The latest Humble Weekly Sale may not be the prettiest you'll ever see. It is, however, one of the more strategically interesting selections of variably priced gaming that the bundle wizards have squished together so far. It features Arcen Games, prolific developers of games such as guerilla RTS AI War, Populous like peace-'em-up Skyward Collapse, and side-scrolling city builder A Valley Without Wind. Basically, they're the jazz fusion of genre mixing.
By my count, over 13,400 bundles are running at this moment. And now, just as one Indie Royale ends, another springs up to replace it. Maybe this is it: bundles in perpetuity. A constant stream of cheap indie games being thrown at us for the rest of eternity.
This Arclight bundle does make the idea seem palatable. It's a near-complete collection from developer Arcen Games, including the beta for the upcoming AI War expansion, Vengeance of the Machine.
Previous details on Skyward Collapse, the turn-based god game from AI War developer Arcen, had suggested a mostly peacekeeping role for your deity. Not so, according to this first trailer. Your job is to keep both the island's factions alive, seemingly by escalating the conflict just enough that neither side can gain the other hand. A sort of mutually assured non-destruction.
Arcen Games, creators of AI War and A Valley Without Wind, have announced their next game, Skyward Collapse. It's a strategy collision, incorporating elements of turn-based 4X, god games and simulation. Rather than a vengeful deity of elemental destruction, you play a hovering peacekeeper, attempting to persuade the inhabitants of the floating island you watch over to stop smacking each other with sticks.
Look at that picture. Look at the lasers! That's AI War, a massive, cerebral 4X space strategy wargame about building thousands of robots and waging war on super smart AI enemies. The upcoming Ancient Shadows update will reduce that chaos and let you roll with a monstrous starship that can gain experience and level up as it obliterates all incoming enemies.
Let's let Erik of Arcen Games explain: "With the Ancient Shadows expansion, you can now set a player to the "Champion" role and instead of a home command station and all the usual stuff a player starts with they get a singe modular ship. But what a ship. At the beginning it's basically a super-starship that's pretty powerful but nothing world-shattering. But it can gain experience, and with experience it can upgrade modules."
Earlier this month Chris Park revealed that his company could be bankrupt by November. His company is Arcen Games, the developer of popular space strategy game AI War. Despite that game's excellence, it wasn't a surprise to find he was struggling: most indie games developers do.
Prompted by the tale of trouble on his site, I sent him an email asking for more information. What are the costs involved in independent game development? What are the profits of a game like AI War? Chris was willing to talk numbers - something no developer ever does - and he kindly replied with a breakdown of the profits and costs of AI War and his latest game Tidalis. I'm reprinting his email in full below with permission.
This is review appeared in PC Gamer UK 206, which was like a million years ago. We're putting it online because Arcen Games are dying of no money disease, and you need to know how good their game is. It's only got better in the year since we reviewed it.
The difficult thing is trying to describe what AI War actually is. It’s an RTS with turnbased combat. It’s tower defence with spaceships and wormholes. It’s galactic conquest where the silliest thing you can do is try to conquer everything. It’s a skirmish game where the AI has no interest in pretending it’s a human player.
There are a lot of indie gaming success stories, but for every World of Goo, Minecraft, or Garry's Mod, there are a lot of small companies that struggle to make a living from their games. Chris Park, developer of space strategy AI War, is one of them. He's just revealed that Arcen Games will be out of money by November unless things change. Maybe you can help? More info and a trailer about Arcen and their 86% rated (in PC Gamer Issue 205) game below.