A downloadable game for Windows

This is a special physics demo for Tiny Combat Arena. For more details, check the game's main page.

I'm putting this demo to gauge the reaction to the new flight model. I'm curious to hear your feedback.

Flight Model Overhaul

The purpose of this demo is to gather feedback on the new flight model. Previously, the flight model in the demo was the same one from the original prototype. The final flight model is not supposed to be a hardcore flight simulator, but many of the concepts of a real flight sim such as energy and corner air speed should still be relevant.

New features of the flight model:

  • Aircraft can now stall in a more realistic way.
  • Wind is now simulated and can be adjusted on the fly with debug hotkeys.
  • Wind will push you off course, affect your airspeed, and make landing more difficult.
  • Thoughtlessly holding full aft stick will cause the aircraft to bleed speed and eventually lose its agility.
  • Control surfaces are now modeled with physics. They stiffen at high speeds, and induce torques on the plane to turn it.
  • The aircraft must now be trimmed to maintain level flight. An automatic trimmer is enabled by default to help compensate for this.
  • Manual trim can be selected if so desired.
  • Flaps are physically modeled (automatically deployed with landing gear) and increase both lift and drag.
  • The landing gear cause significant drag on the plane.
  • More details are now tracked such as indicated airspeed, true airspeed, ground speed, and mach.
  • Drag now increases in a more realistic way based on the mach.
  • Transonic wave-drag is now modeled, making crossing the sound barrier take more effort than normally accelerating.
  • Atmospheric density varies with altitude, making wings produce less lift the higher you go up, and affecting your indicated airspeed.
  • The speed of sound varies with altitude, making it easier to go supersonic at high altitudes.
  • Ground effect is modeled, increasing lift and reducing drag when very close to ground.
  • Ground effect makes takeoffs more realistic, and adds some naunce to landing.
  • Overwing vapor effects tied to the critical angle of attack of a wing.
  • Fuel and attached stores affect the performance of a plane.
  • VTOL aircraft are now supported.
  • Major AI improvements to support the new flight model and more complex plans.
  • AI now fly using different maneuvers, and preferences for those maneuvers.
  • AI concepts for missions, patrolling, and formation flying
  • Mouse control updated based on an angle of attack model so that mouse flight won't stall itself.

It's a lot. Some of the code is still in a prototype state and will have to be made more robust for the next normal cycle release.

Some known issues to be aware of:

Wind is currently set through debug keys. In the future, it would randomly change between sorties and be displayed on the map.

New AI is still WIP and cannot fire missiles or use flares yet.

Resolution dialogue no longer appears on startup. Unity was updated this demo, and they have completely deprecated this dialogue. This means there is no way to change resolution right now aside from command line arguments.

Missiles do not track as well. As part of the seeker optimizations, missiles are much more sensitive to being directly behind a plane than before. Seekers and heat signatures need pass on them to compensate for the optimizations.

Demo Specifics

To get the most out of this demo, and testing of the flight model, I recommend you change the control type (Escape menu) to Gamepad or Joystick. Having direct control of the aircraft will let you feel what's happening in a way that the mouse controls do not.

Only the Jaguar is available for this demo. It is designed to be a forgiving and easy to fly plane. Its engines too underpowered for it to make an excellent dogfighter, but this also makes it a great demonstrator and teacher for how important it is to manage your speed and energy in a fight. Corner airspeed for the Jaguar is roughly 330 knots, so for best results, try to fight around 330-400 knots. It'll be easier to keep your speed and turn rates up. If you fall below 300 knots, and it becomes far more slugging and turn rates drop dramatically.

Mouse controls are unchanged for the new flight model. As a result, they will feel more sluggish than before. This is partially due to the new flight model having a more realsitic sense of inertia and momentum, but it also reflects the mouse control's inefficient flying style. Since there is no way to control how hard you turn aside from moving the mouse slowly, it is easy to run the plane out of energy. If you plan on flying with the mouse, you need to be extra aware of your speed and make smooth movements.

Using the semicolon ( ; ) and single quote ( ' ) keys, the wind speed can be adjusted from 0 to 40 knots.

It'll be interesting to see how the MiG-21 and F-20 translate to the new flight model. Both will fly very differently from the Jaguar. However, I want to nail down the Jaguar and set all the conventions before I update the MiG and F-20.

The Aircraft

Jaguar

Designed to be a forgiving and easy to fly plane. Its engines too underpowered for it to make an excellent dogfighter, but this also makes it a great demonstrator and teacher for how important it is to manage your speed and energy in a fight. Corner airspeed for the Jaguar is roughly 330 knots, so for best results, try to fight around 330-400 knots. It'll be easier to keep your speed and turn rates up. If you fall below 300 knots, and it becomes far more slugging and turn rates drop dramatically.

MiG-21

A supersonic fighter through and through, the MiG-21 has a powerful engine and an aerodynamic shape. It can easily reach supersonic speeds and maintain them, but its delta wing will cause dramatic loss in speed at high angles of attack. Corner airspeed for the MiG-21 is around 400 knots, but the plane is at its most comfortable when flying >500 knots. Be very wary of falling below 300-350 knots. At those speeds, it is much less stable and will stall very quickly with hard stick pulls. The MiG-21 hates flying slow, so be sure to keep its speed up.

VJ 101

Another supersonic interceptor, but with a big twist. The VJ 101 can tilt its engine pods to take off and land vertically. Like other interceptors, its aerodynamics are optimized for high speed, so it will be clumsy when slow. However because the engines can be tilted at any speed,the VJ 101 can handle low speeds better than you would expect. Just be aware that the engine pods will slow you down when they're not facing forwards. With 6 small turbojets optimized for high thrust at mil power, the VJ 101 is especially thirsty when it comes to fuel usage.

Dynamic Camera

To use the dynamic camera, you must be in Gamepad/Joystick controls. Press O to toggle the camera on/off.

One of the experimental features I developed for this demo was what I'm dubbing the dynamic camera. It was specifically designed to help visualize the forces acting on the plane and what it was doing. For example, when using this camera and flying perpendicular to wind, the camera will be a bit lopsided because it's showing you what direction the plane is actually flying in. It also visualizes aircraft movement on the ground and touchdown better.

I've actually come to really like flying and fighting with it. The way the camera works, it happens that your own plane doesn't obscure the enemy plane the way the normal third person camera does. It makes it much easier to guess where to shoot and adjust your shot.

Gameplay Ramifications

While playing with the new flight model I've noticed that this had a lot of little knock on effects that I wasn't anticipating.

Now that planes maneuver at more realistic speeds and turn rates, I'm noticing that combat takes place on a larger scale than it used to. Getting kilometers away from your target during a dogfight is something that just happens. The scale of a dogfight just got a lot bigger. Similarly, I'm noticing I'm getting long distance kills much more than I recall. 

Most dramatically though, I've noticed that the gun is much easier to use. With these changes, it's hard for planes (or at least the Jaguar) to change direction. However it's not that simple. It'll take longer to get a shot at the enemy, but once you have one, the kill shot itself is easier. This puts the focus in a dogfight more onto the flying than the gunnery.

I'm very curious to see the player reaction to this. These changes slide the game into "more boring" territory, because you can't throw the plane around the way you could before. Dogfights last much longer, and planes feel slower and more sluggish than they used to. I have to wonder if it will alienate the tiny audience this game has garnered, as it's now more difficult.

Controls

For the full control list, reference the game's README.txt or the main page for Tiny Combat Arena.

ActionKeyboardGamepad (Xbox)
Toggle Dynamic CameraO
Raise Wind speed;
Lower Wind speed'
Toggle Auto-TrimKBack
Trim nose upHome
Trim nose downEnd
Cycle VTOL ModesHD-Pad Left

Changelog

See Changelog.txt for full changelog

0.5.3.0 - Flight Model Demo Patch 3

  • Major AI updates to support future and current systems
  • AI have concepts of missions, waypoints, and patrol paths
  • If given a patrol path, AI will follow the patrol path, engage enemies they see on the way, then return to patrolling
  • Basics of formation AI (still WIP, not visible in demo)
  • AI fly using various maneuvers (e.g. pursuit, flat turn, dive, etc) and stances (aggressive, neutral, defensive)
  • Different AI can have different preferences for maneuvers and aggression
  • AI MiG-21s added back in
  • Fog works as a cylinder rather than bubble and pushed out for more clarity
  • Mouse control greatly improved to support new flight model 
  • Turning with the mouse should no longer stall the plane (keyboard controls can still be used to force aggressive turns)

0.5.2.1 - Flight Model Demo Patch 2 Hotfix 1

  • Removed non-functional Jaguar external fuel tanks to prevent crash

0.5.2 - Flight Model Demo Patch 2

  • Desert map
  • Attached weapons and pylons affect aircraft performance (weight and drag)
  • Aircraft use fuel to fly
  • Fuel adds weight, but lightens overall weight as it drains
  • Fuel drain rates depend on engine throttle settings and altitude
  • Engines shut down when out of fuel
  • HUD displays fuel weight and fuel flow
  • Afterburner activated by pressing throttle up when throttle is at 100%
  • Double tapping throttle up instantly sets all engines to full afterburner
  • Double tapping throttle down instantly idles all engines
  • VJ 101 added
  • VJ 101 VTOL functionality: use H to cycle beteen VTOL Disabled, Half, and Full
  • Lift engines automatically start up/shut down based on VTOL setting
  • Engines emit smoke when on high power settings
  • Wheels can only generate so much grip and will slip if grip max is exceeded

0.5.1 - Flight Model Demo Patch 1

  • MiG-21 flyable
  • New paint scheme for MiG-21
  • Jaguar slightly less stable
  • Overwing vapor appears just slightly before critical angle of attack
  • Slow speed handling less stable than high speed
  • Overwing vapor has sound effect
  • Engine audio levels reduced

0.5.0 - Flight Model Demo

  • Completely revised flight model
  • HUD now shows more information (e.g. G and turn rate)
  • Auto (enabled by default) and manual trim controls
  • Optional dynamic camera
  • Wind that affects the player aircraft
  • Gear cannot be lowered >300 knots
  • Gear induce severe drag
  • Flight test map
  • Tweaks to offroad handling and landing gear
  • Nosewheel steering at speed smoothed out
  • Default controls for yoke
Updated 6 days ago
StatusReleased
PlatformsWindows
Rating
(6)
AuthorWhy485
GenreSimulation
TagsFlight, Low-poly, Physics

Install instructions

  1. Download the zip file
  2. Open the zip file and extract the "Tiny Combat Arena - Flight Model" folder somewhere
  3. After extracting the folder, run "Arena.exe"

Download

Download
Tiny Combat Arena 0.5.3.0 Flight Model.zip 27 MB

Comments

Log in with itch.io to leave a comment.

(1 edit)

Hey Dev is this a map design or a bug or an easter egg? BTW-Yes i did have a rough landing.(HP)

By design. It's part of the map.

I'm not sure why but after locking onto a target the beeping sound still plays even when i'm in the menu.

(2 edits)

I love the new changes though most of the issues i've seen are already posted here.. which are 'losing too much speed when turning', 'Airspeed is slow to gain when full afterburner and diving'... and its also hard to play with the keyboard especially when turning, so if its doable it will be nice to bring the mouse control in TCA 0.4.1, cause with the mouse control here in Flight Model its really hard to turn unless i use the key "S", and the need of pressing S in the Mouse Control especially with the Mig-21, its better to name it Keyboard and Mouse Control, cause the movement of the aircraft relies on both the mouse and keyboard... one thing when in Keyboard Controls, is there no way to look around the aircraft? or im missing something here? i really wish i can look around but are we unable to do it? is there a key bind?

PS: i kinda like how the gameplay of Mig-21 is designed... its challenging, it takes time to master the controls, which is really nice. compare to 0.4.1 which is the Mig-21 is really easy to master

(4 edits) (+1)

Love the more realistic flight model and the tougher ai. I also like the lack of insane compression at higher speeds and the decreased acceleration as the previous versions felt more like rockets than actual aircraft.  Fuel is also a cool addition as I feel it creates a sense of urgency in what you're doing. 

My main problem with this version is the lack of stability. The jaguar and mig both tend to behave strangely while turning (in all axes) and the VJ 101 has strange slips a bit in the yaw axis. This results in maneuvering in general feeling a bit less fluid than the previous iteration. All aircraft also have a slight yaw "bounce" while flying straight and following the mouse and tend to have their noses just a tad low. 

Another thing that I think needs to be changed is maneuverability of the aircraft. I think that they are pulling too weak and are turning too slow.  They also seem to not be capable of high angles of attack in some situations where I think they would likely be able to. 

I like the way that the vtol works but I noticed a few things. Firstly if the engines are put into full vtol on initial takeoff and turned on the plane will naturally pitch up resulting in backwards motion that needs to be compensated by the pilot. I am not sure if this was intentional or not but I feel that it is too severe right now and should be turned down or removed if not intended. 

Also I think damage of the r60s could go a bit up. They basically always two shot right now which I think is a bit too little. Maybe make their damage based on velocity? (I think this is a thing IRL but I'm not sure)

Overall I am really impressed by the work you have been doing and am excited to see where you take it in the future. Thank you for making these games. 

(8 edits)

Honestly a lot of what you're describing is realistic and more a limitation of the controls. Flying with a joystick, most of this is a non-issue as you have more direct control and choice over what the plane is doing. Yaw instability is intended, but noted. I may specifically address this later on.

None of the planes in this demo should be capable of pulling high AOA, especially the MiG-21 and VJ-101. They stall their wings very dramatically with minimal AOA and at low speeds you have the pitch authority to do it quite easily. The best way to fly the interceptors (MiG-21 especially) is to keep them fast. Dropping speed <400 knots is asking for trouble, and <300 you are basically a sitting duck. That is not the regime those planes are optimized for. At high speeds though, they are stable, much more responsive, and generally turn better. The handling characteristics you're describing are typical of 2nd and 3rd generation fighters, as they tended to be built around high speed intercept rather than dogfighting.

The mouse controls will try their best to keep this under control and limit input. They generally do a good job (you should have seen what it was like before), but it's a very hard thing to automate. There is a whole field of engineering around solving problems like this. It's unfortunate the F-20 never got its flight model updated because I think the F-20 would be more in line with what people think fighter jets should behave like. It's a much more modern jet with a very powerful engine (the Jaguar in particular is very under-powered by comparison), and wings designed for high angles of attack. It would have been a very forgiving airframe, and very snappy.

I've been paying close attention to the feedback both demos have gotten. Posts like yours that are well reasoned and critical are important. I like to make sure to recognize them and let their writers know that it's appreciated, as they are the most helpful to the game's development.

Going forwards, I think many people will find the Harrier a comfortable compromise between the two flight models. While it uses a slightly more complex version of the flight model from this demo, its design necessitates a very high thrust to weight ratio and a high lift wing. While it's not the most nimble thing in the world, it is a very easy and forgiving plane to fly, with ample thrust to get you out of sticky situations. However if you push it too far, and it takes some effort, its supercritical wing will stall sharply and often asymmetrically. I'm looking forward to hearing yours and others feedback on the Harrier when the next demo comes around! 

(+1)

Thanks for the thorough response. I still think that the mig should be able to pull just a tad a bit harder than current than it currently is mainly in the instantaneous department. They do pull hard but it is for a bit shorter than I feel it should be and it doesn't really result in the insane speed loss that it should.

I am really excited to see what the harrier is like and excited in general to see the work you continue doing as its amazing to watch.

(1 edit)

It's pretty cool, but I recommend you to make two modes:

One with the way of playing like in the other version (0.4.1) arcade

Another with this playing mode (0.5.3.0) simulator

In my opinion this version is just a matter of getting used to fly it.

(1 edit)

I love the new flight model, but i find you loose some fun in the game, in the previous one you could do a long range combat, then get into a close and thrilling dogfight with the AI, now you  lose most of the dogfight abilitieys, andi find it harder to dogfight in close combat with other planes, your plane loses speed too quickly in turns and you just fall to the ground and die, gainig speed in a dive is too slow, im going full afterburner pitching down and my speed barely increases.

The new flight model is good, but i really loved the sence of action you got in the old one.

points to note:

* AI planes 30% of the time stall while dogfighting with me and crash

* radar lock/detection need to be limited to closer range

* AI planes would win almost every head-on engagemant, make them do some manuvers before engaging 

* gaining speed from diving is too low, it so east to stall while turning

* loosing too much speed in turns

 * if you aim at dead targets on the ground you can hear the locking sound

*mouse wheel goes from 0% throttle instently to 100%

Really love your game!, i think it has a good potential, keep up the good work!

Both the MiG and VJ hate turning in the way that they would. They're designed as fast interceptors with tiny wings. The Jaguar is a much more forgiving plane. This is good feedback though, thank you.

For the love of god mate fix this crash glitch 
Everytime i try to press on sortie button it crashes i cannot play this game hope this thing gets fixed im so exited for this game 

it won't run it says "The code execution cannot proceed because UnityPlayer.dll was not found. Reinstalling the program may fix this problem. Help anyone? please

You need to extract the whole folder from the zip file first.

you are a hero

This flight model is SO MUCH better than the arcady one. It just made no sense how jet fighter turned into a 0.5 ton biplane after slowing down to 200kt. Insane control surfaces lock at high speeds was hella annoying  aswell. The whole dogfight essentially was all about being as slow as and using engine only when enemy tries to run, to get yourself in the super maneuverability state and then getting on the enemy killing him, while the AI had 0 chances of doing absolutely anything to counter this(even when outnumbering a player 5 to 1!!), which combined with complete lack of sense turned the game into a super boring point&click adventure and was not fun AT ALL. With this FM however everything is many times better and dogfights actually have a right to be called dogfights.

Although of course it isn't perfect. Two biggest issues i've noticed through out the testing are:
1) glitchy pitch on the mig21 (often when doing the high alpha turns plane suddenly pushes its nose down HARD. so hard that it often results in negative AoA and then no pitch response whatsoever for couple seconds)
feels like a damping issue, but i'm not sure.
2) rudder feels super weak and unresponsive. 

The conclusion is - undoubtedly stick with this FM. Even taking into account that it has issues and needs to be worked on, it is already completely superior to the arcady one in every way. Don't abandon it just because some people, who have little idea about how airplanes actually work, find it too hard.

This is great feedback. Thanks for writing!

(1 edit)

I already discover

how I install this game ???

(1 edit)

hello,
I discovered your game recently with the 4.1 build and then found out about this one. As some people pointed it out it is less "fun" but honestly still great.
I think the biggest issue is the fact that the AI is struggeling a lot, and thus it feels weird to overshoot your target while stalling at the same time lol. (The secret is to get your gears and flaps out for better low speed perf lol (maybe you should bind the flaps alone))
there are a few issues like the fact that you are not refueled when you land and rearm but thats not a big deal.

long rambling and calculations comming :

I wanted to point an other thing (hope it doesnt sound rude) :
I dont have experience flying the mig21 in dcs for example so i dont know how accurate the data is but it felt quite heavy and slow...
I tried to figure out why :
And I dicovered something  (i will try to explain) :
I was wondering if the scale and speed where on point :
I took some screen shots of the mig on the runway and with some quick mesures i found out that the runway is about 70 to 72 migs long.
The mig being 14.4m long the runway is about a 1km long (between 1008 and 1033m) nothing weird here...
But then i tried to time how long it took to cross the runway at a given speed and mesure it's lengt in an other way :
So at about mach1 (mostly above but the point is the same) it took between 4.15 and 4.2 seconds to cross it (this is the least accurate part but i found quite consistant times). mach 1 = 340 m/s so it should mean that the runway is about 1428 m long.

conclusion : there is a contradication.

Maybe its just the mig model and i am digging too deep inot this lol...
But maybe it will help you in some way :)

As some other people says the more realistic flight model dont need to be abandoned and neither the arcade one. maybe you ca keep both (saying that, it is probably doubling your work...) and make it an "option", but the AI in this model is probably the priority to make it more enjoyable. 

hope my english is not too bad...

thank you for your game and good luck !

Hello,

Just tested it this evening.

As i only know Tiny combat arena since yesterday i might be wrong but I feel like with this flight model it's more about energy management.  I like it.

The way planes behave at slow speed with the older fm is too far from reality for me.

So i would say that i prefer this new fm.

In my opinion adding a cockpit view with only the hud would help to test the fm.

By the way i really love the desert map, just one thing, flying over the white areas is difficult, i can appreciate how close to the ground i am.

And i miss a compass to know where i am.

Well that's all for now,

Thanks for sharing your work, i really like this game!

Got the chance to try this flight model, and I find it absolutely superb. Piloting the MiG-21 is my favourite part, as high-alpha makes crazy loopings impossible without significant thrust, and makes landings feel realistic with wind. It's like flying a real airplane with a 1990s filter!

Though I'm not a hardcore flight sim player, I've played the old WWII Jane's, MS FS 2000, and Wings over Israel, some Novalogic sims, and H.A.W.X. (all with the keyboard in the past -- wow). Overall, your flight model compares favourably to all the above. I'd even say I like it best compared to my favourite, Wings over Israel, because in that one, the high alpha stalled dramatically. Congratulations on such a good job.

I know this is a dev nightmare, but maybe you can consider including a code switch between easy/unrealistic flight mode (no wind, less stall, etc.) and the complete model, if it turns out to be a problem for people to play?

Part of the fun of playing the sim with a more accurate model is the extra challenge. Right now it plays well with a joystick, and gives a feeling of satisfaction that you've turned and landed successfully. The enemy jets are quite close, so if you just gun the afterburner you're fighting in about a minute, but of course, it's no arcade.

I think you prefer the challenges of the realistic flight model. In the end, your interests are what keep this project alive, so it should please you so you remain motivated.

On a side note, the lack of a HUD makes it difficult to read the values. I almost want to code one for you.

(+1)

This is great feedback, thank you!

It might just be me, but I must admit that I very much preferred the older flight model. It may be more arcadey, and it may be the AC fan in me speaking, but it just felt right! I would suggest that you use that one instead, because I find it more enjoyable.

My nitpicks aside, I absolutely love your work so far! The game is tons of fun even in this state, and it is clear that you've been putting a lot of love into it. Keep up the good work, buddy!

(1 edit)

This is very important feedback, thank you! I knew going in that not everybody would like it and honestly I've been shocked more people haven't voiced their discontent. What you're talking about is definitely a fear of mine, that as cool as the flight model stuff is on a technical level, what's most important is that it makes the game better.

It can happen sometimes, don't let it get to you. I'm glad to be at least somewhat helpful.

I do not know much about the art of coding, I will admit. I also cannot imagine how much effort it must take to make something like this. However, you've shown that you've got loads of dedication and talent, which are fundamental when making a good game, and what I've seen so far certainly seems to be on the right track.

Also, the plane selection shows that you've got absolutely patrician taste in aircraft :^)

Thank you, that's very encouraging!

The V107 is an insane dogfighter XD

(1 edit)

It maybe shouldn't be, but I didn't put much time into the flight model beyond the VTOL part of it. Physics-wise it has the same wings as the MiG-21, but the tail is further back so there's more leverage and it gets a little extra lift for free from the engine pods.

You nailed that a-10 cuba look!

And agree that mouse control is no-no now!

(1 edit)

Yeah the mouse control is in a dire state right now. I'll need to figure something out for it, because it's also the reason the AI are so bad at flying right now.

Edit: 

This has since changed the mouse control uses a very different set of flight control laws now, making it far more stable.

Amazing