With the conquest multiplayer alpha on the way, my gaze now turns towards upgrading the conquest gameplay in general. If you recall, I did a big thing late last year where I asked players what they'd like to see in the finished game. Apart from conquest multiplayer, the most popular item was deeper conquest gameplay.
I'm implementing this on top of the changes I made to the game for multiplayer, which means you're going to have to wait for quite a while yet for this all to arrive, but then it will arrive all together in one glorious dev 10 update.
The first step I'm working on is the introduction of smaller towns. There's a big demand for bigger maps that take longer to play through. But instead of making a huge mosaic of dozens of empires, I'm instead keeping the number of empires the same and making them bigger. Each empire will start out with a capital city and three smaller towns (usually) surrounding it. By conquering towns, you can chip away at the might of other empires and increase your own.
So here we are, two months later, with the third instalment of the strategic multiplayer dev log. While Christmas and a busy January took their time, a lot of work has gone into making the details of conquest multiplayer work.
The setup GUI now works in the same way as resume, with a set of slots available to players. Any number of players can join in LAN and server-based MP mode, and players can also spectate.
This page was published entirely by accident, but I'm gonna leave it up. Enjoy some super-early Airships builds!
This page lists dev builds
for those who get to access them. Please do not redistribute the link or the builds. Feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org .
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This is my Global Game Jam 2018 entry on the theme "transmission". It's a short experimental piece of interactive fiction, where I tried to do A Thing with stories.
You are very, very hungover. An alien admiral urgently wants to talk to you. If only you remembered why.
Ludicious 2018 once more featured the Ludicious Unconference, organized and hosted by yours truly. Participants suggested topics, split up into discussion groups, and finally presented their results.
This is the third time I've done the unconference, and it's worked the best yet.
The first time, we had a lot of attendance and a good location, but a bunch of overly talkative academics wandered in from Davos and tried to turn the event into a seminar for their ideas. One of my favorite things about the unconference is that it's a hierarchically flat space - it doesn't matter if you are famous or new, you can propose topics and talk about them in the same way. They did not get that memo.
The second time, we were given the main conference hall of Ludicious, which is a lovely space, but it's huge and dark. We frankly felt lost. I think we had a decent attendance, but my memory is of the entire event camped out in one corner of the room.
This time, we had a good space, a decent number of attendants, and everyone participated in the right spirit. We had good conversations and ended up with six lovely handwritten posters summarizing things.
I definitely hope to do it again next year.
A game can either have an open world where the player can move freely, or a world that changes as the plot advances. If it has both, the player will miss out on most of the game's content. There are some approaches to deal with this, though...
So I've been thinking about the Skyrim Problem in RPGs.
In Skyrim, pretty much the first thing you find out is that big scary dragons have returned. And the main plot is about the return of these dragons. But there's also hundreds of side-quests you can do at your leisure. Indeed, once I stumbled into the nearest village after my dragon encounter, the first things that happened to me were a quest to deliver a ring, and a nice man who wanted to teach me all about smithing daggers.
But think about your character: would they at this point care about rings or taking up a career in smithing? Might not the whole dragon thing weigh a bit more heavily on their mind?
And indeed, you can play Skyrim like this, actually taking the dragon threat seriously, moving to warn and defend people as quickly as possible. This will also mean you skip most of the game. But you can also do all the side quests, and the dragons will wait politely as you learn how to make daggers or fix people's love lives, only arriving at the maximally plot-convenient time once you decide to take back up the main quest.
Now, some people don't mind this contradiction, but for me and a lot of others, it destroys my suspension of disbelief. It's a role-playing game, yet it wants me to play the role of a weird, endlessly distractable person whose dawdling somehow never matters.
Not all story-driven games are like this, though. Here are three ways to get around this:
Hey look, it's the traditional end of year post thingy!
As is also kind of traditional this year, let me start this off by saying that it was 1. a good year for me personally, and 2. a shitty year for the world. I didn't get negatively affected by Trump and Brexit because I'm far away from them in a bubble of privilege, but plenty of people I know and love have suffered because of them.
So what did I get up to?
A procedural generator for science-fictional planets. Source
So after the initial rapid success of getting conquest multiplayer to work, it was time to see how much the multiplayer really kept in sync. It looked like it was in sync, but not every small divergence would be visible, and those small divergences could spiral into larger ones.
Asteroid Storm is the first game I made and released to the public.
I found the original downloads and am re-releasing it on itch.io for posterity. You will need a classic Mac or install an emulator to get this game to run.
I'm embarking on an attempt to make multiplayer strategic conquest work in Airships.
First off, to be clear, this may well not work. I wrote the strategic conquest code without thought to making it multiplayer, which means I now need to try and refit it for this purpose. It's entirely possible that I can't get it to work consistently, or that performance or UX problems make the experience a terrible one.
Still, lots and lots of people insisted they really wanted this feature, especially cooperative strategic multiplayer, so I'm giving it a try. If, after a few weeks of work, things are still a complete mess, I will shelve the attempt.
I started working on this about three days ago, having formulated an approximate plan:
I recently implemented a combat replay system for Airships: Conquer the Skies. The motivation was to allow players to play back past fights to analyze them or simply enjoy the carnage. I also wanted to make it easier to create GIFs and gameplay videos.
The game uses lockstep multiplayer: the starting state is synced, and then only player commands are exchanged. The game state stays consistent between players because it's deterministic. This makes creating a recording system pretty straightforward: save the starting state and the commands issued, and the fight can be played back.
The cool thing about doing replays like this: because a replay is literally the same combat being played through again, the game can offer the player the option of re-inserting themselves at any time. This works by turning off the replay of stored commands, giving players control of their chosen side, and installing AIs in the opposite one. Which I think is a pretty neat and unique feature. Rewrite history! Could you have won that battle? What was it like from the other side? Would a different tactic have worked better?
EARTH BLOSSOM is a Ludum Dare 40 Compo game about an alien macro-organism on a course to devour Earth. It's inspired by Mushroom 11 and the Zerg.
v9.6 adds a new feature: combat replays. All fights you participate in are automatically recorded. You can play them back, analyzing them, or just glorying in explody victory.
tl;dr: Developers, revoke the Steam keys you supplied to Indie Game Stand!
I'm the developer of a game called Airships: Conquer the Skies. It can be bought through a bunch of platforms, including Steam, and, until it shut down earlier this year, Indie Game Stand.
Today marks the release of Airships dev 9.5. It adds a bunch of new monsters to the game, which is why I picked Halloween has the release date, of course.
To celebrate the release, I've also created a diverting quiz that lets you determine which in-game monster you most resemble. Moreover, if you tweet your monstrous identity and tag me in, you might get a free Airships steam key at the end of the week. (Note: This giveaway has now concluded and the recipients have been chosen.)
Ladies and gentlemen! It's time for the especial Airships: Conquer the Skies Halloween Quiz! Yes, a quiz! So beloved of teenage magazines and clickbait journalism!
And the question is -
I have gone through the vast amount of replies I got to my - intentionally provocatively-worded - question about the game's features. Unsurprisingly, not everyone wants the same thing. There seem to be roughly three groups: strategic conquest players, multiplayer players, and ship designers.
If I stopped development on Airships right now and called it done, what would you be most disappointed about?
Don't panic, I'm not doing that. But I want you to tell me what Airships with its potential fulfilled would look like to you.
On the basis of the questionnaire I sent around last week, the Airships multiplayer hours have been shifted to times that should suit more people. Also, I made a Discord bot to tell people when it happens.
Development on Airships has now progressed enough that I can tell you about my plans for getting to the release.