At its core, the game is about designing airships and fighting with them. Ships are put together out of modules, and the layout of modules matters a great deal: everything on board is done by individual airsailors who need to run around, ferrying coal, ammunition, water and repair tools - and sometimes their fallen comrades.
You can command fleets of airships both against the computer and against other players across the Internet.
In addition, there is a single-player strategic mode, where you use your fleet to conquer city after city, unlocking new modules and bonuses with each of them.
The game has an authentic-ish system of heraldry where you can create your own coat of arms, and register it with the game forums as unique to you.
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.
Player profiles form a loose categorization system for different motivations and styles of play. Not everyone falls neatly into one category, and beyond the Timmy/Johnny/Spike system, there's a whole bunch of other categorizations that draw the lines in different places or are applicable to different kinds of game. TVTropes has a decent overview.
This player likes things big, and dramatic. Sure, winning is nice, but spectacular wins are so much more satisfying than subtle ones. This is the guy who wants to take you out with the really dramatic finishing move, or crush you with the giant battleship.
To Johnny, playing the game is a form of self-expression. What matters is cleverness and innovation. Sure, winning is nice, but winning in a clever way is so much more satisfying than doing it in an obvious fashion. He will try out the obtuse combos and weird tactics that take you by surprise.
Spike wants to win. He doesn't care how he does it. Tactics don't have to be clever, or exciting, they just have to work. He's the one who will happily kill you by using a perfectly executed punch 57 times in a row.
(Note of course that these archetypes apply to all genders - their names are male, and so I'm using "he" throughout for grammar reasons.)
What does Airships currently do to cater to each of those archetypes, and what future improvements can I make?
Big airships, big weapons, flamethrowers. Ramming! The most recent update, 6.4, was very much one for Timmy, adding more visual spectacle and visceral destruction. There's still a bunch of things I want to try out for increased spectacle:
The ship editor is Johnny's domain, of course. What makes a game like Airships work long-term is a wide variety of viable strategies: high-altitude snipers, rammers, boarders, swarms of grenade ships, etc. What matters for Johnny is adding new options that expand the space of interesting things to do.
This is trickier than it sounds, because each added option needs to be *situationally* dominant rather than *globally* dominant or inferior. If I add a new gun that's better in all situations than two existing weapons, I've actually shrunk the space of interesting designs. And if I add an option that's just not very good, well, it just clutters up the game's design.
So what's definitely planned for Johnny, apart from a continual search for interesting new weapon concepts?
Winning is what matters to Spike, and especially winning against other people. Airships has had online multiplayer for a long time now, but we haven't reached a critical mass of players where you can play a match when you want to. The multiplayer calendar sees the occasional flicker of activity, but it's kind of cumbersome. This may get better over time as more people discover the game, and old players revisit it at the time of major releases, but it's clear that Spike needs some love, in the form of:
All of these improvements are going to come in over time in the next three versions of the game or so. As you can see, I have a vast quantity of things I want to do with the game to make it more fun for players, as well as finishing up the list of large game features. So stay tuned, let me know your feedback and ideas, and fight me in multiplayer some time!
Highest Rated (2 agree) 10/10
Great game. I've been playing since Dev2 and it gets better each time. It's a steal for only $5. Reminds me of the Total War games with it's campaign map.
Apr 24 2014, 4:50pm by CanofSodaGames
Latest tweets from @zarkonnen_com
First dev stream was a success, and actually really productive. Will do again, and possibly regularly. :)
11hours 50mins ago
13hours 21mins ago
Idea: troll tumblr that badly inscribes the golden spiral into images that don't quite fit it, raves about mathematical beauty.
16hours 24mins ago
RT @TwoHeadlines: Google unveils Islamic State as operating system for Internet of Things
May 28 2015, 2:20pm
May 28 2015, 12:08pm
@bummzack Yep, that was it. Still need to reupload because of cropping error, but eh. :D (Game's old enough to run at fixed 1024x768.)
May 28 2015, 10:53am
@bummzack Ah, good to know. I'm re-exporting it to a standalone video and also just going to check back up on it in a bit. Thanks!
May 28 2015, 10:34am
@bummzack Ah, is that a thing? Maybe that's why then.
May 28 2015, 10:31am
Next attempt at AE video: got uploaded to YT at 360p. Let's try this again, shall we?
May 28 2015, 10:29am
@OStuffPlus You got it. :D
May 28 2015, 8:07am