Arcen Games have launched a new Kickstarter campaign to crowdfund AI War II [Kickstarter page], sequel to their cracking 2009 real-time strategy game which pitted players against AI playing by entirely different rules. "Didn't they just...?" you're wondering and yep, they did try to Kickstart it in October but cancelled the campaign when it was clear they wouldn't reach their goal. They're returned with a smaller pitch for a smaller game with a smaller budget, and this time they're almost at their goal.
The new Kickstarter is looking for only $50,000 and oh! It's past $48k as I write this, with 30 days still to go. If they estimated before that they'd need $300k, how can they make the same game with only $50k? They can't. Arcen's Chris Park explains:
"We had to really evaluate our scope. The original goal was based around us doing EVERYTHING all in one go, versus over time. There were a few reasons for that aggressiveness, but the main one was that I wanted to avoid having to lay off staff. We gave it our best go, but ultimately that was not meant to be."
Park is taking more of a backseat role on AI War 2, by the way. With the smaller scope and budget, he'll be handing a lot of design and programming over to Keith LaMothe, who worked a lot on the first game's later patches and expansions.
Pledging at least $20 to the Kickstarter would get you a copy of the game when they finish it. Looks like they're aiming for October 2017.
Adam will tell you that the first AI War is one of the best strategy games. Why, he did that this very day! Adam says:
"The moment everything clicks is the moment you realise that all of your glorious expansion has only served to piss the AI off. And, let's be clear, it is an AI that you’re pissing off. An in-game AI, a ruthless and seemingly unstoppable machine intelligence that waits for you to make a move and then counters it, swatting your empire to one side. It’s an inversion of a 4X game’s normal flow, encouraging expansion and then punishing it by feeling out the cracks in every new frontier."
I do hope this works out for Arcen. They've made some wonderful and surprising games, brains fizzing with ideas - sometimes too many ideas. But they've had a rocky few years, laying off a lot of staff, delaying Stars Beyond Reach as they burnt out, and outright pulling In Case of Emergency, Release Raptor from sale. PC gaming would be less interesting without them.