GroundFall: Taking Note of This in Development Bush Flight Simulator
Updated: Sep 22, 2022
Enjoying a beautiful sunset was a nice prize for surviving a contentious landing that involved dodging trees and colliding with large rocks. Standing on top of a hill near a backcountry airstrip in the wilderness, as night fell, I began to wonder if it would be safe enough to fly home. Being out in such a remote area with no light sources and only the bare essential instruments in my aircraft, I opted to go check out a cabin nearby for shelter through the night. Maybe there were supplies in the cabin to recover some health I lost on that rough landing.
GroundFall is a still in development bush flight simulator created by Snow Creature, a solo indie developer. This title caught my eye some time ago with screenshots of its now old initial build. The pictures showed a Piper Cub flying low over treetops or landed in a small clearing in the wilderness and campfires, tents, and radios being used deep in the forest. With no aircraft insight in the screenshots that showed campfires and wildfires, I began searching for information. Just recently, I was fortunate enough to be invited to the multiplayer test demo for this title by the developer. Though this game is still obviously in development, I wanted to bring attention to it because of the experience I've been having.
The initial pitch for GroundFall has the player flying as a park ranger that operates off the southwestern coast of Alaska, USA. Players could be flying low-altitude patrols on the lookout for small wildfires, finding lost hikers, and flying out of remote or unprepared airstrips.
With only the trusty Piper Cub as your primary means of transportation, keeping the aircraft in one piece is just as important as keeping yourself unharmed. While flight is an integral part of this title, there is also a focus on survival game elements that affect both the player and the aircraft. The avatars that players create can lose health by being injured from bad landings, extreme weather conditions, and steep falls, for example. In comparison, the aircraft can also be heavily damaged with the fuselage being banged up or the wings being snapped off by trees. There are also plans to include aircraft customizations and other aircraft tuning like adjusting tire pressure.
Flight-wise, the model has received minor adjustments over the course of the multiplayer test demo. The instruments and cockpit isn't anything to write home about yet but are functional. The rough backcountry airstrips are the most significant challenge to flying thus far. Often with very short final approaches because of trees or terrain, trying to find the right approach angle and using just enough flaps to not float over half the airstrip. With momentum behind the aircraft and its lightweight airframe, panic braking can result in a propeller strike with the ground or a flat-out front flip that immediately ruins the plane. Even in the seemingly “basic” form of flight GroundFall is presenting, it’s the details in landing and taking off that raise the stakes. While in flight, the limitations of the aircraft are almost immediately apparent. Simply going full throttle and throwing the aircraft into the sky without a care in the world isn’t the wisest option. Though well suited for bush flying, the aircraft’s engine is not powerful enough to make up for poor bank angle choice or heavy handed low speed maneuvers.
Being able to land and step out of the aircraft is an eye-catching feature in its open world and proposed “endless world” environments. I’ve made it a point to land at an airfield and wander around the multiplayer demo map to see how feasible it is this early in development. Walking through the forest and foothills while the day and night cycles, the rains come and go, and the sounds of animals in the wilderness change depending on the time of day does add to what I would think bush flying is actually like. Getting lost in the forest, running out of fuel, or going down in a remote area could be fatal. If the inclusion of wildlife, the need for shelter, and in the field aircraft maintenance is introduced as planned, this game may become an interesting entry into the bush flying focused flight simmer’s library.
Of course, things are still in development. Bugs are still being found and corrected, and more features are gradually being introduced and refined. The developer, Snow Creature, continues to interact with the testers, and I feel as though GroundFall does have something going for it even this early in its development.
This is a title that I will be keeping my eye on while enjoying the small multiplayer testing sessions along the way. Keep up with the changes and potential future demos for GroundFall yourself by following the game on Steam and joining the official Discord server.
About the Writer
Aaron "Ribbon-Blue" Mendoza
Co-founder of Skyward Flight Media. After founding Electrosphere.info, the first English Ace Combat database, he has been involved in creating flight game-related websites, communities, and events since 2005. He explores past and present flight games and simulators with his extensive collection of game consoles and computers. Read Staff Profile.