How can I make my game... A game?

Hello Folks,

I have been working on my “game”, PlaneStorm, for about four months now. At the moment, I basically have a game that is the following:

  • A plane spawns on a runway
  • The plane can take off
  • The plane can fly around a terrain
  • The plane can destroy airfields of the enemy team.
  • The player can view other planes of other players online.
  • The player can shoot down other planes (if on the enemy team).

Anndddd… That’s it.

The terrain is practically done at this point. It is good enough for an early alpha.

Things like movement, maps, etc, are also basically complete. I can fly over hills, land my plane, crash my plane, sink in the water, etc.

However, in it’s current state, the game is just not… Fun.

I would like a game that I could goof around on for an hour or so, completing this or that, or killing this, or doing something fun. As it is though, you just fly around a map and that’s it.

For a start, there are several “Issues”.

  • No other players online, meaning there is nothing to fight.
  • Defeating the objective (the enemy airfields) is not fun.

And I always get the same sort of common “suggestions”, such as:

  • Why don’t you add missions?
  • Why don’t you add computer-controlled opponents?

The problems with these are obvious. Both missions and computer-controlled opponents sound extremely boring, and do not make a game by their own.

The point I’m trying to make, is I need:

  1. An opponent for the player to fight.
  2. An opponent that is challenging and fun to fight.
  3. An objective for the game that is fun and rewarding.

But I just can’t think of anything.

The truth is, I programmed with Java and LWJGL for four years so obsessively about graphics that I have actually forgotten how to make a game.

So I’m effectively asking a broad question:
What can I do to make this game fun and entertaining?

I am not looking for random suggestions like “ooh it would be cool if I could shoot down the birds”, I am looking for an overall plan of how to make my game fun and entertaining.

I simply can’t work out what the enemy will be. I cannot work out what the player will do. I can’t work out what the objectives will be. And without any of those, a game is sunk.

I’m just lost, and I would really appreciate some advice.

Thank you.

Edit: Forgot to mention, for those who want to try it, download here:


You should play some similar games like Fox One or After Burner to get some ideas. I know, those games have NPCs, but the goal here is to have some inspiration.

I do and I have, and to be honest, I have plenty of ideas for the game. The problem is that I have a mental block on as to what I can actually do to make it any sort of game that I would find fun.



Serious answer: you could implement the classic gamemode CTF but with planes, where you can also pass the flag that is subjected to gravity, it would be an interesting mechanic imo.
P.S. This is not my idea, i just added Planes to a sauerbraten’s community gm called rugby.


CTF sounds great. CTF like with world of tanks.

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Lol, explosions usually work :smiley:

Maybe try adding some ground enemy bases that can shoot homing missiles or something.

Or you can go Just Cause’s way and add whatever required to blow stuff up all the time.

Hey, what about bombs? Would it not funny to see how a bomb is falling down to the ground where it will explode in the end. Then add a nice explosion effect and some sounds.

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How about an air plane racing game. Maybe with different modes such as one where you race through a canyon ala Independence Day’s alien craft vs F/A-18 through a canyon and, like Mario Cart maybe you pick up single shot weapons to make things tougher on your opponents such as blowing up rock bridges so they fall down causing lots of debris for those behind you to avoid.

Another race might be more technical where you have to race from one airfield to the next, destroying them along the way then head for the finish line. Or maybe the airfields could be like pit stop areas where you refuel, repair and reload, but you could optionally blow them up to hinder your opponents.

I’d play that.

I think you will have to end up being mission based.

Kewl missions:

  • stop a bunch of tanks from assaulting a city by destroying them before they get into position
  • protect an aircraft carrier from enemy planes (start from and end up landing on the aircraft)
  • protect a vip bomber from a bunch of planes
  • duels in the ski

Would require:

  • ai (npc) planes… I would move them without using physics, only attaching them to the physics engine when they get hit and fall. Could simply check for collisions with the player by checking distance between them < a radius.
    Moving planes with physics via an ai is hard, but moving them via location and rotation should be easier.
  • bombs: ideally, their trajectory would depend on the rotation of the plane and it’s speed, but could be simplified if needed
  • ai (npc) tanks: could use the physics vehicle and follow a path

This leaves you with the problem of graphics. I’m very bad at graphics, so others would have better solutions (at least) there.

  1. Make a random map

  2. Make a strategic layer: the game will have a strategic phase, where an strategic map will be shown to the player, where it can give orders to units/ etc… I suggest, say, 3 minutes in the strategic phase, and 15 minutes in the simulation phase.
    GAME OBJECTIVE: make the opposing player/team unable to flight, by making the overall supply count reach zero.
    GAME SEQUENCE: the game have a strategic phase where each player issues orders to their buildings and units, and then a simulation phase where each player fly a plane to provide support to those orders.
    To make the game simple, there is only one resource: SUPPLY.
    You can see the full map and strategic locations. You can see your units and what your units can see. You can also see what your plane have scouted, if it have the proper equipment.
    The flare: for 10 seconds, any missile will consider a flare as a possible target.
    The missile: travels at 3 times an aircraft speed, but is less maneuverable. It have a limited view range, and will always track a target closer to the acceleration vector. If it detects no target, it travels in a straight line until the time is up. making maneuvers as needed (so one of the “fun stuff” you can do is give “OLE” to a missilebut have less maneuverability. Travels for up to 30 seconds, then falls to the ground and explodes. Have enough firepower to destroy an aircraft.
    Guns round: short range, travels always at a straight line… 50 rounds should be enough to destroy an aircraft or vehicle
    Each plane will have 3 slots for equipment, that can be repeated, and that can be:

  • Camera/Radar: a camera will extend the plane scouting range. Costs 300 supply.

  • 3 Flares: can be used to divert missiles. A missile will follow a flare if it is closer than a plane. A f Costs 100 supply

  • Gun with 500 rounds: generic weapon with limited effectiveness, but that works for other aircraft, vehicles, and individual trucks. Costs 50 supply.

  • 3 Anti-air missile: a missile that can be used to target other aircraft. Costs 500 supply.

  • 1 Bomb: can be used to cause widespread damage to buildings and armies. Costs 500 supply.

  • 2 Air-to-earth missile: a guaranteed to hit that can be used for vehicles and bases, but not for anything else. Costs 500 supply.
    Notice that this gives the player some interesting choices: will it be doing scouting? But if it is doing scouting, it can’t exactly defend itself. Will it do bombing? Then it gets vulnerable to planes. Also, if the base is short on supply, all it can do is to place lots of guns in the slots and hope for the best
    The buildings are special installations that can be built at suitable spots at the map. They demand supply to operate, and have a supply stock. If the stock is depleted, the building shuts down.
    THe buildings are:

  • SUPPLY RIG: generates supplies for your planes and armies. For any army to take action, it must receive supplies first.

  • Early Warning Radar: removes fog of war from an area;
    SAM bases: can fires missiles at enemy planes that get in range. It will send only one missile at a time. May have up to 10 missiles stored.
    Bases: places where your plane can land, and where you can build units if there is enough supply. The bases have a supply storage that gets depleted. A base cab build one unit per turn.
    Unis are given orders in the strategy layer. They cost supply to move, cost supply to take action, and have a supply storage. The orders for a unit are composed by a route composed of waypoints, and one target. If a unit doesn’t have enough supply in storage to move along the route and execute the order, then it stops.

  • Engineer: an engineer can take supplies and move to a suitable spot to build or scrap. If the engineer reaches the spot and have enough resources to build what it is ordered to, the building will be available in the next strategic phase. To use an engineer, the player must specify a target spot, a route and a return base. This route will cost it supplies, that must be represented by a proper amount of supply trucks. (That is, in the simulation map, the engineer will be represented as a set of supply trucks). If the engineer ends up having less resources than needed to build a base, it will return to base. The engineer speed should be enough to travel 1/5th of the map diagonal every 15 simulation minutes. And to move the engineer for this amount costs 100 supply. An engineer costs 1000 supply.

  • Supply truck: the supply truck is the blood vein of your army. transfer supplies from the supply rigs to a base. If you need to transfer supplies from one place to another, a supply truck is created. Each supply truck costs 100 supply,

  • Army truck : an army truck can capture undefended bases. It have a limited store for supply. If it have no supply, it will stop and be unable to defend itself (and it must be supplied by a supply truck). Have anti-aircraft guns with limited effectiveness (need 100 hit rounds to detroy a plane). A capture costs supply to be done. If the trucks end the simulation with enough supply to capture the base, then the base will be available for the player in the next strategic turn.

  • Tank: cannot capture bases, but can target trucks and bases for destroying it.


I haven’t seen that you actually provided the game in it’s current state. :slight_smile: For starters, as I have explained before , the game will become old fast if there is no randomized maps, or different maps at least. I would worry less to make the simulation believable: Your game is not meant to be “realistic” , right? You can make a more blocky landscape, with less poligons… And with that make the map bigger… And in the meantime make the map a random build…

Elaborating a little on what I’m talking about in the strategic layer: For starters, your screen should look something like this:

The user may see an strategic map where it can see in realtime what is going on with the world. Notice that units have direction vectors. Bases have blue or red colors if they are conquered, black icons mean suitable places for building a base. A compass in the screen top is a must. I was just thinking that we could type M to switch focus back and forth from the plane to the map, so the player may issue build orders for the units in real time when they feel confortable to do so. When this happen the plane enters autopilot with no direction change and no altitude change… This makes my original suggestion of having strategic and simulation phases much more dynamic.

Great titles for military aircraft in the past are ones like Total Air War and Falcon 4. Also for helicopters, I can think of Enemy Engaged Comanche Hokum. All these titles have DYNAMIC CAMPAIGNS. This means that game state between missions is persistent and AI will set it’s own missions according the game rules (such as those set out by Mr Picoli above). See the wikis on any of the titles mentioned here to see how a Dynamic Campaign works.

Another thing I think is good to have in a flight game is a first person cockpit option. A cockpit does not need to be complicated, but it gives the feeling of really flying. You can rotate the camera around the cockpit and then back to the wings to see the missle loadout … really nice.

Total Air War had an AWACS fighter control option where you could vector fighters to a target using a map interface, and then jump into the cockpit of any of the fighters to duke it out with the enemy. That was cool. Some nice memories from yester year.

I haven’t played falcon 4, only falcon 3 :slight_smile: The strong (and weak) suits for simulations is that they try to be technically accurate.If we go in this direction, there is a big mountain to climb, and there are other games out there that will be much stronger, and lots of players will simply say how bad the simulation is (unless a really big effort is made to improve physics, etc ) . If we depart from reality, make it cool, but more cartoonish. The weak part of simulations is the big time where nothing happens while going to places… But if the map is dimensioned to the right size (I would make that the plane should have 15 minutes autonomy and make the map be traversable by a plane on diagonal in 15 minutes), and make the game a simplified simulation with RTS elements, the game can become fun, because the player have this RTS part to follow as well, and will have time to make these decisionas while going places.

I’m basically thinking about a SirTech ‘Rescue Raiders’ , but in 3d, with planes instead of choppers.

The player will take the role of the “Air General” , suppreme commander of air and ground forces, ace of the skies and all around nice guy :slight_smile:

Rather than offering suggestion, I’d ask: why did you start development of PlaneStorm in the first place? How would you want it to play like? I’m sure you have an original vision, and you should probably stick with it until it plays as you dreamt…

my advice would be whatever game play you go for, make sure its fun! This is probably the sole reason I have finished next to no games… I come up with a cool idea, with some cool tech, then half way through I realise it’s no fun to play, it’s more a tech showcase. MAKE SURE ITS FUN!, that should be rule 1 when making a game.

I’ve read you initial idea, of playing for 1 hour or so… completing this or that… and you want a multiplayer online game…

You have the hen and the egg issue here: “If you build it, they will come”… I can’t see how you can make a multiplayer game if you have no players… I think the solution to that is right now to organize events… You need to have a social application, where people may say when they are available to play…

But your map is very small: you can traverse the whole map in, what, one minute? How can you fit, say, 4 players in a map this size?

If you take another look in your game, it is basically a third person multiplayer shooter… To make it interesting as it is, you must have powerups, secret areas, stuff like that. The “Altitude” game, but in 3d.

And I think you can’t escape computer-controlled opponents. Even if to make the game interesting for a time while there are no other people playing.

The ideas and suggestions are all very helpful, however I will stress that I am looking to create a multiplayer game, not a game with “campaigns” and “missions”.

The version you’re playing is the same except for the fact it doesn’t have a detail map, which I didn’t believe would be important to the question (as the question is about gameplay and not graphics).

Also you forgot to turn on gamma correction.

The mission will most likely to be somehow assist the ground forces, while watching out for enemy planes (aka other players).

However, I don’t know if there should be client-side tanks. As in, each player has a separate mission but all players can see each other.

As of yet, I’m just not sure. I’ll see what I can think of.

I think co-op missions would be a good idea, that way no player is beating another player … which can lead to frustration. Sure it’s kind of a pussy way out, but while making a name for you game, the more happy players the better right =)

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