Physics Postmortem

The physics portion of was an opportunity for us to finally start adding new ships. As a group we have developed a backlog of ideas that we have wanted to try. We looked in, and chose ships that all used physics ideas we had yet to execute on. We chose to create a grappling hook ship, bumper launching ship, a “sticky” ship and a strafing ship. Each of us took on different ships so we each had our own project.

I chose to work on bumper ship. The basic idea was a ship that drops bumpers similar to those found in a pinball machine. My first pass was basically just a bumper that drops behind the ship. I built it first as a square with four “paddles” on each side. Each paddle had a bounce material on it with 0 friction and 5 bounciness. These settings were quickly needing to be changed as they created crazy (albeit hilarious) results. Namely when a ship hit the bumper they would end up spinning so fast that their trails would create shapes. These included stars, pentagons, squares and even just straight lines. You knew a ships was spinning at its max speed when it “froze”, really it was spinning so fast that it was simply rendered as not rotating at all even though it would still be moving around the environment. In response to this behavior I changed the shape of the bumper to a circle and added friction, this caused the spinning to decrease substantially. While it still happens once in a while it at least feels like it makes sense now.

We quickly realized a huge problem though; it wasn’t very fun. This brought into view the most challenging aspect of this move, the design. Really none of us really knew what we wanted from it. We knew we wanted something involving the bumpers but they needed to do something. From here I added the ability the launch the bumpers at opponents. You would get to one side of your bumpers and hold the B button to launch them the direction you are from the bumper. This added an aspect of targeting to them, which then began making them far more interesting and fun. The next problem was how hard it was to aim them. Considering how quick our game is, the amount of thought it took to get a good hit was to much. You had to think about where you are in relation to the bumper and where your opponent was in relation to it and yourself at the same time. This was simply too much, thus prompting me to add auto aim. Connor and I worked together to create a new abstract class for having an object track another object. We made it generic so we could use it in the future. From there we can give it a target and it can follow and attract to. Currently It still has a bug in the tracking so it doesn’t work quite yet, but it will soon.

Overall I think the most difficult portion of this was designing something interesting. It was simple to execute of the initial idea but making it interesting is a far more difficult task. I plan on continuing to tweak it until it is fun. Hopefully I can have something by the time we return from break.

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