Fugl: A flappy first play of the early access bird ’em up

Fugl

I’ve been keeping an eye on Fugl [official site] for a while now – it’s a beautiful swoopy bird game/experience set in a voxel world. The emphasis is on relaxation and the feeling of flying, but there’s also exploration and a metamorphosis mechanic where you fly or land near things to take on their appearance.

It’s just moved to early access while the team continue working on the game so I’ve finally had a chance to try it out! There are some bits which are rough round the edges – I’d assume because early access – but I’ve still had a good old flap, so I figured I’d show you my swoopings in a video. I’ve also made sure to cut off before later biomes in case anyone feels that’s spoilery…

In case you’re interested developer, Johan Gjestland, popped up in a previous comment section to talk about the choice of a voxel landscape. You can read all of his responses in said Fugl comment section but this is the bit which I found most interesting (it’s a response to a reader criticising the voxel aesthetic):

“I’m sorry the voxel look throws you off, but I assure it’s not the point of the game. Point of the game is the flying. The voxel works however to enhance the feeling of flight, as you need a good sense of scale to get a good sense of speed, and voxels are a very good scale since they’re all uniform blocks. So as soon as you establish the scale of a voxel, its easy to infer the scale of anything and that works really well for the mind to give you a great sensation of moving through space.”

It’s early access so all of the usual caveats apply. You can peek at the Steam Page for the full list of what’s currently in the game and what they intend to add. The level creator sounds interesting and I’m hoping to enjoy the fruits of the performance improvements and optimisation. Top of my list is easier taking off from the ground, particularly the water surface as the latter is currently “sticky” and a bit glitchy so I’ve been relying on the reset button!

13 Comments

  1. AutonomyLost says:

    Neato.

  2. klops says:

    Chill. Nice. Why does the bird change colour midflight (6:05)?

    Still we’re missing a bird game that has Tim Stone as an advisor:
    link to rockpapershotgun.com

  3. Daymare says:

    Gosh it’s so wonderfully flappy!

    Have a look at this baby bat doing his first flappies, while we’re at it:

  4. particlese says:

    Yay! I can now confirm that this game is very nice despite all the early access wonkiness.

    In particular, I thought the controls were really strange at first, but switching to mouse made it clearer for me what was going on. Not sure if this is the intended way to look at it, but I feel like there’s some “effort” to maintain level flight, or to fully take off from the water/ground/trees. It’s unusual, it makes some vague physical sense, and I really like the idea of it. I still got stuck a couple times nonetheless, but that’s early access for ya. Also, note that running around on surfaces currently involves tank controls, but this is redeemed by the wobble as you go along a flat non-water surface – not nearly as jaunty as Everything’s ladybugs, but fun.

    Probably the first thing I’d change, though, would be to toggle a lock on your form, as I found myself dodging swarms of flamingos and butterflies quite a bit. Discovering new critters is fun, but sometimes I just want to be a flying lobster for a bit. (Really a salmon-colored flying crab with a lobstery tail, but hey.)

    Anyway, other than the early access bumps, this game is already as nice as I was hoping for. Hooray!

  5. Urthman says:

    The voxel works however to enhance the feeling of flight, as you need a good sense of scale to get a good sense of speed, and voxels are a very good scale since they’re all uniform blocks. So as soon as you establish the scale of a voxel, its easy to infer the scale of anything and that works really well for the mind to give you a great sensation of moving through space.”

    I can confirm that this is a legit issue, because there’s a similar (free itch.io) game called Fruits of a Feather which I love and the only real criticism I have of it is that the untextured polygons can make it very difficult to judge the scale of the landscape and particularly how far away you are from the ground. I really like that clean untextured look in a lot of video games, but I can imagine that Fugl having those distinct voxels would make it a lot easier to gauge how close you are to the ground well enough to pull off tight maneuvers.

    link to samuraipunk.itch.io

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    naam says:

    Been following this as I love the look and feel of this game! Steeling myself for when it reaches VR. I hope they can translate some of that sense of spaciousness and scale and motion into the sound, though, because that still feels a bit dry.

    • Johan Gjestland says:

      Thanks, yeah, the sound is super dry because there is no reverb yet. Also it’s dry in the sense that we’re missing a lot of stuff. Audio is a big part of this, so we hope to fill in the blanks very soon. Our audio designer is screaming for dev time so we can add functionality and fix bugs, but we’ve been swamped up to now with the release.

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        naam says:

        Very good! I wondered if it was something like that (reverb still missing). Looking forward to it!

  7. Josh W says:

    For a game based around relaxation it seems surprisingly avoidant, by which I mean that when watching certain kinds of games, you can get an “oh no don’t go that way” feeling which in this case is inspired by water, (probably going to be fixed I imagine) but also animal types you don’t want to look like right now.

    It makes me wonder whether there should be some kind of mario star that allows you to fix yourself as a particular kind of bird hybrid for a while. Possibly even floating in the air so if your committed to a particularly difficult to create combination, you can keep it going over a longer period.

    All in all though, a very lovely game, especially if you loosen your aesthetic expectations for your character and see what happens.

    • Johan Gjestland says:

      Hehe, good point. It’s not supposed to be avoidant, so we’ll fix both those issues. Morph locking is coming in next patch hopefully. I just thought it was a funny experience to have, but I see now that it gets tedious pretty fast. Ideally I want some kind of absorb / rewind mechanism to control this.

  8. Johan Gjestland says:

    Hey, dev here! Thank you so much for the video, sorry about your troubles! The stall issue is AMD related and might be made worse by screen recording, but we’re investigating it right now with the hope of patching it pronto.

    As you say, some of the stuff is a bit clunky atm, thanks for bearing with us! We hope to fix a lot of stuff the coming weeks. It’s supposed to be a relaxing experience!

  9. Jjgddyuikbvff says:

    I really want to like this, but as beautiful as the world is it’s just a bit too much like someone went nuts with the deform tool. I find it kind of distracting :(