Just a thought here, what about a built-in IRC or other chat client that points to an official AI War chat server?
Obviously, it's easy enough for some of us to just download a client and point it to the right server, the right room, and begin chatting. And, the web site itself has a built-in chat client IIRC.
But these exist outside the game. This isn't the norm for most multiplayer games, which overwhelmingly provide built-in means to connect with other players.
It isn't abnormal for a new player to kind of scratch his head over this, it's abnormal to require players to do much work at all to find someone to play with.
Note that I'm not saying it's wrong
, or that AI War is fundamentally broken. But it is outside the norm. It is outside normal expectations. It is going to alienate a portion of your customers.
Having chat built directly into AI War will at least give a new player, who perhaps doesn't feel like trawling forums and installing software he might not normally use, a direct line to other players who want to play or at least discuss AI War live. The chat itself already functions as a matchmaking service. So put it in the game.
This especially goes double for the expectations that most players have (after at least a decade of video games providing their own in-built matchmaking) that the game provide a way to connect with
Not able to dedicate the dev time to coding and IRC client (or acquiring the code to do so)? Have a button within the game, that very clearly states "Find other AI War players!" and have it point to a very clear, very concise information page on the top two or three ways to find other players. Have it quickly explain why there's none of the matchmaking that we're used to, and the best way to find someone on their wavelength. Get them on their way with at least a little bit less of the trouble they have now: Sign up for yet another damned forum account. Download and figure out an IRC client. Read a freaking Wiki page. None of these things are fun. None of these things are what players want to do when they launch AI War.
Explain to the user that this is a game that requires around 10 hours of play per game, and to choose their fellow players wisely. Make it easier for them, and you'll offend fewer of the mostly silent majority/minority that the OP may or may not represent.
(Full disclosure: this is from someone who generally has no interest in multiplayer, but knows that multiplayer hookups in this game are an inescapable pain. These are my two pennies, take 'em or leave 'em.)
single player gamers that don't post on forums make up the majority userbase of very nearly every game ever made, I'd say it's best to assign resources accordingly.
This is also pretty true.