Can a ship be modded to act like an exploration rover on a body?
I'm surprised that this question doesn't come-up more often, but I'm convinced that the title idea is impossible to achieve, else I think we would see it in Pioneer already. So, a land rover or even an avatar in 1st person mode walking on a body which both technically act as a 'ship' is this impossible to implement in Pioneer? That would give a lot of additional mission possibilities, not to speak about the increased gameplay immersion.
I'm asking this because I have this hypothetical plan in mind and I'd like to know where the caveat is that hampers the feasability:
a) It's already possible to inject lua code in the running game by going in the Console and assigning a new ship to the player.
b) A big number of ships have been added to Pionner, I'm thinking about this one to add:
A ship that can fly up to 1m over the planet surface and where the pitch-up key is disabled, only the left/right steering key together with the set speed is enabled. This ship would have a max speed of 5m/s that you can set with the 'set speed' key. Its cargo hold would be the usual one of any other ship with full functionality which means you can add tons of goods you buy etc.The image of this ship would be that of an exploration land rover (like the moon rover of Apollo for example).
c) A special keyboard command is used to 'switch' the ships once you are landed on a planet or docked at a station or base. This should be technically possible to implement because of a).
Where is the caveat in all this making it impossible, and if possible why has this not been done in all these years ? Is it so that Pioneer is legally limited about what features to add in a 'free' version?
Sadly it is not possible currently. We were talking about such things, some of the contributors would really like to see such thing, but it needs quite a bit of plumbing done for it to work and play properly, even in a simplified manner. Your rover would need to properly confrom to the surface with its wheels for example, and rotate properly, and you'd need to calculate drag on the wheels, how gravity would interact with the rover, etc. Suspension and such, if you want to get fancy. Sadly it is more complex than just disabling pitch and up thrust and limit speed.
Not to mention how much content and actual gameplay it would need as well, especially if an FPS element would be included. So if this gonna happen, it won't happen soon for sure.
On the legal side: there's nothing legal keeping the team to do such things. Pioneer is open source software, and there's only a free version (as in freedom). No paid, or limited or such. There was a paid fork called Paragon/Jumpdrive with different looks and some gameplay differences, but as far as I know it did not succeed, and was abondoned quite a couple of years ago.
I very appreciate your feedback, tyvm.
For anyone partecipating in the development, I do understand that asking such questions appears to be sort of arrogance, but in my case it's just lack of knowledge of what is feasable in terms of programing. Unaware of what can be done or not, be assured that I highly appreciate what's been done by the dev team in Pioneer 🙂
"On the legal side: there's nothing legal keeping the team to do such things. "
This was not obvious for me, and I'm very pleased to read that. I wish you all possible involvement from competent people to make Pioneer better.
" Your rover would need to properly confrom to the surface with its wheels for example, and rotate properly, and you'd need to calculate drag on the wheels, how gravity would interact with the rover, etc. Suspension and such, if you want to get fancy."
Oh, but that was not what I had in mind...What you say here is much too advanced, too complicated, probably too difficult or even impossible to code in Pioneer. What I had in mind is just a 'ship' (let us call it so) able to hower over the ground like other ships do. If other ships added to the game can do it, why would my sort of 'ship' be unable to do it? Yes, because of collision problems, the terrain is not part of collision detection, is it that? But still other ships can fly 1m over the surface, so I don't really see why adding such a ship and simply changing its image in External View would be impossible, even in the case where there is nothing else to do at the moment (missions like exploration or SAR missions that you see in the mod Scout Plus could be done with such 'rovers' instead of ships for example).
" Sadly it is more complex than just disabling pitch and up thrust and limit speed."
Yes, that's what I have anticipated before posting the thread. But I still wonder: If other ships are added to the game, they ALSO must deal with these problems like gravitational influence on the ground etc. and they CAN, technically the ship or rover must not be on the ground, just 'flying' 1m over the surface, in 1st person you will not see a big difference gameplaywise. It could be kept simple.
It didn't came off as arrogance at all.
For that simlified way, you'd still need the hovering rover to be able to rotate along the surface normal, and to constraint the height to a certain limit, so it won't float away with set speed. These can't be done via modding, scripting as far as I know.
And there's no proper way yet to switch ships, because the player is the ship. So you'd need to store all related data, and than set the ship up again practically, which might be a bit hackish, and prone to errors. But there's intention to separate ship and player, to support proper ship switching and bring-along crafts.
Not to mention that currently getting that close to the ground won't provide much on an eye-candy. We sure would like to up the planet rendering quality a couple of notches as well, and provide ground scatter.
And there are currently quite limited ways to provide for any ground based gameplay, so the whole thing would feel quite a hack likely. As far as I know of course, I'm on the art side of things.
But until these are there, I think there isn't that much value in providing such gameplay, and divide our already limited brains and energies further. But we are thinking about such things, so it might come to that eventually (but don't quote that, no promises). I've even did some size checks to see if a Rover (An actual Land Rover I found a model for on sketchfab) would fit into ships, and the Mola Mola for example could lug around one nicely.