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February 2023, 2 weeks   |   Solo Project   |   Developer

​​This project was made for an assignment for my Systems  & Experience Design class. We were meant to create a system that focused on physicality. I chose to make vehicle controls that emulate a hovercraft in Unity.


  • Planned, developed, and delivered a demo of the system within the span of 2 weeks

  • Programmed and refined physics to emulate a hoverboard

  • Created a testing survey and accessed feedback

  • Wrote a comprehensive systems design document that covers the projects intent, a summary of research done for the project, mechanics, and a post mortem



Here is a recording I did demonstrating the hovercraft system.

Players can turn left or right, accelerate, break, and jump. It helps to break some going into sharp turns and generally jumping is only used for specific obstacles. The player can flip their hovercraft upright if they ever flip with D-Pad down and can also reset the level with D-Pad up.



For the documentation on this project, I first came up with the thesis:

"By creating a vehicle movement system that uses physics based spring suspension, sliding torque, and other vehicle physics calculations to emulate a hovercraft, I intend to create an experience that offers a sense of physicality that enables mastery over controls over the course of playing."

After this, I did some research on mastery in games to assert the idea of how mastery can be a good motivator in games. The main thing that led me to pursue mastery was the quantic foundry motivations, and the idea that players would be motivated to master the controls of the hoverboard to get better lap times.

I also did research on vehicle physics simulations, where the idea of balancing arcade driving (intuitive controls, lots of mechanics, and accessible fun) and simulation driving (immersive controls, high realism, and serious competition) was brought up as two ends of the spectrum of driving games. I tried to strike a balance of having real physics simulations with intuitive controls with the physics of the hoverboard being based off of spring simulations and tire friction simulations as I mention in my intent statement.

You can see a break down of my physics simulation code in my documentation. I essentially break down the vehicle simulation into the X Y and Z axes and simulate each of them individually.


I personally am satisfied with the general controls of the hovercraft. One thing that bothered me with my track originally was that I felt the jump mechanic was not utilized much. I ended up going back and adding a bit of an off-road jumping section, though I think I could have gone further with having more verticality in the level design still if I added set pieces with sudden increases in height players would have to jump up to, like a staircase step.


While this is also more pertaining to level design, another thing I wanted to mention is the spacing between the main set pieces, such as sharp turns and ramps. I think that many of these set pieces being close together (particularly the turns between the hills going into the first ramp, and the loop going into the last ramp) made them even more difficult than they would have been alone, as the player has to reorient themselves quickly between challenges. However, I do think this is good proof of the hovercraft’s potential for mastery, as practicing getting the controls for these harsh segments leads to success eventually, as I’m able to complete the jumps pretty consistently.

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