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Restricting where players go

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If it were possible, I'd let the player go wherever they wanted. But for a space game which also allows for players to land on the surface, designing millions of square kilometers and multiple times for each planet is just ridiculous. What are some ideas on how to explain to the player why they can't go to a certain area (when that part of the map hasn't even been made.) Like take GTA for example. How can you explain to the player that they can't hijack a plane and fly to Tokyo? The airport is right there. By this I also mean in terms of using a clever excuse. Like ... whatever the 3 islands that make up GTA3, is under a biological lock down so they can continue to run their lives but they can't leave the area. Or all flights outbound are delayed indefinitely (the more probable one ;) ). In my game which takes place in space, I want the player to be able to land on planets, like they actually do the approach, enter the atmosphere, and land. But for obvious reasons, I can't have even just 5 fully mapped planets for players to land on. That's way too much map to design, even if it's a generator, that's a lot of stress on the server. So I'm going to restrict where a player can land on a planet. So the only thing i thought up for explaining why they can't go wherever, without saying anything about the technical side and sticking to using storyline/history/just general game background info, I'd say "Due to recent events ( a war or major disaster ), those areas are designated 'No Fly Zones'. To land on Rizon 4, you must land in the Tenson Space Port or Foobar Space Port." Another idea which can't work on every planet but can for a lot, is to make the planet very hazardous. Something like Jupiter. You can't land on it cause the winds will tear you appart, you have to land on one of the small moons which could be very very basic mapwise. But I think i might need some good explainations for habitable planets like Earth. You can land anywhere or at least enter the atmosphere anywhere so there needs to be reasons for why a player can't do this. Another set of problems is the city area themselves. How do you restrict a player from traveling the country side when that map hasn't been and never will be made? Guaranteed if someone puts lots of MOBs around the area, some players will make it to the edge. In a world like Coruscant (Star Wars) where the whole planet is a city, same thing applies. How do you rationalize why a player can't go whereever and make it a believable reason and part of the game. What are some techniques on actually carrying out these explainations? Forcing the character's ship to turn around? Having a buffer zone to "scare" the player back into the playable space?

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This is quite an interesting issue. My advice is not to "call attention to it" to it much by introducing elaborate "biological lock" stories or whatever - I mean players know that you can't design a whole world by yourself so they're prepared to suspend their disbelief a bit. Just restrict the list of travel destinations to the ones you can actually go to. For your space flight game I'd say tell them to stick to the designated flight corridor or else get zapped by the planet's defense shield system or whatever. For first person shooters, I like to just stick a few doors that can't be opened around the place.

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How about make the ships unable to land on normal ground? Instead they have to land at a landing base (like a plane has to land at an airport) then you can restrict these landing places to citys and such like on the surface.

Just an idea :)

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reasons you can give is something like:
- earth-like situations: heavy traffic (due to planes, heli's, etc) or when you enter the atmosphere you have to follow a aproach path (from control tower)
- moon-like situations: no (originally) ideas actually

but in my opinion isn't it better to make a simple random generator for the 'country side', like store for each 'flyable' planet a seed for the map generator (maybe have different generators for different terrains.

I don't think it will be so heavy on the processor if you only generate terrain say 10 km around the player. I mean Elite 2 could do it

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Quote:
If it were possible, I'd let the player go wherever they wanted. But for a space game which also allows for players to land on the surface, designing millions of square kilometers and multiple times for each planet is just ridiculous.


Hmmm, I wonder what that would be like.

A space sim game with this say about 100,000,000,000 planets, stars, moons and such. With binary hell, sextuple star systems. It would have to have accurate orbits as well, obviously.

And this say you could pick any planet at random and cruise down through the atmosphere (in 3D of course), until you can see the ground (assuming it's not a gas giant) then you could go flying over the planet's unique surface exploring the mountain's lakes and oceans. until you find a nice spot to land, and you do just because you can.

And since this planet happens to be barren, we take off and head back into space. Of course we're going to have to reach escape velocity to leave (you have escape velocity right?). But dammit we're critically low on hydrogen fuel and the nearest station is a scientific research station orbiting the forth moon, of the 6th planet, of a quadruple system 2 hyperspace jumps away.

Going back to the days of old, we use half our fuel to accelerate ourselves toward the sun, trying not to get too close since we only have a pair of shield generators to guard us for it's heat. We fly with our engines off waiting for the suns gravity to catch us. And we sling shot around the sun (our physics handles sling shot maneuvers even though most player would never try), using our remaining fuel we steer ourselves toward the systems gas giant. Hoping to get close enough to use our fuel scope to skim some hydrogen from the planet's atmosphere, for fuel.

And boom 2 jumps later we've entered our quadruple system, blasted plural star systems you never jump near what you want. After a long flight(bless time accelerating cryosleep) we arrive at the research system. A quick search on the stock market we pick up some questionable goods (good old frontier laws), and we pick up a passenger looking for a lift to earth (Come on we have to model the sol system).

After a couple more jumps, we run into our guest's reason for leaving. After a couple dog fights with pulse lasers, beam weapons, missiles and missile jammers. We pick up a bounty or two on those blasted pirates and we arrive at earth (the cops should have helped, arrg). Hopefully the minerals we blasted from some asteroids earlier will help cover the heavy weapons we purchased at the research station. Otherwise that the police officer will need to accept a friendly "donation".

The ships holds a little lighter and a pockets a little heavier. We fly over to San Francisco, land our ship near a church and watch the church's clock tower strike midnight(matching the night sky of course)

Now because we're in dream land. And we want nearly anyone to be able to play our game. This say that it could run on a 7 MHz CPU with only half a meg a ram.

Trading, space battles, realistic space physics and 100 billion stars and planets to explore that would be awesome....

I would tell you to make it, but it's already been done 11 years ago by 2 programmers.

Elite 2: Frontier, had the largest play area EVER (I didn't make up the 100 billion number), and only needed half a meg of ram.

Pretty damn amazing what one can do with good algorithms.

PS. I've done all of the above in the game.

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Dude, the answer is so obvious. ;) Earth will have been taken over by some tyrannical leader at that time, and he shoots down every plane that doesn't go through the landing procedures set out by his government... because they could be enemy spacecrafts! Its like flying in a NO-FLY zone. If you think about it realistically, when space travel is legal, how dangerous will it be to have 50 ships landing all over the world at once with no landing procedures. Not only could they crash in major cities or crash into each other, but they could, and I hate to say this, perform an action worse than 9/11. So having landing zones makes sense.

And what if the player misses the landing zones? Well, you could have tractor beams or something that "pulled" them in that direction. Or the ship goes on autopilot to move in that direction.


But another thing you could do which might be cool is allow them to land everywhere. Except upon landing, you perform a minor cutscene while you reload the level. So if they did everything appropriately upon entrace, it goes black, and reloads their character outside the ship landed somewhere.
Next, you create several different "zones" to represent terrain. Desert, jungle, etc. Then you pull a mario64 (stairway?) or a Zelda: Ocarena of Time (Desert!). If they are in the desert, you could have a sand storm pick up everywhere they try to run, so they don't get anywhere. In the jungle you could have quick sand everywhere. So the player feels like if he doesn't land correctly, he is put in these uninhabitable zones.

Thats just two ideas that came to mind.

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well, you can have the player scan a landing spot for the planet, in that way, it's easy for you and the player to do things. You have less place to design, and the player wouldn't be to confused with all the freedom.

Too much freedom is confusing imo

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I too have wanted to play a game like this for many many years & have been thinking of how it could be done also. This would be especially cool to see in MMO's like SWG.

You would have to have massive maps, but not so big that you could fit an entire planet within. You could break it up into separate massive sectors where players would warp or hyperjump between.

Then on the maps where you want to have players traveling to planets below, you simply have them make a jump from a deep space map where they see the planet as a texture off in the distance to the new sector map which has a nav buoy orbiting above the planet close enough so that the map doesn't include the whole planet, but merely a curved octagon section of it.

This map would be big enough for adaquate space sim playing in the space above the planet, & obviously would make the area map for the players on the ground HUGE. but this would have an advantage in certain on-line games because it would spread out the players a bit more to reduce lag, plus the developers wouldn't have to slow down vehicles & such so much to add in a false sense of distance.

In order to restrict where players can land or take off from, you can have traffic controllers take control of the ships during take offs & landings in the restricted areas, & where it's okay to land, like in a field at a private retreat or in the wilderness, let the player do it manually, etc.

Once you come up with a map size that works, the problem of takeoffs & landing wouldn't be a game-mechanics issue anymore, but a gameplay & balance issue instead. It wouldn't be fair to players on the ground to have to always defend themselves from other players loitering around above looking for things to shoot up.

There will be battles where the interaction of players on the ground & in the air above is appropriate, but there should also be areas where ships are not allowed to fly that low so that it isn't an issue, such as in protected cities etc.

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I took a look at that game Frontier Elite 2. It's quite interesting. I wonder if it's possible to have a much updated version similar to that. (took a while to get it to run on XP though)

It's a good example of what I want if you add the MMO part to it. I really didn't take much of a look at it but i got it running tried a few things plus just took in what you said the game can do.

If it's feasable, I'd prefer the algorithm path which generates the ground the same way without actually designing it. There will be a few areas like cities and whatnot which can't be simpily generated.

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Closet thing I've found to a Frontier mmo is </A href="http://www.eve-online.com/>eve online Only space stations no on planet stuff. And I don't think it's completely generated.

Frontier is one of my all time favorite games, (with x-com and baldur's gate 2), but You did run out of stuff to do and exploring was pretty limited (100,000,000 body's in space but I'm guessing about 1000 stations), the most you'd find was the system where they pay you to take gem stones, and medium sized ships. And I think the most distant space station was about 70,000 light years away from earth.

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I tried Eve. It had an easier job of restricting as the players could land on the planet and so the planets didn't have to be too detailed. Heck you could fly right through one if you wanted. It did have some cool flying effects though. As you warped from one area of a solar system to a station orbiting a moon of a planet. You could see the planet as a dot cause it was far away. The planet would zoom in and become full sized, then you could see the moon as a dot which grew but the planet stayed the same size. Then you could see the station grew into view. But again, the planets didn't need to be as detailed cause you couldn't land on them.

There were some issues when you warped to an area that was heavily populated, got my ship destroyed cause the area was still loading all the asteriods but my actual ship was getting shot at. I couldn't do a thing.

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