Fun and Games

My next mobile app, “Backyard Brat”,  is in development for a January release.  As much as I love building air traffic control games, it’s important that I continually experiment with new game ideas.  And splashdespite the app store already being chock-full of silly games, I plan to submit some of mine anyway.  However, I am most certainly not planning to ever stop making air traffic control games.

Backyard Brat is an experiment.  It is the first of what will hopefully be a series of fun flying games.  If the experiment goes well, you will definitely see more.  The concept stems from an older idea I’d wanted to develop, which was an actual flight simulation.   I’ve been playing with flight simulators such as Microsoft Flight Simulator and XPlane for years, but I’ve been thinking about everything that is wrong with them.  And here it is:  computer flight simulation is boring.  And after 25 years of creating flight simulations, Microsoft has figured this out.  That’s why they have changed their name Flight Simulator to, simply, Flight.  Oh, and they have tossed in some challenges and missions for us.   The problem is, these challenges and missions lack fun.  Find the daily aerocache?  What the heck is an aerocache?  I can’t find the definition online anywhere.

msfsIt’s really hard for beginners to fly these things, too.  I think most people just want to be entertained by their games, not dazzled by how real they seem.  I am a seasoned real-world pilot  and I have a heck of a time landing Microsoft’s RV6 aircraft at Hana Airport in Maui.  It is very dependent on how good your joystick is, and what kind of video card you have under the hood.  If you have a laptop like I do, attempting a landing is a truly brutal experience.  Why even make a game like this?  We should all give up trying to make a computer feel like a real airplane.  It’s never going to happen.  Concentrate on the experience itself.  Leave control realism out of it.  Even my real-world pilot friends don’t give a duck about control realism in their computer simulations.

What users want is entertainment.  These companies should make flight handling a no-brainer, but intensify the challenges.    Why make a game about how one must attempt to land on a very small runway?  That’s dull.  Make a game about how one must land on a small dirt field, in an aircraft that’s loaded with illegal cargo, while being chased by a pair of Military Black Hawks.  I’d pay money for that.  When you add a little story to the flight experience, it becomes a fun game.

Most flight simulators lack story.  There is no fun in these games.  And fun must be baked in, not bolted on afterwards.  Simulators are difficult for most people to play, so the market is small.  Plus, they require a great deal of time and money to make, due to the requirement for 3D rendering.

gtaI envision the ultimate flight simulation as having a little ‘Grand Theft Auto’ to it.  It needs attitude.  It needs story.  You don’t just fly your helicopter through the friendly skies.  No. You bust your friend out of prison with it.  You fly an illegal midnight cross-border cargo run.  You rescue helpless children from the apocalypse.  I have fifty more of these ideas that I’m dying to create for you.

So we must first make our craft a helicopter, not a traditional aircraft.  Flying a traditional aircraft on a computer is boring.  You takeoff, then float around aimlessly, without any further ground interaction. Helicopters, on the other hand, can land on anything.  They can land anywhere.  A chopper opens up the possibilities for fun.

I want to make an easy-to-fly machine, with the wildest challenges you can imagine.  I’m totally giving up on the thought of 3D rendered graphics, and will make mine a classic side-scroller.  Development is faster, and game play is easier.  Backyard Brat is a simple side-scroller helicopter game that’s innocent fun, for everyone.  Hopefully it will find it’s market, and I can further develop these ideas.


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