Creator Highlight Month 2022: Shadé
Updated: Jan 13
Besiege Flight Machinima Creator
Those enamored by flight will pursue it wherever it can be found. It's the type of passion that drives people to look up when they hear an aircraft overhead during their everyday lives. In the virtual world, that same passion drives people to bring flight to places where it was never intended to be. Our first interview for Creator Highlight Month 2022 is with Shadé, a machinima maker creating aviation-focused content on a rather unexpected platform: Besiege.
For many years now, Shadé (pronounced zah-day) has created aircraft to fly in the medieval skies of Bisege and made elaborate videos of fictional and non-fictional aircraft in a wide variety of settings and situations. After years of being curious about how this was possible, we got an opportunity to discuss this subject at length with Shadé.
There is a lot we do not know about this subject, so it is great having an expert here. Pleased to meet you.
Hello! My name is Pascalis Sadewa, but the community knows me more by the name Shadé. I’m from Yogyakarta, Indonesia but now I have moved to Bali to pursue my dream of developing video games. I’m the one behind a YouTube channel called Dawn-Shade where I upload machinimas (animated films using video and computer games videos) using a game called Besiege.
I’ve seen videos of your work for years without completely understanding what is happening. Let’s start from the top. What is Besiege?
When I first played Besiege in 2015, just a couple of months after it launched as early access on Steam, I thought it was just a fun silly medieval destruction-building game at first. Besiege is a physics-based builder game in which you build medieval siege engines to solve puzzles, destroy opposing armies and structures. You start with a single 1x1 block, then you place more blocks connected to said starting block. Each block type can have its own function: Wheels can rotate, springs can contract, hinges can bend, blades cut, armor protects, etc.
For example, if you want to make the most basic car, you start by making a chassis from wooden blocks, then you place two steering hinges at the front, then add four wheels. If you bind the wheel to Arrow Up, then steer left/right to Arrow Left/Right, you can get a basic working car.
You then make machines this way giving them whatever functions you can think of to complete the objectives, solve puzzles, and finish the campaign.
Does the base version of the game have a single player campaign or multiplayer? What is the goal in those game modes?
Besiege has a single player campaign spanning four chapters. The first chapter is more like a basic tutorial, acquainting players with what each block does. Some levels have how-to-build guides that players can follow. Each subsequent chapter introduces new challenges and gradually makes it harder. Not every stage has destruction as its main objective, some need you to take and deliver a certain object into a specified place, some have a Zelda-like puzzle.
If you’re more keen on just building creatively, there’s a Sandbox mode where you have a flat, vast area to test and play your machine. This mode is where the majority of players spend their time in Besiege, building machines and sharing it to the world via the Steam Workshop.
Besiege also has a level editor where you can design your own levels or combine them into a campaign of your own. The levels you have created can then be used for multiplayer mode.
Besiege multiplayer mode is where players can create a lobby and other players can join directly, playing custom levels with their machines. You can do racing, tank combat, just hang around, simulating battlebots, or PVP dogfights, with the last one being very popular in Besiege’s Japanese Community.
Because of the medieval setting, machines like trebuchets and battering rams were probably was was expected by the Besiege developers. Users can build machines with various types of building blocks. Is flight as simple as placing a single flying block?
Fun fact, the developer actually never expected that players could achieve flight like we did. There is only one flying-based level in the campaign. You’re supposed to make a flying machine to hit target balloons, but in actuality it can even be completed without flight, by simply shooting the targets from the starting point.
In the early days of Besiege, planes were an elusive technique that only a handful of players understood. It’s surprisingly easy to get something into the air, however getting it to fly will require some basic knowledge of how planes work in the real world. Most players default to a quadcopter design, because it’s one of the easiest ways (and cooler than simply making balloon airships) to make a controllable flying machine.
It took awhile for players to realize that the Wing Block and the Wing Panel the developer provided is not a good block to build the wing part of the plane. Turns out, building wing parts with the Propeller Block make things fly so well that now it has become the standard.
You can dissect someone else’s machine they uploaded in the Steam Workshop to see how they work. But copying the mechanism without understanding how aircraft works will lead you nowhere. Aircraft that work in real life can work in Besiege, so knowing how real aircraft works helps. Small bit of trivia, on my earliest attempt at building a plane in Besiege, I put elevator control on the main wing. My brain thought aircraft gain altitude that way. I learned a lot about aircraft after that.
After I’m confident enough to know about flight and the easiest way to build one in Besiege, I then created and uploaded a tutorial video on how to make a plane in Besiege. It’s a very basic plane that works well enough, but still covers a lot of knowledge of mechanisms needed to build your own. And the most important part, this should be possible even for players without any mods installed.
Are mods to enhance or alter the game needed to create aircraft?
Creating aircraft never strictly requires mods. Some mods that add handy tools can speed up players' build and can increase the detail on their machines, but after the developer added an update that contained Advanced Building Tools, players now can make detailed planes even in base game. The Besiege Japanese Community in particular are very fond of this tool. So much that the mainstream players are all about making powerful planes in vanilla and duel them together in PVP fashion.
My old F-104 Starfighter was one of the first realistic planes that could break the sound barrier in the early days. At that time it was very challenging. From making an engine that doesn’t spontaneously burst at high rpm, then building a fuselage that can withstand that amount of Gs, and even making control surfaces that still work at high-speed. But now Japanese players say that 1000km/h is the bare minimum if you want to PVP. Initially they were strictly going vanilla, but as they discovered more techniques, vanilla Besiege cannons were considered underpowered. Now they use vanilla fighter + Weapon Block Mod.
There are various other types of mods. Weapon Block mod is the type that can add custom blocks to the game. This mod adds fun real life modern armament you can place as blocks on your aircraft. I like these because they are useful for making action scenes more fun. But if you share something that contains modded blocks, you have to keep in mind that whenever other players that don't install the mod try to load it, that block would be missing. Before sharing you have to make sure with the block missing, the machine should still work.