(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:
Version 6.3 is out, bringing many improvements to graphics and many bug fixes. I've covered the major items in previous blog posts, so I'm just going to let the changelog and screenshots speak for themselves:
As promised, today I'm going to write about the new modules that are coming in version 6.3, but first, some announcements:
If you are so inclined, you can now get Airships in exchange for bitcoin and dogecoin via coinplay.io. As with all other purchase options, this includes a Steam key.
Also, I will be at AMAZE Berlin, an independent videogames festival running from April 22 to April 25. Look out for the bearded guy with the Airships logo T-shirt.
So, to the modules.
I have given in to the lure of fanfic. Here's a take on what might happen eighty years after Bruce Wayne's death.
"It's simple. We kill the Botman."
Julia looked taken aback. She still wasn't used to Percival's rather... direct approach to problem-solving, but she had to admit he had a point.
"Well, it's not really killing, is it? More like shutting down." Play it cool, Julia.
"Decommissioning," Laura added.
Julia gave the floor a little sideways kick, sending her and the chair spinning. All the chairs in this place were upholstered with fancy leather and pointlessly high-backed. Sitting down was a squeaky and slightly mildewy embrace.
People clearly like the mod, as it's now up to about 350 subscribers and hit the Steam Workshop front page.
The major hindrance to making the mod bigger is that I'm a complete newb at Civ V modding. So far, all of the things I've introduced have been purely data-driven, just adding new rows to the list of pantheon beliefs, basically. But for a lot of the cooler effects I want to introduce, I'll have to dive into the game's scripting engine. Not sure when I'll get the time to do so, but we'll see how it goes.
Anyway, here's my future plans:
Around this time two years ago, I was working on a simple Java 2D game engine with swappable rendering implementations. It occurred to me that I needed to make a simple game to try it out and find its flaws in real-world use. Then I stumbled on Context-Free Patent Art, a wonderful collection of bad and creepy patent drawing. I decided to base my test game on bad patent art, and Patent Blaster was born.
A mod for Civilization V that introduces a bunch of religious elements inspired by HP Lovecraft. Right now, the mod simply adds some new pantheon beliefs which are powerful but have some drawback as well:
I've been at it again, playing Civ V and coming up with ideas for mods I'm probably never going to write. This time: hero units!
Each civilization in the game gets some special ability, one or two special unit types, and maybe a building or tile enhancement. This mod would also add an unique unit to each civ that can only be built once. This unit would be quite a bit stronger, but since there's only ever one of it, its presence doesn't massively unbalance play. Nor can it be upgraded. But when it dies, it produces a quantity of faith, culture or science that is its legacy.
I'm still working on Airships 6.3, and it's shaping up to be a very pretty update. Most recently, I've made particles and explosions look much better and am now replacing the simple low-res backgrounds with more detailed ones. Also, Airships has an official wiki now!
I previously wrote a post about a game jam format where you refine your game by re-making it repeatedly, halving the time allotted each time. People rightly pointed out that this would probably be horribly stressful. So here's an improved version, more of a prototyping technique than a jam format this time.
There was a Twitter discussion yesterday about a transphobic joke in the recent Obsidian game Pillars of Eternity. Here's is my attempt to convince you that transphobic details in fiction are a problem.
We interrupt our scheduled posting about landships to bring you some info about upcoming graphics improvements. Like a lot of software, Airships development runs on two rails: major changes and minor improvements. So while I'm working on adding landships for version 7, I'm also taking time to fix bugs and add polish to version 6.
There's been a lot of talk about alternate currencies recently, with Bitcoin, Dogecoin, Stellar and so on all jostling to be The Future. I would like to suggest an... alternate approach. It may strike you as odd at first, but hear me out: it has some truly fascinating dynamics.
I've previously written about the problem of rising complexity in strategy games. You manage a number of units (team members, cities, spaceships, etc.) that have some degree of complexity. As the game goes on, you need to acquire more units to succeed. But since the complexity of managing each of them stays the same, the game eventually slows down to a crawl. At the start, each detailed decision on each unit makes a meaningful difference, but by the endgame, only the aggregate of your decisions matters. So you have to either play suboptimally or spend a lot of time on boring micromanagement.
If you're a game developer, you've likely encountered these: emails from people claiming to be a Let's Player or representing a game news site, asking you for a review copy of your game. A lot of these are fake, but of course there are real ones too, which you really need to get the word out about your game.
Having separated out landships as a new kind of construction, it was time to start figuring out how to draw their wheels and legs.
I just got quoted in this article by 20 Minuten that argues Swiss game developers lack a certain grand vision to make it big. I'd like to expand on my quotes here, because I don't think the issue is exactly a lack of vision.
Having covered the kind of stompy war machines I want to make in the last blog post, let's get into how to implement them.
Landships? But the game, it's called, um...
I think we've pretty much established that feature development in this game runs on the basis of what I think is cool. Giant stompy war machines are cool, and a staple of Steampunk fiction.
Airships 6.2 is out, bringing you the following:
This is likely the final feature release for version 6, so there may be a 6.2.1 for bug fixes, but the next big one will be version 7 in a number of weeks. More on that in a future post.
The up-to-date development plan for Airships: Conquer the Skies.
Modern graphics cards are complicated beasts. Treat them right and they're extremely powerful, but use them badly and you produce a lot of heat to no great effect. They like to do things in big batches: give them thousands of polygons in one go, and they're fast, but send them information piecemeal and they'll spend most of their time on overhead.
So why do computers that can run Skyrim on high settings struggle with big fights in Airships, a mere 2D game? The problem is that there's so many small things to draw: each module, each tile, each individually rotated limb of a crew member. Until recently, the game did this in an utterly inefficient way.
Airships 6.1 is out! Improvements:
Next up will be work on performance improvements before starting on major new feature work for version 7.