Triplane. Trip lane. Tree plan. Three planes.
So I remember playing the original Triplane Turmoil full screened with the whole battlefield presented in three stacked views as I was dogfighting with my friend on a shared keyboard. To me the game was meant to be played like that. You could always see where everyone was or if their base was intact. You could do ridiculous precision bombing from a mile away as you could see the whole map. There was an option for 4-way split screen action, but I don’t believe anyone seriously used it in multiplayer as the view was very limited. Single player campaign was locked in a more closer view of the player and at times limited visibility upped the already somewhat difficult missions. There is a bunch of things to take into account as we try to recreate the experience.
3planes doesn’t 3Dgfx make
The three stacked views greatly affect the gameplay and graphics. Firstly the graphics size must be quite small as we are effectively stacking three small screens atop of each other and there must be room to play. This is fine as retro style pixel graphics are very low resolution anyways. However at the same time the assets must be large and recognizable enough to see them as you are sitting on a couch and playing the game on TV, a way the original game wasn’t really meant to be played. AND then you realize that you are also making graphics for the more closer view at the same time and they must look good from that viewpoint also.
The three viewports that cover the entire multiplayer map can’t really react to player movements or anything at all. Locked view makes it very hard to play with backgrounds to combat stillness of visuals. Many 2D-games use backgrounds that move according to player movements. But nope can’t use them here as all players share the screen, have to come up with something different. I’ve been thinking a lot of different background solutions for this but the very strict and still 2D perspective is very challenging to make look just right to me. Combat also often focuses on one of the three segments at the time, this also makes the game view seem a bit static at moments(Though the combat if very hectic at times!).
And as stated earlier gameplay is greatly affected by the views. As the whole scene is presented at all times and in three separate views we have to lock its size in place, as we have very little room to play around with scaling the view. Computer screen resolutions have been increasing more vertically than horizontally in the past 20 years. As we have to make the graphics a bit bigger in comparison to straight upscaling from the original graphics, we run into a problem of vertical space to play in which results in a more claustrophobic experience. Because the maps are longer in comparison we get a bit more room to play around with terrain features. We have made the planes quite a bit faster this results for a bit more aggressive and faster combat. Very lethal anti-air fire at low altitudes further amplify the feeling of zero mistakes allowed in combat. (Somewhat accidentally the gameplay mechanic of shooting bombs from the air alleviates the tightness of flying space. :D)
We also implemented a ingame hud that follows the player’s plane/hangar to save some precious vertical pixels. This affected gameplay a bit as now player don’t know exactly how many bombs they are carrying or how much fuel there is left at all times. It also prompted us to try a reloading mechanic to plane machine guns. The sudden pause in your gunfire as you reload brings some nice panic/survival situations in to the game!
Locking the map and views to a certain resolution isn’t an optimal solution, but it’s the best we came up with. The game looks still fine when stretched to fit some screens, maybe we can combat it with some graphical options such as borders etc. I have to admit that I like to see the current stuff in closer view and am very excited to see it in motion in single player game, this feeling is extremely rare!
Thanks for reading about our somewhat unique challenges in this project. Hit us up with a comment if you have ideas or questions and be sure to come back next week!
Till next time