In the effort of doing something in a timely fashion, Star Citizen’s upcoming atmospheric flight is fairly interesting. There’s a lot to talk about when it comes to the state of the project, but honing in on this in particular I think is worthwhile because for a bit I just, didn’t get it.
That isn’t to say it’s good, or that it’s bad, it’s just not what I expected. I was expecting something highly rudimentary, but, for awhile, Star Citizen’s atmospheric flight was exceedingly strange to me. Given that I prefer relative mode mouse controls, essentially the style of control you have while running around in FPS games, depending on how thick the atmosphere was, the more plane-like the ship I flew, and so forth, the more my nose would like to bounce that direction.
And it’s a complicated array of factors as Star Citizen likes to employ; atmospheric effects like the overall density of the air, the weather, as well as the gravity of the body in question, each having a huge impact on the feel of the flight there.
But overall it was fairly strange. I hadn’t quite gotten used to it until suddenly it clicked. For the likely reason of a complete lack of control surface simulation, the best way to get the ship to take on the relative guidance of the heading you put the nose in is to strafe in that direction.
By strafing right if you want to yaw right, left if you want to yaw left, or up if you wanted to pitch up (though most ships do seem to like pitching up anyway), once your vector is past the center of your nose, it’ll want to pull that direction. By taking advantage of this, there’s a wider array of control possible at high speed.
On a moon like Arial, and with a ship like the Vanguard, the performance is a lot more relative to my expectations. In some respects, the Vanguard in this case feels like a very fast helicopter, but in others, there’s a certainly a fair touch more to it than that, especially given the speeds which are in fact, quite exceedingly decent.
Overall, I think the “space-planes” that a great majority of Star Citizen’s ships are should handle a fair bit better than they do, but it’s not as horrific as a first blush as I thought it was at first. They’re just certainly not in any way canyon-run ready, and knowing how to work with them rather than against them is one of the first steps.