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Realistically-Sized Systems and Travel

#1
OUTLINE
I've been giving thought lately to how it could be possible to make star systems in Limit Theory realistically-sized (on the scale of dozens of astronomical units) while still maintaining a general Freelancer-like feel to travel and without breaking other mechanics.

This proposal offers some suggestions for the implementation of intra-system travel to allow for realistically-sized systems without making travel within star systems too time-consuming. I will warn at this stage that this thread will heavily reference Heisenberg technology, since it is the only way in which the implementation details can be plausibly justified.

PROPOSAL VALUE
There are both positive and negative effects that implementing realistically-sized systems could have on gameplay:
  • Benefits:
    • More plausible and immersive - improved realism will help make the game world feel more genuine and allow for easier suspense of disbelief on the part of the player. It will also help convey the feeling of being a small fish in a much bigger pond.
    • Allows for interesting travel - there is more variety and scope for intra-system travel that can make traveling through star systems more interesting and engaging.
    • Allows for greater seclusion - if they so wish, the player can travel to remote parts of the system and be surrounded by billions of kilometers of nothingness in all directions. They can choose to set up bases in these locations if they want.
    • High-velocity motion can be extremely satisfying to the player.
  • Limitations:
    • Risk of detraction from Freelancer-feeling - it may not be possible to capture a truly Freelancer feel with realistic system sizes. This will need to be investigated.
    • Greater separation between agents - agents will tend to see and meet each other at and around points of interests, such as planets and asteroids, but not so much at arbitrary points in the system.
    • More tedious/frustrating travel - more thought would have to be given to travel, which some may find annoying.
    • Greater implementation difficulty - may be too resource-demanding or difficult to implement.
IMPLEMENTATION
I envisage that there could be multiple modes of travel within a system, each allowing for different rates at which distances can be traversed. In particular, I envisage four distinct mechanisms, from slowest to fastest, with approximate velocity ranges included:
  • Heisenberg-drive (normal)
    • 1*101 m.s^-1 - 1*104 m.s^-1
  • Heisenberg-drive (cruise)
    • 1*104 m.s^-1 - 0.01 AU.s^-1
  • HAVE Lanes
    • 0.01 AU.s^-1 - 0.1 AU.s^-1
  • Transfer Lanes
    • 1 AU.s^-1
HEISENBERG-DRIVE (NORMAL)
At the lowest rate of travel there is the H-drive, which would be the ubiquitously used propulsion technology that vessels in Limit Theory would rely on. Information on the Heisenberg drive can be found in this thread. This technology would allow for vessels to travel around up to around a few kilometers per second, and are fairly maneuverable at these speeds. They require significant but not overly expensive allocations of power and CPU at these speeds. Agents will be able to operate a number of other systems while traveling in this mode, including weapons, sensors, etc.

This mode of travel can be used anywhere within a system.

HEISENBERG-DRIVE (CRUISE)
As the H-drive moves through space in a straight line, it is able to cache data in a way that allows for better extrapolations of the quantum fluctuations of the vessel's particles (see here). This has the effect of allowing the H-drive to accelerate i.e. increase it's apparent velocity. As the H-drive continues to move at faster and faster velocities, it becomes increasingly restricted in its ability to change its heading without slowing down. However, so long as agents continue to move in a straight line without making any changes to their course heading at all, they will be able to achieve velocities far beyond the few kilometer per second restrictions of H-drives used in their normal mode. The agent's vessel will begin accelerating slowly at first, but will steadily increase up to a point before decreasing again - in other words, the H-drive has initially positive but linearly decreasing jerk. This allows the H-drive to quickly build up speed until it attains superluminal velocities (capped at around 0.01 AU.s^-1 or 5c). The velocity characteristic of the H-drive as it transitions between normal mode and cruise mode is shown below.
Image The H-drive operates by rapidly "jumping" the vessel's constituent particles between points in space. In normal operation, it is able to do this millions of times per second. At its maximum attainable velocity of around ~5c, the H-drive would be performing jumps trillions of times per second. Due to the extremely fast jump rate of the vessel's particles, they will not have time to electrostatically interact with other particles, giving them an almost ghost-like quality that prevents them from colliding with most other objects. This would have two implications:
  • It would warrant some kind of partial transparency effect for vessels while traveling at these very fast velocities.
  • It would reduce or eliminate the need for collision detection, significantly reducing the load on the physics engine. The point at which collision detection is reduced or turned off for the vessel can be used to distinguish between "normal mode" and "cruise mode".
This is very much like the scene in Clockstoppers when the protagonist achieves "hyper-hypertime"; he becomes partially transparent and is capable of passing through other matter because his particles are vibrating so fast (link).

In this mode, the H-drive can only be used to travel in a straight line and has very expensive power and computational demands. Like in Freelancer, weapons and most other systems ordinarily cannot be used during this time. In order to avoid the player inadvertently ordering their navigation systems to change heading while trying to achieve cruise velocities, some button or other mechanism should be available to the player to let them lock their current heading. Trying to change heading at high speeds will lead to a significant reduction in velocity and will cause the H-drive to revert to "normal mode". As with "normal mode", "cruise mode" can be used anywhere.

I would also like to see modules that can "disrupt" the H-drives of other agents as they're in cruise mode in order to bring them back down to "normal mode" velocities.

HAVE LANES
HAVE lanes (rhymes with "shave" or "wave"), or high-accessibility vacuum energy lanes, are naturally-forming bands of space with extremely high-accessibility to vacuum energy. The original discussion of this idea can be found in the Heisenberg Extractor thread under Terrain. In brief, I imagine that vessels in Limit Theory are all equipped with exactly one special kind of energy production module, called an H-Extractor, just as all vessels are equipped with exactly one special kind of propulsion module (the H-drive). H-extractors are able to provide a continuous source of power to vessels by extracting energy from the vacuum of space. Different parts of space allow for different levels of accessibility to this vacuum energy, and this will dictate how much power H-Extractors are able to generate. Running through systems are these bands where access to this energy is extremely easy, and H-extractors are able to maintain very high rates of power generation as vessels fly over these regions. This additional power can be routed through to the H-drive, where it allows for much stronger H-fields to be generated and therefore longer jump distances.

Agents will be able to analyse space to find these natural lanes and task their navigation systems to follow along them. As with ordinary H-drive operation, vessels will start out slowly and gradually built up velocity. However, since the distance that particles cross in each jump significantly increases, the H-drive is able to maintain the same apparent velocity of the vessel at a slower jump rate. This allows the H-drive to achieve superluminal travel rates (of around 0.1 AU.s^-1 or 50c) while still keeping its jump rate low enough for the navigation computer to make the calculations necessary to allow the vessel to steer and change heading to follow the course of the HAVE lane that it is tracking.

The gif below demonstrates the kind of feel I expect HAVE lanes to have while the player travels along them.
Image As with H-drives in cruise mode, I envisage partial transparency and no collision detection for vessels traveling via HAVE lanes.

TRANSFER LANES
Transfer lanes are the "trade lanes" of Limit Theory. I have been researching into how trade lanes were implemented in Freelancer and have designed these in a way to hopefully give a very similar feel to that game. Transfer lanes are essentially very, very large transfer units, and operate by producing H-fields that extend across vast distances within star systems. At each end of a transfer lane is a transfer gate that sustains it. These gates are connected together to form a network through which agents can move around systems at extremely fast rates (up to 1 AU.s^-1 or ~500c).
Image These transfer gates would be located close to major points of interests - planets, large stations, jump gates, etc. One idea that I've had is for these gates to orbit planets and other large bodies, which in turn would orbit the local star. Over time, the changing relative positions of all of these bodies would cause the straight-line paths between gates to become clear or blocked, and this would lead to a dynamically-changing transfer gate network. This can lead to dynamic and cyclically-recurring effects upon the economy of systems and regions in Limit Theory. This idea is presented visually below.
Spoiler:      SHOW
Image Image Image
However, Josh has confirmed that celestial bodies would be static in Limit Theory, and so dynamically-changing networks are not a suggestion I have for Limit Theory, but perhaps instead for any future sequels. I would be happy enough to see static transfer gate networks in LT1.

Transfer lanes have the following characteristics:
  • They exist along straight-lines.
  • They are completely artificial and require transfer gates to exist.
  • There is the possibility that agents can construct and own them, and also toll other agents for their use.
  • They allow for traversal across systems in the space of minutes.
  • They may allow entry into them at any point along their length, or possibly only at one of the transfer gates. This will need to be decided upon at some point.
  • Each gate may be shielded to vaporise dangerous matter getting propelled down the lane, such as asteroids or debris. If this is the case, it would mean that vessels would need to maintain shields as they enter and exit from transfer lanes, as they would need to rely on fully-synced interactions between their shields and the gate shields to pass through them without damage. This can lead to some interesting tactical gameplay - shooting down an agent's shields could prevent them from entering a transfer lane, for instance.
  • There is the possibility that hostile agents can disrupt transfer lanes as you travel through them, as in Freelancer. However, based on the videos I saw of this and a similar mechanic featured in X: Rebirth, people tended to find this mechanic annoying. Therefore it may not be a desirable mechanic to implement in Limit Theory. On the other hand, the reason that people may have found this feature annoying in those other games may be because they were pre-scripted events and therefore felt artificial and like "grinding". In Limit Theory, if an agent chooses to disrupt transfer lanes as you or another agent passes through one, they will do so for very specific reasons that they have in mind.
As for the visual representations of these transfer lanes, I'm in favour of a "space-warping" effect like you see around the spinning disks of the station in this video at 5:30. This space-warping effect would run along the length of the transfer lane, and looking through it will give a distorted view of the space behind it. As with H-drives in cruise mode and HAVE lanes, I envisage partial transparency and no collision detection for vessels traveling via transfer lanes.
All of these proposed mechanisms of travel would be used in a kind of hierarchical manner to travel between arbitrary points in a solar system. H-drives offer the slowest travel times but can be used anywhere; HAVE lanes are faster but exist only across certain regions of space; transfer lanes are faster still but there are fewer of them than HAVE lanes. Agents would usually begin by gearing up their H-drive, then switching it to cruise mode and directing it towards the closest HAVE lane, which they will then travel along until they reach an entry point to a transfer lane. They will use the transfer lane network until they find an appropriate place to come off it, and then use a HAVE lane to reach another point much closer to their destination, and finally travel to their destination using the H-drive. This parallels what happens in real-life, where vehicles will likely get from one point to another by using residential roads, A-roads and motorways.
Last edited by ThymineC on Wed Mar 05, 2014 10:03 am, edited 8 times in total.
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Re: Realistically-Sized Systems and Travel

#3
But if we make the systems realistically sized, there will just be a pure void. You could be sitting in the middle of the asteroid belt and not notice anything. I think if we want a sci-fi universe, we may as well make it fake scale.

Otherwise, that gif you posted will just look like a black dot with a planet growing in the background, rather than the "WHOOOSH ZOOMING THROUGH ASTEROID FIELD" idea. I'm traveling, relative to the galactic center, at 230 km/s. Whoosh! But I can't measure that speed, so it just looks like I'm sitting in a chair. Speed is relative distance, so we can still make warp drives/lanes feel as though they go really fast, I think.

Assuming Josh makes jump lanes faster, I think there is still plenty of room for seclusion by moving in one direction. A whole solar system would be probably too much seclusion, and if we make jump lanes faster and the scale bigger, the time still stays the same.

I agree that we should be trying for a feeling of big scales and high speeds, but I'm not sure full void is the way to do it. Maybe increase warp speeds and have the classic "warp field" graphics - sparks shooting past, and a distortion field around the edges?
-Keon-

(I don't have any funny quotes to put here yet. Somebody say something funny.)
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Re: Realistically-Sized Systems and Travel

#4
Keon wrote: I agree that we should be trying for a feeling of big scales and high speeds, but I'm not sure full void is the way to do it. Maybe increase warp speeds and have the classic "warp field" graphics - sparks shooting past, and a distortion field around the edges?
this would not do much besides being pretty graphics and make the systems feel even smaller when you increase warp speeds
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Re: Realistically-Sized Systems and Travel

#5
Keon wrote:But if we make the systems realistically sized, there will just be a pure void. You could be sitting in the middle of the asteroid belt and not notice anything. I think if we want a sci-fi universe, we may as well make it fake scale.

Otherwise, that gif you posted will just look like a black dot with a planet growing in the background, rather than the "WHOOOSH ZOOMING THROUGH ASTEROID FIELD" idea.
I was anticipating this point, and I disagree. Apart from the fact that you could visibly see huge celestial bodies moving to and away from you at these velocities, there are other graphical effects that space games often use to convey the impression of velocity, for instance via space flecks which have already been implemented in Limit Theory. There are potentially other effects that can be implemented to convey the impression of high speed, particularly since you're travelling faster than light.
Keon wrote: I'm traveling, relative to the galactic center, at 230 km/s. Whoosh! But I can't measure that speed, so it just looks like I'm sitting in a chair. Speed is relative distance, so we can still make warp drives/lanes feel as though they go really fast, I think.
Not if my dial is saying that I'm only moving at 1 km/s through them, which would only be made more awkward if I see the local star and planets moving at appreciable apparent speeds to and away from me.
Keon wrote: I agree that we should be trying for a feeling of big scales and high speeds, but I'm not sure full void is the way to do it. Maybe increase warp speeds and have the classic "warp field" graphics - sparks shooting past, and a distortion field around the edges?
I just don't feel this would work as well if systems didn't have realistic sizes. It also wouldn't address the problem that unrealistically small systems could have a negative impact on immersion and therefore the enjoyability of the game. Furthermore, increasing travel velocities without increasing system sizes would only make the systems feel smaller, whereas my proposal aims at keeping travel times roughly the same as they are now (or are designed to be now), and therefore maintain the same kind of feel.
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Re: Realistically-Sized Systems and Travel

#6
I think my biggest issue with realistic sizes is that the game no longer becomes a visual-based one and instead a scanner-based one.

We're so far apart that unless I'm staring at my scanners, I will only see celestial bodies (growing or shrinking slowly) and nothing else. It becomes more of a showcase for the system generator and the procedurally generated things within them (which if that's what you want, there are other peices of software specifically for this purpose). My scanners/radar are my visual because when I jump in a system, I no longer have visual cues that tell me easily how populated a system is. It could be the most populated system in the game, but I wouldn't be able to tell.

Random encounters reduce near to 0 as well. Let's say we take the current asteroid density and put it so that it's just a larger asteroid field with the same density. Trying to lie in wait for someone to steal their hardwork becomes incredibly difficult. Either you'd get lottery-lucky with someone choosing an asteroid near you, or you end up having to travel a large enough distance that you require your cruise drive (and thus all but broadcast you're on your way or chance slamming into the denser asteroid field).

It also almost feels like the battles would then turn into space-jousting and trying to hit the enemy in the short amount of time you're close to each other, or ships just standing still firing volleys at one another.
Image
Early Spring - 1055: Well, I made it to Boatmurdered, and my initial impressions can be set forth in three words: What. The. F*ck.
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Re: Realistically-Sized Systems and Travel

#7
I feel like this is the kind of thing that's near-perfectly moddable into the game, but I doubt Josh is going to spend much time optimising the base game to make it work better.

I'm sure that there are enough people in the community who will swap and share experiments with game data nodes after release until they find a reasonable "realistic scales" setting for the existing mechanics. Not perfect, but dev time is a finite resource and this AI isn't going to create itself.
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Re: Realistically-Sized Systems and Travel

#8
DWMagus wrote:I think my biggest issue with realistic sizes is that the game no longer becomes a visual-based one and instead a scanner-based one.
I'm not quite sure I know what you mean. Isn't Limit Theory already going to be heavily scanner-based? Ships, asteroids, jump gates, etc. all emit signals at certain frequencies and the only way I can find them is through the use of the scanner? I'm pretty uncertain on whether or not realistic system sizes will significantly change the way this would otherwise work.
DWMagus wrote:My scanners/radar are my visual because when I jump in a system, I no longer have visual cues that tell me easily how populated a system is. It could be the most populated system in the game, but I wouldn't be able to tell.
Actually, I imagine that most NPCs would cluster near points of interest in the system, so you should be able to get an idea of how populated a system is very easily. For instance, in EVE Online there is one system called Jita that is always extremely busy. As soon as you jump into the system, you can usually see dozens of other people around the gate, either having just jumped into the system or about to jump out of it. In Limit Theory, I expect there to be even more tell-tale signs; NPCs setting up stations and retail outlets near busy jump gates, more billboards and other forms of advertisements, heavier security in the system, etc.
DWMagus wrote:Random encounters reduce near to 0 as well. Let's say we take the current asteroid density and put it so that it's just a larger asteroid field with the same density. Trying to lie in wait for someone to steal their hardwork becomes incredibly difficult. Either you'd get lottery-lucky with someone choosing an asteroid near you, or you end up having to travel a large enough distance that you require your cruise drive (and thus all but broadcast you're on your way or chance slamming into the denser asteroid field).
Random encounters while travelling would certainly become much more rare, unfortunately. :( This is listed in the imitations section of the proposal. However, I don't see asteroid belts extending all the way across the system; I imagine asteroid fields to be big (much bigger than in EVE Online), but not that big, so that you'd encounter other miners in the system quite often. For this reason and the fact that I've said in the proposal that collision detection switches off when in cruise mode or above, you wouldn't slam into asteroids.

As for broadcasting your presence as you speed towards another agent - that's a good point. Something to bear in mind is that at cruise-mode velocities and higher, you'd be travelling faster than the signals you emit - it'd be interesting to see if anything can be developed off of this line of thought.
DWMagus wrote:It also almost feels like the battles would then turn into space-jousting and trying to hit the enemy in the short amount of time you're close to each other, or ships just standing still firing volleys at one another.
I don't think this would ever happen. In order to maintain any kind of maneuverability, vessels would have to be traveling at the kind of velocities you see in-game already. You need to be able to maneuver for combat. You wouldn't be able to hit anyone in cruise mode since, like in Freelancer, you can't operate your weapons at high speeds. You also wouldn't be able to be hit, since collision detection is off. Your cruise mode could be disrupted, but then you would be brought into normal-mode travel and be up against other agents, also in normal-mode, and if combat starts then it will feel like something you'd very much expect it to.
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Re: Realistically-Sized Systems and Travel

#9
One minor complaint. Err. Ok, no - two not-so-minor complaints:

1. How am I going to travel across unpopulated, wild systems in a reasonable amount of time?

Even in Freelancer getting all the way across such a system was quite lengthy, and Freelancer scales are really, really small (I've loaded a save recently and oh my God LT looks better! And bigger!). You know, even getting across an asteroid field will be a huge waste of time.

2. How is it principally different from X:Rebirth apart from taking place in the H-reality? :)
Image
Survivor of the Josh Parnell Blackout of 2015.
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Re: Realistically-Sized Systems and Travel

#11
outlander4 wrote:How am I going to travel across unpopulated, wild systems in a reasonable amount of time?
Assuming a (very much upper-bound) distance of 50 AU between jump gates and a (lower-bound) travel rate using HAVE lanes at 0.1 AU/s, it'd take you about 8 minutes to reach from one gate to another as the crow flies. HAVE lanes are present in every system. However, since HAVE lanes are rather tortuous, expect this to take more like 10-15 minutes. I'm not sure how long it takes to travel across systems in Freelancer, but for an upper bound, 10-15 minutes to cross an undeveloped system seems pretty fine to me; it'd help convey the vastness of space. Personally, my favourite combination would be realistic systems, fairly long travel times, and means to keep travel interesting. :)
outlander4 wrote:2. How is it principally different from X:Rebirth apart from taking place in the H-reality? :)
From what I've seen of X: Rebirth, it seems to share a few similarities with this proposal (trade lanes, for instance) but not others (HAVE lanes). Does X: Rebirth allow anything approaching a zero-maneuverability cruise drive? Also, does X: Rebirth feature realistic system sizes? :shock: Kudos to it if it does.
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Re: Realistically-Sized Systems and Travel

#12
To be perfectly honest, I'm not sure that it's feasible to implement realistically-sized systems in a manner that's fun and consistent with the rest of the gameplay in Limit Theory. What I am very confident about is that realistically-sized systems would be more appealing to me if everything else remained constant - that is, if we could have realistically sized systems while every other part of the game maintained the same gameplay and feel, I would want that. It worked well in EVE Online, but that's very much a different game.

This thread serves as an investigation to see whether or not that is actually possible. If it's not, I'll be fine with smaller systems.
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Re: Realistically-Sized Systems and Travel

#13
ThymineC wrote:
DWMagus wrote:I think my biggest issue with realistic sizes is that the game no longer becomes a visual-based one and instead a scanner-based one.
I'm not quite sure I know what you mean. Isn't Limit Theory already going to be heavily scanner-based? Ships, asteroids, jump gates, etc. all emit signals at certain frequencies and the only way I can find them is through the use of the scanner? I'm pretty uncertain on whether or not realistic system sizes will significantly change the way this would otherwise work.
Let me try and clarify a bit more and even use examples from Freespace.

When I jump into a system, I can tab-target and cycle through any target within radar range. I see on my viewscreen (cockpit windows, whatever you want to call it) the targetting box (even if it's outside my weapon range) and can even see the ships themselves (because everything is closer). Now, I don't HAVE to tab-target them to know they're there. Even without a target box calling attention to a ship, I can see as well that there is a ship there.

When we explode the distances, things will be so far that unless I'm looking at my radar, I don't even know they're there. Even if I could target-cycle through the different objects in the system, the only way I know they're there is via the target box or via my radar. I can't visually see them. This is what I meant by a scanner game. I meant more radar than scanner (so as not to mix up my terminology). I could be flying through space and see stars whizzing by, but unless my eyes are glued to my radar, I don't know if there is even anything there. There's just too much outside of what I can see without radar.

Now, as for random encounters, I can see how you actually accomodate that. You scale up the actor density to help match the volume increase. This can work, but I think because of how small ships are in ratio to the amount of small space, I still see it as throwing a baseball from New York and trying to hit a window in San Francisco.
Image
Early Spring - 1055: Well, I made it to Boatmurdered, and my initial impressions can be set forth in three words: What. The. F*ck.
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Re: Realistically-Sized Systems and Travel

#14
DWMagus wrote:
ThymineC wrote:
DWMagus wrote:I think my biggest issue with realistic sizes is that the game no longer becomes a visual-based one and instead a scanner-based one.
I'm not quite sure I know what you mean. Isn't Limit Theory already going to be heavily scanner-based? Ships, asteroids, jump gates, etc. all emit signals at certain frequencies and the only way I can find them is through the use of the scanner? I'm pretty uncertain on whether or not realistic system sizes will significantly change the way this would otherwise work.
Let me try and clarify a bit more and even use examples from Freespace.

When I jump into a system, I can tab-target and cycle through any target within radar range. I see on my viewscreen (cockpit windows, whatever you want to call it) the targetting box (even if it's outside my weapon range) and can even see the ships themselves (because everything is closer). Now, I don't HAVE to tab-target them to know they're there. Even without a target box calling attention to a ship, I can see as well that there is a ship there.

When we explode the distances, things will be so far that unless I'm looking at my radar, I don't even know they're there. Even if I could target-cycle through the different objects in the system, the only way I know they're there is via the target box or via my radar. I can't visually see them. This is what I meant by a scanner game. I meant more radar than scanner (so as not to mix up my terminology). I could be flying through space and see stars whizzing by, but unless my eyes are glued to my radar, I don't know if there is even anything there. There's just too much outside of what I can see without radar.
Hm, I see you're point. And I'd have to check out what Freelancer does myself when I can eventually play it. But I don't get something - if you can visually see ships (and ostensibly other entities, like stations, jump gates, etc), then what's the point of having the scanner for this stuff at all? I thought the idea was that you shouldn't be able to see NPCs in the system unless they were pretty close to you, and that you would be using the scanner to locate them otherwise. In EVE Online, for instance, I'd be able to see vessels that were mining in the same asteroid belt as me, or close to the same station, but otherwise I'd have to track them with my directional scanner. The directional scanner wasn't really that fun in EVE, but it looks like a lot more fun in Limit Theory.
DWMagus wrote:Now, as for random encounters, I can see how you actually accomodate that. You scale up the actor density to help match the volume increase. This can work, but I think because of how small ships are in ratio to the amount of small space, I still see it as throwing a baseball from New York and trying to hit a window in San Francisco.
I don't think it would be possible to scale up actor density all that much, given how computationally demanding the AI is. Though to a degree, the fact that there are transfer lanes and HAVE lanes should help increase the odds of random encounters; if Alice and Bob are travelling on foot from Texas to Idaho and Idaho to Texas respectively, it's unlikely they'd ever meet. However, if they were travelling by car, they'd be taking interstates and freeways which would significantly increase the chance that'd cross paths at some point.

To clarify something, everything we've seen in the Limit Theory development videos would, under my proposal, be part of one relatively dense asteroid belt that would be surrounded by billions of kilometers of empty void, with other asteroid belts, ice fields, space anomalies, wormholes, jump gates, stations, planets, etc. in between. It'd be easy to visually see other NPCs around the same point of interest as I am (e.g. the local asteroid field), but not if they were around another one.
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Re: Realistically-Sized Systems and Travel

#15
ThymineC wrote: To clarify something, everything we've seen in the Limit Theory development videos would, under my proposal, be part of one relatively dense asteroid belt that would be surrounded by billions of kilometers of empty void, with other asteroid belts, ice fields, space anomalies, wormholes, jump gates, stations, planets, etc. in between. It'd be easy to visually see other NPCs around the same point of interest as I am (e.g. the local asteroid field), but not if they were around another one.
That's not "realistically dense" though.

I appreciate what you're saying, but even under your "realistic" system, you'd be squishing things like asteroids together to make the gameplay work.

I suspect that there's an upper limit to how "realistic" you can make space sim games if you want them to be anything other than Desert Bus, and that this upper limit is in fact quite a bit below 1:1 scale.

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