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Zarimax

Star Trek Geeks - Ever want to fly a starship?

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I have this urge to fly ships from the Star Trek universe using detailed cockpit controls like you would find in modern flight simulators. Now I know that the "blinkies" on the controls of the Enterprise-D are mostly random and filled with junk numbers... But what if they weren''t? What if you could sit at the Conn of the Enterprise-D and bring up thruster control, warp drive, system diagnostics, starcharts, etc? Every button would have a function and you would have to learn how to lay in a course, power up the engines, and do everything else that a starship helmsman would have to do. As a proof-of-concept, I''m working on the various control panels you would find in a small shuttlepod. I''ve mapped out most of the thruster control system and I''ll try to get it working with a simulated shuttle soon. How would you use the thrusters on a shuttlepod, one might ask? Well here is what I''ve come up with so far: First, you need to press a button to set up a thrust vector plan, (there are several pre-made plans mapped to other buttons, but that''s no fun). Small buttons marked TVEC and CTVEC will fill this role nicely. TVEC will let you set a thrust vector in the direction you want to move. CTVEC will set a thrust vector in a direction exactly opposite of that, (a counter thrust vector). Now you need to plot that vector. X, Y, and Z keys will do this, along with an INVERT key to reverse those axies. You can select from pre-set vectors, like CURVEC which is your current vector of movement and FORW which is a vector extending from the bow of your shuttlepod. There are other forms of navigation, (set course to target, galaxy relative, etc), but I think those systems would be better used in the impulse and warp drive systems. Then, once you have your direction, you set the power level of the thrusters... THIRD, HALF, FULL buttons should take care of this. You could also set the power level manually. Finally, with your thrust plan layed in, press EXEC and you''re off! Until I have at least one control panel working and some screenshots, I''m not going to ask for help. But I would like some feedback on the concept. Any comments or ideas?

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Sounds a bit primative, like when they switch to manual control. Normally they feed in coordinates and work with the computer for the actual thrust details.

What are you flying through? Open space? Landing on space station? Asteroid/moon landings?

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quote:
Sounds a bit primative, like when they switch to manual control. Normally they feed in coordinates and work with the computer for the actual thrust details.


It does sound a bit primitive, but I figured that a ship''s thruster control would be. I''m thinking that there could be automated thruster control, (like pressing a button to stabilize the ship during a roll or to initiate stationkeeping), and then manual thruster control like the plan I outlined.

More advanced propulsion systems would have more automated navigation. "Set-course-132-mark-213-warp-5-engage" kind of stuff for manual control and "set course for Rigil 6" as the automated stuff. But even setting course for Rigil 6 would require a starchart lookup, a button to set heading, a way to set the warp factor, and then the helmsman would have to monitor the warp field formation and subsequent jump to lightspeed. It would still require a lot of interaction with the computer.

quote:
What are you flying through? Open space? Landing on space station? Asteroid/moon landings?


The shuttlepods could take-off and land on planets, so there should be systems that compensate for gravity and deal with that. The starships should have systems for entering a planet''s orbit and maintaining that orbit against decay. There are a bunch of navigation challenges that a helmsman would have to deal with.

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To be true to the Star Trek universe, you need to make manual control fast, because otherwise you eliminate the possibility of pilots fighting vs ion storms and the such. I think adjusting vectors manually would be too slow. Maybe have something like 26(one for each letter! =-) preset vectors (front, left, down, back, right, up,(6) 2-axis diagonals{12 I think}, and 3-axis diagonls{8}) along with the amount of power in that direction, maybe 10 levels (there go the number keys) and the thrust would be immediately executed after one letter and one number have been pressed.

[edited by - extrarius on October 21, 2003 3:39:17 PM]

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Also, keep in mind that you wouldn''t be the only person on the bridge. There were quite a few people there and they all had a specific purpose. Many of the consoles for different tasks were located in physically different locations. I''m sure that the design would allow for a master control to rule them all but then you''d have to know how to operate EVERY system.

Imagine having to learn those control panels, knowing about thrust, subspace movement, what really happens if you come out of subspace in the middle on an asteroid, etc. The people represented in that show were THE ELITE. They were smart, fast, agile, dexterous, etc... In general, not your average gamer.
That''s why controls are usually simplified for single player games. Because realistic controls take multiple people who knew what they were doing.

Now if you go multiplayer then that could be great. Given that you had a trustable team to help pilot the ship in flight and in battle. The survival of the group would mean each person would be up to the task at hand. I can see a good game forming from that idea

Multiplayer where each person has a specific flight task...Interesting.

Webby

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Guest Anonymous Poster
quote:
Multiplayer where each person has a specific flight task...Interesting.

I can see that.
A: The ship would never get out of space dock because everyone would be fighting to be in charge.
B: The ship blows up in space dock, because someone that didn''t get picked to be charge decides to see what happens when you release the anti-matter.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
quote:

I can see that.
A: The ship would never get out of space dock because everyone would be fighting to be in charge.
B: The ship blows up in space dock, because someone that didn''t get picked to be charge decides to see what happens when you release the anti-matter.



You could have some type of point system. Somthing like everyone starts out with 10 points and captian is randomly assigned.
Each position has a point value that you have to have to be in that position and start subtracting every time someone does something stupid and add points for success.

I.e. person A is annoyed that he wasn''t picked as captian so he flys the ship into an astorid. Next mission he is demoted to weapons and blows up the ship by shooting the warp engins. Gets demoted to engeniring and causes an anti-matter explotion. Then he gets demoted to science officer and takes tachyon readings....

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I think as the complexity of the game goes up, the number of whining teenage griefers goes down. Sure the pool of people who want to play shrinks, but I think a game like this would have a very tightly targeted market. (early 20s to late 40s flight sim fans who also like the Star Trek universe).

This would basically be a giant flight sim. You would need multiple console positions for a starship, but a single person could operate a small shuttlepod or training ship.

The trick is coming up with a plausible control system when the ships featured in Star Trek were never meant to have one. As people have mentioned, the controls have to be precise and fast. They also have to be flexible and allow for all kinds of improvisation.

Here are some ideas for my revised thruster control panel:

Three levels of thruster control -
level 1 - least manual input. The user simply designates a target that is within sensor range, adjusts a power setting, and initiates.
level 2 - more manual input. The user specifies a set of axis as I outlined in my first post. This would be very useful in orientating the ship a certain way or trying to approach a target without using sensors.
level 3 - most manual input. The user controls the firing of the thrusters through a 4-button keypad that is linked to the axis of the ship. This allows for maximum precision and the ability to respond very quickly to new navigation obstacles.

Already the system has grown quite complex. And this is just one panel on one console!


[edited by - Zarimax on October 23, 2003 10:32:44 AM]

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What about things like "divert energy from thruster to shield" or damage control aspects? I think those are integrated in the pods but maybe not in the starship consoles.

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I would definately play a Star Trek flying game like this one if it had the multiplayer task deal, like WebsiteWill mentioned. That would be incredibly awesome at LAN parties with about 4 or so other buddies to control different parts of the ship. I would pay good money for a game like that, actually. So make it (or I will).

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I have done several Star-Trek Role Playing SImultations before (and a Babylon 5 also). With real people at the controls. Other then the fact that the controls were black and white macs, and that the romulans who boarded the ship didn''t look too different then the staff it was very fun.

Since I was experienced (I''ve been there a lot of times) I had the rank of fleet admiral and got to choose the job first. I decided that I would try to be the captain. I didn''t do a good job, the ship got destroyed twice, and I got everyone assimalated by the borg once. They eventually kicked me out of the job and picked someone else as captain. (If everyone dies you wait 15 minutes, and you can resume sometime before. I ended up wasting 45 minutes and we didn''t have enough time to finish the mission.)

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Wouldnt it be nice if the director was shooting another episode of Star Trek, and in the midst of a battle, the Captain yells "Warp 8", and teh blue screen of death would appear on main viewer?

LoL - awsome moment, hehe

I own all of the 7 DVD boxes of the 7 years of ST:TNG, the best series imo. God, how i loved that show...

[Hugo Ferreira][Positronic Dreams][Colibri 3D Engine]
All your code are belong to us!

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I really like this idea, and I have had a similar one. I agree that it should be directed towards multiplaying, however it should also have training simulations in single player mode. Simulations that would train the officer to play a specific role, either Tactical, Communications, helmsman, navigator, Commander, Captain, Engineer and Science Officer. The player would not be able to play a role unless they achieved the training simulations. Once achieved one or more simulations the player would play the role and the number of successful missions and training scores will determine who can be the captain and whatnot. If scores are the same for two persons (highly impropable since the scores consist of mission successes and simulation scores), then they will be picked randomly.

I thank you if you are deciding to create this type of game, however if you want to just go with a flying simulation game, then that''s ok as well and I thank you. :D It will keep my/another (person''s) dream open.

-J.B.-

-Stella Polaris Development Team

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I think it would be cool to make it like one of those Starfleet simulators they were always talking about (the one in which Captain Kirk beat the unbeatable scenario). I think starting with shuttle pods and having the Enterprise be controlled by AI (not too complex, just simple radio chatter back and forth) would be cool. Maybe even landing on a few planets? I''d be willing to help with modeling/sounds/textures.

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http://fatalarts.unrealism.com/RCS-Control-Schematic.jpg

Check that out. There is a schematic of the control paths that the helmsman could use on the thruster panel. The diagnostic and power management sections could be expanded a little bit...

I love the idea of various stations being manned by other players over the net. Of course there would have to be training modes where people could practice solo like Jbase said.

[edited by - Zarimax on October 26, 2003 6:39:27 PM]

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I once had an idea kinda like this but it was more of a Star Wars Thing. The big capital ships had a good few controls aswell and you could make it kind of like one of those sub sims with all the different locations around the place.

But even if you were flying an xwing style ship. The xwing games or star wats movies I think don''t take into account innertia. If you reduce the thrust in an xwing, it stops.

The way I imagine things youd need a spherical ship which you can push all over the place. Or something to that effect

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Every time there is a fight in startrek they push like 20 buttons or so - if you people want a joystick controlled ship then go make a starwars space shooter. I think you''ve got the task by the throat, zarimax - please continue on your original path.

"I feel like... I feel like... Like taking over the world!"
- Day of the Tentacle

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***quote***
think it would be cool to make it like one of those Starfleet simulators they were always talking about (the one in which Captain Kirk beat the unbeatable scenario). I think starting with shuttle pods and having the Enterprise be controlled by AI (not too complex, just simple radio chatter back and forth) would be cool. Maybe even landing on a few planets? I'd be willing to help with modeling/sounds/textures.
***quote***

Well they have already created a similar type game for this, it is called, Star Trek: Starfleet Academy. They had the unbeatable Kobiyashu maru scenario.


-Stella Polaris Development Team

[edited by - jbace on October 29, 2003 12:51:18 PM]

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