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Alliance Space Guard (a 3D spacesim with orbits and ship avionics!)  

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D.C.Elington
(@d-c-elington)
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March 25, 2020 15:08  

Hi SSC,

Besides shopping for my elderly neighbors the best I can do is stay home and work and so here is a new video about the in-game electronic checklists. Hopefully this should make the learning curve slightly less "astronomical"!

Stay safe,
David


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DarkOne
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March 27, 2020 10:28  

Wow... @d-c-elington, you are putting your isolation time to good work here. This was a nice video that covered your controls and how they worked, I take it as you become familiar with the control panels and its systems you could just interact with the controls directly and not have to use the popup windows? But it was definitely nice to see the interaction with the popup selections and watching your HUD systems respond or the popup recognize that the correct controls have been interacted with. Very nice work, I am sure this took a long time to get this entire HUD working properly with all of the systems and their effects on other systems depending on their state.

Personally I didn't know the windows speech engine was that far along it actually sounds good and I am sure that is a lot less work for you to generate all that audio.

 


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D.C.Elington
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March 28, 2020 03:54  

Hi D1

Posted by: @sscadmin

I take it as you become familiar with the control panels and its systems you could just interact with the controls directly and not have to use the popup windows?

Definitely: the popups are totally optional. Otherwise I'm afraid that the one for the maneuvers would become rapidly annoying. The previous system to help with the flight sequencing ("advisory log", much quieter) is still in place and the checklists synchronize themselves on its messages actually.

About the speech synthesizer: yes there was a significant improvement between Win7 and Win10, and I think it's just the right amount of robotic for such a use! Also the English voices seem to be installed on all systems (they were on my French version) and technically the dedicated .NET API made it quite easy to create the sounds in a clean way (on a parallel thread with storage in a re-usable buffer) and play them through the game's audio layer.


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Pinback
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March 28, 2020 09:49  

Awesome work DC keep it up 😎 😎


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D.C.Elington
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March 29, 2020 03:33  

Thanks @pinback, switching to the creation of a proper game world (capital-planets, colonies, outposts, rim worlds etc...) and then to the NPC traffic.

 


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D.C.Elington
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July 10, 2020 04:59  

Hi SSC,

Here is the quarterly dev log video 🙂

To sum-up the galaxy now features some inhabited stellar systems at last, and they are connected by a network of refueling stations along the main shipping lanes. Going on with the procedural approach the main planets were chosen scanning the database according to a set of habitability criteria. And in a similar way the support facilities were placed where the route-finder wanted them. That nicely generated a few big hubs and lots of lonely places. And so hopefully this should help alleviate the "sameness" issue.

At the moment the main development goal remains the NPC traffic. However as I was spending trillions of in-game currency units into shiny GPS constellations it felt too much of a pity not to make them operational. So I will now take a little detour to overhaul the ship's navigation sensors and add some positioning errors to begin with.

Fly safe!


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Cody
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July 10, 2020 17:43  

Looking good, DC! X-Ray Pulsar Receivers? I like it!

Knowledge is a deadly friend, if no-one sets the rules
The fate of all mankind, I see, is in the hands of fools


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D.C.Elington
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July 11, 2020 03:38  
Posted by: @cody

X-Ray Pulsar Receivers?

*ahem* that may sound a little more flashy than what it really entails! 😊 

But at long last the ship won't know exactly where it is anymore - as it should be. As far as I can tell this will spice up the navigation a little bit:
- having to be more careful with course corrections: would be a pity to spoil a perfectly legit flight path based on inaccurate sensor readings,
- needing to fiddle with the on-board radios to use the local navaids when available (it's GPS but at long range this will require picking the individual satellites),
- and with jumps: having to determine the required radius for the "hyperspace bubble" enclosing the ship in advance. The jump-point must enter that sphere at some point for a successful jump, and so the larger the bubble the more relaxed the flight accuracy requirements. However it takes about 8 hours to "charge" that volume, and the larger it is the more the strain on the jump-drive and electrical system...


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Pinback
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July 11, 2020 06:25  

Awesome work DC 😎 love the detail in the map, just something you do not get in a lot of games today.


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Cody
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July 11, 2020 07:19  
Posted by: @d-c-elington

But at long last the ship won't know exactly where it is anymore - as it should be.

That gets my vote! I was aware of NASA's nav system, but didn't know it was called SEXTANT - sweet!

Knowledge is a deadly friend, if no-one sets the rules
The fate of all mankind, I see, is in the hands of fools


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D.C.Elington
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July 11, 2020 13:13  
Posted by: @cody

it was called SEXTANT - sweet!

Yes that's very cool! Incidentally a "realistic" space game with technology from the 1940s would be totally crazy IMHO - celestial navigation, plots, slide rules, analog computers and steam gauges!! Too bad it would be completely unplayable! 😀


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D.C.Elington
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July 11, 2020 13:33  

@Pinback thanks! For sure all this flight planning stuff can get a bit complicated - even with the automation - but at least that gives some logic to the map.
Incidentally the related gameplay will need very careful balancing because these routes can take quite some play-time to navigate. So I'll have to make sure it's possible to stay busy in one place for long enough times, and provide some activities along the way too - besides flight control that is! To begin with I think that the "patrol" tasks will be always active. That would mean acquiring signatures and trajectories for the surrounding traffic, checking them vs the declared flight plans, perform some control interceptions when compatible with the fuel budget etc etc... All these actions would be rewarded with some form of career point of course.

This post was modified 4 weeks ago 3 times by D.C.Elington

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Pinback
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July 12, 2020 06:09  

Did I see in the video that you would be able to call on a tanker if you run out of fuel and will that be restricted to certain areas of the galaxy?.


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D.C.Elington
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July 12, 2020 10:17  
Posted by: @pinback

Did I see in the video that you would be able to call on a tanker if you run out of fuel and will that be restricted to certain areas of the galaxy?.

Areas with traffic should be safe, with nearby ships either being able to come to the rescue directly (that will be one of the player's missions) or at least carrying distress calls to other systems that can send some support. On the other hand venturing away from these civilized places will mean that you're pretty much on your own I'm afraid. And in all instances going bingo fuel will certainly always be very bad :/


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DarkOne
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July 15, 2020 20:47  

Its been mentioned already and sorry I been absent from your posts lately, but you have done an amazing job on this solar map @d-c-elington. The smoothness in which you seem to navigate in and out and to objects. Will you allow the player to just screw up and put in a destination they can't get too because of fuel restraints and allow them to attempt the trip?

But again A+ job on this solar map.... you have a lot of QA work too do inspecting all those dots 😉 haha


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D.C.Elington
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July 16, 2020 03:36  

Thanks D1, and really there's nothing to be sorry about!! 🙂 

Posted by: @sscadmin

Will you allow the player to just screw up and put in a destination they can't get too because of fuel restraints and allow them to attempt the trip?

The flight planner operates on a simplified model of the ship but which includes fuel consumption. So if the player dials in a location that can't be reached because of fuel, the routines will simply fail to devise a working path. The real danger will come from forgetting to account for a return trip in advance actually.

The next question could be "what if I don't use the flight planner?". Indeed direct controls and instruments are available and so a trained captain can use them in a tactical emergency or to perform basic orbital maneuvers ("raising the orbit" for instance). For such cases a (currently missing) gauge will keep track of the remaining maneuvering capability under likely scenarios.
But generally speaking orbital mechanics are so tricky that precisely "going somewhere" is just plain impossible without the flight planner. And the jump mechanics are really tailored not to change that, on the contrary: jumping requires to reach a specific moving point in orbit, within a few hundreds meters and on a carefully chosen approach path!

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Gaius Konstantine
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July 17, 2020 11:18  

Man... I have to check this site with a fine tooth comb, this is great stuff. I like the logic of your game-world, everything makes sense. The "look" of what I've seen on your videos is also mighty appealing. 

Recently I tried something that is based on real-life science, I thought it would appeal to me but the execution, UI, and look of the game turned me off badly. This on the other hand looks like it would be a sweet blend of some realism and fun... while being easy on the eyes.

You have my total attention D.C. 

Once again, great stuff!

 

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D.C.Elington
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July 17, 2020 12:36  

Hi @gaius-konstantine thanks for your feedback, "blend of some realism and fun" is definitely the end goal! 🙂 
Also as the project is slowly moving from simulator to game I'll certainly run some points by you guys here at SSC. We discussed many topics with Pinback and D1 but these should only start to take form in the months to come.


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Gaius Konstantine
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July 18, 2020 04:39  
Posted by: @d-c-elington

Also as the project is slowly moving from simulator to game I'll certainly run some points by you guys here at SSC. We discussed many topics with Pinback and D1 but these should only start to take form in the months to come.

Can't wait to see that D.C. I'm sure we're going to be in for a treat. If there is any way I can offer you aid at any point, I will be glad to do so.


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D.C.Elington
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July 18, 2020 08:56  
Posted by: @gaius-konstantine

the logic

That's why IMHO dumbing the physics down too much is also dismissing some interesting opportunities. Specific rules and constraints are a very powerful way to provide structure as things are getting shaped around them .
For instance in this game mass does really matter so fleets of freighters transporting "heavy-duty industrial machinery" from system to system do not make sense: the cost would far exceed building the equipment at the destination. And as a consequence all carried goods should likely be extremely expensive or difficult to manufacture, starting with "people"! This in turn requires to think about the forms space-based illegal activities could take etc etc...

Frankly I don't know what I'll effectively manage to code into actual gameplay!! 🙂 But to me it's very interesting to try and elaborate on these "emerging properties" anyway!


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Gaius Konstantine
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July 19, 2020 04:25  
Posted by: @d-c-elington

That's why IMHO dumbing the physics down too much is also dismissing some interesting opportunities. Specific rules and constraints are a very powerful way to provide structure as things are getting shaped around them .
For instance in this game mass does really matter so fleets of freighters transporting "heavy-duty industrial machinery" from system to system do not make sense: the cost would far exceed building the equipment at the destination. And as a consequence all carried goods should likely be extremely expensive or difficult to manufacture, starting with "people"! This in turn requires to think about the forms space-based illegal activities could take etc etc...

That is something close to my opinion on many space based games in general. I can concede that perhaps an outpost or recently established colony that wasn't self-sustaining would require some sort of freighter based support, but as you say, the cost would mean that the destination is being "subsidized" to a degree. (Perhaps even some type of resource that isn't readily available would also justify the use of freighters). 

Taking it one step further. In many games, ships are prohibitively expensive and require tremendous resources to build. (This is very pronounced in some space based 4X games). This in my mind makes the idea of piracy kind of silly or redundant. Why would anyone with those kind of resources available, need to risk them on piracy? So perhaps space based illegal activities could be ideologically motivated or even be some kind of other threat entirely. The mechanics would stay the same, but the package around the mechanics (lore) would be more realistic and believable. 

 


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Cody
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July 19, 2020 06:59  
Posted by: @gaius-konstantine

This in my mind makes the idea of piracy kind of silly or redundant. Why would anyone with those kind of resources available, need to risk them on piracy?

Why indeed!

Knowledge is a deadly friend, if no-one sets the rules
The fate of all mankind, I see, is in the hands of fools


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D.C.Elington
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July 19, 2020 10:51  

@gaius-konstantine & @Cody
I do agree that the traditional piracy scheme would make little sense in the game, both from the economic and practical standpoints! (About the latter: the closer one gets to another ship the higher the danger from weaponry of lower and lower tech, until finally even an unarmed vessel can be deadly tens of kms away because of its engine's exhaust plume alone).
So on the piracy subject I was thinking that extortion may fit better. Due to their operating costs armed ships should be quite rare, and in remote places a single one of them could ransom the locals for "protection money" without firing a single shot as long as it is unopposed. Since there are no FTL comms calls for help would take quite some time to get answered, and the impossibility of a centralized banking system would require a "bitcoin style" currency and make dirty money in-effect untraceable. But in any case these operations would be available to powerful organizations or rogue states only, and in isolated regions. They would require a safe resupply base to begin with.

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Pinback
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July 19, 2020 11:51  
Posted by: @d-c-elington
So on the piracy subject I was thinking that extortion may fit better. Due to their operating costs armed ships should be quite rare, and in remote places a single one of them could ransom the locals for "protection money" without firing a single shot as long as it is unopposed. Since there are no FTL comms calls for help would take quite some time to get answered

As long as their no planetary defences and "system defence boats" as Traveller called them, basically an engine with lots of missiles.

On the subject of piracy I can think of one situation where it may arise, that of the collapsed empire where colony worlds are left to fend for them selves. Those worlds which can retain a starflight capability could chose to go plundering lower tec worlds for resources  as in the book Space Viking https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_Viking it's a background scenario which rarely gets used in games. 


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D.C.Elington
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July 19, 2020 17:41  
Posted by: @pinback

Space Viking

Thanks for the reference Pinback that's an interesting setting indeed. It's just that I'd like the world to be a little less depressing to be honest! But on a smaller scale similar situations could arise in some of the independent systems, with specific political situations making them vulnerable to attacks from unsavory neighbors.

Also you have a valid point about defenses. Typically some civilian ships could be stripped of their interstellar capability (DeltaV budget) in exchange for military equipment (= more payload mass) and become orbital patrol vessels at a fraction of the cost of actual military vessels.

And so maybe the extortion business would more likely occur at some remote places along the routes between the main inhabited systems. In effect the path used by most ships at one given time can be predicted (it is dictated by the orbital configurations of the celestial bodies along the way), and it would likely be too expensive to have defenses everywhere. Space travel companies could also be the victims for these "safe passage tolls" then.

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