Nebulae Redesign Perhaps?

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Nebulae Redesign Perhaps?

Postby Ajezla/NightOwl » Tue Mar 26, 2013 5:09 am

Not sure if this is the right forum for this, but I'll give it a whirl anyway. I was reading some responses to a thread I made over in the "A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Commerce Center" forum in regards to an object I found inside a nebula in rlaan space. The topic kind of shifted to how nebulae look in game, and how some of them don't quite look like nebulae :lol: This might already have been mentioned here in this forum, but frankly, I don't feel like searching through 10 pages of threads to find it :wink:

One of the nebulae in rlaan space (that has the rlaan object inside) looks more like a dark, brownish spike in space, than a cloud of dust and gas. The green nebulae model looks more like a glob....of well......snot, tbh. The only nebula that I've seen that even looks remotely like a nebula is a purple cloud-like one.

I propose making nebulae look more like a semi-transparent cloud in space. You could still fly into the cloud and run around and such, but the nebula would look more like a nebula this way. The responses to the other thread I refer to in my opening statement stated that real nebulae are more like sector or system wide objects, and are not realistically represented in VS. I agree, but I'm not sure if I want to fly through an entire sector of space that looks like I'm in a big cloud. Plus, you wouldn't have a nebula as a scannable object for patrol and clean sweep missions anymore, and I think having to scan a nebula adds flavor to those missions.

I was also thinking that if it could be done, that entering a nebula could have some tactical value as well. Like say, the nebula reduces the range of weapons for a ship outside firing into the nebula. Another option that might be easier to code would be that entering a nebula breaks a target lock.

Just some ideas to throw out there. Not sure whether any of them would work or not, but would be interesting to see someone try 8)
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Re: Nebulae Redesign Perhaps?

Postby klauss » Tue Mar 26, 2013 6:24 am

Ajezla/NightOwl wrote:The responses to the other thread I refer to in my opening statement stated that real nebulae are more like sector or system wide objects, and are not realistically represented in VS. I agree, but I'm not sure if I want to fly through an entire sector of space that looks like I'm in a big cloud. Plus, you wouldn't have a nebula as a scannable object for patrol and clean sweep missions anymore, and I think having to scan a nebula adds flavor to those missions.

You have a point there..
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Re: Nebulae Redesign Perhaps?

Postby Deus Siddis » Tue Mar 26, 2013 8:14 am

It would actually not look like you are flying through a giant cloud.

Nebulae in most cases are extremely sparse while clouds are extremely dense. In a nebular system, you'd probably only see fewer stars in the distance or they would be dimmer. Everything else should look the same, I believe.
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Re: Nebulae Redesign Perhaps?

Postby klauss » Tue Mar 26, 2013 8:53 am

Deus Siddis wrote:It would actually not look like you are flying through a giant cloud.

Nebulae in most cases are extremely sparse while clouds are extremely dense. In a nebular system, you'd probably only see fewer stars in the distance or they would be dimmer. Everything else should look the same, I believe.


Except:
  • They can be animated (maybe not too realistic, but very pretty)
  • IF I ever implement inter-system space*, you'd see them move when flying through interstellar space.
  • Even if not, you'd see the movement when jumping from system to system. You could even target a nebula, and tell the autopilot "take me there".

* In this idea, when you leave system boundaries, the engine would take you to a fake "hub" system with layout derived from the galaxy xml, so you could target other systems and fly there, even use the nav map. The system would work at a different scale, you'd only be able to move in SPEC/warp, this is specially engineered towards mods like Vega Trek which require this kind of travel.
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Re: Nebulae Redesign Perhaps?

Postby Deus Siddis » Tue Mar 26, 2013 3:58 pm

How do you animate a nebula? What aspect of a nebula would be changing on a human-perceptible time frame?
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Re: Nebulae Redesign Perhaps?

Postby klauss » Tue Mar 26, 2013 5:47 pm

Deus Siddis wrote:How do you animate a nebula? What aspect of a nebula would be changing on a human-perceptible time frame?


In reality? None.

But in fiction, I was thinking of varying the stellar wind patterns, which would vary the emisiveness of the various parts of a nebula, and thus make for a nice little spectacle.
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Re: Nebulae Redesign Perhaps?

Postby Shark » Mon Aug 26, 2013 1:55 pm

Could someone post a series of screenshots to show how nebulae are done in VS? I don't have VS installed to check.

IWar 2 had nebulae that you could enter and exit at FTL speeds. It was done well.

Homeworld 2 had nice looking "mini" dust clouds, but used a different technique I think. IIRC it used 2D (almost) billboard sprites that would rotate to always face the player. It might have had fog for certain levels too.

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Re: Nebulae Redesign Perhaps?

Postby A Laggy Grunt » Sun Sep 01, 2013 6:07 pm

Nebulae should come in two Vegastrike flavors: sector-wide and confined to a gravity well.

If they're sector wide, nobody can see, and maybe it should affect other ship systems.
They could be really stormy, like in Wing Commander Saga. This could be harmless always-in-background type lightning, or something which might actually fry electronics on ships.
They could cause extreme damage on ships moving at high SPEC speeds, because SPEC speeds are ridiculously fast and friction at SPEC speeds would mean trouble without special modification.

Gravity well type could mean superweapons which rip off atmosphere from planets. Maybe a star fortress could generate a gravity well, and make a nebula of its own, to hide a buildup of forces (or play mindgames with an enemy). Or maybe one could be the result of a black hole stripping material off of stars.
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Re: Nebulae Redesign Perhaps?

Postby TBeholder » Sun Sep 01, 2013 8:45 pm

Ajezla/NightOwl wrote: The responses to the other thread I refer to in my opening statement stated that real nebulae are more like sector or system wide objects, and are not realistically represented in VS. I agree, but I'm not sure if I want to fly through an entire sector of space that looks like I'm in a big cloud.
The way it was from wherever this meme crawled from, the idea was that there are somewhat challenging hindrances for everyone in area, such as shield leak. I.e. it still was supposed to be system-wide "local conditions".
Realistically, it would only mean that thanks to your local solar radiations lighting the cloud, there's more of noise (flourescent/recombinatory photons) all around and that vacuum on the outer borders of the system isn't quite as clean as everyone else is used to have (which may still have serious effects - e.g. on FTL, which depending on specific warp math may even be enough to affect traffic).
Ajezla/NightOwl wrote: Plus, you wouldn't have a nebula as a scannable object for patrol and clean sweep missions anymore, and I think having to scan a nebula adds flavor to those missions.
I was also thinking that if it could be done, that entering a nebula could have some tactical value as well. Like say, the nebula reduces the range of weapons for a ship outside firing into the nebula. Another option that might be easier to code would be that entering a nebula breaks a target lock.
And what's bad with normal dust clouds? As a bonus, they would help to make asteroid fields of believable density nasty not only in navigational sense.

A Laggy Grunt wrote: Maybe a star fortress could generate a gravity well, and make a nebula of its own, to hide a buildup of forces (or play mindgames with an enemy). Or maybe one could be the result of a black hole stripping material off of stars.
All big stations got to have noticeable gravity well. No thick atmosphere - it's a very small moon mass, tops. But since both they and traffic got to continulously leak a lot of stuff, including metals, there would always be something...
More amusingly, Lagrange Points are petty much nature's trash bins. ;)
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Re: Nebulae Redesign Perhaps?

Postby loki1950 » Sun Sep 01, 2013 10:20 pm

Nebula are not strictly local affairs most are light years in size.And some are star birth sites.There should be some affect to ships from the increased density of dust/gas molecules apart from any visual effects could we use a shader for those.

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Re: Nebulae Redesign Perhaps?

Postby pheonixstorm » Mon Sep 02, 2013 1:24 am

Well if we don't allow travel to or from a nebula why not just add it in as part of the cubemaps?
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Re: Nebulae Redesign Perhaps?

Postby A Laggy Grunt » Mon Sep 02, 2013 1:46 am

TBeholder wrote:
Ajezla/NightOwl wrote: The responses to the other thread I refer to in my opening statement stated that real nebulae are more like sector or system wide objects, and are not realistically represented in VS. I agree, but I'm not sure if I want to fly through an entire sector of space that looks like I'm in a big cloud.
The way it was from wherever this meme crawled from, the idea was that there are somewhat challenging hindrances for everyone in area, such as shield leak. I.e. it still was supposed to be system-wide "local conditions".
Realistically, it would only mean that thanks to your local solar radiations lighting the cloud, there's more of noise (flourescent/recombinatory photons) all around and that vacuum on the outer borders of the system isn't quite as clean as everyone else is used to have (which may still have serious effects - e.g. on FTL, which depending on specific warp math may even be enough to affect traffic).

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan is where "no shields in the nebula" came from, for most of us.
For the rest of us, increased gas density in space means atmospheric friction. The SR-71 had to be built with fuel tanks which leaked out on the ground, because the heat generated by air resistance at mach 3.5 would have warped the aircraft's skin and frame at those speeds. Think of what would happen at SPEC speeds, or even high Vegastrike combat speeds.
A Laggy Grunt wrote: Maybe a star fortress could generate a gravity well, and make a nebula of its own, to hide a buildup of forces (or play mindgames with an enemy). Or maybe one could be the result of a black hole stripping material off of stars.
All big stations got to have noticeable gravity well. No thick atmosphere - it's a very small moon mass, tops. But since both they and traffic got to continulously leak a lot of stuff, including metals, there would always be something...
More amusingly, Lagrange Points are petty much nature's trash bins. ;)

I was thinking more large-scale artificial gravity, so a fortress would form a nebula at will. Turn artificial gravity off, gravity well becomes too weak to maintain a dense nebula, and it dissipates, revealing whatever was in the nebula.
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Re: Nebulae Redesign Perhaps?

Postby TBeholder » Mon Sep 02, 2013 3:46 am

A Laggy Grunt wrote:
the idea was that there are somewhat challenging hindrances for everyone in area, such as shield leak. I.e. it still was supposed to be system-wide "local conditions".
Realistically, it would only mean that thanks to your local solar radiations lighting the cloud, there's more of noise (flourescent/recombinatory photons) all around and that vacuum on the outer borders of the system isn't quite as clean as everyone else is used to have (which may still have serious effects - e.g. on FTL, which depending on specific warp math may even be enough to affect traffic).

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan is where "no shields in the nebula" came from, for most of us.
Yup, and became a meme/trope - e.g. in Master of Orion.
A Laggy Grunt wrote:For the rest of us, increased gas density in space means atmospheric friction. [...] Think of what would happen at SPEC speeds, or even high Vegastrike combat speeds.
Density isn't that high. The usual Interstellar medium is what, ~ 1 cm^-3? Typical density of solar wind at Earth orbit is ~1 cm^-3, 10x more during flares. Which at Mercury orbit would be only (150/58)^2=6.7 times more, by the way. Nebulae density is ~ 100-10000 cm^-3 - yeah, it's a lot... comparatively. Unlike protons inbound at >0.1c, doesn't count as "penetrating radiation" on its own, however. Of course, the events add up with velocity and cross-section, but still not much.
I'd expect the main effect of the medium on SPEC to be something like this:
1) Particles entering the warp bubble slow down (which returns drag force on the ship, but it's negligible), giving Cherenkoff radiation (otherwise we'd have EM-interacting matter going "actually FTL", as opposed to "effectively FTL" - which is not nice). This means a ship using FTL drive illuminates its aft hemisphere with weak, but detectable MW to synchrotronic (depending on the velocity) glow, which intensifies as it gets closer to just about anything, and anywhere in a nebula it stays 10-1000 times brighter than on far approaches to a planet with tolerable temperature not in a nebula. Okay, this at least got to be noticeable.
2) Pparticles leaving without a collision with the ship may drain equal energy from the warp bubble. Still not too much, but it adds up too - this time over much greater cross-section of the warp bubble.
A Laggy Grunt wrote:I was thinking more large-scale artificial gravity, so a fortress would form a nebula at will.
Suppose such artificially enhanced gravitic field would push the object of "very little moon" class to "little moon". But to calibrate our expectations let's look at some specific mark... like the 5-th largest satellite in Solar system. Lunar "atmosphere" is ~100 cm^-3, about 10 tons total over the the whole stone larger than Pluto. That's held by what, about 1/81 of Earth's mass?.. See the problem now?
Artificial gravity used like this could do much more for orbital mechanics and warp interdiction, though.
Last edited by TBeholder on Mon Sep 02, 2013 7:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Nebulae Redesign Perhaps?

Postby klauss » Mon Sep 02, 2013 12:24 pm

So, the morale in this is that:

  • Nebulas are a pain for stealthness (cherenkov radiation at SPEC makes for very noticeable ships of all sizes)
  • Nebulas are a boon for stealthness (increased noise floor makes detecting stuff hard)

Sounds like a chaotic contradiction, but still exploitable methinks. Especially if we move stuff together as we'd planned, it means SPEC wouldn't be a necessity, but rather a choice. So you could remain stealth, if you can afford the extra travel time.

Oh, and the other morale:

  • We want dust/particle clouds

I hear you.
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Re: Nebulae Redesign Perhaps?

Postby TBeholder » Tue Sep 03, 2013 2:04 am

klauss wrote:
  • Nebulas are a pain for stealthness (cherenkov radiation at SPEC makes for very noticeable ships of all sizes)
  • Nebulas are a boon for stealthness (increased noise floor makes detecting stuff hard)
Yup. Not to radars, however.
:idea: Then again, in a magnetosphere iron-nickel dust could add more fun to the merry hell sparse plasma plays in radiation belts.
If everything that doesn't accelerate or radiate much (or even better is stuck to some stone and thus is not readily discernible with a radar) would be harder to resolve and identify, so... This should make long-range encounters closer?
Otherwise, yeah, these densities won't do a lot unless it's about either long ranges or ramming through the stuff. Depending on whether drain on SPEC power is significant, this may lower ceiling of effective velocity, too.
Both factors together would shift the balance from cruising missiles and neutral beams and toward close-range stuff.
klauss wrote:
  • We want dust/particle clouds
Well, of course. Given that density may range widely, there are lots of niches for dust clouds and similar mediums. A meteor swarm got a lot of dust, then there are rings, comet vaportrails...
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Re: Nebulae Redesign Perhaps?

Postby Deus Siddis » Wed Sep 04, 2013 4:32 pm

TBeholder wrote:
klauss wrote:
  • We want dust/particle clouds
Well, of course. Given that density may range widely, there are lots of niches for dust clouds and similar mediums. A meteor swarm got a lot of dust, then there are rings, comet vaportrails...


I agree, nebulae are probably too sparse to create the dust cloud effect people desire. For that you need the denser and more localized phenomena mentioned above (and also debris fields left over from ancient battles). Something like this.
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Re: Nebulae Redesign Perhaps?

Postby klauss » Wed Sep 04, 2013 6:51 pm

Exactly like that Deus :)
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Re: Nebulae Redesign Perhaps?

Postby TBeholder » Fri Mar 07, 2014 12:42 am

Aye. Right now...
  1. Planet rings - present, but very sketchy.
  2. Comet tails - needs some tweak on atmosphere/fog element to get the right shape. Maybe. What "tail_mode_start"/"tail_mode_end" in AtmosphericFogMesh actually do?
  3. Dust clouds - ??? Spherical ones probably can be implemented already, via atmosphere/fog element mechanics, just use some non-corporeal marker for "planet".
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Re: Nebulae Redesign Perhaps?

Postby klauss » Fri Mar 07, 2014 12:50 pm

I don't see how you would implement the comet tail with the fog element.
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Re: Nebulae Redesign Perhaps?

Postby DarkVixen » Fri Mar 07, 2014 5:27 pm

A programmer I worked with years ago used atmosphere to simulate a comet on another game.

If it's a big comet, you create smoke trails (sprites) like you normally do.

As the camera's distance gets closer to the comet, once its within a smoke trail's radius, atmosphere begins to thicken towards 1.0 (from 0.0 at the border) as you reach the center of the trail.

I don't think we can use atmosphere for the nebulas since they are huge and would encompass an entire system(s). I would just recommend making a constant atmosphere density for systems in nebulas. Make the background image to look like you are in a nebula.
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Re: Nebulae Redesign Perhaps?

Postby klauss » Fri Mar 07, 2014 5:49 pm

VS's "fog element" is a very specific kind of mesh, that's used to fake the atmosphere glow of planets. It's not really generic fog.
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Re: Nebulae Redesign Perhaps?

Postby TBeholder » Sun Sep 14, 2014 12:38 pm

IMO rings are the most interesting part. Because combinations of stars and GG atmospheres allow a wider range of colors to remain believable, which together with variations in diffusion can produce a lot of cool effects. Like this:
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