Atmospheric flight model

Continuing the discussion from Weekl Update #83… we want the atmospheric flight model to feel different than in space ( design goal ), but if we implement a semi-realistic flight model ( based on drag / friction / lift forces ), our ships are currently heavy bricks with no wings, so there’s not enough lift surfaces to allow for the roll-and-pitch maneuver.

What do you prefer…

  • A more realistic model: ships fly like bricks, strong drag but little lift
  • A less realistic model: ships fly more like airplanes despite their look, lift is introduced artificially to the equations

0 voters


Tricky one to answer, as I don’t entirely understand the detailed results each would have.

However, I naturally lean towards a little bit of cheating, as the roll-and-pitch style turning appeals to me more. I’m not saying it should be completely like planes, just a subtle bonus to turning if you roll rather than simply yaw.

I think it’s important to be distinct behaviour from space.


I like the struggle that “bricks in atmosphere” created. It’s something very different than other games, something new.

I would be ok with a compromise. Maybe a shape like a wedge? Elypsoid was talked about but don’t know if that would be too aerodynamic.
If a compromise is done I woukd like to see the possibility for realistic to be still present. Without shields for instance…
But first lets actually try to fight with bricks… We never had the chance to see how it works in a competitive like enviroment… (hits register, limited repair)

Some relevant posts in there:

Old model though. Just inspiration/opinions. Not the actual tech talk.


I’m for a plane-like flight behaviour in the atmosphere because a stark difference between atmosphere and space combat adds more to the game in terms of gameplay.
I want to be able to do plane combat maneuvers on planets, real dogfights instead of just shooting in a straight line past each other (that would get old really fast). At least with the interceptor this should be possible. The whole point of the interceptor is to be a small, fast and agile fighter. It behaving like a rocket propelled brick would be a huge bummer. It needs to be able the traverse canyons without smashing into the walls for example.

I want this: :grimacing:
Not this:

Wingless bodies are also able to generate some lift, I think its totally okay to tweak the parameters in favor of them.


I would go for the plane like flight model.
The ship shapes are unrealistic anyway, so why should the flight model conform to reality when the ship shapes are mostly dictated by the classical unrealistic scify look?
If the goal was to make this game a strict simulation the ships would need to change first to be realistic, it makes no sense to force shitty handling on the player just because ‘realistic’ sounds cooler.
Since most if the science that would make these ships a reality is fantasy anyway I would choose a flight model that is fun to play and familiar - like that of planes. I couldthink be explained by the shape of the energy shield like it was suggested numerous times.


Also: Why would an advanced civilization build ships that have worse flight characteristics than 20th century model airplanes? Makes no sense to me, if anything the ships should be superior to modern fighter jets.

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As others have suggested, use the shields to produce aerodynamic lift. Now you’ve got the best of both worlds. The issues at that point are:

  1. Balancing the gameplay.

  2. Making it look good.

As I see it, the gameplay balance should originate in the idea that shields in atmosphere draw a lot of extra power. This requires pilots to reduce power to other systems. But if high power on shields happens to also provide the ability to shape them essentially for free (on small ships) then pilots would tend to compromise thrusters because they can get better energy management from an aerodynamic shield shape. The larger the ship, the more prohibitive the power requirements become to shaping shields. Capitals just don’t ever do it.

Other things are possible such as eroding thruster performance in atmospheres. Like shields, they could work best in a hard vacuum. By reducing thruster performance on a 10g interceptor, you might reduce it to a 2g interceptor in a sea level atmosphere. Give it those shaped shields and you’ve got an explanation as to why it just became the equivalent of an F-22 in performance.

In terms of artwork, the shields would be translucent models of aerodynamic shapes. In theory, you could morph between a standard oblong shield and a shaped sharp-edged aerodynamic shield depending on the energy that you’re willing to put into the shield shape. Lift and drag changes would also interpolate.

Continuing with artwork, have the forward facets of the shield go more and more opaque according to the atmospheric pressure on them. So imagine that I’m trying to make a very high speed run through atmosphere in my interceptor without regard to weapons or thrusters. I’ve balanced energy such that I’ve got a highly-aerodynamic shape on my ship and a ton of thrust. I’m going so fast that my F-22 aerodynamic shape is glowing brightly, but only on the front. The rest of the shape fades out towards the back.

Note that when I say F-22, I just mean sharp leading edges and a cool overall shape. There would be no control surfaces, bubble canopies, air intakes, etc. Perhaps a B-2 would be a better shape to reference.

There are many things that don’t make any sense in the Battlescape universe. It’s a question of whether the chosen fiction is appealing to the customer base.


In short: fun first, realism after! Kind of Flavien’s unofficial motto these past few years! :smile:


I voted for the more realistic model.

You don’t need wings to create lift. A brick still generates lift at the right AoA. They have a lot of drag, yes, but with magic engines that can negate that drag, they can fly through atmosphere at high speeds and create lift.
Anything that redirects the air flow creates lift. Resource on Lift and incorrect application of Bernoulli’s equation (follow the arrow links at the bottom).

As I wrote in the other thread, have separate (much simpler) 3d models for the ships that are used for aerodynamics so you can tweak them.

At low speeds, sure, they’re not going to generate any appreciable lift, but I think that’s good - handling will vary depending on the atmospheric density and the speed of the ship. Flying in a thick atmosphere will feel different from a thin one and trying to manouvre and retain control at very high speeds may be a challenge to the player.

If you could offer a 20th century military a fighter design that could rotate to point and accelerate in any direction without worrying about stalling, I don’t think you’d get many rejections…
The goal of modern fighter jet design is extreme manouvreability, not encouraging nice loopy manouvres.
If designers could acheive the speed and stabliity of jets with the manouvrability of stunt quadcopters, you can be damn sure they wouldn’t say “oh but that wouldn’t match our pilots’ expectation of what atmospheric flight feels like”.


I am for the Airplanes style of flight. Since we already have the opposite in space it does seem logical.
Like others suggested.

Plus how do we know what is realistic on that earth-like planet in IB prototype ? :wink:
It could have very thick atmosphere. :smiley:

Which brings me to another possibility.
How about making every planet with different atmosphere density ? …but that would be yet more work for Flavien …oops pardon :blush:

Or even every planet have different atmosphere densities depending on height… :rofl: (he is loving me now :joy:)
Player would have some small HUD element indicating current position in atmosphere with overlaid colour gradients depending on density of current atmosphere.
This could create another interesting mechanic in flight inside the gas planet atmosphere.

…hmm i wonder …would it be strange to have thick part in the “middle” of the atmosphere…you know for some bizarre planets like the volcanic one.



I vote for testing both approaches :blush:

Add an adjustable weight to the lift term of the equation and experiment with different values. Intuition tells me that the sweet spot will be somewhere in between a realistic plane and a realistic brick.

Also, I would base the calculations on a box that is individually adjustable for each ship. That way, if any single ship gets too weird, you can alter its box to balance it accordingly.


I’d vote for both, depending on if the shields are on/off. :wink:

*That said, seeing that atmospheric flight is currently a ‘worse in every possible way’ version of in-space flight that somehow still manages to not feel all that different… you can probably guess where I voted. :stuck_out_tongue:


I agree with the idea of using shields to introduce lift as we have discussed before, it gives a realistic explanation for faking it and players get a treat when their shields go down.


Allready in the pre-alpha. :wink:


Yeah, as Lomsor says, the atmosphere isn’t an on/off thing, it gradually increases in how much your ship is affected the closer to the surface you get. If you want to overtake someone, travel upward for extra speed from the reduced drag. I doubt either system would end up lacking something like this.

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damn i should really start playing with it
…my bad, sorry … :slight_smile:

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i vote for realistic if shields are off
and flight model if shields are on


I vote for fun over realism.
Yes please add a little more magic lift, if it helps to further distinguish between space and atmosphere and make the flight model more interesting. But please refrain from overdoing it before you feel the atmospheric model becomes way too unbelievable, arcade, (propeller)-plane or generic-space-game like.
To allow for the roll-and-pitch manoeuvre you could also make the top and bottom thrusters more efficient and the side thrusters weaker in atmosphere then in space.

Somewhere between a realistic plane and a realistic brick? We can call it Plick. :grin:


How about designing ships with lift - at least mid size and smaller ones.