Looking for fun ways to add aviation knowledge to a kids' flying game

Discussion in 'Hangar Talk' started by exncsurfer, Jan 4, 2021.

  1. exncsurfer

    exncsurfer Pattern Altitude

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    I am looking for fun ways to add aviation knowledge to a kid's flying game.

    Wall of text warning, tldr at the bottom(and in the title).

    I made this game mostly for myself, initially, to dust off my dormant 'computer science' skills by learning some light scripting. It turns out that kid's are really enjoying it. I have had over 3 million plays. The age is pretty young, mostly 6 - 12 year olds, but some teen and up. On a typical day, around 1200 new players manage to achieve the 6 minute flight time badge. That is 120 hours of flight time! 56,000 players have earned this badge in just over a month, that is 5600 hours of flight time! My daily top flight time leaders are consistently flying 1-2 hours per player. I am shocked by these numbers!

    The main function of the game is just flying a physics based biplane around a simple map. The players are forced to learn stick and rudder(not so much rudder, no wind in my game) skills by trial and error and they do amazingly well. At first they don't understand why they fall and crash when turning but if they stick around long enough, they figure out that they need nose up when turning. Learning aerodynamics by trial and error I suppose.

    I think there is huge potential to teach more about aviation to this young audience, but I'm not sure how to go about it. Kids want to have fun and play, not learn! Right? So a wall of text probably isn't the way to go.

    What I've done so far that I think encourages some aviation learning:
    • Compass: I added a compass so they can do some basic navigation. I added several destinations and 'direct to' type auto updating course. Runways are all properly numbered to match compass directions(in case they notice). Blind flying at night with zero visibility they get to somewhat experience spatial D and learn to stare at the altitude and heading.
    • Phonetic alphabet chart on the wall of my 'FBO' and auto generated tail numbers in case they want to use these to roleplay ATC in the game chat(some do).
    • A walk-through maze with compass hint cheats. The players can opt to use their compass along with popup numerical 'headings' along the path to cheat their way through the maze. I thought this might encourage learning how the compass numerical directions work.
    • First Flight airport, I made a super basic replica of First Flight airport with the monument and Wright brothers' camp shacks to explore. I included the distance markers from the first four flights with distances and dates.
    • Short landing contest. Players' landing distances are measured and marked on the runway. May encourage experimenting with various approach angles and speeds and how they affect the roll distance. AKA energy management practice.
    • Stall/AOA warning, the airspeed number turns red when approaching stall AOA. Players can practice slow flight and notice instability and sluggish response.
    The candy. What I have now that I think is mainly drawing players in. Perhaps these may spark some ideas for fun things to add:
    • skydiving, players can jump from planes or launch from cannons and either freefall or pop out a glider and float down slowly.
    • dogfights and static targets, players can try to shoot each other down
    • the flight model, aerobatic loops and rolls are possible and fun (the plane power is exaggerated so loops are very easy), works on pc/phones/tablets. (I enhanced this flight model script extensively, I did not create the original)
    • leaderboards for daily and cumulative flight time, points for targets hit.
    I think some sort of mission could encourage XC flying to the various locations instead of flying in circles at the start place. I thought of maybe delivering mail for points but I'm not sure how exciting that would sound for a 7yo.

    I'd like to add some info on various aerobatic maneuvers that they can do. All I can think of is maybe just adding the figure diagrams as posters on the wall of loop, Cuban 8, split S, etc. ?

    One of the challenges I have now is that players aren't finding the things I have added, but I don't want to hit them with a wall of text explaining too much either.

    The consensus from the player inquiries I get 'in game' is that I should add pirate ships, yachts, sharks, airliners, helicopters, and tanks! All fine ideas, but....

    TLDR:
    If anyone has any ideas for how to sneak in some aviation knowledge into a video game in a fun way, please respond.

    Thanks.
     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2021
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  2. murphey

    murphey Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Got a link?
     
  3. exncsurfer

    exncsurfer Pattern Altitude

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  4. bflynn

    bflynn Final Approach

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    Maybe they can get a clearance to go through the class-B shortcut.

    Have to do a basic preflight? check oil, gas and refuel at least

    Check weather? A bit much, maybe there's rain / IFR "over there" and you can get them lost and teach from an early age not to go into IFR.

    Give a badge based on maintaining cloud and ground clearance.

    Plan a route that goes around obstacles.
     
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  5. kath

    kath Administrator Management Council Member

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    How about throwing in random emergencies?
    "Engine died!" "You're on fire!" "Rudder broke!" "Throttle stuck open!" "Lost in a cloud and can't see!" "Your passenger is having a baby!"
    A what-to-do-in-an-emergency checklist could pop up...

    Please post a screenshot of what the "toilet plane" looks like!
     
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  6. jsstevens

    jsstevens Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    What about flying rescues and/or emergency supplies for points as a way to encourage some navigation skills? Maybe racing to encourage accurate navigation skills?

    Unlocking interesting (to kids) aircraft or other requests based on some sort of flight skills achievements?

    Oh, yes and rather than hit them with a wall of text, choose an unexplored feature and show it as a tip either on start up or after a certain amount of time has passed?
     
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  7. Sac Arrow

    Sac Arrow Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Bro do you even lift
    I like it. This is our future generation. Keep me on speed dial.
     
  8. Sac Arrow

    Sac Arrow Touchdown! Greaser!

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    But try to retain some basic life skills, like shooting bears with an arrow and skinning them for their fur. It makes them appreciate not being accidentally left in the Prius in the middle of winter while mom completes seven hours of Pilates elimination competition.
     
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  9. exncsurfer

    exncsurfer Pattern Altitude

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    Good ideas, those are a bit advanced for the game but I do have IFR sort of, the night is pitch black, no horizon, they venture out in the night at their peril (to stare at the altimeter and heading and hope something pops out to land on or the sun rises). Its a 10 minute day cycle so they could wait it out if they stay straight and level.

    I think I'd lose players if they had to preflight. You should see them trampling over each other to jump into the planes and go. (because they crash a lot at first and restart at the same spot as soon as they 'expire'. I have had a few ask about adding gas, so fuel management is a possibility.

    Thanks for the response!
     
  10. exncsurfer

    exncsurfer Pattern Altitude

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    Good ideas about the failures, I have had a couple players ask for that. They already do some role playing like that, they'll pretend to have an engine failure and cut the power (sound familiar?) and try to make a field or runway. Its nice to see the imagination in action they think of all sorts of scenarios and just act it out. They'll ditch in the water and wait for a float plane rescue. Lots of would-be Sullies out there.

    The toilet plane is for comedy factor, its a simple mouse follower, she's a beaut:
    upload_2021-1-5_1-1-26.png
    experimental, and the certified model:
    upload_2021-1-5_1-4-13.png
    complete with flushing sound effect.

    I just have to share the float plane pic, its a lot of fun. When someone jumps in and goes, you can flip a coin as to whether they'll dip the nose and flip it over on takeoff!
    upload_2021-1-5_1-34-24.png
     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2021
  11. exncsurfer

    exncsurfer Pattern Altitude

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    I like the rescue idea, but it would probably need to be NPC's I don't think anyone wants to volunteer to stand somewhere and wait. I thought about delivering supplies, I'd have to think of and build a place to be in need of such.

    I tried to make a race but its really too hard for all but the most advanced, I can do it and a handful of others. But its like a red bull type air race with pylons at low level. I like the XC race idea though, throw in some night or fog and that could get interesting.

    The unlocking aircraft is a great idea, but I'm a one man show and building a great variety of planes would take much time. And I'm not that good at modeling, case in point, have you seen my toilet plane? I made a monster truck, its a box(literally) with wheels, fun to drive though.
     
  12. jsstevens

    jsstevens Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    Definitely NPCs for rescue.

    As for airplanes, remember that these need to be attractive to kids. Toilet plane sounds perfect. And maybe a unicorn plane. And a flying hot dog. I don’t know but whimsical is probably good. Not so much P51 and Staggerwing and things that would appeal to us.