In which we discuss the first public experimental release of the new parachute creation and simulation system.
It’s the Ramjet Anvil Show! This bi-weekly video series is where we keep you up to date on Volo Airsport, it’s development, and the ideas behind all of it. Got questions? Leave them in a comment, and we’ll get to them next episode.
(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:
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 . 🙂
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.
Long time no blog, high time for an update!
First off, here’s the trailer I made a while back, it conveys a lot about the current state of the game: Volo Trailer. (You’ll have to forgive me for not embedding the video, wordpress won’t let me for some reason.)
I did an experiment with Unity’s cloth physics, of which you can get some impressions here: Cloth Physics.
Using cloth this way would likely result in a unified approach for modeling all ram-air surfaces in the game, in a way that its easy enough for players to design & tweak the shape of their own canopies and suits using an in-game editor. How cool would it be to try and make that Vampire3 fly faster? Mind-blowingly cool, that’s how. Unfortunately it turns out Unity won’t let you read vertices back from the deformed wing mesh, so there’s no way of analyzing a cloth wing for its aerodynamic properties. Not yet anyway, I have good hopes that this feature will become accessible at some point in the future. In the mean time I’ll have to think of something else, so back to the drawing board!
As for the grand scale of things, I’m looking into setting up my own business so I can continue work on the game. Next to working on the game I will spend considerable time doing freelance game programming to build up some funds. I will also be setting up a little online store where you can buy early access to Volo, and some Unity scripts that people have expressed interest in such as scalable input and GUI systems.
That’s it for now. 🙂
In this post I’ll detail the work I’ve done on the game so far.
When I started building this game about 8 months ago I had a couple of years of programming experience, but no extensive knowledge of physics or specific game-related technologies. Thus so far the development process has mostly consisted of learning a whole lot by study, and trial and error.
This is where I am right now: