100 Experience Points
An Adventure in Indie Game Development

Which Way Do Ships Tilt?

Here’s an interesting little dilemma that I ran into today, as I was just randomly thinking about my game.

When aircraft turn, they bank into the turn. (That is, the top of the craft ends up closer to the center of the turn than the bottom.) It’s basically what makes them turn.

When naval ships turn, the ship leans outwards from the turn. That’s because the rudder is what’s actually causing the turn, and the forward momentum tries to keep the ship going straight, and the upper decks swing wide. A sharp turn could capsize the boat.

Your car does the same thing if you turn quickly enough.

So now for my dilemma. Which way should ships in my game lean when they turn?

Some of you purists out there are going to say, space craft don’t bank. Yeah, you’re right. They can change velocity without changing rotation, and change rotation without changing velocity. If you don’t believe that, go play Asteroids. (Because space ships follow the laws of Asteroids, instead of Asteroids following the laws of space.)

But my ships, at least in the prototype, don’t behave like they should in space. I’m also not allowing 3D movement, like you’d be able to have in real space.

My goal isn’t to replicate reality, but to make a fun game. Sure, if I can follow the laws of the universe and make a fun game, I could do that. But if the laws of physics make a game completely un-fun, I’d be doing it wrong.

A few other examples of making something fun instead of realistic:

  • Faster than light travel in virtually all sci-fi games, movies, and books.
  • RPG characters that don’t have to take potty breaks. (Unless it’s The Sims. But even then, notice how the mechanic is simplified. You don’t have to click on the toilet and say Use, then click on the toilet paper and say Use, then click on the toilet and say Flush.)
  • FPS games where even if you get shot a couple of times, you aren’t forced to limp.
  • Action/Adventure games where you can fall from 10 stories and only lose a single heart.

I don’t know which way my ships are going to lean/bank, or if they will at all, and it’s not really something I need to decide right now anyway. I just thought it was an interesting point that got me thinking about times when reality has to go head to head against the fun factor.