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.
Beta 7 introduces a new type of message from your crew. While they've long been shouting things as they go along their business of fighting and dying, they will now occasionally pop up in the bottom left of your screen to deliver some information, commentary, or death-scream.
You can zoom in at any time to see the fate of individuals, but that's not a very useful perspective to direct a battle from, which means players spend most of their time zoomed out. The intent of this feature is to highlight things happening in the battle and to show you the faces of the people who are fighting and dying for you.
The hard part of creating NPC lines is that they can be very, very annoying.
So what can I do as a game developer to make them immersive rather than annoying? Make them sparse, make them relevant, and make them varied.
The system I constructed works in two stages: the combat checks for particular conditions to occur and generates "interesting events". The crew message system then goes through those events, checks whether they're clearly visible to the player, and matches them against crew lines.
So for example, if a crewman is snatched up by a kraken tentacle, this generates an event called "grabbedBy SQUID" at the location of the crewman. The message system applies the following checks:
If all those checks are passed, the system will pick a crew line and display it. The idea is to generate lots of opportunities for lines, but then to filter them very strictly to deliver a few high-quality ones. Each line has multiple variants as well, saying the same thing using different words.
The following events are currently tracked and can create crew lines:
Ideas for additional interesting events are very much appreciated, and so is feedback on the quality and frequency of the lines delivered.
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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 by CanofSodaGames