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September 19, 2020, 02:06:02 PM

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TIGSource ForumsCommunityDevLogsUniverse Quest - for fans of space exploration and rocket engineering
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vdapps
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« on: August 19, 2020, 08:48:24 AM »

-= Universe Quest =-

aims to be ever-evolving, community driven software with gaming and social elements for fans of rocketry, space exploration and astronomy. The goal of Universe Quest is to have all important missions, events, rockets, engines, launch sites, etc., everything gathered from public sources, on one place, in nice-looking interactive package. Gaming and social elements will be there to keep community even more involved.

Reference audience which Universe Quest will try to appeal are players/users of games/programs like:
Kerbal Space Program, Universe Sandbox, Space Engine, Elite: Dangerous, etc..

Main value of Universe Quest should be its technical and historical accuracy, so it can serve also like nice interactive database for everyone being nerd, enthusiasts or just hobbyist or curious in this area.

Being a big fan of rocketry and space exploration, I'm working on this project as hobby, just 2-3 hours daily, apart of my main job (I'm working on contract on aeronautical navigation SW). I'll try to find funding for this project, so I can focus more time and resources on it.

I made small quiz game previously for all fans of astronomy called Universe Quiz. It was initially made for Windows Phone, later I ported it to Steam and Microsoft Store. Steam version costs something below 2 bucks, with price dropping occasionally when on sale. Windows Store version is possible to download for free (demo) with in-app purchase for full version. You can help with Universe Quest development also by buying or wish-listing Universe Quiz.

Universe Quiz on Steam: https://store.steampowered.com/app/1211100/Universe_Quiz/
Universe Quiz on MS Store: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/p/universe-quiz/9mv40cc14ktg
« Last Edit: August 19, 2020, 10:05:18 AM by vdapps » Logged

vdapps
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« Reply #1 on: August 20, 2020, 07:14:18 AM »

Very early screenshot with visuals just bonkers now. Smiley It's just to present what type of info (among others) Universe Quest will contain.

Wondering how many nerds into it, like me, I'll find. Gentleman

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JobLeonard
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« Reply #2 on: August 20, 2020, 07:16:02 AM »

So the idea is that it's going to be like a gamified Encarta for rocketry?
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vdapps
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« Reply #3 on: August 20, 2020, 07:29:58 AM »

Exactly.

1. Comprehensive encyclopedia / database with focus on rocketry and space exploration, so it can serve good for anyone interested in area.

2. Gaming and social elements, so it's not just boring encyclopedia. I.e. leveling can unlock some stuff which is not important from educational purpose, but it's nice to have and keep involved (rocket models, art, insignia, rank, etc..)

Focus of Universe Quest is mainly on space exploration. Reason is that there were thousands of rocket launches and majority of them just comm sats or secret military sats. I don't want to flood user with that. Focus is what's important from scientific and space exploration perspective.

Example: Thor-Agena rocket has some hundred launches for military Corona reconnaissance program. I'm not placing every launch from that program there, but I will place brief description of Corona program, along with all tech details of Thor-Agena rocket (I don't want to miss any orbital rocket). On the other hand, Pioneer or Mariner programs were purely scientific and space exploration focused. So every one launch from those programs will be there with big focus on detail.
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JobLeonard
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« Reply #4 on: August 20, 2020, 12:21:05 PM »

Quote
Gaming and social elements, so it's not just boring encyclopedia. I.e. leveling can unlock some stuff which is not important from educational purpose, but it's nice to have and keep involved (rocket models, art, insignia, rank, etc..)

I wonder if gamification is truly necessary - maybe a sort-of sandbox is enough? I mean, everyone remembers playing with planetary orbits in Encarta Wink



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Rogod
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« Reply #5 on: August 21, 2020, 02:11:29 AM »

Yea I'm inclined to agree with JobLeonard; the idea of expanding upon a quiz game with unlockables still sounds terribly dull to me - I'd be far more inclined to investigate a really good interactive encyclopedia made for the modern age (like a universe sandbox). There is something to be said for those old CD-rom fore-runners to Wikipedia; the interactivity and "cool visuals" they boasted always helped solidify the concepts for me, even with 90s hardware limitations. (Immediately engaging educational programs that come to mind: 3D Dinosaur Adventure, 3D Human Body, Exploring Civilizations, RedShift, etc.)
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vdapps
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« Reply #6 on: August 21, 2020, 05:23:38 AM »

Thanks for your feedback JobLeonard and Rogod! I really appreciate it and I must say that yeah, you're right with that sand box.

I really not meant 'gaming' like was in 'Universe Quiz' game (which was just very simple principle), but more like 'mini-games' in sand-boxed environment or 'achievements' you can earn (for collectors, completionists). So apart of having space exploration relevant encyclopedic info always at hand from the beginning, you can just spent some time there with something enjoyable. So Universe Sandbox is nice example. In other words, those 'gaming' or 'social' elements will not block you from comprehensive content, will be optional.
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JobLeonard
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« Reply #7 on: August 21, 2020, 06:42:16 AM »

Ah, thanks for the clarification! Minigames to challenge yourself sounds a lot better for sure! Grin
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vdapps
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« Reply #8 on: August 21, 2020, 07:52:44 AM »

Ah, thanks for the clarification! Minigames to challenge yourself sounds a lot better for sure! Grin

Yeah, and that's why I wrote in Universe Quest overview - community driven end ever evolving. Wink I want to listen to feedback from community to see what has positive feedback. 'Gaming', 'achievements' and 'social' elements can change direction more freely, depending on feedback from users, at the same time I can still retain its educational and encyclopedic value unchanged (being comprehensive interactive encyclopedia of everything rocketry and space exploration related is my fixed anchor). Smiley
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vdapps
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« Reply #9 on: August 21, 2020, 07:53:59 AM »

Quick visual upgrade. Background is taken from Universe Quiz (it's in fact cropped part of NASA's image of Andromeda galaxy in ultra-violet). Sorry for worse readability, it's just effect of scaling down image to place it here on forum.

Fed Universe Quest with first data. Added all important mission events from 1944 (first time when space was reached with V-2 rocket by nazis, even if reaching space was not their intention I guess), up to year 1959. For now, those are just mission overviews (basic data you can see in table + brief overview text + one image), later I want to be more detailed.

Edit: I still see that I not scaled down image enough so it's still needed to scroll it horizontally. I guess, if I scale enough to fit, it would be unreadable completely. Roll Eyes

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vdapps
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« Reply #10 on: August 22, 2020, 03:37:09 PM »

Quick small update: implemented sorting capability for all columns, ascending/descending. If 2 values in sort column are the same, 2nd sorting parameter is always 'Launch date' (to keep things in chronological order per sort group).

And attaching picture of my notebook, which I use to write down tasks, notes, priorities, etc. Can't imagine better one. Smiley




« Last Edit: August 22, 2020, 03:46:15 PM by vdapps » Logged

JobLeonard
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« Reply #11 on: August 22, 2020, 10:57:58 PM »

Ah, the joys of sorting! And that's cute notebook, very on-brand Wink
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Sp1ke
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« Reply #12 on: August 23, 2020, 12:30:39 AM »

As title suggests it is for fans of space exploration and rocket engineering.
Sounds promising and it may be one of kind game, but I'm not sure about whole encyklopedia thing.
Maybe it would be better to concentrate and polish rocket engineering?
It could be some kind of game where you program a track of spaceship through solar system using gravity force of planets to gain speed or to loose it and complete mission by find yourself in the place where you should be.
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vdapps
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« Reply #13 on: August 25, 2020, 02:04:39 AM »

As title suggests it is for fans of space exploration and rocket engineering.
Sounds promising and it may be one of kind game, but I'm not sure about whole encyklopedia thing.
Maybe it would be better to concentrate and polish rocket engineering?
It could be some kind of game where you program a track of spaceship through solar system using gravity force of planets to gain speed or to loose it and complete mission by find yourself in the place where you should be.

Hi, thx for feedback! In fact, this encyclopedic/educational value is something which I consider as fixed anchor and gaming/social elements are something which I plan to have more 'community driven' (will be adapted to what players will like most). However, I don't know how many users/players will value this educational content. It's not like I'm super confident, that it'll be super-duper, having such encyclopedia at hand. It's my personal involvement which drives this encyclopedic part.

Idea behind is that I was not able to find any modern SW doing that. There are lot of groups around FB, or Discord channels, full of aficionados sharing everything from first Sputnik to last SpaceX. But if you want everything related to rocketry and space exploration you just have to search wiki or google, but hard to find something where you have everything relevant under one solid package.

So I'm trying to fill this gap. If response from community will be weak, I'll not continue. However, I'm going to challenge that, and I'll want to offer it to both space/rocketry fans but also to players (like fans of KSP, Universe Sandbox, Space Engine, etc..)
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vdapps
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« Reply #14 on: September 02, 2020, 06:09:15 AM »

Added wonky main menu. It will expand with more features added, visuals will change as well.

Now working hardly on tables factorization as missions table shown on previous screenshots was bit awkwardly coded (columns were hand-edited in editor, rows were spawned programmatically). As Universe Quest will contain lot of info, I need proper, robust, tables management.

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Sp1ke
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« Reply #15 on: September 02, 2020, 08:22:06 AM »

As title suggests it is for fans of space exploration and rocket engineering.
Sounds promising and it may be one of kind game, but I'm not sure about whole encyklopedia thing.
Maybe it would be better to concentrate and polish rocket engineering?
It could be some kind of game where you program a track of spaceship through solar system using gravity force of planets to gain speed or to loose it and complete mission by find yourself in the place where you should be.

Hi, thx for feedback! In fact, this encyclopedic/educational value is something which I consider as fixed anchor and gaming/social elements are something which I plan to have more 'community driven' (will be adapted to what players will like most). However, I don't know how many users/players will value this educational content. It's not like I'm super confident, that it'll be super-duper, having such encyclopedia at hand. It's my personal involvement which drives this encyclopedic part.

Idea behind is that I was not able to find any modern SW doing that. There are lot of groups around FB, or Discord channels, full of aficionados sharing everything from first Sputnik to last SpaceX. But if you want everything related to rocketry and space exploration you just have to search wiki or google, but hard to find something where you have everything relevant under one solid package.

So I'm trying to fill this gap. If response from community will be weak, I'll not continue. However, I'm going to challenge that, and I'll want to offer it to both space/rocketry fans but also to players (like fans of KSP, Universe Sandbox, Space Engine, etc..)

I also love cosmology, rocket science and current state and as a fan of science fiction future travel in space. But when I started my project which was about a clash of theory of Relativity with quantum mechanics I knew I must be very careful not to clutter gameplay with too much of technical detail. Problem was that very simplistic nature of this two
theories had to be explained to gamer to fully understand ending. When some testers played and read documentary they muttered something like this: "will it be on a test?" Even after finish I don't know if I succeeded. Maybe I should make an encyclopedia too, but I doubt that ordinary casual gamer would feel need to check some unknown term. They usually want to gain knowledge in subtle low doses which do not hamper flow of the game.
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vdapps
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« Reply #16 on: September 02, 2020, 02:04:56 PM »

Totally agree to be careful to not drown player in overhaul of data and scientific mumbo jumbo. In your case it was even more difficult, it's hard-core physics. In my case it'll be more like for collectionists. Complete sets of relevant space exploration missions and orbital rockets at hand, so it will have also this educational / encyclopedic value. But of course I don't want to compromise gaming part as I realize that having only data and nothing more will not suffice to drag many users into UQ.
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vdapps
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« Reply #17 on: September 10, 2020, 09:53:19 AM »

Done with tables factorization. Previously, 'Missions' table was bit hard-coded (columns were hard-coded, rows were spawned from data file, sorting were just custom callbacks with full table re-creation).

Once I wanted to place new 'Rockets' table, I realized that it'll be far more effective to develop new 'GuiTable' element for my editor, which will generate everything from some simple input description data (generate columns, rows, auto compute sizes, support for scroll, sorting, with custom callbacks for clicks or hovering over elements).

So, I migrated 'Missions' to new table and started filling 'Rockets' table. Here's small screenshot.

Btw, which you like more? Old black background or rather blue background for tables and texts ? (this blue reminds me a bit BSOD, but it's easier to read text on it IMO Smiley)

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vdapps
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« Reply #18 on: September 14, 2020, 01:12:57 PM »

Filled 'Rockets' table with everything important suborbital / orbital up to 1959 to have some first initial seed of data. So, I have there all important missions and rockets starting from first space launch (V-2 in 1944) up to end of 50-ties.

It's slow work, as to be historically and technically precise, one must  do lot of research, many times double-check / cross-check several sources. I had days when after 4 hours, I had just 5 new entries in table. Screamy

I did some brainstorming about streamlining my work. On the one side, there's feeding Universe Quest with data, which takes lot of time, on the other side, also I need to progress with engine (so it can slowly but steadily look better). To all of that, I want to resume my backup project RTG, even if on smaller scale. If I can keep steady 4hours per day for development, with good schedule it should be possible. Ufff.

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JobLeonard
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« Reply #19 on: September 14, 2020, 11:38:16 PM »

Ouch, that doesn't sound like it will scale for a one-man team, no WTF

Any ideas how you're going to handle it?
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