Acceleration, physics, and other ship enhancements/rebalance

Development directions, tasks, and features being actively implemented or pursued by the development team.

Acceleration, physics, and other ship enhancements/rebalance

Postby Deus Siddis » Thu Nov 22, 2012 12:36 pm

pheonixstorm wrote:Even in this project you have to keep a balance of what the players want (and most players only want *some*realism). Too much and the crowd leaves, too little and the crowd leaves.. either way it is the fan base that keeps any project alive. No fans = no new developers = why bother.


I'm sorry to say, but the crowd has left. I have followed this project since 2005 and never noticed such low community activity here as the last few years. There are probably many reasons for this decline, but my personal loss of interest mostly has to do with a lack of realism and a lack of fun gameplay, most stemming from the same elements.

The prime example is the extreme ship accelerations; the fighting ships accelerate at 30 gs, which is 10 times that of the space shuttle on lift off with it's towering solid and liquid fuel rockets and 30 times that of a modern fighter aircraft. There is very little chance any machine larger than a sidewinder missile, present or future can possibly manage that kind of acceleration using conventional thrusters and no human player on earth has the reflexes and coordination to fight that kind of battle. So instead you joust with the AI opponents and shoot auto-aiming guns and turrets at them until someone's armor wears out and they die.

no realism = no gameplay = vega strike balance

The only potential break from realism that was ever needed was FTL or the ability to speed up time, because space is so big. Every other magic technology or feature has either hurt gameplay or just made it go sideways and become strange.
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Re: New Chris Roberts game in the works??

Postby klauss » Thu Nov 22, 2012 12:44 pm

I'm all for lowering accelerations. Especially in those extreme cases.
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Re: New Chris Roberts game in the works??

Postby log0 » Thu Nov 22, 2012 1:09 pm

Deus Siddis wrote:
pheonixstorm wrote:Even in this project you have to keep a balance of what the players want (and most players only want *some*realism). Too much and the crowd leaves, too little and the crowd leaves.. either way it is the fan base that keeps any project alive. No fans = no new developers = why bother.


I'm sorry to say, but the crowd has left. I have followed this project since 2005 and never noticed such low community activity here as the last few years. There are probably many reasons for this decline, but my personal loss of interest mostly has to do with a lack of realism and a lack of fun gameplay, most stemming from the same elements.

The prime example is the extreme ship accelerations; the fighting ships accelerate at 30 gs, which is 10 times that of the space shuttle on lift off with it's towering solid and liquid fuel rockets and 30 times that of a modern fighter aircraft. There is very little chance any machine larger than a sidewinder missile, present or future can possibly manage that kind of acceleration using conventional thrusters and no human player on earth has the reflexes and coordination to fight that kind of battle. So instead you joust with the AI opponents and shoot auto-aiming guns and turrets at them until someone's armor wears out and they die.

no realism = no gameplay = vega strike balance

The only potential break from realism that was ever needed was FTL or the ability to speed up time, because space is so big. Every other magic technology or feature has either hurt gameplay or just made it go sideways and become strange.

That is what I'd call a deja vu ;). I think one of my first posts here was about the weird ship handling and unrealistic acceleration...
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Re: New Chris Roberts game in the works??

Postby klauss » Thu Nov 22, 2012 1:24 pm

If there's consensus lets just lower accelerations.

As you very well know, I'm open to patches ;)

But really, as long as there's no objection... the main issue with low accelerations is that it makes maneuvering with a heavy cargo load really problematic. There's two ways around that: make ship mass a lot more significant (relative to cargo mass), or cap accelerations on the governor.
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Re: New Chris Roberts game in the works??

Postby pheonixstorm » Thu Nov 22, 2012 2:34 pm

I think to correct the acceleration imbalance though we may need to change how a ships mass affects its own acceleration. It's pretty crappy to launch off a planet and take 10-30 minutes to be able to SPEC to your next destination when your cargo hold is full of ore/stone or any high mass item. Might be realistic, but its a game killer. I want to be able to trade not sit around twiddling my thumbs waiting for SPEC to kick in so I can do hit the next trading post.

As for accel.. I think its not just the acceleration issue but also the turning etc. A lot of tweaks and balances... and something that will be hell to get just right.
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Re: New Chris Roberts game in the works??

Postby klauss » Thu Nov 22, 2012 2:43 pm

That's what I meant with "make ships mass more significant"
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Re: New Chris Roberts game in the works??

Postby log0 » Thu Nov 22, 2012 3:30 pm

Max accel limits should deal with the heavy cargo issue. I think I have been also proposing to differentiate depending on ship type. Something like high limits for fighters(6g) and lower limits for the rest(3g).
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Re: New Chris Roberts game in the works??

Postby log0 » Thu Nov 22, 2012 4:30 pm

What about a physics.acceleration_max (or physics.ship_acceleration_max and physics.missile_acceleration_max) config variable for initial testing?
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Re: New Chris Roberts game in the works??

Postby IansterGuy » Thu Nov 22, 2012 4:39 pm

Deus Siddis wrote:The only potential break from realism that was ever needed was FTL or the ability to speed up time, because space is so big. Every other magic technology or feature has either hurt gameplay or just made it go sideways and become strange.
Now you have me curious about which magic technologies you refer to. Thousands of happy gamers accept magical space ship turns, and speed limits without even thinking about it. If it works the player may not even realize that the strange devices are helping. Manoeuvre mode is on by default already, adding a purchasable motion rectifier for example would just seem like an upgrade to manoeuvre mode. Some players would not not even realize that ship turns would be outperforming the thrusters capability alone. Players who are aware would have a explanation of why. There would need to be some limitations to using it, like inability to spontaneously side slip coupled with a slow shutdown.

Deus Siddis wrote:The prime example is the extreme ship accelerations; the fighting ships accelerate at 30 gs, which is 10 times that of the space shuttle on lift off with it's towering solid and liquid fuel rockets and 30 times that of a modern fighter aircraft. There is very little chance any machine larger than a sidewinder missile, present or future can possibly manage that kind of acceleration using conventional thrusters and no human player on earth has the reflexes and coordination to fight that kind of battle.
These numbers and margins that you mentioned are a little off from what I can quickly look up. Manned rockets normally go 3.5G's so that switches can still be reached perpendicularly. The Apollo launch vehicles got up to around 7-8G's perpendicular. Fighter pilots are trained to handle up to 9G's downward sustained for a few minutes in a pressure suit. Normal people may lose vision 4.5G's. John Stapp was subjected to 15G's for 0.6 second and a peak of 22G's. Studies concluded he could been conditioned to survive 25G's for 1.1 seconds peak 46G's, while most people have severe internal injuries at around 25G. I do think non conventional thruster technologies would easily outperform the human riding inside. It would be up to the human to outsmart any drone that can move faster. If fast drones are a problem let the pilot purchase an inertial dampener to reduce inertia. The governor would then allow unhuman speeds but any failure of the device could mean instant pilot death. More unnecessary goodies to leave options open :)

klauss wrote:the main issue with low accelerations is that it makes maneuvering with a heavy cargo load really problematic. There's two ways around that: make ship mass a lot more significant (relative to cargo mass), or cap accelerations on the governor.
I don't know anyone opposed to slower accelerations. I would definitely vote that the governor be the device protecting the pilot. Limits in thruster technology itself seems unlikely to me. One could then continue upgrading engines past safe maximum unloaded thrust levels assuming one wants to use the extra thrust to carry more cargo closer to the maximum acceleration.

log0 wrote:Max accel limits should deal with the heavy cargo issue. I think I have been also proposing to differentiate depending on ship type. Something like high limits for fighters(6g) and lower limits for the rest(3g).
I agree with log0 for setting the governors of ships to a Max acceleration by default, I would just adjust it slightly. For fighter pilots 9G's who would be wearing pressure suits. And for free to walk around ships 4.5 G's with everyone seated. Exceptions would require special technology like buying a pressure suit for everyone on board, most others would have serious tradeoffs.
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Re: New Chris Roberts game in the works??

Postby log0 » Thu Nov 22, 2012 5:39 pm

@IansterGuy The 6-3g are just some numbers to be tweaked to the level, that it doesn't feel too slow to get up to speed. And the 9g on human body would obviously work only in a certain direction. For spacecraft there is usually no preferred max acceleration axis(well maybe except the forward one). So you would need some kind of special rotating g-seats, if you wanted to go that much into detail. But then who cares? For me it is more about the immersion and plausible maneuvers. The enemy should not be able to pull away at over twenty gees.
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Re: New Chris Roberts game in the works??

Postby klauss » Thu Nov 22, 2012 5:52 pm

Ok, so we need a max acceleration governor column in units.csv (yep, forget .config, it has to be tunable by ship class).

I should create a tracker item for it, in case I forget...
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Re: New Chris Roberts game in the works??

Postby Deus Siddis » Thu Nov 22, 2012 8:23 pm

klauss wrote:Ok, so we need a max acceleration governor column in units.csv (yep, forget .config, it has to be tunable by ship class).
I should create a tracker item for it, in case I forget...


I believe that won't be necessary; both the fighters and shuttles can be balanced in a better way with the existing data structure. Right now fighters are blindingly fast but carry almost no payload while shuttles are relatively slow and carry extreme payload.

So first let's keep shuttle accelerations and their cargo capacities in the same proportions as they are now. So shuttles don't perform any more sluggishly than they do now. Decide what is a good acceleration rate for shuttles in general and bring down the cargo capacity to match the lowered thrust output. (Later the value of cargo missions and such can be increased so that they are just as rewarding economically).

Then make fighters way slower so that they are only 5-20% faster than your average cargo shuttle when both have no payload. So now fighters easily intercept loaded cargo shuttles, but only slowly intercept shuttles that have dumped their cargo to get away. There is no reason, realism or gameplay wise, for fighters should get to be so much faster than shuttles. They only need and only should be allowed to have a little more acceleration (when both are unladen).

This way the problem with accelerations and dog-fighting is fixed. And as a bonus you have the perfect gameplay mechanics for piracy and surviving piracy, because cargo shuttles now have a chance of escape if they dump their goods. So they can choose between fight or flight. Dump and run and the the pirates get to scoop up your cargo. Or you can try to hold on to it, in which case you must stand your ground and fight or hope the police get there in time.
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Re: New Chris Roberts game in the works??

Postby klauss » Thu Nov 22, 2012 9:17 pm

Deus Siddis wrote:
klauss wrote:Ok, so we need a max acceleration governor column in units.csv (yep, forget .config, it has to be tunable by ship class).
I should create a tracker item for it, in case I forget...


I believe that won't be necessary; both the fighters and shuttles can be balanced in a better way with the existing data structure. Right now fighters are blindingly fast but carry almost no payload while shuttles are relatively slow and carry extreme payload.

So first let's keep shuttle accelerations and their cargo capacities in the same proportions as they are now. So shuttles don't perform any more sluggishly than they do now. Decide what is a good acceleration rate for shuttles in general and bring down the cargo capacity to match the lowered thrust output. (Later the value of cargo missions and such can be increased so that they are just as rewarding economically).


Thing is, it makes perfect sense to have that limit. Cargo ships should have massive thrusters, and should be able to accelerate ridiculously when unloaded, but things like structural limits and people inside should provide a reasonable justification to limit acceleration in the governor.

I think adding such limit makes perfect sense.
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Re: New Chris Roberts game in the works??

Postby Deus Siddis » Thu Nov 22, 2012 10:31 pm

I suppose, but then you are going to need a new command and keyboard mapping to override the governor when the player wants full thrust to fight or flee.

Also would you add an issue for decreasing the linear and angular acceleration rates (at least for "fighter" type craft) to the tracker as well?
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Re: New Chris Roberts game in the works??

Postby Deus Siddis » Thu Nov 22, 2012 11:34 pm

IansterGuy wrote:Now you have me curious about which magic technologies you refer to. Thousands of happy gamers accept magical space ship turns, and speed limits without even thinking about it.


Thousands of gamers also accepted vector graphics back in the day so why ever give them anything better than what they presently expect?

If it works the player may not even realize that the strange devices are helping. Manoeuvre mode is on by default already, adding a purchasable motion rectifier for example would just seem like an upgrade to manoeuvre mode. Some players would not not even realize that ship turns would be outperforming the thrusters capability alone. Players who are aware would have a explanation of why. There would need to be some limitations to using it, like inability to spontaneously side slip coupled with a slow shutdown.


That's all just nonsense for the sake of nonsense though. We don't need mysterious "motion rectifier" technology, the flight computer combined with the lateral thrusters already makes adjusting your vector very simple.

These numbers and margins that you mentioned are a little off from what I can quickly look up...


As mentioned conventional rockets like that on the aim-9 can produce tremendous thrust... but then they run out of reaction mass equally quickly. To have sustained performance in space requires much higher reaction mass speed than you get with conventional rockets. So you use electric ones like VASIMR, but then you get an extreme build up of waste heat in the powerfully insulating vacuum environment. Ultimately you can get seconds of high acceleration perhaps, but not the constant 20 minutes or so of extreme g the game currently gives you.

So because of limited reaction mass and limited heat dissipation in the space environment you have a hard limit on how much acceleration thruster technologies of any kind can give you. Which is why you have SPEC.
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Re: New Chris Roberts game in the works??

Postby IansterGuy » Fri Nov 23, 2012 3:00 am

log0 wrote:...the 9g on human body would obviously work only in a certain direction. For spacecraft there is usually no preferred max acceleration axis(well maybe except the forward one). So you would need some kind of special rotating g-seats.
Yup G-Seats, yet another potential but unnecessary purchasable upgrade.

klauss wrote:Thing is, it makes perfect sense to have that limit. Cargo ships should have massive thrusters, and should be able to accelerate ridiculously when unloaded, but things like structural limits and people inside should provide a reasonable justification to limit acceleration in the governor.

I think adding such limit makes perfect sense.
Like the dumping cargo to accelerate nearer to fighter speed. Light loads with significant thrust may already be at maximum acceleration though.
Yes to capping accelerations directly through the governor instead of only through one or more of it's variables like thrust, weight, and cargo space. Speaking of structural limits, if a person is trying to install a thruster that provides more thrust than your ship can handle, it's time to by a new ship or get some shady hull upgrades.

Deus Siddis wrote:I suppose, but then you are going to need a new command and keyboard mapping to override the governor when the player wants full thrust to fight or flee.
I don't think this particular governor function would be necessary since going much faster than the governor allows would supposedly kill or blackout the pilot. If some tech purchase was involved, installing would simply raise the acceleration limit. Though I did propose a keyboard layout before the forum crash. It is meant for gravity functions and it reserves a nice line of buttons [Y] [U] [I] [O] [P] for governor control or similar functions. I was going to post my revision of the controls at an opportune time. Since I have found a way to revise autopilot and movement controls to be more grouped and more like the current layout.

Deus Siddis wrote:Also would you add an issue for decreasing the linear and angular acceleration rates (at least for "fighter" type craft) to the tracker as well?
I think we may have forgot the angular acceleration rates. I'm not sure how one would determine how how fast a ship could turn. Human factors may depend on how center of ship mass the pilot is, but people can turn their head pretty fast. I imagine in this case maneuvering or lateral thrusters would almost always be the limiting factor. I assume that every ship could be made to feel unique at maximum turning since layout and strength of thrusters varies. Assuming the strongest thrusters are the rear followed by the hovering thrusters, maximum turn speed would be better in some directions based on the ship.

Deus Siddis wrote:So you use electric ones like VASIMR, but then you get an extreme build up of waste heat in the powerfully insulating vacuum environment. Ultimately you can get seconds of high acceleration perhaps, but not the constant 20 minutes or so of extreme g the game currently gives you.

So because of limited reaction mass and limited heat dissipation in the space environment you have a hard limit on how much acceleration thruster technologies of any kind can give you. Which is why you have SPEC.
Interesting, seems like those engines could benefit from improved thermoelectric devices to mop op the heat quicker.
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Re: New Chris Roberts game in the works??

Postby log0 » Fri Nov 23, 2012 4:23 am

Deus Siddis wrote:I suppose, but then you are going to need a new command and keyboard mapping to override the governor when the player wants full thrust to fight or flee.

Also would you add an issue for decreasing the linear and angular acceleration rates (at least for "fighter" type craft) to the tracker as well?

As klauss described, the acceleration limits would be structural without a way to disable them, else you will still have problems with cargos doing 30g maneuvers when empty.
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Re: New Chris Roberts game in the works??

Postby log0 » Fri Nov 23, 2012 6:22 am

Just out of curiosity I did a quick check with units.csv. I used acceleration = (fwd_thrust + afterburner_thrust) / mass

The top four (over 100g):
Dostoevsky.blank FIGHTER 1364 m/s^2
Gawain.blank INTERCEPTOR 1119 m/s^2
Determinant.blank FIGHTER 1067 m/s^2
Derivative.blank INTERCEPTOR 1067 m/s^2

...
Franklin.stock SHUTTLE 930 m/s^2
....
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Re: New Chris Roberts game in the works??

Postby klauss » Fri Nov 23, 2012 8:32 am

I think fighters need a check overall, and cargo ships are around the saner ones ATM (except they become unmanageable under load)
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Re: New Chris Roberts game in the works??

Postby Deus Siddis » Fri Nov 23, 2012 10:16 am

log0 wrote:As klauss described, the acceleration limits would be structural without a way to disable them, else you will still have problems with cargos doing 30g maneuvers when empty.


I thought the cargo shuttles in game right now can only push about a tenth that much acceleration?

And most of a ship would still have the same amount of structural stress when using full thrust, regardless of the payload. The main point of the governor would be to allow human crew to survive extended accelerations or to not upset passengers and delicate cargoes. But it still only makes sense that you could override the governor for short bursts during life or death situations.
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Re: New Chris Roberts game in the works??

Postby klauss » Fri Nov 23, 2012 10:44 am

Deus Siddis wrote:And most of a ship would still have the same amount of structural stress when using full thrust, regardless of the payload.


That's not true. If you model structure as a graph and propagate forces, you'll notice structural areas that are not part of the cargo hold or main trunk will suffer stress proportional to acceleration, while the trunk and cargo hold will suffer it proportional to thrust.

Ie: as cargo mass increses, stress is concentrated around the cargo hold and structural elements connecting it to the thrusters, and diverted away from other areas.

So since cargo haulers are expected to be optimized for operation under load, one can expect living quarters and other non-cargo areas of the ship to be unable to cope with the stress levels resulting from full thrust under no load.
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Re: New Chris Roberts game in the works??

Postby log0 » Fri Nov 23, 2012 10:54 am

A few cargo numbers from units.csv:
Llama 160-100 m/s^2
Plowshare 70-60 m/s^2
Mule 28 m/s^2

I think fighters need a thrust reduction by at least a factor of 4 towards 250-150 m/s^2. The question is whether they won't get too slow? On the other side one could increase cargo haulers thrust so that they at least make 1-0.5g at full load. They would need acceleration limiters then of course. Opinions?
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Re: New Chris Roberts game in the works??

Postby klauss » Fri Nov 23, 2012 11:23 am

Lets talk in g's.

Fighters should be able to pull 10g at most. You can also expect trained pilots that can handle the g's. You might want to make Rlaan fighters a bit more capable, since they have gravitational engines that can probably compensate for inertia.

I think the 1-0.5g figure for cargo haulers at full load is spot-on. For them, I'd cap acceleration a little below 10g, not only pilots aren't supposed to be trained for high-g operations, but the ship's structure will also be operating outside of optimal parameters when unloaded. And it makes fighters always able to catch cargo haulers.
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Re: New Chris Roberts game in the works??

Postby log0 » Fri Nov 23, 2012 11:34 am

OK. Max 100 m/s^2 for fighters and 10 m/s^2 for cargo ships at full load. Now the Llama can overload to a factor of about 70. To get it accelerate at 0.5g fully loaded would result in something like 35g empty. Here we would limit to 9-10g.

Maybe it should be allowed to go slightly beyond 10g to be able to escape fighters by dropping all cargo?
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Re: New Chris Roberts game in the works??

Postby log0 » Fri Nov 23, 2012 11:56 am

I've been playing a bit with thrust rescale functions. Something like this could work: new_thrust_limit = 12 * ln(4 * old_thrust_limit)
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