Game Design, Programming and running a one-man games business…

Alpha, Warping in and firing arcs

Ok lots to say.

Firstly, I’m declaring GSB is at a very early alpha, and I’m currently putting together a build for some people I know to take a look at. This isn’t an open beta or pre-order yet, that;’s a while off. The music isn’t even done yet, so be patient :D. This is quite a milestone tor each though.

Secondly, I decided against firing arcs. I thought about it all morning, typed up all the pros and cons. I can see the pros, but he cons are a combination of aesthetics, AI issues, and complexity. GSB is not meant to be as hardcore as Starfleet command, so I’m wary of overcomplicating it. Also, firing arcs would mean an order of magnitude more decisions for the Ai commanders of each ship. Also, it would mean that the ships were constantly banking from one angle to another to get shots in. I prefer the look of the Revenge of the Sith or Return of the jedi style battles, with big, almost stationary cruisers blasting away at each other. Feel free to change my mind though.

Thirdly, I added this sort of warp-effect intro thing to each battle. The camera pans across your fleet as they arrive on scene. Video below: (as you can see some battles have BIG fleets. Are you SURE you want more complexity per-ship? L:D)

19 thoughts on Alpha, Warping in and firing arcs

  1. it’s suggestive (to me) of star-trek style warping, but seems odd. i think it’s because the ships just slide in where i’m expecting them to appear as a line, then expand out to the full ship.. if that makes any sense?

    either that, or accentuate the speed variance (very fast initially with a very steep deceleration)?

    could there also be a bit of randomness in the timing as they come on screen?

  2. Very nice! I would even go as far as to say totally awesome!!! :D
    I think you’re right about the firing arcs. There’s something a little more… now what’s the word?… Gratuitous!… about ships pounding each other into dust instead of behaving like space fighters.

    BTW, how moddable is the game likely to be? Will it just be a case of adding new ships and/or weapons or will we be able to change the game mechanics as well? While I’m on the subject of mods, will you have a system where the game reads just one mods folder for extra files or will we have the ability to switch between different modifications like in Mount & Blade, Crysis, Fallout 3, etc?
    I know it’s probably a little early to be thinking about that so don’t worry if you haven’t thought about that yet.

  3. Oh it’s never too early to think about mods. The problem with modding mechanics is that means basing the mechanics on a scripting system and scripting is slow with vast numbers of units. However, there is quite a bit of data exposed to modders for different weapons which should enable people to come up with a ton of stuff.
    I know what you mean about modding folders. ideally such things would be togglable, so you could just switch an entire directory structure of modded files on and off. I love games that do that, and I would love to get that working for GSB. It’s all on the list!
    I’m hoping that GSB will sell enough for me to continue working on it for some time after the initial release, in which case stuff like this can always be improved upon.

  4. I like it. I understand what Snow means about it being slightly odd, but I think that’s just because it’s very slick and jumping looks ‘clean’. I mean, in Star Trek, warping always looks weird against the void of space, if you ask me. qI think it’ll contrast well to the gratuitous, explosive carnage you’ll see later on.

  5. More randomness to the warping in would be nice as mentioned by snow. Some “effect” other than the apparent fading in would be nice too.

    I can see you point about firing arcs and Star Wars although I would still, personally, prefer limited firing arcs on major weapons allowing for at least some turning. I suppose a lot would depend on just how powerful the largest weapons are.

    I am guessing that you are going for a single shield per ship rather than multiple so again there is no advantage to maneuvering to the rear of the ship.

    Overall, without knowing all the details of how the game will work it is tough to really know if the lack of firing arcs will really detract much. The fact that you have a very large number of ships may make firing arcs unmanageable and therefore pretty pointless given the AI overhead.

    Do ships have the ability to “critically hit” another ship? And if they do how is this implemented?

  6. on firing arcs:

    i can understand your decision about firing arcs, however, i think theres a middle ground that might be doable, and might add to the strategic shipbuilding decisions later…

    instead of having many arbitrary firing arcs, or even a small number of firing quadrants… what if there were just two arcs: 360, and forward-only. the forward-only arcs would be like spinal-mount weapons, the heavy-hitters that fire in exactly one direction, straight ahead.

    perhaps some weapon types would be spinal-mount only. perhaps fitting a standard weapon in a spinal-mount hardpoint allows for a “super-sized” version of that weapon. perhaps a hardpoint could be optionally forward-only or 360, with forward-only allowing a larger variant, or with 360 allowing two small weapons to be slotted in the place of a single larger weapon… im sure theres more/better stuff you could think of, im not familiar with what your design is like so far (i just started following the blog)…

    it seems to me like this wouldnt have the same AI overhead as multiple directional arcs would have, and it would also eliminate the “arc waggle” that you see in games like SFC and others…

    just a thought…

  7. It’s interesting to see someone mention spinal mounts. I remember them well from the traveller P&P RPG, and considered putting them in the game, althought they havent made it in yet.
    I can imagine them as just another module type, very very expensive and heavy with a long reload time and phenomenal damage.

  8. The warp in effect isn’t doing much for me. It feels like the ships are slowly driving into a parking spot, then slamming on the breaks. The line of absolutely static ships scrolling off the top is jarring with the motion below. Existing television shows and and movies are probably setting my expectations, but I doubt I’m the only one. I’d expect really-rapid-entry, followed by sudden and implausible stopping, perhaps running some sort of effect on the ships. (Motion blur? Sparkles? Motion lines behind? Streaking effect where you render the ship 10 times as wide and rapidly compress it back to the correct width as it moves into its destination? Streaking effect only off engine glow? Per ship wormholes appearing and disgorging them?) Or you might go the other way: gradually decreasing in speed so it feels like the inertia of the massive craft matters. Maybe scale the deceleration based on the size of the ship. You might even time it so that the ships are almost, but not quite, stopped when they scroll off the top, eliminating the odd “Why are you parking?” feeling.

    On the other hand, I’m not anticipating paying for the game because I love watching ships fly into a pre-planned formation. I’m looking forward to building cool fleets, then watch stuff, ideally the bad guys stuff, blow up. Your videos of that please me immensely.

    Best of luck with the game!

  9. yeah i played a bit of traveller myself back in the day… as well as my share of SFB… in fact, i still have the original SFB stuff in the ziplock baggie i bought at a con way back when.

    what really made me think of spinal-mount weapons though was Sword of the Stars. i dont know if youve played it before or not, but there are 3 different ship sizes (destroyer, cruser, dreadnought) and 3 ship sections (fore, mission, and aft/engine). some weapons can only be fitted on a certain ship size or better, however, for some weapons you can also mount them on a smaller size by selecting the “spinal mount” mission section. this basically would turn a destroyer into a flying cannon, trading all the hardpoints in the mission section for one big forward-firing gun. this made them fragile, but an interesting strategic option when you consider they were much faster and more nimble than the larger classes, as well as much cheaper to produce and using less command points, allowing more of them to be fielded at once. they could unleash some serious pain in a short period of time.

    SotS also had a few bigger forward-only weapons regardless of ship size, like massive rail cannons firing kinetic slugs, large cutting lasers (think the main gun from starblazers/space battleship yamato), or heavy torpedo/plasma weapons. these usually required a special ship section to employ as well. in each case there was a trade between raw forward-facing damage, and versatility/ability to target faster moving ships/point defense.

    although that might be getting a little too complicated for what youre trying to do with GSB, i dunno…

  10. Oh indeed, this needs tweaking and improving. I know that. I’ve already added some slowdown so its less like sudden stops. I’ve experimenetd with a few fading/blurring effects, but I haven’t got one I like yet. I’m going to give it another try now :D
    This is just graphical fluff, but it’s ncie to have.

  11. I think the best way to make the snapping in look more natural is if the ships enter at a significantly faster rate. They come in far faster and then Snap into prepared stillness. Add a shockwave to the snap-stop and you’ll get a feel almost like orbital drop pods (not the Halo kind, the manly Space Marine kind).

    Also, holy crap at the number of ships per battle.

  12. What if the game pre-calculates the ship’s initial attack course, and follows that speed/path to begin the assault immediately after dropping warp?

    Perhaps ships at the front of the formation should come out of warp first, instead of ships at the top.

  13. Probably a good call with the firing arcs, a lot of things like that look really good on paper but come severly lacking when it comes down to actual gameplay. Simple is always good.

  14. Oooh, spinal mount weapons a la Babylon 5 megabeams would be just fantastic. As you say, phenomenal damage, very high cost, and of course they’d only be mountable on ships that are SLOOOOOOOW to align.

    As to the effect, instead of the static-speed scrolling to the top, how about zooming out to encompass more of the fleet as it arrives? It wouldn’t have to be all of it, but I think it’d add to the “omg lots of ships” effect, too.

  15. Forward firing weapons makes sense (or maybe more is traditional) on fighters too.

    It would be funny to have something like that weapon in babylon 5 (and starwreck) that sucks up so much power the whole ship shuts down for a minute.

  16. Not a fan of the “warp” effect. Personally, I think something more like the new Battlestar Galactica effect would be neater. A bright flash, rapid stop, and maybe a bit of wobbling so it doesn’t look like it’s a perfect, dead stop on a dime.

Comments are currently closed.