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Hamumu Journal
Cruisin'02:06 AM -- Fri January 11, 2008

Because cars are a huge component of this game, that's what I worked on today. I didn't get far with it, but you can now drive a test car (you can't get out of it, but who needs that?). Getting the driving to feel fun and comfortable and realistic is going to be a big job. Right now it's pretty bad. The current control scheme is that the car steers toward wherever the mouse cursor is, and the left mouse button is the gas pedal. It's very easy to go where you want, but it's a little too easy, and there's really no place for a brake pedal (the right mouse button is fire - not that you're allowed to fire while driving... usually). Plus, I still don't know how I will implement braking - it would be SO nice to have some kind of drifting, as opposed to just perfect speed-up/slow-down control.

I may have to look up the multitudes and millions of car simulation articles on the web and see what they say. I definitely don't want this to be anything like the You-go - you may end up spending half of your time in this game driving around, so it better feel fun!

Oh, one other thing I've done for it so far is make the camera look far ahead of you if you are driving. It's still the same as normal when on foot, but when driving, you see almost the full screen ahead of you. I may make that adjust based on speed - it would sure be nice if you could see behind you when going in reverse! Of course, first I need to find some way to let you go in reverse.

That's the sticking point right now - I think the best scheme would be "steers toward the cursor, up arrow=gas, down arrow=brakes". But by choosing that scheme, I'm throwing out my original plan, which was that it would be possible to play the game entirely with the mouse. If you ignore cars, you currently can - left click means "move here" and right click is fire. It plays much better if you move with the arrow keys and aim and shoot with the mouse, but it is playable (and not bad) with just the mouse.

On top of that, steering toward the cursor doesn't feel right either. It's just too easy. In a real car, you pull the wheel left until you're pointed where you want, then center it, and there's a skill to only turning it as much as needed. With "point n' drive", you just say "I wanna go that way!" and it works. That's why I have also considered left/right arrows=turn, up=gas, down=brake (no mouse involved!). I haven't actually tried that out, but I'm really afraid it will be hard to control and confusing when you are going any direction but up. If you are facing downward, pressing left would turn you to the right of the screen. How confusing is that? People have difficulty controlling radio-controlled cars that are heading towards them, and this is that same problem.

So this is a big issue, with a lot to work out. It would be nice if I could just make the screen turn, so you were always driving upwards (that would even make "point n' drive" require some skill, since where you were pointing to would be constantly changing!). But I can't do that, with the fake 3D nature of the buildings and all that. I have considered the prospect of getting really crazy with that and doing something real 3D, but I don't really want to spend the next year and a half just getting this game to the rough prototype stage.

Maybe I'll google up some top-down Flash driving games!
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