As I write this, Alien Arena: Warriors Of Mars is drawing near completion.  Three months ago, began perhaps the most intensive personal investment I have ever made in this game.  I have spent tireless hours trying to hone, fine-tune, polish, and finish the project that began nearly four years ago in the Fall of 2013 – the complete overhaul, rebirth if you will, of a game that has been part of my life for nearly fifteen years now.  In April, I nervously applied for Steam Greenlight, and anxiously awaited, knowing full well the importance of the game getting on Steam if it were to continue on, and build(re-build) a vital playerbase, as well as create a potential financial support system for the developers who’ve put their blood, sweat, and tears into this game for so long.  Without Steam, there is little future for a PC game – it’s just the reality of the times we live in.  To be clear, there will remain a free version of Alien Arena, and the engine is open sourced.  The free version will not have all of the stats, achievements, leaderboards, etc that the Steam version has, and the Steam version will have quite a bit of additional maps and content.

We were Greenlit in just over two weeks…

Since then, the amount of work that has gone into the game to get it ready has been extraordinary.  Every single map was heavily polished.  The weapon and player animations were vastly expanded on.  The menus, skyboxes, various effects, all ramped up.  The Alien Arena of July seems vastly improved over the Alien Arena of April.  A great number of bugs were stomped out, as well as optimizations were made, and it just feels, looks, plays so much better than it did.  The very hardest thing for me to do is going to call it “done”.  I am constantly finding new ways to improve the game.  At some point however, I am going to have to, along with my fellow developers, make the call.

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It’s no secret that Quake Champions is coming…and that it’s going to be GREAT.  I have little doubt that it will succeed in reviving the genre of the Arena Shooter, and perhaps take it to a level never seen before.  The gaming world is a vastly different place than it was in the Quake 3 days, and while Quake 4 and Quake Live really missed the mark, I believe that QC will not…in fact…I’m counting on it.  The best thing for Alien Arena will be for Quake Champions to completely knock it out of the park.

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We are listening…watching…we want to see what people like, or don’t like about QC, and find our little niche, our angle, our hooks.  I think we have quite a few actually, aside from the price point being 1/5th of what QC will be.  For starters, Alien Arena runs much more smoothly on older hardware.  We have taken great care to create efficiency, as well as improve the fidelility without going overboard to the point where you have detail that is practically unnoticed in game situations, yet bogs down even a robust PC.  Make no mistake, we know we aren’t going to be quite on the same level of graphical splendor that the latest AAA titles are, but I feel it’s at least in the ballpark, and certainly the goal to paint a pretty picture without sacrificing too much performance has been met.

There has been a greater focus on duel – from the standpoint of the map selection.  The stock DM maps in Alien Arena(15 of them, btw!) have a duel-centric shift.  Small to medium sized maps with a lot of circular, vertical layouts where duelers won’t find themselves constantly hunting down their opponents are the bulk of the maps, though we did throw in some more sprawling affairs such as Dismal, Wasteland, and Neptune that make for some great FFA play.  Weapons have been balanced further, with a focus on making each weapon purposeful in the right hands.  Overall, Alien Arena’s weapons are more powerful than what you would see in say, Quake Live – making for faster, more frantic game-play that keeps you on the edge of your seat.  We didn’t forget team, or casual play either – and it all can be done offline against AI that has also been heavily addressed to play smarter, and more realistically.

(Martian Cyborg in DM-Turbo)

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Alien Arena’s maps have a wide variety of themes, all tied in to a central, singular storyline that permeates each and every location.  From hi-tech substations such as Turbo and Dismal, to demolished post-apocolyptic nightmares like Extermination, Annihilation, and Purgatory, to the barren deserts of Abyss Of Blood and Wasteland, Alien Arena covers the gamut, as well as adding in a good amount of horror and gore.

(Blood and guts litter the walls and floors of DM-Crucible)

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(Hi-tech hijinx in DM-Dynamo – and piranhas!)

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(Hell awaits in DM-Babel)

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(Desert canyons of DM-Wasteland)

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(No shortage of weird alien shit in DM-Deathray)

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So why Alien Arena?  Quake Champions is set to redefine the genre, and likely set a new bar of quality and exciting game play that will be tough for any game to measure up to.  Well…I think, I believe, that Alien Arena has a niche, a piece of the pie reserved for those who wish for something a little different, and something that is as previously mentioned, far less expensive and far less resource intensive.  Alien Arena has a real theme(and IMO the coolest of themes!), a real story, and it’s own unique weaponry that isn’t 100% married to the traditional Quake set.  Alien Arena adds interesting new dynamics to the game play, things that alter, no, make that enhance how players will control a map – such as the Minderaser weapon.  Alien Arena has vastly more stock content than any of the other recent aFPS games, and it literally has *hundreds* of 3rd party DLC to offer.  Alien Arena retains much of the genre’s purity, while bringing in new elements to make things more interesting than what was going on for the past decade or so in the aFPS world.

As I write this, we are targetting a Fall 2017 release.  There will be a beta in the next few weeks, that will be by invite(register at our forums).  The beta is likely to include a few different maps/types, and there will be servers set up at various locations with several different tickrates, and game modes.  This beta will serve as an opportunity, especially for those in the competitive scene, to get their input heard, and as in many cases in the past, implemented.

The journey, the complete revamping of this game over the past four years, is finally reaching the light at the end of the tunnel.  It has been one of the most exhausting, arduous, even grueling endeavors, but I can say it’s also been highly enjoyable!

 

 

 

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