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  • Maneuverability In Games: The Importance Of Speed And Control

    [02.04.20]
    - Tariq Adderley

  • To compliment how fast you're moving, the game uses other methods of conveying speed. Such as speed lines and screen shake that become more intense when you boost, as well as sound dampening to replicate that feel of blasting through wind, a wide FOV and fisheye lens to show the world warping around you. An agile player controller that feels responsive, coupled with the immersion techniques previously listed convince the player that they're experiencing what the protagonist is experiencing.

    (Figure 2. Screenshot of Driftforce)

    "...The brain responds to a white-knuckle ride by triggering the release of a potent cocktail of biochemicals to deal with the body's stress, including more adrenaline (epinephrine) and norepinephrine which can suppress pain and boost the glow of euphoria that follows" (Highfield, 2006). Utilizing high speed in 3d games is an underappreciated practice. However, when thinking about how fast a player can move, the second and most important thing to think about is the character's speed curve. Speed curves are how much speed an object gains over time. It's what makes any transition feel fluid and natural. Many confuse a "stiff" speed curve (that is one that reaches max speed instantly) for a precise one, when it doesn't provide any more accuracy than a dynamic speed curve. Take Super Meat Boy for example; it's a precision platformer yet it has a somewhat long speed curve, but it is easy to turn and micro adjust because of the light weight and high acceleration.

    Discussion

    "...Physics tells us that there isn't really any absolute speed that we can measure. Everything-real and virtual-is relative" (Hill, 2019). Since speed is relative, and most games that have very fast characters need to have huge worlds in order to compensate for that speed. One concern is that if the game environment the player is in has multiple high-quality art assets, then the engine won't have time to render them quickly enough because the player is too fast. However, a less realistic art style with simpler, lower-poly assets would work well for larger maps that the player will blast through.

    More developers should invest in different mobility options, faster mobility options, and momentum where it is appropriate. There's a huge lack of fast-paced character action games with movement as a focus. Everybody can relate to expressing themselves via movement and rollercoasters are ever proving that people find speed exhilarating and fun, so finding an audience would not be a problem. Having a player controller with high maneuverability adds to the player's options, and speed if done well can effectively and consistently get the player into a flow state. If the player feels like they have options that can significantly change the outcome this yields a meaningful experience.

    Conclusion

    Developers should study animals and environments of all kinds when concocting new player movement. The more variability we have in our games, the larger the pool of reference material the industry has access to.

    Maneuverability that feels flexible and agile can only help your game. The more dynamic the player movement is the more gameplay opportunities will present themselves during development, and the more a player can express themselves and their personality.

    REFERENCES

    1. B, A. (2008, May 1). What Is Parkour, Anyway? Retrieved from https://youtube.googleblog.com/2008/05/what-is-parkour-anyway_01.html.
    2. Compton, C. (2019, June 28). Run, Jump and Climb: Designing Fun Movement in Games. Retrieved from https://remptongames.com/2019/06/29/run-jump-and-climb-designing-fun-movement-in-games/.
    3. DriftForce on Steam. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://store.steampowered.com/app/674170/DriftForce/.
    4. Highfield, R. (2006, October 3). Why exactly is this ride so thrilling? Retrieved from https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/science/science-news/3347855/Why-exactly-is-this-ride-so-thrilling.html.
    5. Hill, K. (2019, November 20). Why You Never Actually Feel the Need For Speed In Video Games. Retrieved from https://www.discovermagazine.com/the-sciences/why-you-never-actually-feel-the-need-for-speed-in-video-games.
    6. Movement: Definition of Movement by Lexico. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.lexico.com/en/definition/movement.
    7. Nease, B. (2016, July 18). Your Brain Is On Autopilot More Than You Think-Here's How To Wake It Up. Retrieved from https://www.fastcompany.com/3061366/your-brain-is-on-autopilot-more-than-you-think-heres-how-to-wake-i.​
    8. Tigsource. (2012, August 14). Zineth, by Arcane Kids. Retrieved from https://www.flickr.com/photos/tigsource/7784773300

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