Last week, Wildlife Studios released Sky Warriors, an air combat game, for iOS and Android. The developer spent a lot of time learning about the ins and outs of aerial combat in preparation for the game and we recently had a chance to chat with them about this. On top of that, we discussed how they aim to keep multiplayer balanced for players of different skills and the biggest challenges they faced when making Sky Warriors.
Could you please introduce yourself and your role on Sky Warriors for our audience, please?
My name is Luiz Piccini, the creator and Game Director for Sky Warriors. As Game Director, I am the vision holder of the game. I work on planning, managing product, engineering, art, and QA teams, and ensure we are able to deliver the best possible experience to our players.
The game uses hybrid joystick and gyroscope controls. Why did you decide this was the best control scheme, and what do you think it adds to the experience?
Getting the controls just right was our biggest challenge. There are three basic movements needed to control an aircraft: the pitch (moving the nose up and down), the roll (rolling the plane around its movement axis), and the yaw (moving the nose left and right). To translate this to a mobile device, we let players point the joystick in the direction they want to go and we execute the pitch, roll, and yaw for them.
However, this only lets players make basic maneuvers. For more advanced players, we needed to create a solution to let them make those three different types of movement beyond a joystick that is only 2D. By implementing a gyroscope, players are able to control for the third movement. This idea came to me when I was playing Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, as they let you combine a joystick and gyroscope to aim that felt more natural and better than using the joystick or gyroscope alone.
You describe the game as being for players of all levels. How have you balanced Sky Warriors to ensure it can be enjoyed by casual and hardcore players alike?
Having the two different control schemes, the joystick and gyroscope help keep the game accessible to casual players and more challenging and entertaining for hardcore players. Anyone should be able to get the hang of the basic controls within a few minutes. As players progress in the game, they notice more experienced players are able to perform maneuvers that aren’t possible with the basic controls. Moving from the basic to the advanced controls comes naturally at this point.
You carried out in-depth research with real-life fighter pilots when making Sky Warriors. Why was this important to you, and what do you believe it adds to the game?
I believe that games are all about selling a fantasy. To do this, we want to make sure we’re providing a realistic, authentic experience. For example, when working on Tennis Clash, we were selling the fantasy of being a tennis player, so we talked with real players and took tennis lessons to understand what this fantasy entailed. In Sky Warriors, we are selling the fantasy of flying a fighter plane, so we were determined to speak with real-life pilots to understand what that meant. Sadly, I couldn’t fly a real plane myself, but I clocked over 250 hours of plane games and simulators while researching for Sky Warriors.
What was the biggest challenge you faced when making Sky Warriors?
The biggest challenge of developing Sky Warriors was getting the controls right. It’s very difficult to navigate in three dimensions with 12 degrees of freedom as opposed to only navigating in 3D. It was very important for us to empower users to have full control of the plane which was difficult with the limited inputs of a mobile device. Honing the controls just right was one of the things we dedicated the most time and energy towards.
Why did you decide that mobile was the ideal platform for your game rather than PC or console?
We wanted to make the largest air combat game ever. Looking at the market size of different platforms, the size of the market for mobile is now bigger than PC and console combined. Additionally, there are already great air combat games available on PC and console already. I actually play quite a few of these games myself as a fan of Ace Combat, Project Wingman, and DCS World. However, there weren’t any large air combat games on mobile. We saw this as an opportunity to create a game that will fill that space.