|January 5th, 2010|
Some of you long-time blog readers may recall a little public project of mine called Andean Bird.*
But that is not what I am writing about. Instead, I wanted to call your attention to this!
That’s a prototype by Michael Wilson, who writes
Hello there. I enjoyed your playing with your ‘Andean Bird’ prototype three years back, which was a concept I’d wanted to explore myself but never had time. I was sad to see that you didn’t continue the project. However I’ve recently had some free time to learn XNA, and I’ve made a 3D bird flight simulator that is perhaps a spiritual successor. It still needs some elements to be a playable game – sound, a ‘flight path’ to follow etc – but the simulation mechanics are working well.
I’ve traded some emails with him since, and it’s evolved in some different directions than Andean Bird, especially as regards the controls. He’s using an Xbox360 controller, and has the wings on both the sticks and the triggers.
Andean Bird focuses on the specific experience of flapping, is very easy to pick up and is more
representative than realistic. Even with the flight path challenge it is quite serene and relaxing.
I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted when I started the project, so I started by making a procedural bird
model generator and a realistic physics model, with the assumption that I could morph that into
some sort of game later. After playing with it for a bit I decided to target a somewhat different
experience to your project; the dynamic feel of flight; the balance of forces, the instability and
energy of it – and to some extent how difficult it is. Though in actual fact my physics model has
considerable extra damping and some artificial stabilisation – real birds have a much harder time of it!
He also says he is still considering possible gameplay concepts, and looks forward to seeing what readers here suggest.
* Andean Bird was basically a public game prototyping experiment where I messed about with a game about flapping. It got BoingBoinged, generated several blog posts with interim versions (one, two, three, four), got talked about a decent amount as an “indy art game”, and was apparently even used by Ian Bogost in class, probably as a bad example, and culminated (for now, anyway) in presenting the game in a GDC 2007 session entitled “Nuances of Design,” in which several designer/programmers showed off prototypes and games and the attendees played them while we talked about them.
If you want to try it, you can grab the latest version (0.5) here. PC .zip file (Mac version runs behind, it’s only up to 0.3 I think) or go through the posts in order to try it in its stages of evolution. I have heard that it does have trouble running on some video cards after version 0.4 because of how it handles the motion blur (basically a non-standard hack that relies on the backbuffer’s video memory staying consistent between flips, or something).