Much of the effort in building The Torus Syndicate went and still goes into making as immersive a world as possible. We noticed that, in doing so, our focus has been particularly drawn to motion. We’ve already talked at length on how we developed the mechanic that players use to move around, Curated Locomotion, and how critical we believe it is to drawing players into our world. The player’s motion, though, hasn’t been the only motion of our concern; the player’s enemies have had their fair share of attention too.
I’m particularly proud of the flying drone, one of our more recent additions to the game. They play a key role in the third, rooftop level, and I think their addition to the new survival mode really added a whole new dimension of fun. The drone is special compared to all its brethren not just in that it flies but also in how it’s modeled: its motion is the product of a realistic physics simulation.
Enemy drones fly and crash realistically, which is probably of little comfort to the Torus Syndicate thugs operating them.
The drone has real physical properties, such as mass and drag. When the NODE AI Director sets the drone’s destination, its autopilot computes the desired thrust and overall torque that its motors need to produce to push the it there. If the engines stop working (because, say, the player has thoroughly damaged them), the drone, like any of its real-world counterparts would, loses thrust and comes crashing to the ground. What’s particularly cool about this setup is that at the core of the drone’s autopilot lies a PID controller that’s responsible for maintaining the motor’s output so that the drone stays on track. That term might not mean much to anyone who’s not a control system engineer, but PID controllers are used in the real world to run all sorts of systems, including some very real drones. It may not be the first thing on a player’s mind when they’re dodging the bullets coming from an in-game drone, but it’s these small details that add up and help us make the virtual experience of playing The Torus Syndicate feel as real as possible.