Recently, when ideas for major new features for Airships have cropped up, I've taken to saying "that's a good idea for an expansion". Understandably, this has got some people concerned that the game's going to down the route of endless DLC.
I want to address those concerns here and describe what I mean by expansions as opposed to DLC.
I have an ambivalent relationship with Unity, the super-popular game development platform. In the local Zurich gamedev scene I'm pretty much "the guy that doesn't use Unity". Still, it's a good platform, and a rapidly improving one with good support and an active community, which means I will almost certainly use it to write my next major game after Airships.
Right now, though, I want to write about a worry I have about Unity: that it might be the cause of a "lost generation" of games that will be very hard to keep running on future platforms. In service of this claim I have an anecdote:
As the final major change in dev 7, I've been working on upgrading sailors' ability to move around outside ships.
So I'm just about finished with work on tracked landships. Compared to ones with legs, they're faster, sturdier, but less able to deal with rugged terrain.
I really like to come up with interesting aliens - both sentient ones as well as weird alien ecosystems. One idea that occurred to me a while ago is a planet where all macroscopic animal life is technically the same species.
It's the future. Humanity flies amongst the stars, part of a galactic society of thousands of sentient species. We're not special in any way. We're not important. We're not very well-known, and we sort of like it that way. Because if we're known for anything, it's for the damnable galactic plague that is cats.
The challenge with landships is that they require a much more detailed interaction between physical objects. Until now, the only interactions that mattered were collisions as well as buildings and grounded ships sitting motionless on the ground. Walking, on the other hand, is a pretty complex interplay of movements and forces, and so it's taken me a few weeks to adjust things properly. A partial list of considerations:
I've been thinking about a useful categorization of what online forums are for: discussion, support or action.
In a discussion forum, you try to figure out things about the world: ideas, problems, etc. For example, you might discuss whether squirrels are stealing everyone's TV remotes.
In a support forum, there is a community for providing emotional and practical support for coping with some problem. Say your TV remote keeps on vanishing, and having to buy new ones constantly is a pain.
Finally, in an action forum you seek to solve a problem. It might provide advice on pest control or squirrel repellent you can spray on your remote.
All of these types of forum are useful, but they have different standards of interaction. Lots of shouting arises when people disagree about what kind of forum they're in. Going into a support forum and arguing about whether remotes are really going missing, going into a discussion forum and accusing people of being awful for considering if people are simply misplacing their remotes, going into an action forum and wanting to argue fundamentals, etc.
A quick idea I've just had about ideology trees in Civ V: So in the late-ish game, you pick between one of three ideologies, Freedom, Order and Autocracy. You then get a bunch of policies you can unlock in your chosen ideology, but you're locked out of the others unless you switch ideology entirely, which is pretty painful.
So a vaguely fun thing could be that each ideology has two mid-level policies that lets you branch out into one of the other trees.
Two major events have happened in the world of indie game distribution this past week: Steam announced their new refund policy, and Bad Juju Games, operators of Desura, have declared bankruptcy. What do these shifts in the landscape mean for Airships, and for other indie games?
With the new lighting system in recent versions of Airships, the way to create new graphics for mods or reskins has changed. In this post, I'm going to go over how to make new graphics that fit in seamlessly with the existing ones and play well with the lighting system.
I've been trying out a new thing: streaming the development of Airships on twitch.tv. So far, I'm really enjoying it for a whole bunch of reasons: It's nice to interact with people. It's helpful to think out loud. And, uh, I can't procrastinate while I'm streaming. I can't exactly check my Twitter account every few minutes in front of everyone watching.
So it's pretty well documented by now that there are more women playing computer games than men. This goes against gut feel because "real" games are still defined as a specific subset where men still are in the majority: PC and console rather than mobile, "hardcore" rather than "casual".
Typical explanations include that women prefer these games because they're simpler, or less violent, etc. My hypothesis is that it's almost entirely because they're shorter, and womens' time is more fragmented.
In this post, I'm going to describe how I would large-scale mod Minecraft to make it better, especially for a more engaging and social multiplayer experience. This is a complete pie-in-the-sky thing, as it's probably far too complicated for me to create.
A quick story fragment based on this writing prompt. Trying out things with different character personalities and stuff.
I was told by my dentist that if I didn't start brushing my teeth properly, I would have none left by the time I was thirty. I'm pretty sure he was exaggerating wildly, putting on a show of concerned authority in his bright, clean office that nevertheless smelled of Dentist. But I let him get to me on purpose. Sometimes, fear is a much better motivator than reason.
I used to devour "Making Magic", the game design column written by Mark Rosewater, then lead designer of Magic: The Gathering. I never got into playing Magic itself, but I found the inside view of game design and balancing interesting nevertheless. Probably the most famous column is Timmy, Johnny and Spike, where he introduces three archetypal player profiles that the game caters to.
Airships isn't much like M:tG in its details, but there are certain similarities: it's a 1v1 game that is played in two distinct stages of preparation and combat. In Magic, the preparation is the deck building, whereas in Airships it's the ship design. Victory is secured by some combination of good preparation and being able to use your assets effectively. With that in mind, I think that Timmy, Johnny and Spike are applicable to my game. I'm going to first explain what each of these player types is about, and then how I'm working to accommodate the interests of each of them.
Airships 6.4 is out, incorporating observations and suggestions from the two festivals I recently presented the game at. This update concentrates on more spectacular graphics. Major changes include modules breaking apart into visible fragments and shots leaving trails and exhausts. Oh, and there is now a French translation, courtesy of the Airships community!
I just made this simplified chicken tagine-type thing for lunch, and it was really tasty, so here's the recipe for (mostly my own) reference.
No, I'm not adding a paintball mode to the game.
One of the major bits of feedback I got from showing my game at AMAZE Berlin last month was that there's a lot of potential for more spectacle in the game: more satisfying crashes and explosions and things whizzing past. We like large amounts of kinetic energy, don't we?
I've been playing Civ V again and thinking about alternate versions of the civilizations in the game. There's actually a whole lot to unpack about the Civilization series' idea of history, which is far more ideological than I think its creators realize. But for now, let's start with this: the game generally picks the era of history in which a country was at its most powerful or "iconic" as a basis.
Airships 6.3 adds lots of new decals to apply to your ships. The decal system's been around for a long time, but after the initial set of options for putting your coat of arms onto your ships, it got neglected for a while. As part of the push for increased prettyness, I added a whole bunch more, mostly inspired by real-life aerial decorations.
I spent the latter part of last week at A MAZE Berlin, an indie games festival. I had a really good time - met lots of new people, got to deepen my acquaintance with others, and met some Twitter people in the flesh for the first time.
(Click text to generate another one.)
I get a fair number of emails from online game stores, payment processors and bundles asking about becoming a distributor for Airships: Conquer the Skies. Fundamentally, I am always interested in expanding the game's reach, but here's some things to consider that will let you gauge if you're a good fit: