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NeuralKernel
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OK, partly in an attempt to divert from the main question thread but mostly because I'm keen myself I figured I'd start a new thread here about a tentative mod to explore a variety of new combat interfaces and systems for possible inclusion in Pioneer.

The main issues I see raised so far are...

-Controls... they are quite good if you have a joystick or similar but the mouse and keyboard interface needs some serious work to make them properly viable in combat.

-Information Management... The situational awareness is good for some tasks and poor for others. Different scanner layouts, sensor types, view controls and HUDs could make combat much more enjoyable.

-Equipment Variety... something beyond "guns and missiles", I'd like to see Electronic Warfare expanded greatly as well as different weapon types, drones / wingmen, turrets... everyone's got a doomsday device they'd like to see included I'm sure 😉

-AI... not that I want to help the machines take over the entire Solar System, but...

-Experimental overhauls... I've wondered for a while how feasible it would be to adapt Pioneer into a turn based strategy game... I'm sure there are crazier ideas, I hope so at least!

So what do you all think? Worth working on separately or just stuff to keep working towards in the core version?


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robn
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-Controls... they are quite good if you have a joystick or similar but the mouse and keyboard interface needs some serious work to make them properly viable in combat.

We know input isn't where it should be, but we're not entirely sure what it should look like. There is a plan for fixing the input layer (which is somewhat dependent on the new UI being completed) which should make it easier to experiment with, but it will still need some of that experimenting to figure out where it should go.

-Information Management... The situational awareness is good for some tasks and poor for others. Different scanner layouts, sensor types, view controls and HUDs could make combat much more enjoyable.

The intent is that once the new UI is fully implemented then we can start experimenting with some new HUD arrangements. Again, not sure exactly what it should look like in the end.

-Equipment Variety... something beyond "guns and missiles", I'd like to see Electronic Warfare expanded greatly as well as different weapon types, drones / wingmen, turrets... everyone's got a doomsday device they'd like to see included I'm sure 😉

Custom equipment has been in progress for over a year. Its getting pretty close to completion, mostly just needs code review and testing. See #1719.

Of course, we still need engine support for some of that stuff. Drones are doable in a hacky way right now. We have formation flying already, but not proper wingmen command stuff (which could be done in script once the UI is threaded through everywhere). There's an experimental patch for turrets that needs to be brought up to date and checked. All this stuff is worthwhile doing in Pioneer proper.

-AI... not that I want to help the machines take over the entire Solar System, but...

Just needs someone who understands the AI well and wants to work on it. Its some of the more math-heavy code in the game, but its not impenetrable to the motivated hacker!

-Experimental overhauls... I've wondered for a while how feasible it would be to adapt Pioneer into a turn based strategy game...

Yeah, that might be best done outside of the core game 😉 Though there are some aspects that could be folded back. Stuff for building new bases/planets, moving resources around, and AI for same could all be useful.

So what do you all think? Worth working on separately or just stuff to keep working towards in the core version?

Depends which one you want to tackle first!


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fluffyfreak
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@NeuralKernel

You've probably read this already but thought you might find it interesting if you haven't 🙂

http://josephshoer.com/blog/2009/12/thoughts-on-space-battles/


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NeuralKernel
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Robn... Nice, I'd heard the new equipment system was in the works, sounds like its coming together and will open up avenues of experimentation on that front, I look forward to showing off my doomsday devices!

Bio... Sounds like you've got a pretty impressive pile of interface hardware, add some pedals and an Oculus Rift and you've basically got yourself a Heavy Gear Cockpit! 😀 I do have a gamepad somewhere and I did use it for a little while in Pioneer (used it for a while in Evochron Legends and Flightgear, too) but the basic setup for the largest number of people (even sim fans these days) is going to be a mouse (trackball for those of us with standards! :D) and keyboard. Do you still use the keyboard much or do you have pretty much every function mapped out to one of the controllers?

Fluffy... Nice, I can't remember if I read that article before, relatively familiar subject matter though. My own favorite site for checking through a lot of this stuff is Atomic Rockets

http://www.projectrho.com/public_html/rocket/index.php


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shadmar
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-AI... not that I want to help the machines take over the entire Solar System, but...

 

 

 

What kind of AI stuff? We're doing several AI changes for Paragon which could be easily backported to Pioneer like :

-Autopilot scooping jovians.

-AIFlyToClose(target,dist) in lua - mostly for scripting mining robots which will be ships, and planet surface landing for ships/player etc..

-Probably some more to get cargo loaders "load cargo" and mining drones, mine planets/asteroids and drop ore for sccoping in orbit, pirates sabotaging your mining operation, turret or AA gun functionality.

 

 

What I miss the most right now would be:

 

 

1. UI support for interaction with AI ships scripted in lua. Like message boxes with choices etc..

2. New Equpment Pull.

3. Starports can only be one type, which is annoying.


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fluffyfreak
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3. Starports can only be one type, which is annoying.

 

Type?


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shadmar
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Set maybe a better word? Or have this changed?


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XenonS
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-Controls... they are quite good if you have a joystick or similar but the mouse and keyboard interface needs some serious work to make them properly viable in combat.

 

Yes, a good idea 😎 I dunno about joystick control (must already be ok if you can bind all sort of keys), but it would be very fine if there was a good system combining mouse + keyboard control for general ship maneuvres both for normal flying and combat operations.

 

XenonS


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NeuralKernel
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Sounds like the mouse controls are the most pressing issue most people have. I'm an advocate for the Flightgear style of mouse interface. Left click to cycle between different mouse modes, one that controls a generic mouse pointer to click cockpit controls, one that works as a "mouse warp" that turns the aircraft at a rate relative to the cursor's distance from the center and one that turns the camera around like a standard FPS. As to whether a Flight Sim style mouse input or a Shooter style input would be best for Pioneer is probably a matter of personal preference more than anything and quite a few space and flight sims allow a choice anyways.


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fluffyfreak
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There's an experimental patch for turrets that needs to be brought up to date and checked. 

 

There is?


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robn
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There is?

https://github.com/jaj22/pioneer/tree/turrets


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Staniol
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Just one small thing to the electronic warfare bit: radar cloaking systems? Visual cloaking?

(to balance these you can throw in limited time, high energy demand, no weapon usage till cloacked, not working near stations, military grade radars, etc).

From RPG point of view this would be something great in Pioneer!

I would be more than happy to play like a ranger, remain hidden, excavate, scoop, explore, see what others doing, build new settlements on planets,  (oops not implemented yet?). 🙂


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NeuralKernel
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Stealth mechanics of a sort would be very welcome... though for the sake of realism I'd prefer to combine it with an energy / thermal management mechanism... an active ship is a hot ship is a visible ship. A thermal cloak would be feasible in certain circumstances, basically you would temporarily dump your waste heat to a tank of liquid helium or some other heat sink instead of to the radiators... you still need to get rid of that waste heat at some point PLUS the extra waste heat you produced by running the chiller mechanism so once the internal chiller is "warmed up"... dumping that heat is going to look like a fireworks display on Infrared as the ship directs hot coolant to the radiators and maybe even dumps some overboard for evaporative cooling.

Maybe two kinds of sensors/countermeasures... one for detection and one for targeting? That way there could be a (thermal) cloak that keeps you from being detected in the first place (but once spotted is of no help whatsoever) and another that prevents accurate targeting but loudly announces your presence and general location to the universe (a high energy jammer or something?).


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NeuralKernel
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Biomechanoid... It's just a matter of practice and building a set of muscle memories and rough tactics that work for you, but even then don't expect to be able to take on ships much larger than you. The combat is so simple at present that there isn't much to say beyond "have a bigger gun and more shields".

The reason I use WASD for lateral and vertical thrusters is because that lets me move perpendicularly relative to where my gun is pointing, I just randomly press those buttons so I'm constantly flitting around and it's almost impossible to predict lead times for targeting, I'm not a great shot (and I really do blame the current mouse controls, I'm a decent marksman in FPS games and real life...) but I'm VERY hard to hit 🙂

It's actually something I'd like to have as an "autopilot" mode... an evasive mode that constantly fires the thrusters in random directions at random power levels, like set speed in that you can still fly manually but unlike set-speed I'd want player input to combine with the random movements instead of just totally overriding them. Heh, just don't turn it on near the surface...


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fluffyfreak
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@Biomechanoid,

That's pretty close to a personal attack against XenonS.

I don't know why you've taken that one comment and keep dragging it up but there's no need for it. If you'd let it drop then this whole conversation you insist on having, _in every single thread_, could finally start to move on.

 

I think  is not possible. how you "Combat Operations" in Pioneer with a keyboard and a mouse!? I wonder how you fight in pioneer.

 

Some of us only have a keyboard and a mouse, how else are we supposed to do it?

 

We don't have multiple joysticks and foot pedals with keyboard remapping. In fact you're the only person I've ever heard of that does have anything like that.

 

So the game must be tuned, and the controls must be usable for people who only have a keyboard and mouse/pointing-device.

The reason being that 100% of the people that play Pioneer will have at least a keyboard because so far we only build for Win/Mac&Linux.

Probably 100% will have a keyboard and "a pointing device" but it could be a mouse, laptop trackpad, trackball, etc.


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fluffyfreak
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Back in on topic land...

 

We don't have a real way of telling how ships are identified, I mean, we're a game so of course we know perfectly where they are.

The "Scanner" equipment just grabs the info directly about all of the ships and displays anything "in range".

 

For stealth and other things to work we're need give ships certain characteristics such as their visibility in a variety of spectra like the visible, radar, EM, thermal and so forth.

Then there should be pieces of equipment, or alternatively other upgrades that could be made directly to a ship, that would reduce/mislead the signature they give off across those domains.

 

I'd support the idea though 🙂


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NeuralKernel
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Bio... it's true that you CAN get behind a big ship in a small fighter and peck away... but you need to get past the main cannon first and if the ship has a rear mounted gun your toast... you need to stay lucky the whole time while the big guy just needs to get lucky once... and that's assuming your tiny gun can damage the shields faster than they regenerate...

I actually sometimes prefer to fight with a rear mounted cannon because it lets me keep my most powerful thruster aimed along with it if I need to keep some distance... it means flipping some keybindings or getting used to doing things backwards but it's sometimes worth it...


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fluffyfreak
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Turrets would much improve things.

It seems silly not to have auto-targetting and leading turrets, we have them today in real life!

 

Also the AI needs to do more than just attack. It needs to taunt, cajole, argue, insult (all with pre-defined text I'd like to add!) so that you surrender your ship by ejecting or drop your cargo.

 

The current behaviour makes no sense, as there's no reward in just blasting a ship to tiny pieces of shrapnel for a little bit of the cargo.

If you could force an enemy to eject under threat of destruction then you've got an entire ship! With fuel, cargo and equipment all intact!

 

Now THAT'S piracy 😉


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fluffyfreak
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Even

 

Offtopic- i wonder if you know how to do do in Pioneer a "trip" Earth-Moon without Autopilot and do a FREE fall landing with Engines OFF, using only Thrusters for landing!

 

Even if he couldn't, and I suspect that he can, that shouldn't mean that he cannot enjoy playing the game.

This isn't meant to be a a pure "simulation", this is a game, if somethings not fun, or accessible then we can bend the rules away from the pure simulation aspect so that it is fun.


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shadmar
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I have some wip pirate code where they fire a few rounds then extort you to jettison your cargo with a time limit, if you fail to comply they attack.

 

I also think they should try to run away / jump if they think they will loose.


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lionheart
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Turrets would much improve things.

It seems silly not to have auto-targetting and leading turrets, we have them today in real life!

 

 

 

 

 

As far as I can tell, this is the crux of more accessible combat.

 

If this can track and engage dozens of targets moving at multiple times the speed of sound, then what would a computer a thousand years from now be able to do? Logically either turrets or gimbaled cannons should be able to perfectly lead any target within their firing arcs. There would still be plenty of skill, as accuracy would decrease rapidly at range, and leading could only be based on enemy trajectory at time of firing, but you wouldn't have to be a a human computer to hit something 😀

 

 

 

 

I have some wip pirate code where they fire a few rounds then extort you to jettison your cargo with a time limit, if you fail to comply they attack.

 

I also think they should try to run away / jump if they think they will loose.

 

 

 

I've always wondered why pirates in every space sim I've ever played are completely suicidal. I'd think there could be something implemented wherein enemies weighed up their situations before and during combat. Prior to starting anything I'd wager pirates would want to know they had a very good chance of winning, and if things went bad and they lost a couple of their wingmen, they'd just turn tail and run.


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shadmar
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A thousand years from now turrets shouldn't ever miss, it should be a question about counter measures you can throw back or use to protect yourself.


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fluffyfreak
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someone does not understand combat Pioneer says is not fun because he do not understand the concept!? you think this is good!?

 

I think that it's inevitable.

The problem is two-fold though:

  1. Flying a spaceship in 3D is fundamentally more complex than controlling, for example, a car in 2D.
  2. The control scheme we currently have makes the already complex task harder than it needs to be.

So we have both problems, a complex situation that you cannot teach most players quickly enough to keep them interested, and awkward controls that you yourself have stated you cannot imagine using with only a keyboard and a mouse.

 

This tells us that the controls need to be fixed, and that we probably need some kind of tutorial you can turn on and off or practice flying the ship with lots of hints etc.


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fluffyfreak
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@robn,

I had a go at merging that turrets branch but it's a very messy merge with a lot to resolve.

It's pretty involved and I've got too much on my plate already to look into it further 🙁


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NeuralKernel
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Well I like using WASDRF for translation control, it's the attitude control I think needs work... first I think the default use of RCS thrusters for orienting the craft is wasteful and imprecise... let's toss some control moment gyroscopes or reaction wheels in there!
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Control_moment_gyroscope

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reaction_wheel

Of course... for close range fighting you would be better off with the RCS thrusters, they'll push you around faster and frankly you'll be changing vector rapidly anyways for evasive reasons so there's no real savings in reaction mass. If anything it would take extra energy to spin up the gyro's that could be better used on weapons, shields, sensors, etc.

So that brings up another point... what kind of ranges and combat regimes are people interested in? The controls for one style might be fine but be terrible for another style. Orbital sniper duels with "primitive" kinetic weapons? Close range beam fights under heavy ECM? Missile and Drone tactical management?


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