AirShip, AI and Physics

I was having some fun with 3DS Max and created an air ship. I’ve been spending the past weeks getting it flying in the Unreal engine, and getting some basic AI to see if I can get it to navigate in 3D space.

I used to play a lot of Garry’s mod when I was younger. Whenever you wanted to make something fly you would give it hover balls to lift it at certain points. This whole thing reminded me a lot of the buoyancy spheres I used when creating my ocean, except in reverse. So I created a hover ball game objects that would split the weight of the object among them and then apply equal force to get them the object to float perfectly on the spot. This was way more successful than I original thought it would be and I was even able to split the distribution of force among them to create a sort of procedural animation. I also stuck some fans onto the airship that would speed up or slow down depending on the amount of force being applied to its respective hover ball.

I also had to sort out some AI for the cannons on the side of the airship. This was harder than I thought it would be, but proved an interesting math puzzle. In the end I got it to aim perfectly at the target regardless of the turrets orientation.

Lastly I got some AI onto the airship to get it to follow patrol points, attack the player, or flee. The end result was really cool, as the airship would instinctively perform a 3 point turn to turn around. This was because instead of having the AI move the ship, it moves a virtual joystick that moves the ship. Creating a more natural and less clunky movement system. The video below shows me setting up a patrol route and letting the airship navigate it.

 

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