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Requesting the Attention of Aviators

I have been attempting to put the final touches to my Mechanical Dragonfly Wings, which I find are frequently admired, yet I still possess my usual level of indecision and would therefore entreat any with an Opinion on the Use of Flight Enhancement Devices to leave their opinion herein. Though, please, if I then do not concur, do not be offended, it is likely that I am merely Wrong.

I have posted before on the things, and if any reminding is required, here is a little more illustrative cinema:

Low-altitude dragonfly wing testing from Ordinal Malaprop and Vimeo.

What concerns me is the detail of the enhancement to Flight. I wish to pare this down to the most basic, useful functions, and have the wearer free from having to use Irritating Blue Menus and Obscure Magic Words as much as possible.

In my own experience I have two main needs when Aviating:

  1. Slow, careful maneuvering about;
  2. Rapid dashes of speed, coming to a dead stop.

These two needs rarely coincide, but I do wish to be able to satisfy either without having to negotiate my way through various buttons and such. With this in mind I currently have the Dragonfly Wings behaving in the following manner: as standard, one moves no faster than if one was not wearing them, but when a "double-tap" is employed (pressing one's movement control twice in rapid succession) there is an immediate "surge", with a consistent impulse as long as said control is not released. When it is released, the wings bring the wearer to a dead stop immediately. The intensity of this surge is configurable via the dreaded Dialog Box, and can be turned off entirely.

As well as this the wings, in either state, will support one above the mark of Seventy-Two Metres' Altitude, beyond which one naturally begins to fall. This is actually one of the more irritating experiences of flight, particularly in environments such as Caledon SteamCity where one is very frequently above that point without realising.

My question is: would this be sufficient? What more do people want? I am not here in the business of providing a solution to every movement need, but there may be some entirely obvious feature which is absolutely essential that I have not addressed. Granted that I am reasonably sure about my own use here, but really, if everyone else on the grid takes another feature for granted and I do not provide it, I would be being remiss.


Incidentally, for these recordings I use a simple HUD attachment which fixes the camera in whatever position it is currently in, when touched, and releases it when touched again. I find it most useful, and hereby provide it for general consumption by the curious - Fix camera on touch.

MikeG1 Schumann's picture
18 Aug200706:28
MikeG1 Schumann (not verified)

Your proposed functionality would be just fine with me; however, there is one addition which is a "must have" from my point of view: the flight assistance feature to support one at Great Heights should be configurable so that the wearer can turn it off. Otherwise, should one happen to be a habitual user of some other HUD or device that contains built-in flight assistance, the mere act of donning wings when already roosting on some high altitude perch tends to have the annoying side effect of sending one, flailing, higher and higher into the atmosphere.

Ordinal Malaprop's picture
18 Aug200706:30
Ordinal Malaprop (not verified)

Yes, that is a good point - I had thought of having an option to turn everything off entirely so that one could simply use an alternative mechanism, and let the Wings simply be decoration.

Otenth Paderborn's picture
18 Aug200707:05
Otenth Paderborn (not verified)

I didn't know about the problem of multiple flight-assists flinging one high, but otherwise it sounds like your design does exactly what I need such an object to do (in addition to looking *terribly* wonderful).

Centrasian Wise's picture
18 Aug200708:12
Centrasian Wise (not verified)

They look sweet - are these lovely wings for sale by any chance? I would actually like to have a set to try to even being able to answer your questions. You are perhaps right that there are just two or three basic navigational Needs when flying, yet their satisfaction is a matter of quite a delicate and nuanced interface Design.

We just bought a couple of Picooz (tiny helicopters; have a look at YouTube in case you are not aware of this crazy fad), and I must admit that their navigation looks deceptively simple (same 'two or three needs', yet actual control is a very difficult Business to achieve. Devil in Details, as they say.

Centrasian Wise's picture
18 Aug200716:43
Centrasian Wise (not verified)

If I am to base any reflections on my own experiences and the two tools I use today, your eminent Blitterer and Cubey Terra's spork, I'd say that alternative 1. absolutely is one.
Slower, more careful and precis movement than unassisted flight is actually number one in my book, I think.
No. 2 is something I always have had access to, but never really used. However, it comes as a very natural option, providing No.1 above.

A feature that I use most frequently is going rapidly up to a certain altitude or a number of metres, i.e. "go to 475" or "go up 300". It's not really about speed in this case, more like reaching the desired altitude in a convenient (and quick) manner.

I have no idea if it is in popular demand, but on my behalf, it is an often used function.

Your two functions, this one and the option to turn everything off would definitely complete my wishlist for Aviation Supportive Devices.

Sin Trenton's picture
18 Aug200716:47
Sin Trenton (not verified)

/me arches a brow

Not sure why, but that last opinion is not Ms. Wise's.

"It is I, le Clerque!"

Er.. I mean, Trenton

Eileen's picture
18 Aug200723:43
Eileen (not verified)

If the sound can be toggled on/off, or replaced, I would buy them.
( I have a cool Dragonfly sound somewhere, wait..........was it this map?)
The wings look lovely and I could really use a slow smooth flight.

CoyoteAngel Dimsum's picture
19 Aug200702:21
CoyoteAngel Dimsum (not verified)

Perhaps a mechanism for automatically varying one's speed as a function of one's altitude would be useful? As with IRL flight enhancement devices, one's speed is lowest near the ground and increases as one ascends. You could provide a configuration mechanism that allowed the wearer to select from a variety of acceleration models, e.g. linear, logarithmic, etc.

In addition, being able to move at walking speeds when within a specified distance of non-phantom objects, and indeed to have that occur without intervention, would be of great utility.

So far as a mechanism for amplifying the effects of analog-style continuous controls, I might suggest the use of the SHIFT, CTL, & ALT keys in various combinations as a way to avoid the use of dialog boxes. I use this model for software when the user must navigate long lists, i.e. "Down Arrow" moves by line, SHIFT+DOWN-Arrow moves by page, etc.

Along similar lines, you might provide for the pre-configuration of certain keys to allow nearly instantaneous vertical translations to a given height, e.g. CTL-SHIFT-F might take one as rapidly as possible to 512m.

As always, I look forward to the release of your product with great enthusiasm.

Otenth Paderborn's picture
19 Aug200704:47
Otenth Paderborn (not verified)

One of the flight assists I've tried does what CoyoteAngel has suggested--the higher you go, the faster the flight assist. I don't like that as an automatic thing, however. It's very nice to be able to get to the height I want as fast as possible. But then I often want as great (or greater) control over horizontal movement as I would at ground level.

As to the names on the comments, on both of my visits I have found the "name" field already filled with the name of the previous commenter. (My email and website, however, are already in the other fields.)

Dominic Webb's picture
19 Aug200713:33
Dominic Webb (not verified)

Sort of in response to Mr. Paderborn.. I have used some flight-assist devices that had toggleable settings for either vertical and/or horizontal speed increase.

This seems to work fairly well for me - I just leave the vertical speed-up on, and turn off the horizontal one, still giving me the accuracy I want when moving around at altitudes. Personally, I think the speed increase should be a function of how long you've pressed the keys in question - the longer you press in a particular direction, the more speed gain there should be.

Of course I have yet to determine how feasible this mechanic is. :)

Ordinal Malaprop's picture
20 Aug200705:01
Ordinal Malaprop (not verified)

Mr Trenton, Mr Paderborn: that is an interesting extra feature that I can see being rather useful. I will see what I can do to add it.

Ms Dimsum: the problem here is that LSL, unfortunately, provides only limited access to one's controls, limited to the movement directions and also clicks of the mouse. Would that such things were possible in this instance... that is one reason that the "double-tap" is used.

In general the height-related assistance is interesting, but as said, only for vertical height, really. I have found, though, that there always seem to be instances where something that is usually handy becomes a complete pain.

Mr Webb: odd that you should say that, as the wings originally did provide extra acceleration the longer that one held down the control. However, I removed this, as it was driving me mad - I found that I quite often wished to keep to a relatively low speed for long flights, say whilst following someone or touring the mainland, and it kept throwing me into places I had no interest in visiting. Differing levels of boost for different axes, though, might be something to play with.

Ordinal Malaprop's picture
20 Aug200705:03
Ordinal Malaprop (not verified)

Oh, as a note, I shall probably release the thing without many extra options apart from those already mentioned, and then add new updated versions should I develop new features.

Ordinal Malaprop's picture
20 Aug200717:23
Ordinal Malaprop (not verified)

I further realise that I forgot to mention that it is, indeed, possible to muffle the noise of the engine. (Which also changes slightly when underwater - the Dragonfly Wings do operate there, but a little water gets into the pipes. Perfectly safe of course.)

HeadBurro Antfarm's picture
23 Aug200717:28
HeadBurro Antfarm (not verified)

Hello Ms Malaprop,

A quick question that I hope you can answer - how do you make the wee movies you show on this site? The uploading to Vimo I can handle, but the actual recording of such things I've never attempted.

Why do I feel that question requires a terribly long answer and you are cursing my name? :)

Yours in Travel. And Film!
HeadBurro Antfarm

Ordinal Malaprop's picture
25 Aug200719:11
Ordinal Malaprop (not verified)

It does require a rather long answer, but one that would perhaps be useful to have recorded for general use. I shall put together a quick page on the subject I think, with the basic principles.

HeadBurro Antfarm's picture
31 Aug200717:39
HeadBurro Antfarm (not verified)

Excellent (and thank you in advance!). At least I didn't hear any curses ;-)