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Xavier Wise

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Reply with quote  #1 
Hello all!

I am working on a new Artemis Sandbox at the moment (inspired by the conversation for Armada) and I want to make it pretty big. However, I don't just want it to be a replica of the TSN Sandbox, and I want it accessible for vanilla Artemis.

The idea is to have one or two huge systems (8x8 sectors minimum). Travelling around the system would potentially take forever though. I have already added corner-to-corner tranition, as well as edge-to-edge, in order to speed up transit across the system (i.e you can fly diagonally across the system). I was thinking of an alternative to jump points and though of the idea of 'warp lanes'.

Jump points in the TSN Sandbox at the moment act as a point-to-point tranition. They jump you from one place in space to a new place a large distance away. The TSN RP Community came up with some of its own canon to explain how it all fits with our universe. However, I am aware that general Artemis canon doesn't include this, or fully explain how long range travel occurs (no to my knowledge anyway).

This is where Warp lanes come in. From sci-fi I have read, they are areas of space that have been mapped and cleared for safe, long-range travel at high speed. There could be a lot of missions spin out from this, from ships being lost along the way, survey missions for new destinations, missions to clear obstacles, missions to defend entrances or exits, and even ambush scenarios where your ship gets dragged out of the warp lane by a tractor beam of some sort.

In terms of mission scripting, you'd set up buoys to navigate between in which max speed of a ship is boosted.

It could explain why we go so slow in a sector (too dangerous to go fast due to particles hitting the ship) and link with how USFP space is so large (warp labes laid for long range, high speed travel). I imagine specialist clearing ships going at high speed to clear lanes (massive forward shields and heavy armour, almost like a ram, with engine nacelles shoved on the back), and survey missions to map possible routes.

Anyway, I am still building the Artemis Sandbox so any other ideas of what to add would be good. I was thinking of building a random mission generator into it first before moving on to adding things like GM keys. In terms of GMing though, I was thinking of having a pre-made system, with bases and terrain set up, a second system with just terrain and a final blank system for the GM to populate completely.

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Xavier Wise

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Reply with quote  #2 
I have updated the title to this thread to make it more generic, that way I can use it to add updates on the progress of the script.

Currently, I am just working on resolving a start-up issue I have encountered. I want the script to be automatic when starting and not require a GM.

If you have any ideas for missions to add to the sandbox, please post below. It will help my planning as I write missions to use. Here are a couple of ideas I have:

1. Combat patrol - the ships are given a route to fly over several sectors and clear of any enemiea
2. Intercept - find and eliminate attacking enemies in a particular location
3. Defend - travel to a location and defend until relieved or the attack ends
4. Escort - accompany a cargo, science or transport ship to a particular location
5. Transport - pick up and transport a high value item/person

I'll add more as I think of them. As for assignment of tasks, I might revisit a 'mission pod' system I added to an old version of the TSN Sandbox. It worked by having generic meshes which acted as 'mission pods'. When you were close, you'd pick up the mission and then play it out. These pods would then be scattered across a system and would only appear when the current mission is complete.

I might also look in to adding some kibd of random encounters too, like helping ships adrift, or being ambushed by enemies.

There are a lot of ideas, but if I have it plabned out now I can build in the structure to the code to make it easier to complete bits later.

Anyway, thats all for now!

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jacobio

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Reply with quote  #3 
Xavier Wise, I really like the idea of "Warp Lanes". In fact, after reading your post, I'm contemplating adding a similar mechanic to a multi-sector map I'm creating for a multi-mission story arch I'm developing. Love it!
notsabbat

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Reply with quote  #4 
I love the idea of a sandbox style map that doesnt require a GM. One of the things my crew would enjoy doing, that is just not possible with the vanilla game, is get a sense of exploration. I think a huge map like this with premade side missions that take us through the various systems would go a long way towards that experience. could also be possible for other people to add to it to further develop it.

I too like the idea of "Warp Lane" even if you don't like the IC explanation of warp lanes, it would be easy to think of it as fast traveling, so it works on a lot of different levels.

looking forward to seeing where this goes.

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Xavier Wise

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Reply with quote  #5 
Thanks for the input, really appreciate it!

I'll look further in to the warp lanes next.

I can also try and design the sandbox so others can add missions to it. That would take knowledge of scripting and probably a guide about how to do it so it fits with all the code.

Another question is how to handle energy use. In the TSN, we modded the energy use of ships as one solution and also have a fuel collection system in the sandbox. I want this for to be for vanilla artemis, so a mod isnt going to work. The fuel collection system could though. If anyone has played Havok in the Hamok sector and used the Ramscoop, thats pretty much what it is. That is just in the script too, so no mods required. I could have plenty of stations scattered about instead, and long range missions would be base-to-base.

Another question is enemy space. Should I create a border in the system where over that you are in enemy space? What happen then with energy? I could script a support ship, but then you are limited to the speed of that ship (which is VERY slow!)

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Xavier Wise

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Reply with quote  #6 
If there are any volunteers for testing, let me know. I can release a version for testing that wouldn't have missions, but would have other features like warp lanes and general terrain. Basically, you'd just explore the place and see if everthing works correctly (transitions, warp lanes, terrain generation, refueling solutions etc)
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notsabbat

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Reply with quote  #7 
I would love to try it out. My crew meets on thurs generally, so most likely I could give you some the next day.

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ryleyra

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Reply with quote  #8 
I really like the idea of Warp Lanes. It's reminiscent of the nav point navigation from Earth and Beyond, and provides you with a restricted form of travel that gives you more control over the player's movements, and prevents them from being able to exploit the increased efficiency it gives them. For instance, one way of looking at Warp Lanes is they are identical to Jump Points, but instead of being transported from one Jump Point to the other instantly, you travel between them at a finite rate.

You're absolutely right that the canon game does not provide any explanation or mechanism for long range travel. I would suggest using my theory that combat Warp and Jump is a "crash start" for an FTL system that allows it to be used in combat, at the cost of increased energy use. Travel at more efficient energy cost is possible, if you balance it by taking more time on preparation before the warp/jump. And possibly, having to disable certain combat systems.

For instance, you could enter a Warp Lane, and then you would have to plot a course. This is similar to the way Earth and Beyond does it, and it's also consistent with the way it's depicted on Star Trek. The Helmsman doesn't sit there at the wheel and steer the ship, the course is "laid in". Of course, you will have to leverage the game interface to actually set a course, which could require user keys. However, what you could do is have the ship since at a nav beacon for a few moments, waiting for some signal that the course is laid in. Then, when Warp is engaged, the ship will follow the Warp Lane like it's caught in a stream. As it passes through the nav points, it automatically changes direction. But, if it leaves the "stream", it falls back to normal rate.

You could either feed energy back into the ship when travelling in a Warp Lane, or just simply make it move 10 times faster on the same energy. And Jump Gates could supplement this system, for truly LONG range travel. A long Warp Lane could actually take you across several sectors, allowing the crew to take a break.

I'll mention that another idea I have had is for edge to edge transitions to basically take place in a "warp tunnel", where you transfer to another map via an empty sector with a generic mesh wrapped around the ship that creates a moving starfield. (Probably by moving the generic mesh in the opposite direction) However, that generic mesh will have to be a custom addition to the game. Although at least it won't have to be modded. This better fits the idea that you're limited to Warp 4 in the neighborhood of a star.

Xavier Wise

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Reply with quote  #9 
Ok, again thanks for the feedback and ideas. Here is a quick update!

I have solved the start up issue with the sandbox. It now initiates as soon as the first ship spawns in, which is done by selecting a mainscreen on the client and hittig 'ready to play'. I have also tested some of the edge-to-edge code and it seems to be working fine.

I have been experimenting with the warp lanes and coming up with a couple of solutions. The first was to define a narrow corridor in the sector and simply boost the property topSpeed by 1 when inside the area. This worked well. To show the warp lane on the map, I just used a series of generic meshes. The advantage was the simplicity of scripting. The disadvantage is warp lanes are straight and either run top to bottom or left to right (unless I go with much lengthier, though not necessarily more complex, scripting). Also, when you enter, your speed is boosted whichever direction you travel until you leave, so if you crossed a warp lane at 90 degrees you'd suddenly get the boost.

The second option that I am still in the process of trying is defining a warp 'nav point'. This is a generic object with a name such as 090. The name defines the direction of the warp lane. To use it, a ship would have to fly up to the nav point and turn to match the heading indicated by the generic mesh name (e.g. 090 degrees). There is a small margin of error either side so that you need only match the direction 'as close as possible'. After a few seconds, the coordinates would lock and the ship speed would automatically boost to warp 1, and the overall speed increase adding 1 to the property topSpeed. The ship would then travel in that direction faster than normal, without further input from the helm console (note, this topSpeed property could easily be doubled, I just used an increase of 1 to test the idea). It comes very much from Ryleyra's idea above of being in a kins of slipstream and tries to emulate it as close as possible.

I am still working on how to exit the warp lane with this second method. I am thinking a simple change in heading by a few degrees from helm would be enough to drop out of the lane. Once you are out and away from the nav point, you wouldn't be able to rejoin the warp lane of course!

The advantages are more strategic warp points. You need to be in a particular location, facing a particilar direction and wait for the ship to go to warp before you actually travel. It makes the long range warp feel more 'deliberate' and give the impression that manouving by helm is setting up the jump to warp speed. The drawback is the code is much more complex and there are a few issues I need to resolve to ensure it works as intended and reliably. Also, you'd be potentially locked on one heading until you came across another nav point, which you'd then have to move to and set up the jump to warp again.

So far, I have scripted it for one ship only. How it works with multiple ships is an issue that needs to be resolved. It could be simply that all ships must be at the warp nav point with coordinates locked before the jump to warp activates for all ships simultaneously. And one ship exiting the warp lane would cause all ships to be dragged out of it.

Tell me what you think!

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ryleyra

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Reply with quote  #10 
I wouldn't worry about multiple ships, just boost each of them individually by setting topspeed. The only time multiple ships need to be "in synch" is when you do a sector transition.

I was thinking of warp lanes being from nav point to nav point. I like the idea of the degree heading being displayed on the nav point, but basically you start at one nav point and continue until you reach the second one. You can also divert off of the given heading and "fly out" of the warp lane, which drops you back to normal speed. Warp lanes can only be entered at nav points.

What happens when you hit a nav point which is itself the start of another warp lane is a bigger question. What I would like to see is a warp lane system that allows you to traverse several sectors automatically, so what happens with you hit a transition point in a warp lane is yet another big question. This would be complicated, but you could make it so when you hit a nav point, your course is automatically altered to head towards the next nav point in the lane. You can then be carried across the sector, transit to the next sector, and continue to the next nav point and beyond.

This means warp lanes have to be non-branching, though. Maybe you could have a warp lane dump you into a "hub" where a ring of nav points let you continue on in several directions. This would be a good place to put a base as a refueling point, too. Warp lanes should be two way though. If you enter a nav point in the middle of the lane, you should be able to choose where you will go by pointing either towards the last nav point or the next one. Maybe a "hub" can direct you based on which way you point.

I used the topspeed tweak in my Sector Size mod, in the included script to boost Warp by 10x. It's a pretty simple algorithm, I was pretty sure it would be just as simple to boost topspeed based on the ship's position, or distance from a nav point, and then test to see if it is still on the "lane".

I like the idea of the players being able to engage warp, and not have the lane engage it for them. It should be easy enough to tell if the ship is near the nav point and pointing at the right angle when warp is engaged. A popup could appear to let Helm know when the angle is correct. Or maybe you could place a Generic Mesh on the map to show the lane is "active". (Or maybe change the nav beacon?)
Xavier Wise

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Reply with quote  #11 
Thanks for the input.

I could make a nav point have more than one direction. Simply naming it with two numbers could be a solution e.g. 090/340 could indicate the two different directions the ship could take.

I was envisioning warp lanes would run across several sectors, I just need to address the issue of the ships hitting the edge and "drifting" left or right (I think I can do this by making the ship hit the edge at exactly 90 degrees). 

To inform helms officers about the warp lane being ready, I am adding a series of pop-up messages. The first is "computing course" and the second "course laid in". When that second message appears, the helm knows everything is ready and it gives a captain the opportunity to say "engage warp". The helm can then push the speed to warp 1 (which would be boosted with the topSpeed property whilst in the warp lane). The part taken out of control of helm would be the direction the ship is travelling.

To have ships change direction and follow a path along a warp lane could be done simply by changing the ships "angle" property when it comes in to range of the next nav beacon. My only concern with this is having the ship snap to a new heading instead of turning. As long as the change in direction isn't huge, then it should be less jarring for the players and would resolve the issue with edge-to-edge transitions when transiting multiple sectors.

I think, what I'll do is have warp lanes pretty much in a straight line across most of a sector, from the 'entry point' to a beacon near the border and in the next sector the next beacon and the "exit point" which would act as the return nav point.

I'll work more on the scripting and try and get a working mock-up. If I can, I'll make a video showing a working prototype.

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ryleyra

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Reply with quote  #12 
Well, one reason you might want to have irregular warp lanes is to divert around hazards. The whole point is to plot a course through clear space, after all. I think you're right that the secret is to keep the direction changes small.
notsabbat

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Reply with quote  #13 
so, it sounds like you already have a clear idea of the effect your going for, but for me a point that just teleports you to another region would be fine.  Maybe even have it trigger a jump dmx cue if possible


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Xavier Wise

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Reply with quote  #14 
OK, so work on the warp nav points have been quite slow tonight. I have spent a lot of time figuring out what calculations I need to do to accuratly set the angle. I was using variables which then linked to the angle - the angle of Artemis would be set at a value defined in a separate variable. The problem is, angles are measures in radians, which is not an integer value. Also, the angles are different to the headings on the screen. A ship heading of 120 degrees on the helm console is actually an angle of -60 degrees, or -1.044(approx.) radians in the mission script. I now have a way of working out the relationship between the heading and the desired angle (0.0174*(Heading-180)). Of course, to save that as a variable, I have to multiply it by 1000 to give me a whole number, and then to change it back into an angle I have to divide by 1000.

Basically, it has been a real pain to figure it all out from scratch.

Now that is done, the warp lanes work! I can create a nav point, name it with the warp lane's heading and then use it to accelerate a ship to a much higher top speed. If the ship changes course by more than a degree or two, it drops back to normal speed and you're out of the warp lane.

The next bit I will work on is creating a chain of nav points in a sector. It should be fairly straightforward to do; there just needs to be a switch in the variable the defines the angle that the ship is set at. I should be able to link together as many nav points as required in one sector to have the warp lane turn to avoid particular obstacles e.g. to navigate around an asteroid field or nebula.

notsabbat - I haven't gone with a jump as I wanted to try and see if a different system could be used. I know that jumps have been used in a couple of sandboxes now, including one of my own, and fancied a different approach. Thanks for the input though! I'll see if I can get a working prototype for you guys to try before next Thursday if you are interested in testing it. No promises though!

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mattssheep4

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Reply with quote  #15 
A quick thought:
If the warp lanes are triggered by engaging warp, could it be disengaged by dropping out of warp? I really like the pop-up message idea, by the way.

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