ACE - Time Traveler series (prototypical)

What I've worked on:

•Three singleplayer missions
•One airplane
•Several gauges

This is a series-in-progress that's designed to take the player from the inception of man's understanding of flight (bird flight, see above) through 
the invention of powered flight. The goal is to lead students through the same types of cognitive leaps that we had, as a society, in our understanding of the physical world as we moved into the air.

Right now, this series is only a prototype, and it's only a prototype for the very first stage of that goal - learning about the very basics of flight using the model of "bird flight." There are a couple of challenges inherent in this design goal, at least as it related to FSX.

The first is that, obviously, the game is built around simulating airplanes, not birds. This is largely an on-the-surface challenge, though, because we're still dealing with the physics of a moving body through the air, and since we're talking about introducing big-picture concepts, I can fudge the numbers a little anyway.

So to get a "bird" into a flight simulator, I started with a target - gliders. Gliders seemed, to
me, to be the closest approximation to soaring birds (like the albatross, used here). All in all,
I could have done a straight remodel of a glider but for one wrinkle - it was requested that the birds be able to move under power.

The "power" part isn't hard - I just had to give the bird an engine. I did have to make some changes in the animation department, though, because FSX's engine animations really only support binary states (on or off). What I did instead was make a script that was baked into
the animation file for the bird that rotated between a series of animation playback speeds based on throttle percentage. It wasn't a perfect solution (some better blending between
states could certainly still be done), but it worked for its purpose.

The second design challenge was in conveying some of these more abstract physical concepts (like types of energy) into visible elements that the player could learn and extrapolate from. One of the big ones was understanding kinetic and potential energy.

Kinetic energy is fairly straightforward - it's pretty much a 1:1 translation from the speed of
the body. Potential was trickier, but as many of these school-based designs have done,
what it really took was stepping back into my early physics classes. I decided that fuel
(which I now had, thanks to the "engine" my bird had) and altitude (given the presence of gravity) were good enough to represent the possible forces that could act on the body.
Having nailed it down to those two, I could then easily represent those as a combination of
two vectors (although in the end, I did end up splitting them back up into two separate measures).