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johnnyBravo

Space sim, everythings dark, except for one side?

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johnnyBravo    100
Hi, I was thinking for a space sim, say things like asteroids, space stations etc would mostly be dark, tho a space station would probably have its own lighting, but basically depending where the sun(s) are in the system. For example most of the time asteroids would just be black against the stars. And I could incorporate spot lights for the ship to view asteroids in front of the ship. What do you think about that, is that a good idea?

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Guest Anonymous Poster
From a reality point of view its great but from a gameplay point of view it would be bad. It would be very hard to see what things were until you got up close enough to shine a light on it. Basically it would be the Doom III flashlight in space - not a good idea.

Can't be bothered to log in.

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Xetrov    116
No, not necessarily. You could have some cool HUD tracking stuff and/or radar. Drawing the outline of objects for example...

It wouldn't need to be on all the time, so you could turn it on only when you enter an asteroid field for example. You could imagine all ships are lit, except maybe tough stealth fighters which dont show up on radar anyway.

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Wavinator    2017
After years of playing space sims I have to go more for the I-War and Freespace approach: Light it up and let us see it how pretty everything is, even if that means nebulas all over the place. Why? Because space without terrain is boring, and all that light and color at least give you something to boast about. (If it bothers you, tell yourself that light amplification and image processing are built into your cockpit / monitor.)

If you have a choice between realistic graphics and pretty graphics, I'd say vote the way your consumer would.

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Boku San    428
Quote:
Original post by Wavinator
After years of playing space sims I have to go more for the I-War and Freespace approach: Light it up and let us see it how pretty everything is, even if that means nebulas all over the place. Why? Because space without terrain is boring, and all that light and color at least give you something to boast about. (If it bothers you, tell yourself that light amplification and image processing are built into your cockpit / monitor.)

If you have a choice between realistic graphics and pretty graphics, I'd say vote the way your consumer would.


I disagree. If you can make the game SO uberrealistic that it immerses people in the game, creates the loneliness of space...go for it.

Think of it like KILL BILL; not everybody liked it, but the people who got it (understood), got it(bought it). And it turned out GREAT.

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Wavinator    2017
Quote:
Original post by Boku San
I disagree. If you can make the game SO uberrealistic that it immerses people in the game, creates the loneliness of space...go for it.


I used to believe this until a friend made a good point: He said that you have to go with the mythology of the time if you want people to be able to relate. For instance, when we debated about whether games should have zero-G movement inside space stations or ships he said, "We're Lucas kids! Nobody knows what that is!" [rolleyes]

I think this applies here as well. We've grown up with Star Wars, Star Trek and Babylon 5, which are very bright. That's the mythology of the times.

Of course, ultimately it's all about the playtest...

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Numsgil    501
I'd have to side with Wavinator on this one. Although an 'uber' realistic game might sound real nice in theory, realism is NOT what makes a game fun to play.

And as far as immersion, I've been immersed in the most surrealstic of games, back when they used vector based graphics. Immersion comes from a self-consistant, seemingly living world. Whether that world follows real life rules or not really doesn't matter.

I can't imagine someone saying "Gee, what crap! Space is supposed to be real dark, and here I can see everything." But I can definately imagine someone saying "Hey, what kind of crap are they trying to pull? How can I avoid asteroids if I can't see em till it's too late?"

If you really like the idea build it in as an option. It wouldn't be too hard to create a toggle. Play it both ways, give it to other people to test. I bet AT LEAST 80% of em will like the way where they can see.

Maybe your great uncle Mortimer, the NASA scientist, will like your super realistic rendition of space, and you'll recieve extra money for christmas, so it won't all be a waste of time.

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johnnyBravo    100
well one major plus i thought with the asteroids and that being black would be the rendering speed :)


How about if you could see quite far in a field of view, and you could see your light beams moving on the asteroids?, and like Xetrov said have some kind of hud/radar, for avoidance of hitting the rocks.

I will try a toggle when i get some time

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Pxtl    354
Idunno, LineWars II had lighting like the poster describes (totally single-source) and it looked very cool.

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mumpo    534
Realistic lighting by the sun would look pretty cool, but you'll need to highlight the objects visible on the radar/sensors somehow in the 3D view, as well. Also, trying to include any realistic lighting can get you started rolling down a slippery slope: if your lighting by the sun is realistic, people will be looking for engine glow, explosisions, etc. to light things realistically as well. If you want to light things realistically, make sure that you know how far to go with that (will you have shadows? will there be any other light sources?), and that you can deliver the level of detail that you think is necessary to make realistic lighting look cool, rather than just weird and confusing.

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TechnoGoth    2937
I have to agree with wavinator space should be bright and interesting, nothing would be more dull then playing a game in the total blackness of space. After all it is this same reason that space battles in sci-fi movies have sound effects, because no one wants to sit through a 2 hours of utter silience while a battle rages on.

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onyxflame    203
Like most things, it all depends on the implementation. It can be done really well or really badly.

Given people's preference for being able to see what's about to kill them, if you're going to do it this way, you'll have to do it REALLY REALLY well in order to override people's preconceptions and make them think it's cool.

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abstractworlds    194
Interesting point made by wavinator about mythology of the times.

This mythology not only applies to lighting, and onboard gravity, but also includes the way spacecraft movement is depicted, in that most of them move in space like winged aircraft fly in the atmosphere (i.e. similar arcs when turning, nose always pointing forward, etc.).

To some extent the depiction of space as boring is also a myth. This myth usually goes along the lines that unless you're near a nebula all you have is a boring uniform distribution of starry pinholes in black space. You just have to look at a starry sky on a clear night from a place where there's no light pollution to see how beautiful space really is, non-uniform, with a concentrated banding of stars and colours provided by milky way. Unfortunately light pollution from towns, cities means that its more difficult to find these viewing places.

One film that attempted a realistic portrayal of space was 2001 A Space Oddysey, including silent clips of the spacecraft. Most of the rest of the films/series have created the mythology as it stands today.

In terms of gameplay 3D space can be boring too, with an awful lot of nothing interspersed with the odd object. To avoid this you also have to think of ways of confining your game space or making it busier than it really is.

As for lighting, who says that your spacecraft has to have big glass windows where you see the real view outside. Apart from the problems of heating, radiation protection, impact strength, solar glare etc that windows introduce, wouldn't cameras with image processing enhancements linked to your spaceship's internal monitor be better? This should keep both the ulta-realists and the eye-candy people happy.

Finally, have a good think about where you want to position the game, is it a serious sim or is it a fun action/arcade game, or is it somewhere in-between.

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Horizon    145
It sounds incredibly cool, I say try it and see if you can get it to work. If it's really terribly uncool to play you can always throw it out. I mean, how much more difficult than for example backface culling can it possibly be, especially if you're gonna have the regular lighting effects anyway?

About the radar thing, it would also be really nice if you have something like proximity detection which shows outlines (but only that) of objects closeby that are otherwise completely black. Maybe in HUD-green or something.

It would be especially good if you could somehow make it a gameplay element, for example hiding in the darkness behind an asteroid could work pretty well.

As for the whole sound discussion, a whole lot of sound from another ship could be got through vibrations in it's hull by simply pointing a laser at it and analysing the reflections. Combine this with the normal comm traffic in a ship and you get quite alot of sound from exploding ships. If you can turn this into a gameplay element it could also be nice, for example something like enforced comm silence.

All in all, if you can make it into a gameplay element, by all means try it, think about what you can do with it. Otherwise, well, conformity (to other products) is a good way to conform to the market.

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ToppDog    136
Having the astroids be black against a black background so they are invisible until shining a light on them would probably not go over well, even if you did have good radar UI's to show where they were.

BUT, having astroids be totally dark from certain sides could be a VERY COOL effect & add some cool immersion & exploration potential to your game. What I would do to make this work is have enough nebulas & starfields activity in the background so you still see the black sillouette (sp?) of the astroids against it. The background could basically be a little lighter than the astroids themselves to set them apart, & you could have some dramatic lighting effects as you fly over massive astroids & travel into their lit areas with eclipsing stars etc.

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Schultz    140
Not being able to see much actually sounds like a good idea. You would have to rely on instruments in the cockpit to get stuff done. Radars, tracking systems, navigational systems to name a few. Just put a lot of depth into that stuff. Flying a spaceship isn't as simple as just steering with a joystick and adjusting the throttle.

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ahw    264
LOL, some really opposing opinions, but no flames? My, my, could this be real? :)

Quote:
wavinator
I think this applies here as well. We've grown up with Star Wars, Star Trek and Babylon 5, which are very bright. That's the mythology of the times.


Aha! I got you this time! So it's OK to contradict establish archetypes that are based on reality and the human psyche to challenge a player, but if don't do that with stupid Hollywood cliches?
Now wait a minute mister, which is it? You can't have double standards, can you?
;-)

Quote:
abstractworlds
To some extent the depiction of space as boring is also a myth


Indeed, I wholeheartedly agree. Especially the fact that the night sky is not, in fact, black. I have very vivid memories of sleeping outside in the mountains at night and basically not needing any lamptorch, even without the moon. The amount of stars is just... staggering. In town you could actually count the stars in the sky without too much trouble, but in the mountains on a clear night, you really understand people mean when they say there are as many stars in the sky as grains of sand in the desert!


Personally, I have been researching material on ships, and specifically submarines, for some time now. I think it would be just amazing if someone got out there and challenged the stupid Hollywood cliches.
I think it would be great to have a spaceship game where the experience were much more closer to _Das Boot_ (a WWII German submarine movie): claustrophobic, dark, gritty. Or something like _The Abyss_ for instance, which turned the idea on its head and put classic space movie ideas and turn them underwater. If you thought those movies were boring, then you probably wouldn't like that sort of game, but hey, why not cater to a public of connoisseurs, for a change?

As someone else said, just make sure that the realism isn't gratuitous, work out ways of incorporating gameplay elements that are directly related to your aesthetical choices.

I am still trying to find a way to justify gravity, for instance. The Babylon 5 approach is one way to do it that I can agree with, or I believe Ringworld is another, but how would go at it for much smaller scale ships? I don't know you but I think that a "gravity generator carpet" doesn't really fit with the dark gritty hard science approach... (anyone has any idea, BTW?)
Take the problem of windows. The only reason you wanna have windows in a spaceship is if you want to have them for _dramatic_ reason.
Is there anything cooler than the scene where the bad guy's submarine hull starts to slowly break as it plunges into the depth (in _The Abyss_), to finally implode, releasing a big explosion of oxygen?
But if you think about it, "force field" windows are like, the stupidest thing in the world: it drains energy that could be spent elsewhere, like on a proper energy shield for a start. You don't need clear material to actually see outside, just think of photocells on the outside layers (hello, we have CCDs chipsets now, so think of their size in the future...) coupled to LCD like cells on the inside, et voila! you have a one way mirror, that not only gives you a good picture, but you get as much meters of armored material between the outside and the inside, and you can have a widened spectrum reception, too! Just have receptors that capture not just light but other wavelengths as well...

And that's just when you start thinking about it.
Don't get me started about "silent space". That's just plain lazy thinking. The only reason you would _hear_ the silence of space is if you _were_ in space, without any protection. That's right, you'd have explosed already. But I am pretty sure in your space suit you'd have quite a few noises present. Think breathing and heart pounding like in Operation Flashpoint, how cool was that!? Add to that intercom noises, HUD warnings (like your suit in HalfLife). Then add all the noises of your own ship, its engines running, its weapons firing...
And then add this :
Quote:
Horizon
As for the whole sound discussion, a whole lot of sound from another ship could be got through vibrations in it's hull by simply pointing a laser at it and analysing the reflections.

BTW that, sir, is going straight into the "incredibly cool idea, how come I didn't think of it earlier" part of my brain! :-)

Anyway, gotta go, but for the first time in years, I will say it: don't listen to Wavinator!

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Gyrthok    412
ahw: I like the way you think. :D

There are games like Silent Hunter 2, where on realistic settings you can't see outside your sub (or anything for that matter unless you use your miniscule periscope), unless you surface your ship and climb out to have a look. I have yet to play a serious space simulation (or simulation-esk) game that depicts that kind of atmosphere and tension in space.

The scenes in Das Boot show it extremely well, they have no view ports, going on silent running so the destroyers can't find them, sitting in the dark cramped spaces waiting fearfuly. I could see a spaceship hiding in an asteroid field with minimal power, using the debris to interfere with enemy sensors and evade them. Not to mention possible distractions to draw them away, such as destroying an asteroid a fair way away from you to draw their attention from your position.

I would love to see a game that doesn't go by the obvious hollywood cliche's of brightly lit space, and actually dare to add some tension and cat & mouse gameplay.

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ahw    264
Indeed :-)
And before anyone says "but who would want to play a pseudo realistic game where you spend your time hiding in dark in fear of getting spotted?" let me say "First Person Sneaker"!

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Garmichael    115
I think it would be cool to have realistic lighting. Maybe even throw in some complications if you look directly at the sun.

But it doesnt matter if the game blows.

For example, Earth and Beyond was well lit and unrealistic (explosions in space, etc).
But it blew ass. thatgame was terrible.

the bright effects didnt create a fun experience.

So wichever way you go, make sure that the GAME comes first. Focus on making it fun. Graphics and presentation can come later.

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MikeyO    100
Actually, explosions will happen in space as long as there is combustible gas, and considering these ships would bring around pure oxygen...

Yeah, short lived but spectacular explosions are realistic.

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johnnyBravo    100
hey i just played 'nexus the jupiter incident' demo, which is a strategy game like homeworld but better, even tho i don't really like those kind of games, the graphics are great.

and when you spin the camera in on direction you can see all the asteroids, and the otehr its all black rocks against the space. It makes it look like a darkish ocean with the mysterious looking surroundings, not being able to spot everything well..

In that level the enemy is actually hiding in the asteroid field, so now i'm convinced to have dark asteroids.

If I can work out how to take screenshots, I'll post a few of that game.

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Wavinator    2017
Quote:
Original post by ahw
Quote:
wavinator
I think this applies here as well. We've grown up with Star Wars, Star Trek and Babylon 5, which are very bright. That's the mythology of the times.


Aha! I got you this time! So it's OK to contradict establish archetypes that are based on reality and the human psyche to challenge a player, but if don't do that with stupid Hollywood cliches?
Now wait a minute mister, which is it? You can't have double standards, can you?
;-)


*slaps ahw with a power-armor gauntlet* "En Guard, sir!" [grin]

Seriously, I still don't have a problem with challenging cliches, but I think you have to factor in the strength of the cliche before you fight it. For instance, space shouldn't have any sound and you should certainly not hear laser blasts or ships buzzing by. But I'd sooner create a grotesque but friendly alien than I would remove sound from a space game. It's a matter of balance: I would never, for instance, try to offer some amoebic blob as the only player you could play, even though that would break cliches. Nor would I tell you to try a serious space sim with Pokemon-style cell-shaded graphics. Sound, environmental graphics and core gameplay are probably the heart of the game, so there I'd be very conservative. It's in the other areas, such as aliens you may rarely contact, that you have a wider latitude.

(Besides, who was that guy who said "consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds?" ;>)

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Horizon    145
asteroids

Thats one, however it's not very clear. If you go to their website you can see they do consistently draw one side of the ships and planets and everything really dark. To me it looks cool, what do you think?

Edit: Clickified

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Mayrel    348
If you're going to be über-realistic, asteroid fields are unlikely to be highly dense. If they were, the field would be full of far more dangerous high-speed shrapnel from all the collisions. In addition, asteroids are very large, in human terms. Sufficiently advanced technology could easily detect any nearby asteroids. Perhaps by detecting their gravity well, perhaps something as simple as RADAR.

Four thoughts occur.

Firstly, asteroid fields should be dangerous.

Secondly, I like über-realism. Others do not. In your ship configuration screen, provide a section for visualisation controls, 'ambient lighting' amongst them. Then you can say that your ship is detecting the asteroids and pretending they are well lit.

When your target audience is polarised over issues like this, it may be time to introduce an 'unrealistic ambient starlight' option into your configuration screen.

Thirdly, in the real world, frequently visited asteroid fields would be well-lit. You could scatter 'lantern probes' around the field. If your technology is advanced enough, you could fill the field with a light emitting gas or dust.

Fourthly, you or your enemies could use similar technology to light up a battlefield.

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