Hi. We are Ivan (/u/IvanStorm/) and Amok (/u/DSent), brothers, self-styled game developers and long time redditors!

Some time ago we set out to make a multiplayer browser game inspired by Risk and Civilization. We had no prior game-making experience and it was as much a hobby as it was a serious project. Still, after 3 years we released it and even managed to get some people to play it. Things were going steadily uphill, with some 700+ people in game at peak times, when dark clouds appeared above the Silverlight (Microsoft's answer to Flash) platform we were using. Not willing to go down with that ship, we started working on the HTML5 version of the game. Two years later our efforts were validated by Google dropping Silverlight support in Chrome and even Microsoft abandoning it completely in Edge. We managed to finish the new version just in time and have now switched to it a couple of days ago.

In the last 5 years we both moved constantly, with 5 different countries between us, but always being connected through our project. There are still only the two of us working on atWar, with no backing from any sponsors or game companies. But we do have a highly dedicated player base (some of them have been with us for over 5 years!), who helped us to gradually polish the game and to translate it into 26 languages.

We both love Reddit and would be happy to contribute whatever we can, so ask us anything!

Here's the game itself: http://atwar-game.com. Play as Guest if you don't want to be bothered with registration :)

Proof


EDIT: An old disgruntled "fan" has been DDoS'ing us the whole day while we've been wondering if it's a Reddit hug :(

Here's the YouTube trailer, just in case the site's not working: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g039Xaykrp4

Comments: 478 • Responses: 62  • Date: 

Doctacosa110 karma

I love strategy games, but I can rarely get my schedule to line up with anybody else to play even short matches. I took a quick glance at the website but couldn't find an answer to this: does atWar support play-by-email, or something similar? What I have in mind is an option where I can input all of my moves, then leave the game and get notified by e-mail whenever my opponents have played and it's now time that I look at the board again? Or does the gameplay type not work with this idea?

The game looks interesting, in any case!

IvanStorm274 karma

We have a 'Casual' play mode, just for you. In lobby, switch to the Casual tab - games there have 12-48 hour turns, meaning you can login once a day, make your moves, then exit again. If you provide account e-mail, you'll be notified when a new turn begins.

thelordofcheese25 karma

That is some damn good design!

IvanStorm19 karma

Thanks!

twopizzasnofun2 karma

Do either of you guys play correspondence chess?

IvanStorm3 karma

Not really.

RedRedditDitto49 karma

Since this is an "ask-anything" type, I might aswell do just that.

What are some of the big things that are coming( with the exception of radio, map editor and stuff like that)?

IvanStorm49 karma

To be honest, we haven't really formulated a plan past perfecting the HTML5 version. That includes map editor, optimization and a polished mobile version. After that we'll see. I have a few pet projects I've been hoping to bring to the game one day, like cargo ships and buildings.

prometheuz0314 karma

is there anything stopping you from adding buildings into your game?

IvanStorm27 karma

Only the constant lack of time. Gotta attend to priority matters first.

mrlewischurches22 karma

Will the polished mobile version you refer to be something that will be available on the google play store or appstore? or will it be something that will only be accessed via browser on mobile?

Also, is there anything that can be done to improve the chat in the casual game mode? I don't know if anyone else has this issue but the messages from prior turns get removed.

IvanStorm28 karma

You can play on smartphones using a browser right now, though we haven't tested it much. We will create apps as well, for convenience.

We'll certainly look into the casual games chat, cheers!

vekstthebest20 karma

What are some updates you guys have planned?

Also wanted to say I love AtWar, I started playing it when it was called Afterwind sometime in 2011. You guys are awesome and keep up the work!

DSent13 karma

The new HTML5 version is still not as fully-featured as old Silverlight version, so our immediate plan is to add all the missing features (Map & Scenario editors). We would like to then concentrate on making the game fully compatible with touch devices, following by the release of the mobile apps. Then there is a huge, huge backlog of other features that come from our players' suggestions. In short, there's enough stuff for us to do for the next 5 years at least :)

vekstthebest4 karma

First, thanks for the response! I haven't played in a month or so, so I'm gonna go check out the HTML version. I logged in and got 30 free days of premium, so thanks for that :P

I also thought of another question, why'd you guys change the name to AtWar?

IvanStorm29 karma

Nobody new what "Afterwind" was and how it related to the game's type/theme. Some, especially Germans, got entirely wrong (read: fart-related) vibe from the title. "atWar" is a lot more descriptive and definitive.

goodnames67920 karma

Oh shit, hey guys! I was a player from the earliest days, though I had to make a new account in early Beta because I forgot my old password :p I went by HatTops (a play off of TopHats that I wound up keeping), though I disappeared a long time ago and nobody recognizes me anymore

So, I know a long time ago Afterwind was having issues with gaining popularity, specifically I remember that you guys tried hiring people to do marketing and they just kind of sucked. The only thing that really came of it was the name change (which I was never huge on but wasn't a big deal either way). How has the playerbase been growing? Are you considering trying to get someone to do marketing again?

IvanStorm19 karma

Hey! Welcome back :)

We're still struggling with gaining popularity, especially since we abandoned all promotion completely while working on HTML5. Now that it's out, we'll try to hire someone for marketing. Or just do it ourselves, though we kind of suck at it :)

Speedzor12 karma

Looks like you're doing a great job at marketing to me.

IvanStorm18 karma

Ha! Yesterday when I went to sleep the thread was at 60 points and most questions were from our own players (we posted about the AMA on the website). I was convinced that'd be the end of it. Today I woke up and couldn't believe my eyes :)

Hennns17 karma

This game is very similar to, and yet very different from, warligth.net Have you heard of it? (if yes, what's your thoughts on the different ways to make a strategy game)

IvanStorm17 karma

Yes, we know of it. But it's basically just Risk, isn't it? We wanted to make something a lot more complex and nuanced than classic Risk - by adding a lot more countries, cities, different units and free movement.

pooping_naked2 karma

But it's basically just Risk, isn't it?

Er...no? You guys didn't research it extensively?

IvanStorm17 karma

No, we didn't. That's just the impression I got from the 2 available free levels.

Jmanoftheworld16 karma

Yay on HTML5! We really appreciate you (finally) finishing it :)

I saw a while back that you are using Google analytics on your game. I am interested in the stats you guys get on your website. Would y'all care to share?

IvanStorm6 karma

I haven't actually looked at them for ages, since we also have our own analytic tools on the website. What kind of stats are you interested in?

Jmanoftheworld7 karma

I don't know what you might have... Unique (and not) visitors every day, What countries tend to play the game more, ect.

IvanStorm30 karma

2000-3000 unique visitors a day. 100-700 online players.

Top countries: USA (7182) Turkey (1795) United Kingdom (1686) France (1313) Canada (1173) Germany (974) Brazil (956) Italy (753) Serbia (518)

dirtyhabit11 karma

Have your servers gone down? I was just playing and it stopped now can't get on website :-(

IvanStorm9 karma

Looks like. Hopefully a temporary thing, I'll see if anything can be done. Probably not a "Reddit hug" though, we had way more players at peak times.

RedRedditDitto10 karma

When are you going to remove the SL version completely?

I'm not asking for an exact date, but an approximate time left before it's done. Because it has to be.

IvanStorm14 karma

Well, it's already not possible to create games there, so we'll just wait until the last casual game is finished and then pull the plug. After that, if the HTML5 map editor is still not ready, we'll only use the Silverlight version for map editing.

RedRedditDitto2 karma

And to add on that, are the maps going to sync with HTML5 soon? Testing is a real necessity :)

IvanStorm4 karma

Yep, working on it.

RedRedditDitto10 karma

Did you have any other game ideas before or/ and during atWar?

IvanStorm21 karma

atWar was our first game.

We also made a small recycling-themed game commissioned by a Finnish waste management company.

Jermo488 karma

Does Risk-like mean that no matter how smart you are, how well you play and how far ahead you are, you'll lose to the idiot no one finished off in Australia because of a long string of terrible dice rolls?

IvanStorm12 karma

No, it means a "world domination game". atWar relies much more on skills than luck. There's no way a beginner would be able to beat a highly experienced player.

SAGIII7 karma

Is itfree?

IvanStorm17 karma

It's free to play for as long as you like, with additional Premium features that you can purchase. We tried very carefully to avoid a pay-to-win situation though, so it's mostly just fluff, and shouldn't hinder your competitiveness.

Takowski3 karma

Haven't really looked into it as your servers are probably on a bigger stress than normal and I get kicked out of the tutorial, but what are these "upgrades" that you get a discount on if you are premium?

IvanStorm2 karma

You earn "Strategy points" (or SP) during the game - you can then use them to unlock various upgrades, like additional units and strategies, slight increase in unit stats and so on. If you enter your profile, you'll see an "Upgrades" link there.

normie576 karma

will the world map get updated? etc crimea is no longer part of ukraine or will it stay the same?

IvanStorm28 karma

There are many controversial borders that we have to deal with - like Kosovo, Palestine and Crimea. We prefer to stay out of political discourse with our game and just use UN's approved borders.

Juniuss6 karma

Is this a project you envision supporting yourselves financially in the future? How much has the game costed you so far?

IvanStorm13 karma

Yes, we do hope it would come to that. At the moment, we still have to rely on day jobs to support ourselves. The only costs were relatively minor server fees, some initial advertisement (about $400) and of course, years worth of work we put into it.

OH_NO_MR_BILL2 karma

Do you envision the one time fee for a lifetime subscription being enough to support you as your only income or do you plan on creating other ways to create revenue?

IvanStorm3 karma

It should be enough if we triple our player numbers - which, I believe, is quite doable.

OH_NO_MR_BILL2 karma

If you were to triple the number of players, would you need that amount of new players to be added each year to keep your revenue stream? I'm going to check out your game when I get to my computer, sounds like something I would really like.

IvanStorm2 karma

Well, steady player numbers means a certain amount of people joining and leaving. Few people play over a year, which I think is normal for a game like ours.

SteveNick5 karma

I very much enjoy Risk and Civilization. Over the years, I've searched for good platforms to play such games on, specifically Risk-like games. I've had some ok experiences but the places I've played have always come up short in some way or another. Be it bad interface, inactive/inconsistent player-base, etc. They fulfilled my temporary Risk needs, but didn't keep me coming back because they just weren't high enough quality games.

So, my question to you is, in the highly populated market of Risk crapware games that flood the Internet, what makes yours worth playing, other than the fact that it made frontpage Reddit?

IvanStorm12 karma

  • Our interface is not crap! :)
  • Player base is solid, especially the higher ranks. Some have been playing for 5 years.
  • It can be as casual or as deeply complex as you like it to be.
  • You can play quick 1-12 minute turns or 12-48 hour turns where you only need to login once a day.
  • We have thousands of player-created maps with their own unique units and scenarios.
  • The default map is real world map, with 200 countries and 500 cities.
  • We keep actively developing and polishing the game, as we've been doing for over 7 years already.

TheInquisitor10005 karma

Hey! You guys are amazing and I love your game! I've been looking for a game exactly like this forever and finally found it! I have two questions right now - I can't really pay for premium right now and would probably get a lifetime one.

  1. Is there any other option?
  2. Is the lifetime monthly, yearly, one time pay etc?

I want to create maps and start games on custom maps and all that other stuff... Thank you guys! Keep doing what you're doing, the game is great!

IvanStorm14 karma

  1. Well, you can play for free as long as you want. Some features are missing (like map editor), but definitely nothing game-breaking.
  2. Lifetime Premium is a one-time payment, after that you're subscribed for... lifetime :)

spectrumero5 karma

What motivated you to use Silverlight? IMHO the writing was already on the wall for Flash about when the time Silverlight came out - and Silverlight was worse (poorer multiplatform support than Flash), so personally I wouldn't have touched either of them with a six foot barge pole - but you must have had good reasons why you wanted to go down that route.

IvanStorm5 karma

Well, we started development over 7 years ago - back then it wasn't necessarily obvious that plugins were going to die out, and MS was pouring enormous amount of money and resources into SL, so it certainly seemed like a promising platform.

On the other hand, HTML5 was still in its infancy, with very patchy browser support. A lot of the invaluable JS framework we ended up using weren't available yet. If we went with HTML5 from the beginning, this would've been a very different game. SL allowed us to create something a lot more complex and polished. And I'm happy we have now managed to bring all that into HTML5.

mikolajkrupa3 karma

Reddit's Hug of Death? :(

IvanStorm2 karma

Possibly. Thought it looked more like a DDos attack. As much traffic as Reddit generates, that alone couldn't have caused the downtime.

RaptorNinja3 karma

Great to see you guys on here! Was a big fan back in the Afterwind days, and then a brief stint after the name change, but haven't been on in a long time. Just a busy time of my life. Going to load it back up.

I remember, back in the day, that large stacks could be blocked by a single unit. Despite the unrealistic nature of this, I know that I and a number of other players were a fan of the mechanic. What led you guys to change it?

IvanStorm4 karma

It was an interesting, but ultimately rather frustrating and confusing (to new players) mechanic, so we decided to get rid of it.

-TheLiberator-3 karma

Hey! Thanks for making this game, you got me and my buddies through high school back when it was still Afterwind! One question, if I log on today I notice that there seems to be less activity, is this true? If so, what do you attribute to the decrease in games/activity?

IvanStorm3 karma

We abandoned all marketing efforts during HTML5 development, which lasted longer than we anticipated (2 years!). Now we're hoping to pick up where we left off and go way beyond, since we no longer have to worry about certain platforms and devices not supporting Silverlight.

DeezNeezuts3 karma

Is Ukraine appropriately weak in this game?

IvanStorm4 karma

Financially, yes. But due to its population numbers it can provide quite a lot of troops (if you can afford them).

DaiVrath3 karma

I'm trying to access your site now, but it won't load. Are you experiencing server overload due to reddit notoriety?

IvanStorm3 karma

No, it appears there's a massive DDoS going on. We had them before, but the current timing is extremely unfortunate.

Beardedcap3 karma

Why would you invest all of that time into developing a browser based game? Is it just for the Money?

IvanStorm5 karma

Why do people create indie games? Sometimes just for fun, sometimes for money. For us, it's a bit of both.

lewwatt3 karma

Will there ever be a completely local client which works independently of the game's servers?

IvanStorm8 karma

No. We don't have a single-player mode or any kind of AI, so multiplayer is the only way you can play atWar. And that needs a permanent connection to the servers.

lewwatt3 karma

So there will never be an option to locally host? Thanks for answering so quickly!

IvanStorm5 karma

No, I'm afraid not.

DanishWonder3 karma

How is your game different than others such as www.conquerclub.com?

IvanStorm11 karma

I'm not that familiar with ConquerClub and Warlight and the likes, but from what I could see, they're just version of the classic Risk, where you have regions, pre-set paths connecting them and one type of troops.

We wanted to go way beyond that, with a realistic world map featuring 200 countries and 500 cities, dozens of different units (land/naval/air) and, most importantly, completely free movement - meaning you can move your troops to any point on the map. There's no grid and no pre-set paths. All this allows for a much more nuanced strategies and higher replayability.

syransea3 karma

Never played or heard of atWar.

I'm an avid RISK and Civilization player.

What similarities does your game share with Civilization? (Policies, city growth, population, etc.?)

What makes it different from standard RISK?

I read in one of your answers that you can move your troops anywhere... Does this mean I can attack Australia from Greenland? Or does it mean I can move my troops from Greenland to a territory I occupy in Australia? If its the former, I'm a bit confused of what strategy would work other than putting a ton of defense on everything. Maybe I'm thinking wrong?

I have been searching on Google for "strategy games like RISK" and "strategy games like Civilization" for a few months. Never stumbled across atWar. Might be a good idea to get some SEO done for you guys. (Or maybe I'm just terrible at searching! :])

Sorry for having so many questions. I'm just really interested. Can't wait to get home from my weekend away and check it out.

IvanStorm3 karma

Similarities with Civilization: different units and unit types (land/naval/air), economy (although the only resource is money), population, diplomacy. But overall it's all about battles and strategy.

Differences from Risk: instead of regions we have countries and cities, there are many different units and free unit movement.

Moving troops anywhere means to any point on the map. You're still restricted by the movement range.

Hmm, searching for "strategy games like RISK" give me atWar as the first result.

redmatter742 karma

How much is it like WarLight?

IvanStorm2 karma

I never played WarLight, but I assume it's much closer to Risk than our game.

Patricki2 karma

I've loved this game for years. I only play like once a month, but you guys rock! Had no idea this was such a small operation. Is there anywhere we can donate to compensate you for your efforts?

IvanStorm4 karma

Thanks! You can always buy extra ProtoCoins if you want to donate - preferably using the PayPal method.

s1fsad3f23cas232 karma

I'm curious if basically being forced to move from silverlight will influence your language/framework decisions going down the road? Will avoiding lock in/closed source be a large priority or a non factor?

IvanStorm1 karma

Well, since it's HTML5, we're basically limited to JS and its various frameworks - and most of them are open source. I don't think we'll specifically try to avoid closed source frameworks, though.

Noonecanfindmenow2 karma

Is there a way for spectators to watch the replay of the progress?

IvanStorm3 karma

That is something we really want to implement in the future, I think that'd be an awesome feature. The only reason we never got to it is we always had something more urgent to do.

keyboardsmoke2 karma

Do you think developing a game with WebGL and HTML5 is something you'd consider 'easier', with it's ease of testing, reloading, etc. or if the overhead of a browser too much sometimes?

I've always wanted to make a game, and even though I'm proficient with C++, it's... It just seems like altogether far too much.

Also I've always been curious about the programming to design phase (did you use a lot of "programmer art", placeholders and whatnot while you were looking for an artist, or were they with you from the beginning)

IvanStorm1 karma

I'd say it's easier, yes. The results are more immediate as there's no need to compile/relaunch every time. Simply reload the page and there it is.

We didn't have to wait for an artist, because one of us is a designer (me), so design was part of the development from the earliest stages.

Padalanbg2 karma

Do you have a Comp Science degree? Is it necessary to have a college degree to get into game developing?

IvanStorm5 karma

I have a degree in Graphics & Design from a small inconsequential Estonian college. I never had to show it to anyone and didn't feel like I learned anything useful there.

But especially in the field of web design your portfolio usually speaks louder than your degree. And if you work for a big company (which I never did) they might be interested in it as well.

But to answer your question - I think both of us are a proof that you don't need a college degree to get into game developing :)

LellowPages2 karma

I have played your game on and off since it was called Afterwind. The strategy is great and the feeling after winning a 3+ hour game is unrivaled. Thanks to your game, I can draw out a very accurate map of Europe.

My question is, why was it renamed to atWar? (I personally liked the old name more, had a better ring to it in conversation)

IvanStorm2 karma

Awesome, we were hoping people would improve their geography knowledge with our game!

I answered the name question elsewhere

Tall_LA_Bull2 karma

I just played my first game. Fun! Looking forward to exploring more of the game. My question:

How did you go about balancing starting countries against each other? Do you consider all territories on the map to be about equal as possessions, or are there some that are clearly better to start with than others?

IvanStorm3 karma

We didn't really balance the territories - instead we based income and reinforcement numbers on real-world GDP and population. We thought it would be an interesting thing to do and our players have fully embraced it.

So, there are countries that have a lot of reinforcements, but very little money to support them (most of Africa), or high income countries with few troops to buy (Scandinavia). We also have selectable strategies that can make good advantage of either.

pawofdoom2 karma

How do you differentiate yourself against other risk-esque online titles (you probably know the one I'm referring to)? Ps site is showing as down for me, maybe reddit'ed to death.

IvanStorm3 karma

I stated the differences in several other parts of the post. While the site is down you can check out the trailer to get some idea: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g039Xaykrp4

safarispiff1 karma

Hey guys, love your game. I have to ask though, why did you change the name from Afterwind? I houggt that was quite badass.
Also, do you play atWar? If so, what's your favourite strategy for certain things?

IvanStorm2 karma

On name change: https://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/3o4suo/we_are_developers_of_atwar_a_risklike_strategy/cvu2wjw

We don't play now, sadly, as we have to spend any spare time we have on improving game.

12iskYourLife1 karma

Will you implement a simple rank ladder system? :)

IvanStorm1 karma

You mean some kind a built-in tournament system? Yes, we're thinking about it, but don't know when we'll find time for it.

mysteriy1 karma

How much does hosting the servers cost you per month? Are you using AWS?

IvanStorm1 karma

The cost is about $200. We don't use AWS.

PointOfFingers3 karma

And that explains why it is not working. You should book bigger server time if you are talking about it on Reddit.

IvanStorm2 karma

We did have 700+ players online at peak times and the server was doing fine. Now it was only around 500, so I'm not sure if it's Reddit or something else.

greytemples1 karma

Hi, I don't actually play many games but I got hooked on Afterwind very early on. I was particularly blown away when you guys even implemented something I'd suggested in the user forum - marines on subs! Any plans to add any form of automation/scripting for ~robot players or even introduce AI players? Thanks!

IvanStorm3 karma

Hey, that was a good suggestion - now it's part of a crucial strategy for some people.

We're asked a lot about AI, and we might eventually do a limited version of it, but it would be distracting in a multiplayer game and not sophisticated enough in a single-player game.

By making the game so complex (and especially by adding free unit movement!) we pretty much destroyed any chances for an AI that could reasonably compete with human players. I'm sure it's possible, but not something we're willing to spend many months on.

haxx101 karma

Love the concept, I shall spam play it.

Where are you guys from?

IvanStorm1 karma

We're originally from Estonia, currently both living in the UK.

southernemt1 karma

Holy shit man. I started playing your game 2 years ago, during my freshman year. My roommates and I played it constantly but it kind of dropped off once we all moved out. What's changed in the game since then?

IvanStorm1 karma

Well, we switched to HTML5 - that's what we've been working during the past 2 years. Now that it's done and we'll finish polishing it, we can think of new features to introduce.

BamBamBob1 karma

Is this a pre-release or a finished version?

How do you make money from this game?

Looks good! I will try it out and hope to be able to supprt you.

IvanStorm1 karma

It's not a pre-release, but never it is ever a "finished version", since we're constantly working on improving it, as we have for 5 years since the initial release.

We sell Premium features - things like Map editor, additional game options and strategies and so on.

IloveAfterwind1 karma

Any idea when we are getting new mods, and who they might be?

IvanStorm1 karma

We're not planning to add new Mods at the moment.

RedRedditDitto1 karma

How often do you pull in a couple more?

IvanStorm1 karma

Whenever we feel like we don't have enough. Every half a year or so.

fluhx1 karma

How pissed were you when you had to recreate it?

I'd shit a dick if that happened...

IvanStorm3 karma

Let's just say there was quite a bit of swearing and bitter feelings towards Microsoft when they decided to stop developing Silverlight. After that the writing was on the wall, we just knew we had to migrate or go down, so there was no more swearing, just piles and piles of work to be done.

Sufferingandsandwich1 karma

Is there a reason why I noticed that the game has a soundtrack through youtube, but didn't find it in-game?

IvanStorm2 karma

Game music can be enabled in the options menu.

bparry1 karma

We're going through something similar with the silverlight phase out at the moment. How have you found redeveloping everything for html5? W're you able to salvage much of the work, or was it a complete redevelopment ? Any difficulties or sticking points with the changes?

I'm not actually one of the developers at my company, so I'm more just wondering what they have to look forward to in the next few months

IvanStorm2 karma

We did manage to salvage some work, luckily. We kept most of the game engine in .NET and compile it to JS with Saltarelle whenever necessary. The rest was mostly just gruelling manual conversion of C# code to JS and Silverlight interface to HTML.

I can't recall any sticking points, most of it went rather smoothly (if extremely prolonged) and we managed to find suitable replacement for all SL features.

mysteriy1 karma

How much revenue do you make per month from the premium features?

IvanStorm2 karma

$1000-$2000.

odinwp1 karma

How did you develop your UI? Borrowed from other games?

IvanStorm4 karma

I'm sure I was inspired by other interfaces when I was working on atWar's, but there was no direct borrowing. My main influence was actually website design, because that's the background I come from. I had no previous experience with designing game UI, so I treated it as I would a website layout :)

rampage951 karma

Any ideas on a mobile version coming?

IvanStorm2 karma

Well, it's here right now, just needs some polishing for a proper mobile-friendly experience. That's the next big thing planned.