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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.


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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Sails Airship Barracks Captured Airship
Blog RSS Feed Report abuse Latest News: Dev Blog: Boarding 2: The Boardening

4 comments by Zarkonnen on Sep 9th, 2014

Last time, I got to the point where air marines could teleport over to an enemy ship and fight the crew there. This disrupts the enemy ship's operations, with marines killing crew who would otherwise be busy firing at your ships. But marines should also be able to take over ships with enough effort. This was the next thing to implement.

Because airships are complex entities with a lot of internal structure, a takeover can be ambiguous: Imagine you're an air sailor operating a propeller somewhere in the ship. You can hear that there is fighting elsewhere, and after a while you get an order barked down the speaking tube by an unfamiliar voice: you are to turn the ship around. Do you obey? Seconds later, there is another, more familiar voice rescinding this order, the sound of gunfire in the background...

So crew will be at least somewhat aware of what's going on on their ship, and are unlikely to cooperate fully with any occupiers. Still, for practical purposes, there has to be a point at which the ship moves from one side to the other. So a ship will switch sides if its bridge(s) contain no (living) crew and at least one (living) invading marine. The original crew of a captured ship will only perform duties from self-preservation: they will operate suspendium chambers to keep the ship from crashing, and they will put out fires. Everything else will have to be handled by the invaders.

To effect this takeover, air marines will converge on the ship bridge(s) once they've run out of important strategic points to disable. The combat code continually checks the requirements for a side switch and executes it when possible. You can also recapture your own ship, and the crew will stop being in "occupied" mode and resume their normal range of activities.

Once I got that all working, it was time to tackle the other half of boarding: the process of actually moving from one ship to another, replacing the stand-in "teleporter" I'd been using so far.

Boarding an enemy ship happens in the following phases:

  1. Upon receiving the command to board, marines inside a ship move to a place where they can exit - a hatch or a hull breach.
  2. Arriving there, they leave the ship, which means they are now treated as a separate entity by the game.
  3. Next, they move along the outside of the ship to a place where they can safely cross over - jump - to the target ship.
  4. A mad leap across the open air follows!
  5. Having arrived on the other ship, they move along the outside of the target ship to the nearest entrance - again a hatch or hull breach.
  6. Finally, they enter the target ship as boarders, and the boarding combat code I've already written kicks in.

To get there, crewmen (marines) need to be able to exist outside an airship. As previously mentioned, crew normally exist on their ship's coordinate grid, which of course stops working when they leave.

To start, I introduced a new list of outside crew members. I decided to treat them differently from normal physics objects like ships and floating rocks, as they are able to move along the side of them, overlapping. Their simplified physics mean that they can move and fall down, but if they collide with a ship or rock, they hold on instead of bouncing off.

The exception to this is the ground, which they should not overlap with. Since there is only ever one ground object, I was able to solve this fairly simply: when an overlap with the ground is detected, the game moves the crew member back along his trajectory to neatly leave him outside of the ground. This would be harder to do if crew needed to be moved back out of multiple things. For example, if crew were also shifted out of airships, an airship squashing a crew member against the ground would pose a problem: he could not be moved out of the way of both of the ship and the ground at the same time.

Once I got this basic physics to work, I added a visual layer for displaying the external crew members and got started on the functionality for entering and exiting ships. To start, I ignored the planned restrictions that crew could only move through hatches or hull breaches and just... sort of let them phase through walls. One step up from teleportation, anyway. The actual code for making the switch was mostly a lot of bookkeeping - unregistering the crew member in one place and adding them in the other, translating in-ship coordinates to global ones.

The first time I tried out the code by giving the boarding order it turned out that I had forgotten one small thing: only marines should exit the ship for boarding purposes. Instead I got everyone shifted to the outside - in the wrong place too - with rather unfortunate consequences for the ship that suddenly found itself without a crew to operate it!

Having fixed this up, I had part of the boarding cycle working, but there was still a lot to do, especially the actual jumping across, which will be the focus of the next article.

Also, in exciting non-boarding news, Airships got nominated for the Swiss Game Award 2014 of the Swiss Game Developers' Association. Pretty pleased with that.

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Post comment Comments  (0 - 10 of 49)
Scadden Sep 1 2014, 7:42am says:

Very cool idea, I love airships! will follow this

+2 votes     reply to comment
INtense! Jul 10 2014, 9:48pm says:

looking awesome

+6 votes     reply to comment
Fravoc Jul 10 2014, 6:04am says:

There is something about the charm of an airship. I'm watching this for sure! Good luck! :)

+2 votes     reply to comment
jroi_bautista Jul 9 2014, 2:23am says:

seeing your progress. I think it will be awesome to have factions, you know. some might declare war to the other and you can plunder military ships and such, I dunno, maybe different factions can have different design of ships. Or different ways they fly the ships. well, just a suggestion. :P anyways. Great game, gonna track it now and hope you'll be success full in this game.

+3 votes     reply to comment
Zarkonnen Jul 9 2014, 11:57am replied:

These are excellent suggestions. TBH, I am currently holding back on working on the strategic parts because I don't want to get sucked into it too deep. Otherwise I'll re-emerge six months later babbling about what a wonderful world sim I've made. :P

+3 votes     reply to comment
jroi_bautista Aug 7 2014, 2:52am replied:

oh. Just two more questions. If your gonna release this game when will it be. And what game are you planning next?

+2 votes     reply to comment
Zarkonnen Aug 7 2014, 10:26am replied:

So I have a basic plan ( Zarkonnen.com ) that sees the game completed in early 2015. The next game is likely to be this one: Indiedb.com

+2 votes     reply to comment
jroi_bautista Aug 11 2014, 12:39pm replied:

Thank you for the response. Well I hope i have a credit card to buy a game online but crap i don't. Gonna have to wait for me to get my own job :P

Thanks for the answers and ill be following your progress :)

+1 vote     reply to comment
Guest May 9 2014, 6:31am says:

Why is the custom heraldry so expensive? Does it contain an insane amount of heraldry? Or did you put in lots of hours?

+2 votes     reply to comment
Zarkonnen May 9 2014, 10:55am replied:

The custom heraldry is basically a small thank-you for the extra support. So you can choose what heraldic symbol you would like, and I draw it for you. :)

+2 votes     reply to comment
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Released Mar 24, 2014
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Real Time Strategy
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