Progress, and a Thank You

(Shame on me, and egg on my face; this blog needs a new post so very badly.)

First, it’s video time!

This is a new level I created for the Think Design Play conference, where I was showcasing my game last month. It’s an 8km square island with a large peak and some valleys. I made sure there are plenty of interesting creases and paths to explore no matter where you look. It uses some assets from the Unity Asset Store: The Nature Pack and Cloud System to be precise, both of which I haven’t explored to their full extent yet.

A user on the Unity forums asked me for some details on how I achieved this look, and if you’re interested you can find my answer here: Unity Forums: What do you guys use for realistic terrains?

Anyway, the game was very well received and I got lots of great feedback*. A crazy amount of kind comments on the video, too! Thanks everyone.

I’ve been looking into the physics and aerodynamics again. The main problem I have with it is that the current components make it almost impossible to make the wingsuit aerodynamically stable to a satisfying degree. They lack some properties that make it hard to achieve this effect. When you play for the first time this is not too much of an issue, but after a while you can notice that the amount of oscillation and illogical stalls really get in the way. I’ll stress that I don’t want to get rid of the struggle for control, as that’s one of the most interesting things about the game, but right now some of the difficulty in control is unfair and unfun.

The last couple of days I’ve been experimenting with techniques that analyze a mesh for its aerodynamic properties. For example, using a matrix of raycasts to determine profile drag in high resolution:

Using raycasts to sample a mesh for its profile area in the relative wind.

This goes some way towards the techniques X-Plane uses for its simulation. It uses an offline phase in which it analyzes aircraft geometry in painstaking detail, storing coefficients of motion that can be looked-up while the simulation is running.

I can tell that this is not the way to go for Volo. For one, a typical aircraft has a mostly static shape, whereas a wingsuit flyer’s shape continuously changes in profound ways. The aerodynamic properties of someone curled up in a ball are completely different from someone flying in normal position. Doing this kind of analysis in real-time, say on a deforming cloth mesh and animated character would be very costly in terms of performance.

My current flight model might not be the most physically accurate, but one of its major qualities in terms of play is that every microscopic limb movement has a definitely noticeable effect on play. This nuance is exactly what I want to preserve, since it is what makes playing the game so much fun. So instead I will focus on patching the largest holes in the current system.

The other issue is that my brain is too small for the fancy tricks X-Plane does, or at least lacks the necessary training in aviation to pull them off within the foreseeable future . ๐Ÿ™‚


Other than Volo development I’ve been freelancing a lot, and its finally started to resemble an actual job. I also have some things underway for the Unity Asset Store! Landmass is almost ready for release, for example.


Thanks for sticking around, everyone! Your kind words have motivated me to get back at it, I owe you one.


* I have this video of a kid playing and having the most exuberant reaction when he crashed into the completely faked ocean, he felt so cheated there wasn’t any actual water! He liked the game a lot though, came back a couple of times. I must remember to upload it.

  • Awesome!
    Don’t worry about the physics, I mean, don’t worry too much. Altough a realistic shape analysis would be awesome and all that…very few will nottice that. We, at the moment, just want to escape from the absolute crap that BASE is…there is only one terrain high enough, and you can’t even reach the most interesting parts…whereas on your single terrain alone, there are already endless possibilities…
    If I continue drooling on the keyboard, I’ll damage it for sure! ^_^

  • Awesome! I agree with above comment, but the more realistic wind/muscles/physics stuff is implemented, the more diverse different wingsuits/characters will feel. And now the mandatory: “Cool, but where is the spiderman/batman wingsuit?”;) Keep up the good work!

  • Yeah, It’s not that I’m against realistic models, what I meant is that, the more realistic he makes the model, the longer we will have to wait for even a demo…
    How much time are you willing to wait? (before dying of desperation like me… XD, or B.A.S.E. cancer…. ๐Ÿ˜›

  • I have an idea for your Problem.. wouldn’t it be possible to have the same model as we have it right now but make it invissible and put that fancy mesh one on the original one .. so you leave the physics on the old model thats now invisible and have the new one on top so it looks better ?!

    I dont really know how that stuff of programming works so I also cant say if my idea is possible ๐Ÿ˜€

    I’m really looking forward to an Alpha / Demo !!!!

  • Looks like great fun. I humbly request a mode where you can jump off a ledge, freefall, then unfurl the suit, then close it up for freefall again, and repeat. It’s what I spend most of my time doing in Just Cause 2, and can vouch for its amusement value.

    Oh and um … will there be landing? ๐Ÿ™‚

  • No need to close it up…just pitch up until you get 0 speed, and then you’ll do pure freefall. (besides I just watched JC2 freefall footage…and…well, it could not be less realistic. (human who jumps has control over is body right after jumping, and also, he is wearing no tracking suit…frankly dissapointing ^_^U )

  • tomeoftom

    I need this so, so, so badly. Can I donate yet?

  • When can we play?! internet multiplayer?! do want! Naow!

  • tomeoftom

    Also, shotgun being in the beta, (if you’re having one)!

  • Jon

    Skin the flyer and provide some mechanism for landing and I’ll buy it now! Actually, skinning the flyer is optional. I just want to play! I’m just awestruck!

    Have you written anything about the control scheme? You can clearly fly naturally, but it looks like there are a lot of degrees of freedom to control.

  • I’m with Jon… XD

  • pate m

    so when do you think this will be released or where i can play a demo ๐Ÿ™‚ ill even take a gusstimation

  • We’ve by now book mark this informative article and definately will certainly send this information to everyone my good friends and also acquaintances. Cheers with regard to putting up!

  • felipe

    where can i download the VOLO AIRSPORT game?

  • Greg

    Martijn – would you mind if I ask how you handled flight in Unity? I’m just having a look at Unity myself now and it has a Physics engine but it doesn’t seem like it could model something like a parachute with lift, wind resistance etc. What Unity features/approach did you take to model the flight? Like do you actually perform some sort of wind resistance calculations on various parts of the body, then add gravity using Unity gravity, and then total the forces or something? Seems very interesting….

  • Steve

    You’re about to feel the “Reddit Effect”, this looks amazing. We need something, anything to play with soon.

  • Do you have a Facebook fan page for your site?