Sidescrolling Flight Simulator

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2023-03-17 10:30:03

My pace of writing has slowed, because I put the little spare time I have into something else right now: I have been slowly working on code for a sidescrolling 2D flight simulator, just to see if it can be done properly.

But why? Here’s what happened: I tried a sidescrolling airplane flying game (branded as a “realistic” “simulator”) on my phone out of curiosity. I was quickly put off by how unrealistic it is. This is a funny complaint to make about a 2D airplane game, but my issue isn’t graphics, fuel planning, detailed modeling of on-board systems, or anything like that. Those things are simple, but in a good way.

My beef is that this game gets fundamental flight dynamics wrong. The most obvious is that a headwind slows down your airspeed and forces you to throttle up to achieve more lift. This is completely opposite to how it should be. I could go on with other fundamental problems, but most of them boil down to this: the flight model is more that of a rocket than an airplane. I think it’s sad, because the idea holds promise.

Turns out it’s a little harder than I envisioned. Here are some discoveries I’ve made along the way. Maybe it’s instructive for someone.

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