Galaxy/Universe Size

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Galaxy/Universe Size

Postby nphillips » Wed Dec 30, 2009 5:28 pm

Okay...this has been rolling around in my head for the last week or so, and I thought I'd toss it out for you all :)

One MAJOR problem with VS the Game (VSG), in my opinion, is the sheer size. It's huge. Too huge. As a result, it's insanely repetitive, and boring as hell. Less than twenty planet textures with no variations, and even fewer base models.

My proposed solution would be to drastically reduce the size of the playable universe. And by "drastically" I mean less than 100 systems. Probably less than 50. That gives us a very defined area to customize and make believable. I think that the main plot/campaign could benefit from having a smaller, more contained region.

That being said, there are some serious problems stemming from a hatchet-job like this. Canon, for one, implies a HUGE amount of territory occupied by humans, not to mention the several alien species. We also have a LOT of factions and in 50 systems, that's bound to get cramped. But that's not the discussion I'm starting, here (not yet, anyway....it will need to be addressed if the idea is something that everyone wants to pursue).

Now, I know there are people who like the vastness, so my extended thought would be to provide a "Universe Size" option at the beginning of the game. Just a simple drop-down or radio-button option with "Standard (50)", "Large (150)", "Extra-Large (500)", and "You'll never visit them all! (1,000)". (I don't know how many systems are currently built...these are just numbers pulled out of thin air as an example). This way, we would always have the set "internal" 50 systems, and the other size options would expand out beyond that.

The other thing that I thought about was getting rid of the obnoxious, random 20-character system names. They're hopelessly impossible to decipher or understand. I'd say stick to Earth-based alphabets and naming conventions. If they're directly related to known stars, use those names. Who cares if the Aera or Rlaan call them something else? It needs to be human-readable! Just divide the systems into areas using Greek letters (Alpha, Beta, Delta, Gamma...Zeta), give them 20 numbers (Alpha 01, 02, etc.), and you're set. Once those run out, move on to another alphabet that uses different character names like Cyrillic, Hebrew, or Katakana/Hiragana (particularly digraphs and diacritics).
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Re: Galaxy/Universe Size

Postby chuck_starchaser » Wed Dec 30, 2009 7:51 pm

Well, I'm not sure that limiting universe size needs to be a high priority; and with canonical concerns thrown in, it would seem to me a can of worms. As for having choices during setup, another can of worms: some people will set the number at 50, then demand the option to change the number later. And if you consider that the game doesn't force you to explore... you could just trade within an area you're familiar with. I recently read a post by someone who proposed that the universe be produced from a common seed, so that all players experience the same universe. That sounded like a better idea to me. Then if some bunch of systems somewhere happen to be good looking and profitable, the word gets around, and players can flock there.

But I agree that the number of systems generated far exceeds the amount of art that is included. I think though perhaps more art would be a nicer solution than universal shrinkage upon the coldest sea :D

Another solution, which I would MMMMUUUUCHHHH prefer is to improve the universe generator to create more interesting systems, even out of the existing art. We know now that very few systems have planets suitable for habitation. The generator could produce a lot of systems that have NO rocky planets; only gas giants and asteroids, and a station or two, but no planets to land on. Landable planets should be rare, like one every 10 systems at most, i would think.

Plus, there are definitely wrong things with the generator, at least as of the last time I played VS. For instance, rings around rocky planets without moons. Rings around gas giants that are at an angle relative to the planet's rotation. Double sets of rings around planets on different planes, crossing each other...

I think there's a lot of room for injecting common sense in the universe generator, and by varying the frequencies of instantiation of planets, and having rule-based algorithms for station type placements, we could make systems make more sense AND appear more varied; --if only by contrast, as by, ironically, having more systems that are rather sterile; which would make systems with inhabitable planets and more stations feel preciously unique.
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Re: Galaxy/Universe Size

Postby snow_Cat » Wed Dec 30, 2009 10:43 pm

^ - -^ Would breaking stations down into "development stages" work?
^- - ^ If each station has a core component, ans specail subunits are attached it could still convey that a station is of X type, but each would be at Y stage of development/decline.
^ - -^ This could (with much work) allow the player to influence the development of these stations, and in larger battles have stations break apart, and the engine (on its subunit check) would burn it up like a string of firecrackers, rather than pop like a baloon.
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Re: Galaxy/Universe Size

Postby Deus Siddis » Wed Dec 30, 2009 10:57 pm

chuck_starchaser wrote:I think there's a lot of room for injecting common sense in the universe generator, and by varying the frequencies of instantiation of planets, and having rule-based algorithms for station type placements, we could make systems make more sense AND appear more varied; --if only by contrast, as by, ironically, having more systems that are rather sterile; which would make systems with inhabitable planets and more stations feel preciously unique.


Wholeheartedly agree, this is something that has always bothered me with VS. The "sprawl in space" generator makes the game feel a lot less like space as well as a lot more boring, both visually and gameplay wise as well. Personally I would rather see islands of interesting things, both dynamic and scripted, with a sea of sparse, dark systems in between them. And then every now and then, you'd find out there is more to one of those 'dark systems' than you might have assumed.
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Re: Galaxy/Universe Size

Postby chuck_starchaser » Wed Dec 30, 2009 11:43 pm

Well said.
If this was a driving game, I'd want to drive around in cities, of course; but through country, mountains, whatever, between cities, and stop at little towns once in a while; but the way VS is, it's like driving through one continuous mega-city.
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Re: Galaxy/Universe Size

Postby nphillips » Thu Dec 31, 2009 12:01 am

Deus Siddis wrote:
chuck_starchaser wrote:I think there's a lot of room for injecting common sense in the universe generator, and by varying the frequencies of instantiation of planets, and having rule-based algorithms for station type placements, we could make systems make more sense AND appear more varied; --if only by contrast, as by, ironically, having more systems that are rather sterile; which would make systems with inhabitable planets and more stations feel preciously unique.


Wholeheartedly agree, this is something that has always bothered me with VS. The "sprawl in space" generator makes the game feel a lot less like space as well as a lot more boring, both visually and gameplay wise as well. Personally I would rather see islands of interesting things, both dynamic and scripted, with a sea of sparse, dark systems in between them. And then every now and then, you'd find out there is more to one of those 'dark systems' than you might have assumed.

True enough. And it's a better solution.

Perhaps we could rig some sort of half-assed simulator to divvy up the star systems between species and factions, and find appropriate places for military and civilian stations (including, but not limited to commerce centers and production facilities), then build things out from there. Make it logical, but not deeply involved or complex.

We could run it offline, so it can crunch it's numbers for a while, and use a common universe setup, rather than the randomly generated one.

And yes: planets that have habitable surfaces should be few and far between. And having uninhabited planets would be good, too -- I think it's asinine that we can land on any rocky planet, only to find a pristine pad, but no other signs of life. What's the logical reason for that?

Regardless of what goes on, we NEED better system names. "Azzkabazzazziallyzzy" is just dumb. I don't care if it's supposed to be a different language. There's no apparent sense to it, and it adds needless confusion.
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Re: Galaxy/Universe Size

Postby chuck_starchaser » Thu Dec 31, 2009 12:13 am

For names, I think having long Rlaan names may be a bit of a nostalgic item for some players.
But, couldn't we perhaps code a generator that makes them a bit less long and more pronounceable and mnemonic? Perhaps an algorithm that takes English words from a dictionary, reverses them, then
replaces occurrences of a with aa, and e with a, for example. A sort of substitution table. Then
follow it with a clean-up pass that looks for too many consonants or too many vowels together
and weeds out the crap.
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Re: Galaxy/Universe Size

Postby chuck_starchaser » Thu Dec 31, 2009 7:47 pm

This is weeks-old news, but I just came across it... A water planet
about 40 light years from Earth.
http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/12/17 ... aterworld/
This planet orbits very close to a very cool red star; supposed to be
mostly water, about 1/3 rock; surface temperature about 200 deg C,
but the water isn't necessarily boiling; the atmo appears to be thick
and the size of the planet is about 2.7 times Earth's size, and its mass
6 or 7 times as large, so pressure would probably push boiling temp
above 200 C.
Just posting this because I think as our knowledge of exoplanets goes
up, the universe generator should be updated. Water worlds had been
sci-fi material, but here's one, finally.
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Re: Galaxy/Universe Size

Postby Deus Siddis » Thu Dec 31, 2009 8:37 pm

I stay out of Rlaan and Aera space simply because the crazy names makes navigation too difficult.

I think the Rlaan and Aera solar system names were meant to be changed to human language substitute names, but were never converted. That's what happened with the ship class names at least. Changing them to real world star names seems like a perfectly sensible solution as well.

Either way, the names need to be changed to something that will make them easier to distinguish and remember.

chuck_starchaser wrote:Just posting this because I think as our knowledge of exoplanets goes
up, the universe generator should be updated. Water worlds had been
sci-fi material, but here's one, finally.


Agreed, an open source game can and should adapt to the latest information, especially one with a "dynamic universe" where things change from game to game anyway.
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Re: Galaxy/Universe Size

Postby snow_Cat » Thu Dec 31, 2009 11:30 pm

chuck_starchaser wrote:But, couldn't we perhaps code a generator that makes them a bit less long and more pronounceable and mnemonic?

Sounds feasable, similar things have been done before.
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Re: Galaxy/Universe Size

Postby chuck_starchaser » Thu Dec 31, 2009 11:58 pm

Hahaha, great story!
And scary too; we might end up with the same problem.
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