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Anybody got some ideas on how to do this?

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Hello Everybody,
Our team is working on ( well not yet, we are still trying to build up our team and create a GDD ) a video game called Planet X. I'm not that much of a C++ programmer, but I specialize in most of the other fields. We decided to develop our own game engine. No need to tell me about all the work and stuff that goes into a game engine, and that we must first get the skd's to publish on consoles and all that stuff. Okay, for the engine we will implement a feature where the player could enter a planet's atmosphere ( from space ) and land on the planet in a realistic manner, without using pretty all of your computer's resources. Also we would like to have the ability to edit the planet's terrain features in the editor ( the engine's editor ). In order to simulate the scene realistically, we also would have to render the stars, clouds, sun, nearby planets, and space stations all at the same time without making the models look like they are made from one polygon with one shader! The game engine will be coded in C++ and using Direct 3D software development kit ( DirectX 11 ), Microsoft Visual Studio 2010, and would use the Havok physics engine for well, physics. Any help, assistance, advice ( again not, "that is too much you need to stop dreaming, that would take too long to create", and replies like that ), or help with finding a way to do this would be great. smile.gif



I hate declaring variables!dry.gif

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I assume you don't need planets that are realistic in scale, otherwise you wont have most of those problems. In our solar system, there is nowhere that two planets are close enough that they would appear as more than a mere speck to each other. Could you clarify what scale you have in mind?

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"Okay, for the engine we will implement a feature where the player could enter a planet's atmosphere ( from space ) and land on the planet in a realistic manner, without using pretty all of your computer's resources."

Little FYI, thar, but Frontier: Elite 2 did this in like, the early nineties. Granted you never had any reason to manually fly anywhere because there was nothing to ever FIND, but still.

Also I think that game was coded in pure assembly so I mean you sort of have an advantage in that you are going to be using something a little higher level.

This isn't a particularly difficult task to do, it's just not seen very often because in practice it's not that interesting. As I said, FE2 was sort of bad about it because planets were fairly empty (and there were some odd clipping, rendering, and physics issues, but whatever). Even if you generate a bunch of decorative stuff, it will... be purely decorative. More modern games that have done this have dealt with the clipping and rendering issues but they still tend to have rather boring planetary flight.

I think that if you really want a planetary flight model what you SHOULD focus on making is some kind of way to generate meaningful, interesting, interactive, do-stuff-with-able content for the player. It sounds like you're making a space trader. Given that, I think you should figure out how to make your game world as dynamic as possible. And I would also recommending focusing on quality over quantity. Big empty spaces look impressive on paper but aren't that fun to actually play with.

Anyway, in practice it's hard to actually pull of planetary flight in a space game because it diverts the focus too much. This isn't an issue of too-much-to-do, per se, but rather an issue of the space-based game already being its own universe, and now you need to have each planet ALSO be its own microcosm of that universe to really be interesting. Otherwise, planetary flight is just going to be more of an annoyance to the player since it tends to introduce things like planetary physics and crashing into the ground and other things you don't really encounter in space. On the other hand, even if you do end up making planetary flight really interesting, you now have the issue that you might be providing the player with TOO MUCH to do, in which case THEY won't be able to focus, always regarding the game as really cool in some vague and nominal sense, but never wanting to actually play it because it requires way more effort than they have.

Anyway, given that, I think that if you really want planetary flight a nice middle ground is to just confine the size of your game world. Hundreds of solar systems + planetary flight? Lord no you could not make that interesting, ever. A single solar system with maybe 5-10 planets to explore? Definitely doable.




But I guess your question was more about the engine. As I said this isn't really something that should be difficult to program, as it's been done, and rather efficiently at that, since 1992ish.




"I hate declaring variables!"

Consider using something other than C++, particularly some sort of functional programming language. Common Lisp is a good choice although probably not that efficient for a 3D game. If you want to stick with C++, still consider developing a more functional program style, where values are more rendered as a sequence of function called and less stored in a million variables.

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Actually the game is focused on one planet, and space to surface gameplay is only required for two planets. It is also a first person shooter, but the player has the ability to drive vehicles and space ships. The player would also not be able to leave a set distance from the planet. Also the player would be engaged in battle most of the time, so they would't really be roaming around board out of their mind. The only reasons for "other planets" looking realistic is because the main planet has two moons and something happens during the game where another planet teleports within orbital distance from the planet. ( I am very aware od the distance between planets in a solar system ).The game is also mission/ level based. Anyways, thanks for the information on Frontier Elite 2. I'm also glad to hear that, that wouldn't be very hard to do. Thanks. By the way "I hate declaring variables was just a little joke. My hands are now tired from typing on this iPhone!

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