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Mata Rambles About Dragon Flight

Discussion in 'Gameplay Discussion & Feedback' started by Mata, Dec 31, 2018.

  1. Mata

    Mata Artisan

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    So it has been quite a while since the game came out. I had tons of fun with it the first time I played, but I'll admit it took my naturally low standards and faith to look past a lot of the problems.

    Note everything I'm going to mention here is subjective to me, but I'm going to look at it from an objective perspective--by that I mean I'm not going to take budget, size of the team, or time spent working into account. That said please know I'm not trying to be rude or mean, I'm just going to bluntly state things I dislike and how I think they could be improved.

    I have no knowledge of coding or physics, but I've been studying 2D animation in my own time for almost 10 years as well as puppet animation which is quite similar to 3D. I cannot attend school due to disability so I am self-taught. As such, most of my issues with the game are going to have to do with animation and movement.

    Dragon flight system

    A lot of people already know that this is my biggest problem with the game. It's also one of my favorite things about the game. I love that it takes actual practice to get a hang of separate from the skill itself. I love the feeling you get when you finally make it to the stage where you can take off and fly over all the things you used to be scared of.

    Pitch turning is one of the better aspects of it, where one wing being lower than the other causes the dragon to move in that direction due to unbalanced force. A cherry on top is that flapping allows you to turn faster, as it would further push you in the opposite direction.

    Aside from that, like with most movement in the game, it feels very janky and stiff. I've described it before as "like piloting a UFO." It feels more like you are floating through the air. Flying is more like surfing through the air, where your forward speed puts enough pressure on your wings to create lift. To enhance this, most flying animals are aerodynamic horizontally, and air-resistent vertically. This is why birds and planes look so similar, but if you want your dragon to fly more like a plane, you'll need to strap some thrusters to it, and I don't think anyone wants to do that. My point here is that it's best to use birds as your closest reference, and if you are unable to change the physics themselves, the next best option is the model and animation.

    The dragon's wings are flat and shaped more like a bats' wing. This makes sense since they utilize a membrane rather than feathers, but the issue here is that the dragons in ToA act more like predatory birds--they soar, and glide, and dive. I know realism is a lot to ask for a dragon, but you'll find that making a dragon look like it makes sense is more aesthetically pleasing in the long run.

    One of the best examples of this is the Night Fury from HTTYD, the designers and animators of the show put a lot of work into making Toothless really look like the most aerially agile creature in the movie. As said from the movie's team, one of Toothless' main references for his design is a "small bird of prey." I think this is likely the Peregrine Falcon, since it is smaller than most predatory birds and is one of the fastest predatory birds that exists. Look at how similar their silhouettes are.

    [​IMG]

    I love that they even made Toothless' wings larger to accommodate for his lack of feathers! We love toothless' design because he looks fast, he looks agile, and he looks dangerous. We associate the same qualities with diving birds of prey such as the peregrine falcon. I associate these qualities with any flying carnivore, and I believe most people agree with me.

    However, there is also a beloved dragon design on the other end of the scale. The big bad final boss. Although I'm not a big fan over this kind of design, It really does say "run the fuck away" more than a giant bird. I don't have any immediate examples but a few that best represent this is the concept art for the Fire Ancient, the Red Death from HTTYD, and Darkeater Midir from DS3.

    I got a little carried away, Let me wrap it up simply. Wings are, to me, undeniably the best part of the dragon, so for now, I'll focus on them.

    [​IMG]

    Here is a flight shape sketch. The top is the dragon as it appears in-game. The bottom is how I would improve it--and the peregrine falcon shape that I used as a reference.
    (note the dragon is looking down and this is a view from above. the only way I could get a reference was by looking down while in flight)

    It might appear at first that the wings are simply more extended--that is correct! However there are a lot of other little things that I changed.

    I will be going more in-depth in how I would improve flight later. I still want to talk about the mechanic itself and the physics of flight but I've been working on this post for hours just to talk about the wings.

    Again please remember that this is objective feedback. I don't claim to know how hard it is to model and rig. I can see that you guys put a tremendous amount of work and effort into this game. if you need me to elaborate further on what I'm saying feel free to ask.
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2019 at 7:18 AM
    Elyssia likes this.
  2. Mata

    Mata Artisan

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  3. Elyssia

    Elyssia Community Manager Staff Member

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    These are wonderful suggestions so far, Mata! Keep them coming!
     
    Mata likes this.
  4. Mata

    Mata Artisan

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    Thank you Elyssia, I'm glad you think so!
     
  5. Loestri

    Loestri CoFounder / Project Manager Staff Member

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    Please don't worry about offending us with your feedback, we have skin thicker than our dragons. We understand that your frustration with some of the game features can "influence" your manner of of expression when reporting bugs or making suggestions but we love to get feedback from you, be it positive or negative because it allows us to use it to make a better product for all players. We probably won't take offense as long as you aren't rude and keep the comments pointed at the game features. ;)
     

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