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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.

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Of course, once I decided to put in heraldry, I wanted to do a decent job at it, so I started out by looking up the rules. It turns out there's a bunch of them. First, there are only a few colours - called tinctures - that are really appropriate for heraldry. These tinctures are divided into two groups: colours and metals.

The basic colours are red, green, blue, black and purple. There are only two metals - silver and gold, often rendered as white and yellow.

The other important rule is the rule of tinctures: different colours and metals must not touch. So purple on black, or gold on silver is out. (Though there's plenty of exceptions.) The practical reason for this is that coats of arms are meant to be easy to distinguish, and this rule enforces strong contrasts between darker colours and lighter metals.

Coats of arms are commonly described using blazons, which are written in a weird formal mix of French and English. For example, "A yellow crescent on a blue background" is blazoned "azure, a crescent or". A proper blazon will fully describe a coat of arms, and in a sense, two pictures that have the same blazon are considered equivalent. (The precise shade of blue, or the precise size of the crescent, don't matter.) Which means blazons are a very early form of serialization!

Anyway, having read up on the basic rules, I created an editor that allows you to choose an overall layout, a symbol (called a charge) and the colours used. The editor enforces the rule of tinctures.

All designs incorporate a charge somewhere - the idea is that in the campaign mode, your chosen charge gives you a bonus. The current plan is as follows:

  • Ram: Morale boost on ramming a ship. Can build great ram module.
  • Eye: Greater chance of success at espionage.
  • Lion: Boarding action combat bonus.
  • Rat: Injured crew move and work at full speed.
  • Tower: Stone walls have 50% more HP.
  • Tree: Modules and wooden armour have 20% more HP.
  • Anvil: Steel armour absorbs 50% more damage.
  • Eagle: Guns are 30% more accurate.
  • Mountain: Suspendium chambers produce 25% more lift.
  • Scales: 20% more income.
  • Crown: Conquered cities have no pacification period.
  • Dragon: Dragons' training time, cost, and maintenance cost is halved.
  • Waves: Fighting fires is 50% more effective.
  • Wheel: Command points are generated 50% faster.
  • Wrench: Repair is 30% more effective.

And yes, you can put your coat of arms on your airships! It might get shot off in the fight, but until then, may it inspire your crew.

So with the arms editor complete and multiplayer pretty much working, what's next? As before, there's a bunch of small things to clean up - like introducing cost values for modules so you can have limits on how much each side can put into a combat.

And after that? There's lots of modules and combat features (like boarding) I want to add, but I think the next thing should be getting the game to core feature complete - which means adding the "campaign" mode. More on that next time.

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