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Pioneer: new GPL Frontier Elite 2 style game

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tomm
 tomm
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Hi people,

Since June 2008 I (and 2 other coders) have been working on an open-source remake of Frontier: Elite 2. I felt it was a shame there were lots of Elite clones but no free software Frontier clones.

It is called Pioneer, is written in C++, SDL, OpenGL, works in Linux, Windows and whatever people can port it to. So far me and 2 other programmers have worked on it, but now it needs artists.

You can see screenshots and a docking video here:

http://pioneer.sourceforge.net/

The source code can also be downloaded by svn from the site, or from the alpha 1 release:

http://tom.noflag.org.uk/pioneer/pionee ... a.1.tar.gz

Windows binary:

http://nic.dnsalias.com/pioneer.zip

Basically it needs lots of 3d models, identikit space station personnel faces like in the original, more ships and space stations, icons, music and sound effects.

If any artists/coders/whatever want to lend a hand then I'm very interested. This game can be 'Frontier feature complete' this year, with a bit of work.


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IronHound
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Looking good!


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DarkOne
(@sscadmin)
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Welcome to SSC tomm.

Thanks for letting us know about Pioneer, this is going to be an excellent addition for all the gamers out there. Is there a list that has been started on the missing models?

I liked these two pics:

I know this game has a different name and going to be based off of Elite 2, do we need any permission to reproduce the game?


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Pinback
(@pinback)
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Outstanding work Tomm to you and the team. 😀 😀 😀

I got the game up and running on my netbook but unfortunately can't see the bottom of the screen where the console is.have to have a look at the config file,can the game be run in a window. ❓

What format does the game use for the models and will it be blender friendly ❓

As the game based on Frontier have you fixed that autopilot and looked at the comabat model. ❓

Can new mission be added to the game or is there a mission editor. ❓

Have you any plans to add new features to the game. ❓


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Stardreamer
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Good lord, this is an ASTONISHING piece of work, gentlemen! 😯

Clearly still at an early stage (so obvious I don't know why I even wrote that) but the potential of this is staggering. I'm literally dripping with superlatives right now, just foaming at the mouth with how good this is already! Your planets are BEAUTIFUL. I'm currently in high Earth orbit just now looking down on oceans and continents, Sol's stark white glare in the background...wow.

I'm hoping that the internet community jump all over this like they have done with Oolite and FFED3D - this deserves to be amazingly popular.

Things I love:

- The controls - AT LONG LAST we can finally navigate with some user-friendly keyboard controls!!! If you can manage to get the combat made more acccessible this game will be HUGE 😀

- The extra cities dotted all over Earth!

- Earth itself. Generated on the fly, I believe (?), so no familiar continents but still amazing to look at from up high

- The light modelling on the ship. So pretty!

- The transparent console - wonderful touch!

- The re-jigged console UI. Excellent work here, chaps. Expanding on what came before is EXACTLY the way this game should be developed because we all know the original was far from perfect!

- Star Wars-style hyperspace - starlines and everything!!! (How is this going to work with tracking jumps for assassinations? Are we still generating visible portals/wormholes?)

- My ship bouncing after impact on planetary surfaces! Starships would have to be some of the toughest vehicles ever created, to be able to endure space-travel and keep their pilots alive. YES, you can blow them up if you hit the ground too fast but it's always bugged me that the same happens in Frontier at speeds that modern jet airliners would easily survive. THANK YOU!

...I'm still buzzzing. This is sensational, guys. PLEASE don't let this one dead-end and die off. This is absolute gold and I'm very much looking forward to seeing this one mature. In fact, I think I'm off to pootle around in it some more. 😀 😀 😀

PS: Prepare to be bombarded with suggestions and feature requests! 😈


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tomm
 tomm
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Howdy people,

Thanks for all the encouraging comments 🙂

Just to clarify, although the game has been [heavily] inspired by Frontier, Pioneer was written from scratch and is all our own code.

The plan is to make version 1.0 more-or-less on a par with Frontier with regards to game features and complexity and so on. This way there will not be endless feature creep and people will be able to play something finished. (The terrain engine was originally to be post-1.0, but I couldn't hold myself back...)

The game uses a Lua-based modelling language to build models from basic 3d primitives [and (not done yet) external .obj files]. Using Lua means it is easy to animate bits of models like the wheels and the various animations during docking.

Right now autopilot is only rudimentary (it can fly you to the vicinity of things, but not dock for you or fight for you). So more work still to do on this.

There are only 1 or 2 missions right now, since I have had to divide my coding time among so many things. Currently they are C++ but I will look at changing this to Lua missions so people can more easily add missions to the game.

Yes, combat needs some thinking about to avoid being as poor as frontier's. I don't want to sacrifice newtonian physics but there are ways of avoiding the terrible jousting style of combat of frontier.

Lastly, yes, there are plans to add features to the game. But I'd like to try sticking mostly to plan for v1.0, so that it does reach playable state soon.

I guess I need to document the modelling system more so people will understand how to put working undercarriage onto ships, and how to define docking procedures on space stations.


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Geraldine
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Hi Tomm

Amazing!

Finally a re-make of my favourite space sim ever!

Once the Frontier Forum finds out about this, they will go crazy! 😎

Very best of luck to you and your team on this great project. Please, please keep us updated on your progress. My only suggestion is to make it as mod friendly as Oolite. Build it and they will come. As for modellers, there are quite a few on this forum who might be able to lend a hand.

I am still in shock and cant stop grinning at the possibility of a modern re-made "Elite 2"!

Oh!, almost forgot, Welcome to the SSC!


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Straker
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Impressive...


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Pinback
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tomm wrote:

I guess I need to document the modelling system more so people will understand how to put working undercarriage onto ships, and how to define docking procedures on space stations.

Hi Tomm

Can you also say whats still to done for version 1.0

any plans to add bit more hight to land on the planets surface,as it seem to be a bit on

the flat side.and will we see clouds in the worlds of pioneer

Couple of suggetion,would like to see an orbit key that would put the ship into orbit around the

planet,could be useful for scanning the surface.

On the galaxy map,would be nice to be able to see where the the different empires are,some thing

like the galaxy map from Freelancer.

One other thing do you intent to add any aliens to Pioneer.


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Stardreamer
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Hmm. Methinks we need to hit the Dev's with a Q&A post-haste. Some clarification is needed before they get bombarded with random questions that all get answered with "Not in the 1.0 release".


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DarkOne
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Stardreamer are you inferring something 🙂

I have been thinking about creating a forum just for Pioneer if there is enough people that want one and that the core devs will least stop in and answer questions.


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Pinback
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Sounds like a plan. 😀


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GUNSMIF
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OUTSTANDING!! 😮 😯 😀

i agree with Geraldine, there is some real tallent floating around the oolite forum,i think this would drag their attention away fom oolite 😆 try them out, ask the moderators who are friendly and very helpfull aswell as the rest of the comunity. looks like this will be a plesure for a lot of coders and moddlers to get their teeth in to!


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tomm
 tomm
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Hi again people. Sorry, busy with work (ugh). I'm in support of a Pioneer sub-forum being set up.

I'll paste my short TODO list so people have an idea of what v1.0 needs:

Equipment still to do:

energy bomb

escape capsule

auto-refueller

passenger cabins

cargo scoop conversion

~ autopilot (most of the autopilot still to do)

* External display of mounted equipment (missiles, scoops, etc)

* Message log: viewable log. support for message sender image

* Autopilot to adequate standard

* Internal engine fuel usage (refuel on inventory page. but is this a good game feature?)

~ Textual system descriptions

* Shipyard:

* drive servicing

* Stats: gun mounts, missile pilons (should we use this or put them in the hull?), crew

* Cargo scooping

* Military standing, legal status, police

~ Bulletin board: started and one or two mission types but much fleshing out to do

Less crucial things:

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

* Sfx look utterly s**t

* Planet twinkles are the colour of the 1st star in the system, not closest or combination

* Star light should attenuate

Besides the above things, we need good ship control panel icons, identikit faces (i loved them), models of all kinds (I have made very few models because I have absolutely zero artistic talent)

Missions may need to await some Lua interface


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Pinback
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Have a look throught Sol Commander thread,theres lots of great models there that could be used

as temps untill you have you own design worked out.

show-off-f55/models-giveaway-t622.html


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SolCommand
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Good luck with your project m8.


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Ezelite
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What kind of theme have you considered for the artwork? Were you looking to emulate Frontier as close as possible? Will you be using cabin and space station backgrounds? How about emblems and flags for the different factions, such as the military and the charitable orgs? The sound and art themes can help to establish the mood of the game and the location the player is at, and clearly defined themes for the different factions and areas of space was something i felt was lacking in Frontier. I would like to offer my assistance with artwork and audio production. I would be happy to help design recruitment posters, propaganda, soft drink ads, public messages, contribute to journal entries(if this FFE feature is planned)etc.. Ive also had some experience with space sims such as Orbiter, and know a fair bit about orbital mechanics and the laws of gravitation, tho to be honest i dont think theres any need to change much of this because this is the most complete recreation ive ever seen and i will be recommending this to everyone, excellent work!


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Stardreamer
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As if I needed another reason to love Pioneer...!

I recently been playing lots of FFED3D, salivating over the new visuals and working myself up over the improvements to come. I've earned myself a Cobra MkIII and I've a few hundred thousand credits in the account, more than enough to take time off my busy trading lifestyle to do a little sight-seeing. That's when another of poor old FFE's deficiencies really started to bother me - not being able to see the planets/stations you have chosen to visit until you've landed on them.

This is where FFE fans jump all over me. "OF COURSE you can see the planets as you draw near them. For the ultimate tourist's eye-view, all you have to do is tick down the StarDreamer time control as you approach." This is true. However, the problem is that it's fiddly. To get anywhere in a reasonable amount of real-time game-playing you absolutely must set the StarDreamer to maximum. But there's an art to switching down from maximum time progression that relies on watching the distance counter like a hawk, and possessing some fairly quick reaction times. Get it too late and you've probably just docked. Click it too soon and you'll probably need to speed up again, and slow down again, and speed up again...manually fine-tuning the whole approach. This is great if your inner pilot doesn't mind the work but not so great if all you want to do is watch the space-prettiness, and it doesn't always guarantee you get what you want.

Pioneer's autopilot handles these approaches for you. They're fairly rapid right now, you don't get much time at all to sit and gawp, but if you set the StarDreamer to maximum leaving a planet the system only revs up to that point at a sensible distance away from the planet, and again it drops you out step-by-step as you approach the new one: hurrah for a far more masterly autopilot! Okay, it doesn't work quite as well yet for destinations on the planets themselves, choosing to unceremoniously whack you into the planet at great speed, but I'm absolutely positive this will come as development proceeds. 😀

While the developer has stated his initial goal is merely to reach parity with Frontier's feature-set, it is a source of endless glee to see these minor little rethinks going into the design, such as the WASD flight controls, the transparent main panel, finally being able to use the scroll wheel on our mice...deft little touches that finally bring more than just the graphics into the light of 21st century game-playing!

(NB: While writing this post I realised I didn't actually know the name of the time dilation thingy in Frontier/FFE so had to look it up in one of the manuals. Imagine my surprise to find it's my username! When I chose the name I was looking for something that represented how I feel about space games, and space in particular. How bizarre to think that the name might have stuck in my subconscious all those years from my first experiences with Frontier on the Atari ST!)


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Ezelite
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It would be nice to have translation thrusters as well, but thats just nitpicking:). Ive recently enjoyed flying to orbit, shutting off engines and seeing where the gravity takes me. The overpowered engines make orbits easy, and the hull temp makes re-entry realistic. I assume that with shield generators it would be possible to perform aerobraking, and im looking forward to fuel scooping. One thing i noticed is that some of the planets seems to break keplers limits on how large a body can exist so close to another, but it makes for interesting visuals...but i imagine on some worlds this will make landing very difficult, as the gravity must be pulling in several directions.


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Stardreamer
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Kepler's limits? Never heard of that before...interesting. Thing is, most fantasy sci-fi art floating around the web these days features skies filled with other planets and moons visible:

My profile pic, sourced from Digital Blasphemy

it seems to be a common theme among we dreamers that to make a planet appear alien the quickest way to represent that is to change the sky in some way. Mulitple moons, multiple stars, or even make your world a moon orbiting a larger parent planet, e.g: jupiter and Io.

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but i imagine on some worlds this will make landing very difficult, as the gravity must be pulling in several directions.

Oooooo. Imagine if each world had a different gravity setting. That change take off and landing in-game - imagine burning more fuel to escape the gravity of a 'heavy' world! Or just using the tiniest squirt of it to escape tiny moonbases! Dogfights in heavy gravity wells would become even more problematic... 😀


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Ezelite
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Large moons close to orbiting bodies will have lots of tectonic stress and volcanic activity. This can be seen in the moons of Jupiter and Saturn, and offer an energy source independant of the sun (very handy when you that far out). Planets and bodies with high masses and densities close to each other will have massive tidal anomalies, and may even tear apart.


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HannSolon
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Waoo! I really inpresed whit the work what its made in the Pioneer 🙂 Btw, im a old veteran in Elite2 : Frontier , and i was so surpraised when i find that its working on a modern version of it:) I hope that the programers whill finish the game in a short time ,becos i m so ecsited to try it.... ah, the gloryos days of Elite2 Frontier, shall come again 🙂 Keep the good work,ppl ... and make us space flyers ,proud 🙂


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GUNSMIF
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well said Hann!!! 🙂


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s2odan
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This is shaping up to be pretty amazing 🙂

Heres some cool places I have been to:

I can already sit and spend hours playing this and its not even finished 🙂


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Stardreamer
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Quote:
City in a Valley

😮

I frakkin' LOVE this game!!!

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I can already sit and spend hours playing this and its not even finished

So can I! 😀


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