[version 0.1.1-alpha, April 2013]
Chris Coyne & Max Krohn
In Nodewar, you invent and program spaceships. These ships are living creatures, and their genetic code is the software you write.
In Nodewar, a ship can infect other ships with its own source code.
Nodewar is still in alpha, and a lot will change. Currently, your ships battle others while orbiting a rare and spectacular triple moon system with a Newtonian physics model. These moons can crash into each other and aren't that stable, overall, which makes sense because (1) it's a 3-body setup, and (2) the ships are really big, too, and they exert gravity and tend to smash into the moons.
To win the battle and infinite glory in this alpha of Nodewar, your ships must destroy all enemy queen ships while protecting their own queen.
All other ships are expendable and exist only to serve. We call these "drones."
Ready to attack? Nodewar takes place in a ideal universe. Therefore, there are no bullets in Nodewar, and your ships attack with ancient technology: geometry. When a ship's vertex strikes another ship's edge, that ship is snapped in two. Each piece becomes a new ship. The weaker, smaller half, is infected by the AI of the attacker.
Now that you understand sharding, back to queens: Queen ships don't have "health" per se, they have "area health", which is dimished as they are broken up. The health indicators referred to above indicate how much livable area they have remaining.
A queen or any other ship can be killed in 3 different ways: (1) by sharding it small enough, (2) by crashing it into a moon, or (3) by forcing it outside the playing field (a.k.a. the moon field).
For a brief duration after a ship is born, it is invincible. In addition to being invincible, it's more nimble than its parent was, as it has a smaller mass but full-powered engines. Queens are especially quick, as they have 1/8th the density of a drone. Small queens are like lightning. Lightning in space is very scary - think about it.
As mentioned above, early ships will feel heavy and somewhat unresponsive, as their masses (areas) are large and unfavorable to maneuverability. However, as the battle progresses, smaller, quicker ships will form, and, if you program them right, they should get bolder.
Ships smaller than a certain size die and float away, unable to execute their genetic code. However, if a dead ship happens to miraculously split a living ship, it will still infect successfully! New life could be spawned for a dying species. We call a dead ship that pulls this off a resurrection shard.
Extremely small shards are turned into noble gas and disappear from the battle.
Sharding thyself intentionally can be effective to produce quick ships early. We call this "sharting."