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I am modeling walking insects. I implement them as cuboids and use forces (including friction and drag), to control motion. However, the movement characteristics of this 'sliding box' physics don't match those due to a legged creature.

For example, legged creatures near-instantly accelerate to their top speed; whereas applying a force to a box takes time to accelerate it.

The applied force can be increased along with the counteracting drag, giving much quicker acceleration (via force) to a max speed (via drag). However, this also means the force that creatures can exert when pushing on other objects is increased.

Does anyone know of any techniques using a physics engine to cheaply model walking creatures?

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High movement impulse, with high drag, will work perfectly. For collisions, you don't use the force that is being applied for movement in the collision calculation, you use the resulting speed, mass, elasticity, etc.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Come to think of it, that's actually how real physics work. \$\endgroup\$ – Nevermind Feb 25 '11 at 5:55

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