Above: Screenshot of two Imperial warships and a flak burst.

Above: Screenshot of explosions as fire is exchanged between
an Imperial warship (left) and the Duke of Snoddly's ship (top).
Currently in the early development stage, 'Aeronautica' is an upcoming 3D open-world steampunk game for PC and Web involving combat, trade, exploration and colonization with airships, biplanes and other vessels in a sandbox environment. The game world includes thousands of miles of terrain which can be freely explored and settled. Players will be able to fly their ships in first-person perspective from the pilothouse, fight in realtime battles, and land the ship to gather resources or build a settlement. You can support the game and gain premium ships and weapons, a discounted price on the full game, Beta access, and other goodies here.

The player will begin the game as a character in a town of the player's choosing, including towns founded by other players (in the multiplayer version). From there, you can set off on whatever path you wish. You can purchase a small airship and fly anywhere across the globe, which is procedurally produced and therefore large. You can serve as a freelance pilot fighting criminals for a bounty; or a gun-for-hire fighting alongside the ships of the Imperial Navy or the forces of one of the dukes or earls; or a trader hauling cargo (such as tea - especially tea) to the many cities of the Empire or the overseas colonies (most of which will be established by players); or a pathfinder exploring distant lands and building your own settlements and perhaps your own empire. Or try all of these in turn.


Above: Screenshot of the pilothouse of the Red Falcon (a premium ship
you can receive for supporting this game. Click here).

Players will be able to hire a crew if necessary for the larger ships. The NPC crewmembers will automatically perform their duties, but the player can switch to the NPCs if they wish. For example, if you think you have better aim than your rear turret gunner's AI, you can switch to him and operate his gun from within the turret in first-person view, then switch back to the helm. If your engineer isn't fixing Boiler #3 fast enough and you have a knack for complicated machinery that looks like a spaghetti mess of brass tubes, go for it.

If your airship is large enough to carry adequate numbers of soldiers or settlers, you can lower it down and disembark your minions to begin gathering resources and constructing buildings, including shipyards where you can construct airships and other vessels.

Over time, players can build large fleets and take them into battle, or establish chains of cities and fortresses to create an empire. Set up flak cannons and other weapons to defend your holdings, or place hidden guns in forests or foggy mountains to ambush enemy aircraft as they fly overhead.


Above: Screenshot of sparks and debris
from flak explosions and machine gun impacts.
The game design will try to strike a balance between 'too ambitious' and 'too limited'. The features were chosen for their feasibility, since the aerial combat system and procedural landscape generation are already about 50% complete, and the other features - trade, settlement, etc - are less technically demanding albeit time-consuming to add. Multiplayer features are more difficult but are planned to be added in stages based on whether funding support makes them feasible. The first stage would allow players to visit and trade with cities founded by other players, as well as some indirect warfare (attacking cities, being attacked by their anti-aircraft cannons or ambushed by forces set by other players, and so forth). If the extended funding goals are met, full multiplayer fleet battles should be feasible, with dozens of players in each battle. There are likewise other extended features planned, as explained farther below. This flexible planning method also allows players to have a greater say in which extended features they would like to see implemented.

Many of us loved Guns of Icarus and the idea of its Adventure Mode, but were hoping for something other than fixed trade routes and predefined cities (which is apparently what Icarus' Adventure Mode will have when it finally comes out). Aeronautica should offer something substantially different.

The Game World


Above: Screenshot of an Imperial warship at the
moment of firing most of its lower starboard cannons.
The game's premise : for centuries, the respectable tea-drinking citizens of the One Empire had lived on a modestly-sized island, which they had gradually conquered until running into what they assumed was the edge of the reachable universe : an ocean vast enough that even the fastest and stoutest ships of the Imperial Fleet had failed to cross it before running low on supplies or facing difficulties from the tremendous waves frequently generated by such a large expanse of water. The admirals had decided the feat was impractical, philosophers speculated that the ocean may in fact be infinite in size, and the Royal government decreed that it could now be certain that it ruled over all the inhabited lands in the universe. The name 'The One Empire' was coined to reflect this belief. Then a citizen named Ebenezer Spiff stumbled across a lightweight metal which could be used for building airship hulls that were light yet strong, allowing the construction of airships large enough to haul adequate supplies on long voyages. This allowed explorers to simply skim above the waves at speeds that were impossible for surface ships. Within a few decades several continents were discovered, small outposts were established, the admirals grudgingly switched to airships, the philosophers grudgingly admitted they were wrong, and the embarrassed Royal government realized it needed to either conquer these new lands or change the name of its empire. Several dukes and earls joined the enterprise for their own purposes, as did merchants eager to cash in on the new sources of metals, furs, spices, tea and other resources (but especially tea), leading to dizzying prospects for profit and the possibility of saving the populace from a critical shortage of the moist brown stuff which had threatened to destroy civilization.

The game opens during this heady new era.

Airships


Above: Screenshot of the S.S. Sun-In-Splendour, showing the style
of many Imperial warships.
For the airships, the game uses a style which is intended to be a compromise between historical and fantasy, without resorting to physically improbable ships like in some steampunk games. The large dirigibles are about the same size as real dirigibles in the early 20th century, and many of them take a somewhat similar form except for the ornate sculptures and painted emblems which are based on warships of an earlier era.


Above: Several types of airship designs in the game.
Others deviate from the historical form quite a bit, such as dual-hulled airships with two blimps; airships with multiple spherical hull sections; or the Duke of Snoddly's distinctive vessels which are supposed to be shaped somewhat vaguely like fish (Lord Snoddly explains: 'I happen to like fish'). Snoddly's choice of design has generated some controversy among his peers. His oft-time enemy, the Earl of Smidgen, retorted: 'So the blighter likes fish. I like fish too - deep-fried with salt and a bit of vinegar - but I don't pattern my warships after them. I like peanuts, but I don't build ships that are shaped like peanuts. No, I shouldn't say that, it'll give the daffy bloke ideas for his next class of airship.'


Above: Screenshot of the S.S. Princess Grace, showing the sculptures on the
stern section - a heron on top and a ring of horses around the balcony.
Most of the airships are festooned with sculptures and paintings, although again the decoration scheme varies with the builder. Most of the nobles have ships with their family emblem sculpted in gilded metal or wood, such as the gryphon used by Lord Gluffin or the Duke of Snoddly's whale ('I like fish'). Royal warships generally have eagle sculptures on the prow and painted disks near prow and stern depicting the ship's namesake, such as the gilded sun on the S.S. 'Sun-In-Splendour' or the portrait of the Royal family's youngest daughter Grace on the Third Fleet's command ship 'Princess Grace'. This domestic theme has led to a certain amount of scoffing, such as Lord Snoddly's sarcastic retort: 'So the Third Fleet's biggest warship has a picture of a little girl splashed all over it. A girl! My men are quaking in their ruddy boots.' Lord Gluffin responded: 'The S.S. Princess Grace has enough heavy guns to turn Snoddly's entire fleet into smoking wreckage. And his ships are so flimsy that if a crewmember sneezes too hard the whole bloody thing will fall apart at the seams. And at least little Grace didn't steal an old woman's false teeth like Lord Snoddly did to my Aunt Mable, Countess of Wubbly.' (In his own defense, Lord Snoddly noted that this crime was never proven.)

The technological premise is that these airships avoid some of the problems of their historical counterparts (such as the flammable nature of hydrogen and the flimsy fabric hulls of early 20th century dirigibles) while also generating extra lift by using the near-vacuum method - i.e., pumping most of the air out of a hull made of a rigid but lightweight metal alloy similar to aluminum but lighter and more resistant to the compressive forces that would be created by near-vacuum conditions. This is achieved by using a fictional metal called 'levisium' [from Latin 'levis', meaning 'lightweight'] whose molecules are organized into a honeycomb structure which reduces the metal's density and weight. Refining it to create a purer metal further decreases its weight, and alloying it with small amounts of certain other metals increases its strength. A hull made of this material can have most of the interior air pumped out, producing a near-vacuum inside the blimp which is lighter than hydrogen and therefore provides more buoyancy, while also being non-flammable and therefore safer. It also allows for a degree of armor if the hull is thick enough or alloyed with steel. This makes warships more feasible, since the hull can withstand most types of bullets except at close range, and can offer some protection against shrapnel.

Continue to the Extended Features section

Support This Project and Get Pre-release Gifts

As with many games, this one will require pre-release funding. Some other games have been delayed many years (e.g. 'Infinity') because the development team had to work other jobs simultaneously, thereby slowing development to a snail's pace.
If you provide early support, you'll receive a reward depending on your donation level (see list below). Among the various rewards are a copy of the finished game when it's released, early beta-testing access, in-game exclusive weapons and ships that are only available through pre-release funding, and other items.

$ 5 - Your name will be officially listed as a supporter. You can use this to impress friends, coworkers, prospective romantic interests, and any future grandchildren you may eventually have.

$ 10 - You will receive access to the full game at a discounted price and Beta access to test the game earlier than the teeming unwashed masses.
Beta testing will begin within a few months. The completed game will hopefully be finished around September 2016, although this obviously depends on a number of factors including how many of the extended features are financed and how many additional features the beta-testers want to add.

$ 12 - You will receive the premium in-game weapon 'The Lion's Mouth' gatling gun as well as Beta access and access to the full game.
This is a special gatling gun (housed in the mouth of a gilded lion sculpture) that fires at a faster rate than most standard gatling guns, although it doesn't confer an unfair advantage.
It has earned the nickname 'The Queen's Mouth' because of Her Royal Majesty's regrettable habit of chattering as rapidly as the best machine guns.

$ 15 - You will receive the premium in-game weapon 'The Eagle's Claw' fireball cannon as well as Beta access and access to the full game.
Attached to a gilded eagle sculpture, this cannon fires shells which explode into a massive fireball, larger and more effective than most fireball cannons.
The Duke of Crumley once observed: 'This bugger will blast the bloody bejabbers out of any enemy, and look good whilst doing it.'

$ 17 - You will receive the premium in-game weapon 'The Dog's Breath' toxic gas canister gun, as well as Beta access and access to the full game.
This turret fires canisters filled with a gas that causes enemy crew members to pass out for several hours, taking them out of the fight and sometimes allowing an entire ship to be captured intact and used as your own. It is nicknamed 'Earl of Glopshire's Breath' for reasons that will be obvious to anyone who has met the Earl of Glopshire.

$ 20 - You will receive the premium in-game weapon 'The Eyes of the Tiger' as well as Beta access and access to the full game.
This weapon consists of two rapid-fire gatling guns protruding from the eyes of a gilded tiger sculpture. It's essentially a double version of the 'Lion's Mouth' gun.

$ 25 - You will receive any two premium weapons of your choice, as well as Beta access and access to the full game.
Pick any two of the above weapons to double your fun.

$ 25 - You will receive the premium in-game ship the 'Black Horse' (sleek, versatile twin-hulled airship), as well as Beta access and access to the full game.
The 'Black Horse' is a multi-purpose ship which strikes a balance between weapons, speed, and cargo space. It has two heavy gatling guns and two machine guns (on a turret), a modest amount of cargo space, and a sleek, low profile that enhances its speed, although its twin blimps prevent it from competing with single-hulled ships of the same size. It has two gilded horse sculptures on the prows of both blimps.

$ 30 - You will receive the premium in-game ship the 'Winged Impala' (an excellent scout or exploration ship), as well as Beta access and access to the full game.
The 'Winged Impala' is one of the fastest airships, boasting a sleek design, powerful engines for its size, and minimal weight. Although it has relatively light weaponry - two machine guns mounted on a turret - nonetheless explorers will appreciate its other qualities. It has a gilded impala with wings on the prow.

$ 40 - You will receive the premium in-game ship 'Golden Eagle' (ornate winged blimp with eight guns), as well as Beta access and access to the full game.
The 'Golden Eagle' has one of the most unique appearances. Its wings - providing greater lift - are shaped like eagle's wings, and its prow like an eagle's head. It has two heavy gatling guns and three turrets with two machine guns apiece (six machine guns combined).

$ 50 - You will receive the premium in-game ship 'The Black Stag' (one of the most heavily armed ships of its size), as well as Beta access and access to the full game.
The Black Stag is a no-nonsense gunship with four cannon turrets and three dual machine gun turrets each with two guns (total of six machine guns). All turrets can be swapped for other weapons, such as fireball cannons, flamethrowers, toxic gas cannons, electric weapons, etc. The minimal decoration includes a gilded stag on the prow and black spines near the tower.

$ 50 - You will receive the premium in-game ship 'The Dragonfly' (a rare luxury yacht), as well as Beta access and access to the full game.
The Dragonfly is one of the most unique ships, being built of several spheres made of iridescent material. The interior is lavishly decorated with sculptures, stained glass, and gilded artwork. It only has one dual machine gun turret, but it wasn't built for war. It can be used as a transport for wealthy passengers (potentially very profitable), or for personal travel.

$ 60 - You will receive the premium in-game ship the 'Red Falcon' (a well-balanced, ornate ship), as well as Beta access and access to the full game.
The Red Falcon balances weaponry, speed, cargo space, and decoration into a well-rounded craft. Its default weapons include two cannon turrets, two heavy gatling guns, and one dual machine gun turret.

$ 70 - You will receive the premium in-game ship, 'The Double-Headed Eagle' (twin-hulled version of 'Golden Eagle' with almost twice the guns), as well as Beta access and access to the full game.
Like having two 'Golden Eagle' gunships combined into one, it has nearly double the weapons (four heavy gatling guns and five turrets with two machine guns apiece (ten machine guns combined).
Its appearance also inspires fear, since it has two large eagle heads staring at the enemy.

$ 100 - You will receive any two premium ships of your choice (pick two from those listed above), as well as Beta access and access to the full game.
Two ships for not much more than the price of one, and you'll be able to keep both of them in-game and use either whenever you wish.

$ 150 - One of the in-game nobles will be named after you, or whatever name you choose (within reason!), plus you will receive any two of the premium ships of your choice, Beta access, as well as access to the full game.
Your name will be immortalized forever in the game as a Duke / Duchess, Earl / Countess, or Baron / Baroness.
If you've ever wanted to be an aristocrat but were born into the wrong family, this is your chance.

$ 200 - An Imperial ship will be named after you, or whatever name you choose (within reason!), plus you will receive any two of the premium ships of your choice, Beta access, as well as access to the full game.
Notice how ships are always named after important people? Now you can feel important. So if your name is Eustace Crumm, the ship would be the 'S.S. Crumm' and the in-game Eustace Crumm will probably be a dead admiral or somesuch.

$ 300 - An entire Imperial ship class will be named after you, or whatever name you choose (within reason!), plus you will receive two premium ships of your choice, Beta access, as well as access to the full game.
In this case your name will be lent to a whole line of ships. So if your name is Jimmy Smug, the ship class might be called the James Smug Class of Eagle Interceptor (for example) and the in-game James Smug will probably have been an aristocrat of some distinction (or the right connections).

$ 350 - An Imperial city or colony will be named after you, or whatever name you choose (within reason!), plus you will receive two premium ships of your choice, Beta access, as well as access to the full game.
The town name will need to be consistent with the game world's premise. So if your name is Bob Smith, a name like 'Smithville' or 'Bobburg-upon-Sea' would be acceptable. If you want your name replaced with 'Justin Bieber Is Great', that would not be acceptable, but 'Bieberville' would be.

$ 500 - You will receive all of the premium ships and weapons, your name will be given to the character, ship, ship class or city of your choice, plus Beta access, and access to the full game.

$ 1000 - Endowment Membership - Prominent listing as such in the credits and website, and your name will be given to the character, ship, ship class or city of your choice, plus all of the premium ships and weapons, Beta access, and access to the full game.

$ 2000 - Patron Membership - Prominent listing as a Patron in the credits and website, and your name will be given to the character, ship, ship class or city of your choice, plus all of the premium ships and weapons, Beta access, and access to the full game.

$ 3000 - Benefactor Membership - Prominent listing as a Benefactor in the credits and website, and your name will be given to the character, ship, ship class or city of your choice, plus all of the premium ships and weapons, Beta access, as well as access to the full game.

$ 5000 - You'll gain a position on the committee which will determine the feature list and future direction of the game, plus you'll receive all of the benefits of the previous tier.
Don't like the Secret Cabal that runs other games? This will give YOU a seat on the Secret Cabal which runs this one!

$ 10,000 - Insure the guaranteed addition of the extended feature of your choice (see list in the Extended Features Section), while gaining influence over what form it will take and an official listing as a Primary Benefactor for that feature; plus you'll receive all of the benefits of the previous tier including a seat on the Committee.
If you want to see one of the extra features added but funding is falling short, this will guarantee the feature will be added at some point even if funding still falls short of the feature's minimum level. The date of addition will depend on the amount of funding available, but it will see the light of day eventually thanks to you, and future players will know who to thank.

Continue to the Budget Breakdown section

Extended Features

Rather than using the common method of having a linear list of 'stretch goals' so that Goal A has to be funded before Goal B, this game would be better served by a flexible list. The donation levels include the option for supporters to fund a specific stretch goal to insure that it will be added to the game, which allows supporters to have a greater say in how the game is developed. This means using an 'a la carte' method which allows players to select features they personally want to see. The list below will give the approximate amount of money that each individual feature would need. These are rough estimates which may change.

* Expanded engineering functions. (Additional $10,000) This feature would expand the engineering role to include making detailed repairs to the mechanical systems and weapons rather than just clicking on the engine and watching a timer, or repeatedly whacking the damaged part with a wrench or mallet, as in some games of this type. This 'one-click' method may allow players to develop strong muscles in the finger that's pressing the key or mouse button, but it doesn't offer anything interesting or challenging for the engineer to do (unlike gunners for example, who need to develop skills). Players would still have the option to let the software automate the process, but people who enjoy detailed mechanical tinkering - or who think they could do it quicker than the automatic timer - would be able to learn and repair specific systems. So if a bullet ruptures one of the pipes leading from boiler #2, the player could locate the damage and then reroute the pipes around the area or repair the damaged pipe if they have the necessary tools and spare parts.

* Ability to design and build your own ships and weapons. (Additional $15,000) Make the blueprint, order your shipyard(s) to build it, then fly it. This would be a more complicated and time-consuming addition to the game from a programming standpoint, and so it will only be feasible with a significant amount of extra funding.

* Surface ships, submarines, and ground vehicles such as primitive tanks, etc. (Additional $15,000) This was originally part of the intended design of the game, but will require a good deal of extra programming and modelling. Although it distracts somewhat from the airship focus that the game's name implies, nonetheless it would be extremely useful (and realistic) for players to be able to use other types of vehicles that are better suited to certain tasks than an airship. One of the disadvantages of airships is the fact that they can't carry as much cargo or troops as surface ships. Nor can they dive underwater like a submarine, nor can they be given the same heavy armor as a tank. They are vulnerable to being shot down by enemies hidden in forests or small fortresses which the airship's crew might not be able to see from the air. Such cases would be best dealt with by sending in ground forces or surface ships to clear a path for aircraft.

* Expanded role for ground combat, including FPS battles with rifles, machine guns, etc. (Additional $15,000) This was also originally part of the planned design before deciding to focus mainly on airship combat. As with surface vehicles, it makes logical sense to include infantry combat. The basic form of the game would only deal with this indirectly by automatically having your garrisons fire at enemy ships passing overhead, but without allowing players to pick up a gun and lead infantry forces themselves. The extended feature would allow ground battles that more closely resemble a first-person shooter.

* Additional $20,000 : Expanded multiplayer features. The plan for the basic game includes some degree of multiplayer options (as explained farther above), but expanding this to include realtime combat between large numbers of players will require extra money for servers and extra time (hence extra money) for programming. Ideally, players would be able to take part in large fleet battles with dozens of other players, some working together on the same ship, some commanding their own ships, some flying fightercraft, etc; but the level of funding will determine which features will be feasible.

Budget Breakdown

Here's what the money will be used for:

* Development costs, mainly the money needed to devote time to this project rather than working on other jobs. Some of the features will take months of full-time work to develop, which means that development will have to be full-time or else it will proceed very slowly as a part-time effort.

* Additional development team members if possible. This would obviously be a large cost, but would be worth it if it results in better 3D models and programming.

* Licensing and new equipment. Among the items that would be 'Nice To Have' if possible : better assets purchased from third party developers if hiring enough dedicated artists won't be feasible; a good video capture card to allow smooth video recording of gameplay (since most recording methods cut the framerate in half, which makes the game look bad to prospective buyers who often rely on videos to decide whether they want to buy it); and possibly a Unity Pro license.


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