Thursday, September 25, 2008

Crimson Eagles - Aircraft Design

After I worked out how the maneuvering chart should be I next began to convert the planes to this system. There are two areas of conversion; maneuvering and structure.

In Crimson Skies, aircraft can attempt any maneuver: it just gets more difficult the harder that you redline the engine (trying for more speed), or pull G's (harder maneuvers). The Canvas Eagle system allows a plane to perform all of the maneuvers possible for it's design. I wanted something in between: the speed of having predetermined maneuvers, but some way to push the edge of the aircraft. I decided to take a plane's max speed and G's and use those for the base. If the aircraft's speed and G's were greater or equal to the maneuver's speed and G's then it was allowed. For instance, a Warhawk has a max speed of 2 and a max G's of 3. It can handle all maneuvers with a speed 2 or less and G's of 3 or less. To add the feel of pushing the limits of the aircraft, but at the same time keeping the game from becoming one of endless die rolls as players attempt any maneuver, I allow a plane to try moves that are just above their design limits. I figure this by finding a plane's maneuver limits - max speed plus max G's. It is allowed to try any move that has the same total or less; but if the maneuver's speed exceeds the aircraft's it is a redlining move, and if it has a greater G then it is pushing the G's.

So for the Warhawk. It's maneuvering total is 5 = speed 2 plus G's 3. It is allowed to try any maneuver with the same total. Maneuver 3SF has a 5 = speed 3 and G's 2. But since the speed is greater it is a redlining maneuver so it is a possible failure.

Redlining moves are those that exceed a plane's max speed by 1, and Pushing G's are those that exceed the G limit by 1 - as long as the total is less than or equal to the plane's total.

Acceleration and deceleration are from the Crimson Skies statistics. Diving and climbing limits are based on a formula derived from the size of the plane, it speed, acceleration and G's.

After setting the plane's movement characteristics I began working on its structure. In Crimson Skies all the aircraft have the same damage chart with the exception of the armor. Canvas Eagles is based on historical data of the aircraft. Since Crimson Skies is based on sizes which have no comparison to reality I needed to develop a system from scratch again. After much trial and error I have come up with a base score that reflect somewhat on the different sizes. I take the number of units and divide by the speed plus G's to determine a unit for the fuselage and wings. For instance a Brigand has a Base Target Number of 6 which is equal to 38 in my system. It has a speed of 3 and G's of 2 for a total of 5. 38 divided by 5 is 7 with a remainder of 3. So the starting score of 7 X 3 for the fuselage and 7 X 2 for the wings with the left over points place where it seems to work. The engine and tail numbers are determined by the engine mass and acceleration or the number of engines and general look of the plane.The armor is then added all sections: engine and tail use the number of armor points from Crimson Skies divided by 10. The wings and fuselage receive the remaining armor divided by 10 and shared equally.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Crimson Eagles - Maneuvering Chart

When I began this project the first step was to work out the maneuvering chart. Canvas Eagles has good, comprehensive system for movement. The problem lies in fitting the plane’s characteristics to it. There is no formula for matching a plane to the maneuvering chart; it is based on personal interpretations of how a plane historically behaved – was it good in turns, how did it climb and dive compared to other planes of the time. The problem with planes from Crimson Skies is that they are not real world aircraft and so have nothing to compare them too.

So I started by gathering data from the design book from the original game and also the construction process in the video game. After much trial and error I was able to create an algorithm that produced results matching those of the PC game. (I knew an astrophysics degree was good for something.) Now I have a number that lets me compare the various aircraft of the Crimson Skies world as to how well they perform against each other based on their Base-Target-Number (BTN), speed, acceleration, and G’s. Of course, the number is only a relative scale to compare a Crimson Skies plane to another Crimson Skies plane – poor to excellent. Next I began trying to match these characteristics to real world planes from WWII and their maneuvering charts from Canvas Eagles. The difficulty again was the fact that Crimson Skies planes aren’t real – they don’t have the little quirks of real planes. A BTN 6 plane with a max speed of 3 and G’s of 2 is just like all the other planes with the same characteristics. So comparing them to real aircraft does not work well, nor does it keep the pulpish feel of Crimson Skies. Back to the drawing board, though the algorithm is useful in classifying stability.

What I did next was to convert the Crimson Skies’ maneuvering chart to a Canvas Eagles’ type chart. With a few minor changes to bring in maneuvers that aren’t in one system but are in the other, or make some moves more difficult or easier depending what seems to fit best, I now have chart that appears to work. Restricted moves are now ones that are three G’s or greater from the Crimson Skies’ chart, with a few exceptions.

So here is the basic maneuvering chart.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Crimson Eagles

Yes, it has been a while since I last posted. Origins was excellent this year. Lots of friends, lots of games, lots of fun. WizWar went well - I plan to bring it to Origins again next year.

So what have I been doing over the summer? Splitting and stacking wood for winter (we heat by wood and I do it all by hand), canning (a great year for tomatoes and fruit) and homeschooling my daughter (we do lessons all year round). But I've also been working on my next gaming project - Crimson Eagles.

Crimson Eagle is a combination of the old FASA Crimson Skies and the WWI dogfighting game, Canvas Eagles. It's a project I've been working on off and on for the last couple of years, but have finally decided to get serious about it and try to have it done for Origins 2009.

I've had the original Crimson Skies boardgame since it first was released back in the late 90's as well as the PC version and the Wizkid's click version. My favorite has always been the original, though. After discovering Canvas Eagles at Origins several years ago I began wondering if I could combine the two game systems - take the fictitious 2-dimensional boardgame and make it work with a 3-dimensional miniature game based on actual aircraft.

It has not been as easy as it might seem. The Crimson Skies aircraft are closer to WWII planes than WWI. So my first approach was to see it I could make us of some of the WWII versions of Canvas Eagles. Knights Cross has been helpful. I spent a lot of time making mathematical algorithms to try an reconcile the two systems. Luckily there is plenty of statistics on the Crimson Skies' planes in the books and on the PC game's designs system. Ultimately, that proved to be a dead end. The physics of real aircraft is nothing like the made-up world of Crimson Skies, and what I really want is the pulp feel of that fictitious world. So back to the drawing board.

I want to keep the core system based on the Canvas Eagles/ Blue Max game for a number of reasons. First, why reinvent the wheel. Canvas is a well thought out system with years of testing behind it. Second, because Canvas Eagles is free to download it is easy for players to get. So I plan to stay with the basic game and make the changes necessary to bring it into the Crimson Skies' world.

Right now I have it to a point that it is playable. Over the next few months I hope to post the development of the game and a final set of rules.