Fly like a bird started it's life in January 2005 as a experiment, built for the sake of curiosity.
Having just learned how to animate models in web games, we wanted to do something that really used this, and used it in an original way.
We started by building games with walking characters first, but already had some games that simulated flight, and began to toy with the idea of controlling an animal in flight.
Without any further planning, we started tests...
We already had a model of a bird (just a “bird”, no particular species), which after some rather painful (and in hindsight, bad) animating could walk (badly), fly and peck.
This we brought into our game development environment (Macromedias/Adobes Director), and started working on building and controlling a reasonably realistic flight.
In less than three days we had a working demo, and were surprised to discover that it was both convincing and fun.
Desperate to get it on the web, we started thinking about what exactly the bird should be doing in the game (other than flying, of course), and his took us much longer.
We did not want to lose the reality, and a bird's total lack of constraints meant that we worried a great deal about how to build a level big enough to get the idea of total freedom in, and yet still look good, despite the limits we had in terms of computer power and time available.
We asked several people (mainly family and friends) what they'd want to do if they were birds, and a surprising theme emerged. To our horror and disgust, everyone wanted to poo on other people. This was finally confirmed by a message from above, in the form of a parking ticket, which lead on to the idea of making the birds poo on traffic wardens.
With this idea in our heads, and the idea of an infinitely large city we developed the original Fly like a bird game.
However, because we were slightly worried about the whole pooing thing, we stuck in one extra detail. In order to poo on the wardens you had to find the chips, one bag randomly placed in the city.
It was first published to the web on the 18th of February 2005.
The rise of “fly like a bird”Edit
Like many of our earlier games, it went online without much promotion (or indeed thought), and soon became just one of many games on our then quite tiny web site, but gradually, the word spread, and soon we were surprised to see that it was one of our most popular games (and rather worried too).
We'd never felt very comfortable with the level of finish to the original fly like a bird.
Many people never found the chips (we got many distressed emails), and when demonstrating the game, frequently we couldn't either. The bird's walk was laughable, and the bird itself was just a generic bird shape that hadn't even been coloured in. We hadn't even limited the frame rate, so a few years later, when much faster computers started appearing, the bird flew stupidly fast.
Also, embarrasingly, sometimes a trafficwarden would just march through a wall for no apparent reason.
But still it grew.
Why? We don't totally know, but here are a few guesses and hints:
The fact that hardly anyone could find the chips meant that many users would turn to online gaming forums for advice, and as a result, many big debates were had. The chips became almost a myth, and generated a lot of curiosity.
Fly like a bird is genuinely original, in that the odd game allowed you to ride a dragon or something fantasy like that, but never a bird, or even a real flying animal of any sort.
The controls are very usable, in that you can start flying your bird almost immediately, but you can spend a lot of time developing your techniques and skills.
Finally, Mariah Carey had released a song later that year, also called “Fly like a bird”, but for all we know this may have detracted from our game more than it helped (We did it first, as far as we know).
Fly like a bird 2Edit
In December 2007, we developed a game called “Russia's Army”, which to this day, is also one of our most popular games, and it had multi-user technology, which was new to us. It exploded, and soon so many people were playing it that we needed to buy servers to allow people to download it such large quantities.
Knowing the effect of allowing players to meet each other from within a game, we started looking for a game that might lend itself to non-violent multi user play, and again we considered Fly like a bird. In early January 2008, It was decided that it was time to have another look.
Fly like a bird had multi-user added, but also many improvements.
The buildings were rebuilt to be more realistic, and the ability to rise through the smog of the city into a clear blue sky was added. We also worked into the bird, making it a pigeon, and stopped the traffic wardens from walking through walls.
Originally, we intended just to update to the long neglected fly like a bird, but unfortunately people had started building copies of fly like a bird, so the original was left as proof of copyright, and the update was re-packaged seperately as fly like a bird 2.
The effect of allowing MMO in fly like a bird 2 was even greater than expected, it's subtle combination of chat, skill, and poo made it immensely popular from day one, and it's numbers are still growing.
Is gamevial building fly like a bird 4 right now?Edit
No, we have heard the rumours about this, and they are not true. We haven't finished building into fly like a bird 3 yet, and will just keep adding to that unless something develops that is so radical that we wish to keep flb3 held back for those who prefer it.
Is gamevial going to be adding to fly like a bird 3 soon?Edit
We plan more birds. Not bird eating raptors (eagles/hawks/etc) yet, as we will need to create seperate "rooms" and rules for those who want to fight, and those who do not. We expect to add possibly magpies or more city birds, possibly starlings, and at least one "small" bird (robin/blackbird/etc).
We are experimenting with landscapes, although this is tricky! We recently tried a non-infinite world in "Knight of the dragon", and were less pleased with it than the infinite city (it was easier for us, and it looks better, but the game feels smaller, less busy, and people do get lost alot). We plan to add a couple of cars. We also have theories on how to make more realistic (!!) and diverse flight patterns for all birds, but don't worry, we'll only replace if it's WAY better.
Will there be chicks from the hatched eggs soon?Edit
We want to add chicks but this is very tricky. We have had the requests (many many many) and have some ideas of how they'd feature in the game, but it is a huge challenge for us.
As ever, feel free to ask questions or make suggestions here.