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Xavier Wise

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Reply with quote  #1 
Hello everyone!

I have been working away at the next version of the TSN Sandbox to make use of the new mission scripting additions. I have managed to re-code the gates so now they are now activated by the comms officer and there is an activation system to go through. I have also added in comms control to enable and disable supplies from a supply ship. As part of that, there is a really great status update from the supply ships as to how many supplies they have aboard using the ability to insert variables into comms messages.  I am still thinking carefully what to add as I don't want to clutter up the comms console with buttons that "fall off" the screen at lower resolutions. In testing the Armada version, I found on a smaller resolution, the most I could fit was five. Currently the supply and gate activation buttons appear and disappear based on proximity. I am going to have to see what impact multiple ships will have as well.

Now that we can name fighters, I am going to add some functions in for them too. Perhaps I can have a button appear to enable a transfer of ordnance to a shuttle bay that can then be transported to another ship. 

When I have got a more complete version, I will release it here!

Any ideas on how to use the comms buttons are appreciated, as well as some of the other features. It is a little bit different to a linear mission script to think about though because they are not just one-off story driven functions, rather repeated functions available to comms and the crew.

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Captain Xavier Wise TSN Raven (BC-014)
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Xavier Wise

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Reply with quote  #2 
Just a note: when I script and test things like GM controls and comms buttons, I check what the appearance is like on 1024x768. I figured this was the smallest size someone would commonly use and even though there is 800x600, it is unlikely anyone would be using such a small resolution. At this resolution, there are about 5 comms buttons that will fit on the comms menu on the left.
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Captain Xavier Wise TSN Raven (BC-014)
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k9lego

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Reply with quote  #3 

AWESOME!!! [biggrin] I was just going to ask about that!
When do you think you will have a released version? I am going to a friend's party and would like to use your Extension and Sandbox with the latest version. [wink]

k9lego

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Reply with quote  #4 
Is there a way you can detect the screen size? You could group Comms buttons together if detected that it is on a smaller screen. Example:
Jump Gate, Button 2, Button 3, Button 4, Fuel Collection System Activation Button (Shorter name needed!), Button 6, Button 7, Button 8, Button 9, Button 10.
to 
Gate Controls > Jump Gate, buttons 2-4, Back
Grouped Buttons 2 > Buttons 5-8, Back
Grouped Buttons 3 > Buttons 9-10, Back

You could also determine this using a button that appears at the beginning of the game.

1024x768 is definitely the smallest resolution anyone would realistically use...

Btw. If you did do that, would you have to recode the jump gate to react to both the first and second button? If you did, it wouldn't be worth it. [smile]
EDIT: You could also activate the Fuel Collection System with a Comms button.
mattssheep4

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Reply with quote  #5 
Quote:
EDIT: You could also activate the Fuel Collection System with a Comms button.


Could FCS be activated by a button on the Engineering screen?

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Lt. Matthew Vaj of the TSN Horizon in the TSN RP Community
k9lego

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Reply with quote  #6 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mattssheep4


Could FCS be activated by a button on the Engineering screen?

Unfortunately I don't think so. Comms and GM are the only consoles (that I know of) that have scripted buttons.
It seems right though. Comms sends a message to command that they need energy. Command sends it to them.
Xavier Wise

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Reply with quote  #7 
I could program a button to activate the FCS, but all comms buttons are displayed on all comms consoles I believe. I cannot have one on Artemis and a different one on Intrepid for example. As a result, I'd either need 8 comms buttons up (of all ships are in) or one comms button that activates fcs for all ships. This presents a whole lot of problems. Ideally, there would be a menu system, but that isn't possible with how comms buttons work at the moment. It is something I would love to do though. The original FCS was triggered by a key press from engineering.
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Mike Substelny

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Reply with quote  #8 
As long as you stick to missions for a single player ship, I think you will find that the Comms buttons are incredibly powerful. That is what Thom had in mind when he made them.

As we found at Armada, in multiple ship missions the new Comms buttons can be very confusing to players.

For Phoenix Comic Con Commander Erickson wants them to work for multiple ships missions. I've been working hard on this for a month and it still stinks. The best idea I've got is to encode the buttons and give each ship a code book. All Comms officers might see these buttons:

[Artemis]
[Intrepid]
[Athena]

If anyone clicks the [Artemis] button then all buttons vanish for all ships and are replaced by:

[f4K63oyW]
[!!@R60z4]
[G6395j0]
[3#h&J81]

These new buttons would make no sense to anyone except the Artemis Comms officer, who has the correct code book.

This is a terrible solution, but it is the best I've found. The system really is intended for a single player ship only.

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Mike Substelny

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Reply with quote  #9 
At the same time, the new shuttles and fighters are quite awesome for mission scripts and I think you find many uses for them. Shuttles can't do much in Invasion Mode, but in a mission script a shuttle can be a named object, which means your script can let it:

  • Collect energy, torpedoes, or anything else
  • Transport a VIP
  • Rescue an escape pod
  • Transfer prisoners
  • Take TSN marines to capture an enemy ship
  • Retrieve vital cargo needed to repair a crippled player ship
  • Transport medicine to stop a plague outbreak
  • Transfer DamCon Teams from one ship to another
  • Collect scientific data
  • Become trapped and need a rescue

The sky is the limit!

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Xavier Wise

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Reply with quote  #10 
Thanks Mike. That solution was something I considered, having a menu system to follow, though I wouldn't use thr code idea. For now, I am creating comms buttons that work in a way that fits with multi-ship missions. So the Activate Jump Gate button applies to all ships at the point you want to activate the gate. The Activate Supplies also works for all ships, with one initiating the process by moving in to proximity and then using the comms button to signal the resupply is active, and then other ships moving in to proximity for resupply. Basically, to start the process in both cases, a ship needs to be close to activate it and comms need to confirm everything.

As for other functions, I might create some that are dependent on shuttles being in certain proximity and doing something in particular. The way the TSN works together means we can do things without code as crews adhere to particular protocols for RP purposes anyway.

I reckon, with some of the new functions, a cargo system could be added quite easily by tracking named variables and using named shuttles. That is something I am considering trying out anyway. Currently it is possible for a GM to deploy a 'black box' so having a shuttle need to launch to recover it or download the data could be added.

As for the gates, I thought using some kind of code for enemy gates would be interesting. Having several codes appear to access the gate and only activating on the correct code could add a lot of tension to moving through enemy space.

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Xavier Wise

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Reply with quote  #11 
---Quick update---

I am still working away on the next version of the Sandbox, mainly fixing a few bugs, finishing some bits off and changing a couple of other functions.

I spent a few hours yesterday working on the sandbox and was able to test new features with the TSN RP Community. One change has been the new Jump Gate code. In previous versions, jump gates worked automatically. All ships simply had to fly into range and they would activate and then "jump" you to the next system. Now that we have comms buttons, I have changed this so the comms officer must activate the gate. It worked pretty well, though there seemed to be a bug going from Atlantis to Cerberus that I can't seem to pin down. I am hoping the change could create some tense situations when ships have to retreat, sending one ship to activate the gate whilst the rest fight a rearguard action! We also tested the supply ship code too. For some reason it didn't work, so I need to figure out why. 

The new gate code did pose a problem though. I can now only have one gate in a sector. I spent hours trying to puzzle out how to fix this without having to start again from scratch, but sadly was unable to. Almost all sectors in the Sandbox only have one jump gate anyway, so the only affected sectors were those belonging to the waypoints. I decided therefore to expand the waypoints to multi-sector systems. They'll have no bases of any kind in them, making them a place perfect for pirates to ambush convoys! GMs will be able to use them for all sorts of storylines hopefully, and they are ideal for escort missions.

With the new ability to name single seat ships, I have been trying out a few ideas. I want to swap lifepod recovery and blackbox recovery so that they must be done by a shuttle, rather than simply by the main ships. I have set it so that the shuttle on every ship has a specific name in order to interact with the blackboxes and lifepods. The names are all ancient Greek character and include Proteus, Odysseus, Theseus etc. I need to tweak how the lifepods and blackboxes are coded in the Sandbox a little and test them, but it should make for interesting play, where a shuttle is deployed to conduct recovery operations. I am still thinking on how else I can use shuttles in the sandbox too. As for the fighters, I am leaving them for now so players can pick their own names or callsigns. One discussion I have had with the TSN RP Community is to give them squadron callsigns using something like colours e.g. Blue 1, Red 1 etc. As fighters don't really need to interact with the script though, I am leaving that for further down the line.

One other thing that has had an overhaul (though won't be apparent unless you look at the code) is the Sandbox activation. I have cleaned up the code a little and am working on making the GM backup measures more reliable. They don't seem to work properly at the moment and if a GM becomes disconnected it can cause real issues trying to get the GM menu working again. I am experimenting to try and fix it though.

I have spent most of today finishing off a feature I never fully implemented into the last Sandbox though. I have gone through all the Allied systems in the sandbox and added corner-to-corner transitions. This means ships can now fly through A1, A5, E1 or E5, effectively moving diagonally across the system. There are the other systems to complete, but it is fairly quick to get a whole system updated so I should have it all finished pretty quickly. Another bit to finish off too is the Antara system, which is in, it just needs nebulae and asteroids adding.

As soon as this version is ready to release, I'll start a new thread with all the details to access it! Until then, the last TSN Sandbox version should still work fine with the new update and new TSN Mod.

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k9lego

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Reply with quote  #12 
Out of curiosity Xavier, does the old mod (the TSN Expansion) work with 2.6, or is there a newer version. Where might I download it (if it exists).
Xavier Wise

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Reply with quote  #13 
There is an update to the TSN Mod for Artemis 2.6.0. I'll post a link this evening to the mod. If you have the old mod version, it probably won't work with the upgrade. It doesn't have any of the new vessels in the vesselData file, so would end up removing them if you applied it.

As for the Sandbox, I might implement a simple cargo system for the shuttles so that they can collect only a few things at a time before having to return. The comms screen can be used for a status update, and I think I can detect when a shuttle is deployed or docked (though I have yet to test that). This would make lifepod recovery interesting and was something suggested by a member of the TSN RP Community.

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Captain Xavier Wise TSN Raven (BC-014)
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k9lego

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Reply with quote  #14 
Thanks Xavier!
When do you think v5 of the Sandbox will be out? (Those pesky bugs need to be squashed first, obviously.) [smile] Quick question on v4. How do you tell friendly ships to accept orders? (I never was able to figure out that one..) Edit: Oh yeah! And how do you activate the FCS? Thanks in advance!! [smile]
Xavier Wise

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Reply with quote  #15 
k9lego, sorry I didn't post. I thought we had updated the page where we host the expansion, but it seems not. You can take a look though and keep checking in until the page is updated: http://www.1sws.com/TSNExpansion/

As for when the Sandbox will be finished, I am chipping away at it when I can. There are still a number of systems missing corner-to-corner transitions which I am working on. Hopefully I can get those done by the weekend. I managed to fix the GM back up problem I was experiencing, though I want to test it properly next time the TSN meet (this Saturday). I've not made a start on the cargo system or fixing the bug with the supply ships yet.

As for how things work - to get friendly ships to accept order, make sure you are in the AI menu and have selected Ally AI. At the top, it says "Ignoring Comms". Click that and it will change to "Accepting Comms". You can then assign any of the normal orders and the allies will also have the right AI assigned to allow them accept comms. 

The FCS is an automatic system. A player ship much have shields down, be moving at between 10% and 50% impulse speed (note: this is affected by the power level to impulse systems too) and be below 980 energy. It then begins automatically, adding 10 energy per cycle. 

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Captain Xavier Wise TSN Raven (BC-014)
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