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  • Writer's pictureFreejam Chris

Flyers vs. Ground Balancing Intentions

As we’re getting closer now to when ground vs. air will be an official thing in Robocraft 2 we wanted to share some of the design intentions on this subject. For those of you who played Robocraft 1 you will be familiar with the challenges of ground vs. air balancing and this time round we have been thinking really hard about how to make this all work.

A couple of key principles underpin everything in Robocraft 2. One is to adhere as much as possible to realism in terms of physics simulation. A second is that “weight should matter, a LOT”.

Our aim is to balance flying components so that in general things in the air are not as tough and tanky as things on the ground. This isn’t an exclusive rule, but a general principle we’re following as this helps to balance the advantages that flying Robots have over ground Robots.

The first class of flyers you’ll see in Robocraft 2 will combine Antigravity and Thrusters. In future we will add other forms such as Wings and Rotors.

Antigravity Block

Here is an early look at the Antigravity block in action:

The Antigravity Block is pretty simple. It provides a force that is always directed upwards. This force is more powerful than any of the Thrusters can provide so in general it’s better to use these to lift your flying Robot as opposed to using Thrusters.

This block has a Power tweakable stat which allows you to balance its lift power. There is also an input port allowing you to wire controls to it to allow you to control ascent and descent.

Small and Standard Thruster

Two different sized Thrusters with two different max powers and CPU costs. There is a tweakable stat on the Thrusters allowing you to tweak the power to perfection. There is also an input port on each Thruster which allows you to wire them up to controls and logic as you like.

One of the new features in Robocraft 2 Thrusters is that objects that are inside their exhaust receive an equal and opposite force. This means that if you block off the exhaust your Robot can be slowed, as the forward force and exhaust force counteract each other. You can use the force for some fun tricks, even creating flaps to block them off for a possible steering option.


Long term we do plan to implement aerodynamics so that the shape of your Robot affects how it moves through the atmosphere. For the earlier days of flight we will only have a very simple and crude form of drag. Essentially, the faster you go the more of a counter force will be applied and this occurs in a non-linear way as in the real world. So, as you get faster the wind resistance force working against you is greater, and the force increases with speed following a curve:

Other things to consider

A few things we’ve noticed when building early flying Robots:

Plasma cannons have such a large kick back, if your flier is too light, it will affect its position by launching it in the opposite direction:

Adding some extra weight to your Robot can give it more inertia and that can help to reduce the kick back:

The guns weigh a lot, and as they rotate this can shift around your center of mass and cause the flier to tip from side to side as you aim around.

You can overcome this problem by building turrets with a counterbalance behind the guns:

This will lead to a more stable craft while aiming your weapons.

Map design

Designing the maps to work well with ground vs. air is also going to play a key role in balance and defining the roles that flying Robots play in battle. With this in mind we’re introducing a modular building set that can be built and edited quickly in the World Editor so we can control how air and ground can access key objectives within the battles.

Max Ceiling Block

This is a World Editor only block that allows the map creator to balance how high fliers are able to go within the atmosphere of the planet the map is being designed for. It isn't a hard barrier or limit but all physics elements that provide lift or forces upwards are affected by it. The closer you get to the 'max ceiling' the more these upwards forces are modified. You will find that vehicles that are designed to fly high (putting more CPU into upwards forces, or using tricks like catapults) can get higher than those fliers that are designed to bear weight and cruise around in the air.

Changes to the Battle Gate

We have altered the battle gate to include a force field at the top of each team's spawn. This will allow flyers to leave via the top without needing to go through the gate.

Let us know what you think about this first introduction to flying robocraft. Stay tuned for more details soon!

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