I am happy to announce the upcoming DLC for Airships - Heroes & Villains:
I really like doing Secret Santa Jam, an online game jam where you are randomly assigned a giftee to make a game for. I think I might be too old and creaky for those high-intensity 48-hour jams now, but having a specific person to make a game for really works to get me focused on finishing a game, even if it takes weeks rather than days.
In previous years, I made Witchcraft, a non-violent game about being a helpful witch with a gigantic hat, and Corvus Sector, a 100-turn space 4X game. So perhaps I was setting the bar a bit high, because this year's game, Isle of Beasts, took a lot longer than planned.
Special eras are one of the features that I introduced in the co-op and conquest update in August. These work by temporarily changing the rules of the game, and may also have a victory condition, where an empire can be rewarded for ending the era early.
Like pretty much everything in the game, these are data-driven, so you can add new ones by modding. Here's how.
Here's a quick tutorial on how to mod a new city upgrade into Airships - a Workhouse, which increases city industry but also raises unrest.
Nearly all of the data in Airships: Conquer the Skies can be modded, and modders have created some excellent additions to the game. I want to encourage you to try modding too, so here is a detailed guide.
If you have any questions about modding, it's worth joining the Discord, where you can find helpful, seasoned modders. You can also contact me directly with any questions. If you get stuck, you can even send me the mod you're working on and ask me to help you.
To learn how to mod, you can read this guide, watch this video, or if you just need a starting point and are happy to explore on your own, here's the very very short version:
An in-depth guide to how modding works in Airships, and how to create a mod that adds a new module.
Plus a surprise feature.
A Mesopotamian Necromantic Cyberpunk visual prototype.
I am happy to announce August 16, 2022 as the definitive release date for the huge Co-op and Conquest update to Airships: Conquer the Skies.
As previously mentioned, I really enjoy the history blog ACOUP. One of the things it's brought up recently is the difference between strategy, operations, and tactics in war. I want to talk about these in terms of how they map onto computer games, including mine.
I recently - finally - played a bunch of Six Ages: Ride like the Wind. It's a storybook strategy game where you lead a tribe, and the spiritual sequel of the cult game King of Dragon Pass.
It's very much the kind of game I was aiming at with my jam games Annulus and Turtle Town, only realised in much more detail and sophistication. I really like it, but I do feel that it falls short of its potential in some ways, which I want to explore in this post.
This is an in-depth tutorial for newcomers to modding. We are going to make a simple mod that adds a new kind of enemy to spawn in strategic mode, a peasant uprising. You need no graphical skills for this one.
2021, second year of the pandemic. As usual, I've collected the various things I got up to this year for a retro post. Once I'd done that, I needed to process the results a bit. It doesn't feel like a year's worth. Maybe half a year. I am angry about the pandemic, about anti-vaxers, cruel politics, and the way I've scrunched up my life into a small thing to help stop the spread of the disease. I could write more on this, but it would just descend into screaming.
So... what have I been up to this year?
A rather verbose postmortem of my Ludum Dare 49 compo game, The Unstable Zone.
I'm now working on the AI for the upcoming diplomacy features. I've already implemented the diplomacy systems themselves: what war and peace mean, the ability to negotiate agreements and send ultimatums, and so on. But of course AI empires need to be able to interact with these systems: responding to players' diplomatic offers and making their own, and also conducting diplomacy between themselves.
Last weekend, I participated in the Stop Waiting For Godot Jam, organised by Terry Cavanagh. The aim of the jam was to try out Godot, an open-source game engine broadly similar to Unity. It's been making great strides over the past few years, and I've been meaning to check it out for a while. A lot of other people have also been stuck in this "I should check it out" state, hence the jam, which ended up with 299 entries.
I decided to make a colourful alien market from 2D pictures arranged in 3D space - a kind of "cardboard stage" aesthetic. Here's how it went.
I mentioned on Twitter that I wanted to write a post comparing Armageddon Empires, a 2007 post-apocalyptic strategy game, with Old World, a freshly released historical strategy game. I bought Old World (OW), tried to play it, and found myself pretty bored, and returned to Armageddon Empires (AE). Why?
Actually writing this post has been a bit of a mess, because I'm trying to extract some game design thoughts from what's ultimately a subjective experience.
I'm an avid reader of the blog A Collection of Unmitigated Pedantry (ACOUP), a blog about history, economics, material culture, and speculative fiction.
In a recent series of posts about the game Europa Universalis 4, he refers to the concept of interstate anarchy, a way of describing international relations as being about the need to acquire power to guarantee survival. He then references this when describing the situation of a West African ruler having to respond to the introduction of (improved) firearms by European traders:
Even a good-hearted West African ruler (and like all rulers, many were not so good-hearted) was strategically trapped; refuse to trade enslaved people for guns and you would be defeated and traded by those who did.
This connected to another thing I've been thinking about for a long time: alternate models of how the arrival of advanced aliens might look like. In general, the expectation has been either conquest or enlightenment, sometimes a mixture of the two. These tropes have calcified in our understanding and it can be hard to break out from them. And of course, stories about alien colonisers are often really about colonial history. The point of War of the Worlds was that the world's greatest colonial power at the time was being outmatched and colonised by a foreign force.
What if aliens did to Europe what Europe did to the rest of the world?
It's not as simple as an armed invasion.
I'm concerned about the quality of my tap water, and I don't really trust store-bought water either, so I'm trying to make properly fresh water in my kitchen by combining hydrogen and oxygen in a blender. It starts out OK at first, but then the blender explodes.
Has anyone had any luck making fresh water in their kitchen blender? What brand of blender would you recommend?
Well, looks like you all really enjoyed this years April fools for Airships, which introduced a set of in-game ads for a variety of strange and frightening products and services. While April 1 has passed, by popular request, the ads will resurface occasionally in loading screens.
If you missed them, here's all the ads, plus some commentary:
Airships: Conquer the Skies is now ad-supported, placing tasteful and unobtrusive ads in a variety of carefully chosen locations.
What a year. I just managed to wrangle my inbox down to zero, so it's time to attempt to write a retrospective. I did one in 2019, and I'm roughly following it to keep some continuity.
Obviously the big thing was - is - Covid. I didn't get it, and I don't personally know anyone who died from it, though a friend is suffering pretty badly from long Covid, that awful post-viral fatigue thing. Still, it's really changed our lives. We've been very careful to self-isolate, usually going beyond the rather insufficient government rules and recommendations. Switzerland is actually one of the worst-hit countries in the world - it's just small and so the total numbers aren't that big.
So a lot of staying inside, not seeing friends and family, not going on trips. I don't need to describe this, you've had the same experience.
Leaving the pandemic aside somewhat, what did I get up to?
I signed up to the Secret Santa Jam on an impulse. I attempted to do the last two Ludum Dare jams while at home, and it just didn't work. A game jam is kind of an altered state, and to get into that state, it helps when I'm in a different place, surrounded by other jammers. Sitting at home meant I couldn't get into it.
The idea of Secret Santa Jam is that you sign up and make a game for a specific other person who's signed up. It also lasts for a month rather than just days. Having someone specific to make a game for - and to disappoint if I didn't make one - helped me stay on task.