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Game design and distance/scale

Discussion in 'Game Design' started by TenKHoursDev, Jun 18, 2015.

  1. TenKHoursDev


    Nov 9, 2014
    So my game is a space combat game. Its kind of unique in some ways and different in others. It was originally inspired by Digital Anvil's 2003 game Freelancer.

    The concept of close range dogfights in space and laughably scaled planets and stars really bothers me. In a future space war the distances velocities and scales are bound to be so great that unguided projectile weaponry won't be of any use. Additionally in Freelancer the planets and stars were like toys, just barely larger than the players ship.

    I've read somewhere about KSP's strategy of creating a large universe with relative precision by situating the camera in a central motionless position and moving everything else around it relative to the player camera. Such a scheme defeats the problem of limited Floating Point precision. I have a hunch that implementing such a system would be difficult and require special translation rotation methods. My hunch tells me basically anything which moves would have to use those methods.

    Am I right about that?

    Perhaps the FL flight control scheme is unsuited for realistic space games. It seems more suited for close range fights and action.

    I don't even think adding some zoom feature and different kinds of weaponry like guided projectiles and super long range lasers would work (or be fun). What's the fun in shooting at a largely stationary target hundreds of miles away and being unable to watch the darn thing blow up spectacularly?

    I'm stuck on this realism thing, but I'm also stuck on keeping the control scheme I've developed over the past year (I've done other work too :p). I really like hard practical sci fi, too.

    I was also going to ask for a discussion about deciding on the scale of a game too. Maybe that should be left out... I'm unsure but how does one decide on a proper scale for things? As an experiment I created a script which would spawn cubes of ever increasing size up to 1000 units or 3000 units in space. I found it reminiscent of the original game I'm drawing inspiration from. The players ship as it is right now is just a 1x1x1 cube.

    Perhaps I have a problem of going "out of scope" and trying to hodge podge some features I think are cool together.

  2. GargerathSunman


    May 1, 2008
    This comes down to a simple truth of all early flight sims. Realism is often boring, realism is rarely fun. Arcadey flight mechanics, unrealistic scales, and unrealistic space flight speeds all combined to form some of the best space flight sims of our time.

    So, my recommendation is to fake realism and to not get stuck on having to have it. It's more important for it to feel fun than to feel real.
  3. SpaceMammoth


    Jan 2, 2013
    Realism isn't always boring, but it is hard work to make it interesting. For scale, I would advise against building realistic unless you really are building a simulator. Elite dangerous gives you a good example of realistic space simulator for scale - space is really-really big and you have to do a lot in the game to make that work from a gameplay perspective.

    But maybe you could make a game out of a realistic future space war. Lets just think what it would look like. Firstly no Faster than light travel, everything we know about physics points to that being impossible, boring I know but that's the way it is. Nuclear weapons are a problem that doesn't go away, in space there are no fallout and no reason not to use them, so you are looking at sub-light inter planetary and ship-to-planet and ship-to-ship bombardment by nuclear rockets from very large distances. Space based rocket defences, laser and rail-gun based seem likely. Anti-defense measures would include swarms of rockets and decoys. This would be played in a single star system across the large distances over timespans of days and weeks. Its probably a very different game to the one you were thinking off.

    As mentioned above you have to drop the bits of realism that get in the way of your gameplay. In my game I use the basics of realistic many-body gravitation for projectile movement, but I totally mess with special scale (ship size and relative distances are all crazy) and even temporal scale (planet movement is to a different pace than bullet movement) to get the gameplay I want.

    All fun things to think about ;-)
  4. RockoDyne


    Apr 10, 2014
    KSP centering on your ship has more to do with the physics of the ship than just positioning. In KSP a ship isn't one object, it's frequently several hundred or even thousands of objects with their own rigidbodies loosely held together by joints. In the olden days before they implemented this, it was noticeable just getting to space that their wasn't enough precision when the parts would start shaking violently, leading to a rapid unplanned disassembly. Thus the legend of the Space Kraken was born. Most of the actual mapping of your position in space is done using double precision floats, I believe, but they use a lot of camera tricks (like with planet rendering) as far as I am aware.

    The biggest problem with doing things realistically is that action isn't likely what you're going to get. Strategy/4X is totally doable, but expecting exciting action in high quantities while in the void of space is asking for the improbable. Speculate and take things to the extreme, you might find something interesting there.
  5. TenKHoursDev


    Nov 9, 2014
    Glad to see someone thinks like I do ;)

    That is a game I would like to create. I <3 the idea of hard sci fi because honestly most sci fi feels more like magic than possible future science. When I say "I would like to create" it means I still cannot let go of my current control scheme. I've put a lot of work in to it and I would like to make something out of it... and perhaps I should scrap including it in my game, place it on the Unity asset store and instead implement that realism/simulator factor. I would like to create something realistic but accessible to most people, fun, challenging, and contains some action.

    I do like that idea :)
    SpaceMammoth likes this.
  6. Not_Sure


    Dec 13, 2011
    It sounds like you want your cake and eat it too. Hard Sci-Fi or Sci-Fantasy, pick one. Mixing the two never makes either fan base happy.

    Remember midichlorians?

    That's what happens when a Sci-Fantasy tries to make scientific reasoning behind their fantasy. How many people liked midichlorians?
  7. TenKHoursDev


    Nov 9, 2014
    I think there's a difference between making a game that you would want to play and making a game that you would like to make. Much like how wanting to make games is not like playing them.

    I think the general appeal for creating games is if you do your job right you can turn a fantasy into something interactive and in some ways real. With that said I don't think everyone would enjoy the game making process but I do think anyone can learn to appreciate it.

    I spent a few days designing a completely new game before I resurrected this epiphany at the top of this post. I just cannot get in to strategy games and that is what the game I designed would have learned towards.

    What I eventually concluded was I don't want to make something realistic, I want to make something different! In my mind the traditional space simulator was not realistic, and we have talked about that here. Its fun, but it isn't realistic, and that is the point of a game to be fun! You can pick your genre but that genre does not necessarily pick its setting or realism.
  8. tedthebug


    May 6, 2015
    reminds me a bit of Mary Poppins & trying to make chores fun. Is reality boring or have we just not noticed the fun bits?

    they say the most believeable lie is one based on a truth so a fun sim game could have some unrealistic things that are extrapolated from a truth so that they are at that edge of what we know. We know it isn't true but it could be one day & maybe humans haven't quite got the science right for it now. Thats why i liked the red mars trilogy, it was based on hard science & extrapolated out so it was still believable.
    TenKHoursDev and Gigiwoo like this.
  9. Gigiwoo


    Mar 16, 2011
    What's real? Even what we think is real, is only just our own perception from the limited bits of the universe we interact with. In the end, games look past all of this stuff about reality in order to create engagement! Or in other words, "Flow" - which has 4 requirements: 1) Clear Goals, 2) Good Feedback, 3) Balanced Difficulty, and 4) No Distractions.

    In my studies of flow, games, and engagement, I have found that 'realism' can sometimes becomes the enemy of engagement. After all, if you made a perfectly realistic game, space-flight would be handled by a computer, battles would take place at unbelievably far distances, and it would take days, months, or years to do anything meaningful.

    TenKHoursDev and GarBenjamin like this.