Steamboat Starships

This was a post from 2012. I am no longer working on this game. In the end, I was pretty dissatisfied with using a device’s tilt sensor to control a game. That type of control scheme is hard to use while sitting in a vehicle, or laying in bed. I played with a few other control schemes before moving on to another project.

This is an Android/PC game I am currently working on which takes place in steampunk-styled outer space. Large and small ships duel with broadsides and other weaponry. A networked multiplayer mode allows players to play against other devices.

While not complete, there are a few screenshots, and the base game is playable. I started this app to investigate LibGdx, and combining baked-in static lighting with dynamics lights via shaders.

This app branched out from a caustics proof-of-concept I created for Operation Clean Marine. Originally, the ships were on an ocean surface, with a top-down, parallax ocean floor and dynamically rendered caustics and ripple effects.

The Concept

The player commands a ship and challenges other players, or the computer in 1v1 duels. Emerging as victor from these duels provides cash with which to purchase new weapons or upgrades for their ship.

The ship is steered by tilting the device or by using a mouse. Cannons are fired by sliding a finger along the row of cannon buttons on either side of the screen. PC players fire using a row of keys.

Ships have armor and can ram other ships. Since 3D models are used, ships keel as they are rammed or as they turn and pitch when ramming.

A colored ring lights up as ships are hit, indicating the amount of armor available in local regions around the ship. Compromising any portion of the ship’s hull ends the game.


This game uses the LibGdx framework for Android. GLSL shaders are used extensively for smoke, steam trails, star particles and explosion effects.

Each ship model is a low poly 3D model created and textured in blender. Static lighting effects are baked in with ambient occlusion and some shadows. Supplemental lights from explosions and cannon flashes are implemented in shaders for a few dynamic lighting effects.

Current development is in the multiplayer area, AI, and adding weapons. Currently only side guns are finished.