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fire_ball

3 Dimensions...

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Hello everyone! I am the project head of a team developing an mmorts/space sim. Right now, we are programming our engine, and have a decision to make. We need to decide whether the player will be able to move in the 3rd dimension (x,y,z axis) or just x,y axis, as in most rts games. Now we think it would be great to make this game that much more realistic, by having it be full 3D, but the problem is we need a way for the player to be able to move his ships. Other games have attempted this, i.e. HomeWorld, but didn''t really succeed. So I was wondering if anyone had any ideas about a movement system that would allow the player to move in 3 dimensions, have good control over his units, but also, to remain not over-complex. Thanks, Fireball

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Well, both are a possibility. We were mostly leaning towards full 3d though, if possible. But the gameplay issues is what we need to resolve, meaning we need to figure out an efficient system of movement.

Thanks,
Fireball

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Well, I haven''t played Homeworld so I''m not sure how they did it. But you could have it that on the main screen, if you click the ships will be moved to your current location (this is assuming you can zoom around the map). If you want to move ships without going to the location, you could have three mini maps, one for each dimension. Then to move the ships to a location you click once in each of the maps. Also, for zooming around the map you could have moving the mouse to the edges of the screen will rotate your view, and then the mousewheel or two keyboard keys could move you into and out of the screen.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
I''ve tried playing homeworld (and a couple of other "true 3D" RTS games) and I must say I''ve never faced such a daunting learning curve. If you want your game to be accessible to relative newbies, and not just the dedicated hard-core simulator playing crowd, I HIGHLY recommend considering a 2D playing field.

For good examples, check out the games "Earth and Beyond" (which is actually a MMORPG, but uses a superb 2D in 3D space navigation model) or "Conquest" (which is strictly a 2D space RTS but still works very well within those confines).

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Guest Anonymous Poster
That last anonymous post (referencing "Earth and Beyond" and "Conquest: Frontier Wars" was written by:

Brian Lacy
Smoking Monkey Studios

Comments? Questions? Curious?
brian@smoking-monkey.org

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Hmm, I think that actual precise movement commands for a ship, if in full 3d, is not really necesary. You should be able to send the ship flying in a direction, or flying near a target object, or keeping it''s distance from enemy ships, or staying as close to its enemy target as possible, movement commands such as this. Wouldn''t need too much ai scripting for these simple ai states, and in space, you don''t NEED the level of movement control that games such as Homeworld used. In that game, the ONLY time I used 3d movement mode, was to make the ship fly to a ship that was too far above my plane of movement, which didn''t occur that often anyway.

If you do require that level of control, then I would suggest moving the ships on a 2d plane and then being able to select a height.

I think that the move the ships to the camera position was a good idea as well, but I think that if you opt for the precise movement as opposed to the fuzzy movement I mentioned above that you stay in 2d.

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Saluk,
yes i agree with you that you can send ships flying in certain directions, or towards certain object. The real problem lies in advance manuevers, like those found during combat.

Thanks,
Fireball

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I agree with cheese. Homeworld did a fantastic job and I''m no "hard-core simulator player". I believe Ascendancy was one of the first to use this method which is basically one click to set the x,y then another drag and click to set the z. I can''t really understand having trouble with Homeworld after more than 30 minutes...well, I''ve seen people have difficulty clicking on desktop items with a mouse so I guess I can understand (ouch, harsh comparison =p).

I''m not sure what Brian is talking about with Earth and Beyond. It''s a 3rd (or 1st) person RPG and has little to no resemblance to an RTS. There is 3D space but despite the fact that it''s height is limited it still comes with all the problems of moving in 3D.

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My feeling is that if you want to make a game set in space, make it 3d. If you are even considering making it a 2d playing field, then you should ask yourself how committed you are to a space setting. Space is an inherently 3 dimensional environment, and that is what makes space based combat unique and interesting. Without that factor, you may as well set it on the ground or ocean, where operating in just two dimensions is natural (i.e., not an arbitrary limitation imposed on the player because the developer couldn't figure out a better way).
Just a thought.

[edited by - Plasmadog on August 2, 2002 10:09:50 PM]

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How you want to control the ships depends somewhat on what kind of battles you plan to have. Right now space games do it in two general ways:

1. World War 2-type dogfighting only with spaceships instead of planes. There isn''t much to say about this, since the style''s been done to death.

2. Large naval conflicts, of which there are two general types - pre-aircraft carrier and post-aircraft carrier. Before planes were powerful enough to destroy fleets on their own, battles were a matter of lining up your fleet against the opposing fleet and turning as many guns on your opponent as you could without getting hurt yourself, then circling around and repeating until one side was sunk, retreated, or surrendered. After planes had long enough range and sufficient armaments(bombs and later missiles), ship strength lost importance and battles became decided more on stealth and surprise. The rise of submarines also had an impact on this turn to stealth, I think, but in a different way that I''m having trouble explaining.

These various methods can all be incorporated into your vision of space combat, and how important position(and hence the 3d factor) is depends a lot on the speeds at which the ships move, turn and fire, and how quickly the combat plays out. If you can strike quickly and suddenly, it''ll be more about stealth and staying out of sensor range, hiding behind asteroids and such. If it takes a long time to fight, on the other hand, then manuevering becomes essential. I dunno if that helps in any way, but it''s something to think about.

Making the world furry one post at a time

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Well this game is based upon the eliment of strategy. Many games in the past have been very succesful, and not worked in the 3rd dimension; i.e. starcraft, warcraft, aoe, ...and other rts games. Now in order to maintain the eliment of strategy that everyone plays rts games for, we would gladly stick to x,y coordinates. But we think that the game would be so much better with 3 axis, so that we are trying to come up with a SYSTEM of how to make it work. So if anyone has any suggestions on such a system, please make them known =D

Thanks,
Fireball

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Since everything is relative in space, make most commands work by targeting other things - "meet head on," "meet from above," etc. For space navigation, I would try doing it in two clicks, not one: The first one puts up a 2d grid which you select from, the second is to select the third dimension.

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RTF, I would think Space Combat would be more like submarine combat than air combat. In that stealth is the best defence, the objects inquestion are much slower than their weaponary and often single hits kill. This, however, only works if you have good ECM &ECCM biult into the game and the weapons VS hull strengh ratio is large. This is ideal for a environment where the said party has just reached space and doesnt have fancy shielding/armour.

[edited by - ggs on August 4, 2002 8:41:16 PM]

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