Early on in the development of Liftoff we were faced with a choice: should we create a simulator that models realistic drone behavior in every possible way, or a game that emulates the experience, regardless of the physics and mechanical constraints that give rise to drone flight in real life? A simulator that is correct or one that simply feels correct? We did a lot of testing and research early on and we made the decision to go down the hard path. During development we’ve always had close contact with ImmersionRC and with you, our player base. You are always quick to answer our questions and give feedback and we’re very grateful for that. Each time you guys were excited, we knew we were on the right track. However, up until now, we have had no hard data to prove that what we were doing was “physically correct”.
Then came data. Lots of it.
We got some nice data sheets from ImmersionRC. They contain loads of information about motor and propeller characteristics at any given ESC signal for several different setups. Think: lift, rpm, torque, power, … In other words, we can now objectively and in fine detail check just how physically accurate Liftoff is. Even though the results of all this will not be in the next update yet, we have by no means been sitting around idly. We’ve been testing, finetuning and comparing our simulator against the new data. And we’ve done a healthy dose of swearing in the process. However, we’re happy to see the data shows that we are close, but there is still some room for improvement.
All this data crunching is tedious work, but it has an enormously important payoff: it enables us to investigate the physical accuracy of discrete parts of our simulation. Being able to mark parts of the simulation as “correct”, means that we can isolate the possible causes of some known problems. This way, we can finetune the flight behaviour without fixing – or worse, breaking – what isn’t broken.
An example of this would be the “floaty” behavior that is sometimes reported. It’s often suggested that we “just change the gravity”. The problem with this is that once we touch the gravity constant, any correct modelling of reality goes right out of the window. We might get one particular type of drone that happens to feel right with unearthly gravity settings, but every other part of the behaviour would be wrong. It would simply be a case were a bunch of wrongs incidentally make one right.
We, however, want to create a simulation that is correct. We want the flight experience to be as natural as possible, but only because it is, in fact, natural. We want to be able to add new drones and have them act as they would in real life without adjusting arbitrary fudge factors.
You have high expectations of our game. So do we. We’re doing all we can to bring you the best experience.