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Alpha 8, and a new lead programmer

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ollobrain
(@ollobrain)
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lemonade or even lemons oculd be a rare galactic export - fruit sub category


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s2odan
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Finally getting down to have a play with the latest alpha. Hey Tom, I like what you have done with the suns, the glare and glow is an improvement IMO. It looks good.


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KingHaggis
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The new Alpha is awesome. Today I flew through very cool looking canyons on Proxima E, I believe. I hadn't seen those before. There was a big red star above me and the canyons were very deep. When climbing out of the canyons, there were huge arid plains around me. It's the transition from canyon to flat plain terrain that looks very cool! I don't know if you made this s20dan, but it's an awesome job. Too bad I didn't make a screenshot...

I also like the new joystick support! It's totally unusable with timecompression engaged, because it sends me spinning like crazy but with normal time it's so incredibly immersive. Flying through buildings in cities with a joystick is quite a thrill now and joystick support adds a whole new level to the Pioneer experience.

Finally, I'm glad HDR is much better now. I can see the HUD clearly and shadows on asteroids and lighting on spaceships looks fantastic! This game is becoming so incredibly atmospheric now, it's beyond words.

Two little bugs I noticed: some planets are still blinking when I approach them and today, when I had Tom's Sanctuary targeted at Deimos, the asteroid terrain disappeared when facing the city. You could see the city straight through the terrain on the other side of the asteroid. When facing away from the city the asteroid terrain appeared again. A bit of a shame since I love the asteroid terrain. Also, the game has crashed on me twice without doing anything special. First time I was landing in a steep crater, second time I was approaching a city I believe... Apart from that, best Alpha release so far!


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s2odan
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Quote:
It's the transition from canyon to flat plain terrain that looks very cool! I don't know if you made this s20dan, but it's an awesome job. Too bad I didn't make a screenshot...

Thats one of the planets I added, but the canyons are just a part of how the terrain engine works, so Tom's who to thank for those 🙂


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ollobrain
(@ollobrain)
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the autopilot is still cauinsg crashes into stations and planets


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jaj22
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ollobrain wrote:
the autopilot is still cauinsg crashes into stations and planets

I think I found this bug, or at least one of them. The FlyTo function attempts to fly you to a position closest to the current location of the player. If you're currently on the opposite side from the station, this position is inside the planet. So it does all its fancy collision avoidance pathing and then quite deliberately flies you into the ground.

The collision avoidance code also doesn't kick in when you're within 10km of the target, so I imagine it's quite easy to make it run into the back of orbital stations, although I haven't tested that.


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ollobrain
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ah so u think its possible to fix it ?


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KingHaggis
(@kinghaggis)
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Quote:
It's the transition from canyon to flat plain terrain that looks very cool! I don't know if you made this s20dan, but it's an awesome job. Too bad I didn't make a screenshot...

Instead of a screenshot, I decided to make a little movie including the canyons. It's not as complex as my first movie... the thought of going through all that again was driving me nuts so instead I chose to just record myself flying casually through space. If in real life it would be possible to actually fly through space casually..., hmm... 😕

Anyway, here it is:

Sorry for the sometimes bad quality. First Adobe with its compressions, then youtube again... hopeless.


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Stardreamer
(@stardreamer)
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That's another stunning video, KingHaggis. yo've got a real knack for making these! 😮

but with a game so bloody gorgeous already, you're spoiled for choice in what to pick for making it look fantastic!


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KingHaggis
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Thanks Stardreamer, yeah Pioneer looks stunning. No matter what you record, it's always good 😀 .


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s2odan
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Thats a really nice video, the view from inside that crater on Deimos looks very real except for the high walled craters.

I just made a small tweak after watching this that should make the asteroid craters look a little more sedate.


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KingHaggis
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I like the asteroids. Especially the shadows that are cast on the dark side as seen from space. Too bad I have the disappearing terrain bug when facing a city on an asteroid when I'm closer to the surface. I cut the bug out of the video but if you look closely, you can see the terrain disappearing at exactly 5:25 seconds in the video with Tomm's Sanctuary floating in the upperleft corner. It all depends on the view angle.


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s2odan
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Yes that bug is annoying, I think I have fixed it now.


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Shingen
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OK I tried the Alpha for a few hours and here are my comments:

* The mouse flight is still dodgy. There is still no dead zone and there is a drift for every movement of the mouse, which makes precision flight at high speeds a complete terror.

* The landing lights for space stations seem to be counter intuitive. Touching down on the yellow lights activate the landing sequence, and landing on the green lights makes me fall through the structure and explode.

* What the deal with stars? Is there any way to turn off the exaggerated CME effects? Every star looks like a Christmas ornament, or like they are all getting ready to turn in a pulsar. I can see that effect being from far distance, but up close, the star should just be round like a real star.

* There need to be a way to tell if the target is on the facing side of the planetary body, or on the far side. Maybe changing the color of the targeting reticule, to give a clue to the player that they must fly around the body in order to reach the target. I almost slammed into a few planets trying to land on a star base on the dark side, only to realize it was on the entire other side of the planet.

* Why do the running lights stay on after I stow the landing gear? I mean come on.. is anyone really going to see those lights in inner stellar space? The running lights should go on while the landing gear is down, around star bases and star stations, but they should shut off when the landing gear is stowed.

* Why does my hyperspace cloud last for days?

* There is no way to tell fuel level or damage from the HUD.

* There need to be an easier way to navigate systems. A "N" key like in FFE of something.

* There needs to be someway to determine the gravity of a given celestial body before I get close enough to get caught in the gravy well and am unable to escape with normal thrusters. I collided with more than a few gas giants trying to see if I could pull off a sling shot maneuver.

* Prices need a major overhaul. The few trade runs I could find were not very profitable. I made more from running courier missions.

That's all I can think of right now. The game ran flawlessly and the overall look and feel of the game is amazing. If someone can tweak the flight model to get rid of the drift, I think I can live with everything else. I almost never trust those damn auto pilots. They always end up slamming me against a mountain-side, so I need to be able to control my vector at high speeds.


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robn
 robn
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I'm currently doing a bunch of light-touch polish things to learn my way around the code, and have a list of similar things. I'm going to add a few of these to my list to look into. No promises at all, of course.

Shingen wrote:
The mouse flight is still dodgy. There is still no dead zone and there is a drift for every movement of the mouse, which makes precision flight at high speeds a complete terror.

Yes, this bugs me too. In Frontier you were able to almost spin on the spot. Does anyone know if its been done this way for a reason?

Quote:
There need to be a way to tell if the target is on the facing side of the planetary body, or on the far side. Maybe changing the color of the targeting reticule, to give a clue to the player that they must fly around the body in order to reach the target. I almost slammed into a few planets trying to land on a star base on the dark side, only to realize it was on the entire other side of the planet.

Personally I find the pitch-black dark side of planets to be more of a problem - I get lost. My preference would be to have a small amount of ambient light throughout the system so you could at least see things (including ships), but maybe thats not what's wanted. Lights from the starport/city could also help here - remember Frontier had that weird light point that was visible from distance?

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Why do the running lights stay on after I stow the landing gear? I mean come on.. is anyone really going to see those lights in inner stellar space? The running lights should go on while the landing gear is down, around star bases and star stations, but they should shut off when the landing gear is stowed.

Yep, I already had this one, along with the autopilot not controlling the gear appropriately.

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Why does my hyperspace cloud last for days?

Probably an oversight. Adding an expiry should be straightforward. How long should it last? I guess a few hours, no more than a day, should be about right.

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There is no way to tell fuel level or damage from the HUD.

As far as can tell there's no fuel other than hyperspace fuel. Damage (hull mass) is maintained of course. What's better, a Frontier-style "Hull: 23%" thing in the corner, or a gauge of some sort on the dash? Or both?

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There need to be an easier way to navigate systems. A "N" key like in FFE of something.

Yeah, I've been thinking about that too. I wasn't sure if I just had found the right button to press though. Something like the nav computer seems reasonable, but is there a smarter/less intrusive way?


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jaj22
(@jaj22)
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Shingen wrote:
* The mouse flight is still dodgy. There is still no dead zone and there is a drift for every movement of the mouse, which makes precision flight at high speeds a complete terror.

I changed mouse control to a displacement system for the AI test because I found the current code and other velocity-accumulation systems unusable. It's like Frontier/FFE, except with angular acceleration rather than angular velocity as the limiting factor.

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* There need to be an easier way to navigate systems. A "N" key like in FFE of something.

I think there's a modification where you can at least set the navigation target using the system info screen, but there should probably be a method closer to the front end of the interface.

Quote:

* There need to be a way to tell if the target is on the facing side of the planetary body, or on the far side. Maybe changing the color of the targeting reticule, to give a clue to the player that they must fly around the body in order to reach the target. I almost slammed into a few planets trying to land on a star base on the dark side, only to realize it was on the entire other side of the planet.

* There needs to be someway to determine the gravity of a given celestial body before I get close enough to get caught in the gravy well and am unable to escape with normal thrusters. I collided with more than a few gas giants trying to see if I could pull off a sling shot maneuver.

Also for manual navigators there's a lack of feedback on maximum approach speed. All easy stuff to implement - mostly a question of where to put the data on the screen.

Quote:

* There is no way to tell fuel level or damage from the HUD.

* Prices need a major overhaul. The few trade runs I could find were not very profitable. I made more from running courier missions.

That's all getting rewritten, assuming that I can maintain my sanity for long enough. Don't expect trading to be trivially profitable like in Frontier though.


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robn
 robn
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robn wrote:
Shingen wrote:
There is no way to tell fuel level or damage from the HUD.

As far as can tell there's no fuel other than hyperspace fuel. Damage (hull mass) is maintained of course. What's better, a Frontier-style "Hull: 23%" thing in the corner, or a gauge of some sort on the dash? Or both?

I had a look at the code on the way home. There is a hull integrity gauge, rather like the hull and laser temperature gauges. It doesn't appear when you the hull is at 100% though. I wasn't able to test properly due to some broken missile stuff I'm working on, but as far as I can tell it should be fine. Are you sure you took damage?

(and yes, I'm still new here, so to all the readers and your "oh ho ho, he didn't know about the hull gauge, silly newbie", I thank you 😛 )


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Feenicks
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Was there a significant change to the thrust mechanics, and if so is it correct now? Right now it seems like every ship handles like a bucket of lead. Fair enough for heavy cruisers etc but for fighters I should be able to turn much easier I think. Some ships had forward thrust of 60+G in the previous alpha and side thrusts of like 30G, but now almost every ship is around 10G with a side thrust of half that. It makes it really tricky to maneuver if you're heading towards the surface from orbit.

Shingen wrote:
* What the deal with stars? Is there any way to turn off the exaggerated CME effects? Every star looks like a Christmas ornament, or like they are all getting ready to turn in a pulsar. I can see that effect being from far distance, but up close, the star should just be round like a real star.

I agree with this as well, the crucifix effect should really only be from long distance.


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Subzeroplainzero
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Not sure if it's just my piloting skills but I couldn't lift off in my imperial courier. As soon as the starport released me I began to crash into it, even while holding down the upward thrust button. After wrestling with it for a while I did manage to get into the air however after extensive hull damage.


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Stardreamer
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Subzeroplainzero wrote:
Not sure if it's just my piloting skills but I couldn't lift off in my imperial courier. As soon as the starport released me I began to crash into it, even while holding down the upward thrust button. After wrestling with it for a while I did manage to get into the air however after extensive hull damage.

There's an upward thrust button? 😯


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robn
 robn
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Stardreamer wrote:
Subzeroplainzero wrote:
Not sure if it's just my piloting skills but I couldn't lift off in my imperial courier. As soon as the starport released me I began to crash into it, even while holding down the upward thrust button. After wrestling with it for a while I did manage to get into the air however after extensive hull damage.

There's an upward thrust button? 😯

That would be 'U'. See Quickstart.txt for more.


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jaj22
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Feenicks wrote:
Was there a significant change to the thrust mechanics, and if so is it correct now?

I think there was a general increase in hull mass in Alpha 8 to make the acceleration less variable with cargo and equipment mass. However, unless you deliberately make the AI line up to die, 12g/6g/3g for a 35m long ship (twice the length of an Eagle) is near the limit for practical combat. Larger ships could potentially be somewhat faster.

Many of the ships have broken stats at the moment and will be fixed. Checking my stats sheet, a fully-loaded Imperial Courier has vertical and horizontal acceleration of 0.3g, which isn't enough to get off the ground on most planets.


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Stardreamer
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Shingen wrote:
* What the deal with stars? Is there any way to turn off the exaggerated CME effects? Every star looks like a Christmas ornament, or like they are all getting ready to turn in a pulsar. I can see that effect being from far distance, but up close, the star should just be round like a real star.

This. With the greatest respect to the work done already this is a major immersion-breaker. You have these gorgeous planets with their gorgeous terrain and atmospheres, and over the horizon comes what looks like a sprite from the nes days of gaming, or something from the bible. Stars just don't look like this up close. Flying past one in space is a very weird experience.

The HDR lighting isn't quite right yet either. Close, but not quite; in low planetary orbits, looking directly towards the planet, it has a horrible habit of bleaching most of the colour from the planet you're orbiting, which only resolves itself as you lift your view up to the horizon again. At the moment I'm 50/50 on the benefits of having it enabled.

jaj22 wrote:
I think there's a modification where you can at least set the navigation target using the system info screen, but there should probably be a method closer to the front end of the interface.

I'm glad we're in agreement on this one. Navigation definitely needs an intuitive front-end solution. Using the system info screen is a great improvement for selecting planetary bodies but doesn't allow you to pick cities. And while the 3D system screen would let you do this (once implemented) it's a horribly tedious way of doing so - perhaps some kind of clickable overlay on this screen with preset zoom levels above each destination?

Other than that I keep drifting to the idea of a simple right-click menu in flight mode that lists every planet, moon,station and port but am not sure this would properly gel with the current UI.


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mathee
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Stardreamer wrote:

Other than that I keep drifting to the idea of a simple right-click menu in flight mode that lists every planet, moon,station and port but am not sure this would properly gel with the current UI.

Completely on your side here, i think that would be the most intuitive and context sensitive way of choosing targets. Actually I am sure that almost every controlling aspect could be handled that way. simply right-clicking anywhere --> you get a nice menu that lists navigation and maybe communication options.


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robn
 robn
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mathee wrote:
Stardreamer wrote:

Other than that I keep drifting to the idea of a simple right-click menu in flight mode that lists every planet, moon,station and port but am not sure this would properly gel with the current UI.

Completely on your side here, i think that would be the most intuitive and context sensitive way of choosing targets. Actually I am sure that almost every controlling aspect could be handled that way. simply right-clicking anywhere --> you get a nice menu that lists navigation and maybe communication options.

I've been thinking about a couple of things along these lines, though I'm not yet settled enough to try an implementation.

One thought I had was to rework the comms button for in-flight stuff so its more of a targetting system. Think about it: of all the things that appear in the comms menu, how many are actual communication? Most are for commanding the autopilot and indeed, nothing at all is possible without a selected target. So what if it was reworked a bit to having the list of actions you can perform against your current targets on the left (ie exactly what we have now), and on the right a bunch of "interesting" targets that are in range. That would include stations, but also perhaps ships in range (fun if you've got a bunch of pirates around), hyperspace clouds, mining machines, whatever. Its not a big change but I do wonder if it would make the screen too busy? I do like the idea of having all that stuff in one place.

The other thing I'm thinking about which is more in relation to the context stuff is radial menus. I think this game could play very well with an Xbox-style controller, but if I was doing that I wouldn't want to have to switch to the mouse or keyboard while in flight. Obviously though if you're using mouse and keyboard then radial menus would be limiting, so there'd need to be a suitable way to let the user choose what they wanted (or do magics depending on the device that asked). There's still a lot of thinking to go here, not to mention the piles of code that this would take.


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