expansion is the dynamic story mode, at least from what I’ve read so far. Depending on whether or not it fits your style, you can choose to throw your lot in with the Spire aliens, and apparently escalate from guerrilla hit-and-run tactics to full blown total war against the AI.

    • keith.lamothe says:

      Yep, just enable the “Fallen Spire” minor faction. It starts out minor, but doesn’t have to stay that way ;) Do note that if you help the Spire folks you’ll have a much harder time fooling the AI into thinking your alliance is not a threat. When the AI realizes you’re a threat, bad things happen. But if you play right, you can get what you need to deal with bad things ;)

      I’m not sure I’d call it a “dynamic story mode” because the story text doesn’t change from game to game. But since it’s set in a procedurally-generated world heavy on emergent behavior, the actual gameplay challenges and whatnot are very dynamic :)

      Edit: the end of the storyline does have a branch, though, there’s two ways to win. One is basically the normal way, the other is… well, something else.

    • Dominic White says:

      An alternate victory condition against a galaxy-threatening AI? Shades of Space Rangers 2, perhaps, if you’ve ever played that?

    • keith.lamothe says:

      Space Rangers 2 is one of my favorite games, actually. Hadn’t really thought about it in connection with the design of the Fallen Spire campaign.

      The alternate victory in this case does not bear any resemblance to any of the alternate victories against Blazer, Terron, or Keller (if I’m remembering the names right) :)

  18. Bassism says:

    Man, it seems like only yesterday that I found myself saying “Wow, this 4.0 update is brilliant, I need to go buy this finally!” I’m not really a huge fan of RTS games, but every time I’ve dug into the demo I’ve found myself absorbed for hours (which is noteworthy in itself, considering the demo is longer and more satisfying than plenty of games these days). Sadly, my buying machine is out of commission at the moment as I save pennies to buy a new computer, but soon!

    AVWW sounds really, really cool. Seriously, from the few words you guys have written about it, it sounds like it could be “that” game that I’ve been waiting for. I can’t wait to hear more on it.

    And it’s always nice to see you here in the comment threads, Keith. Cheers!

  19. mlaskus says:

    AI War is the best strategy game I’ve ever played. It is incredibly smart, enormous and constantly evolving due to outstanding support by it’s developers. The devs are incredible people too, extremely hard working and constantly communicating with their community, supporting charity and always open to new ideas. They are some of the nicest chaps you can meet on the internet.

  20. RegisteredUser says:

    So… when are they going to sell the complete pack for 5 EUR?

    As for people finding it hard: Back in 2-3.x you could just build capital/assault ships, take a handful of colonizers along and invade every 4th to 6th planet along the route to the home of the AI. Then, 2 systems away from their home planet, build as many as possible+bombers, crush them and move to the second AI home, with barely “angering” the AI at all.

    It was so easy, I felt the game had been “figured out” and therefore turned into boredom and moved on.
    All I got for talking about this easy exploitability of the game was whining, yelling and pointing towards expansions-to-come. Didn’t really take it in stride, them.

    • mlaskus says:

      Did you mention it to the devs when you found out that it was exploitable? From what I’ve seen, they try to fix any exploits as soon as they find out about them. I’m pretty sure it is no longer possible to do that, though I never played like that in the first place so I wouldn’t know.

    • keith.lamothe says:

      “It was so easy, I felt the game had been “figured out” and therefore turned into boredom and moved on.
      All I got for talking about this easy exploitability of the game was whining, yelling and pointing towards expansions-to-come. Didn’t really take it in stride, them.”

      Can you point me at the forum thread in question (or wherever that discussion took place)? If we did actually whine and yell then you’re welcome to say so, but I want to see what you’re talking about.

      In any event, I invite you to try that strategy in 5.0 ;) It’s a free update to the base game, by the way, not an expansion.

      Just to be sure: were you fighting Difficulty 7+ AIs? For a while the default was diff 1, which was an oversight on our part because Diff 1 is… not a challenge.

    • RegisteredUser says:

      I should probably clarify that the “them” opposition was not supposed to mean the devs / the devs alone(pretty polite replies there), but overall the tone of replies simply was that it’s nice that I found a playstyle that can outleverage the game, but that that’s what makes it so wonderful iirc, alongside with constant mentions that sure, it may work, but with more difficulty still/the next expansion/anyotherreason it might not be so superduper after all.

      So the actual tone was likely a lot nicer than how I perceived it, due to feeling like I was having the whole thing mostly dismissed. Emotions, what a handbag! It’s probably some troll gene remnant.
      AI level was 7 iirc.

      You could manage over 6 “hops” through systems with a colonizer/starship fleet just pushing into enemy territory back in V2.xx and thereby keep AI progress and your own settlements at a bare minimum(paramount due to energy constraint and unit cap for ships and turrets) while settling in next to the AI heart/home.

    • keith.lamothe says:

      Ah, yea, forums do often lead to misunderstanding of tone, etc. That’s not to say we’re not ever rude, but we try not to be :)

      And yea, that kind of extended-deepstriking has been a balance problem for a while, and we’ve made several changes over the year+ since version 2/3. A number were also made during the dev cycle we just completed with version 5. I think you would find it considerably more difficult now :) Hopping across 3ish systems is supposed to be possible, but 6 should be fairly excruciating (though not impossible).

      You’ve probably moved on to other games but I suggest giving it another whirl when you have time; the update is free after all.

  21. Smidey says:

    Slightly off topic, but did the guys ever get around to finishing their AI: War Diary, or did it just become a long running joke?