ship gravity

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ship gravity

Postby wrongu » Mon Sep 16, 2013 10:16 pm

Should all ships come with a perfect, indestructible gravity generator? Or, can players float around inside their ships?
Here's my compromise:

  • a gravity generator is, like everything else on the ship, a machine that requires power. Less power --> more floaty
  • the gravity machine is, therefore, hooked into the ship's computer system. DCPU commands could even be used to control the direction of gravity! Toggle a switch and the floor becomes the ceiling*

Further thoughts:
  • with destructible ships and docking behavior, this gets more "interesting"
  • changing gravity is easy to implement in a physics engine. Much easier than in real life.
  • the camera from a first-person perspective can change like it does in portal, re-orienting when gravity changes.
  • players could "stick" to walls when they land so that 0g isn't entirely uncontrollable
  • when the ship accelerates, newton's first law holds and the player drifts backwards

*this would allow particularly weird griefing attacks, like making someone's gravity change at random. Not that this is a problem, of course :)
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Re: ship gravity

Postby DarkSpartan » Sat Sep 21, 2013 12:17 pm

I put this on the Trello, and I might as well echo it here:

You have to be careful of your tender fleshy-bits when stumbling around in a zero-g environment. The right push in the wrong direction and that graceful pushoff you'd planned can impale you on sharp things in your environment. It can be correctly simulated, but you'll be injured or die lots before you work it all out. Even then you're going to occasionally screw up. It can be correctly simulated, to be certain. However, one must be wary of making the simulation too accurate.

What I might suggest instead is always-on gravity and inertial dampening, with the ability to shut it off when desired while the ship is at rest. Suddenly getting the ship's full acceleration large enough to be able to change tiles sometime this week is going to result in chunky salsa all over the back wall of the Bridge, assuming the ship itself held up.

The question then becomes: Which bits do we really want to invest in?
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Re: ship gravity

Postby adam » Sat Sep 21, 2013 1:51 pm

A little bit of Hollywood magic might be necessary here. Might I suggest that somehow the ships own natural gravity forces the player even in zero g to move relative to the ship?
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Re: ship gravity

Postby wrongu » Sat Sep 21, 2013 3:09 pm

Quoting myself from Trello:
wrongu wrote:Yes this sort of mechanic could result in some unexpected and maybe frustrating injuries. I am inclined to call that a feature, if properly mitigated. Lets say, for example, shoes, crates, and sharp things all have a tendency to stick to walls. It will work as long as the player feels in control.
And injury from ship acceleration would quickly lead to a few gameplay "rules" that everyone learns about their first day playing. In Minecraft, "never dig straight down." In Trillek, "never turn on your engines without first strapping yourself in."


@adam: yes! Ultimately what matters is that the player feels in control and not disoriented. "Magic" can be written of as magnets (which are magic anyways). To the extent that there is a trade-off between realism and playability, we should favor playability. This is a perfect example if where feature prototyping is important.
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Re: ship gravity

Postby Pseudonym » Sun Sep 22, 2013 1:43 am

adam wrote:A little bit of Hollywood magic might be necessary here. Might I suggest that somehow the ships own natural gravity forces the player even in zero g to move relative to the ship?

Sure, it's the same pseudoscience which makes antigravity hovercraft work, assuming that we have antigravity hovercraft.

Designers might like to think about the artificial gravity device being something that could break if you only have a cheap one, or your ship is damaged.
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Re: ship gravity

Postby Pseudonym » Sun Sep 22, 2013 2:28 am

Oh, and presumably inertial dampeners work on the same principle.
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Re: ship gravity

Postby mrout » Sun Sep 22, 2013 6:45 am

That doesn't make any sense. We're building a simulation game. It should simulate. If we're breaking the laws of physics, we should have a really good reason. Not "because it makes it more accessible" but "because otherwise it's unplayable."
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Re: ship gravity

Postby Talvi » Sun Sep 22, 2013 8:00 am

Unless you want thrusters on a person's suit to function while still in the spaceship, I think you want gravity. It'll be really hard to write an engine where a person travels through a weightless ship by pushing off the walls. In fact, I don't think it's been done before. I'm not even sure how it could be done at all - at least, not so that it's playable.

edit: actually, thrusters on a person's suit doesn't seem like such a bad idea.
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Re: ship gravity

Postby Eximius » Mon Sep 23, 2013 8:34 pm

mrout wrote:That doesn't make any sense. We're building a simulation game. It should simulate. If we're breaking the laws of physics, we should have a really good reason. Not "because it makes it more accessible" but "because otherwise it's unplayable."


Still applies. It's both unplayable otherwise (virtually uncontrollable) and the player would instantly die from any non-trivial acceleration.

Talvi wrote:Unless you want thrusters on a person's suit to function while still in the spaceship, I think you want gravity. It'll be really hard to write an engine where a person travels through a weightless ship by pushing off the walls. In fact, I don't think it's been done before. I'm not even sure how it could be done at all - at least, not so that it's playable.

edit: actually, thrusters on a person's suit doesn't seem like such a bad idea.


That's basically how StarMade works (thrusters). As for the pushing off walls, I haven't thought about the programming challenges, but just thinking about how to control that seems to disqualify it. IRL, we are very adept at directing force through our limbs at various angles and distances from our bodies (which affects your resulting speed, orientation, rotation, etc). This is quite a natural thing for us, but as seen by QWOP, it is very difficult to control human limbs individually. Thus, there would be no realistic way to do this besides just the standard WASD with respect to the direction you're looking (and have the model deal with the physics). Even this is somewhat difficult to play because in small spaces you would have to accurately (and quickly) turn to face the right direction.

==================

summary and opinion: I think we should have destructible gravity generators (with programmable directions). In a zero-g environment, you maneuver via thrusters like in StarMade.

I do believe we need inertial dampeners. Perhaps they engage as a part of your engines proportional to the thrust they are generating.

So, if your gravity is damaged in a battle you try to run away from, you can still turn on your engines and run away without getting crushed against the back wall while still having to deal with zero-g/no relative inertia to get to the console.
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Re: ship gravity

Postby Pseudonym » Tue Sep 24, 2013 4:35 am

Talvi wrote:It'll be really hard to write an engine where a person travels through a weightless ship by pushing off the walls.

Actually, no, it wouldn't be that hard to write. It would, however, be hard to play. It doesn't seem fun to me to turn every trip between rooms into a physics puzzle, unless that's the point of the game of course.
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