Notes for the
Downloadable Game
via Screen shots,
from version 1.7,
for PC & Mac,
Dec. 18, 2004
  Lookoutnow Paper Ships

  Dec. 12, 2010: The game is now freeware.

Imagine folding pages from a newspaper or magazine into a paper ship. Such a ship would have the characteristics of its parent paper. This game, played in terms of eighteenth-century sailing ships, is your opportunity to test one paper against another. You can sail a favorite to send another "newspaper" ship to the bottom of the ocean.

The factors that went into transforming a newspaper or magazine into a sailing ship are totally subjective. There is nothing scientific here; it is about newspaper-folded ships.

You can play the game as a ship-against-ship contest or as a way of blasting an unfavorite newspaper out of the water.

The game size is 800 by 640 pixels.

Opening screen
Opening Page
  1. You choose your own ship and the your enemyís ship. When you click next to a particular ship, its facts are shown in "Your ship" or the "Enemy ship" corner on the right. If you want an even match, you can choose the same ship twice. Your ship has a blue flag, the enemy an orange one.
  2. Match your playing style with enemy IQ. A stupid enemy sails straight toward you (which is a great way to practice raking tactics), but will sail away if having too much damage. The defensive enemy turns a broadside to you before reaching firing range; however, it won't seek to run away if you try to close. An aggressive enemy approaches you till it is well within its ideal firing range; it won't run away. The nasty enemy tries to stay on the edge of its firing range; it will run away if damaged too much.
  3. Here we have the general health appearance of a ship, as well as its prime characteristics. In addition to the number of guns (from the first list), the ships are rated by crew number, cannon range, rate of fire, and maximum speed. Note that the cannon range is optimum: a given broadside may fall short or run long.
Ship listing
Alphabetical Ship Listing

If you'd prefer to compare several ships at the same time, the alphabetical listing has two pages, each with six ships, along with all the appropriate facts.

The game has three active screens: an overall view (the strategic screen), a midlevel view, and a closeup view (the tactical screen). (I dropped the boarding scenario in favor of collision damage.)

Strategic screen
Strategic Screen
  1. The overall pond in which all the action takes places, approximately 3000 by 1900 inches of maneuvering room. The line of mist around the border is an escape route, because once a ship disappears beneath the mist, the contest is a draw: one of you got away. However, within 320 inches of each other, both ships are taken to the tactical screen, out of which there is no simple escape via mist.
  2. Your ship, which is blue. The two ships appear 1000 inches apart. At random, your ship is either on the left with the enemy on the right or vice versa.
  3. The enemy ship, which is orange.
  4. The enemy shipís profile. If the ship is hit by cannon fire, you will see the damage shown on this view. Below the profile are the shipís name, active crew, current speed, efficiency, and overall well-being (or shipshape). If either the active crew or shipshape falls to zero, the enemy has been captured and/or sunk (and the ship sinks in its window). Efficiency is a measure of the crewís ability to handle the ship; if less than 80 percent of its original crew remain active, efficiency falls and trouble begins. For example, at an efficiency of .5, the ship sails half as fast and takes twice as long to reload its cannons.
  5. The current distance, in inches (these are newspaper-folded ships after all) between the two ships.
  6. Your ship's profile. It has the same information as described in item 4.
  7. The fire control. Left-click on the left green button to fire the port cannons or on the right to fire the starboard ones. (Port and starboard cannons are timed independently of one another). After you click to fire a broadside, the button turns red until the guns are reloaded (when the button is green again).
  8. Shot dispersal: a key element! Left-click to choose a tight, normal, or wide cannonball dispersal. If uncertain about aim, choosing normal or wide is fine; if you position your ship well, a tight broadside is devastating. (Note that the NYPost is hysterical: its "normal" broadside falls in a vast semicircle, and its tight broadside isnít much better.)
    If a cannonball hits, youíll see (and hear) fire bursts on that ship; for misses, youíll see (and hear) splashes in the water (unless the ball goes beyond the screen range). Your misses will give you valuable information on how to improve your shooting. For instance, if you see an arc of splash rings appear equally on both sides of your target, thatís the time to switch to tight broadsides.
  9. Wind direction. The direction is set at random at the start of a ship duel. Afterward wind may change in fits or bursts (which makes the weathervane handy), but none particularly large. The idea is to have a prevailing wind, even if you cannot count on it overly much. (Wind speed is constant . . . for now.)
  10. Steering. Steer with the left and right cursor keys. Left = port, right = starboard. Note: steering deteriorates on a badly damaged ship.
    The "Start over" button on the right lets you leave a bummer situation.
The following two screens show the midpoint and the tactical screen, respectively. You reach it as soon as the two ships are 640 or 320 inches apart. The enlarged views allows easier ship maneuvers, but at the closer ranges, cannon fire is more destructive.

For both of these closeup screens, the main point is that there is no running away. If either ship makes it to the screen edge and both ships are within 640 or 320 inches of each other, the two ships are recentered on the respective screen.

Midpoint screen
Midpoint Screen

At this range, shell splashes often end up off the screen, and if you ever wonder which cannons you actually used, smoke is a handy indicator. Whenever a broadside is fired, puffs of smoke come out of that side of the ship.

(Sure you could fire both broadsides each time to make sure that at least one goes in the correct direction, but wouldn't it be better to save that other broadside, swing around, and let that ship have it?)

If a ship makes it to the edge and two are more than 640 inches apart, both ship are returned to and centered on the strategic screen: Then a run for the mist can begin in earnest, if necessary.

Tactical screen
Tactical Screen

If two ships collide, both suffer collision damage and are bounced apart.

If a ship makes it to the edge and the two are more than 320 inches apart, both ships are returned to and centered on the midpoint screen.

Sink the other newspaper's ship, because if your crew is blown away or your ship sinks, you lose. (You will see one ship or the other sink in its window.) And no one wants that to happen!

Just remember, most newspapers live to print another day, and running away may be better than sinking. Or so I'm told.

December 12, 2010
The game is now freeware.

December 18, 2004
version 1.7: I added four ships, as well as a new enemy mode. I suppose that was an easy way (enhancing the enemy) to avoid thinking about a truly constructive mode. In time, however, that will come too.

November 4, 2002
version 1.52: The enemy ship turns right or left initially, depending on wind direction (instead of always turning right initially).

October 31, 2002
version 1.51: A tweak to the AI (so that "nasty" doesn't close as much as "aggressive").

Isn't it time you downloaded the game?

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