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Scramble: Battle of Britain - Flight School, Episode #4

Published on May 08, 2024

Aircraft in Scramble simulate in 3D space with six degrees of freedom: three degrees for XYZ position, and three degrees for rotation about the XYZ axes. Simulation is the foundation of Scramble gameplay depth, and analog control of the airplanes allows players to replicate most of the maneuvers they are familiar with from real-world aerobatics and dogfighting, but controlling airplanes is a hard problem to begin with, and designing a control scheme for the turn-based environment of Scramble proved one of the longest lasting challenges our team faced. 

In Flight School Lesson 4 we will introduce you to the Turn/Climb Assist – our default Scramble control scheme – and we will explain how it couples some traditional aircraft control inputs to provide an intuitive piloting experience for all players, regardless of their familiarity with piloting airplanes. 

Traditional Aircraft Control 

Most aircraft orient their movement through 3D space with control surfaces aligned to three primary axes of rotation: 

Elevators control aircraft pitch, an angle defined relative to the wing axis, from level flight the angle of the nose up and down relative to the horizon.

Ailerons control aircraft roll, an angle defined relative to the fuselage axis, from level flight this is the angle of the wings tilted relative to the horizon.

Rudders control aircraft yaw, an angle defined relative to a vertical axis going up from the belly through the canopy of the airplane, from level flight this is the angle of the nose pointed left to right along the horizon.

Our goal in Scramble is to provide a dogfighting experience that is more approachable than most real-time flight games offer, and three-axis aircraft control is a hard skill to teach. This difficulty is compounded by the turn-based nature of Scramble, where inputs remain fixed for the duration of our two-second turns, so the change to a straightforward control input like “roll” at the beginning of a turn may interpolate to an off-axis orientation when coupled with pitch and yaw inputs for multiple seconds. 

Turn/Climb Assist

Most players expect to sit at a keyboard or pick up a controller and point the nose of their aircraft left or right and up or down, so Scramble: Battle of Britain comes packaged with a Turn/Climb controls assist to let them play exactly this way. 

The Turn/Climb assist consolidates aircraft control down to two axes:

The Climb Axis operates similarly to the traditional elevator axis, pointing the nose of the aircraft up (to climb) or down (to dive) relative to its initial orientation.

The Turn Axis couples the traditional roll and yaw aircraft inputs into a single Turn command, and it will generally turn an aircraft left or right. With small inputs, the turn command will operate primarily in yaw. Large Turn inputs will both yaw and roll an aircraft, coordinating turns and generally resulting in a piloting experience that is still aggressive but stable and predictable.

Play How You Want

Scramble will launch with the Turn/Climb Assist enabled by default, but players will have the option of reverting to traditional 3-axis aircraft control whenever they want (even for a single turn). 

Piloting aircraft almost always requires coordination of all three control axes, and the Turn/Climb assist will satisfy the majority of aircraft control needs. But for special cases where a player desires additional roll or yaw authority, or for players who authentically prefer traditional aircraft control in Scramble, the Traditional scheme is a single click away.


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