Working Name: Project Micron

It's been a long time since I last had a dev topic on this forum. I've been working on this current project for several months in secrecy, more or less, but after I made that topic about the nova TCs, I decided I'd go public about my current project.

The goal of this project is to make gameplay interesting and hard in ways it wasn't in Nova. The first way is exploration. In Nova, the systems are generally fairly empty; you fly in, you visit the one planet dead center in the middle of the system, then you leave. It's even worse when you have to go through scads of totally empty systems to get to your destination; it makes traveling deadly boring.

To address this first thing, I have situated the entire total conversion within a single syst resource. And no, it's not a Teacup TC; it's intended to be a fully featured total conversion. So far, it has 14 planets contained within that single syst resource. They are scattered around pretty widely; navigation will be very difficult, especially considering that you don't start with a radar. If you want a radar, you will have to buy one, and they aren't cheap. To get a reliable one, you'll have to perform mission strings to unlock the more advanced and capable radars. This is going to be far more challenging than navigating in EVN; in fact, if you don't cheat, you could even be forced to make maps to keep track of where the planets are located relative to one another.

The second way is related to combat. I wanted to create a distinct feel to the combat in Project Micron, without needing to wrestle with dozens of ships and tons of outfits. I liked how Josh Tigerheart created his combat system and made it completely distinct, but that particular style didn't appeal to me as much.

After some thought, I decided to base the combat for the TC on resource management. All your energy weapons rely on fuel. All missile weapons are very powerful, but very limited in ammunition. Your engines continuously consume fuel; how fast is determined by the type of engine (a faster engine consumes fuel faster, a slower one takes less fuel). I have carefully balanced the damage to armor to ensure that a ship can only kill so much on one tank of fuel, with its onboard missiles & space mines. This is obviously a totally different approach as from Nova. You can't just fight and fight and fight, you will run out of fuel eventually, and then you're screwed, so you have to be very careful

I'm shooting for a realistic, used future setting, but I'm trying not to make it too depressing. Things aren't perfect in the world, and aren't even particularly civilized at times, but at other times they're better. The world is just what it is. It isn't Star Trek, or Babylon 5. I'm thinking I'll go with a sort of Cowboy Bebop feel to it.

Anyway, that's the grounding. Here's some more specific details;

QUOTE

BACKGROUND:

The interstellar society humanity had forged periodically expanded its borders in order to ensure new markets and new tax subjects, as well as to increase profits for major corporations, ensure the neccesity of increased military spending, and find somewhere for the political and religious undesireables and the independent thinkers to go. This was the principal reason for interstellar colonization.

During the 13th mass expansion period, a plan was drafted to colonize the EV Lacertae system, which could serve as a junction point for travel to a few other nearby solar systems. After initial scans were carried out and surface composition of the two inhabitable planets was checked, arrangements were made to perform the colonization.

The colonies were started by a recruited, then trained population of colonists, mixed with experienced planetformers. These colonists were carried on a series of Colony Ships, equipped with Interstellar Jump Drive. The ships were broken up into their component modules, which were used to contruct shelter for the colonists. The colony ship set out from Eta Cassiopei, arriving at the EV Lacertae system some weeks later in real time, although mere hours passed in jump time.

The worlds, Hermes and Mirinda developed individually, however certain patterns did exist in both. For example, civilization was based around a few small cities, a couple of spaceports, and some outlying settlements devoted to resource extraction or large scale agriculture. The vast majority of the planet's sufaces were to remain untouched. The idea was careful resource utilization, in a gradual and slow expansion. The cities each became their own independent citystates, organizing their own resources and their own settlements.

In terms of military equipment, the colonists posessed simple slugthrower weaponry to use to hunt and nonlethal armament for police actions. In technological terms, they were expected to rely principally on sustainable wind and solar power, due to their low energy requirements. They posessed a small number of electrically powered all terrain vehicles. In terms of space technology, they had the use of a sizeable number of small aerospace shuttles, designed for extremely high fuel efficiency. They had a few satellites in orbit, which enabled communication between cities and colonies.

Unions representing the workers for their citystates were a powerful influence driving the city states into co-operation, as the unions demanded fair and equal working conditions, pay, and treatment for all of their people, across the board, from all the cities. They were vocal in their representation of the people, and ultimately they were able to secure agreements with all the factions.

This new co-operation enabled the citystates to achieve things they couldn't do realistically by themselves. Some of those things included the replacement of the old, unreliable communications satellites providing the intercity communication grid and planetary overwatch. They were able to contruct facilities for the stored aerospace shuttlecraft that came with their colony ships originally and perform the repairs, and from there things accellerated naturally. Each planet ultimately found itself at work on space stations, and they ended up making contact.

Diplomatically, Hermes had always had more trouble with crime and violence because it ended up with a more religiously, racially and ideologically diverse population. This caused friction, which caused occasional violence. Hermes had always had a strong police arm. Mirinda had less problems, mainly because the population was fairly homogenous in comparison, but also because they tended to occupy their time fully with work of one kind or another, but the Hermes populace had plenty of time to think about their situations and sometimes come to unsatisfying conclusions. In summary, violence was a part of life on Hermes. This wasn't as much the case for the Mirindans.

The new operations in space each faction pursued ensured they encountered one another often, and they had a chance to build a picture of one another. The Hermes came to conclude the Mirindans were lazy, soft, and easily offended. The Mirindans came to conclude the Hermes were harsh, fatalistic, and unnervingly different. It wasn't a perfect first contact, but it was civil enough.

The realization of just how much they could get from space without needing to perform damaging mining on their planet surfaces, as well as the amount of industry that could be performed in space to minimize potential difficulties. This was coupled by the realization that either planet alone might make discoveries and not share them with the other planet. Ideally, joint operation would prevent this and ensure they all benefited from the expansion. This ultimately led to the creation of the Union.

Joint expansion also was reinforced later for various other reasons. The markets in space travel were massive. Resources that were shipped in or out were extremely valuable wherever they were going. These markets were served with increasingly industralized operations, operated by large Union subsidies such as Union Shipping or Union Mining. These elements made it worthwhile for the two planets to work in co-operation rather than operate individually.

Independed captains and operators became less important in some sectors, and some of them became angry at the loss of their livelihood and chose a new way of life; Piracy. The pirates used armed spacecraft to steal what they once produced. To protect the trade lanes from piracy, the Union created a space combat arm called the Union Space Police.

The spacecraft at that time were fairly primitive, designed with rotational gravity on the larger freighters and drives on either end. The smaller light freight vessels were fairly fragile, but could be equipped with weaponry originally designed for asteroid mining. Repurposed, this weaponry could deal heavy damage on impact, even if it did consume fuel to fire. The range was short, neccesitating the attacker to be fairly close, and giving the defender a good opportunity to fight back. A freighter was a sitting duck, basically incapable of defending itself due to the strict fuel requirements it had to accellerate and deccellerate, therefore the Union Space Police began escorting the freighters personally.

As always, conflict drove technology. The pirates had no intention of going away, and the police were determined to wipe them out. Warships were built for the U-POL forces, and new weaponry was developed. The new ships were fast, armored, equipped with high power engines, equipped with heavy main guns and, with time, high yield seeking missiles, with powerful heptanitrocubane warheads.

The pirates did not fall too far behind. Although they were not much for research and development, they were able to steal technology, ships, and systems and repurpose them. Over time, the pirates became more and more experienced at hacking together new kinds of ships and equipment from disparate parts, and a sort of standard pirate vessel became common. In appearance they did not much resemble each other, however their firepower capabilties and handling were similar due to the generalized needs of a pirate captain.

The frontier worlds were colonized during these early days of the pirate wars, when prospector shuttles returned with evidence that the nearest planetoids had much in the way of valuable materials on them to be mined and shipped back to the Union. The knowledge that that mining could be done on a colony established on one of those colonies made Asteroid Mining undesireable, due to its increased danger, and a plan was made to transport colonists to the frontier and establish mining colonies. The abandoned deep space mining platform beyond the frontier was reopened by the pirates after the Union abandoned it, and renamed Buccaneer.

Pirates harassed the ships headed to the frontier, seeking to rob them even with the colonist's police escort, however the ships made it all the same. The ships to be used were heavily modified Freighters, designed to land and function as habitation until permanent shelter could be established. The colonists were mostly former miners from the core worlds, promised far superior rewards for frontier mining.

Piracy at the time of those early days was strictly business; the captains engaged in it were just doing it for their livelyhood. They weren't neccesarily evil or cruel, even if they were robbers, and didn't deliberately mistreat their hostages. However, as time passed, piracy quickly became a popular option for harsher people as well. They weren't just interested in livelyhood, they wanted the feeling of power over others they got from piracy. They desired to create pain and suffering-they enjoyed it. They were cruel men, and they remade the face of organized piracy in their image.

To combat piracy, which was principally an economic problem in nature, the Union cut back on the use of heavy industrialization in shipping, to recreate a place for the independent ship owner. Independent asteroid mining and freight carrying was preserved by saying it is illegal for a company to personally own more than a certain number of ships carrying cargo, mainly applying to the Union Shipping Corporation. This required that the USC hire out, subcontracting shipping jobs to independent contractors who handled their excess shipping demand. This mechanism was put in place to protect the independent ship owner, where no such mechanism was in place before.

They then offered conditional amnesty for any pirate captain willing to turn himself, his crew, and his ship over. They had the chance to start a new life in the job they had performed before they turned to piracy, albeit while being watched closely by Union officials and police. Many older pirates took the opportunity. The newer pirates scorned the offer. The new breed of pirates were more interested in their own newfound power, and didn't intend to give it up at any price. This began a new, cruel chapter in the Pirate Wars.

With this new mechanism in place to protect the independent ship owner, the number of said individuals increased dramatically. New license requirements were instated by law to ensure that they were properly trained by reputable authorities. Specifically, a captain must possess proof that he is qualified to operate a spacecraft commercially. Proof constitutes a Commercial Pilot License from the Union Academy of Space Education. There is no non-commercial form of operator license, mainly because there is no non-commercial use of a spacecraft. It is possible to acquire an Aerospace Vehicle License, which allows you to operate and fly vehicles which are designed for limited orbital operation, but are still basically aircraft and are incapable of space flight. Operation of spacecraft weaponry requires a separate, special licensing procedure, involving a background check and interview with a U-POL investigator.

The current date is the year 453 Colony Time. The new pirate wars are in full swing, and the Police have had time to grow jaded. This is the world we live in. It's tough, but it can be good too, so it's not all bad. We'll get by, as we always have.

FACTIONS:

The Union: The largest, most powerful faction in the solar system. It is not a perfect government, but it works. It controls the two main worlds of Mirinda and Hermes, as well as the colonial worlds of Lakota, New Riu, and Fargone. It has orbiting space stations in space around the two core worlds, which serve as construction facilities as well as Union bases. There are several subsidies and subdivisions of the Union, as listed below;

The Union Space Police: The Union Space Police, or U-POL, is the military arm of the Union. Their principal purpose is protection of the trade lanes and destruction of pirate vessels wherever they can be found. However, they have become less focused of late. The Union has taken to employing them against any organized crime threat rather than using the appropriate groups, which is not how the U-POL are suppose to work.

Operating as a U-POL pilot is enormously stressful, and not all of them are able to handle it. It is common for U-POL personnel to view anything not U-POL suspiciously, as a potential threat, including the civillians they are suppose to be protecting. U-POL recruit new captains in a pretty simple way; if you can do the job, follow orders, and keep out of trouble, they don't care about your past. As far as they are concerned, you could have been a criminal, and as long as you weren't a pirate they won't care. They have a terrible time recruiting new personnel, so they accept those willing to join up with little analysis.

Union Shipping: Union Shipping do most of the heavy duty freight transport in the Union, however they have been restricted by law to a certain number of cargo vessels. They are required to make up the rest of their contracts by subcontracting. Union Shipping pays its own captains much better than independent operatiors, though, so they get their revenge against the system in a fashion, as many people would very much like to become a Union Shipping operator.

Union Shipping takes care to ensure the nature of any cargo they contract to ship, as well as ensuring all the papers are in order, even if they aren't (if you get my meaning). Certain cargo is flagged to go to trusted Union Shipping captains, to ensure discretion.

Union Mining: Union Mining is a less significant part of the Union, which mainly concerns itself with running mining operations on the frontier worlds. Most of the colonists on the frontier are employed by Union Mining. The amount of immigration into the frontier from people seeking a new life and willing to work hard ensures that the Union Mining officials are able to pay their employees a low working wage, due to high demand for the job.

The Pirates: The Pirates are a disorganized group of loosely affiliated criminal captains, intent on robbery and murder of their victims. The nature of piracy has changed for the worse since the early days, with the behavior of the group reinforcing the behavior of the individuals.

QUOTE

Ships:

Ship Identification Number:

Company ID-Ship #-Ship Model-Ship Build Date-Ship Owner ID

SS Vasilla
ID USY-121-B-432-JC1124

Aerospace Shuttle

The Aerospace Shuttle is a streamlined and aerodynamic light transport vehicle that is designed to carry cargo down to planets or over to space stations for the base spacecraft that it is based at. It can be used as an interplanetary transport as well. The Aerospace Shuttle is very slow, relying on its booster to attain a reasonable speed, and has limited fuel supplies.

Union Shipyards Class B Courier

The Union Shipyards Class I Courier is a small freight vessel designed to handle light freight transport duties. It functions as a light duty freight vessel. It has fairly low fuel capacity. It isn't designed for self defense, but if the pilot is properly licensed he could convert a forward hard point for use as a weapon mount.

Union Shipyards Class C Cruiser

The Union Shipyards Class FII Cruiser is a large, slow, but powerful ship with durable hull armor. The design is extremely reliable, and features reinforcing plates beneath the main armor. The Cruiser can carry a large amount of cargo, and has hardpoints that can be adapted to carry onboard weapons.

Outreach Shipyards Class E Courier

The Privateer is technically a type of Courier ship, however its real purpose appears entirely separate from cargo transport. While it possesses a cargo bay, it also possesses high power engines, several fuel tanks, thick armor plating, and two weapon mounts. It futhermore has been equipped with equipment hardpoints that can be easily adapted to carry missile racks. The company, Outreach Shipyards, is believed by the Union to be attempting to circumvent Union laws on combat spacecraft by marketing the ship as an armed courier, but there is no direct evidence, and the stock ship does not even come with weapons mounted.

Gunboat

The Union Shipyards Class E Gunboat is a small, fast, well armed warship built for the Union Space Police. It is designed for taking out enemy ships with well planned, fast attacks. It carries a substantial amount of fuel, but has fairly light armor plating.

Gunship

The Union Shipyards Class D Gunship is a heavy duty, high fuel capacity long range operation warship built for the Union Space Police. It is designed to operate far from any outside support and deal heavy damage to any target. The Gunship is a very powerful ship for 1v1 combat, however it can be taken out with a group attack.

Raider

The Pirate Raiders are ships pieced together from many various sources. They have a hodgepodge appearance, but despite this have heavy firepower. They have been known to break down at times due to their haphazard construction, but that's the risk you take for operating such an overpowered ship.

NOTE: Any of this could change at any time. I've got no cool graphics yet, I'm working on the writing, world, missions, etc first (to try to walk my talk, lol). I haven't decided whether or not to post version uploads here periodically also or not, but I'm considering it. Let me know what you think, thanks!

This post has been edited by Shlimazel : 14 September 2010 - 10:01 AM

This is my kind of TC, at least from a developing standpoint. Sounds like <10 landing descriptions required total, with similar creative workload across the board. Still, sounds like you've created enough plot and backstory to have some interesting adventures in store for the player. I've felt that a smaller TC like this would give the dev a much greater ability to effectively use EV's abiliy to change the galactic map through the PC's actions. Same idea with smaller ship menu. Exploration will still be present, and without a radar (I'm guessing via a lot of system interference), I'm imagining almost drawing a treasure map of 'head east for 20seconds from =ermes to reach lakota, then NNE for 16 to reach New Riu.'

I am curious what method you have in mind for having engines that slowly burn down your fuelsupply. Any chance you're planning on using the continuous time progression hack? If so, I have a pet plug that I think you may be interested in. I've toyed around with a similar style of gameplay that was built with an eye towards another game called Transcendence. Basically same major idea you mentioned, but I was able to have the stock Nova energy bar represent a short-term energy available supply (very much like a weapon cooldown), as well as a long-term energy supply that ticked down slowly from special outfits (fuel rods, I believe) bought and and sold at many stations.

Good luck in this.

Werhner

The story is solid and the ships you've described are interesting. Most of how this will work from a programming standpoint makes sense to me, but there is one thing I fear may be tricky to compensate for: the fact you have only one sÿst resource.

I like the idea, don't get me wrong. The possibilities that come with being forced to wander a single system in search of one specific planet (especially out of several that are in the one system) are tantalizing. However, the way all EV games handle spawning new AI ships is through hyperspace at the center of the system. Quite simply, whenever a new AI enters the system, they will seem to jump in out of nowhere. This could be problematic if there's only supposed to be one system. Additionally, they will only show up near the sÿst resource's center, not near other planets elsewhere in the system. Then there's the problem of players coming under attack from pirates. No matter where the player happens to take off from, if they know what direction the center of the system is in, all they need to do is avoid that area and any pirates in the system while take a while to reach them, giving plenty of time to reach various destinations.

The only possible way to solve this I can think of is through invisible missions that spawn certain ships over certain planets. However, that could entail as many as 14 invisible missions. At any one time players are only allowed a maximum of 16 active missions (IIRC), including invisible missions. This leaves only 2 slots for the player's own missions. For the sake of knowledge, I'm curious as to how you plan to overcome this.

This post has been edited by DarthKev : 14 September 2010 - 05:39 AM

QUOTE (Shlimazel @ Sep 13 2010, 06:19 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>

...To address this first thing, I have situated the entire total conversion within a single syst resource. And no, it's not a Teacup TC; it's intended to be a fully featured total conversion. So far, it has 14 planets contained within that single syst resource. They are scattered around pretty widely; navigation will be very difficult, especially considering that you don't start with a radar....

I'm hoping you've addressed the autopilot? And I thought that any system can only have 4 working planets, and the rest are eye candy, do you have multiple copies of one system to address this?

QUOTE (Shlimazel @ Sep 13 2010, 06:19 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>

After some thought, I decided to base the combat for the TC on resource management. All your energy weapons rely on fuel. All missile weapons are very powerful, but very limited in ammunition.

That sounds pretty slick. I've always thought about making a component-based ship system where you lost fuel if you set yourself up incorrectly, and I was really glad that JTH did it in Colosseum.

QUOTE (Werhner @ Sep 14 2010, 01:16 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>

This is my kind of TC, at least from a developing standpoint. Sounds like <10 landing descriptions required total, with similar creative workload across the board. Still, sounds like you've created enough plot and backstory to have some interesting adventures in store for the player. I've felt that a smaller TC like this would give the dev a much greater ability to effectively use EV's abiliy to change the galactic map through the PC's actions. Same idea with smaller ship menu. Exploration will still be present, and without a radar (I'm guessing via a lot of system interference), I'm imagining almost drawing a treasure map of 'head east for 20seconds from =ermes to reach lakota, then NNE for 16 to reach New Riu.'

I am curious what method you have in mind for having engines that slowly burn down your fuelsupply. Any chance you're planning on using the continuous time progression hack? If so, I have a pet plug that I think you may be interested in. I've toyed around with a similar style of gameplay that was built with an eye towards another game called Transcendence. Basically same major idea you mentioned, but I was able to have the stock Nova energy bar represent a short-term energy available supply (very much like a weapon cooldown), as well as a long-term energy supply that ticked down slowly from special outfits (fuel rods, I believe) bought and and sold at many stations.

Good luck in this.

Werhner

I certainly hope so. I've been wrestling with story and plot for a while, trying to craft a more personal mission approach. It's proving difficult, but when I figure it out it should be highly satisfying.

Re treasure map, yes, I'm definitely trying to get the player to do that. It'll be even more dramatic as I introduce more and more shenanigans in the uninhabited worlds, making finding those remote, hard to find worlds necessary, and introduce some special, unknown worlds at the edge of space.

To give credit where it's due, I actually got the method for fuel consumption from Josh Tigerheart's Colosseum. It's pretty simple; all you have to do is make a Fuel Scoop outfit which has a negative number instead of a positive number. Instead of increasing your fuel supply over time, it will actually decrease it. I am very much interested in your idea, however. When you say a long term power supply, is that using crons to switch the player's outfits to decrease their fuel level? If so, that's pretty clever, as you could do all sorts of interesting things to the player when their ship begins to run low on fuel, like give them outfits that tank their movement capabilities. That's one problem with my current method of ship fuel; running out of fuel only means you can't fight, you can still fly just fine. Also, thanks for the well-wishes!

QUOTE (DarthKev @ Sep 14 2010, 06:38 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>

The story is solid and the ships you've described are interesting. Most of how this will work from a programming standpoint makes sense to me, but there is one thing I fear may be tricky to compensate for: the fact you have only one sÿst resource.

I like the idea, don't get me wrong. The possibilities that come with being forced to wander a single system in search of one specific planet (especially out of several that are in the one system) are tantalizing. However, the way all EV games handle spawning new AI ships is through hyperspace at the center of the system. Quite simply, whenever a new AI enters the system, they will seem to jump in out of nowhere. This could be problematic if there's only supposed to be one system. Additionally, they will only show up near the sÿst resource's center, not near other planets elsewhere in the system. Then there's the problem of players coming under attack from pirates. No matter where the player happens to take off from, if they know what direction the center of the system is in, all they need to do is avoid that area and any pirates in the system will take a while to reach them, giving plenty of time to reach various destinations.

The only possible way to solve this I can think of is through invisible missions that spawn certain ships over certain planets. However, that could entail as many as 14 invisible missions. At any one time players are only allowed a maximum of 16 active missions (IIRC), including invisible missions. This leaves only 2 slots for the player's own missions. For the sake of knowledge, I'm curious as to how you plan to overcome this.

Yes, it can be tricky. For the first point, the entry of the ships into the system is mostly masked by the presence of murk, because the ships enter the system at a distance from the center, and generally you won't be hanging around in empty space unless you're totally lost so you aren't likely to see them coming in. For the other, I am using invisible missions to place the pirates in appropriate locations, and they spread out from there. However, I don't actually have to worry about consuming that many missions, because the pirates spawn out from a single location; namely, the pirate station. All I have to do is place a continuously spawning gang of pirates on the pirate space base, and they will head out from there to attack shipping. It does leave things emptier than I'd like, if you get attacked, however, it's going to be scary because there's nowhere you can run. You don't have a hyperdrive to make easy escapes any more. This compensates for the occasional emptiness (which I intend to work on).

One thing that also compensates is the fact that the ships fly between planets in the system. Looking for freight traffic is an important way to orient yourself. I'm trying to coax them into flying between a wider range of planets than they currently do.

QUOTE

I'm hoping you've addressed the autopilot? And I thought that any system can only have 4 working planets, and the rest are eye candy, do you have multiple copies of one system to address this?

No, you can have a maximum of 16 functioning planets in system. I mean functioning as in able to land, get missions, buy ships and goods, etcetera. Is that what you mean? Also, I'm not sure what autopilot you are referring to.

edit

Oh, that autopilot. Well, out of sixteen planets, that autopilot can only direct you to four of them, and one of the ones it directs you to is a pirate base. I don't think it's too bad a problem, although I wouldn't mind if I could disable it somehow.

QUOTE

That sounds pretty slick. I've always thought about making a component-based ship system where you lost fuel if you set yourself up incorrectly, and I was really glad that JTH did it in Colosseum.

It's fun to mess with, yeah. I'm considering expanding to a wider array of components for configuring, but so far I'm finding the Engines to address a lot of what you would want from a component based system (IE, it affects your ship's performance dramatically, and you can adjust your ship's energy demands by switching engine types). One thing I'm doing is that pretty much every outfit you can buy decreases your acceleration and/or handling, so the more stuff you have, the slower you are. Some outfits also affect your rate of fuel expenditure (increase it, mostly).

This post has been edited by Shlimazel : 14 September 2010 - 11:05 AM

QUOTE (Werhner @ Sep 13 2010, 10:16 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>

... and without a radar (I'm guessing via a lot of system interference)...

Actually, I just thought up with an idea to seemingly remove the radar entirely and then give it back via a radar outfit. In-game it would even look like the space where a radar would go is empty until you actually buy one and install it in that space.

First, the HUD. Wherever on there you plan to put the radar, give it a grey metal color. Make it look like a sunken in recess with panels covering where wires and plugs would be for the radar to plug into. The important part, though, is that the space reserved for the radar is more or less one color, and any additional colors are very close to the main color and rare.

Next, in the ïntf resource, place the radar over that space. For every single ïntf resource you have (say you have different ones for different gövts like EVN) set the bright and dim radar colors to match the color of the recess in the HUD graphic. Now when playing the radar will blend in with the recess and players won't see a thing on it.

For the radar outfit, simply make it a combination IFF Decoder and Density Scanner. The background of the HUD image will be covered by black and players will be able to see objects on it. Maybe you also want sensor interference? Well, using this method makes giving the sÿst resource natural interference is a no-go, otherwise it would show up in the empty recess. Instead, give radar outfits a sensor interference modifier. For cheaper radar systems, have them add more interference. For more expensive, higher quality radars, less or even no interference added.

I don't know what method you've come up with, Shlimazel, but you're welcome to use that if you like.

QUOTE (Shlimazel @ Sep 14 2010, 10:47 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>

To give credit where it's due, I actually got the method for fuel consumption from Josh Tigerheart's Colosseum. It's pretty simple; all you have to do is make a Fuel Scoop outfit which has a negative number instead of a positive number. Instead of increasing your fuel supply over time, it will actually decrease it. I am very much interested in your idea, however. When you say a long term power supply, is that using crons to switch the player's outfits to decrease their fuel level? If so, that's pretty clever, as you could do all sorts of interesting things to the player when their ship begins to run low on fuel, like give them outfits that tank their movement capabilities. That's one problem with my current method of ship fuel; running out of fuel only means you can't fight, you can still fly just fine. Also, thanks for the well-wishes!

Yes, 'my' version uses crons, meaning that it ends up being a bit more complicated than playing around with Fuel Regen (which is a good way to implement smart ship outfitting). Fortunately, the use of crons does allow for a greater variety of effects when you run out of fuel (or food, or when crew morale drops too low, or any number of other fluctuating variables). I've uploaded an example plugset at http://www.mediafire.com/?xbh36atb4rhjirj
Read the read me inside for more details.

Werhner

QUOTE (DarthKev @ Sep 14 2010, 06:44 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Actually, I just thought up with an idea to seemingly remove the radar entirely and then give it back via a radar outfit. In-game it would even look like the space where a radar would go is empty until you actually buy one and install it in that space.

First, the HUD. Wherever on there you plan to put the radar, give it a grey metal color. Make it look like a sunken in recess with panels covering where wires and plugs would be for the radar to plug into. The important part, though, is that the space reserved for the radar is more or less one color, and any additional colors are very close to the main color and rare.

Next, in the ïntf resource, place the radar over that space. For every single ïntf resource you have (say you have different ones for different gövts like EVN) set the bright and dim radar colors to match the color of the recess in the HUD graphic. Now when playing the radar will blend in with the recess and players won't see a thing on it.

For the radar outfit, simply make it a combination IFF Decoder and Density Scanner. The background of the HUD image will be covered by black and players will be able to see objects on it. Maybe you also want sensor interference? Well, using this method makes giving the sÿst resource natural interference is a no-go, otherwise it would show up in the empty recess. Instead, give radar outfits a sensor interference modifier. For cheaper radar systems, have them add more interference. For more expensive, higher quality radars, less or even no interference added.

I don't know what method you've come up with, Shlimazel, but you're welcome to use that if you like.

I don't know if this would work as planned, because the planets would still show up, as would the black background. Unless I'm mistaken and not seeing this plan correctly, the only way this could work would be if you either did some extremely convoluted color matching, or you arranged an interface-switching method by having the radar switch the player's ship on him... but that would be a bit obvious, because I think it would ask you to name your ship. The general principal is indeed very interesting, though. Perhaps there is another way to get it to work.

QUOTE (Werhner @ Sep 14 2010, 08:07 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Yes, 'my' version uses crons, meaning that it ends up being a bit more complicated than playing around with Fuel Regen (which is a good way to implement smart ship outfitting). Fortunately, the use of crons does allow for a greater variety of effects when you run out of fuel (or food, or when crew morale drops too low, or any number of other fluctuating variables). I've uploaded an example plugset at http://www.mediafire.com/?xbh36atb4rhjirj
Read the read me inside for more details.

Werhner

I had heard about the continuous time progression hack, but I had never put two and two together and realized that it could be used for things like fuel consumption. This is fascinating stuff, Werhner, thank you for sharing your work on the subject. I don't know if I can or should integrate the fuel concept yet, but this may help me with something else.

QUOTE (Shlimazel @ Sep 14 2010, 06:52 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I don't know if this would work as planned, because the planets would still show up, as would the black background. Unless I'm mistaken and not seeing this plan correctly, the only way this could work would be if you either did some extremely convoluted color matching, or you arranged an interface-switching method by having the radar switch the player's ship on him... but that would be a bit obvious, because I think it would ask you to name your ship. The general principal is indeed very interesting, though. Perhaps there is another way to get it to work.

I've tested it, it works. You can try it for yourself. Just take the standard EVN HUD and fill the black with any color. Then set the independent ïntf to have bright and dim radar colors that match whatever color you filled the black with. Run EVN and you'll see the radar appears to not be there. Buy an IFF Decoder and the radar will turn black and you'll be able to see it.

QUOTE (DarthKev @ Sep 15 2010, 09:42 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I've tested it, it works. You can try it for yourself. Just take the standard EVN HUD and fill the black with any color. Then set the independent ïntf to have bright and dim radar colors that match whatever color you filled the black with. Run EVN and you'll see the radar appears to not be there. Buy an IFF Decoder and the radar will turn black and you'll be able to see it.

I can vouch for that.

Oh, the IFF decoder turns the radar black again? That explains part of what was confusing me. In this case, I'll have to give it a try. Thanks for the idea, DarthKev. It might be a lot more elegant than what I have right now.

Right now, I'm working on advancing my current Disrepair system. Basically, I want the player to be forced to spend money on keeping his ship flying, and his business running, and having your ship start falling apart and require repairs after a certain amount of time is an integral feature of this process. I want to explore other ways to spend the player's money, like banking, for example, and maybe some kind of insurance system. I also want to develop a written combat license test (perhaps coupled with a live fire test) that you have to take and succeed at before you get access to weaponry. Other licenses may also require this investment. Certain pieces of advanced equipment also require you to perform missions to get access. I'll talk about these elements more later.

This post has been edited by Shlimazel : 15 September 2010 - 10:21 AM

In EVN Firefly, we've been putting together spare parts outfits and related missions that occur at random, checking whether or not the player has a spare part. If not, they either have to pay for a delivery part (very pricey,) or simply live with a crippled ship for less severe things. Might work for what you have planned. The trouble is getting missions to start in space.

QUOTE

In EVN Firefly, we've been putting together spare parts outfits and related missions that occur at random, checking whether or not the player has a spare part. If not, they either have to pay for a delivery part (very pricey,) or simply live with a crippled ship for less severe things. Might work for what you have planned. The trouble is getting missions to start in space.

That's an excellent way to handle that. That actually gives me an idea for another direction to take things; you could have different parts of the ship start breaking down at different times, like the engines could break down, or the computers could break, each with their own effects. Some things might not be repairable at frontier worlds, requiring you to go back to the core worlds, and if you're on the outs with the Union (because it is possible to become part of the criminal economy, forsaking a legal existence) you might have to just deal with certain kinds of component damage. You could even integrate part procurement missions of all kinds with that model, like you suggest. I will have to develop this concept more, thank you.

Regarding the problem with missions starting in space, couldn't you use something similar to the time progression hack? You could have an invisible mission you get planetside (could be given to you by crons) that generates a ship with 0 hull and tells you to kill it. With 0 hull, it dies instantly (or you could set it to take time with death delay), then you are shown the "Ship Objective Completed" desc from the mission when the ship dies (IE, what just fell off the ship? was that the antenna?). You could have the ship objective bit field sxxx you the mission and/or outfits that causes things to break down.

Lindley is the one who does the actual mission programming, but I think we were having trouble getting it to work reliably.

I'm coming to the conclusion that I hate and abhor crons, which is unfortunate given how many features that I want to implement rely on them. For now, I'm going to leave the disrepair system be and move along to other things. I'm working on the missions and economic balance right now, trying to make there be a lot of options for making money. Union Mining missions, Union Shipping missions, asteroid mining, commodity trading, etcetera. After all, the beginning of the game where you struggle to make money is the most boring part of the game in most scenarios, because your options are incredibly limited. Those areas of the game, the most boring parts of the game, are what really need to be examined carefully. Eventually, the disrepair system and other such maintenance systems will be things that will drive the players to make money just to stay alive, rather than flying around with 3 million credits and a mod starbridge and nothing to spend it on.

It occurs to me that the most important parts of the TC, the parts that make it or break it, the parts that support the entire structure of the plugin and make it playable, are also the most staggeringly boring parts to any outside observer. It's hard to make stuff like "I balanced prices on three different ships today to ensure their maximal economic balance" interesting. Perhaps I should take to dramatization, for example;

"Shlimazel made some changes to the price of Metal. Suddenly, doubt struck him. As time stopped around him, he realized there could be terrible consequences to game balance if he used these new figures. A bead of sweat rolled down his brow as he weighed pros and cons, then he carefully reverted the price to its old value. He let out the breath he had been holding, wiped his forehead with a cloth, then confronted the ominous threat of the Character Starting Cash value."

That said, the game balancing is coming along very nicely. It's beginning to feel like there are pros and cons to every sort of money-making, and because the shuttle can't do shipping missions in the beginning (due to lack of cargo space) you'l have to learn to do some commodity trading in the beginning. It's balanced similarly to Elite, with relatively tiny cash figures in comparison to any of the EV games. Asteroid Mining is problematic, because I can't get all of the junk's you can get from the roids to appear in the trade screen, so I'm not sure how I'll handle that part. I'm practicing some UV mapping, trying to learn how to make UV mappable ships, so that when I Do Graphics I'll be able to produce something that looks impressive. Finally, I've written an intro desc at last, so you may as well take a look.

QUOTE

You used to be an Atmospheric Transport pilot for the InterTrans shipping corporation on Mirinda. Your job license read Pilot ID, #15543D. Name, <PN> <PNN>. Gender, {G "Male" "Female"}. You were a card-carrying member of the Mirinda Airman Union, and you lived in the northern megacity of Riu. Trouble with the Mob over some borrowed money eventually led you to leave Riu and your business behind you. Alone, and with no home except your transport ship, you made your way across the country until you found an advertisment for a spaceflight training program pinned to the wall in a spaceport bar in Cautan City. Deciding to make a new life for yourself outside the gravity well, you liquidated your assets, sold your transport, and within two years you were cracking the seal on your new ship, the <PSN>. An Aerospace Shuttle, it was faster and more powerful than any atmospheric transport you had ever flown before, although its ten-ton cargo bay was less space than you were use to. Within a week, you'd arranged to have your ship moved to one of the spaceport's electromagnetic launch rails, and you broke orbit.

That was in 450, Colony Time. It's been three years, and you've fallen on hard times since then. Space trading is far harder work than the in-atmosphere trading you're use to. Weeks can pass in travel between worlds, weeks of time with nothing to fill them. Food is precious, but when the cash runs out, you've just got to tighten your belt and make do. There's always a risk of pirate attack, and the cops can't watch everyone's back. Still, you're alive. Things could be worse, and despite all the new risks, you don't miss life back home.

See you out there, space captain.

Notice the distinct lack of enormous timelines and boring history lessons. The background will be available from the manual, giving people a reason to actually look at the thing.

I was reading over this again today I just have to say this idea is brilliant.
Very shway.

@darthkev, on Sep 14 2010, 06:38 AM, said in Working Name: Project Micron:

The story is solid and the ships you've described are interesting. Most of how this will work from a programming standpoint makes sense to me, but there is one thing I fear may be tricky to compensate for: the fact you have only one sÿst resource.

I like the idea, don't get me wrong. The possibilities that come with being forced to wander a single system in search of one specific planet (especially out of several that are in the one system) are tantalizing. However, the way all EV games handle spawning new AI ships is through hyperspace at the center of the system. Quite simply, whenever a new AI enters the system, they will seem to jump in out of nowhere. This could be problematic if there's only supposed to be one system. Additionally, they will only show up near the sÿst resource's center, not near other planets elsewhere in the system. Then there's the problem of players coming under attack from pirates. No matter where the player happens to take off from, if they know what direction the center of the system is in, all they need to do is avoid that area and any pirates in the system while take a while to reach them, giving plenty of time to reach various destinations.

The only possible way to solve this I can think of is through invisible missions that spawn certain ships over certain planets. However, that could entail as many as 14 invisible missions. At any one time players are only allowed a maximum of 16 active missions (IIRC), including invisible missions. This leaves only 2 slots for the player's own missions. For the sake of knowledge, I'm curious as to how you plan to overcome this.

The other difficulty you didn't mention was that you only get keyboard shortcuts for the first four planets.

Yo, Shlimazel. Maybe you should go with the Acheron solution, wherein there were three star systems, represented by several separate SYST resources. Best of both worlds, methinks.

Hey guys, just wanted to let you know that I've been (and still kind of am) pretty busy, but I haven't forgotten about this project. I'm still tinkering with it, trying to work out what the best next step is, taking stock of what I added a while ago. It's fun to play to some degree, navigating is difficult and can be quite nerve-wracking at times, but it still needs quite a bit of work. I need to make a decision about asteroid mining-I might remove it entirely because I can't have the system I was thinking about, and my backstory makes asteroid mining difficult to explain. I also need to spice things up by working out random events and NPC ships. Things progress slowly.

QUOTE

I was reading over this again today I just have to say this idea is brilliant.
Very shway.

That's very kind of you, thank you!

QUOTE

The other difficulty you didn't mention was that you only get keyboard shortcuts for the first four planets.

Yo, Shlimazel. Maybe you should go with the Acheron solution, wherein there were three star systems, represented by several separate SYST resources. Best of both worlds, methinks.

Nah, this is already set up and works pretty well. I may need to adjust how the planets are ordered to fix part of the autopilot, but aside from that the autopilot is actually very useful, while not giving you any sort of advantage (it's very hard to navigate and the autopilot makes it a little easier, but the autopilot can only take you to a few different worlds, so it doesn't break the game or make it too easy).

Just a periodic update for you; I've been doing a lot of work on my economic systems, work which will probably continue into the next version. Balancing trade between planets in the same syst resource is difficult because you can go between destinations so fast, so I've been doing a lot of work on that. I've started adding oops to refine the economic system, which is making things more interesting. This is a step I don't often get to in my TC projects, so I'm finding it enjoyable work.

I'm also adding a ton of pers (30-50 will probably be my target). They won't be assigned directly to the syst resource, I'm going to rely on the engine's 5% appearance chance. Some of them will have interesting missions, some of them may need assistance, some may be derelict (and why will intrigue you!). In any case, they will flesh out the gameplay more. I had to take out my asteroid mining because it didn't make sense with the setting, and I didn't have enough room in terms of junk appearance on the trade screen. The NPCs now fly between all of the 5 main planets, creating trade routes which are extremely important to your navigation. I have a lot of work to do on making exploration more worthwhile, also, but that'll be pretty fun work too.

Graphics are something I'm investigating, because I don't really know what kind of designs I'm going to go with. It will probably be quite a while before I am ready to actually add new ship graphics, because I want to make the best possible ship designs, both in terms of styling and technical sophistication. This may be the toughest part of the project, ironically.

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