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TIGSource ForumsCommunityDevLogsAlaskan Runway: a side-scrolling flight simulator
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Author Topic: Alaskan Runway: a side-scrolling flight simulator  (Read 6592 times)
zovirl
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Mark Ivey


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« on: September 29, 2013, 04:36:54 PM »



Alaskan Runway is a 2D side-scrolling flight simulator set in the mountains of Alaska. Out here, runways are humble affairs: a clearing in the trees or a gravel sandbar at the edge of a river. Not much, but better than the roads. As a bush pilot, your job is to get cargo and people into (and out of) the wilds.

Play the work-in-progress
Hint: landing is the challenge. Yeah, you'll fly a loop because everyone tries that at first. When the thrill wears off, try landing and stopping next to flags.

Inspiration
A long time ago, when I was about 10 years old, I played Wings of Fury on my friend's Apple II. I remember how real it felt. In the years since I've flown a lot of other sims and some real planes too. The controls in Wings of Fury feel terrible to me now; nothing like a real plane.

Realisim vs. Fun
I want to make a sim that feels like flying a real plane. More or less. I'm a "fun via realism" kind of guy, but realistic flight sims have a lot of boring shit for some reason. I'm skipping that junk. Realistic but boring? I'm not doing it. There's no engine start checklist. There isn't perfect simulation of a Garmin 500 GPS. Runways are close together so you don't have 20 minutes of tedious flying between takeoff and landing.

What's next?
Here are my plans at the moment:

Replace the flags: This is a game about landing planes in hard places. The flags are there to encourage people to land. (Otherwise new players just try to fly around, but that's boring). I want to replace the flags with jobs moving cargo around ("Pick up 3 hunters from the woods and fly them back to town" or "carry this mail to the isolated village"). A hint of an economy would make the world feel richer, but really cargo would be there to force players to land & takeoff a lot.

Other planes: add a seaplane, add a heavier cargo plane. This should add some variety to the way the game feels by having planes with different stats.

Weather: Add wind, fog, rain, etc. I think this will add some higher-level challenge.
« Last Edit: November 07, 2013, 08:27:24 PM by zovirl » Logged

Alaskan Runway, a side-scrolling flight sim I'm working on.
Forest, a walking meditation game. (behind the scenes)
www.zovirl.com
zovirl
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Mark Ivey


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« Reply #1 on: September 29, 2013, 04:37:52 PM »

Development History
I've been working on this off and on (mostly off Sad) for a while now. Started in July 2010, but there have been some long stretches where I was working on other projects. I think I've put in about 6 months of evenings on this so far. Here's a quick recap of what happened before I started this devlog.


"#0000FF is a nice sky color right?"
Here's what it looked like at the end of the weekend I started it. There was a basic flight model, but no brakes so you couldn't really land. Everything here was being drawn by code instead of using images. I don't know why, but this seemed easiest at the time.




Brakes have been added and a spot cleared out of the trees so the plane can land now. The blue thing next to the cabin is a pond.




Switched to using proper sprite images for everything. You can't see it in this screenshot but there are hills now. At this point, the level is hard-coded and I'm hand-editing numbers in a JavaScript file to edit the level.




Dashboard & map added. Crashes were too punishing so I added rewind. Previously you had to restart, take off again, fly to the destination (boring!), and try landing again.

The terrain is also procedural in this version. Adding procedural terrain this early turned out to be a big mistake: It made the terrain hard to experiment on. I wanted to add a town, but I would have had to write a town-generating algorithm. I wanted a waterfall but the terrain generator couldn't make cliffs. I couldn't try ideas quickly enough because it took days to tweak the algorithms.




"Watch how hard I deliver this food!"
By now I was realizing that landing and taking off are fun but flying around is tedious. This is true in real planes too. There's not much to do while flying. Landing is where all the excitement is. I added some "missions" (which were totally faked) to try to encourage players to land. They didn't really work: players ignored them and still didn't land.




Lots of progress at TIGJam 5 this year. I ripped out the procedural terrain and built a level editor. Used the editor to build every type of runway I could think of (long, short, level, bumpy, steeply sloped, on an island, etc.). Finally was able to add a village. People were still ignoring the missions so I replaced them with coins. Someone (Jimmy?) suggested that flags made more sense.
« Last Edit: September 29, 2013, 05:43:21 PM by zovirl » Logged

Alaskan Runway, a side-scrolling flight sim I'm working on.
Forest, a walking meditation game. (behind the scenes)
www.zovirl.com
zovirl
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Mark Ivey


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« Reply #2 on: November 06, 2013, 09:49:29 PM »

I felt like the game was lacking tension due to the rewind ability. It meant that approaches never had to be flown perfectly because you could always try again. So I removed rewind. We'll see how it plays now.

In its place, I added a health system. If you land too hard, it damages your plane. Take too much damage and you crash. There are repair hangers in 3 of the coastal towns. If you land and stop near a hanger, your plane will be repaired.



(Anyone remember refueling and repairing in early Microsoft Flight Simulators? You just park your plane in the magic square and it gets refueled & repaired)
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Alaskan Runway, a side-scrolling flight sim I'm working on.
Forest, a walking meditation game. (behind the scenes)
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GeoffW
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« Reply #3 on: November 07, 2013, 08:52:57 AM »

This looks pretty cool, reminds me a little bit of Sopwith (

).
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zovirl
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Mark Ivey


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« Reply #4 on: November 07, 2013, 08:00:57 PM »

This looks pretty cool, reminds me a little bit of Sopwith (

).

Thanks! I never got to play Sopwith but I'm impressed that they had deformable terrain. My game does not have that Smiley

Now I wonder if Wings of Fury (

) was inspired by Sopwith.
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Alaskan Runway, a side-scrolling flight sim I'm working on.
Forest, a walking meditation game. (behind the scenes)
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friken
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« Reply #5 on: November 07, 2013, 08:12:04 PM »

This looks pretty cool, reminds me a little bit of Sopwith (

).

You beat me to it.... yep, looks a lot like it Smiley I LOVED that game. Aviation is near and dear to my heart. Following.. .and I look forward to playing it.

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darklight
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« Reply #6 on: November 10, 2013, 05:13:08 PM »

Hi!  I love the look of your game - its very different seeing a 'civilian' style 2d flight sim.  I've got a website devoted to this kind of game - 2D Flight Sims - I'll add your game to if, that is ok?

I too am writing a similar game, and I too started in July 2010, funny huh.  I've since gotten married & had a baby, which has really sucked away my free time.  See my footer for more details (of my game) if you want.

Love the art style in your game!  Cant wait to see it develop.

I recognize the plane you've used - have you done something similar, perhaps in a BASIC language?
« Last Edit: November 10, 2013, 05:20:14 PM by darklight » Logged

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zovirl
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Mark Ivey


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« Reply #7 on: November 12, 2013, 07:25:07 AM »

I've got a website devoted to this kind of game - 2D Flight Sims - I'll add your game to if, that is ok?

That's a great list. It would be great to have Alaskan Runway on it.  Gentleman Your list reminded me of Armor Alley. We used to play that in typing class (instead of typing, of course).

I too am writing a similar game, and I too started in July 2010, funny huh.  I've since gotten married & had a baby, which has really sucked away my free time.  See my footer for more details (of my game) if you want.

Looks like you've gotten farther than I have at least! I like the variety of planes you have. I know what you mean about free time getting sucked up by all kinds of projects and life.

I recognize the plane you've used - have you done something similar, perhaps in a BASIC language?

Nope, but it is based on a pretty common bush plane design. The Piper Cub, the Aviat Husky, and the Champ Citabria all look very similar to this (and the first two are often bright yellow). I wouldn't be surprised if someone else featured this plane in a game.
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Alaskan Runway, a side-scrolling flight sim I'm working on.
Forest, a walking meditation game. (behind the scenes)
www.zovirl.com
Mauricio Gomes
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« Reply #8 on: November 12, 2013, 08:42:06 AM »

Cool! And very hard

Although there is something I found that maybe is a exploit, that is turn around constantly in a short runway, until you manage to stop properly...

I was making a helicopter game, with same gameplay as yours, but for tablets (you piloted the heli by tilting the tablet around, and touch controlled throttle) but in the end we dropped the project.
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zovirl
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Mark Ivey


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« Reply #9 on: November 16, 2013, 09:15:03 PM »

Although there is something I found that maybe is a exploit, that is turn around constantly in a short runway, until you manage to stop properly...

Haha that is cheating Smiley

I haven't figured out an elegant to prevent this yet. I might make the turn-around animation take more horizontal space so you can't turn around in tight spaces.
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Alaskan Runway, a side-scrolling flight sim I'm working on.
Forest, a walking meditation game. (behind the scenes)
www.zovirl.com
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