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A real-time strategy game where you design airships and then fight with them. The aim is to have pretty chaotic explodey fights and interesting ship design choices.

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Purchase includes future versions up to 1.0!


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.

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Airsailor Portrait Airships 6.3 Airships 6.3
Blog RSS Feed Report abuse Latest News: Timmy, Johnny, Spike

4 comments by Zarkonnen on May 24th, 2015

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.

Timmy


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.

Johnny


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


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?

Timmy


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:

  • Temporarily panning the camera for particularly large explosions.
  • Adding crew portraits to the shouts so you can see their faces, lit up by fire, screaming dramatically.
  • Better and more varied audio for all things smashy and explodey.

Johnny


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?

  • Landships: Not as flexible as airships, but cheaper and a bit more durable.
  • Most likely, small auxillary craft. This is a concept that's been worked out in some detail by people on the forum, and I think it's a good one.
  • Diesel engines: More powerful, easier to operate, but more flammable and expensive.

Spike


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:

  • Tournaments! Players are self-organizing one at the moment, but it's something I want to build support into the game for.
  • Relatedly, a ranking system where players can compete for the top spot by winning multiplayer fights.
  • Practical improvements to the multiplayer calendar like being told further in advance that you have an upcoming match, and the ability to opt in to being told that there's an unmatched slot available in the near future.

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!

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Post comment Comments  (0 - 10 of 60)
martyra2j
martyra2j Mar 14 2015, 10:40pm says:

I did a Let's Play/First impressions on this game! Come check it out if ya like!
Big thanks to the developer for this great game!
Hope you enjoy.
Youtu.be

+2 votes     reply to comment
SkyBreack
SkyBreack Feb 3 2015, 7:26am says:

Wow! what a nice and original idea. Looks very fun! follow! =D

+1 vote     reply to comment
Zillvr
Zillvr Feb 2 2015, 8:22am says:

Looks like a whole lot of fun...and chaos. Definitely tracking this!

+2 votes     reply to comment
TheManWhoFlewAway Jan 4 2015, 11:52am says:

Great idea - keeping an eye on this :)

+1 vote     reply to comment
DonleyTimeFoundation
DonleyTimeFoundation Nov 23 2014, 6:19pm says:

I love this game soooo much! HAHAHAH!

-Tim

+3 votes     reply to comment
Propagandawar
Propagandawar Oct 31 2014, 5:33pm says:

Are you planning on adding a map for Multiplayer? I have friends getting the game. Although it looks like they are waiting for another option besides paypal to pay with. .

+1 vote     reply to comment
Zarkonnen Creator
Zarkonnen Nov 3 2014, 9:59am replied:

The issue with making a MP map is that combats and strategy work at different timescales, so you'd spend a lot of time waiting for other peoples' fights. Not sure how to fix that.

Re: PayPal - what kind of payment method would they like? I totally understand that it's not exactly everyone's first choice. Am up for anything, including stuffing money into an envelope. :P

+4 votes   reply to comment
Propagandawar
Propagandawar Oct 27 2014, 1:19pm says:

I purchased the game this weekend (Plan to get it for a friend as well beings he is having paypal issues). The games a blast. Having tons of fun with it. I did go to register in hopes that it opens Multiplayer and auto-updates but it was giving me issues entering my email last night.

Can you add a kitchen? It seems like something the ship should have in it to feed your air sailors.

Thank you for such a fun game.

+1 vote     reply to comment
jroi_bautista
jroi_bautista Oct 6 2014, 3:16pm says:

nice updates! Wow its been a while since i checked this game. Wonder how do you guys made it. Do you go to a college of video game developing or did you figured this one out on your own? Someday im gonna be a great developer! hahahaha

+1 vote     reply to comment
Zarkonnen Creator
Zarkonnen Oct 10 2014, 2:43am replied:

I studied computer science at uni, so not game development specifically. :) If you're interested, have a look at an early version of the game's code here: Github.com

+2 votes   reply to comment
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Airships
Platforms
Windows, Mac, Linux
Developed By
Zarkonnen
Engine
Custom Built
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Official Page
Zarkonnen.com
Release Date
Released Mar 24, 2014
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Community Rating

Average

8.4

19 votes submitted.

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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

Style
Genre
Real Time Strategy
Theme
Fantasy
Players
Single & Multiplayer
Project
Indie
Twitter

Latest tweets from @zarkonnen_com

First dev stream was a success, and actually really productive. Will do again, and possibly regularly. :)

11hours 50mins ago

Just starting to stream Airships development on @Twitch - let's see how that goes! T.co T.co

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

Finally, a somewhat improved video about Armageddon Empires: T.co @ghiro @Bug_tea

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

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