As we approach the first release of our public multiplayer beta we reminiscence about some of the bugs and oddities that ended up as features.
Physics, especially the bomb flight
Flight physics have changed a lot during the development. For a long time the planes felt weightless and the effect of gravity and drag wasn’t properly there. The current iteration isn’t exactly the most realistic but it’s fun and exciting. The bomb physics have always been quite “floaty” by design and are a major gameplay design feature. Our bombs can easily be thrown across the map by the Blue plane and Yellow can litter around a devastating rain of bombs all-around. Long range precision bombing brings an immense sense of success and madly spamming the sky full of bombs bring a lot of frags!
Antti: “I just had to go and tweak the bomb physics.. :D.. “Iiro!? I NEED our bombs to be able to fly trough 1 map segment”.. and then I tweak and there we are.. Our floaty bombs even more floaty! xD Iiro even managed to throw one over 1,5 map segments! (there is three in skirmish). Satisfaction guaranteed! :D”
This is plain silly. Right now there is no penalty for a plane that lands vertically “on its feet”. Landing in the original game was always a bit of a gamble. Sometimes you would just come down too fast, sometimes the angle wasn’t exactly right and sometimes something just happened and you exploded. Now you can just be over your airfield do a backflip and a barrel roll and gently descend to the ground to be ferried inside the hangar. Looks silly and isn’t always the fastest type of landing when under fire, but we love it.
Antti: “I especially love the yellow plane and gave it a nickname in finnish: Hyrrä (whirligig). Its extreme maneuverability makes it the ideal stunting plane and doing these kind of moves in the middle of a tight furball always confuses your opponents and rewards you with those sweeet frags! :)”
Take off shakes
Thanks to our runway collision code our planes tend to shake a bit when they are taking off. It creates a nice effect of these somewhat primitive machines waking up and getting up to speed.
Antti: “This is the exact example of ‘it’s a bug not a feature!’. It was something I always intended to fix but as time passed by it just grew on me and now if you don’t read this blog and play the game.. You will never know! ‘;..;’ “
Death roll struggle and floundering
When planes fly in to the sky or take enough damage, engine power is cut to zero and the plane starts to spin uncontrollably and plummets to a certain death. Well at least it should do it. Control is never lost fully and you can actually still shoot and steer the plane a bit. This results in an effect where you desperately try to gasp for more air while doing some wild spins and occasionally shooting down your opposition. Although death is certain, it’s a cool effect that makes sure that not every death is the same.
Shooting bombs from mid air
As mentioned earlier, bombing is a big part of the game and shooting down flying bombs immediately entered our list of features as we realised that bullets unintentionally collided with bombs. This mechanic brings a bit more survivability to dogfights as you aren’t always oneshotted by a bomb flying to your face.
Antti: “This also gives those ‘moments to remember’ as you just barely survive the oncoming bombardment by shooting them down and then get the frag to finish it off!”
Friendly fire AA
This was in the original. Your own AA-guns don’t actively try to shoot you down. But fly between them and their prey and your plane will get well ventilated! This creates zones where it’s an absolute suicide to try to fight for a longer period of time without getting killed. The cannons especially will accidentally blast anything circling over it to bits.
Unlimited range AA-MG
We didn’t bother to implement range for anti-air machine guns as their target acquisition sector is quite small and the ceiling is very low, so the bullets just get destroyed off screen. In our first map we didn’t even realise this but the machine guns can actually fire out of their firing arc after acquiring target. In one of our maps there are machine guns that are placed relatively high on the map so that players can dive past them. This dive maneuver results in the machine gun trying to shoot the plane and spraying its burst across the whole map. The effect is mostly humorous as random bullets whiz through the map, I’m not sure if we’ll keep this “feature”.
Things that didn’t make the cut:
Infantry shoots bombs out of air
When we implemented our infantry for the first time their bullets also collided with bombs. It was practically impossible to bomb bases when there was a plane in the firing range of the infantry as hail of rifle fire swatted away every green lump of death. This is a feature that might in distant future return as a multiplayer mutator or something. Maybe a game mode where bases don’t respawn? Well, don’t hold your breath for it. :D
Antti: “An impenetrable spawn and base protection?! Now with the new bomb physics you could attack the base from long range and infantry would never know what hit’em! VIHELTÄÄ! INCOMING!”
And then we have our hangar guy, lovingly named Butters. This isn’t even a feature but we can’t talk bugs without mentioning him as he has been the source of extremely many bugs throughout the whole development process. At times he wouldn’t come out of the hangar, sometimes it was the wrong hangar he was hanging in. Then there were the times when he decided that your own hangar wasn’t nice enough place for a plane and pushed the plane through forest to other player hangar. He also sports an army of moonwalking clones of himself. The clones would do their dance repertoire in front of the hangar doors for a myriad of reasons. I’m not sure how many different reasons there were for clone-Butters to be spawned just to swagger in the middle of landing strip, but there were many! If you play our demo and he brings troubles (or takes them away) let us know!
Antti: “Funny thing.. as we not long ago celebrated ‘killing off’ the last known bug of butters and when Iiro was writing this just hours ago and I was doing playtesting… You never guess what happened.. BUTTERS in his wisdom decided when I had just landed my battle-suffered plane with my last strength that the plane was NOT GOOD ENOUGH for his garage and decided to just stand there.. watching as the ongoing battle was overhead us and my last hitpoints were drained away by stray bullets. Turning on the engine again and moving just a tiny little pixel made Butters happy again and I barely made it out alive…”