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Rob Zacny

Episode 372: Chris Park and Arcen Games

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Three Moves Ahead 372:

 

Chris Park and Arcen Games
This week, Michael and Troy "Benevolent Dictator for Life" Goodfellow welcome Chris Park of Arcen Games back to the show. Arcen has recently posted their Kickstarter for AI War 2, followup to the original cult hit from 2009. Featuring asymmetric gameplay and unique strategy, AI War: Fleet Command was the first game to highlight Park's unique vision for gaming. Chris talks about the challenges Arcen has faced, the evolving game market, and what it means to make games with integrity. Also, be sure to stick around after the show for some brief announcements from the gang.

AI War 2, AI War: Fleet Command, A Valley Without Wind, Shattered Haven, In Case of Emergency, Release Raptor, Stars Beyond Reach


 

AI War 2 Design Doc

AI War 2 Kickstarter

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I couldn't get into AI War. I played just 1 full game of The Last Federation and couldn't start another. 

 

Yet I bought all expansions and some other Arcen games. Those are games I like to like. And I went and backed AI War 2. Good luck!

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I love AI War, and have just gone and backed this. I have only played one 'complete' game of AI War with my two net gaming buddies. It is in my view a serious contender for title of best strategy game. It's definitely the best Coop strategy game experience I have ever had. It took us about 25-30 (the sun came up on the last eve) hours to beat (two AIs one 6, one 7) and we ended up using the spire ending. Man it was tough a lot of intensive strategy debate and tactical gate raiding. I'm pretty pumped for the forth coming game, and hope the KS works out. For me the main hope is that a rich game can be had in a shorter period of time.

 

I've bought most of Arcens games, they tend to take abit to get into. The main ones I have played recently are Bionic Dues and Starward Rogue. Starward Rogue is really great, and its the first ARCEN game I have played that i really felt looked pretty, though I am not totally surprised that its struggled. Shup em up games do seem to be a niche audience and its a surprisingly difficult game. I can only beat the first level.

 

If i were writing the marketing material for AI2 I would basically sell it on the AI and try and blag that it is the single most sophisticated game AI ever to be pitched against petty man. This was essentially why I bought the first one, some places hyped the AI. I'm not sure whether the original AI had learning algorithms or anything but I always liked to imagine that it did because it made me feel smarter when we eventually beat it. I think the challenge for ARCEN in marketing has and probably always will be lifting up what makes their games completely different to everything else in a sea of by the numbers designs whilst assuring the player that the hand rails and visuals will be there.

 

 

I am pro an after dark episode per season.

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This episode, to me, is you guys at your very best. 3MA always soars when you are talking to intelligent games designers talking about the intelligent games they are making and asking intelligent questions. Please please please can you do this more often!! 

 

I admit Arcen games are fascinations I don't really play - 50 minutes in AI War back in 2011 is as far as I've got, but I've backed AI War 2 because I think it's a game that deserves to be made. I think that Stars beyond Reach was the one game they had that really piqued my

interest, I hope it sees the light of day at some point. 

 

As as for the end of episode stuff - I have no objection to an after dark episode once in a while. More interviews with maybe less well known indie efforts wouldn't go amiss either, as would follow up episodes for things like the Stellaris Henlein/Leviathans DLC update, or even XCOM2 post expansions. 

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I backed the AI War 2 kickstarter right after listening to this. I was scared off the first one, but had always been intrigued from a distance.

 

As far as feedback on the show in general, I have found that the episodes that have stuck with me the most are the ones where the team really digs into a genre from a comparative perspective. The "Why we hate 4X" discussion was a classic, and I still think about some other old favorites such as "Is RTS dying, or dead?"  I have been much less interested in some of the more recent "Here is an ancient game that may or may not have been interesting" episodes, but apparently it's the Patreon people asking for those, so I suppose there is nothing for it but to join the Patreon and start voting myself.

 

After Dark was great as well -- record as many of those as you like.

 

I would absolutely love more talk about board wargames. I have become a big fan of Bruce Geryk's own wargame podcast, Wild Weasel, and one of my favorite episodes in memory was when you guys talking about the time you got together and played Fire on the Lake and The Triumph and the Tragedy. I signed up for the P500 reprint of that one!

 

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I'm fine with After Dark episodes; game-specific episodes are interesting, topic-specific episodes can be even more so, but there are plenty of interesting things for 3MA to cover that don't fill out an hour.

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Already happy to say I enjoyed the "afterdark" episode, and would like it repeated (maybe once every 2-3 months). Generally, I like the variety of 3MA, a game review one week, an analysis of a broader game theme the next, Bruce talking board games or meeting a designer, drop in the occasional paradox love-in and a classic game analysis + the wide range of panelists, regular and irregular = great podcast. 

 

Also, I am a bit surprised at how little research you do on your audience, who we are, what we like etc. Such research might be quite interesting (and surprising) to you in terms of where you focus your limited time and funds for the show in the future. As an aside I'd be fascinated to find out who listens to the podcast. Also, whilst I'm not suggesting you try to aggressively monetise your listener base, you did try inviting adverts a while back as a revenue stream, a more detailed understanding of who your audience is might help with this.

 

Also, for the record, I have no issue with your plosives.

 

K

 

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I'd rather not have too many After Dark episodes, though I enjoyed it. I think I have a good reason for wanting this. The premise of the After Dark podcast was to gather topics too small for their own episode and deal with them. These fragment topics had built up over time and 'proven' themselves to not be full episode material. If the After Dark episodes become more frequent, I think that it'll 'use up' some topics that would have matured into full episode topics in a few more months or a year or so, and those topics probably won't be revisited since it'd be too repetitive.

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I've always stayed away from AI War but I was also convinced to back the kickstarter after hearing this episode. The design goals of streamlining the experience and making it easier to learn makes me want to see what this game looks like. Arcen is so interesting but I haven't fallen for any of their games yet, usually because they just don't feel quite done. Maybe polished sequels is the thing they've been missing for me all along?

 

Here's one more vote for the occasional after dark episode. I loved it but i don't know if doing it more often than every few weeks or months would take away too much from what makes the show so great right now. 

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The notification system Chris was blueskying about actually does exist- 'DriveThruRPG' and its related sites are using it. If you buy a product from any publisher, you're added to a list and they can send you emails. But you can also control this on a sender-by-sender basis- whether you receive emails from that publisher and whether they can see your name and address on publisher reports. Each message comes with a header line like "A message from $PUBLISHER via DriveThruRPG.com. (stop receiving $PUBLISHER messages.) Why did I get this email?".  So it can be done, you just need to find an engineer at Steam who thinks it's a good idea :)

 

I also don't mind the occasional AD or "survey" episode. I think there are a lot of topics that maybe don't warrant a whole show, and an occasional 10,000-ft view of the lay of the land is interesting of itself.

 

One show I'd like to hear is a survey of naval wargames- that came up briefly in the AD episode. The designer of Rule the Waves is starting on RTW2 so he might be fun to talk to.

 

I haven't yet, but I probably will back AIW 2- I bounced off of AI War myself, but it feels like my fault rather than the game's; I just wasn't ready to put the effort into learning it, and as I've gotten older I've been losing interest in anything in the RTS space. I played the bejeezus out of the Warcrafts and Age of * games, but lately they don't work for me. I'm hoping AIW 2 can fix that for me.

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Chris's last kickstarter update was an admission that the kickstarter for AI War 2 is, unless a lot of people suddenly get very interested, going to fail. However I would still pledge as it'll give Arcen a good idea of how many people are interested and reformulate their plans accordingly. 

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Sooooo, after your little discussion at the end of this episode about the irregularity of episodes over the summer and that everything is 'back on track'....... we're still waiting for the next episode? It's been a couple of weeks now - Civ VI has come and gone in that time :blink:

 

Or is my podcast app not working? 

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On 11/5/2016 at 2:39 AM, Sorbicol said:

Sooooo, after your little discussion at the end of this episode about the irregularity of episodes over the summer and that everything is 'back on track'....... we're still waiting for the next episode? It's been a couple of weeks now - Civ VI has come and gone in that time :blink:

 

Or is my podcast app not working? 

 

Sorry, I didn't see this until now. But the day after you posted we got our Endless show up, and Civ VI will be posted tonight or tomorrow. Not everyone had an early access review code for it and we wanted to make sure all the panelists had enough time with it. We have another show coming in this weekend, so we're back on track.

 

1 hour ago, riadsala said:

I really enjoyed this episode. And as always, Michael is an excellent host/panelist.

 

Thanks!

---

To all: thanks for all the feedback on everything. I check these boards regularly and we do read all the posts even if we don't always reply. 

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Ha thanks Michael. I have to say I enjoyed the Amplitude episode just as much as this episode. If you can keep that up then please take as long as you need! 

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18 hours ago, Sorbicol said:

If you can keep that up then please take as long as you need! 

 

 

+1 for quality over quantity. There are more than enough podcasts out there, so I'm never short of anything to listen to.

 

Did you guys ever play that co-op game of AI War? You know, while I'm not a fan of watching streams/youtubes of computer games (I'd rather just play a game myself!), that would be one I'd be interested in watching. :)

 

Sad to see the AI War 2 kickstarter fail. I think I'll return to the first game over the holidays and play it a bit more. Certainly a classic, and it would be great to see a remake/sequel that tidies it up a bit

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I hope the AI War Kickstarter can charge more for the base game next time. Otherwise, it's a tough position to be in when your audience is a small number of cheapskates. ;)

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