Gyroscope: Intro to Advanced Project Skyscape Controls
A concept that only a first-person sandbox flight game could execute well. Project Skyscape is a still-in-development game by Flyleap Studios. Its closed testing build has undergone multiple changes in the past months as it prepares for a potential 2021 early access release date. The game describes itself as a jet fighter experience that hits the gap between game and simulator while balancing realism and fun. Its ability to be played in both VR and desktop while having flight simulator-style aircraft systems and the ability to fly and walk around an entire planet freely is ambitious but has been taking shape. I've had the privilege of being a tester for this title for some time. As it is still in development, there are ongoing changes and tests being done, so details on the story, gameplay, flight model and multiplayer experience are too early to delve into for now. However, there is something that has left a lasting impression on me. During a certain part of the story in the game's solo play game mode puts the player in a situation where they must learn the controls of a combat aircraft. Usually, this is where the player is put through some tutorial mission where they destroy a handful of aircraft while being walked through the controls. That or there is a separate set of training missions used to fill this purpose. Instead, Project Skyscape utilizes an in-game gyroscope flight simulator. At first glance, the simulator looks like a standard sit-down machine with the bare minimum amount of equipment. Just a frame, really. But as the player enters it and turns on the battery, its potential is immediately apparent. After the initial rolls and flips using default controls, players are instructed to adjust the controls until they can easily track and destroy virtual targets that appear in the sim's display. Pressing Tab on the keyboard and opening the control menu (CTRL Menu) starts the process. Seeing the entire list of every input, axis, slider, and modifier button that can be programmed is impressive. Especially notable controls include the throttle designator controller (X-axis and Y-axis), head tracker settings, and specific buttons for selection hardpoints, ideal for a weapon selection hat switch. All inputs that would use an axis (like pitch, roll, yaw, TDC, etc.) are backed with assignable curves, dead zones, and input speed adjustments. During testing, I tried a variety of new and old hardware. So far, I've successfully made keybinds for four USB gamepads, four Hands on Throttle and Stick (HOTAS) units with a considerable amount of buttons, toggles switches, and hat switches, and two rudder pedals. Even three Thrustmaster MFD Cougars were recognized, though the in-game multi-function displays do not match up to them 1:1 like in Digital Combat Simulator at this time. Keep in mind that Project Skyscape's aircraft have fully-clickable cockpits that can be used with keyboard mouse controls, gamepads, joysticks, HOTAS, and VR touch controllers. Sometimes, parallels are drawn between Project Skyscape and VTOL VR, but physical controller support, customization, and the ability to use these same controls in either VR or desktop sets Project Skyscape apart from its virtual reality tailored contemporary. The seemingly simple gyroscope simulator won't be something listed on a sales page as a must-see feature. It's a training tool that primarily new players will spend a decent amount of time fine tuning their flight experience in while in a safe environment. But using the gyroscope as the first way for players to explore all control options within the game is a concept that only a first-person sandbox flight game could execute well. For more information and updates on this game, see its Steam store page, Youtube channel and Reddit community. 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.