How low can you go

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How low can you go

Postby Rattan » Mon May 17, 2010 5:23 pm

No, not a zero gee version of doing "limbo".. But have other folks here ever played with coming in on a landing approach to a planet or moon surface, just to see how close you can get before going on a date with Lady Death?

I was goofing around with that today and got to within a few meters of the surface of Luna before the ship actually crashed (not sure exactly what altitude the ship crashed at, since I was kind of busy trying to bring it in). It was kind of impressive, since the surface did have at least a bit of texture to it, and while coming in, it did feel a bit like coming in for a landing with some flight sims.

Yeah, VS doesn't have "seamless planetary flight".. not yet anyway. But it's closer than I thought it would be from the few times I punched a hole in a planet from things like having to go answer the phone while coming in for docking. LOL

I did notice that if I had the nose down far enough to see much of the surface, after a certain point it cut off and I saw starfield. I don't think the game is really intended yet to be actually realistic that close up to a planet, since we're "supposed" to dock at a considerably higher altitude. LOL

I'm not sure as I'm actually one of the people hoping for "seamless planetary flight", by the way. Oh, it'd be neat.. the first few times. But it could get to be a drag with the amount of time and work it would add into every flight. It would also take a whole new skill set compared to the way we dock now. Unless we assume a tractor beam for the final approach or computer assisted landings, the ships would need controls they don't have at present, like landing gear and flaps, etc. The keyboard commands are already more than a bit to remember. I'd probably be one of the first people bumming for a landing/docking computer. :lol:

So if you're bored sometime, you might try seeing how close you can approach before the ship crashes or you decide to hit the "d" key.. Looks pretty neat.
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Re: How low can you go

Postby Sarin » Mon May 17, 2010 8:22 pm

You know, if you get time compression into config file, you can actually fly through the planet without crashing. If you pump time compression high enough you'll fly through the core between frames.
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Re: How low can you go

Postby klauss » Mon May 17, 2010 9:35 pm

Yep, getting rendering of a planet up close right is a daunting task, since VS has to render accurately both objects at a few meters/cemtimeter (the cockpit), a few meters-kilometers (other ships), a few kilometers/light seconds (planets), a few light minutes (farther planets), and up to infinity (the background).

To do that, we've split the scene in cockpit, near, far and background planes. Planets fall on the far plane, and when you get that close to them, they kind of "live in both planes" - some of the planet is only meters/kilometers away, when the rest of the planet may be thousands of kilometers away. I tried to get such a thing work before, and although I got close, I couldn't get it artifact-free.

Whenever we get the realistic shaders for planets working, a lot more people will try to get that close to a planet (because, graphics-wise, it will be more compelling). I foresee a lot more posts like yours by then, we should perhaps start fiddling around with such hybrid rendering setups needed to get planetary flight. I've been flying around big stations, and those too could use some form of hybrid to get more detailed (yet huge) stations possible. Like the commerce center - once you get up close, it lacks detail, but if you tried to add the detail, it would overburden the system from far away - hence a hybrid would be useful to be able to manage level of detail more dynamically.

I don't expect to be doing much more than mocking up a possible architecture for such a rendering system, though, so don't get your hopes up.
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Re: How low can you go

Postby Deus Siddis » Tue May 18, 2010 8:24 am

Aren't there some projects working on this sort of thing in the OGRE community? If so then maybe eventually porting to that graphics engine would bring along planetary rendering almost for free (plus a million other things like dynamic mesh deformations).
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Re: How low can you go

Postby Neskiairti » Tue May 18, 2010 10:50 am

oh certainly.. there are atleast 4 planet rendering projects that im following.. though only two of them look of any consequence.. and i think one of those two want to charge for what they are making..

here are my links:
want to charge: http://www.ogre3d.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=11&t=49849
no longer being worked on: http://www.ogre3d.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=11&t=39254

most promising: http://petrocket.blogspot.com/

cant find the link to the fourth one.. ah well..

yeah if you port to ogre, there are ALOT of oporunities that open up..
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Re: How low can you go

Postby klauss » Tue May 18, 2010 1:35 pm

Still, those are little more than tech demos. So integrating their algorithms is far from "a free ride".
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Re: How low can you go

Postby Neskiairti » Tue May 18, 2010 2:52 pm

tech demos? no
they are works in process (Except for the stalled one of course)
they are plugins for ogre.. I'm not sure what you're expecting really.. someone to magically provide a lib that creates full detail plants in any situation? thats not going to happen..
a planet is a scene managers with procedural generation algorithms and some fluff. what these people are doing is alot of work... tremendous amounts of work in fact.. but once they have a finished product that would cut alot of work from whatever dev wanted to tackle seamless planetary flight... as long as vegastrike is ported to ogre of course.. (or if the programmer wanted to port the scene manager back to vegastrike... which would likely be even harder considering the state of the vegastrike code base XD)
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Re: How low can you go

Postby klauss » Tue May 18, 2010 3:47 pm

Not so much. They concentrate on rendering - well, I can't say I've seen them all, I just saw one of those you linked (can't remember which though), and a while ago. But, lets generalize and challenge the generalization later.

They concentrate on rendering. But integrating planetary flight into a game is a lot more than rendering. It's physics, it's interacting with the planet, it's creating content for it, and in VS, a lot of content - probably through automatic (random) generation of the parameters the planet generator itself takes. It's also going around the limitations of the planet generator, because we have to put some forced features in the planet, like starports, cities, defenses...

Still think it's a free ride?

It's not.

They're working a lot. But if you ever wrote a tech demo, you wouldn't take that term as demeaning. Writing tech demos is a lot of work - it's a lot of fun too. Writing tech demos is a lot of useful just as well. But it's not "the thing"... from tech demo to actual game is a long leap.
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Re: How low can you go

Postby Deus Siddis » Tue May 18, 2010 6:57 pm

I thought you meant within the scope of graphics, specifically making planets look better at closer ranges (or lower altitudes). That could potentially benefit from a future, mature version of one of these OGRE projects, is what I wanted to get at.

Volumetric clouds, realistic collisions with the topography (or liquid bodies :shock:), aerodynamics, surface flora, fauna, cities, defenses and vehicles, etc., each of those kinds of details would be an additional major feature. So I don't think you can go from planets that are pretty from a high orbit, to worlds that are fully alive and simulated at ground level, for free. But you might be able to get worlds rendered beautifully down to low altitudes, for relatively cheap.
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Re: How low can you go

Postby Neskiairti » Tue May 18, 2010 7:14 pm

but.. they arnt tech demos :p
two of them are for video games the guys are working on. and what do you mean by concentrating on rendering? the demo i tried out certainly had physics.. crude celestial physics plus collision detection..

there is an amusing little story of when some one configured it wrong, and the moon fell on the planet.. right on top of them.. :p

not to mention, the rendering side of it is very likely the hardest part of it.. when were talking about simulating and generating multitudes of planets from nearly nothing.. and showing ONLY as much as the player's view can handle without overloading the GPU or memory..

and when did I say it was free? not once, I said it was quite a big discount from dev time budget.. but certainly not free.

the one i'm focusing on, his intention is to create a game called "my first planet" similar to the PS3 game "little big planet" that will certainly include physics, and easy content generation. not no work.. but less work.. and i think that is entirely the point.

starports and defenses are probably the easiest part of ti all to add.. cities certainly much harder. and as deus siddis was getting at, you dont have to all at once make every planet in the game a population center.. or any at all.. randomly generated planets with beautiful atmospheres and seamless flight... would add a whole new world (yay puns) of content to the game :P even if docking with a planet was still "fly close to it.. hit dock"

just having nice planets is more than most games can attest to.
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Re: How low can you go

Postby klauss » Tue May 18, 2010 9:33 pm

Ok, I accept that the other ones may have physics and all. But they're an entire game on their own.

Sure, we can copy their solutions, which is a big dev time saving (ie: not needing to research our own solutions).

We can perhaps even copy some implementations of the solution. But integrating it all in the game is still a lot of work.

And even getting the rendering right, just that, requires a lot of work because we need content. Shaders and cool generative algorithms are worth nothing without content, and their solution for content, while probably inspiring, will not be helpful for VS. VS has its own requirements which are likely to clash with theirs.

I'm not opposed to reusing their work, though it might seem. I'm just reiterating this point because people tend to come to the forum pointing links at those projects as if it were just cut & paste. It's not. It's hard work to try and get their code working in VS, even assuming their code serves our needs, which it probably won't in many respects.
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Re: How low can you go

Postby Rattan » Wed May 19, 2010 7:11 am

Another thing is the question of how many of the ships would actually be capable of aeronautic flight. Sure, this is a game, not a space and flight sim (Although it's not really a bad sci fi space sim, either.), but still the different ships would handle different making a landing, probably even moreso than they handle out in space.

Details like trees aren't going to be discernible until you get very close to the ground. A forest as a dark green area, good sized bodies of water, maybe. Depends on the altitude. For a planetfall, we'd be coming in from way high up. For most of the way in, it's about as realistic as it needs to be already. When I was trying for an Earth "landing", I could see what looked to be lights of major cities on the west coast where I was coming in on the dark side. Passing over Hawaii, I could tell that's what it was down there. It was pretty good until you get down to maybe 10 km. At that point after passing through any cloud cover, things would start to be more visible through any clouds and general atmospheric haze. But a city would still be mostly just a collection of points of light or beginning to see major highways' general paths and etc.

One solution, at least in the beginning, might be to make it required to dock at whatever space station or platform it is where we normally dock at 1000 km. Then one would get clearance or maybe accept a mission that goes down to the surface. That would allow maybe switching to a version of the engine that's tweaked for an actual planetfall and has the more detailed graphics of the planet to work with.

Getting back up to space is another problem in game logic. I don't fully understand what the engines are or what they're running on, but with the reactors and etc, I'm assuming that at especially at the full power it would probably take to life off, it could be pretty harmful on populated worlds? But basically it's one thing to land, since a lot of that can be gliding in. Quite another to actually take off.

But still it could be possible. There maybe could be other ships added at that point that were made for actual planetfall and getting back up to orbit that we could buy if we wanted to do those sorts of missions, and then use our regular ships as we always have out in space.

It could be cool, since shuttling assorted cargo and people between the surface and the station/spaceport could be a lucrative enough business, with plenty of unique problems and situations that could be used for storyline and gameplay.

I have no idea what the actual vision for the project is in this regard, I was just tossing out some ideas.

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Re: How low can you go

Postby Neskiairti » Wed May 19, 2010 9:50 am

considering I /am/ using ogre right now.. and i /know/ how much work it takes to implement scene managers...

Its ogre, which is a renderer.. with alot of engine plugins.. obviously vegastrike would be doing its own engine framework on top of the ogre renderer.. HOWEVER things like the planet scene manager would be mostly self contained.. its a lib not a template.. you use what you want from it and toss aside the rest..

but this is pointless :P

as to what you're saying Rattan, thats what subdividing LODs and simple LODs are for... from very far out its just a sphere with a texture rendered on its surface.. get closer that texture and the near part of the sphere gets replaced with detail, then closer you get, the more detail..

the transition from one scene manager to another can be perfectly seamless, which is what allows seamless planetary flight... it just takes a bit of coding to get right.

as to content, id say take a page from dwarf fortress.. pre-generate each world in the 'known' universe.. then have a generator running in the background fleshing out planets in systems you get close to. I dont think players will mind too much if their first time loading vegastrike is 10 minutes waiting for the universe to build.. maybe even render the building process for them so they can watch a few random examples.

also the simplest way to provide aerodynamics is to take a model.. and give it three or four vectors.. first being its path of least resistance when facing an atmosphere... then give it a vector that describes its proper decent rotation. then its face that is the most resistance.
between the least and most, just average the air resistance.. and apply force and rotation, trying to make the ship turn its face of most resistance away and face of least resistance towards... and that leaves it up to the pilot to fight the controls to keep it steady on the proper decent rotation. :p if they keep it within a tolerance of that proper decent.. they land without a problem..

when launching you want to keep your least resistance face forward.
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Re: How low can you go

Postby klauss » Wed May 19, 2010 10:19 am

@neskiairti: do you know the size of the VS universe? pregenerating it all isn't fun. ~2000 reachable systems with a dozen or perhaps more planets & moons each.

Besides, the whole point of the dynamic universe is that each campaign you start should be a different universe. It isn't well implemented, but that's the idea.

So, even if the libraries are fully self-suficient, I've seen it happen with every library out there (even with Ogre), VS has a unique set of requirements that requires adaptation of any library we take. Ogre, for instance, doesn't have the numerical precision to manage the VS universe without some creative mappings (ie: a kind of "SupersceneManager" managing Ogre's SceneManager).

All the planets in all the screenshots linked are toy planets. They don't look realistically sized by any measure. VS attempts to be realistic in that respect, and the numerical issues that arise (since the GPU uses single-precision floating points or even less at times) aren't trivial. I doubt the libs linked handle that.

Don't get me wrong. When the time comes, we'll certainly stand on their shoulders, if not for their code, for their experience. Perhaps a bit of their code too. But, again, it's not cut & paste, nor dlload(), or anything trivial.

VS attempts to look like this:

http://www.deeplayer.com/claudio/vegast ... ouds_1.jpg
http://www.deeplayer.com/claudio/vegast ... ouds_2.jpg
http://www.deeplayer.com/claudio/vegast ... ouds_3.jpg
http://www.deeplayer.com/claudio/vegast ... ouds_4.jpg
http://www.deeplayer.com/claudio/vegast ... ouds_5.jpg
http://www.deeplayer.com/claudio/vegast ... ouds_6.jpg
http://www.deeplayer.com/claudio/vegast ... ouds_7.jpg
http://www.deeplayer.com/claudio/vegast ... ouds_8.jpg
http://www.deeplayer.com/claudio/vegast ... uds_8b.jpg

Only in that shader, if you get close enough you don't see more detail. Seamless planetary flight would require terrain generation like in those plugins for the scales seen in those screenshots, which exhibits severe numerical precision issues if done naively.
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Re: How low can you go

Postby Neskiairti » Wed May 19, 2010 1:20 pm

>.> okay i'll try to put this another way.
if vegastrike is going to use ogre... it has to be reprogrammed for ogre.. a rather monumental task in and of itself.
IF that is kept in mind.. adding in the code to use multiple scene managers AND using multiple points of reference... is close to trivial.
break a star system in to sections and layers.. each a hundred megameters across or so.. and call that a single unit of measurement on the system scale.. then as you fly across the system, it tracks you in two phases.. where you are in system scale, and where you are in local scale.
if you enter a planet sector.. you're tracked from the center of the planet.. and that section itself is tracked from the center of the star..

now add a line between scene managers.. a custom rolled one most likely for general space, and a planetary scene manager for the planet..

and as to the content.. as i said, only pre-generate the core planets.. and while the user is exploring start generating ones they are likely to travel to..
or more likely.. generate a few random ones that fall in to a few types.. like rocky planet, earth like planet, gas giant, a few of each.. and store them until the game needs to display a new planet.. then it starts generating another one.. :p

and when you regenerate the galaxy is up to you.. on new game, on install, when ever the player feels like it... thats just nitpicking :p

also, ogre can use doubles as the default integer size.. once you go beyond that, well.. you're going to have to get in to some funky bignum libraries that slow the game to a crawl.
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Re: How low can you go

Postby klauss » Wed May 19, 2010 1:49 pm

Neskiairti wrote:IF that is kept in mind.. adding in the code to use multiple scene managers AND using multiple points of reference... is close to trivial.

Rrright...

Neskiairti wrote:and as to the content.. as i said, only pre-generate the core planets.. and while the user is exploring start generating ones they are likely to travel to..
or more likely.. generate a few random ones that fall in to a few types.. like rocky planet, earth like planet, gas giant, a few of each.. and store them until the game needs to display a new planet.. then it starts generating another one.. :p

Mm... I seem to have understood the exact opposite before.

Neskiairti wrote:also, ogre can use doubles as the default integer size.. once you go beyond that, well.. you're going to have to get in to some funky bignum libraries that slow the game to a crawl.

Not enough. The experiment has been made.
Probably something to do with Ogre delegating a lot of matrix stuff to OpenGL, which never ever uses doubles.
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Re: How low can you go

Postby aynonymous » Thu May 26, 2011 1:25 am

when it comes to seamless planetary travel, you can acctually get away with one seam, it's the same seam you use between space flight and being docked.
you see we're talking about ships designed to work their best in the absence of atmospheric friction, so you dock to avoid problems, and at the starport you can take a more planetary vehicle for a spin. that way conflictions between what works in space and whats better on the planets are limited i'd much prefer to swim in atlantis than fly over that long stretch of water. just an idea, i do a bit of bit of game design myself, just not on this scale or with anything i was able to release.

umm i just realised this could simply a larger scale version of the walkable planets problem
i taught my lil bro combat, setup a server, he gets lama, i get CLYDSDALE!
finaly vengence for all the annoyance lol.
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Re: How low can you go

Postby strook » Tue Jun 21, 2011 3:32 pm

Well, well, well... Another seamless flight thread? :mrgreen:
Notice I am going to use SDL 1.3, so I can render ogre in sdl windows.
I haven't figured it out all yet, but there is the sdl window created using the ogre window handle. See here.
Maybe I could also use the handle to put in it OpenGL stuff. Then I should handle the depth buffer myself.
This is a bit theoretical stuff yet, but maybeeeee there is a way...
then from one day to the other we would talk about designing those planets that they look good. :wink:
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Re: How low can you go

Postby Warlord » Tue Jan 24, 2012 8:24 pm

klauss wrote:@neskiairti: do you know the size of the VS universe? pregenerating it all isn't fun. ~2000 reachable systems with a dozen or perhaps more planets & moons each.

Besides, the whole point of the dynamic universe is that each campaign you start should be a different universe. It isn't well implemented, but that's the idea.

So, even if the libraries are fully self-suficient, I've seen it happen with every library out there (even with Ogre), VS has a unique set of requirements that requires adaptation of any library we take. Ogre, for instance, doesn't have the numerical precision to manage the VS universe without some creative mappings (ie: a kind of "SupersceneManager" managing Ogre's SceneManager).

All the planets in all the screenshots linked are toy planets. They don't look realistically sized by any measure. VS attempts to be realistic in that respect, and the numerical issues that arise (since the GPU uses single-precision floating points or even less at times) aren't trivial. I doubt the libs linked handle that.

Don't get me wrong. When the time comes, we'll certainly stand on their shoulders, if not for their code, for their experience. Perhaps a bit of their code too. But, again, it's not cut & paste, nor dlload(), or anything trivial.

VS attempts to look like this:

http://www.deeplayer.com/claudio/vegast ... ouds_1.jpg
http://www.deeplayer.com/claudio/vegast ... ouds_2.jpg
http://www.deeplayer.com/claudio/vegast ... ouds_3.jpg
http://www.deeplayer.com/claudio/vegast ... ouds_4.jpg
http://www.deeplayer.com/claudio/vegast ... ouds_5.jpg
http://www.deeplayer.com/claudio/vegast ... ouds_6.jpg
http://www.deeplayer.com/claudio/vegast ... ouds_7.jpg
http://www.deeplayer.com/claudio/vegast ... ouds_8.jpg
http://www.deeplayer.com/claudio/vegast ... uds_8b.jpg

Only in that shader, if you get close enough you don't see more detail. Seamless planetary flight would require terrain generation like in those plugins for the scales seen in those screenshots, which exhibits severe numerical precision issues if done naively.


Hey!

In your link 8.jpg above. Night shot of North America from orbit. Where is NC, VA,MD, and portions of TN?

I think it is very rude of you folks to nuke away my old homestead in your virtual future.

Where are my virtual great,great,great,great,great,great, grandkids supposed to live? :(
Let's see if another full salvo of missiles improves their attitude, shall we?
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Re: How low can you go

Postby klauss » Wed Jan 25, 2012 6:05 am

The textures used were nasa satellite pictures, so if it ain't there... ;-)
It's probably because you didn't look hard enough
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Re: How low can you go

Postby travists » Thu Jan 26, 2012 12:16 pm

I looked at the image, and it looked almost like there was a power outage.
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Re: How low can you go

Postby klauss » Thu Jan 26, 2012 12:36 pm

Perhaps a cloud.
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Re: How low can you go

Postby Warlord » Thu Jan 26, 2012 5:26 pm

Okey_dokey, then. I did manage to do a flyby of Earth last night, while playing. Those places appeared to be where they were supposed to be, give or take.

Certainly a relief. 8)
Let's see if another full salvo of missiles improves their attitude, shall we?
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Re: How low can you go

Postby klauss » Thu Jan 26, 2012 5:38 pm

...which got me thinking.

Earth should be different.

Anything in canon about it? (for those canon-knowledgable folks)
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