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New ways of decorating your airship and their real-world background. Plus: plans for polish.

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Airships 6.3 adds lots of new decals to apply to your ships. The decal system's been around for a long time, but after the initial set of options for putting your coat of arms onto your ships, it got neglected for a while. As part of the push for increased prettyness, I added a whole bunch more, mostly inspired by real-life aerial decorations.

Eyes and teeth: These were in fashion for decorating fighter planes in WW2 and ancient Greek triremes.

Gold leaf, because sometimes you want your airships to look fancy. None of the decals cost any money, which is a bit weird in the case of gold leaf, but roll with it.

Roundels, which turn out to be a fascinating side-branch of heraldry / vexillology (the study of flags). Much as with flags, there are a number of classic styles of roundels, which many countries follow, some variant styles that are popular, and some truly weird stuff where the designers clearly didn't get the memo of "maybe make your war plane unambiguously identifiable".

In flags, the most classic layout is probably the tricolor, a field evenly divided into three, horizontally or vertically. It's a design associated with European nations. The roundel equivalent is a roundel made of three concentric circles of a solid color - pretty much the tricolor in polar coordinates!


European roundels: France, UK, Germany. All insignia images are public domain and sourced from Wikipedia.

Not that there's a perfect match: the UK uses a classic tricolor roundel design but doesn't have a tricolor flag, whereas Germany uses a kind of worrying throwback design instead of their tricolor.


Variations: Bangladesh, Equatorial Guinea, Switzerland

Fairly popular variations include different numbers of concentric circles. Bangladesh has two, Equatorial Guinea has four. Another popular option is putting a symbol into the center of the roundel. Switzerland's got it pretty easy there.


Bad ideas: Belize, Syria, Yemen

And then there's Belize, who just use their overcomplicated flag, and Syria, who picked a design near-indistinguishable from Yemen's. Good job!

In Airships, I've stuck to two basic designs: a bi/tricolor roundel with colours extracted from your coat of arms, and one containing your main heraldic charge.

So, what's next? I spent much of last week at A MAZE Berlin, showing around my game, and returned with my head full of ideas for improving the way it feels. Thing is, I may be a decent programmer and creator of game mechanics, but I have to observe people playing the game to notice all the rough edges in what I make. And other developers are way better at figuring out what makes a game feel fun. So now I have a long list of small things I can do to make the game subtly feel better, and it's a list I urgently want to get to.

This means that rather than going straight to version 7 with its landships, there's going to be a v6.4 and 6.5 incorporating these improvements. I know you're all looking forward to your war stompers and spider mechs, but smoother UI and more satisfying screams and explosions are going to be a pretty nice thing to tide you over until they arrive.

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