Aera Mining Bases?

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Aera Mining Bases?

Postby -REBEL3- » Tue Feb 23, 2010 1:41 am

Since I can't seem to run the SVN version of Vegastrike for Mac on my computer, I'm going with what I believe to be true in the 0.5.0 version.

As of this writing, all the mining bases encountered in game are the same design/style for the three main races-the Aera, the Rlann, and the Confed. Is this still the case in the SVN? If so, then I have a quick sketch of a possible mining base for the Aera (mobile, moves from asteroid to asteroid like a small ship.) If, in the SVN, there are different styles of mining base for the different factions, then could someone please point me to the model of the base?

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Re: Aera Mining Bases?

Postby chuck_starchaser » Fri Feb 26, 2010 8:27 am

You can just post your sketch. Even if there was one already, it would not hurt to have another.
Then your sketch, if found good, would probably be added to the wiki, for the list of ship concepts
for modelers to vet on. Understand, though, that modeling a ship or station can take a month of
full time work equivalent. It is not something that's done casually over a week-end. Well, some
people do, but they use all kinds of automatic tools and end up looking like crap. But just so you
don't expect miracles.
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Re: Aera Mining Bases?

Postby -REBEL3- » Fri Feb 26, 2010 5:08 pm

chuck_starchaser wrote:Understand, though, that modeling a ship or station can take a month of
full time work equivalent. It is not something that's done casually over a week-end. Well, some
people do, but they use all kinds of automatic tools and end up looking like crap. But just so you
don't expect miracles.


Yep, I know. I can't model at all though, so I'll leave it to the professionals. :D It'll take a few days to get the sketch scanned and up...I have finals. Should I use the upload attachment feature on the forum to add the picture? I haven't submitted anything yet, so...I don't really know how to attach pics (at least in this forum.)

BTW, do you know if there is any canon/artstyle guides relating to Aeran bases (besides just the general artstyle guide)?
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Re: Aera Mining Bases?

Postby chuck_starchaser » Fri Feb 26, 2010 9:30 pm

I'm not the expert, but the best way, always, is to post what you got and discuss; there have been
changes in this project that put prior canon into a bit of a question. But whatever new canon
arises, it will probably be more rigorous than the previous; not less; so your question is important,
even if there's no straight answer at the moment. For example, prior canon asked for, but didn't
enforce, the presence of retro thrusters and maneuvering jets. The new canon will probably force
these features. There was a mere suggestion that there be plenty of heat radiator surfaces; but
artists didn't take it seriously. In the future they will probably have to, or see their work turned
down. Etceteras.
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Re: Aera Mining Bases?

Postby -REBEL3- » Mon Mar 01, 2010 1:50 pm

Looks like I will have to wait until after spring break to post the pics, my teachers are really hammering me with projects.

My mining base proposal is a bit more like a big mining ship-that flies VERY slowly to an asteroid, lands on it, and slowly mines it. It sits on the outside of the asteroid and grinds slowly inwards, then leaves when the asteroid is gone. My question-are there any plans to implement partially destructible asteroids with, say, 3 different degrees of destruction? For ex, if I leave a base on an asteroid for a *real-time* day, would I see the asteroid get smaller by, say, three increments (uneaten, partially eaten by the miner, and nearly gone?) I've been reading the asteroids thread, but I haven't noticed any such plans...
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Re: Aera Mining Bases?

Postby chuck_starchaser » Mon Mar 01, 2010 1:59 pm

I'd say there are no such plans, with almost 100% certainty. That would involve run-time mesh manipulations.
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Re: Aera Mining Bases?

Postby -REBEL3- » Mon Mar 01, 2010 2:10 pm

What about welding a dozen or so of smaller destructible asteroids together? Then, you could just have the base land and have a pair of Ktek beams mounted on the bottom of the base. Write the mining AI so that the base shoots the asteroid ( killing the top smaller destructible asteroids) and then to move down to the next set of asteroids. That way, it looks like the base is actually mining, while limiting the strain on the GPU. If you wanted to get really fancy, you could have the asteroids drop "Ore" cargo when killed and have the base use some really huge bottom-mounted tractor beam to tractor it in (might require some serious AI improvements though).
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Re: Aera Mining Bases?

Postby chuck_starchaser » Mon Mar 01, 2010 2:40 pm

Not sure if the amount of coding and art work involved justifies the benefits.
How many players are going to sit next to an asteroid for weeks to verify whether it is being mined?
A lot of things may sound like great features when looked at without context; but put into context
make no sense.

Take the case of the WCU mod. Players kept asking and asking to have the ability to mine asteroids.
They wanted this more than they wanted sex.
So, finally, spiritplumber got to work on it, and got it working.

Well, it turns out that most players just tried asteroid mining once, and got bored.

So much work for nothing...

So, try to put your dreams into a greater context before suggesting features. How much REAL gameplay
value would feature X add? Thinking up features is easy. Implementing them is hard. So they should be
well thought out, from many angles, before they are even suggested. And of all angles, the most
important is gameplay. What kind of gameplay fun do they facilitate?

One good question to ask is, is feature X something you want be married to, or something you just want
to experience (once or twice). In the case of mining asteroids, that's something players wanted to
experience in the game; not something they really wanted to be married to; --i.e.: none really cared
to become a full-time miner.
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Re: Aera Mining Bases?

Postby -REBEL3- » Mon Mar 01, 2010 4:44 pm

I actually was not interested in mining personally, I figured it could add another layer of realism to the game. Say you notice that the base is nearly finished "eating" the asteroid. In the case of a mobile mining base, you would then know that is was going to leave, and that you would probably have to re-find it in a few hours. You might choose to make a quick run to a planet, to sell some more booze to the miners before the base left. :wink:

I was figuring that the bases would be mobile-that they would fly to the asteroid, land on it, wait a bit, fly off, fly to another asteroid...is this at all possible with the current engine/ai or would the bases have to be stationary? If they are stationary, I would want to revise my drawings a bit...
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Re: Aera Mining Bases?

Postby Neskiairti » Tue Mar 02, 2010 7:49 am

my suggestion here would be to assume they hollow out the asteroid.. :P then put a hud item up that displays the % of raw material left in the asteroid, once its down to 10% you can assume they are almost done.. once they reach 0% the asteroid vanishes and the ship moves on.

considering how much safer and easier it would be to work /inside/ an asteroid than on the surface.. (cosmic rays, radiation, micrometeorites) this would make more sense :P even robotic mining drones would be subject to such dangers.
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Re: Aera Mining Bases?

Postby chuck_starchaser » Tue Mar 02, 2010 8:14 am

Indeed!
Or just hollow out an asteroid and move on.
I've been meaning to model a new mining base, or rather a set of mining bases; and one change definitely needed
is to up the size of them. Mining a 1 km asteroid is not economic, when you can find plenty of 100 km ones; and
leaving a 200 meter thick shell is not unthinkable in a 100 km beast. In fact, they would make good space bases
after mining is completed; and in fact I see nothing wrong with having asteroid mines that have been converted
to supply depots, or residential habitats; and therefore no longer produce ores.

And for another argument to REBEL, mining an asteroid would take decades; so even if it was mined from the
outside, you wouldn't see much difference in game-play time-spans.
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Re: Aera Mining Bases?

Postby -REBEL3- » Tue Mar 02, 2010 2:57 pm

You've got a point about the timespan of asteroid mining. It would take quite a while to mine even a 30 km asteroid, and even longer to mine a 100km one! :D

A question though-I'm thinking the base could sit on the outside of the asteroid, and just be part of the asteroid model (forget the base moving from place to place.) However, you seem to be suggesting the base be inside the asteroid. I accept the fact that it would be more cost-effective and practical to use the asteroid as shielding, but we have to make some considerations to the player. Just flying into a hole in the asteroid isn't very interesting...most players (myself included) want to see the base they are docking with (or blowing up.) Unless you plan to have us flying around killing stuff on the INSIDE of the asteroid... :mrgreen: Not that the asteroid couldn't be hollow, but that we would want the docking area/visible base on the outside. The inside of the asteroid could be filled with little tunnels from the mining bots....

I definitely agree with the resizing of the asteroids though. It would present another interesting tactical side to the game. Being chased by big ships? Take your Nicander into a bunch of huge asteroids where the big ships can't follow!
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Re: Aera Mining Bases?

Postby chuck_starchaser » Tue Mar 02, 2010 4:04 pm

Sure; let's fill the asteroids with tunnels, and then we can play Descent :D

No; the mining operations would be inside; but the docking ports and other structures would be outside.
And by "other structures" I mean lights (to make the dark side of the roid visible), possibly a power plant,
definitely heat radiator arrays, some rails for transporting ores between the mine holes and the docks,
and possibly glass bubbles with greenery underneath, for food and oxygen production for human personnel.
But what I've been thinking is that these external structures should be sub-units, so that at least half a
dozen asteroid shapes can be made, with structure distributions to match.
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Re: Aera Mining Bases?

Postby -REBEL3- » Tue Mar 02, 2010 4:43 pm

chuck_starchaser wrote:No; the mining operations would be inside; but the docking ports and other structures would be outside.
And by "other structures" I mean lights (to make the dark side of the roid visible), possibly a power plant,
definitely heat radiator arrays, some rails for transporting ores between the mine holes and the docks,
and possibly glass bubbles with greenery underneath, for food and oxygen production for human personnel.
But what I've been thinking is that these external structures should be sub-units, so that at least half a
dozen asteroid shapes can be made, with structure distributions to match.



Sweet, thanks. Looks like I'll have to revise my drawings somewhat before show them off. :). Since I'm doing Arean, the bases are going to have way fewer windows/ glass domes and such...right? At least, that's what the wiki style guide says, but I'm not sure if it's still in it's sell-buy date...

One question-if the modelers were to make the various sections separately (like the power plant as it's own model), we could attach new stats to each one, right? If the power plant was destroyed, could code be written that makes some of the turrets go inactive, shields drop, and some of the lights on the base turn off (or other things)?
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Re: Aera Mining Bases?

Postby chuck_starchaser » Tue Mar 02, 2010 5:13 pm

That's worth a thought, or two... Klauss?
Another thing we will need, when we start having docking ports as sub-units (in general, no just
for asteroid mining bases), and improved autopilots, is base AI that assigns you to a dock when
you request docking, and then that dock's AI takes over guiding you to itself.
We definitely need to use subunits a lot more; and docks present a special opportunity, in that
they are parts of a station you get to see really close, and should therefore offer more detail;
and maybe have animated meshes, like doors that open like in Elite.
Last but not least, with a dozen models for docks, and a dozen models for stations, a bit of
random recombination would yield a lot of variants.
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Re: Aera Mining Bases?

Postby klauss » Tue Mar 02, 2010 5:20 pm

Actually, we have to start using subunits less. They're really subunits. Units attached to other units. Designing AI to work like that is really crafty.

A base should be a single unit, with a single AI, controlling the different bits if you ask me. Having submeshes is ok, having them attached to subsystems is ok. But each their own AI? That's too much I guess.

I'd really like it that units could have submeshes. So if you're going to build a complex unit out of many meshes for artistical reasons, you don't have to affect other areas of gameplay (ai, physics, etc).

I seem to have read about submeshes in the engine, but I've never seen a unit make use of such a feature, so I would have to inspect the code thoroughly to confirm that there isn't support for that already.
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Re: Aera Mining Bases?

Postby chuck_starchaser » Tue Mar 02, 2010 5:24 pm

Sure; that suits me perfectly. If submeshes are not implemented, it should be a matter of copying the
subunits code and deleting the AI. How is it done with asteroids? You were saying that satellite roids
are subunits; but I'm sure they don't have AI's...
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Re: Aera Mining Bases?

Postby Neskiairti » Tue Mar 02, 2010 11:12 pm

that is assuming anyone would directly dock with a massive asteroid.. fighters would land, sure.. but most large ships would likely find a identical orbit to the asteroid, and station keep with it while using either path ways/tubing (alla 2010 movie) or shuttles. attaching a ship even a 10th the size of an asteroid to the asteroid would throw off its rotation and put a strain on its station keeping. You get torque and strain some where.

for rapid freight transfer you would use a pathway with conveyors most likely.
For crew and passengers, a short shuttle trip or pressurized flexible arm like in an airport.

but enough of my realism :D

for what an asteroid base might looklike.. cant remember which author it is who described it, been a while since i read it.. but take a hollow asteroid, heat it up to glowing with trapped solar energy... and spin it.. very fast.. making it balloon outwards from Centripetal force. Focus the heat in specific places and let the force mold it in to a cylinder.. And once it reaches the desired size.. let it cool off, then cap the opening with a port facility, spray the inner walls with some form of insulating epoxy, then pressurize. Keep it rotating and along the inner wall you have maybe 0.5-1.0 Gs of simulated gravity.

The end cap would have an outer docking ring rotating exactly the opposite direction.
along the surface of the base would be radiators, shielded power facilities, weapons platforms, and engines for station keeping and rotation control.
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Re: Aera Mining Bases?

Postby klauss » Wed Mar 03, 2010 8:48 am

chuck_starchaser wrote:Sure; that suits me perfectly. If submeshes are not implemented, it should be a matter of copying the
subunits code and deleting the AI. How is it done with asteroids? You were saying that satellite roids
are subunits; but I'm sure they don't have AI's...


They do have AI - a very dumb AI that does nothing.
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Re: Aera Mining Bases?

Postby chuck_starchaser » Wed Mar 03, 2010 10:33 am

Sounds like it would be a matter of copying the sub-unit code, calling it "dumb_subunit", and stripping the
ai from it; but probably easier thought than done; --probably "the sub-unit code" is atomized and spread
through the whole engine, right?
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Re: Aera Mining Bases?

Postby klauss » Wed Mar 03, 2010 10:48 am

I'm not sure... subunits have a parent unit. AI and such use the parent from time to time, but subunits is mostly that: the hierarchy.

The unit list contains only root units (ie, null parent), and so asteroids use the subunit hierarchy to optimize drawing, since entire asteroid groups can be culled in one step like that.

Creating a subunit without AI may be as simple as adding a dumb_subunits (or ai_subunits) and adding all subunits in the corresponding list.

But you know the level of abstraction VS code has - absolutely none. So you may encounter barbwire fences along the way.
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Re: Aera Mining Bases?

Postby chuck_starchaser » Wed Mar 03, 2010 11:42 am

I'm tempted to modularize Unit, as I mentioned a moment ago in the other thread.
Then the code would test the pointer members of units before doing anything.
Is the AI *pAI member NULL? Then skip AI. Etceteras.
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Re: Aera Mining Bases?

Postby klauss » Wed Mar 03, 2010 11:53 am

For units, the test itself may be a lot of effort already. There can be 1000-2000 asteroid units in a destructible field (yep... soo many). Or was it in a system? Anyway, that amounts to 2000 memory fetches really dispersed, that means fetching 2000 cache lines, which with 64-byte cache lines means 128k bytes. Since you also have to iterate through unit and subunit lists, that's minimum an extra 64k for list management and traversal. That's flushing the L1.

And that's with the limited fields we're using - so it certainly doesn't allow us to scale to millions of asteroids.

Separate lists, on the other hand, scales very well.
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Re: Aera Mining Bases?

Postby chuck_starchaser » Wed Mar 03, 2010 6:15 pm

That's a sobering picture...

What I was actually thinking to do, eventually, might be best; namely, we could have units having any combination of modules for physics, collision, AI, trade, damage, whatever; but rather than make lists of units of specific types, we could have lists of modules.
All AI modules in one list.
All Physics modules in one list.
And so on.
So the Unit objects list becomes like a join of these specialized tables, seldom used.
The code packages that iterate these tables could then be separated as threads, and then our Unit object's object
would be to buffer communications between the other threads, such as reporting a weapons hit to the AI, and
then reporting the AI's hitting afterburner to the physics.
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Re: Aera Mining Bases?

Postby klauss » Wed Mar 03, 2010 7:19 pm

That looks more promising :D

Note that, then: whenever the AI gets reworked, remove AI from the Unit class, and have, instead, an AI module that refers to a Unit under its control.
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