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Dev Jam #12 – VTOL, WINGS AND RUDDERS

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VIABLE AIRPLANES

When we released Wings and Rudders – a long time ago now – we had hoped for players to be flying around the skies in beautiful futuristic airplanes conducting dogfights, bombing runs, anti-air, all that cool stuff. It didn’t pan out that way. The advantages of lateral movement provided by Helicopters and Thruster drones have generally meant that they perform better than airplanes in the air for the kind of gameplay we have in BA (Battle Arena) and TDM (Team Deathmatch).

So, we went back to the drawing board on Wings and Rudders. Our goal was simple – to make airplanes viable. For a type of Robot to be ‘viable’ there must not be a better kind of alternative Robot at a specific skill.

Q: What skill do we want Wings and Rudders to be able to do that separates them from every other type of aircraft in Robocraft and makes them better at that skill than Drones or Copters?

A: Speed, speed, speed. LIke Wheels on the ground, we want Airplanes to be the clear cut fastest thing in the air at the same time as being able to carry a decent amount of Health Boost on board.


GOALS

  • So, let’s establish some goals:
  • Must feel and look like flying a futuristic airplane
  • Be easy to build so many can enjoy them, but have tons of depth in building for the pro-builders
  • Be easy to fly so many can enjoy them, but reward the best pilots who control them best
  • Have Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL), better suited to our maps
  • Be able to stop on capture points
  • Be the fastest aircraft type in Robocraft by a significant margin
  • Work with Camera controls as well as Keyboard controls
  • Remain stable when you lose a Wing or Rudder in combat but have plenty of redundancy
  • As many existing airplanes as possible should still fly

SELF-PROPULSION

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  • The new Wings and Rudders have built-in Propulsion
  • They tilt down towards the ground when you push SPACE so you can take off vertically
  • You can stop mid air and they will tilt towards the ground to provide vertical thrust
  • They tilt forwards so you can reverse (they are airplanes from the future after all)
  • We have completely reworked how Thrusters and speed works in the game introducing a new Speed Boost system and removing any caps on speed – more on that in another Dev Jam (if you watched Friday’s livestream you will have seen something on this)
  • They are incredibly fast on their own, but adding Thrusters makes them faster, and the more Thrusters you add, the faster you go – i’ve clocked 500 mph on a Robot
  • with just Wings, Rudders and tons of Thrusters (not very viable in combat, but a lot of fun)

CONTROL SYSTEM

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  • We’ve reworked the way you fly airplanes too
  • Best analogy for the way they fly now is if Copters drive like Hovers that go up high in the sky, Airplanes are like Cars that go up high in the sky
  • Steer right and your airplane banks hard right and begins a clockwise turning circle (like steering a car in the air), hit Space and your airplane does a steep incline, the banking and elevating is handled for you so you can focus on your target and teamwork
  • Slow down and your aircraft goes into a hover, you have amazing control over your speed
  • Reverse and you reverse like a car; the banking, elevating, and hovering is covered for you (the are airplanes from the future after all)
  • Now, I know that the description above is going to alarm those that like flying planes – it is a controversial change for you guys for sure – but I can promise you that we have invested tons of time trying many prototypes out and when you get used to this new way of flying as a plane in Battle Arena you will hopefully appreciate the change and I am very confident you will see tons more players taking to the air in airplanes after this goes live
  • There are loads of little subtle tricks and moves you can pull off that require a bit of practice and skill that are made possible by the in-built propulsion
  • You can easily stop and hover on a capture point, fly fast towards a mountain top and stop there and rest just on top of it, then dive down the front real fast and make a bombing run. Stop behind cover, tons of combat moves that weren’t possible before – the main thing they can’t do that Copters can do is strafe sideways
  • Camera controls work very well with this new control system, steering with the mouse and camera works well and effortlessly. I think it works best with ‘Tilt’ disabled so you can look down at the ground to bomb targets, but it does work with tilt enabled as well and you can literally fly planes by simply holding ‘W’ and steering with the camera if you want to

BUILD TRICKS

  • You get different turning characteristics the closer you put the Wings to the left and right of the COM
  • You get different elevation characteristics the closer you put your Wings to the forward and aft of the COM
  • Rudders help you to turn sharper and faster, and the distance from the COM displays different turning characteristics
  • Rudders work better as Rudders and Wings better as Wings
  • You get better force from the propulsion and strong turning and elevation from the larger wings and they carry more mass, so more Health Boost, but as before the smaller Rudders are easier to conceal and fit on and protect, so there is a pro and con to give you build complexity to play with
  • Wings and Rudders no longer add ‘drag’
  • Wings and Rudders placed facing backwards in Drone mode still provide some Angular and lateral stability but do not provide lift or propulsion force

Anyway, we really hope you love the new Wings and Rudders and stay tuned for the details on the Speed Boost system tomorrow.

Thanks for reading!

Mark, Game Director, Freejam