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About Airships with 0 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  (10 - 20 of 121)
faulk
faulk Aug 16 2013, 1:57pm buried:

(buried)

custom build is gay all the games look gay!!!

-26 votes     reply to comment
iinFused
iinFused Aug 21 2013, 7:51am replied:

You must be one of them then.

+14 votes     reply to comment
tsukiyomiikuto0
tsukiyomiikuto0 Dec 26 2014, 8:31am replied:

lol.

+3 votes     reply to comment
GiuseppeCiampa8
GiuseppeCiampa8 Jun 9 2013, 6:45am says:

We use the scripting language to program? Ex: Language C++

+3 votes     reply to comment
brettjose14
brettjose14 Jun 5 2013, 8:28pm says:

I say That Is A Fine Cup Of Tea

+3 votes     reply to comment
Ausländer
Ausländer Apr 30 2013, 9:48pm says:

it's quite scary, all of the people who can't realize what this is. Also scary, how most people who try and describe it refrain from calling it by it's name, "Custom Built", and instead call it things like "Custom Build" and "Custom Engine". *shakes head depressingly*

+7 votes     reply to comment
XHH
XHH Apr 14 2013, 6:10pm says:

when I start a new project in this engine it give me a error. this is it:

error14:main.cbe
line 27: int void main(){
issue: invalid syntax. also, syntax does not exist. btw, engine not found.

can someone help me pls????????

+2 votes     reply to comment
mescalin
mescalin Jul 18 2013, 8:28am replied:

did you include using cbe at the top so it points to the right libraries?

also did you write the appropriate libraries?.... don't get me wrong the cbe can potentially be the most powerful game engine there is, it's just getting it working can be quite long winded

-1 votes     reply to comment
Arethrid
Arethrid Jun 3 2013, 5:08pm replied:

Here's what you should do: Create a text file and call it "my_engine.cpp" and immediately delete it! When it's in the recycle bin restore it back to it's original directory, count to six and then open the file. If it doesn't instantly contain all the codes of a custom engine repeat the process again. It works most of the time, if not try it with "MAH_ENGINE.jar". That's how minecraft came to being.

-1 votes     reply to comment
ThePC007
ThePC007 May 10 2013, 3:36pm replied:

This isn't a real engine. This is just there so that people who submit games here who have actually made their engine themselves can also mark their engine as their own engine.

+4 votes     reply to comment
MrTaxikiller
MrTaxikiller May 9 2013, 12:52pm replied:

error on line 27, and the issue is a invalid syntax. also the syntax does not seem to exist, and it seem your game cant find the engine.

Ohh yeah I dont know nothing about this engine but when I take a look at your error and use my brain it seems that when you think about it all the errors are giving for example in your code like I said before with line27, here are my answers i can give by only thinking and reading your error log.

error14:main.cbe "I think that the error14 have something to do with your main.cbe ?"

Line27: Int void main (){ "It seems there is something wrong on line 27 of your code maybe with your int not sure because I dont see your code."

issue: invalid syntax. also, syntax does not exist. btw, engine not found. "it says that the syntax is invalid plus your syntax doesnt even exist and it cant find the engine directory"

+2 votes     reply to comment
sondrebot
sondrebot May 7 2013, 4:50pm replied:

Lol!

+3 votes     reply to comment
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