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The System

The game itself is an action rpg where the player can play as a wide variety of insects, and each insect is mechanically different and allows you to take a different role in combat, exploration, or just surviving.

The Issue

A fair amount of insects can fly, most with limited range and the act itself is rather taxing on stamina, notably so in things like beetles or mantis.

Some insects like butterflies(which function as a bit of a mobile, evasive healer) and dragonflies(which work like airborne burst damage characters) have extremely good flight abilities and could potentially use these to cheese combat or break the exploration system by flying up very high above the grass. This could have a serious effect on multiplayer and also have a somewhat problematic effect in single player activities. I would prefer not to just remove air-focused insects from the game entirely, because that would severely hamper player freedom as well as remove an entire combat role.

I need a way to keep players from doing things like this without adding a jarring "return to battlefield" message like the halo franchise. I would prefer a method that is explainable in-universe and doesn't take the player completely out of gameplay after the limitation is discovered.

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Birds

Real insects that fly too high / too far from the grass expose themselves to predators. You can make predation by birds be a risk during extended flight, without making it a hard wall - a gamble where players can decide just how far to push their luck, like Icarus courting the Sun...

For example, you could have invisible volumes in your map, or particular durations/distances of flight, that you associate with chosen risk levels. As the player approaches the threshold, they start to hear bird chirping as a warning.

Every second they spend past the threshold, you roll a die to see if a bird should swoop in and snatch them out of the air. The probability can start low and ramp up the further the player pushes their luck, with the chirping / wing fluttering sound cues building to convey urgency. You could also layer in moving shadows from swooping birds to increase the sense of threat.

When the player is unlucky, play a short animation of a bird swooping in from out of frame and devouring them, which you can handle mechanically as though killed by an enemy character.

Or, if that's too harsh, you can have a chance that the bird just grazes the insect, putting them into a tumble where they rapidly lose altitude or crash. Or lose a wing, limiting their aerial mobility until their next respawn / restoration by an ally.

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Make it windy when you get to a certain height. You could either make it so they tumble and then are blown back down, thus making a "return to battlefield" without it ruining the immersion, or just have it make the flying uncontrollable and annoying so the player goes down of his own accord.

You could also possibly use rain for parts of the game. Make the rain thicker when you get high, and the drops can hit their wings and cause them to fall.

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