Creating a Workshop for Upgrading Aircraft

In Tail Drift you will be able to customise your aircraft – and you can do this in the Hangar.


The hangar is your go-to place for managing your aircraft. It has a few different uses. The first function is to check out the planes, we’ve going to have lots of those. Second, it lets you upgrade those planes. Some events will have a level requirement to enter, so you’ll need to make sure your plane is tuned for the next race. You will earn coins by competing in races, and you’ll then be able to spend that hard-won cash on making your plane more awesome.

We’ve tried to keep the hangar simple, but functional. This screen was the cause of much discussion around the office, trying to find the best way to let the player choose and manage their aircraft, but still keep the screen clutter free. We don’t want a bunch of buttons distracting people from those fancy planes. We made the decision to hide the upgrade buttons until you actually want to use them, that way we can keep the focus on the planes when selecting which one you want to fly. By selecting the spanner icon, the buttons required for upgrading your plane will pop in.

This screen changed a number of different times – just to show you how much, here is the original sketch of the Hangar.

Photo 3-01-2014 3 23 46 pm… and this is our current iteration on the screen.


This design shares much of the same information as my original programmer sketch, but is presented in a much simpler way. We’ve used large icons and colours to remove some of the complexity of the screen. We were happy that after much discussion we managed to remove some of the buttons, while also keeping all of the functionality we wanted. In fact, we managed to get more information on the screen than the original sketch, by adding the price of each upgrade underneath each of the upgrade buttons.

You can see a big number in the top right of the upgrade panel – this represents the current level of the aircraft. Some of the races will have a level requirement before you can race, we need to make sure you’re plane is good enough to compete with the big boys. By spending coins on plane upgrades, you fill in the red circle around the level. Completely filling that bar will increase the grey bars – which are the maximum you can upgrade a stat for your current level. It’s easier to show than explain – so check out the video below.

This may sound a little strange, but we have a good reason for this. We want to let people upgrade the plane the way they want, but we also wanted a way to prevent players from just dumping all of their coins into one stat. Sure, it might be fun to think you can just max out nothing but speed, but that means you might end up creating an aircraft that won’t be able to compete in some of the more difficult races. This method lets the player focus in an area of their choice, but must eventually spread out some upgrades to other stats, meaning you’ll always have a reasonably well rounded build but you’ll still be able to shape the plane the way you want.

The hangar still has a way to go. We’re still missing some of the functionality – you’ll need to be able to change the paint job of your plane, purchase new planes, and spin around the aircraft. Those features will be in soon though, and you’ll still be able to manage them on this one screen.

What do you think?


Leave a Reply