Crashing and burning

Over the weekend I sat down to add some new features to QANAT. I started trying to create some new alien types and was struggling to come up with some interesting behaviour. While working on this I got to thinking about what the core mechanic of the game is. It struck me that the core of QANAT is the realism of the alien movement.

Now the movement of the aliens is not realistic per se, but it has some nice logic to it and the movement appears quite organic. So it seemed natural to me to add some more realism by having the alien ships fall from the sky when they are destroyed rather than just dissapearing, as they do in v0.3. I've heard of this in some other similar games although I had never played a game with this feature.

After implementing the feature I was blown away. This transforms the game. The crashing alien ships really add to the core mechanic and it turns the game into a frantic battle between trying to shoot the weaving aliens above you and dodge the falling debris. 

What was also interesting was that my enjoyment of this mechanic also increased dramatically as I added small details to it. Obviously the smoke trails are a visual feature but they also allow you to judge the trajectory of the falling debris. When playing the game you are mostly trying to take in the whole scene and having a very obvious path allows you not to have to focus on each individual falling ship.

Other aspects like the spinning of the ships while falling and making sure to conserve momentum when the ships explode or fracture into pieces really help cement this mechanic. It feels realistic in the way that the alien movement feels realistic. It also helps that the aliens try to move out of the way of the debris in a reasonable way and I particularly like it when they fail and get taken down with the crashing and burning friends!