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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The Air Navy Airships Lighting in Action Fire with the new lighting system
Blog RSS Feed Report abuse Latest News: Idea: Armour Damage Maps

1 comment by Zarkonnen on Dec 10th, 2014

When you start upgrading the visuals of your game, some parts start sticking out like a sore thumb. In this case, I'm really unhappy with the way damaged armour looks, so I'm going to outline a way to make it look better. This is a bit involved, but there is a really cool picture at the end...

Currently, each type of armour has a series of five appearances, from "unblemished" to "destroyed". When undamaged, the armour tiles nicely and looks quite nice, especially with the lighting effects now applied. The problem comes when there's heavy damage: since there's only one picture for a destroyed armour tile, this gets tiled and looks very bad: a regular series of holes with the exact same shape.

The obvious way to fix this is to add more pictures for damaged armour tiles, but this doesn't fix one problem: a damaged tile may be right next to an unharmed one, which means that the hole can't quite extend to the edge without a sudden and obvious transition from one tile to the next. So I'd still up with a grid of holes, just of different shapes.

I could add pictures for all the configurations of tile adjacency, but this produces a combinatorial explosion: including diagonal adjacency, each tile has eight neighbours that could be damaged or fine, which means that I'd need to draw two to the power of eight different tiles. I am not drawing 256 armour tiles for each type of armour if I can help it!

So instead I've hit upon a different idea to make the armour drawing look really good. Unsurprisingly, this involves a clever shader. (I get this feeling that more and more of the game is moving to shaders, until eventually the entire thing will just run on your graphics card.)

Note that I haven't actually implemented what I'm about to describe, so it's perfectly possible that I'll have to abandon it because it's too hard, or too slow, or just looks bad. Normally, when I write dev blogs I do retrospectives where I can describe what I ended up doing, leaving out all the false starts and dead ends, which makes me look more clever than I really am.

On to the idea: per-airship damage maps. Each airship gets an associated grayscale image of where its armour has been damaged: white means undamaged, black means the armour's been punched through. Impacting shots draw splashes of damage onto this image, bigger and darker for stronger projectiles.

This damage map is then used in the shader to put together the look of each tile. In places where the map is nearly white, it draws the normal look of the armour. In places where it's grey, it draws an alternate, damaged look, which comes from a second armour picture that looks all roughed up. Finally, in places where the damage map is black, it doesn't draw the armour at all, leaving a hole.

The result is that each airship gets its unique patterning of armour damage and holes, going across tile boundaries with no visible transition.

What's more, the shader can also calculate the lighting for that tile using a few bits of extra information. First, it needs a height map for the undamaged armour. This is different from the bump map described in the lighting post. A height map shows where the armour sticks out. A bump map is the derivative of a height map: it shows where the height map changes.

The shader combines the height map of the undamaged armour with the damage map for the tile, which results in a new height map that shows what remains of the armour after the damage has been done. Then it derives the bump map and uses it for the lighting calculations.

The result should be pretty awesome: armour that can be blasted off pixel-by-pixel and dynamically lit at the same time, so flashes of light will play across the jagged edge of the holes, making splinters of still-unblemished metal light up.

Can I pull it off? As you can tell, I've got the logic of the shader pretty much worked out. The bigger question is whether it's feasible to attach a damage map to each ship, update it, and feed it to the shader in the correct way with all the offsets set up properly.For now I will leave you with this amazing piece of Airships fan art created by Jenny Thorne:

(Oh, and remember to vote for Airships on IndieDB! Only a few hours left!)

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Post comment Comments  (0 - 10 of 57)
DonleyTimeFoundation Nov 23 2014, 6:19pm says:

I love this game soooo much! HAHAHAH!


+2 votes     reply to comment
Propagandawar Oct 31 2014, 5:33pm says:

Are you planning on adding a map for Multiplayer? I have friends getting the game. Although it looks like they are waiting for another option besides paypal to pay with. .

+1 vote     reply to comment
Zarkonnen Creator
Zarkonnen Nov 3 2014, 9:59am replied:

The issue with making a MP map is that combats and strategy work at different timescales, so you'd spend a lot of time waiting for other peoples' fights. Not sure how to fix that.

Re: PayPal - what kind of payment method would they like? I totally understand that it's not exactly everyone's first choice. Am up for anything, including stuffing money into an envelope. :P

+3 votes   reply to comment
Propagandawar Oct 27 2014, 1:19pm says:

I purchased the game this weekend (Plan to get it for a friend as well beings he is having paypal issues). The games a blast. Having tons of fun with it. I did go to register in hopes that it opens Multiplayer and auto-updates but it was giving me issues entering my email last night.

Can you add a kitchen? It seems like something the ship should have in it to feed your air sailors.

Thank you for such a fun game.

+1 vote     reply to comment
jroi_bautista Oct 6 2014, 3:16pm says:

nice updates! Wow its been a while since i checked this game. Wonder how do you guys made it. Do you go to a college of video game developing or did you figured this one out on your own? Someday im gonna be a great developer! hahahaha

+1 vote     reply to comment
Zarkonnen Creator
Zarkonnen Oct 10 2014, 2:43am replied:

I studied computer science at uni, so not game development specifically. :) If you're interested, have a look at an early version of the game's code here: Github.com

+1 vote   reply to comment
Destructor465 Sep 17 2014, 2:55pm says:

Can you make a demo version or trial, because I don't wanna buy it now, I want to try it. And after that if game will be so good, I will buy it :)

+1 vote     reply to comment
Zarkonnen Creator
Zarkonnen Sep 18 2014, 3:40am replied:

Have a look at the game's refund policy, which may suit your needs: Zarkonnen.com

+1 vote   reply to comment
Scadden Sep 1 2014, 7:42am says:

Very cool idea, I love airships! will follow this

+3 votes     reply to comment
INtense! Staff
INtense! Jul 10 2014, 9:48pm says:

looking awesome

+6 votes   reply to comment
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Released Mar 24, 2014
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@Geniedesalpages Ah, you mean make it possible to parse the old mod files?

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@Geniedesalpages Hm, what do you mean?

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@Norgg Oh totally. Different setting, but near-identical engine. The engine is well-balanced and I can't think of worthwhile additions.

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