Alliance Space Guard (a 3D spacesim with orbits and ship avionics!)
Thanks for the feedback 🙂 Also it's very easy to get lost in one's own "space bubble" so really please tell me when something is not clear or feels inconsistent.
@D1 to me in a gamedev context the maths are very often a key tool to help you build whatever feature you have in mind. Also you can immediately apply them and learn from your mistakes as you're debugging. As far as I'm concerned that's very different from when I was a student and regularly had to absorb concepts I did not really understand and forgot about past the related exam 🙁 So honestly so far the process of learning the necessary new techniques has proved much easier than what I was anticipating.
@Pinback I read the Night's Dawn novels too ^^ and actually I tried to implement some of the books' ideas for the jump mechanics, notably the conservation of the ships' momentum through jumps. (Also in a hard sci-fi context this alleviates part of the hyperspace-magic-related guilt so all the better ^^). Unless I'm mistaken the novels (mostly the last one for the final quest) also mention the DeltaV between systems due to the relative galactic motions. And this effect is also why IMHO an unrealistically small galaxy is preferable to a real Earth neighborhood, at least in such a game with relatively limited ship capabilities (to rebound on your past question on the matter).
Yes I remember the combats were very nicely depicted! 🙂
As I recall the wasps' technology is likely too powerful for what I'm playing with. However if seen as an evolution of missiles and drones they obviously make perfect sense indeed.
Anyway IMO the combats need to be fought at very long distances. The ships will come with some low-mass armor to resist natural meteoroids but this will not make them shell-proof by far. They are not very maneuverable either and so with very limited dodging capabilities, not mentioning lasers and other EM weapons that would just never miss. So I'd guess than getting within 100-1000 km of an hostile armed ship would be suicidal, hence the necessity for some ordinance flying on its own distinct orbit to the target, with final propulsion and guidance.
It may sound weird after 5 years of devt but up to a few weeks ago the ship could pass through everything from stations to planets without a scratch. That is even if the flight planner has been taking collisions into account from the start, the physics engine animating the ship itself was not. In effect I had been waiting for the space structures to get a broader picture of what had to be done. Then at that point it appeared as a logical step before working on the docking and approach guidance systems.
Here's a short video demonstrating the feature. Nothing fancy, especially compared to what we're used to from AAA physics engines.
The fact is in the game's case this is actually only an auxiliary system since in theory the ship should never collide with anything but docking ports (flight control systems, space flight controllers, rescue ships and ultimately defense platforms should make unwanted impacts very unlikely).
Yet the feature is obviously mandatory! With that in mind the primary implementation goal was thus to make it as light-weight as possible. On my aging i5 the whole process of integrating the ship's state with collisions monitoring only takes about 50 µs when it matters*, that is it's essentially "free".
* typically when coasting at high time warp with most of the main thread processing power dedicated to the ship's systems simulator needing to keep up. When collisions do occur it can take up to 200+ µs for multiple contact points, but this is still very small, and in such situations the time acceleration is forced at x1 (real time), so with plenty of spare time in the frame anyway.
Next one should be about docking systems and avionics,
Fly safe ^^
Any thoughts on a nuke going off in a asteroid belt.
You mean the devastating effect it would have on nearby structures, likely propelling high velocity projectiles all around? Well that's clearly a problem because all those stations are just like cities, and so allowing one to be destroyed should completely upset the world's balance (as we unfortunately know). I'm afraid I would not be able to properly manage the resulting gameplay changes, so I'll probably rule-out such dramatic events.
That said there's absolutely no reason to exclude nukes (especially when there's already one at the back of the ship). But like IRL hopefully this is the kind of ordinance that should actually never be employed.
well,,, I'm a newcomer to the forums. but anyway this game sounds epic.
actually I mean,,, dang, ,,, that just sounds way too epic for me to even dream about trying to play that game......
anyway,,, if I thought I knew enough I would probably really want to try scenarios,, which is where I come to my comment.
I'm not going to be able to sit and play a game like that,,,( I can play an arcade game though) but what I CAN do, is watch youtube videos where someone walks me through some action sequence, and explains what's going on... and as THAT kind of simulator, I would really be excited to experience it. Once I knew a thing or two it might be different.
The systems and orbital mechanics may look complicated for sure. However the intent is really to fit the ship with the necessary tools to make things manageable enough (ex: automatic flight planner, master auto-pilot...). Also at some point I'll add in-game help features, interactive how-to checklists probably. And yes of course tutorial videos will certainly be very helpful. I'm not an English native speaker but hopefully I'll find some volunteers for that 🙂
New update about the radio communication systems. The goal is still to make the stations fully operational soon (docking logic and relative-flight assistance) but as the information about the docking ports was required, having the stations broadcast the data through a radio link made the most sense. Then it quickly appeared that a proper implementation would be much more useful than a quick-and-dirty hack to be patched later on. Incidentally I'm planning to spend quite some time on the ship's sensors and electronic warfare equipment so this was much more like reshuffling the todo list than dealing with unexpected work.
I tried to remain consistent with the game world and the supposed technology is close to being "realistic". To begin with the signals travel at the speed of light and their propagation and the performance of the equipment is based on real physics (I used to work in that field actually!). That said the ship's radios are based on phased arrays, high-tech active antennas that provide the ability to "zoom" on the radio signals as required. So gameplay wise this will allow to actively search for targets and will require to find working "wide angle / low-range" vs "narrow beam / long-range" trade-offs depending on the situation.
Generally speaking I was a big fan of the late 90's "Jane's" simulations (especially about the subs and their sonar station) and I'm always disappointed when in a game everything around the ship appears in clear as dots on a "radar display". To me that's not fun at all and having to play with the simulated equipment to sense the environment and hunt for the bad guys is much more enjoyable!
So now that I've tried to prepare you for a rather... hum "technical" vid here's the link! 😀
Fly safe ^^
The main "optical" sensors will be independent. But it will be simple to point all devices towards a given "target". I'm using quotes because this could be virtually anything the tactical controller has knowledge of: celestial bodies and stations (from the ship's database) surrounding contacts acquired by various means for which there is at least some bearing data, or markers and search patterns generated using map tools.
About stealth I'm afraid I don't know yet but this is definitely an open topic. I'll know more when I work on the sensors and can run some numbers. What's for sure is that detection ranges will depend on the ship's reactor power level. Also military vessels will be able to deploy drones (missiles, sensor pods, decoys...) and those won't have a nuclear power plant on board and will be much more difficult to detect. For these stealth could include being cooled to cryogenic temperatures before launch so that they have a very small IR signature.
And to relate this to the comms units: you may not "see" one enemy drone but "hear" from it as it communicates with its mother ship for instance.
New video about the approach and docking procedures. It's a bit long but there were quite a few points to show to the few brave testers trying to find they way out there! 😉 Incidentally the next work item for next year is... "interactive checklists".
Ships are not allowed with a live fusion reactor (= a giant plasma torch) near space structures. So the flight planner provides assistance to devise approach trajectories that only require minimum action at the destination. That is the arrival and docking is performed "on battery" using the maneuvering thrusters only. And as usual the ship's avionics helps with the associated flight phases.
Thanks Pinback the motion of the relative velocity marker feels much more natural this way:
I chose not to use actual "gates" to avoid a confusion with the ones used to materialize the orbital paths already. Also the velocity along this track is much smaller (= Vship - Vstation) and this made gates a bit too bulky... to my taste at least!