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TIGSource ForumsCommunityJams & EventsCompetitionsOld CompetitionsCockpit CompetitionHard Aether [FINISHED]
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nihilocrat
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« Reply #20 on: March 09, 2009, 06:59:23 AM »

Thanks, I think I could achieve that effect by either adding another particle system at the ignition point, or having the system adjust its emission rate / eccentricity at launch-time.

The sad part is, this isn't going to work the same once the ship is travelling at 10 km/s, since the system basically just drops (non-moving) particles in its wake. I need to figure out a way to tell the system to emit all its particles at a velocity relative to the ship's velocity. It's probably easier than I think, but I just worry like this.

Still, I'm very grateful for OGRE's particle system. It's pretty easy to understand and work with, and produces pretty results with very little effort.
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« Reply #21 on: March 09, 2009, 07:08:18 AM »

hummm,. in ZGE I would just have the particle system rendered by the ship model and keep it relative to its position,. but that is a whole other system eh.
also, I often just ignore the built in partical system when I cant figure how to get it to do what I want,. and use simple objects I create,. if they are just billboorded sprites w/ no collitions you should not loose much performace,. and then you have full control of how they behave. you could then just add some amount of the ships movement to the parts as they spawn,. .
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« Reply #22 on: March 11, 2009, 08:08:09 AM »

This is my procrastination tool of choice:


However, I did get around to getting some rudimentary controls in place. Going to try and get it so that you can at least pilot the ship from the cockpit and fire missiles directly in front of you, though the cockpit currently won't display anything.
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« Reply #23 on: March 11, 2009, 03:07:17 PM »

Love the idea - there's not enough HardSF games out there, just a bunch of arcade-shooters set in space.

Can't wait to try this one out!
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« Reply #24 on: March 12, 2009, 07:50:29 PM »

YSBC-309 "Guardian III" Prototype Battlecruiser
Manned flight Test Report
================================================


Shot at 2309-03-12 03:24:13

Test Result: SUCCESS

Comments: Pilot was able to control the craft using raw direct-control methods. Pilot could freely move head to view the entire cockpit (accounts for skewed angle of attached image) due to improved design command chair that has proven 42% less obstructive than previous models, leading to a projected 15% improvement in situational awareness and 21% improvement in pilot morale. Pilot was able to arm and fire two unarmed XRSSM-9 missiles at mothballed Republic spacecraft.

Advisement: Increase priority on XRSSM-9 warhead detonation testing. Proceed with installation and testing of physical control interfaces. Begin research on preparation of YSBC-309 prototypes for evaulation by other Peace Department divisions.
« Last Edit: March 16, 2009, 09:12:43 AM by nihilocrat » Logged

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« Reply #25 on: March 13, 2009, 10:06:28 PM »

I made some inflight music for the game.

http://nil.cjb.net/music/minimal_aether.ogg

Considering the vaccuum of space, you are only going to hear this and various blips and bloops, along with perhaps some whirring and other ambient noises and an computer voice.

I have half a mind to scrap the bassline and drums and go with just a variation of pad synths like the one it starts off with, because I feel it might fit the mood of the game (spacey and impersonal and lonely) better.

I have py2exe creating binaries of the game, so after a few more features, perhaps including said computer voice, I will post a techdemo.
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« Reply #26 on: March 16, 2009, 06:28:24 AM »

the sad thing is that this will probably be the most hardware intensive thing I've ever run on my computer.
also particles Epileptic
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« Reply #27 on: March 16, 2009, 09:05:55 AM »

the sad thing is that this will probably be the most hardware intensive thing I've ever run on my computer.
also particles Epileptic

Hopefully you won't have to worry. During development, I will be hugely biased... I was able to buy one of those rice-burning gaming rigs (Dell XPS 710) from work for a fraction of its original cost, so it is bad news for anyone else if my framerate is 60 fps. In the closing days of the compo I will try to keep it real and play the game on older hardware I have lying around at home, and pray that it runs well. It's a little sad that removing textures, keeping poly count low, etc., really doesn't give you a big performance boost since graphics cards are purpose-made to draw tons of textured polys to the screen. You get a bigger speedup by lowering the number of batches sent to the card and lowering the amount of CPU processing related to managing graphics (i.e. particle systems).

I wouldn't be too concerned about performance in the game. I will reserve judgment until I get the screens in the cockpit rendering real-time displays, but as for things going on outside the cockpit, you will hardly be able to see any of it, and the particle trails are really just to improve the otherwise boring visual presentation. You can expect to launch a missile or two, see it trail off, and then see a small strobe-light "poof" in the distance. Otherwise, the only other excitement is likely to be your ship's thrust contrails. I'm in the process of implementing that right now, so I will try to fraps it or post a playable demo.

I actually have a reqeust for some advice now...

I was planning to make the game all about firing and intercepting missiles in time, such that you wouldn't want to engage too many enemies or you wouldn't be able to shoot down all incoming missiles with your laser. This is still going to be true, but I think it might be sort of boring if you can easily see all the enemies in the area and they can just as easily see you. They could also shoot down your missiles, so you'd probably have to just shoot enough of them that they couldn't intercept them all. It's bad to evaluate the fun of something before you've even playtested it, but I feel this might get boring or repetitive too quickly.

I think an easy way to improve gameplay would be to complicate the radar of the game by introducing 'active' and 'passive' modes. When in Active mode, your radar range is very long, and you can see absolutely anything in that area. This also means, however, that anything else can just as easily see you. In passive mode, your range is the same, but over a certain threshhold (a fraction of the total range), you will only see targets that have active mode on. As you'd expect, on enemy radar you no longer show up in the "active" range, but instead only in the "passive" range, where you can see them as well. Missile guidance systems, however, are always in active mode, so you would always be able to see missiles, but if you aren't careful they will be launched too close to you for you to be able to react.

I could simplify this even further, and give the game a vaguely "sub hunt" feel by keeping it in passive mode all the time, but letting you send out active "pings", since in practice you will probably want to be doing this anyways. The "Earthsiege" series of mech combat games have this active/passive difference and I felt it was a fun element in those games.

From a sci-fi perspective, it is actually probably harder to spot ships in space than you'd think. When targets are thousands of kilometers away, only about 300m long, and could be in any direction you could plot on a sphere, the area of that sphere's surface you have to scan is enormous. However, ships are most likely going to stick out as hotspots of radiation and reflected light on a background of cold, dark void. I could balance out both of these theories by assuming that at a certain distance, ships are pretty easy to spot from the various waves they emit/reflect, but farther than that it becomes much harder and you'd need to start shooting out waves to see what reflects back.

Anyways, I will get back to the more pressing matters of actually getting stuff to explode and the screens to display stuff. I think I've actually got a method that will work, but I've got to wrestle more with render-to-texture since my first attempts have failed miserably.
« Last Edit: March 16, 2009, 09:10:23 AM by nihilocrat » Logged

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« Reply #28 on: March 16, 2009, 11:11:43 AM »

coolio
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« Reply #29 on: March 16, 2009, 11:38:46 AM »

From a sci-fi perspective, it is actually probably harder to spot ships in space than you'd think. When targets are thousands of kilometers away, only about 300m long, and could be in any direction you could plot on a sphere, the area of that sphere's surface you have to scan is enormous. However, ships are most likely going to stick out as hotspots of radiation and reflected light on a background of cold, dark void. I could balance out both of these theories by assuming that at a certain distance, ships are pretty easy to spot from the various waves they emit/reflect, but farther than that it becomes much harder and you'd need to start shooting out waves to see what reflects back.

From a hard-core sci-fi perspective the active and passive sonar analogy is probably irrelevant. You wouldn't obtain contacts in deep space by emitting energy and reading reflections, unless on distances you already have other detection means for. Rather, speculative technologies like exotic matter detection from ship engines and gravitational anomalies would be looked for, or simply optical scans of blotted-out background stars.

However, I suppose you could posit ejecting some exotic particles ("Bogotrons"?) that react in a measurable way with other exotic particles, the presence of which are inescapable in luminar/warp/vogon drives, thus having the same effect as a ping.
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« Reply #30 on: March 16, 2009, 11:51:28 AM »

The serious sci-fi stuff I've read on space war suggests that it's easy to spot things in space, since anything with any kind of power plant in it will give off heat radiation that you can pick up across the solar system. It makes it sound depressingly boring.

Link: http://www.projectrho.com/rocket/rocket3w.html#nostealth
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« Reply #31 on: March 16, 2009, 01:03:49 PM »

The serious sci-fi stuff I've read on space war suggests that it's easy to spot things in space, since anything with any kind of power plant in it will give off heat radiation that you can pick up across the solar system. It makes it sound depressingly boring.

Link: http://www.projectrho.com/rocket/rocket3w.html#nostealth

Yeah, sounds dull. However, heat radiation is energy and all energy takes time to travel. Remember that our solar system is rather large, the distance to Pluto is 19448.5 light seconds, therefore, (1) you will always be observing an historical record, and (2) your measures (weapons) will need time to travel to the target. So if your ships are capable of at least somewhat relativistic speeds (and manoeuvres while so) then the situation is much more complicated again. If you CAN'T adjust your bearing or delta-V quickly though then these historical records constitutes a trail that will predict your future position with some certainty and probably spell your doom. This might actually make for a rather interesting game in itself Smiley
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« Reply #32 on: March 16, 2009, 04:44:10 PM »

I was betting on three factors to make stuff a little more interesting:

a) The game will only take place in the Earth-Moon system, or perhaps Mars-Phobos/Diemos system, so the distances aren't as gigantic, but there's still a good deal of space.

b) There isn't a lot of air to get in the way of explosions, so the blast radii of nuclear explosions are really big. I have scoured through declassified reports of the Starfish Prime nuclear test (the biggest nuclear bomb exploded in an environment most similar to space; in the upper atmosphere), but I couldn't actually find a clear report of the blast radius. I am going to wing it and figure the blast radius (that is, radius of stuff which is going to immediately going to be destroyed) of a 1 Megaton warhead is going to be about 10-30km, though I heard conjecture that the "effects" are seen as far as 100km away. I will adjust it for the sake of whatever looks prettier / is more fun to play against. This means that missiles can miss you by about this many kilometers and still detonate and kill you, and vice versa.

c) I am going to either make the simulation timestep adjustable, or have it accelerated at a fixed rate such that, well, stuff happens quicker.

It would be even more fun if I could completely ignore the effects of inertia on the human body, and thus let you accelerate at very high rates, but I think that would be going too far outside "hard" for the sake of "fun".

edit: Also, thanks for the link! I don't know how I passed such a useful resource up!
« Last Edit: March 17, 2009, 11:11:03 AM by nihilocrat » Logged

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« Reply #33 on: March 16, 2009, 04:55:03 PM »

I've been doing a lot of thinking about sci-fi sensors recently (for a project which is proceeding much too slowly for this compo) and wondered if you could get interesting gameplay from having a fixed number of sensors.

If you think about scan/track radar in missiles and the like, you have a wide area/low accuracy scan radar which picks up contacts by sweeping around the search space. When a contact is designated it gets assigned to a (maybe turreted) narrow area/high accuracy track radar which can handle stuff like fire control. If you only have N track radars, you have to decide which contacts you're going to engage, or even which contacts you can get good data on.

I also think that having gravimetrics or something spacey which you can't hide from is a good call - say it gives you no data, but an indication that there's "something this heavy over there" so you aren't able to completely surprise the player - unless you hide inside the signature of a more massive object, for example Smiley

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« Reply #34 on: March 17, 2009, 04:17:52 AM »

b) There isn't a lot of air to get in the way of explosions, so the blast radii of nuclear explosions are really big. I have scoured through declassified reports of the Starfish Prime nuclear test (the biggest nuclear bomb exploded in an environment most similar to space; in the upper atmosphere), but I couldn't actually find a clear report of the blast radius. I am going to wing it and figure the blast radius (that is, radius of stuff which is going to immediately going to be destroyed) of a 1 Megaton warhead is going to be about 10-30km, though I heard conjecture that the "effects" are seen as far as 100km away. I will adjust it for the sake of whatever looks prettier / is more fun to play against. This means that missiles can miss you by about this many kilometers and still detonate and kill you, and vice versa.

Sorry to bring rain on your parade but for your intents you'll probably have to ditch adherence to realistic physics. Nuclear bombs are actually quite useless in space. Their main destructive power comes from heat, radiation and pressure, and heat and radiation dissipates rapidly (law of inverse square) and are thus only relevant in very close ranges, and there is no pressure beyond the fission mass brought in the bomb (at most some hundreds of kilos) unless the bomb actually detonates more or less on top of something. So for a kilometer-plus-radius effect you'll have to invent some sci-fi bomb, like a singularity projector or whathaveya.

I also think that having gravimetrics or something spacey which you can't hide from is a good call - say it gives you no data, but an indication that there's "something this heavy over there" so you aren't able to completely surprise the player - unless you hide inside the signature of a more massive object, for example Smiley

If you have tech advanced enough to measure gravimetric shifts (reading gravitorns) then you'd likely be able to detect even relatively minute anomalies to known gravity wells, unless you hide in another planet, and they you're probably too far away to matter.
« Last Edit: March 17, 2009, 04:21:32 AM by Mikademus » Logged

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« Reply #35 on: March 17, 2009, 11:44:31 AM »

I might hand-wavingly reclassify the nukes as fragmentation missiles or otherwise seeking kintetic weapons of some sort, because a whole lot of kinetic energy is gained simply because the relative velocity of a missile and its target are probably going to be huge if the target is not actively running away from the missile. Thanks to the limited acceleration of manned spaceships (I will assume that with some anti-G-force technology we can get a properly-trained human to survive 10G of constant acceleration, since we can already get them to survive about that much for short periods of time) and the vast distances to cover (and thus incentive to travel quickly), it will be hard to drastically change velocity with short notice. If the ship isn't already in some sort of "defensive" velocity (not moving or moving away relative from the aggressor) then it's in a dangerous situation; this might end up playing a big role in the gameplay.

I was actually contemplating having the player's craft be unmanned, but thought it would fit the cockpit concept better if it were manned. In all seriousness, it is much more likely we will see any ship-to-ship space warfare be fought by robotic spacecraft.

One way or the other, I figure 90% of hard sci-fi weapons are one-hit-kill affairs, so the gameplay will have to follow that model.

Thanks for the sci-fi discussion, I am not very educated in physics so it helps to be told this stuff. Of course, if we discover something that completely flies in the face of what I was planning (like the nuke thing, I probably should have known all the force is really from the air getting pushed around) I will probably just hand-wave in the interest of actually getting the game done.
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« Reply #36 on: March 17, 2009, 12:48:27 PM »

laser sail?
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« Reply #37 on: March 18, 2009, 03:23:47 AM »

Thanks for the sci-fi discussion, I am not very educated in physics so it helps to be told this stuff. Of course, if we discover something that completely flies in the face of what I was planning (like the nuke thing, I probably should have known all the force is really from the air getting pushed around) I will probably just hand-wave in the interest of actually getting the game done.

Yeah, the main use of knowledge of physics in game design is basically just to be able to know where to invent stuff. The worst kind of fans are those that will send you endless communications of how you've misunderstood physics/evolutionary biology/Vedic poetry/bloody interior design Grin
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« Reply #38 on: March 18, 2009, 08:11:21 AM »

I might hand-wavingly reclassify the nukes as fragmentation missiles or otherwise seeking kintetic weapons of some sort, because a whole lot of kinetic energy is gained simply because the relative velocity of a missile and its target are probably going to be huge if the target is not actively running away from the missile.

Double-posting because I thought of a good solution Smiley A nuke in itself might not be very useful in space, but imagine micropellets of a low-fissionable super-heavy isotope (I don't know if depleted Uranium qualifies) set off by a pre-flash a microsecond before the primary nuclear explosion, which propels the pellets to low-relativistic speeds. You'd in effect have a nuclear-powered claymore mine, and if your direct the direction of the explosion you could have the most bad-ass space shotgun ever devised within normal physics :D
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« Reply #39 on: March 18, 2009, 08:44:56 AM »

micropellets of a low-fissionable super-heavy isotope (I don't know if depleted Uranium qualifies) set off by a pre-flash a microsecond before the primary nuclear explosion, which propels the pellets to low-relativistic speeds.

That's an awesome idea, partially because it lets me insert even more jargon into the game universe. "Microfission pellet cluster shaped-charge nuclear warhead".

Also, I presume the micropellets will vaporize, so an ecologically responsible military (ahahahaha) won't have to worry about leaving tons of very dangerous space junk (fragmentation micrometeorites) around for civilians to run into.

Still wrestling with getting the displays to work, I'll soon look into at least getting the interfaces to render in their own little scenes, and then go back to the render-to-texture problem. I also realized how big of a pain doing my own slerping is; for the sake of getting the AI to operate properly, and to help the player out a bit, I will introduce a 'plane of reference' to the radar and helm systems. Technically there is no "up" in space, but I can just make up an "up" (and thus a plane of reference) which sensibly would be used by future pilots to keep themselves from confusing themselves.

I've been promising a demo involving missiles that explode, but I've got to get all the pieces underneath running, and like any programming venture it's wrought with lots of fiddling with code and having barely anything to show after many hours of frustration.
« Last Edit: March 18, 2009, 08:53:14 AM by nihilocrat » Logged

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