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Orbit - my new game project

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Hello all. I'm still alive and still working on hobby projects, just haven't posted here for a long, long time.

I've just commenced work on a brand new hobby project. This is going to be a space-based game called Orbit for now until something better occurs to me.

It is going to be an open-universe space traveller/trader/shooter. The unique selling point idea is that you will be able to move seamlessly from flying around in your spacesuit to fly inside spaceships via airlocks, get into the driving seat and fly the ship, all without cutting from one view to another.

So the ships will be modelled both inside and out, with some kind of airlocking systems to allow you to get inside, rules about removing your spacesuit before you can sit in the flight chair, then flying the ship will actually move the same model about you were just exploring as level geometry.

So far I have set up using an excellent free tool I have found called SpaceScape which generates random cube maps of star fields with nebula. I've generated some of these as cube map surfaces, then have a system in the game to load the surfaces into a cube map, then render a sphere at a fixed distance from the player position, using texCUBE and the vertex position to work out the sample point on the cube map to get an awesome seamless backdrop as you turn your view around. I use a special vertex shader to set the depth of each pixel of the sphere to be on the far plane, so I can then render "normal" objects inside it in any order. Works really well so far.

The first job I think is to set up movement using the spacesuit and air-jets so you can thrust forward and back, and rotate your view in any direction and add some roll controls for movement in the zero-G environment. Then I need to make a rough spaceship model that can be explored both outside and inside and see where we go from there.

I just finished reading Tuf Voyaging by the excellent Game of Thrones author George R R Martin and it awakened in me how absorbing science fiction can be written and I am interested in finding a set of game mechanics and environment that would allow for some decent science fiction to sit on top of. I think this could be the way forward. Once the key travelling and interaction mechanics are working, I'm hoping they can be used to build an imaginary universe that can hold together a set of stories alongside randomly generated content to reduce the need for a shedload of manual designing. That is the current theory anyway. I was focusing on 3D platform games before but the sheer amount of manual design needed for a one-man-band is just too much to ever be practical. I'm hoping a space-bases set of sectors with a mix of designed and randomly populated sectors with an over-arching back story might instead prove more manageable.

Anyway, early days at the moment so we will see how it goes from here.

Hope everyone is well. See a lot of interesting stuff going on in Journal-Land at the moment. Real life work has been keeping me pretty busy so slow progress on the hobby stuff but forcing myself to grab the odd hour here and there as all work and no spaceship dog-fights a dull boy Jack makes. Chow for now.

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