How Flappy Bird’s physics are cheating you

Few mobile games have reached such unexpected levels of popularity as Flappy Bird. This simple experience borrows from a legacy of old Flash games and Super Mario graphics to create something people seem happy to pour hour after hour into.


Many players allege the physics are unrealistic in order to make the game more difficult, but are they? Maybe gravity was pulling more insistently in the game than in real life, causing players to collide with more pipes and hurl their phones across the room. Someone decided to spend time looking into the physics ofFlappy Bird to find out.
Frank Noschese used Logger Pro to analyze a video taken ofFlappy Bird running on the iPad. This tool was able to track the fowl’s vertical position in the app to see if it was really falling realistically. Using the realistic assumption that the bird in the game would be about the size of a robin (24cm across), Noschese came up with a gravitational acceleration of 9.75m/s^2. In the real world it’s 9.8m/s^2, which is pretty close.
Why do people feel like Flappy Bird is cheating them, then? It probably has something to do with the way other games are designed. When flinging something through the air, most games slow things down. For example, the gravitation acceleration inAngry Birds is about 25% of Earth. This makes it more enjoyable to play — Flappy Bird doesn’t bother with trivial things like “fun.”
The other aspect to consider is the velocity after a tap. Since there is no difference in the strength of each flap, it should be uniform. However, upon closer inspection, Noschese found that the impulse provided by the taps isn’t realistic. The upward momentum changes based on the pre-tap velocity to produce the same post-tap velocity. In real life, the change in velocity would be the constant.

So Flappy Bird is realistic in some places, and not in others. Perhaps the mix of accurate and wildly inaccurate physics is what makes the game so annoyingly difficult.

Article written by : Ryan Whitwam
source : Geek.com


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