As the rather stuffy writer of the Bestiary states, "Pirates have their own crude tradition of flags and symbols." This is true in the real world as well, though I actually think that pirate flags are a rather fascinating topic. And given just how blood-drenched some real-world lords and knights were, I'd accord their heraldry the same amount of respect as I would a pirate flag. That is no actual respect at all, just a healthy dose of terror.
One of the new features coming in Airships dev 9 is the ability for empires to join into alliances if they're feeling threatened. This is so the end-game doesn't become a boring process of picking off weaker enemies. At higher difficulties, the AI will be quite proactive about these alliances, and the player will face increasingly united opposition on their way to victory.
But what coat of arms should these alliances have? They can't just use the arms of one of the participants and ignore the others. Conveniently, this question came up a lot with real-world heraldry, and as a result there's some pretty clear precedent on how two coats of arms can be best merged.
Rae and I came across Flag Stories, a pretty entertaining website doing various tallies and comparisons of national flags. One set of images was "averaged" flags for each of the continents - taking the layouts, colour schemes and symbols most common to the countries there. There was also a "World Flag" that took the most popular elements of them all, which ends up with a pretty but nondescript red-white-blue horizontal tricolor with a blue star.
Of course, that wouldn't really fly (ouch) as an actual flag of the world. It ends up looking very European, and not really representative of the planet as a whole. There recently was a very pretty proposal by Oskar Pernefeldt using seven interlocking circles on a blue background. Seven circles for seven seas and continents. It looks nice, but it does have two downsides: it's a pretty complex design geometrically, and the blue-and-white colour scheme might be too Western. Yes, you probably think blue and white is lovely, but they are Western and Christian colours. Other regions of the world might prefer green, or red.
So we decided to try our own hands at designing a world flag that would be very simple and more universal - and while we were at it, we also tried making one for the solar system as a whole.
I've been hard at work on Airships dev 6, and have now fixed upon a release date for it, and for Airships on Steam: February 25. So unless anything goes majorly wrong in the next two weeks, that's when you get the fancy new version of the game.
Speaking of fanciness, I did a short video of the new heraldry that's now in, with a whole bunch more layout and symbol options:
One of the nifty features of Airships is that you can create your own coat of arms. You can do this for your single-player empires, selecting a symbol (a charge) to give you a particular bonus. And you can design and register a coat of arms for your unique use in multiplayer. The system hasn't really changed since the initial release with the exception of a few added charges, but with dev 6 - the update of prettiness - I want to improve on what's there.
I always thought it'd be cool to be able to create your own coat of arms in a game. With Airships, this makes a fair amount of sense, as you play as one potential empire in a late-19th-century-esque setting.