AI War 2: Making Alpha Fun

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Starting State

Okay! We've extended the alpha period beyond what we had originally intended, but we're going ahead and giving out the Early Access keys to kickstarter backers on the date we originally specified. Meanwhile, we're pushing the date for early access back. That link explains a lot of the reasons.

If you're one of the many who struggle with playing the game such an incomplete state, check out the instructions

We also have a blog at https://blog.arcengames.com for dev diaries and other fun topics.

Also, here's Chris's todo list.

And here's what we've been doing for the last few months

Known Issues

  • The interface in general is horrible, and you need to go into the PlayerData folder and edit your settings file manually if you want to make settings changes.
  • Various ships are implemented but don't have real graphics, so they just show a little "rock" instead where the ship graphic would be. You can still see the ship icon and whatnot just fine.
  • Most ship shot types use the same graphics right now.
  • Only some of the sound effects are in, and only a couple of music tracks.
  • Particle effects are also limited.
  • Ships currently just sit there in their squads, rather than flying around within their squads.
  • Balance needs a lot of attention, with your help.
  • There's no tutorial yet, and there's basically not much in the way of a lobby beyond map types and seed. You can't choose your player color yet, even.
    • Compared to the actual gameplay mechanics, we felt like these were ancillary things, but they are coming up in importance sooner than later.

What Is The Purpose Of This Phase?

Short Answer: To make the game fun, which it is not yet. Please don't fret on that!

Long Answer: There's still a lot to do on the game obviously, as stated in the last blog post. But there's a lot of good stuff here to tinker with now, and we're really looking forward to having more people bashing on it. It's not a "fun, balanced game that just needs some polish" yet, but it will be really useful for us to have more people finding the pain points both in the interface (which is currently atrocious) and the actual gameplay flow (which, from a macro standpoint, is still pretty immature).

The underlying technology and components for making a fun game are here, and that'd a very critical step towards it being a fun and balanced game, but that's not where we are just yet. In a lot of respects we kind of reordered things: the underlying tech is somewhat more advanced and more polished than we had anticipated at this point, and that is pretty important because it gives us a better idea of what we CAN do in the engine. It gives us a better bounding-box for setting up things so that we can build an interface around what is possible, and have the scale of battles reflect what is possible performance-wise, and so forth. On that front, I'm super happy with where we are.

But yeah, the next step is to finish implementing the last of the "before early access" ships, and then to actually make a GUI that isn't eye-gouging as well as a game flow that doesn't have any obvious deficiencies. Right now there are some notable concerns about parts of the game flow regarding how you don't really need to keep territory as much as in the first game, and certain other bits of the feel from a strategic standpoint are "off." Some of that is just because xyz AI feature maybe isn't in place yet, but other pieces are more about the design of certain ships or mechanics. These are things we want to iron out before we go full-Early-Access, and we need the help of folks like you to do so. We're trying to streamline certain aspects of the first game, but we don't want to do that at the expense of what made the original game cool.

The engine for this one is so flexible that we could just recreate most of what the first game was if we felt like it, but we'd really rather not for a variety of reasons that should be apparent to anyone who tried to get into the first game and bounced off it, or who played the first game for a huge number of hours but wanted certain fundamental improvements. Now that all the basic frameworks are getting in place here, we're at a point where we can start thinking about those things.

Version 0.513

(Not yet released -- we're still working on it!)

  • The ship detail display now uses the awesome new icons from Blue, and thus has far less text than it did.
  • The ship detail display now continues to show for 2 seconds after your mouse is no longer over the ship.
    • When the mouse is within the ship detail display it continues to refresh that 2-second timer.
  • The individual icons and text elements inside the Ship Detail display now have mouseover tooltips that:
    • Float just to the right and below the mouse cursor, but don't run off the bottom or right of the screen.
    • Size to fit the text being displayed, and wrap long lines.
    • Disappear after about half a second of the mouse cursor not being over something that should cause a tooltip.
    • The above is just standard behavior that you would presumably expect. Many hours and electrons lost their lives in the war to persuade our engine of this.
  • The planet tooltip no longer shows at the same time as the ship detail display when mousing over the icon of a unit that shows on the galaxy map.
    • The planet tooltip will be reworked into another detail display fairly soon, but for now this was necessary to avoid overlap.
  • The Ship Detail display no longer shows anything in the spaces for Engine Damage Resistance and various other resistances if the unit has the "normal" value for that stat.
    • Perhaps the empty space is not desirable from a usability standpoint and it would be better to have grayscale versions of the icons for these resistances so you can tell what it is that they don't have. Your thoughts are welcome on the forum :)
  • Numbers in the Ship Detail display now round to the nearest thousand and show "k" for numbers >=100,000, and to the nearest million and show "m" for numbers >= 100,000,000. So for example "500,000" is written "500k".
  • The Ship Detail display now shows a % next to the hit point total for either build-progress (for stuff like turrets under construction) or current health (for built stuff that is damaged).
    • When this is active the display of max health is more aggressively rounded, so at 1000 it rounds by thousands, and at 1000000 it rounds by millions.
  • Fixed missing-localization error message when claiming a golem or other unit that causes AIP on claim

Version 0.512 Hotfix

(Released August 20th, 2017)

  • Fixed a bug where the ship-detail tooltip would try to show for a ctrl+mouseover'd wormhole. Also fixed the inner bug where it would barf if somehow applied to an entity with null for mark level.
    • Thanks to BadgerBadger for reporting.
  • Set M as the default key for "select all mobile military on this planet".
    • To properly apply this to existing installs, we added support for the "default_should_override_unbound_user_binding_if_older_than_version" element in the InputAction xml nodes. It will only override your setting the first time you load the game in the new version, and only override it if you had no key defined for that binding before.
    • Thanks to BadgerBadger for suggesting.

Version 0.511 Unity 2017.1 Upgrade

(Released August 18th, 2017)

  • Upgraded our version of the unity engine to 2017.1p4, from version 5.6p3.
    • We had planned to do an upgrade eventually anyhow, but our hand was forced by the security vulnerability UNITY-SEC-844.
    • Note that this security vulnerability affects developers, not customers, but we felt it was a good idea to go ahead and update as soon as we were informed about it.
    • If you're modding the game using the unity editor, you'll also need to upgrade to that new version.
    • More info: https://unity3d.com/security
  • Fixed a bug in the prior version of the game that was preventing building the external code dll because of a couple of API changes that we made that were not properly reflected.
    • Thanks to BadgerBadger for reporting.

Version 0.510 Hotfix

(Released August 15th, 2017)

  • Put in a variety of small tweaks in the external code library to suppress harmless compiler warnings that nonetheless cluttered up our view (and that of modders) while compiling.
  • Put in some wrappers for sub images and sub text so that when there's an index out of range exception we no longer have to do a bunch of guesswork; it tells us what index it wanted and what the length was, so our time looping around in instrumentation is a lot lower.
    • It also now tells you the name of the type of element it is (eg BuildImageButtonBorderless), since that can also be a source of hunting around in the dark.
  • Previously, there were cases where we had one prefab referencing another prefab inside the modding and gui project. This was convenient!
    • However, it turns out that when the child prefab is updated, it doesn't flag the parent as also updated, and no amount of fiddling makes it trigger that flag.
      • That, in turn, means that the child of the parent winds up not being properly sent to players via the build.
    • To get around that, we're no longer referencing one prefab from another within the asset bundles themselves.
      • Instead we're creating those linkages in our own prefab xml setup using the new xml tags has_child_prefab, child_prefab_bundle, and child_prefab_filename.
      • Note that this doesn't have any effect on prefabs like the Dropdown, which reference elements INSIDE their own existing .prefab file. That's perfectly fine. The problem was when one .prefab file was referencing some completely other .prefab file.
    • This is what was causing the mysterious index out of range exceptions in the prior version.
    • Thanks to BadgerBadger for reporting.

Version 0.509 Player Targets What?

(Released August 14th, 2017)

  • You can now programmatically change the font size and spatial offset of text bits on an ArcenUI_ImageButton.
    • The ability to change color this way was also added recently.
  • You can now programmatically change the spatial offset and size of image bits on an ArcenUI_ImageButton.
    • The ability to change color this way was also added recently.
  • You can now programmatically change which sprite is shown by an image bit on an ArcenUI_ImageButton.
    • The texture must be in a unity asset bundle loaded by the game, and it must be configured as a sprite in the unity editor. This is pretty easy, but it does have to be done.
    • You just pass in the name of the bundle containing the texture, and the path-within-the-bundle to the texture, and it takes care of the rest.
  • The build queue item currently under construction now shows its estimated time to completion just above it.
    • Note that it currently assumes the builder has access to enough metal to work at normal speed; this will be refined.
    • Thanks to BadgerBadger for suggesting.
  • The build and tech buttons now always use the size of unit icons used with flairs (even if the unit type has no flair), to keep the display consistent and allow the remaining-cap count to be a bit larger visually.
    • That count is now larger, also.
    • Thanks to BadgerBadger for suggesting.
  • Fixed bug where the start-in-control-of-first-planet lobby option caused warp gates to not spawn anywhere (instead of just not on the human homeworld).
    • Thanks to BadgerBadger for reporting.
  • Replaced the ship/ship-type mouseover info in the bottom-left with an actual detail "window" which uses layout and icons to communicate much of the previous-text information.
    • Most of the icons are currently placeholder "text" (images of text); that's still underway.
    • This also includes the Description field from the ship's xml, which the previous display did not.
  • Renamed the I-IV tab to Fleet, since it includes MkV stuff anyway, if you have it.
  • Replaced player_units_do_not_attack_unless_taking_planet (which took true, defaulted to false) with target_type_for_player, which takes:
    • AutotargetAlways
      • Default behavior.
    • AutotargetIfTakingPlanet
      • What "true" used to mean for the old flag.
    • NeverAutotargetButAllowManualTarget
      • Like "true" on the old flag, but does not even autotarget when the planet is marked for taking (can still right-click to attack).
        • This is now set on AIP reducers like the Data Center.
    • NeverTarget
      • Your units will never ever aim at this target.
        • This is now set for missile silos and design backups, since those are of no value to you unless you hack them (and hacking them destroys them).
    • Thanks to Draco18s and BadgerBadger for suggesting.
  • Carrier, Missile, Implosion, and Lightning Guardians MKs 2-4 visuals now in place, added instead of the Mark 1 versions of their respective types that had been used previously.
  • Widow Guardian Mark 1 visuals now in place and wired up to be used by all 5 marks, plus the dire version, of the guardian. Actual other variants coming later.

Version 0.508 The Adornment Of The Buttons

(Released August 10th, 2017)

  • Build menu and queue icons now show:
    • In the upper left corner, the number of squads you can construct until you hit the cap.
      • If this number is zero, it is shown in red.
    • Just below that:
      • If you do not have enough fuel to build more of that unit, it shows a small fuel icon.
      • If you do not have enough power to build more of that unit, it shows a small power icon.
    • Queue icons are now shown with a different button background color rather than being an entirely different prefab.
  • Tech menu icons now show:
    • In the upper left corner, the number of science points it costs to unlock that unit.
      • If this number is more science than you have, it is shown in red.
      • If you've already unlocked this unit, the number is not shown at all.
    • Just below that:
      • If you have unlocked this unit, it shows a small green checkmark.
      • If you have not unlocked this unit, and cannot because you do not have a prereq, it shows a small padlock icon.
        • It also darkens the button.
      • If you have not unlocked this unit, and cannot because you do not have enough science, it shows a small science icon.
  • Using the number-key navigation in either the build or tech menus (push one number to select a column, another to select the cell at the corresponding row) now shows a white outline around the buttons in the selected column after the first number.

Version 0.507 When Menus Attack

(Released August 7th, 2017)

  • Build menu moved back to left side of screen, and back to a horizontal arrangement, but now on top of the build menu instead of under it (so basically exactly where it was in classic)
    • And now uses the icons for the queue menu instead of just the
    • Thanks to BadgerBadger for the suggestions.
  • The build queue buttons are now a different color, to make it easier to tell them apart from the normal menu buttons.
  • Moved the ship/squad counts for player vs enemy to the sidebar, no longer cluttering up the bottom-right info section.
    • Thanks to eRe4s3r for reminding us to move that.
  • Re-implemented the Tech menu, based off the new Build menu.
    • Thanks to BadgerBadger for reminding us of how non-functional the tech menu had become.

Version 0.506 Hotfix

(Released August 4th, 2017)

  • Fixed null exception in the new mark-based-color tooltip code.
    • Thanks to BadgerBadger for reporting.
  • Removed the debug line that's been in tooltips since forever, showing the numeric location of the unit.
    • Thanks to BadgerBadger for reminding us.
  • The sidebar no longer shows metal/fuel/science/hacking resource points, or the controller, since they're always present.
    • Thanks to BadgerBadger for suggesting.

Version 0.505 Tooltips And Build Menu

(Released August 3rd, 2017)

  • The build menu now shows icons instead of names for actual "click this to build this unit type" buttons.
    • The tab-selection part of the menu is still text, similar to AIWC.
    • The approach we tried with "show a horizontal list of types, then a horizontal list of marks above that" is gone, in favor of a more AIWC-like grid where the columns are the types and the marks/variants are arranged vertically upward.
    • The number-key navigation still works: the first number from 1-9 selects that column of the grid (and gives it a visual highlight, which is more subtle than intended because adding a new icon/layer to that is an involved process), and the second number from 1-9 actually clicks the button at the corresponding row in that column (1 is the bottommost, 2 is the next one up, etc).
  • The Escape key now does what the 0 key did: close any open bottom-bar menus and open the master menu.
    • So to get the old Escape behavior of opening the system menu, you press Escape followed by 1.
    • And the 0 key now does what it used to: acting as a tenth button for whatever the topmost bottom-bar menu is.
  • Fixed bug where the sidebar icons (and now the build menu icons) were not scaling correctly at different resolutions, leading to overlap of other elements at some resolutions but not others.
  • When a button click in the interface is "denied" in the sense that you click something that isn't allowed to happen at the moment, it now plays a buzz sound effect rather than the normal click sound effect.
  • When you are clicking your campaign name in the load savegame menu it no longer makes the big booming sound effect of starting the game. However, actually clicking the specific savegame entry inside the load campaign submenu still does.
  • Fixed a super annoying bug where shots would zip off into an area kind of near the center of the planet and then to their target under certain circumstances. It was a major noticeable visual artifact, for sure.
  • Fixed a bug where the tooltips over build buttons were not working when you were viewing them on the galaxy map.
  • The tooltips for planets now say who owns it, or if it's neutral territory.
    • If the AI owns it, it now shows the mark level for the planet, too.
  • Did a variety of formatting improvements on the tooltips. If anyone is looking for inspiration for more:
    • http://digitalnativestudios.com/textmeshpro/docs/rich-text/
    • Incidentally!! We can probably use the <space> tags in order to do better layout of things like the top bar, and then have icons for things that would otherwise use the <sprite> tag more under our control.
      • As noted in one of the dev diary videos from this week, the support for the sprite tag is pretty flaky at best, and rather than using a bunch of labels this would save us some draw calls (when rebuilding part of the gui).
      • Either way, it's all one draw call once it's drawn once, until it changes again, and it's only the part of the gui (the "window") that changes that has to be updated at any given time.
  • Fixed a bug with the tooltips where they would keep showing the last thing you were hovering over unless you started hovering over something new.
    • This has introduced the occasional flicker in a couple of instances. We'll have to see what we can do there.
  • Previously, data on the galaxy map would get noticeably stale in terms of frequently not showing the mark level after the planet name, or not showing an ownership change, etc. This now automatically self-corrects every 400ms if something is wrong and you are on the galaxy map.
    • Thanks to BadgerBadger for reporting.

Version 0.504 Big Ship Graphics Batch + Test And Revise Pass #3

(Released July 31st, 2017)

  • Player homeworlds can no longer have hacking points, to avoid motivating reloading until you get a planet with hacking points.
  • Player homeworlds are now always great at science, good at power, and normal at metal and fuel, again to avoid motivating starting the game over and over until you get the resource mix you want.
  • Added Galaxy button to the right of Planet on the master menu.
    • Moved the Find Planet button from Planet to Galaxy
    • Added a new Display button to Galaxy, which opens a list of Galaxy Display Modes
      • Currently that's just Normal (what you used to get before) and Resources (which shows the resources each planet is better-than-normal at producing)
      • These modes are defined in external code so you can greatly change what they display, if you are so inclined.
  • Incorporated BadgerBadger's improvements to the Nanocaust faction.
    • Now less likely to dominate your game in the first hour.
  • A random flagship, golem, and ARS are now seeded within 2 hops of your starting planet (and thus within the initial known-map range).
  • Redid the build menu layout to be more consistent with the layers-of-bars-on-the-bottom approach, where the first layer lets you pick the tab you want to build from, the second layer lets you pick the type of ship/unit you want to build, and the third layer lets you pick the specific mark/variant you actually want to be queued up or "loaded" onto the mouse cursor for direct placement.
    • Each of these layers now fully responds to the 1-9 keys, like other menus, if you like that sort of thing.
    • The queue display itself has been moved to the right-hand side of the screen, and laid out vertically, to visually and spatially distinguish it from your build menu.
  • Fixed a bug in the external code project files that was breaking the build process if you tried to build those projects in a normal steam install instead of in our development environment.

New Graphics Implemented For 34 Ship/Structure Classes!

  • 200 megs worth of compressed textures and meshes added to the main asset bundle (up to 1.2gb total for those)!
    • These have been in progress for months by Blue and Cinth, and are just now being actually wired into the game fully because of the particular way our work pipeline goes.
    • The breakdown of all this is below, and this isn't remotely all the stuff that we have nearly-done, so more will come soon.
      • It's worth noting that the radii and squad sizes may not be quite right on them in this initial wiring-up.
  • The following bonus-style ships now (newly) have full graphics:
    • Raptor, sniper, space tank, infiltrator, space plane, armor ship, grenade launcher, sentinel frigate.
    • When paired with the existing ships that already had graphics, this is actually all but three of the remaining bonus-style ships slated for version 1.0 of the game!
    • "Bonus-style" ships are basically the little squads of ships that you can start the game with, or unlock via Advanced Research Stations or similar. There are lots of other kinds of ships and structures (more TYPES of other ships/structures far outnumber the types of bonus ships), but these are most numerous in your fleet when talking sheer numbers of actual entities flying around.
  • The following "drone" type entities now (newly) have full graphics:
    • Implosion drones.
    • There are still four other types of drones that just use the little rock stand-in graphics. These are either in progress or slated to be completed in the next month.
  • The following AI guardian type entities now (newly) have full graphics:
    • Note that most of these will have five unique stages of graphics for each of the five marks, but for many of them they only use the mark 1 graphics at the moment for all 5 marks. In those instances, the graphics for all 5 marks are done already, but we haven't finished processing the higher-mark models into the engine yet.
    • Shield guardian, stealth guardian, sniper guardian, missile guardian, lightning guardian, flak guardian (all 5 marks), carrier guardian, emp guardian, implosion guardian.
    • The there are a number of other guardians that still use the rock-type graphics for the moment, even though there were a bunch of other guardians that already had graphics. Lots of guardian types in this game!
  • The following starships now (newly) have full graphics:
    • Note that all of these will have five unique stages of graphics for each of the five marks, but for now all of the ones in this batch only use the mark 1 graphics at the moment for all 5 marks. In those instances, the graphics for all 5 marks are done already, but we haven't finished processing the higher-mark models into the engine yet.
    • Siege starship, carrier starship.
    • Combined with the 4 existing starship types, that's all of the starship types for version 1.0 of the game. Compared to bonus ship types or guardians, there are relatively few starship lines.
  • Phase 2 of the AI master controller now has its graphics linked up.
  • The following AI structures now (newly) have full graphics:
    • Special forces secret ninja hideout, troop accelerator, black hole machine, raid engine, alarm post, planetary cloaker, attrition emitter, magnifier, super terminal, ion cannon, orbital mass driver, and warhead suppressor.
    • When combined with all the AI structures that already had graphics, this is now all of the ones for 1.0 now having graphics!
      • ...with the exception of the interplanetary guns, actually. That's a stretch goal that has 5 very huge guns that are not in yet, and they technically fall under this category. But they're not in the game just yet, anyway, and are on our list for soon, visually-speaking. :)
  • The following ship types now have actual proper icons shown rather than showing unknown and text:
    • Vorticular cutlass, vampire claw, etherjet tractor.
    • Vampire guardian, implosion guardian, dire warp beacon guardian, dire commander guardian, dire shredder guardian, dire teuthida guardian, dire hunter guardian.
    • Dyson sphere golem, devourer golem, armored golem, artillery golem, black widow golem, regenerator golem, cursed golem, hive golem, botnet golem, zenith trader.
    • All of the ships in the game now have proper icons and flair assigned.

Version 0.503 Nanocaust + Test And Revise Pass #2

(Released July 25th, 2017)

  • Fixed a bug where the Dyson's allegiance logic for "planet controlled by AI" and "planet neutral" was flipped.
    • Thanks to BadgerBadger for reporting.
  • Added BadgerBadger's "Save and Quit" button to save menu.
    • Thanks Badger!
  • The "ship cannon" effect when the Ark or other command unit replaces a lost squad ship now has a placeholder animation (like a repair beam) so you can at least see what's happening.
  • AI Type external code has been reorganized to only have one interface at the Core-dll level, and is split out in External code (but you do not have to follow that pattern).
  • AI Type external code now has a hook for DoPerSimStepLogic, just like special factions and conducts.
    • Thanks to BadgerBadger for suggesting.
  • Entities now have a SecondsSinceCreation field, for modding purposes.
    • Thanks to BadgerBadger for suggesting.
  • AOE weapons now factor their max-ships-hit-per-shot into their dps balance calculation.

Version 0.502 Mostly-Invisible UI Work

(Released July 14th, 2017)

  • Bottom-left tooltip now aligns to the top of the master menu area.
    • The alignment is still a bit rough, but at least it reacts to an increase in the occupied vertical space.
  • Completely reworked how UI layout from the old "everything is relative to the edges of the screen" approach that was heavily based on Unity's transforms, anchoring, etc, to an "everything is relative to the edges of the thing which contains it" approach.
    • This now supports a variety of alignment types, including "as far top/left as possible" "as far bottom/right as possible" "in the middle" and "left/right/above/below this list of other windows", each of which can be used separately for the x and y axis.
    • Note that any UI mods you may have will probably not work after this release until they're updated. The KDL_UIWindows.xml file should have the necessary information on how to adapt your stuff.
    • The Build and Tech menus currently sit higher on the screen than they should, will be fixed soon.
  • AOE shots no longer hit a protecting shield (or other target) more than once when detonating.
  • Most AOE weapons now have a maximum number of targets they will hit per shot.
  • The 0 key, which normally opens the master menu (commands not related to your selection) when you have no bottom menu open, will now always do that no matter where you are in the bottom menu structure, allowing key sequences like 0-7-1-1 (select all mobile military on the planet) to have a consistent behavior even if you currently have a selection or have a sub menu (or menus) open.
  • Added audio hooks for several events like hacking starting, losing a planet, ark's shields going down, etc.

Version 0.501 Test And Revise Pass #1

(Released July 7th, 2017)

Note that this one was a little slower coming, just because of some life stuff going on. Other than that we theoretically should be moving into quicker release cycles. ;)

  • Adjusted the shader to try and lighten the Experimental Fabricator model a bit.
  • Added the attribute " y_offset_of_icon="20" " to the fortress xml entry to help with the flickering issue.
  • Adjusted the radii on several ships and turret types to help with overlapping selection boxes.
  • Added "Start With First Planet" toggle button to the lobby, defaults off. If on:
    • The planet you start on begins with the controller and resource spots under your control.
    • There's no initial AI presence on the planet you start on.
    • Your Ark starts next to the controller on that planet instead of near the edge of the grav well.
    • Your starting AIP is what it would have been after conquering the first planet.
    • Thanks to... well, everyone, for letting us know that fighting that first battle every time got old.
  • As framework for the start-with-first-planet option, the "Conduct" table has been moved out to external XML. It's basically just a boolean value you can check for in mapgen or whatever other external logic, but you can also add arbitrary per-sim-step logic if you like. Whether it works or not is up to you, of course, but it's a pretty flexible hook.
  • Fixed a number of issues that were preventing your "last game lobby settings" from persisting across executions of the application.
  • Turrets and (most) other structures that you place directly will now leave remains, as in AIWC, that can be rebuilt by a controller, Ark, or Flagship.
    • By "rebuilt" is meant "switch it back into self-building mode".
    • There's a 5 second delay between an entity's death and when it can be rebuilt. That delay is in the external constants file if you're curious.
  • Fixed bug where pressing escape in the lobby would cause a null reference exception.
    • It now correctly exits the lobby.
  • The "Free Roaming Defender" button, since the text doesn't even remotely all fit on the button, is now called "Pursue", so you can at least see whether the mode is on or off for your current selection.
  • A number of buttons in the lobby have also been modified to better fit their text.
  • Various balance numbers (metal cost, power cost, fuel cost, science cost, speed, range, etc) are now rounded to a more readable number if that is within 2% of the "real" value.
    • This could stand some refinement, but even at this point it makes the tech menu a lot easier to read.
  • Included BadgerBadger's "Find Planet" function in the planet action menu.
    • Thanks, Badger!
  • Integrated BadgerBadger's addition of the concept of a "campaign" to the save/load menus.
    • Thanks, Badger!
  • Fixed bug where the algorithm that decides which planets are good at which resources could sometimes assign a zero production of metal, energy, fuel, or science to a planet.
    • Note: it's intentional that most planets do not have the hacking resource at all.
  • The Basic Turretry pattern now spends 25% of its budget on shield generators.
  • Shield generators no longer project their shields when disabled by paralysis, still-building, etc.
  • Fixed bug where shield generators were galaxy-wide-cap instead of planet-cap.
  • Fixed bug where player-owned carrier-starship drones would never return to their parent ship because they always thought enemies were present.
  • Made drones like the carrier starship drones die if their parent ship dies or is on a different planet.
  • Added IndividualBehaviorLogic tracing type, for inspecting the low-level individual ship logic that takes over in the absence of any commands from the owner (things like FRD are handled here, as well as carrier drone return-to-carrier behavior).
  • The "engines out" colorization of the mark level icons has been made less garish and instead has text saying "ENG" over it on the bottom.
    • Added new "out of order" display for the mark level icons that says "OFF." This is for stuff that is dead and going to be rebuilding.

Version 0.500 Ship Batch 7 of 7

(Released June 27th, 2017)

New Ships! (Note That More Are To Come Pre-1.0, But Not Pre-Early-Access)

  • The AI Master Controller is now armed.
    • And its on-death behavior has changed.
  • Botnet Golem
    • As in AIWC, fires large salvos that cause victims, once dead, to become zombie units of the same type that attack their old enemies but do not take orders from anyone.
      • So these zombies (not the golem itself) are the first third-party or "special faction" units.
    • Unlike AIWC these shots are no longer insta-kill, but quite powerful nonetheless..
    • For now zombies just stay on then planet where they start, and FRD.
  • Devourer Golem
    • Special Faction unit, one is seeded somewhere on the map at the beginning of the game (if enabled in the lobby).
    • Attacks everything within range (except controllers/warp-gates), and generally wins. When it does damage, it gains a portion of it back in health, to keep it going on those long hauls through the AI's territory.
    • Randomly picks another planet somewhere on the map to go to.
      • If you feel like reprogramming the galactic wrecking-ball, this routing code is in SpecialFaction_Devourer.DoLongRangePlanning()
    • When it reaches destination, rinse, repeat.
    • Good idea to not be wherever this thing is. Thankfully it's slow.
    • Will need rebalancing to avoid it causing a win/loss on its own (in the last test, it wandered through the AI Homeworld and took down the AI Master Controller singlehandedly), but we're working on an approach that doesn't involve unintuitive immunities.
  • Zenith Dyson Sphere
    • Special Faction unit, one is seeded somewhere on the map at the beginning of the game (if enabled in the lobby).
    • Unarmed, and immobile, but immensely hard to kill.
    • Periodically produces units to go to other planets and attack enemies, similar to AIWC, but instead of the single "Dyson Gatling" unit type from AIWC it simply picks from a subset of the AI's MkV Guardians. You want to know how it got those guardians? You've seen that episode, right?
    • Like in AIWC, the Dyson's units have different allegiances depending on who controls the Dyson's planet:
      • If the AI controls that planet, the Dyson hates everyone.
      • If a player controls that planet, the Dyson hates everyone except the AI.
      • If no one controls that planet, the Dyson hates everyone except the players.
    • Unlike AIWC, the Dyson's preivously spawned units will automatically "update" to follow any changes to those allegiances.
    • Also, "hates everyone" now includes other special factions, like the Devourer and Zombies (which currently means that the Dyson's units will Nom your Botnet zombies even if it likes you; we'll probably change that later).
    • As in AIWC, the Dyson's units won't attack an AI controller/warp-gate. Still feels kind of lame, but the alternative is either uncontrolled AIP growth or potentially-tons-of free extra territory for the player. Suggestions welcome. It'd be fun to have factions like the Devourer and Dyson be unrestrained in their ruckus-causing, without throwing the player's game into continual chaos.
    • As with the Devourer, will need rebalancing to avoid eventually flooding the galaxy with special-faction guardians.
  • Zenith Trader
    • Special Faction unit, one is seeded somewhere on the map at the beginning of the game (if enabled in the lobby).
    • Unarmed, but hard to kill.
    • Randomly wanders the galaxy.
    • When present on the same planet as your Ark, your Ark gets an extra build menu that lets it build things like Ion Cannons, Black Hole Machines, etc.
    • Like AIWC, the trader is friendly to all factions, and all factions are friendly to it.
      • Unlike AIWC, there's one exception: the Devourer knows the Trader is not to be trusted. We suggest making your Trader purchases before the two of them meet.
  • Dire Guardians:
    • Dire Teuthida Guardian
      • Spawns Teuthida drones, which zombify things they destroy.
    • Dire Hunter Guardian
      • Spawns Hunter/Killers (this takes a long time for each one), which are actually stronger than the Hunter Guardian itself. An H/K's main weapon is called a "Plasma Torpedo Shotgun", which tells you all you need to know.

Post-Processing Stack And Related

  • Upgraded to Unity version 5.6.2f1 from 5.6.1p1.
    • This introduces some bugfixes for windows and linux on the player side, and fixes a memory leak in the profiler for us on the editor side.
  • As it turns out, the experimental post-processing stack v2.0 that unity has in beta and warned "don't use in a production environment" is indeed not ready for a production environment. ;) Was worth a shot.
    • The new 5.6.2f1 won't even build for DX11 on the version of the PP stack we were using, and it was causing strange graphical artifacts for at least one tester.
      • Thanks to 5ounds for reporting the strange seizure-strobes. ;)
  • Yet AGAIN we've completely redone the post-processing stack. What's up this time?
    • We're using the FXAA implementation by Amplify Solutions, since that's quite battle-tested.
    • We're using PRISM post-processing to handle some color grading, minor vignetting, and sharpening. The difference in quality from the sharpening plus the FXAA is pretty notable even if you already had MSAA cranked up. It all works in tandem.
    • We've also returned to Amplify Bloom once again, since that just is unparalleled in terms of its overall quality and its ability to ensure temporal stability. We've actually cranked up the temporal stability to an unusual degree, and have a much wider radius of faint bloom, so that we get a softer effect (it was getting pretty grating in recent versions) and so that also we get an effect that has a bit of a trail after bright sources because of the temporal delay. Looks bad in setup scenes, looks great in battles.
    • One of the reasons that we had moved to the unity post-processing stack was that since it is free and open-source we could simply include that in the AIW2ModdingAndGUI project. Other than the FXAA solution, these other bits are not open source. But it's important to be able to see what you're actually going to get as a result in-game when you're making something in the AIW2ModdingAndGUI project... so we just compiled the non-editor code into our own dlls, and then removed the front-end editor code from that particular project. Problem solved.
  • Experimented around with Graphics Jobs again, which is a feature that we've tried on and off with unity.
    • It's definitely causing a lower overall framerate in this particular game, and more choppiness, so we turned it back off and won't be including it.
    • Most likely this is because of all of the instancing that we do, and the fact that offloads a lot of the work of dynamic batching already.
  • Upgraded to Amplify Shader Editor v1.0.0.012, which adds a few new goodies for us and a couple of bugfixes.

Version 0.450 Sound!

(Released June 22nd, 2017)

Post-Processing Stack Revisions

  • We completely redid our post-processing stack AGAIN, this time based on the not-yet-fully-stable (whee!) unity stack v2, which is still in development.
    • For reference, the version we're using https://github.com/Unity-Technologies/PostProcessing/tree/v2
    • Why use this? Well, Chris was getting really sick of the over-done bloom that he was winding up with the older PP stack, and couldn't fix it with any settings he could use. The newer PP stack has not only a better control over bloom, but also a much better auto-exposure tool. The HDR tonemapping tool seems borked at the moment, but the auto-exposure tools is yielding better results for us than we got with the Neutral tonemapper in the PP stack v1 anyway. Would have been nice to use ACES, but oh well.
    • With the new exposure correction, we've actually brightened things up a tad, and there's a hint of what you might think of as eye adaptation, although that's really more a factor of exposure averaging and is a very subtle effect.
    • We're also now using SMAA on the CPU side in addition to the pre-existing MSAA we use on the GPU side. Previously we were not even using FXAA on the CPU side, though we were thinking about it. TAA is now available in PP stack v2 in the Forward rendering path, which we're excited about, but it doesn't yield sufficiently crisp results yet. So for the moment SMAA it is.
    • Why all this fuss over the post-processing stack? Well... sometime soon we have to start doing screenshots that people will start showing around on websites and seeing on Steam, so it's pretty important that things look nice enough.

Sound Effects!

  • We now have a bus-based sound mixing solution in place, based on unity 5's advanced mixing capabilities, but then expanding that even further.
    • In our case we're setting up both directional and 2D sound sources with custom falloffs, and a maximum number of "voices" per bus, and advanced customization for clusters of sound effects (time delay between individual sound effects playing, between sound effects for the whole cluster, and even failover to a different sound effect cluster if the first cluster is still on cooldown).
    • This allows for us to really tune and mix the sound the way that we want, including music ducking, and general sound ducking for various types of vocal audio.
    • This also allows for us to have voice commands that play, but not too frequently, and for them to "fail over" to other types of sound effects to indicate orders receipt when the voice command version is on cooldown.
      • Thanks to qipoi for suggesting this functionality regarding the voice commands playback and failover.
  • Hugely reworked our music pipeline, as part of our new sound pipeline in general, so that it's all now piped through a central audio mixer that supports audio ducking for the music and for other sound effects as-needed for things like voice alerts and things of that nature.
    • It also allows for us to have certain explosions just drown everything out in an impressive way, and in general allows us to do sound mixing by bus, which can be tuned in the AIW2ModdingAndGUI project.
  • The game now has proper volume handling, which it didn't have before even for the music.
    • These volume settings are layered on top of the volume settings from the mixer, and it all gets translated over nicely.
    • Players simply select a volume between 0 and 100 for any particular type of sound that they want to adjust.
      • Note that for turning off sounds or voice or music entirely, it's more efficient to simply use the toggles for those so it's not silently playing those sounds or music.
    • The types of sound that can be adjusted are:
      • Master (affects literally everything, music, etc).
      • Music (just affects music)
      • Sound (affects all non-music sounds).
      • Voice (just affects spoken voice lines).
      • Combat (affects all the sounds of battle).
    • Given that the actual underlying bus volumes are in -80 to +20 dB ranges, where 0 is the default (unaltered) state, and we may have altered the bus defaults in the mixer itself...
      • The game takes the inputs for the "volume" as a 0-200 range, then transforms that into a multiplier against the default volume of the bus.
      • Specifically:
        • If you choose 0 volume it just goes to -80, if you choose 100 it stays at the bus default, whatever that is.
        • If you choose anything between 1 and 99, then it multiplies the inverse cube of the percentage of that by the starting volume of the bus.
          • This helps to offset the logarithmic falloff of dB reduction from 0, and feels pretty natural.
          • It does mean that since we're only using the cube, and not the fourth or fifth power, that in general things still go pretty unexpectedly extra quiet below 40% or so, though. But this gives the most gradiations in the audible range.
        • If you choose anything between 101 and 200, then it multiplies the flat percentage of that by the difference between the max (20 dB) and the starting volume of the bus, added to the starting volume of the bus.
          • This gives a great deal of precision in making things slightly louder, but doesn't really hide the logarithmic rise where you have to go to 180% or so to get a really substantial (10dB or more on average) rise out of the result.
          • Overall this isn't quite the most natural way to handle the volume siders above 100%, but it does give the most precisions, which is probably for the best. And it's still easy enough to tune.
  • There are now computery sound effects for giving attack, move, wormhole-path-move, and construction orders.
    • The ones for placing construction units are particularly satisfying. :)
  • There are now sound effects that play when you alter your build queue, alter your control groups, "do some other general tweaks, mainly cheats," launch warheads (this one is cool), scrap units (careful of the heart attack), start hacking something, change into hold fire mode or out of it, toggle pause, and unlock a tech.
  • There are now settings that allow you to mute various parts of the battle sound effects selectively (shots firing, shots hitting, ships exploding). This might be useful to someone else, but it's also helpful for us in testing certain sounds without the mixing.
  • All of the ships/structures in the game now have explosions set for when they explode.
    • They fall into 14 different categories of explosion sound effect, two of which are just for warheads.
    • There are then a further three twos of explosion sound effect that happen for ships that are not at the planet you are presently at, or when you are on the galaxy map.
  • The game now uses a blend of 2D and 3D (spatial) audio, which is pretty typical for games that are in 3D.
    • Things that are "HUD sounds" or other non-point-source type sounds just play normally, as does music.
    • Things that are sound effects coming from a ship or a shot or an explosion have direction and attenuation based on their relative location to the camera.
      • This makes it substantially quieter in the battle when you zoom way the heck out, which is nice, although different sounds are attenuated at different rates -- the explosions of ships dying attenuates a lot slower, for instance, so you can keep an ear on that easier.
      • This is something that anyone can tune (in a modding sense) by adjusting the prefabs in the AIW2ModdingAndGUI/Assets/AudioPrefabs/Combat folder.
        • The major settings to play with there are Max Distance (the furthest out the camera can zoom is 1200, for reference), and then the Spatial Blend and Spread values. Having a Doppler level is also possible, but tends to give strange and muddy results.
        • You can combine changes here with changes to AIW2ModdingAndGUI/Assets/AudioPrefabs/OfficialMixer (click into that object to get the mixer panel), if you like.
          • One thing Chris was considering, for instance, was making it so that WeaponsHitting had a max distance of 500, over which it would attenuate, and then increase the WeaponsHitting bus from -23dB up to something a lot more substantial. You'd then have no sounds of shots hitting beyond 500 distance, but much louder sounds of that hitting when you are progressively closer than that.
          • This isn't something you can mod and just keep modded all that easily at the moment, although you can make a copy of the mixer and then point your xml (using an override) to your mixer instead of ours. The risk being that if we make a lot of changes to the sound buses, which is most likely now while they are new, then yours may stop working and you have to make a copy of.
          • At any rate, mainly if you want to mess around with that and see if there are values that you feel like give a better result, we'd always be willing to take that sort of thing under advisement. ;) We have BadgerBadger fixing bugs already, goodness. But anyhow, the point being that it's open so that people from the community can fiddle and share their results with everybody if that is an area of their interest.
  • There is now a set of sound effects for ships entering or exiting wormholes, as was the case in the first game. These are neater, though.
  • All of the various buttons in the game can now have a click_sound xml attribute set on them, to choose between sound effects for them to play when clicked.
    • This also applies to dropdowns, image buttons, button lists of various sorts, etc.
    • By default buttons all now play the sound effect "ButtonNormal" when clicked. You can override this to silence if you need to for a given button that also plays a sound effect via a command that is executed, if you need.
    • A different sound effect, ButtonStartGame, is played when you start a new game or load an existing one.

Shot Visuals!

  • The forcefields and the ship-to-ship lines have been moved into the modding and gui project so that anyone can edit them.
    • Improvements have been made to how the various lines look, from their shaders, while we were at it.
  • All of the shot graphics have also been moved to the modding project, for the same reason.
  • For now taking away the side-specific bullet colors. Frankly this makes it a lot harder to differentiate bullets by type, which is more important.
  • The armor-piercing bullets now have their real graphics, which is the pre-existing orange tracer shots, but made a lot shorter.
    • Note that the tracer-style shots are heavily affected (in terms of how long they are) by the speed at which they are moved. So there are now three different variants for use in different speed scenarios. This is super easy to mod if someone is changing around shot speeds dramatically and wants the shots to look similar to how they do at the current speed.
  • All of the not-yet-done shots now use the old green-style enemy shots, to make those easy to spot and then fill in the real data for.
  • FINALLY got a version of the fusion rocket shot visuals going that we're actually happy with. It has to look nice, but not too close to the other stuff. Exaggeratedly-large so you can see it, but not so much so that it's cartoony. Nicely colored, but emissive and bright enough you can see it at a distance. And on and on.
    • We experimented a ton with trail renderers in addition to the rocket, and having those be the things that are visible at far distances, but that wound up always looking too similar to the other trail renderers (when additive particle blending was used) or extremely chuggy on the CPU (when alpha particle blending is used and thus they needed to sort).

Misc

  • Fixed bug where golems were not actually being seeded.
    • Thanks to BadgerBadger for reporting.
  • Fixed a bug where it was possible for the map seeds auto-generated to be longer than the ones you can key in manually.
    • Thanks to BadgerBadger for literally fixing the bug himself.
  • Fixed a bug where hitting B selects additional build units.
    • Thanks to BadgerBadger for literally fixing the bug himself.
  • Put in a fix that definitely prevents keybinds from triggering while a textbox is focused (we've been able to test it now).
    • Thanks to BadgerBadger for reporting.
  • Added a link to the external tutorial on the main menu.
    • Thanks to BadgerBadger for literally coding the addition!
  • Put in a fix where squads should now properly change their ownership color if their current side doesn't match what their previous state was.
  • An error message stating "Player data archive not found at `/home/user/AIWar2/AIWar2Linux_Data/data.unity3d`, using local filesystem[user@Desktop AIWar2]$" on startup on linux should no longer display. It was harmless, but annoying.
    • Note we didn't get a chance to test this yet, but knock on wood it should work. ;)
    • Thanks to BadgerBadger for reporting.
  • World_AIW2.Instance.QueueGameCommand now takes a second parameter that says if it should consider handling local audio/visual feedback of the command being sent.
    • Generally speaking almost everything in the AIWarExternalCode should have that as true, so that sound effects and such can be played as need in order to register that things have been accepted. But things from the AI should always say false.
  • Fixed a bug where every full-capacity squad with more than one ship in it was drawing an extra ship.
    • This doesn't fix isues with squads having more living ships than they should based on ships that died; that's a separate issue.
    • Thanks to BadgerBadger for reporting.
  • The game now notices when there are more ships specified to be in a squad than the actual formation allows for, and complains.
    • This was affecting autocannon minidpods (40 requested, 25 available), laser gatlings (80 requested, 25 available), and minefields (80 requested, 25 available).
    • The game now has two new squad formations that have 48 and 100 scale-1 formation positions in them, for handling these cases.
      • Note that we're going to work on vastly better formations in general later, and we welcome formation creation by players, too.
  • You can now actually name your savegames.
    • Thanks to BadgerBadger for literally coding the addition.

Version 0.401 Ship Batch 6 of 7, And Gimbal Perfoooormance!

(Released June 12th, 2017)

  • The game console has now been fully moved to the AIW2ModdingAndGUI project (source code aside), and has been re-skinned using our own graphics and text mesh pro.
    • This may not have seemed like a high-priority thing to do, and indeed it was not in and of itself, but it validates a particular GUI creation workflow that we now have, as well as providing a concrete example for that type of GUI.
      • Basically our existing GUI creation methodology is all based around xml creation of things and populating them certain ways.
      • But now we can also take an entire GUI canvas, create it in the WYSIWYG unity editor in the AIW2ModdingAndGUI project, and then wire it up in a completely traditional-for-UGUI fashion and after that let it be triggered from the dynamic GUI. These are even loaded using the existing "gui prefabs" logic that the xml-oriented GUI uses.
    • The end result is just as performant in both cases (and basically identical), and so mainly the question is of which approach is easier for a given piece of the GUI. There's no one right answer. Even the xml-oriented version is using prefabs that have a bunch of nested stuff, but this is just taking it to a completely other level of having the entire canvas/window populated.
      • At any rate, being able to do this now and having an example of how to do it was well worth the time in this particular build. It should open up options better for the upcoming GUI revisions.
  • A massively new way of drawing the "sprite gimbals" over squads in the game is finally complete.
    • We tried a variety of approaches, but for various reasons dynamic batching, instancing, and so forth all yielded subpar results when individual sprites were made up of often up to 6 sub-parts (main icon, border, flair, mark level, and health bar).
    • We're now baking the sprites into meshes prior to them ever being instanced, which cuts the graphics load of the gimbals to around a sixth of what they previously were.
    • That said, the sprites themselves still need to be instanced even after being baked, and to do that we need a single mesh for all the types for the most part. So we're hiding data in the uv2 and uv3 channels that let us know which instance properties to conditionally apply to which vertices, which in turn lets these things colorize themselves (via HSV shift) as needed. But since not everything needs to be colorized, our new ubershader for the baked group is now actually more efficient than before, making the savings more than a drop to 1/6th of the previous load from this source.
    • Performance improvements in this area might not seem like that big a deal, but on a GTX 1070 with 5k ships on the screen, the icons were approximately half of the visual load. Facepalm, right? So this has been a big priority.
    • The downside of the new approach would seemingly be that now these icons are harder to edit, though, if someone wants to mod. Bummer... except that it's just as easy as ever! :D
      • We've created editor tools in the AIW2ModdingAndGUI project that allowed us to merge meshes, set the uv2 and uv3 channels properly, and so on. You can re-bake the meshes as desired, and we can do so quite easily as well. You can't do it by xml anymore, but that's a pretty small thing.
  • Fixed a bug in the prior build where the gimbal icons no longer reacted to player mouse hovering or clicking.
    • This was because of the changes in the hierarchy of pieces of squad parts in the last version.
    • Thanks to TheVampire100 for reporting.
  • When you are placing ships/structures on the map, there's now a filled circle that shows the radius of the footprint that ship will take up. It then also shows the icon of the ship in white over where the footprint is.
  • Fixed an issue where the missile turret was not assigned its flair properly.
  • The game now automatically checks its models for missing materials, or materials not set up for instancing.
    • There were then a number of ships that we fixed that on so that they have instancing set up properly.
  • The font_size property now actually works on the new text labels in the game (not buttons or anything else presently).
  • The game now has icons for the various resources, which can be inserted into text with <sprite> tags from text mesh pro.
    • Unfortunately the process for getting those in there requires the creation of sprite dictionaries embedded in the main game Resources folder at the moment. We will likely alter that at a future time, but for now that's stuck.
    • The process for getting new sprites in there is pretty convoluted in general at the moment, to be honest, so that's again something we'll have to work on later. But it does work, and it does perform well!
  • Fixed a bug where "dfgdfg" would show briefly as the planet name in the prior build.
    • Thanks to BadgerBadger for reporting.
  • Updated to Amplify Shader Editor v1.0.005, which has a number of new features and some at least minor performance improvements.
  • Fixed an issue with the AI Warp Gates not having their mechanical parts rotating properly.
  • Put in some code to automatically tell us when our animators have messed up.
  • The game now has a nice fade-in effect whenever you're switching planets or in and out of the galaxy map, making things feel more polished.
  • Fixed a problem with the mod support where every dll had to define a type which implemented the IInitialSetupForDLL interface, and further required a specific naming convention for that type.
    • Now when loading a dll it looks at all types exported from it and runs the RunInitialSetup() of each IInitialSetupForDLL it finds.
    • If it doesn't find any, it won't mind.
    • Thanks to Draco18s for reporting.
  • The very low end of the camera zoom now has a few more gradations where it shows more of a side-facing view, and then the very lowest zoom level actually looks back UP slightly, allowing you to see tall ships and structures better, and in general get a little more cinematic of a view. This has no effect on the higher zooms.
    • Thanks to BadgerBadger for inspiring this change.

New Ships

  • Bonus Fleet Ships:
    • Vampire Claws
      • Cloaked melee ships that heal themselves when they do damage.
    • Vorticular Cutlasses
      • Melee ships that damage themselves when they do damage (when balanced, their dps will be much higher than vampire claws, for example).
    • EtherJet Tractors
      • Cloaked Jets with Tractors. What could go wrong?
  • Dire Guardians:
    • Dire Warp Beacon Guardian
      • The AI can always send waves to the planet this guardian is on, and if it is on alert this is likely to happen.
      • Not to be confused with the Dire Warp Bacon Guardian (despite internal typos to the contrary), partner-in-crime to the Pancake Golem.
    • Dire Commander Guardian
      • Increases reinforcements sent to the planet it is on.
      • Triggers waves (like a raid engine) while this is on alert.
    • Dire Shredder Guardian
      • Internally constructs and launches shredder drones (vicious little melee ships).
  • Guardians:
    • Vampire Guardian
      • Can be very hard to kill if you don't kill it quick, because of its ability to heal itself from doing damage.
    • Implosion Guardian
      • The Dire Implosion Guardian's little (and far more common) brother. They're a real pain in the rear if you're a golem...
  • Golems:
    • Seeded like Flagships, you find these, clear their planets, and claim/repair them to gain control of them.
    • Unlike flagships, these are rarer, claiming them costs AIP, and they don't have the quasi-Ark functions for building/repairing/etc. Instead, they're considerably more beastly than Flagships and some have unique abilities.
    • Armored Golem
      • Short-range brawler.
    • Artillery Golem
      • Long-range sieger.
    • Black Widow Golem
      • Massive paralyzing-tractor capacity, and does engine damage with its shots.
      • The "if you move while tractoring something, it moves with you" logic has also been implemented.
    • Regenerator Golem
      • Regenerates ships you lose on its planet, at the cost of some of its own health.
    • Cursed Golem
      • Has powerful fast-firing railcannon, but damages itself in proportion to the damage done.
    • Hive Golem
      • Internally constructs hive drones, which it launches in large groups against any threat on the planet.

Version 0.400 Usability and the GUI Pipeline

(Released June 6th, 2017)

Usability Improvements

  • Reorganized the bottom menu to better emphasize the function most people expect from the number keys in strategy games with real-time simulation. Namely: control groups.
    • So now the 1-9 buttons along the bottom of the screen are the control groups 1-9.
    • And the 10th button (button 0) is a "Menu" button that opens the master menu that used to be there.
      • Though that no longer has the "commands" sub-menu.
    • If you have a selection, the game shows the commands menu (as a bar instead of a stack) above the bottom bar, and the 0-9 keys map to that instead of control-groups/menu.
      • And backspace will cancel your selection (if you have no deeper foldouts), thus returning you to the bottom-bar context.
    • The upshot is that if you select your Ark, you'll see a "Build" button in the command bar at the bottom of the screen, among other things an Ark can do. Similar with other unit-producing things.
  • The buttons in the command menu (now shown whenever you have a selection) now are only visible if they can be executed with the current selection:
    • FRD only shows if there's a mobile military ship.
    • Scrap only shows if there's a non-Ark.
    • Build only shows if there's exactly one type of builder unit.
    • Hacking and Warheads only shows if there's the Ark.
  • Added some direct keybinds for the sake of near-term sanity:
    • P
      • Toggles pause.
    • B
      • Selects a builder unit on the planet and opens the build menu.
      • If a builder is already selected, selects the "next" builder, if any.
    • T
      • Opens the tech menu.
      • If tech menu is already open, closes all menus.
    • Escape
      • Opens the system menu (save/load).
      • If system menu is already open, closes all menus.
    • Space
      • Closes all menus.
    • You can change any of the above in your inputmappings file.

Visuals And Moddability

  • TextMesh Pro has now been integrated into the game (version 1.0.55.56.0b9). We have the paid version, but we're using the free version so that we can include it with the ModdingAndGUI project.
    • This lets us do a lot more advanced text rendering at no extra performance cost, as well as giving us basic functionality like proper kerning.
  • The first place we've set to using TMPro is the galaxy map, where now the text is both in a better font as well as a lot more readable.
    • The actual places where the fonts are set up for the galaxy map, and things are oriented around planets, is now also in the ModdingAndGUI project so that it can be edited by folks as desired.
  • Darkened all of the new skyboxes to fit with the new HDR rendering.
  • Made it far easier for people to edit skyboxes quickly, thanks to a new button in the header of the skybox editor.
  • The ruined network nodes now have proper graphics.
  • The advanced starship constructor now has proper graphics and animation now.
  • Dropdowns in the game are now actually fully skinned for the first time, making them consistent with the rest of the GUI.
    • They also use the TMPro text to show their text, making their text sharp, too.
    • Their scrolling speed is also finally reasonable when you use the mouse wheel, too.
  • The fortress and experimental fabricator now both have proper graphics implemented.
  • The sidebar is back, as well, even though it doesn't look great yet.

Misc

  • Fixed a bug where saves triggered in the save menu could happen while some changes to gamestate were still ongoing, leading to the data being saved in an inconsistent (and sometimes non-loadable) fashion.
    • Also added a warning message that will show if this particular corruption happens again, though it shouldn't be able to.
    • Thanks to BadgerBadger for the report and save.
  • Fixed a bug that could cause a hang in the mapgen logic.
    • Thanks to drspikes and BadgerBadger for reporting.
  • Fixed a bug where various internal tech-groupings were showing as selectable menus (ironically named "Not Shown").
    • Thanks to BadgerBadger for reporting.
  • When there is invalid data somewhere on trying to load a ship that does not exist, the game now does a better job telling you what the heck is happening. This would mainly be something helpful to modders and us devs.
  • Put in massive numbers of performance improvements in how the GUI interfaces with unity.
  • Put in a bunch of new error checking on the GUI side, so that if things are set up wrong at any point, it now yells instead of failing silently.
  • Tractor turret tractor-multiplier from 30 => 3.35, which is slightly more than enough for one squad of MkI tractors to indefinitely hold one cap (10 squads) of MkI fighters. Previously it could hold... more. A lot more.
    • Tractor effectiveness is also now reduced by the tractor turret "squad" taking losses.
  • Put in some logic to prevent minor gc allocs related to the galaxy map when you're not viewing the galaxy map.
  • Fixed a bug in the last couple of versions where ship animations were not always playing when there were a ton of ships on a planet.
    • Thanks to BadgerBadger for reporting.
  • Bunches of performance improvements have been made to the movements of squads and their icon gimbals.

Version 0.301 The New HDR Visual Stack

(Released May 30th, 2017)

  • Engine Damage Repair has been implemented.
    • Works similarly to hull/shield repair, but does not actually cost metal.
  • Changed balance_seconds_per_fight to 15 from 20, and balance_seconds_per_shot to 2 from 4, massively speeding up the feeling of combat from what it felt like in the prior version. It's now much more like what it was in past versions, without having such bullet spam in giant battles that there's a bunch of slowdown.
    • Thanks to BadgerBadger for reporting.
  • Fonts are now sharper in the GUI, although there's still room for improvement. Blurriness causing legibility problems is a definite issue to some extent still.
    • We've also updated the font on the small buttons at the bottom of the screen to be more readable, although we still want to update that even further in the future.
    • Thanks to Sounds and BadgerBadger for reporting.
  • New backgrounds for dropdowns.

HDR Graphics!

  • We had thought this wouldn't be possible with our visual style as recently as one version ago, but it turns out it is!
    • Also, prior to version 5.6 of unity, it literally wasn't possible at all, at least not without losing hardware MSAA support (which is the best sort of antialiasing available these days, and fastest).
  • The game now uses HDR graphics for the main camera, allowing for a better color range and fancier lighting effects, etc.
    • One of the most obvious examples is the way the rings on the end of the laser turrets glow very bright blue now, whereas before they would white out fast and so we had to keep them pretty non-bright.
  • We're using a new reflection cubemap against our scenes, and have tuned a ton of the materials to have better values to give themselves really high quality results without an over-blown specular highlight at certain angles to the main scene directional light.
    • Kinda related to this, we're doing new tonemapping now, which maps back down from HDR to the LDR range better, and helps give us a richer color without things having to be so darn glowy _everywhere_.
  • The bloom effects have been completely replaced with another set, which is able to use a lot more precision in what it does.

Known Issues

  • Thanks to the tonemapping, the backgrounds are presently too bright relative to the ships. We simply didn't have time to get to that, and didn't want to hold up the rest of this release over that.

AIW2ModdingAndGUI Capability Updates!

  • Since this unity postprocessing uber-stack is freely available, and even open source at that, we're now able to show you actually what ships would really look like in the real game when you are working in the AIW2ModdingAndGUI project.
    • This is enormously important in particular for being able to reliably set up the space nebula backgrounds, which have their characteristics altered some by the post-processing stack and which you need to be able to see in order to properly create them.
    • As part of this, we're no longer using Amplify Bloom or Beautify.
    • Also as part of this general work, we've updated all the various shaders and ship models and materials in the examples folder there.
  • To aid in background creation, as well as in general giving more examples of ships and how their shaders are used, there are a bunch of new ships that have been added to the example project: data center, lightning corvette, mlrs corvette, spider, and starship constructor.

Bugfixes

  • Fixed a bug in the improvements to shot staggering that caused divide-by-zero errors when the game was paused (because it actually runs zero-length frames during that time so the game can still respond to you).
    • Thanks to BadgerBadger for reporting.
  • Fixed a variety of errors that could happen with accidental extra calls to clean up objects (those extra calls are GOOD, since they often are coming from a few sources that need to double check things properly). This should also help performance minorly when objects are destroyed compared to pre-0.300 versions.
    • Thanks to BadgerBadger for reporting.
  • Fixed some bugs that could prevent shield repair.
    • Thanks to BadgerBadger for the report and save.
  • The sidebar is removed temporarily, since it was so busted anyway and overlapping things strangely.
    • Thanks to BadgerBadger for reporting some of the related issues it was having.
  • Fixed some bugs that caused the build menu buttons to collapse into a pile in the bottom-left of the screen.
    • Thanks to BadgerBadger for reporting.
  • Reworked the "Quit Game" button on the master menu to no longer be a "immediately chuck the gamestate into the grinder" function, but rather "tell the game that once it's done executing the current sim frame to close the gamestate". This avoids various race-condition null exceptions when quitting while the sim threads are going.
    • Thanks to BadgerBadger for reporting.
  • Improved the inter-cluster connection logic of Clusters to be much less likely to draw long connections that overlap other clusters.
    • Thanks to BadgerBadger for reporting.

Prior Release Notes

AI War 2:Earlier Than Early Alpha