So I'm working on a game idea and I'm at a loss, conceptually, about how to approach some things. I'm not sure if I should be doing everything programatically because it seems like this CAN'T be the smartest way to do things, but I'm not sure how to do them otherwise. (This is in java, btw, but because this is a more generic question I'm posting it here as opposed to the java forum.)

There's a playing card. It needs to "flip" into the screen and onto the game board. It must always land in the same spot. Particles of some kind would fall off the card as it's flipping, exiting the card from the edges. Once it lands, a dust cloud or other similar effect would spread out from underneath the card and dissipate.

Approach 1:
Program it every step of the way: each frame of the code would update position and roll/pitch/yaw to give it the illusion of using physics. Calculate the edges with complicated math and generate particles at those locations each frame. Once it's about to hit the board, place another object (texture) of the dust cloud underneath it and enlarge it + add transparency every frame.

Approach 2:
Use actual game physics. Give the card a starting location and velocities and hope that no random interaction ever causes it to be non-visible, flip wildly, etc. Perhaps know how long it's supposed to take and manually force it's position if it doesn't roughly match the desired position after X period of time. Particles would be calculated and generated as before, but physics would allow them to fall naturally. Same for the dust cloud?

Approach 3:
The card model (built in blender, 3dmax, etc.) is animated and it starts at an offset position and ends back at 0,0. The card is immediately placed at the destination but, due to the animation, it looks like it comes flipping in to the board. Particles still generated manually by programming location and allow physics to make them swirl / drop / etc...? Dust cloud either particle or texture, as before.


I'd think that the animation is the more "correct" answer to this problem. It would ensure the card always lands at the correct spot, but how would the particles from the model's edge work? Would I really have to do a bunch of complicated math to calculate the oddly-shaped (sorta rectangular with rounded corners) edges, all the way around the card, on every frame to generate and drop them? Would I simply force the card to start this animation at the constructor?

I have other scenarios that can envision but conceptually are frustrating to me. I appreciate any help on this one and getting my head wrapped around the idea of how to accomplish such things efficiently.