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Solar system exploration

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I want to make a 3d space game that allows you to explore solar systems. How do they render the planets and stars in games like eve online, i-war, etc? These planets are millions of miles from the player, but move with correct perspective (when warping between planets). How is this done? I'm assuming that the planets are placed much like a skybox, i.e. when travelling at sublight speeds, the planets are just moved along with the player, and rendered without z-buffer before everything else. But how do they get the movements of the planets right when you hit the warpspeed button? Any suggestions on this would be appreciated.

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Actually, as i posted this i thought of an idea!
Basically involves tracing a line from the planet to the ship and then rendering it at a point where the line intersects a bounding sphere around the ship.
You would then have to correct the size of the planet depending on its distance.
Hmmm, anyone any other ideas that may be better?

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Article on gamasutra

Read that article, they have a nice way of doing it which involves using an exponential function to project the planets that are outside the view frustum (in depth i mean) back into the frustum (chaning their distance) while preserving their scale.

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Thanks for the tips guys! Celestia rules!
The idea i had seems to work pretty well in tests, just need to create some kind of spaceship with warpdrive and attach a camera to the nose of it, then build a complete solar system!

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Well unless you're wanting to render real datasets then you'll probably want to generate your own universe procedurally.

You'll definitely want to check out Ysaneya's work on procedural universe:
Ysaneya's Journal

Sean O'Neil's webpage
He's the author of the article posted above on Gamasutra and has attempted to adapt ROAM for planets.

Lutz Justen's website
Another amazingly impressive planet engine, Lutz uses Geometry Clipmaps applied to a planet surface, wish some amazing results.

I've got a huge bunch of other links relating to planet rendering so if you need them, please just ask.

Here is a tutorial on home to generate a procedural starfield. Although its indended for Paintshop or some other package you should be able to program it yourself. I know this was the inspiration for Ysaneya's starfield method.

Best of luck... this is something I really intend to investigate in the future when I get some more time.

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Quote:
Original post by JohnHurt
Thanks for the tips guys! Celestia rules!


yeah!, i get into the 3d graphics or gamedevelopment in june 2004, in for september of 2004 i quit (school, girls, and other things)... but when i saw and download that program in december it cheers me up to continue, i am i here, more involved than ever and ready 2 rumble!!

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Thanks cheese, some very impressive demos there. I think that's a little bit beyond me at the minute! I just going to concentrate on making a purely space-based game for now, where all the action takes place in high orbits. Basically, i'm after making a game which mixes the fun of the x-wing series, with the scope and scale of x2 and i-war2, but without any of the boring stuff like trading and mining.
Later on I'd love to add some planet-based shennanigans in there, but for now i'm setting my sights a bit lower (or should that be higher!).

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