It's a fairly infamous question, and one that has writers give annoyed and unhelpful answers. There are notable exceptions, like this excellent essay by Neil Gaiman.
It's a question I just got asked for the first time, and to my surprise, I realized I have a fairly concrete answer.
At gamescom, probably the most frequently asked question about Airships was: "when is the final version going to be released?" I gave some quite long answers to that, and want to reproduce my reasoning here for everyone, and also write about what's on the roadmap for the game.
The last few years have seen a number of games attempting to reinvigorate the Space 4X game. They have all been disappointments. The trouble is that Master of Orion II still looms large. New games not only have to compete against it on their own merits. They have to be both better than MoO2 and at the same time deliver the exact same happy experience as remembered through a decades-old haze of nostalgia.
Space 4X games are stuck in a rut. Much as what used to be the case with Tolkien and Fantasy, or D&D and roleplaying, a single work looms large, and all other works have to define themselves in relation to it, either subverting or surpassing it, but always remaining deeply constrained by their genre.
I recently read A Mountain Walked, a compilation of modern writing based on HP Lovecraft. I quite enjoyed the stories. Then I read The Litany of Earth by Ruthanna Emrys, and re-evaluated the stories in the compilation: they were actually really, awfully shallow.
It occurred to me that Dumbledore's Army was basically a paramilitary student organization. In reality, those tend to be bad news. So here's a cynical alternate history, told through newspaper headlines. Any similarity to real-life events is blatant and intentional.
Since I'm heading to gamescom shortly, I decided to put out an early beta of Airships dev 9. You can access it by opting into the beta branch on Steam.
I've written a fair amount about what the monsters in Airships are going to be like, but not much about how they're going to fit into the game. So today I'm going to tell you about monster nests in conquest mode.
I am pleased to finally reveal that Airships: Conquer the Skies will be at gamescom this year, August 18 - 21.
Since Airships is still in Early Access, and because computers are complicated beasts, the game may not work correctly on your computer. This guide contains things to try to fix it on your own and known incompatibilities.
If you can't get the game to work, please do get in touch with me via email or Steam chat. If your computer meets the specs, I want the game to be able to run on it. Whether the problem is ultimately with your machine or with a bug in the game, I want to get to the bottom of things in all cases.
So, what was it like, drinking from the firehose? Less busy than I thought it would be - I only covered eight games, where I expected to do twenty. In part this was because a fair proportion of games were VR-only, but it was also a quiet day, as developers evidently decided that the start of the Steam summer sale was a bad time to launch.
What did I learn?
Many inhabitants wishing to get the tribute came back to the city. Only the time will show whether the main character will find the riches or he is fated to decorate one of the undercroft corners with his skeleton.
Ugly, uninspired, crashes constantly.
Plunge into court politics and change the course of history, or pursue a love affair that rocks the kingdom to its foundations!
I had fun playing as basically a male Anne Boleyn in a very Spain-inspired fantasy world.
Play as an anthropomorphic computer virus in prog.1, a thrilling 2D puzzle platformer set in a sci-fi world where scientists work feverishly to build the first fully artificial universe.
A punishingly hard platformer where everything crumbles beneath you. The jump controls are not very good, at least on keyboard. Some people probably like this challenge. For me, it just made my hands hurt.
A fast-paced arcade shooter breakfast-hell.
A completely absurd simple shooter that makes you laugh.
The epic RPG 7 Mages in the tradition of the greatest classics of the genre takes you around the magical island of Roven.
Play Legend of Grimrock 2 instead.
Who broke the agreement between good and evil?
Beautifully executed with an interesting story. Sadly, hidden object games leave me cold.
Purino Party takes one part puzzle game, and one part visual novel - romancing cute girls included - and combines them for a laid-back yet addictive gameplay experience!
Fun, light-hearted, kinda pervy. Ultimately just a match-3 game, but if you like those, you'll probably have fun.
The Island of Von Shalitz has long been known to be a place of evil and despair. You are the unfortunate last living heir to Von Shalitz's fortune or what some might consider a debt. Your inheritance encompasses the entire island and the mansion on the central plateau. A variety of beasts and horrors are rumored to haunt the land.
A badly put together mess with translucent horses. You stumble around and fail to kill zombies before getting humped to death by small wildlife.
Short version: For one day, on Thursday, 23. June, I will buy and play every single game released on Steam that day. I will stream myself playing. I will play each game for twenty minutes, and at the end of that time, I will render one of two verdicts: "keep" or "refund".
There are so many games being released every day that it's become pretty much impossible to keep track of them all. On the iOS app store, there's now something like 500 new games every day. Almost all of those will sink without a trace, unnoticed and unplayed.
On PC, things are not (yet?) that extreme. About 20 new games appear on Steam every day. But it's still too many for any one person to keep track of, enough so that perfectly good games might get lost because of chance.
Airships version 8.2 is out, with a massive list of improvements, such as aerial torpedoes, a prettier map, more interesting strategic conquest, and new translations. More on the details of some of these later - for now, enjoy the improved game.
"It's not you, it's me!" she whispered, urgently. I dropped to my knees and put my ear to her chest. She was right. The buzzing was coming from her heart, not mine, and it was stronger than I had thought. Not much time left.
Airships v8.2 will add a new weapon to your arsenal: aerial torpedoes. Each torpedo is almost a tiny airship by itself, with a steam-driven propeller and a suspendium chamber. And on impact, its explosive payload is so great as to punch even through the strongest armour.
Version 8.2 brings a large number of fixes, improvements, and balance changes. As such, I'm once again doing a beta for a few days, so you can try out the update and report any immediate problems. If you're up for it, you can download the beta from the downloads page, or opt into the Beta branch on Steam to get it. Let me know about any and all problems you encounter.
The biggest changes are a new Japanese translation provided by players, a 2x larger combat map, smarter AI in strategic mode, and a new weapon, the aerial torpedo.
(Update: Beta 2 is out, fixing a bug where the game crashed while intercepting a fleet, and adding a Chinese translation.)
I just came across the Kickstarter for Potions: A Curious Tale, a fantasy game with an emphasis on creative problem solving and experimenting with potion crafting. So pretty much this concept I wrote about nearly three years ago.
My point here is not that I think they "stole my idea". It is twofold: Potions: A Curious Tale looks like a cool game you might want to back and this is a great example of just how little a raw idea means in game development.
A while ago I listened to a podcast interview with one of the developers of Don't Starve. They were discussing the design of the Science Machine, the building that lets you discover new crafting recipes.