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Movement Systems in Zero-G Environments

Movement Systems in Zero-G Environments

What kind of movement works best for games where there are zero-G segments? This is the question I’m pondering while developing the prototype for Radlyn Games’ new project. My question mainly pertains to whether to make the movement system easy (and less realistic) or complex (and more realistic) for the player. Both have their merits. An easy system will allow for a player to grasp the controls fast and not have to focus their attention on the movement. A complex system will make the movement a main mechanic of the game and provide something for the player to gain mastery in.

Having a game either fully set in zero-G or just having sections in it inherently calls for a slightly more complex movement system. Enter Outer Wilds. In it you pilot a spaceship and explore zero-G environments. I turned to Outer Wilds because I admire the game and it’s useful to look at a popular example. The movement in Outer Wilds is squarely on the complex side, but I would argue its complexity arises not from the movement itself but because it takes place in space. While moving you have to account for your speed, distance, and rotation in all three dimensions while also triangulating that for objects you are targeting. The movement system is a tool that serves what you want to achieve in the environment the game takes place in. I think this goes for all movement systems in all games, but it is on display more in Outer Wilds.

For the project at Radlyn Games, I think having a more complex movement system will add to the overall gameplay experience. It is a story focused game, so introducing some complexity in a complex environment makes sense.

Thanks for reading!