Over the weekend we came across what looks to be a very promising little gem from indie developer Zarkonnen. Airships is an RTS where design and management are as important as strategy and tactics.
The game revolves around constructing your airship and using it to gain superiority over either your computer or other live players via an on-line connection. The connection is currently made by manually entering your opponents IP address, but there are plans to incorporate a bespoke match-making and ladder service that will automatically connect you to games. With that complete and released, Airships looks to be gaining the same simple yet addictive gameplay that has made Minecraft such a winner.
The game has a blocky and pixilated feel that won’t be winning any awards for its graphical depictions, but that is not the point and the game focuses rather neatly on an engaging gameplay rather than pretty pictures. With your airship built to whatever specification you want, you need to populate it with a crew of air-sailors who will carry out the specific tasks you assign them. These might include carrying coal for steam-powered engines, replenishing ammunition, or carrying out maintenance. All of these tasks and many more like them are equally important, and to neglect just one of them will invite potential disaster. As you become adept at controlling your airship, you can design and build more to enhance your domination over your opponents. But, be aware of over-stretching your resources as that can leave you exposed too. It’s a game about balance and thoughtful gameplay and looks to be a refreshing brain-teaser with plenty of scope for diversity.
While the actual game looks to be an exciting delve into strategy and forward planning, the real point of interest is the fact that this game has been developed and launched by David Stark (no relation to Tony, btw), an indie game developer based in Switzerland rather than a professional studio. It marks the fact that game development is no longer the domain of large, professional establishments and anyone with the will and a bit of crowd-funding can now construct and launch a game that has been bouncing around the back of their mind for more years than they can remember. Game development is now open to anyone with a bit of imagination and an understanding of programming, and that is an exciting prospect.
While looking a little too much like Minecraft and stretching credibility a tad, Airships nevertheless has caught our attention and is due for release on Windows, Mac and Linux on March 25. With Airships imminently available for the minute price of just $5, the game is a steal and a fitting addition to any PC or Mac.